A Surfeit of Silliness

Is the world getting crazier? It seems so, but maybe I’m just more aware of the silliness. Here are just a few of the outlandish things I’ve run across recently. Divination by Asparagus The Mirror and several other news sources reported in January 2019 that a woman in Bath, England, named Jemima Packington can predict the future using

Critical Thinking in Medicine

Rodin’s Thinker is doing his best to think but if he hasn’t learned critical thinking skills, he is likely to make mistakes. The human brain is prone to a multitude of cognitive errors. Critical thinking in medicine is what the Science-Based Medicine (SBM) blog is all about. Jonathan Howard has written a superb book, Cognitive Errors

Cómo creemos

En el clásico artículo de James. E. Alcock, que se publicó en el Skeptical Inquirer en 1995, The belief engine (La máquina de creencias), el autor escribió: “Nuestros cerebros y sistemas nerviosos constituyen una máquina generadora de creencias, un sistema que evolucionó, no para asegurar la verdad, la lógica y la razón, sino la supervivencia”. Ahora amplió

How we believe

In James Alcock’s classic 1995 article “The Belief Engine,”  he said, “Our brains and nervous systems constitute a belief-generating machine, a system that evolved to assure not truth, logic, and reason, but survival.” Now he has expanded that thesis into a book, Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions Are So Compelling.

A Feast of Science

Did you know that Samuel Hahnemann, the misguided father of homeopathy, was an accomplished chemist who developed the first chemical test for arsenic? His test was applied in a poisoning trial in England: it was positive, but the color of the sample had deteriorated by the time it got to the jury, and they were

Not In Your Stars

Astronomy is science; astrology is superstition, mythology, and pseudoscience. Depending on how surveys ask the question, anywhere from 22 percent to 73 percent of people believe astrology is valid. Horoscopes still appear regularly in newspapers. Over 90 percent of adults know their zodiac sign. It never occurs to some people to question whether horoscopes are

Barefoot In Sedona: Bogus Claims About Grounding Your Feet to Earth Promote Medical Pseudoscience

There is a website that reveals “The world’s most dangerous invention.” Care to speculate what that invention might be? I might have guessed nuclear weapons. Others have incriminated guns, cigarettes, genetic engineering, religion, The Web, The Large Hadron Collider, and automobiles. But this website was not talking about any of those, but about a far

Acupuncture miracle

Correspondent Lorne Oliver is highly skeptical of acupuncture, but faced cognitive dissonance because he believed acupuncture saved his life. He describes the experience on his blog at http://www.filletofseoul.com/2008/10/acupuncture.html Briefly, he developed itching after eating a dried persimmon, broke out in hives, developed a rapid pulse, then shallow, rapid breathing and dizziness. He concluded that his

Train Track Therapy

There seems to be many uses for the trains in Indonesia. Shown above, the over-crowded locomotive is taken on by “surfers”. I am constantly amazed by the ingenuity of humans in coming up with weird and funny treatments for real and imagined illnesses. One of my favorites is train track therapy. People in Indonesia lie