Sometimes the good guys win

August 26, 2011

Canadian Blood Services was running a campaign called “What’s Your Type” that included providing all sorts of weird new-agey mumble-jumble about blood types being related to personalities and recommended diet. They also had incorrect information about the origin of the different blood types. After word spread around the blogosphere a lot of people complained (including me), since an agency like that shouldn’t be providing false information, even if they did have a tiny disclaimer at the bottom that it was for “entertainment purposes only”. This has resulted in the nonsense being taken down, and replaced with a page indicating that they’ll determine your blood type for free. So yes, we can make a difference.

In case anyone is wondering, yes, I do plan to get back to talking about actual science in the near future. We get about two months a year of nice weather here, so I’ve been trying to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible before going back into winter hibernation mode. On top of that I’ve recently agreed to take on a new teaching gig on the side (as if I didn’t have enough on my plate already) and am trying to get everything ready before the semester starts in September. I should be able to get to some more substantive posts soon though.

The 2011 “Pigasus” Awards

April 1, 2011

The James Randi Educational Foundation has announced this year’s winners of their “Pigasus Awards” for “the most deserving charlatans, swindlers, psychics, pseudo-scientists, and faith healers.” Their winners are excellent choices:

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More scam artists resorting to legal action

February 3, 2011

No new post of my own this week – I took on a couple of big contracts on short timelines in my paying job. In the meantime, since if there’s one thing I can’t abide it’s scam artists using legal action to try to shut up scientists who expose them, here are a couple of videos – one exposing a scam artist, and a follow-up talking about the resulting threats of legal action.



Are we all just guinea pigs?

December 14, 2010

One of the comments on my previous post on fluoride toxicity suggested we are all just guinea pigs in a fluoridation experiment. Is this true? Yes – but we are also guinea pigs for a lot more things. Is it a bad thing? Well, maybe it’s not ideal, but it’s inevitable and it isn’t going to end in the foreseeable future. We are exposed to countless chemicals for which we don’t have complete certainty about the effects, ranging from pharmaceuticals to industrial chemicals to the natural components of the food we eat.

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Fluoride toxicity

December 3, 2010

A bit of a storm arose at Scienceblogs the other day when a blogger normally dealing with climate change allowed his father, James Beck, to do a guest post about a new anti-fluoridation book he had co-authored. Needless to say there were strong reactions on either side of the issue, including a response at Respectful Insolence. Since I’d been planning for a while to post something about fluoridation and just hadn’t got around to it, now seems like a good time.

Some of the arguments against fluoridation involve questions about how effective it is – I’m not going to get into that here (though in general the anti-fluoridation sites I’ve looked at use some pretty questionable analyses when downplaying its effectiveness). I’m also not going to get into the ethical side –  whether it is right for the government to administer fluoride in drinking water when some of the water users may not want it (though to me it’s not that much different than fortifying milk with vitamin D, enriching flour, etc.). I’m going to focus instead on my own area of expertise, specifically whether fluoride is toxic at the concentrations in drinking water.

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Biotechnology debate

November 9, 2010

There’s an online debate at the Economist right now on the use of biotechnology in agriculture. Right now the “against” side are winning the vote (apparently not realizing that we’ve been using biotechnology for around 20,000 years and just about everything we eat is a product of biotechnology).

I’ll be back soon with a more substantive post of my own – hopefully tonight or failing that within the next couple of days.

Detox scams

October 12, 2010

It seems there are advertisements everywhere for various types of “detox” that will improve your health, make you lose weight, and more. But what does “detox” really do?

Any time I see the word “detox”, my scam alert radar kicks in (to be fair, maybe some people offering detox treatments aren’t scammers, and are merely deluded). These treatments are generally based on the concept of some undefined “toxins” being the source of all your problems, without ever defining what these toxins are supposed to be.

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