Hear ye! Hear ye! The 131st Skeptics' Circle is now in session. The (well, semi-)honourable Providentia blog presiding for the first time. Our court docket is indeed full as we bring you the best and boldest skeptical writings in the blogosphere of the past two weeks. Let woo-meisters and pundits tremble!
First up to don the powdered wig is the delightful Skepvet who gives evidence in the case of the People vs Complementary Medicine proponents. We hear about their annoying tendency towards special pleading to get around their utter lack of scientific support. Then we have a little education in how CAM-meisters ignore some fairly basic rules for judging causality.
For those loyal skeptics in the Midwest area, Action Skeptics tells us about the upcoming Skepchicamp on March 6 and the terrific lineup of presentations they have scheduled. We also hear about the planning for Gen Con Symposium including the big fund-raiser for the Indiana Immunization Coalition. Any potential volunteers should get all the details at the Gen Con Skeptics site.
The irrepressible Skepbitch weighs in with two posts about her new gig as host of the Point of Inquiry podcast. In these posts, she talks about her recent interview with Cold Reader Extraordinaire, Ian Rowland who fills us in on the Cold, Hard Facts of Cold Reading.
Jumping to a distant land, we have Swedish skeptic Martin Rundkvist at Aardvarchaeology telling us about the outcome of a Swedish vaccination and autism case that actually came out right for a change. Hurray for good sense!
We then have the Evolving Mind regale us with three recent posts on human psychology and self-deception. First up is his post on the problem of self-report in researching human sexuality (people aren't always honest about their sex lives - who knew?). We then hear about the dangers of "natural" herbal medicines which aren't nearly as healthy as the alt-medicine woo-pushers make them out to be. Then we have his expose on acupuncture and its dependence on the placebo effect in relieving pain. Sadly, even medical researchers who supposedly know better seem to be feeding into the woo on this one.
Just squeaking in under the wire, we have three last-minute submissions from Life, the Universe and One Brow. In the first post, he tells us about the anti-vaccinationist leanings of Brent Spiner and whether Data would be taken in by such woo (say it ain't so, Brent!). We then have his comments on self-proclaimed logician, Martin Cochran, who seems too preoccupied with stone-throwing to note the glassiness of his own house. The third post deals with the Illinois Family Institute and their odd diatribes on the "myth of overpopulation".
Another last-minute contributor is the Skeptical Teacher providing us with two posts about the trials and tribulations of science teaching in an age of woo. The first post deals with the incredible tale of bomb dowsing devices in Iraq which were actually bought with the tacit approval of the US and British military. The second post deals with media scare-mongering that prompted a massive recall of Toyota vehicles despite only a tiny percentage of Toyota-related fatalities actually being linked to these defects.
Finally, we have my own modest contribution with the beginning of a three-part series on famous (and not-so famous) prophets/faith healers and the rather thin line between religious ecstasy and insanity.
Court is now adjourned! The next Skeptics' Circle will be hosted by the lovely and talented Michael Meaden at Ionian Enchantment on March 11, 2010. Get your skeptical creative juices flowing and start writing.