Cracked Science

My podcasting buddy and general thorn in my side, Dr. Christopher Labos, has published something for the CBC and we’re supposed to, I don’t know, stop everything we’re doing and read it because it’s so great. Here’s an excerpt:

“He points out that most of us are slowly damaging our hearing without realizing it.

“But the ears have their own way of signalling danger. Coming out of a nightclub and finding that your ears are ringing or that you have to speak loudly to hear your own voice is a common situation that most people think is benign. But it is actually a defence mechanism your ears use to protect themselves from damaging noise levels, a phenomenon called a ‘temporary threshold shift’.”

Look, it’s apparently the greatest thing since sliced bread, but there’s at least one missing punctuation mark that I noticed (and this guy is in journalism school). If you listen to music on your phone…

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Watch: Journalists Get Health Canada License Number for Fake Remedy

Cracked Science

If you have ever bought a natural health product approved by Health Canada, you must watch this 22-minute episode of CBC’s Marketplace.

Do you have any idea how easy it is to get approval from Health Canada to manufacture and sell a natural health product?

You will hear from me on this topic in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, watch this incredible report:

CBC Marketplace show

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Read: Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?

Cracked Science

This is required reading, folks.

“The ‘science communication problem,’ as it’s blandly called by the scientists who study it, has yielded abundant new research into how people decide what to believe—and why they so often don’t accept the scientific consensus. It’s not that they can’t grasp it, according to Dan Kahan of Yale University. In one study he asked 1,540 Americans, a representative sample, to rate the threat of climate change on a scale of zero to ten. Then he correlated that with the subjects’ science literacy. He found that higher literacy was associated with stronger views—at both ends of the spectrum. Science literacy promoted polarization on climate, not consensus. According to Kahan, that’s because people tend to use scientific knowledge to reinforce beliefs that have already been shaped by their worldview.”

As a quote I’ve read recently says, “Humans are not rational beings; we are rationalizing beings.”

Go read…

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Book Review: Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? by Timothy Caulfield

Cracked Science


“Evidence-based entertainment” is the motto and mandate of the production team under whose banner this blog exists. It expresses a desire for subversive education in light of growing apathy, for using the tools of entertainment to foster skepticism. The pill is always easier to swallow in a scoop of ice cream.

I love stumbling upon like-minded individuals who have found creative ways of bringing real science to an indifferent audience. Law professor and author Timothy Caulfield struck the perfect balance with his first outing, The Cure for Everything! With this sophomore tome, Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?, he shows us the potential longevity of a writing approach that weaves scientific results into a tapestry of funny encounters and personal experiences. I look forward to future iterations of the formula: it makes for compelling and enriching reads.

The first half of Gwyneth seems like the natural continuation of Cure

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“A little research” doesn’t cut it: Quack medicine speaks in Northwest Territories

Cracked Science

After being accused by a magazine of promoting “disproven and discredited therapy systems” at their conference, the organizers of the Northwest Territories Wellness Conference (taking place this weekend) used the old “complementary” trope to excuse their choices.

Indeed, a cursory look at their schedule reveals workshops with the following descriptive phrases: “how to use local plants to make your own ointments”, “the opportunity to heal and feel the collective Qi”, and my personal favourite, “Science is finally catching up with what a minority of people from many different cultures around the world has known since the beginning of time: that there exists an energy within all of us that can heal.”

These offerings are woven into panels involving actual MDs and focusing on cancer treatment and maternal infant health.

But the organizers reassured skeptics by revealing their thorough vetting process.

“The cold laser therapy guy – the first time he…

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Darwin Day 2015: Refute Erroneous Arguments

Cracked Science

On February 12, 1809, Charles Darwin was born.

Along with Alfred Russel Wallace, he formulated the theory of evolution, according to which the struggle for life leads to the survival of the species most fit to their environment.

If you are skeptical about evolution (“it’s just a theory!”) or if you know people who are but you lack the knowledge to refute their erroneous arguments, here is a PDF document to the rescue.

Top 10 Myths About Evolution.

For those who claim that no fossil of intermediate forms have been found, “there are now at least six intermediate fossil stages in the evolution of whales, and in human evolution there are at least a dozen intermediate fossil stages since hominids branched off from the great apes six million years ago.”

The PDF was released by the Skeptics Society.

And if you are not satiated in your Darwin Day celebrations, you…

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Watch: How Vaccines Work

Cracked Science

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 6.21.15 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-08 at 6.20.19 PM

The Patient Education Office of the McGill University Health Centre has just released a video to educate the public on the importance of vaccination. And who guides us through the mechanism of action of one of our most effective public health measures? Dr. Christopher Labos… in cartoon form.

If you like the video, please send it to your friends and family. You don’t need a Ph.D. to understand it; this is meant to be understood by the population at large.

And damn you, Dr. Labos, for getting drawn before me. I’m calling Matt Groening.

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Read: Why Fight a Losing Battle (Using a Faded Sweater Instead of a Cape and Cowl)

Cracked Science

I have interviewed Dr. Christopher Labos on the topic of integrative medicine for my podcast, Within Reason. A cardiologist by training, he is studying to become a medical journalist. Like me, he has a passion for bringing scientific facts to the public in spite of the tidal wave of misinformation that washes us all up every day. He has written a piece for the blog BoringEM on why he fights the good fight:

“And every so often you do something that you’re really proud of. I just finished writing up a story for the National Post, not published yet, about how Health Canada regulates natural health products. I spent weeks researching the story, conducting interviews and poring through the pages and pages of regulations Health Canada published.

“Not many people would see that as fun, but I do. And that’s fundamentally the point I want to make here.”


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Read: What Is the Gap Between Evidence and Its Acceptance?

Cracked Science

It is one thing for scientists to agree on the evidence, but what is the gap between scientific consensus (or near-consensus) and public acceptance of these same facts?

“Asked whether genetically modified food is safe, 88 per cent of the scientists say Yes, but only 37 per cent of the public agreed. That’s a gap of 51 percentage points.

“The idea that humans are changing the climate got support from 87 per cent of the scientists and 50 per cent of the public in the U.S.”

Should animals be used in research? 89% of polled scientists said “yes”; the public?

You can read the Vancouver Sun’s reporting of the latest Pew Research Centre poll here.

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Read: Weight-Loss Pills on the Market and Their Downsides

Cracked Science

Here’s an interesting look at the various weight-loss pills available on the market, published recently in the Montreal Gazette:

“This benefit has to be weighed against the risks, which are considerable. Any pill that ‘boosts your metabolism’ will put more strain on your heart. Blunting appetite is all well and good until you realize that most people overeat for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger. And blocking fat absorptions sounds like a good idea until you get foul smelling diarrhea.”

This opinion piece has it all: drug names you can use playing Scrabble, science education, and the words “fecal incontinence”. It was also written by Dr. Christopher Labos, who was my guest on episode 205 of Within Reason, talking about the adoption of so-called alternative medical practices in hospitals.

You can read Dr. Labos’ Gazette article on weight-loss pills by clicking here.

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