September Skeptics in the Pub

Tim FarleyThis month’s Skeptic in the Pub will be with Tim Farley from whatstheharm.net

This will be another remote talk like last month. There will be a Q&A segment after the talk.

Along with whatstheharm.net, Tim is an active member of Atlanta Skeptics and also runs the great site skeptools.

So join us at 7pm, Monday September 13th at Wings Your Way in Manchester, NH.

Please RSVP on our facebook events page. We’re also testing out Meetup.com

Coming soon – Remote Speakers

So things worked out great at Wings Your Way in downtown Manchester, NH. We now have our room that can seat about 35ish, a big screen TV that we can plug a computer into and the best part, screamin’ fast internet connectivity.

As a result of this we did a quick test run to say hi to our good friend Richard Saunders of the Skeptic Zone podcast. There are a few bugs to work out that I plan on doing sometime this week but once I work through those we will be ready for remote talks. I have a few people lined up and just have to lock down some scheduling but check back here to see who our speakers will be, I think you’ll all be excited.

Bracelets/Necklaces of Magic

This is a Blog post I made on a free exercise/diet site I am a part of called SPARKPEOPLE. It has recently come to my attention that they are allowing ads for bracelets that promote better performance.

Everywhere I look; there are increased amounts of bracelets/necklaces for sale that promise increased performance, better health, increased strength. I have noticed them more and more in sport stores, vitamin stores, infomercials, and ads. Now sparkpeople.com is showing ads for these types of bracelets and necklaces. (I understand that ads pay for the site so we may use it for free) While Sparkpeople may choose to take their money where ever they can get it, as consumers should be cautious with our money. With our society in seemingly desperate need for science understanding, these bracelets/necklaces drive the point home even more. Continue reading

For something closer to home

Image from Flickr - Timothy Valentine

Today we look at something a little closer to home. In fact, it’s a place that I’m a member of and shop at from time to time. Concord Cooperative Market is a small grocery store that sells a lot of local, natural, and organic products. We don’t shop there often but when we do it’s because of the quality of the product and has little to do with the fact that it’s local, organic, or natural.

In the past I have sent emails to the company, mostly due to their support, and sales of homeopathic remedies. I was actually surprised by the first part of the reply where they sent me links to PubMed and told me what to search for. The problem with this was that it had to deal with a lot of herbal remedies that in deed do have some kind of effect, they basically ignored me entirely in regards to homeopathic remedies. Then came the standard reply:

If you do not see value to these products, you are free not to purchase
them. However, we carry them because many of our customers rely on these
products and would like a quality, local source to purchase them. It is part
of our mission statement to provide our community with high quality natural
and organic products as well as to be a resource for health and nutrition
information. This is one way that we do that.

Ahhh yes, if I don’t like it, don’t buy it. It’s not our fault for supplying a product that doesn’t perform as claimed, it’s your fault for buying it. Well you know what, that’s not good enough anymore. You’re selling a product that doesn’t perform as claimed.

I encourage all my readers to contact this store and ask them how they justify selling a product that fails double blind placebo controlled studies.

Embrace the woo

So here’s a brief update on the whole Power Balance bracelet thing. My “free samples” came in and they are exactly what I expected. I of course want to use them for demos and to show people what they are, but I got to thinking what else I could do with them in the meantime. So I started wearing the bright red one to work to see the reaction.

Now, keep in mind that it’s no secret that I’m not only a skeptic at work, but that I also run Granite State Skeptics. I wear my Surly Ramics necklace, I have stickers on both my personal and work computer, as well as my cube. As a result I think that people may have noticed more than usual that I was wearing this bracelet that they heard me talk about in passing.

In two days of wearing it I have been asked about it about a dozen times, and have shown coworkers the applied kinesiology tests 4 times. I’m sure to point out the normal cost of the bracelet, and also that I got them for the cost of shipping by getting the samples from a distributor. Now, this may not work while walking down the street, but I think that it’s been highly effective as an outreach tool here at work.

Woo testing on the cheap

On the latest episode of The Skeptic Zone it was mentioned that they found the distributors of the Power Balance Bracelet on a wholesaler’s website, so I decided to do some poking around.

After a quick email to Dr. Rachie to get the website I found some fascinating information. I’m going going to post a link to the specific product, because as it turns out there are a lot of distributors that sell the product and some could be knock-offs. The site where you can search for them is Alibaba.com and they have a LOT more than just power balance bracelets. So go there and search for your favorite woo related items… But the fun doesn’t stop there.

Continue reading

More Ramblings

Today I talk about the upcoming skeptics panel at GraniteCon, getting asked to do a public access TV show on the paranormal, and the meeting with some believers, Jon Ronson at Boston Skeptics, and some thanks to people that help publicize my events.

 

Skeptics at GraniteCon

Do you want to know the facts around ghosts, goblins, aliens, and other things that go bump in the night? Join the Granite State Skeptics panel to discuss the science behind this phenomena. Join our panel of experts to find out why seeing is not necessarily believing, what may really be causing those ghost orbs in your pictures, and why that UFO streaking through the sky might not be from another world.

Panelists will include Dale Roy, physical science teacher with 8 years experience in the classroom. Kitty Mervine, owner and operator of badalien.org a website devoted to helping those that think they were abducted, as well as a representative from the James Randi Education Foundation, a group dedicated to exposing pseudoscience and uncovering the paranormal. Your moderator will be Travis Roy, president of the Granite State Skeptics.

So join us, May 23rd at the Manchester, NH Radison. More info can be found at the official Facebook Event, or www.granitecon.com