Skeptics in the Pub Online
While the current pandemic
restrictions are in force, there are no live Skeptics in the Pub meetings being held anywhere as
far as we know. Skeptics in the Pub Online is the result of the collaborative efforts of several
SitP groups and hosts Thursday evening talks present by authoritative speakers on topics of
skeptical interest. Regularly check their Facebook page for upcoming talks.
Stop press: Things are on the move again and some live meetings are now being
held. Check with your local group.
Man Suing Psychic
California man is suing a "psychic love specialist" who allegedly promised to remove
a curse placed on him by an ex-girlfriend-provided he paid her $5,100. According to a Fox 11 report
on Tuesday, a fraud suit filed by Mauro Restrepo with Torrance Superior Court says psychic Sophia
Adams said she could save his marriage provided he paid the necessary fee to exorcise the spell.
She also allegedly warned Restrepo he and his family would be "unhappy and in danger"
unless the curse was lifted.'
'UFO' sighting in Wales
'Panic-buying aliens were among the online quips after
a strange cone-shaped light was seen in the night skies above north east Wales. …. Scores of
people witnessed the soundless light hovering overhead, descending slowly and, in some cases,
"shooting off northwards". "Space ship, deffo," said one person. … The object
was soon revealed to be an Atlas V rocket, carrying Nasa's Landsat-9 satellite, which launched
from Vandenberg Space Force Base, USA, just after 7pm last Monday. Some two hours later it
performed a reversing manoeuvre, releasing glowing clouds of vapour.'
Government-commissioned review 'estimates 10% of items dispensed in primary care are
overprescribed with 15% of people taking 5 or more medicines a day, increasing the risk of adverse
effects. Around 1 in 5 hospital admissions in over-65s are caused by the adverse effects of
medicines. Ministers accept all recommendations including introducing a new national clinical
director for prescribing, increased use of social prescribing and better handovers between
hospitals and the community'.
Covid Vaccination: False but Viral Story
claims went viral on Friday about Air Force pilots and the Pentagon's Covid-19 vaccine
mandate for members of the military. In a video monologue that has been viewed more than 1.1
million times on Twitter, a bodybuilder named Justin Y. O'Donnell claimed that "my dad
just let me know" that the secretary of defense had sent a nighttime text message to all
active members of the military demanding that they get a Covid-19 vaccination by 10 a.m. the next
day or face a court martial. After receiving this text, O'Donnell claimed, "Twelve F-22
pilots, the most highly trained pilots in the world, walked off the job." He added that
"16 crew members for B-52 bombers walked off the job." The viral story is thoroughly
false. In fact, it originated on a misinformation website that publishes ridiculous fiction written
to read like actual news.'
No Evidence that Ivermectin is Effective against Covid-19
'An Ohio judge has
reversed a court order that forced a local hospital to treat a Covid-19 patient with the
anti-parasitic drug ivermectin. On Monday, Judge Michael Oster of Butler county issued an order
that sided with West Chester Hospital, citing a lack of "convincing evidence" that the
drug - used in small doses in humans against external parasites such as headlice, and in larger
doses for animals including cows and horses - could significantly improve the patient's
condition. The patient, Jeffrey Smith, was admitted to intensive care on 15 July. He has been on a
ventilator since 1 August. At a hearing on Thursday, Julie Smith, his wife, testified that neither
she nor her husband were vaccinated against Covid-19.'
When is a New Hospital a New Hospital?
A communications 'playbook' for the government's NHS building programme instructs
that major refurbishments and new wings/units by trusts 'must always be referred to as a new
hospital'. The instructions also state that trusts should reiterate ministers' commitment
to open '48 new hospitals by the end of the decade'. Questions have been raised about how
many new hospitals will be delivered in reality, and the fact that many of those planned are not
full hospital builds. Sajid Javid has been criticised for describing the Northern Centre for Cancer
Care - which is part of the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the first of the 48 schemes to
open - as 'a new hospital'. Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust did not describe
it as a hospital. Listen to the
Health Service Journal podcast.
'US Vice-president Kamala Harris's tour of Asia was impacted by reports of Havana
syndrome on 24.8.21. A trip from Singapore to Vietnam
was delayed by several hours amid an investigation into two possible cases in Hanoi,
administration officials said….Havana syndrome is the name for a series of mysterious health claims
first reported by American diplomats and other government employees in the Cuban capital in 2016.
Some reported hearing a loud piercing sound and feeling intense pressure in the face. Pain, nausea,
and dizziness sometimes followed. Similar, unexplained ailments have since been reported by
Americans in other countries, including Germany, Austria, Russia and China. A number of theories
have been floated to explain it, including targeted microwave or sonic attacks, perhaps as part of
an espionage or hacking effort.'
'A gang of people kidnapped a child after one of them believed the infant had been the victim of satanic abuse. Three people have
been found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap the child on Anglesey in November 2020 while three others
admitted the charge.'
'Doctors will be told this week to
stop recommending two controversial treatments for the debilitating condition myalgic
encephalomyelitis (ME) in a move which will provoke an angry backlash from the medical profession.
The Times has learnt that new guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care
Excellence (NICE) will say graded exercise therapy (Get) should no longer be offered to people with
ME. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a talking therapy previously seen as having a curative
role, should only be offered to support patients in dealing with the anxiety of being ill.'
Stop press: On August 17, NICE took the decision to
pause publication of its updated guidelines after the resignation of four members of the guideline
Society of Homeopaths
Newsletter of the campaigning organisations Good Thinking, August 2021. 'The Professional
Standards Authority (PSA) has announced new Standards for voluntary registers of healthcare
providers, causing the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) to withdraw from the accreditation scheme.
According to the PSA, the SoH's failings in this regard "led to risks to the public from
homeopathy being offered as an alternative for serious conditions such as depression, arthritis and
autoimmune conditions that require medical supervision." The PSA - the government body which
oversees and accredits healthcare bodies - has included in their new Standards a 'public
interest' test, which will weigh up whether the evidence for the benefits of a treatment
covered by a register outweigh any risks. The new Standards come after a public consultation on the
scope of the Accredited Registers programme.'
incredible true story of the cancer patient who didn't have cancer: At an integrative
medicine seminar she had won a special blood test as a door prize. Thinking of having some bloods
done anyway, she had taken advantage of the free offer, only to receive a call telling her she had
cancer. It was only after an expensive course of intravenous vitamins that her sceptical cousin
asked why no one had at least ordered a CT scan to find the cancer. She convinced her GP to order
the scan, which detected two tiny lung nodules. The GP sent her to a surgeon who ordered a
different scan, by which time the benign nodules had disappeared. The surgeon told her she did not
have cancer but she did not believe him.'
Traditional Medicine Fraud
'A claim has been shared in multiple social media posts that Sri Lankan regulators have
purportedly approved a brand of traditional medication as treatment for Covid-19. But this claim is
false: an official told AFP no traditional medication has been approved as treatment for
Covid-19 as of July 7, 2021; and warned against using unproven remedies for the disease.'
Unidentified Aerial Phenomena
The long-awaited 'preliminary'
report on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs or UFOs) commissioned by the US Congress has now
been released. This does not dismiss outright the idea that some UAPs could be extraterrestrial in
Vitamin D and COVID-19
'Early in the pandemic some research suggested a link between vitamin D deficiency and
severe COVID-19 disease. Some contend that if we simply gave people vitamin D supplements, there
would be no need for lockdowns, masks or vaccines because we would effectively eliminate
coronavirus and its impact on our lives. If that were true, vitamin D would have saved us all a lot
of pain and heartache. Unfortunately it is not.' Conclusion of research
at McGill University, Montreal.
'Though a seemingly worldwide practice, there is
little plausibility and no evidence to support burping infants before, during, or after feeds.
And it doesn't have anything to do with SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome).'
Father loses High Court battle to stop cancer doctors giving his sick 11-year-old daughter
chemotherapy to treat her leukaemiae
'A man who objected to his sick 11-year-old daughter being given further conventional cancer
has lost a High Court fight. The man disagreed with a treatment plan put forward by
specialists. He said he was worried about side-effects and wanted to explore homeopathic and
natural therapies. His estranged wife favoured a conventional approach.'
Anti-Vax Nurse Struck off for Claiming the Pandemic is a Hoax
Nursing Times 3.6.21: 'The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has made the decision
to permanently remove a conspiracy theorist and anti-vaxxer Kate Shemirani from their register. A
registered nurse, non-medical prescriber and aesthetic practitioner at the time, Ms Shemirani
developed a cult-like following over the past year due to her controversial views on vaccinations
and lockdown. She dubbed the current world health crisis a "scamdemic plandemic" in
numerous YouTube videos before she was banned from the platform.'
Death of Eminent Astronomer and Skeptic
The death has been announced of Professor Cornelis ('Kees') de Jager shortly following
his 100th birthday. Professor de Jager was a Dutch astronomer who specialized in predicting solar
variation to assess the Sun's impact on future climate. He was a former director of the
observatory at Utrecht and from 1960 to 1986 was a professor at Utrecht University. In 1981, de
Jager became a founding member of the World Cultural Council. He was a fellow of the Committee for
Skeptical Inquiry and the first chairman of the Dutch skeptical society, Stichting Skepsis, from
1987 to 1998. He was also the first chairman of the European Council of Skeptical Organisations
from 1994 to 2001.
Science and Politicians
'The Biden administration (has) announced the formal launch of its
Scientific Integrity Task Force which will review the federal government's scientific
policies to ensure they are free from inappropriate political influence. The 46 members come from
across the federal government and will meet for the first time on Friday. The review comes after
several former Trump administration officials have said they felt political pressures while doing
their jobs during the pandemic.'
Covid-19 and 5G Conspiracy Theory
The Department of Telecommunications in India has warned people not to believe fake messages
claiming 5G network and spread of Covid-19 are linked. The department also points out that 5G
network testing has not begun anywhere in India. Meanwhile, a band of anti-5G activists left an
area of Glastonbury without broadband after targeting what they mistakenly thought was a 5G
transmitter but was actually a 5GHz broadband box.
Cancer Prevention and Vitamins
for use of vitamins for CVD, cancer prevention: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
(USPSTF) concludes that evidence is currently insufficient for determining the benefits and harms
of most single or paired and multivitamin supplements but recommends against use of beta-carotene
and vitamin E for prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer.'
have recently presented the results of the first global analysis in 19 years of clinical trials
for weight loss supplements. Drawing on two literature reviews, they found insufficient evidence to
warrant the recommendation of supplements for weight loss. The study's authors drew their
conclusions from 121 clinical trials involving nearly 10,000 participants.'
Covid Conspiracy Theorist's Case Thrown Out
conspiracy theorist has had his lawsuit against the government of British Columbia (BC),
Canada, dropped by the courts. Makhan "Mak" Parhar was arrested in November 2020 and
spent four days in jail for allegedly breaching the terms of a government COVID Quarantine Act.
Police said he had "refused to comply" with the rules and had left his home despite being
told to self-isolate. According to videos and statements made on his Facebook page, Parhar is a
supporter of the flat Earth movement and critic of COVID regulations. … Following his arrest,
Parhar argued that he had been "kidnapped" and harmed and was looking for justice via
Withdrawal of Humanist of the Year award to Richard Dawkins
'...the AHA Board has concluded that Richard Dawkins is no longer deserving of being honored
by the (American Humanist Association), and (the AHA)
has voted to withdraw, effective immediately, the 1996 Humanist of the Year award.'
The Declaration to Improve Health Research
'We are an international group of researchers and patients who believe that:
- it is ethically untenable to remain complicit in the crises that undermine science,
- there are simple measures which can improve the quality and openness, and
- the public and patients have a right to full access of the research they fund
'It is extraordinary that we tolerate a situation in which most research activity is wasted.
Research findings are mostly wrong and riddled with biases including inadequate or absent reporting
and hidden conflicts of interest.
'On 27th April 2021, the Declaration to Improve Health Research and
the Center for Open Science will be hosting a Hackathon event on
'Registered Reports are a publication format whereby the methods for manuscripts are
peer-reviewed before results are known. … Over 250 journals have adopted this publication route,
but few are in medical and health sciences.
'We will be asking participants to join in writing to medical and health journals asking
them to allow authors to use the Registered Report publication format to increase the quality and
transparency of research. If you are interested in helping health research change for the better
and would like to take part in the Hackathon, please book your place here. The event will start at
3pm (UK time).
'If you would like to find out more about the hackathon please get in touch by email.'