October Presentation Now Online – Autism and Pseudoscience by Tim Golding

Tim Golding, step-father to a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, gives a presentation to the Ottawa Skeptics about autism, vaccines, and bogus autism treatments. It is now available online, pass it around!

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28. October 2009 by Jon
Categories: Alt. Med, Topics | Comments Off on October Presentation Now Online – Autism and Pseudoscience by Tim Golding

2012 – Planet X, Nibiru and DarkStar

With director Roland Emmerich’s film 2012 slated for release next month, it seems timely to write my promised article on the history of Planet X.

I promised to do so in my last article which told the story of a letter, supposedly sent from a Norwegian politician to Project Camelot, stating that the Norwegian government had started hording food in underground alien bases in preparation for the Earth’s doomsday rendezvous with Planet X in 2012.  My conclusion was that the people behind Project Camelot had concocted this story, tying in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, to bring attention to their misguided cause.

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01. October 2009 by Pat
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Topics | 8 comments

We've Got Videos!

We have created a video channel on

Vimeo to host all of our videos. We chose to use Vimeo instead of the more popular youtube because Vimeo allow videos longer than 10 minutes to be posted. We already have a few posted so please go check them out, rate them up, share them on facebook/twitter, or even embed them in your blog/website. Also, be sure to subscribe so that you get notified when new videos get posted.

Here is Brian Brushwood and me sharing a drink of the ‘mysterious’ Crystal Head Vodka (hilarious ad), recorded during our impromptu interview at TAM7. Look for the interview in an upcoming episode of The Reality Check:

 

Click Read More to see the Lee Graham presentation about evolutionary computing and Chuck O’Dale’s debate with a UFO believer on Rogers TV.

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18. August 2009 by Jon
Categories: Canadian News, News | Comments Off on We've Got Videos!

It Came Out of the Sky (and into the Ottawa River)

One of my favourite rock bands of the 60s/70s is Creedance Clearwater Revival, and one of my favourite Allien Crashsongs of theirs is ‘It Came Out of the Sky‘. In that song, they sing about a fictional case where a mysterious object crashes down from the sky, and various different parties come out to take advantage of the situation including politicians, the media, and religious leaders. No one knew what the object was, which left room for people to impress upon it their desires or fears. Was it the Lord? Was it Martian? Was it swamp gas? Or even a Communist plot? The song never says.

This past Monday, multiple eye witnesses reporting seeing a bright object hit the Ottawa River with a loud ‘BOOM’.

The Ottawa Sun reports:

“We heard a very loud sound, the first time I heard something that loud,” said Lola Saadi, who lives in Parkway Towers not far from the river edge.

“I too heard a very loud bang preceded by a brief whistling noise which made me think, at first, that it was fireworks,” said Jeffrey Vachon, who lives near the river in Aylmer. “However, I strongly suspect that what occurred was not a plane crash but rather a meteroite hitting somewhere near the Deschenes Rapids/Ottawa River area.”

What could it be? Was it a plane crash? A meteorite? A firecracker? Or something more ‘foreign’ in nature?

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29. July 2009 by Jon
Categories: Topics, UFOs/Aliens | 2 comments

Does "Big Pharma" want to suppress homeopathy?

It always amuses me when the pro-homoeopathy folks say that “Big Pharma” is trying to suppress homoeopathy because they are afraid that homoeopathy will cause them to lose billions of dollars annually. The reason this amuses me is that it is patently ridiculous.

The Homoeopathy industry makes billions of dollars annually around the world. The homoeopathy industry has the advantage of not having to spend millions of dollars to actually prove that their “remedies” actually work, or that they are even safe to use. The Pharmaceutical industry must spend millions and millions of dollars annually to do rigorous testing to prove that their remedies actually work as described, and that they are safe for use by the general public.

Pharmaceutical companies employ thousands of really, really, really, smart people. If there was any effectiveness to homoeopathic “remedies”, you can bet that the pharmaceutical companies would be right there to get their piece of the multi-billion dollar pie. Consequently, it would be in their best interest to not only not suppress any data that showed that homoeopathy worked, but rather to show the proof as clearly and to as many news outlets as possible. Heck, they could do it better and cheaper than most other homoeopathic companies, due to their many decades of experience doing this exact thing with real drugs and remedies. Does any rational person really think that “Big Pharma” would purposely exclude themselves from such a massively profitable market if there was anything real to be marketed?

If anything, it is “Big Homeo” that would be afraid of the pharmaceutical companies intruding on their growing empire. The smaller homoeopathic companies would either be bought out, if they were one of the lucky ones, or simply shut down because they couldn’t compete with the pharmaceutical marketing machine. Therefore, it is in “Big Pharma’s” best interest to continue to sow the seeds of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about the pharmaceutical industry, in order to keep the massive profits rolling in.

Looking at this from both sides, “Big Pharma” has nothing to lose and everything to gain by supporting homoeopathy if it was a valid form of treatment for anything. “Big Homeo”, on the other hand, has much to lose by homoeopathy being proven to be ineffective. And to be clear, homoeopathy has been proven to be ineffective, and no better than placebo for the treatment of anything. There is, of course, one exception to this. Homoeopathy has been proven to be effective for the treatment of dehydration.

Consequently, it seems more likely that “Big Homeo” would lie to you about how effective homoeopathyy is, than “Big Pharma” to lie about how ineffective it is. So the next time someone tries to convince you that “Big Pharma” is trying to suppress the truth about homoeopathy, you can point out the silliness of their statement.

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16. July 2009 by TheSkepticCanuck
Categories: Alt. Med, Topics | Comments Off on Does "Big Pharma" want to suppress homeopathy?

Colbert Tweaks Zicam's Nose

nasal discharge simulator and hygiene station

Last week, the FDA, followed by Health Canada, issued consumer alerts on Zicam’s Cold Remedy nasal gel and swabs because at least 130 users reported suffering loss of the sense of smell, a medical condition called anosmia, after using the product. Despite the seriousness of this health risk to the public, Health Canada does not have the power to order the recall of the product – an authority gap that would have been rectified by Bill C-51. Yet luckily, in this case, the manufacturer Matrixx Initiatives has voluntarily withdrawn the products cited by the FDA.

News of the Zicam alert was picked up quickly by the mainstream media and has been covered by fellow skeptic Dr. Steven Novella at Science-Based Medicine. But nothing undercuts a product’s credibility quite as much as when the late night comedy shows get hold of the story, and on Monday, Stephen Colbert, calling himself a “born skeptic”, took his shots at Zicam and its developer. The video can be seen at The Comedy Network in Canada and at Comedy Central in the US.

“Shocking, disturbing news,” exclaimed Colbert, “which could affect millions …”

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25. June 2009 by barry
Categories: Alt. Med, Topics | Comments Off on Colbert Tweaks Zicam's Nose

Canadian Meetup in Vegas for TAM 7!

Scott Gavura of the Science-Based Pharmacy blog is spearheading a get together for Canadian skeptics at this year’s Amazing Meeting in Vegas. Currently, it’s being planned for Thursday July 9 somewhere in the Southpoint Casino and Hotel. Please join the facebook group to RSVP and to keep up to date on the plans. We hope to see you there! Continue Reading →

20. June 2009 by Jon
Categories: Canadian News, News | Comments Off on Canadian Meetup in Vegas for TAM 7!

Reclaiming History by Vincent Bugliosi

The real book is much, much bigger than this!

Vincent Bugliosi is an acclaimed lawyer and author, best known for his prosecutorial work on the Charles Manson case and for the fascinating book that followed called Helter Skelter. He’s written numerous other books, including The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, but Bugliosi’s role as a television prosecutor in On Trial: Lee Harvery Oswald, the 1986 simulated British trial against Lee Harvey Oswald, is less well known. Yet, this role firmly established him as an assassination buff, with a strong leaning against conspiracy theories.

In Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a mammoth 1,648 page book with 1,000 additional pages of references on an accompanying CD, he aspired to debunk those theories and to conclusively establish Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone shooter in the tragic death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas. (For those who want the five minute recap, watch Bugliosi on YouTube.).

Bugliosi addressed a variety of allegations about the murder-that both Oswald and Jack Ruby (the man who shot Oswald 48 hours after the assassination) were hired by either the mob, Secret Service, CIA or Cuban exiles; that there were actually four or five shots at the presidential motorcade, not three as the Warren Commission claimed; that the home film taken by Abraham Zapruder had been tampered with; and that Oswald was a poor marksman and never could have succeeded in killing the president with his inadequate rifle.

Let’s look at some of those claims and what a few of his critics have to say about them.

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20. May 2009 by barry
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Topics | 3 comments

Time for Some Introspection

Building blocks of Skepticism

When we started Ottawa Skeptics a year-and-a-half ago, we used to get together in Seanna and Steve’s family room every couple of weeks to discuss what we wanted to do in the group and what we wanted to accomplish. Some of our original ideas have come to fruition, such as the website, forum and podcast, and some are still on our to-do list.

To facilitate our discussions, one of our first activities was to write a mission statement. It was a group effort, although Seanna and Steve’s cats notably refused to take part. I’m not sure whether they were showing bemused detachment or taking a principled stand. Drafting the statement helped us explore our vision and gave us some focus, but it was written quickly and was just based on our intial thoughts at the time.

It has always been our intention to review the statement once we achieved some stability in our activities. Also, since we’ve received a memo from head office telling us to delete from the statement all references to “The Illuminati” and any mention of animal sacrifice, it’s time that we got on with the review.

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09. May 2009 by barry
Categories: About_Us, Organization | Comments Off on Time for Some Introspection

Better Know a Notable Skeptic: 10 Questions for Brian Dunning

With the success of the “better know a skeptic” series of articles, I decided to extend a little bit to “notable skeptics.” If there is someone you would like to see included, let me know via the forums.


 

Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena, a popular weekly audio podcast dedicated to furthering knowledge by blasting away the widespread pseudosciences that infect popular culture, and replacing them with evidence-based scientific reality. He is also the author of the book of the same title.

Dunning is also one of the featured bloggers on SkepticBlog, the official blog of the upcoming TV series The Skeptologists which he hosts.

 

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05. May 2009 by Pat
Categories: Organization, Profiles | Comments Off on Better Know a Notable Skeptic: 10 Questions for Brian Dunning

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