Climate change denial: advice for skeptical projects

To round-out this quick series on the climate denial project, I thought I would reflect on some of the aspects of the project in the context of skeptical activism.  There are a wide range of these kinds of projects, and it is worthwhile attempting to share best practice when we can in order to make the most of limited (often volunteer-based) resources.  I know that the Eschaton2012 conference recently had a panel on skeptical activism which probably covered the same points, so I suggest you check that out as well.  Jeff Shallit has some interesting points for individuals, but this will consider what groups can accomplish.  Which leads me nicely into…Read More »

Climate change denial: my experience with the media

This is my third post relating to a project that looked at climate change denial as it was being taught in a Canadian university (see here for background, and here for response to some criticism).  We were expecting the skeptical community to pick it up, and the report was written mostly for that audience.  What we were not expecting was international media coverage and a few dozen blog posts.  Here, I will briefly reflect on what the media contact was like.

Read More »

Climate change denial: a response to some criticism

This is my second post on the climate change project (see my earlier piece on the background to the story).  In this post I’ll talk briefly about some of the negative response that was raised to the project, primarily by the researcher who developed the course, Tim Patterson.  It is worth noting that the course is being taught again in January 2013.  I’ll follow this up with posts on (i) experiences with the media, and (ii) advice for skeptical campaigns in general.

Read More »

Climate change denial: my part in its downfall

In March 2012 I was involved with a project that sought to make public some poor science that was being taught at a Canadian university.  I have been busy with other things since then (like getting a job…) but now I find myself with a few minutes to reflect on the experience.  I have a tendency to write long posts which I’m sure nobody ever reads, so I’m going to write three short posts on this topic.  In this post I’ll talk briefly about some of the negative response that was raised to the project, primarily by the researcher who developed the course, Tim Patterson.  It is worth noting that the course is being taught again in January 2013.  I’ll follow this up with posts on (i) a response to some criticisms, (ii) experiences with the media, and (iii) advice for skeptical campaigns in general.

Read More »

Is Correactology just chiropractic in a funny hat?

Correactology: it’s all about feet, apparently…

I’ve blogged about Correactology before, and that post has been pretty popular (for one of my posts, anyway…) so I thought I would revisit the topic.  Supply and demand and all that jazz…  Also, I was moved by a comment on the earlier post (reproduced in full below the fold), where a woman described a terrible experience with a Correactologist because she (a) had not been familiar with the nonsense treatment before, and (b) had nowhere to go to complain (the particular practitioner she was treated by is actually a Director of the “Canadian Association of Correactology Practitioners”).  Helping people like this is one of the reasons that I set up this blog:Read More »

A skeptical take on allergy testing

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! (photo by H. Zell)

This is the second of three segments that I presented on The Reality Check, Canada’s weekly skeptical podcast.  On episode #205, I talked about allergy testing.  Advances in medicine have completely eradicated diseases such as smallpox, and we are well on our way to doing the same for polio.  Yet more diseases are firmly under control through most of the developed world through the use of vaccines.  However, as we remove some causes of ill health, we notice that others have grown in prominence over the past few decades.  Allergies are a good example of one of these increasingly diagnosed conditions, but the general public tends to have a fairly poor understanding of what allergies are, how they come about and how they can be diagnosed.Read More »

Correactology – a very Canadian woo

I was carrying out some fieldwork in northern Ontario last summer, which involved trips to Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie and North Bay. Each day while staying in Sault Ste Marie, we would drive past a small, squat building with a sign outside announcing the presence of a “Correactology Centre”. I had no idea what that was and made a mental note to look it up. I was surprised that when I googled “correactology” there wasn’t even a Wikipedia page! It didn’t bother me that much as I had assumed that it was some obscure form of alternative therapy. I was correct, but it is a little bit more interesting than that.  Unlike many forms of complementary and alternative medicine, correactology (TM) is new.  Not only that, but it is Canadian, with the headquarters based in Sudbury, Ontario, and there is also a branch in Ottawa, making this a local matter!
Read More »