James Randi, Global Warming and the Nature of Scepticism

16th December, 2009 53

James Randi is a hero to many rational people around the world. He has done more than, perhaps, any person alive to promote rational and clear thinking about claims of the paranormal and alternative medicine. His million dollar challenge acts as a marvelous foil to mountebanks and charlatans. He simply says to them, “demonstrate what you claim, under controlled conditions, and the prize is yours.” This of course, leaves the [read more…]

To Coffee! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.

16th December, 2009 3

We have a conflicted relationship with the things that give us pleasure. We fear overindulgence may be harming us, and we desperately seek evidence that suggests our habits are beneficial, so that we can continue to enjoy them without guilt. This year appears to have been a good year for coffee in this contradictory quest. Over the past twelve months, the People’s Medical Journal, the Daily Mail, has given us [read more…]

Meddling Princes, Medical Regulation and Licenses to Kill

10th December, 2009 6

The Eighteenth Century in England was the Golden Age of Quackery, with London being a world capital for mountebanks, charlatans and other practitioners of irregular medicine. Consumers in Georgian England had access to an unparalleled selection of medical entrepreneurship from regular doctors, lay quacks, foreigners with exotic elixirs, and even preachers such as John Wesley (as we saw a few weeks ago). So popular were these various tonics and treatments [read more…]