2010 This Year In Skepticism – February

January 5, 2011

Here is the second part of my look back at the big skeptic-related news stories from last year. I just reviewed last January here. And here’s February. Hopefully, I’ll cover more than one month of the year in the next installment.

Homeopaths admit their products have no active ingredients – The 10:23 homeopathic overdose campaign has driven the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths to admit that their products do not contain any “material substances”:

Council spokeswoman Mary Glaisyer admitted publicly that “there´s not one molecule of the original substance remaining” in the diluted remedies that form the basis of this multi-million-dollar industry.

Lancet retracts1998 Wakefield study

Motivational speaker James Arthur Ray, guru of The Secret was officially charged with manslaughter – This earns him a nomination for biggest douchebag of the year.

Kevin Trudeau pissed off the wrong judge – This earns him a nomination for biggest douchebag of the year.

The Desiree Jennings case may have been exposed as a fraud, though the damage was already done

Andrew Wakefield booted out of Thoughtful House

The Secular Coalition met with the White House

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News From Around The Blogosphere 4.12.10

April 13, 2010

Merchant Of Death

1. Kevin Trudeau begins his 30-day jail sentence – Unfortunately, this merchant of death is only serving 30 days for harassing a judge. But hopefully, he’ll be back behind bars soon enough for his one-man genocide racket.

2. NCSE getting a little too cozy with the religious – Why does the National Center for Science Education feel they need someone working for them under the title of “Faith Project Director”? Which chapter in my science book discusses the importance of faith when conducting science?

3. Jim Carrey mind-wiped from Generation Rescue’s memory banks – Oh, the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Now that Jim Carrey has broken up with Jenny McCarthy, he’s being erased just like Desiree Jennings:

By Friday, Generation Rescue had completely revamped its website. Gone is the picture of Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, and Evan from the front page of the website. Gone is any mention of his name, leaving Generation Rescue as now being just “Jenny McCarthy’s Autism Organization – Generation Rescue.” Gone is Jim Carrey from the Generation Rescue Board of Directors. Given the slickness of hte new look, no doubt that this revamp of the website has been a long time in coming, and probably GR simply moved up its originally planned revamp in order to deal with Jim and Jenny’s breakup. More interestingly, all mention of Desiree Jennings appears to have been send down the memory hole. In case you don’t remember who she is, she is the young woman who claimed that a flu vaccine caused her to develop dystonia, a claim riddled with inconsistencies that didn’t stand up to even mild scrutiny.

This again raises the issue of whether or not Jim Carrey is still an anti-vaxxer at all? Did he come to his senses and opt to cut all ties with Jenny McCarthy just like the co-founder of her now doomed school?

4. Chicago Tribune questions the authority of the great and power Dr. Oz – Their conclusion seems to match that of the medical consensus, pay no attention to man on the screen inexplicably wearing surgical scrubs. And they also talk about Joseph Mercola, the most dangerous cola of them all.

Kevin Trudeau just pissed off the wrong judge

February 13, 2010

I’ve blogged about Trudeau before. He’s the professional murderer who used to sell bogus medical cures “they don’t want you to know” until he was legally barred from selling any such products and so has moved onto a whole new set of non-medical-related scams. Well also he’s responsible for inciting a legion of fans to email bomb U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, who had previously forced Trudeau to cough up more money in court.

Word of advice to Kevin:  never piss off a federal judge.

A furious U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman gave Trudeau three hours’ notice to show up in his federal courtroom Thursday and then found the Internet host in criminal contempt of court for the e-mail attack.

Trudeau sat with a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face as the normally mild-mannered Gettleman lectured his lawyer about the e-mail onslaught — all the while being interrupted on the bench as new messages continued to hit his inbox.

“Just got another one,” said the judge, who earlier had turned his computer screen so attorneys in the case could see the incoming barrage for themselves. “Every time you hear that little bell.”

Now Trudeau can add a contempt of court charge to his rap sheet:

Gettleman ordered Trudeau to turn over his passport, pay $50,000 bond and warned he could face future prison time.

Gettleman, on his own authority, can sentence Trudeau to up to six months in prison. In addition, the judge referred the matter and the emails to the U.S. Marshals Service, which investigates threats to judiciary.

Couldn’t happen to a more deserving individual.

News From Around The Blogosphere 9.15.09

September 16, 2009

1. Federal Trade Commission bringing the hammer down on Kevin Trudeau – I’ve talked about Trudeau before. I call refer to him as a professional murderer, which, while seeming hyperbolic, is close to being true. His bogus health advice gets people killed. And the government’s had a hell of a time trying to put the man out of business permanently by squeezing a lousy few million dollars out of him even though that’s only a drop in the bucket given how much he’s made off of getting people killed. As an example of his amazing health advice, he promotes a diet plan, which he claims is easy, that involves eating no more than 500 calories a day. He calls it a cure “they don’t want you to know.” I call it the Auschwitz Diet.

evolution-ape-teaching2. New creationist film premieres at Sam Noble Museum of Natural History – The film is called Darwin’s Dilemma, and it’s another creationist mockumentary. Its focus is to attack the Cambrian fossil record. Of course it will no doubt be a whole load of crap but the real story here is that a reputable science museum agreed to host a showing of the film. Hey, maybe PZ can get expelled from another creationist film screening.

3. Darwin film fails to get distribution in U.S. until a bidding war started – First, it was looking like the film Creation, about Darwin wasn’t going to get distribution in the U.S. because evolution is controversial in the U.S. as opposed to the rest of the civilized world. But the latest update on this story suggests that there’s a bidding war for the film’s distribution rights. There was also a brief myth going around that that Mel Gibson’s distribution company (the same company that distributed The Passion of the Christ) bankrolled the film. This turned out to be not true.

News From Around The Blogosphere 01.24.09

January 25, 2009

Atheist Bus Campaign:  The Tube Cards – These are card advertisements that are appearing on the London Underground since 12th January.

Professional Murderer Kevin Trudeau ordered to pay more than $37 mil. – It’s not much since he’s made that many times over with his anti-medical scams and phony promises of cures for cancer.

Religion:  Proud Supporter of Totalitarian Fascism for Thousands of Years – Now they’re telling you who you can live with. Here’s Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance‘s complaint about the University of Idaho planning to launch co-ed dorm rooms:

Fischer says besides the risk of sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy, young women will be subject to an increased risk of date rape and other violent domestic crimes.

As opposed to adults, who everyone knows have 100% immunity to sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, date rape, and other violent domestic crimes. And as everyone knows, women are all weak and totally defenseless, in need of a strong man to protect them. What a jackass.

“Psychic” Joe Power WRONG

Yesterday, English woman Karen Matthews was jailed for eight years for faking the abduction of her nine year old daughter Shannon.  Matthews had arranged for a relative to kidnap and hold the little girl prisoner, drugged and bound, so that later the relative could “find” the little girl and claim the £50,000 ($68,000) reward money they would both share.  What a scumbag.  And well deserved jail sentences for both of them.

But there’s more to this story. This was another case where a “psychic” trying to find the missing girl and after the fact claiming their predictions were accurate when he wasn’t even capable of figuring out the most important factor in this case, that the child’s abductor was sitting right in front of him! So the picture to the left of the psychic standing with the victim’s mother is doubly ironic. And the bad predictions just get worse and worse.


scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyInfidelity Produces Faster Sperm – “Until now, it has been difficult to prove that fast-swimming sperm have an advantage when it comes to fertilizing an egg. But now a research team at Uppsala University can demonstrate that unfaithful females of the cichlid fish species influence the males’ sperm. Increased competition leads to both faster and larger sperm, and the research findings now being published in the scientific journal PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, thus show that the much mythologized size factor does indeed count.

. . .

“In promiscuous species we found that males produced larger and faster sperm than in closely related species that were monogamous,” says Sigal Balshine, associate professor in the department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University, and senior author on the study. “This research offers some of the first evidence that sperm has evolved to become more competitive in response to females mating with multiple males.”

Females Extend Reproductive Life Of Male Mice – “Living with a female mouse can extend the reproductive life of a male mouse by as much as 20 percent, according to a study conducted by Ralph Brinster and a team of other researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. The study was reported online January 22 in the journal Biology of Reproduction.”

Take that, Idaho Values Alliance!

Lizards Adapting To Escape Attacks By Fire Ants – “Penn State Assistant Professor of Biology Tracy Langkilde has shown that native fence lizards in the southeastern United States are adapting to potentially fatal invasive fire-ant attacks by developing behaviors that enable them to escape from the ants, as well as by developing longer hind legs, which can increase the effectiveness of this behavior.”

News From Around The Blogosphere 11.19.08

November 20, 2008

Stem Cells to the rescue – Doctors have given a woman a new windpipe with tissue grown from her own stem cells, eliminating the need for anti-rejection drugs.

Yesterday I blogged about Focus on the Family cutting 202 jobs. Well today Oral Roberts “College,” cut 100 jobs today, illustrating once again that God Hates Morons:

“Oral Roberts University will lay off about 100 employees, days after it agreed to a near-$450,000 separation agreement with its former president who resigned amid a spending scandal. The layoffs represent roughly 10 percent of the university’s work force.”

Bad news for Professional Murderer Kevin Trudeau

Kevin Trudeau Banned from Infomercials For Three Years, Ordered to Pay More Than $5 Million for False Claims About Weight-Loss Book

Sadly, getting hit by oncoming train would have been a more appropriate punishment but I’ll take what I can go. Hey, when it comes to scum like this, I can be petty and vindictive too. This is not about First Amendment Rights. One of the few exceptions to free speech we have in this country (and one that I agree with) is when measurable harm has taken place. It’s the proverbial shouting fire in a crowded theater or even slander/libel. And in this case, it’s got nothing to do with the mere exercise of free speech but is about misrepresenting his products and scamming consumers.

New study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds gingko is utterly, utterly useless against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – Though the extract has been long promoted as an aid to memory, it failed to produce results in “the longest and largest test of the extract in older Americans.”

“We don’t think it has a future as a powerful anti-dementia drug,” said Dr. Steven DeKosky of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who led the study.

Extracts from ginkgo tree leaves have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, but earlier research on ginkgo and memory showed mixed results. Annual U.S. sales of the supplement reached $107 million in 2007, according to Nutrition Business Journal estimates.

The study including 3,000 people, ages 75 and older.

Catholics for Choice published a scathing criticism of Bill Donohue and the Catholic League – And they NAILED IT!

50 facts you might not know about Barack Obama – And no, this does not include his being a secret Muslim and a member of the New World Order. . .cause everybody already knows that, duh! And finally a fellow Lefty is president. . .left-handed that is. And who knew he had something in common with George Costanza.

Now this pisses me off! – the Mercury Militia have claimed 2 more celebrities: Goose and Rainman. That’s write, rumor has it that Anthony Edwards and Dustin Hoffman are antivaccinationists. I don’t really give a crap about Edwards but Hoffman!! NOOOOOOO!!!!

There is some hope though:

The reason I wonder if they really are involved with this pseudoscientific naturopathic quackery is because the only place their names are mentioned is in the title of the press release, and I’ve been unable to find any other information on the web linking them to this effort other than–you guessed it–copies of this press release.

Well at least Ashton Kutcher became awesome:

. . .as opposed to Pamela Anderson, who’s crazy.

Health Care Freedom – aka “Freedom Is Slavery.” This is the equivalent to the creationists’ proposed “Academic Freedom Laws.” People are much more willing to swallow the barrel of a shotgun when it’s wrapped in “Freedom.” As a wise senator once said, “This is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.”

Want to know which stores deserve your hard-earned money this holiday season? First here’s this year’s annual Naughty and Nice List from Liberty Counsel, a Christian Right organization. And then there’s this rational alternative Naughty List, a list of people, companies, and organizations that gave over $5,000 in support of California’s Prop. 8, ending same-sex marriage in the state.

I’ve called the American Family Association bigots but many Christians insisted they love gay people and just hate gayness, causing me to substitute the term “fascist” instead. Well, I’m switching back to “bigots.”

And if you just change a few words, you get this.

Should atheists adopt the Godless label? – Probably not, but this is a funny read.


groin-kickWhen homeopaths kill by neglect

A healing therapist died after a minor injury went gangrenous because his ‘inner being’ told him not to see a doctor, an inquest has heard.

Russell Jenkins shunned conventional treatment for his foot injury after he trod on an electrical plug at home.

He instead tried the ancient remedy of putting honey on it but his toes later went black and began to stink.


scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyGot Raw Milk? – “Raw milk is illegal in many countries as it can be contaminated with potentially harmful microbes. Contamination can also spoil the milk, making it taste bitter and turn thick and sticky. Now scientists have discovered new species of bacteria that can grow at low temperatures, spoiling raw milk even when it is refrigerated.”

New’ Penguin Species Found Using Ancient DNA – “Australian and New Zealand researchers have used ancient DNA from penguin fossils to make a startling discovery that may change the way we view species extinctions.

A team from the University of Adelaide, the University of Otago, and Canterbury Museum in New Zealand has identified a previously unknown penguin species while conducting research on New Zealand’s endangered yellow-eyed penguin, one the world’s rarest penguin species and the subject of an extensive conservation effort.”

Floppy-footed Gibbons: How Early Humans Walked? – “The human foot is a miracle of evolution. We can keep striding for miles on our well-sprung feet. There is nothing else like them, not even amongst our closest living relatives. According to Evie Vereecke, from the University of Liverpool, the modern human foot first appeared about 1.8 million years ago, but our ape-like ancestors probably took to walking several million years earlier, even though their feet were more ‘floppy’ and ape like than ours.”

Long-lost ‘Furby-like’ Primate Discovered – “A team led by a Texas A&M University anthropologist has discovered a group of primates not seen alive in 85 years. The pygmy tarsiers, furry Furby-like, or gremlin-looking, creatures about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than two ounces, have not been observed since they were last collected for a museum in 1921.”

Iron Age Monument: Soul Lived In Stone? – “Archaeologists in southeastern Turkey have discovered an Iron Age chiseled stone slab that provides the first written evidence in the region that people believed the soul was separate from the body.”