Sunday, January 31, 2010

Skeptic Zone

The Skeptic Zone this week was hitting on all eight cylinders. (Engine metaphor is probably in my head as I am off to the Philadelphia International Auto Show today.)  Anyway, the show contained a mega-Think Tank with Saunders, Dr. Dunlop, Benhamu, Jason Brown, and Sojka all crammed around a table at the back of a restaurant.  While Saunders complained of the noise in their new location in their Chinese Restaurant location, I did not think it was distracting at all.  I distract easily.  However, it may well have been distracting to the group, so it sounds as if the Think Tank may need to find a new home.

For me, the highlight of the Think Tank was Dr. Dunlop discussing the Twitter eruption regarding "the Shorty Awards," which is like the Podcast awards, which is like the Oscars, which is like the People's Choice Awards, which is to say kind of silly, but if I was up for one, I'd probably like to win it.  Dr. Dunlop, which as of this writing the voting is closed, and it appears the good Doctor has freaking won! (oh yeah!)  Anyway, she and the panel discussed the disgusting personal attacks she underwent after the skeptical and science community rallied round Dr. Dunlop to place her ahead of some alternative medical tweeters.  Her credentials were called into questions as was her weight.  Honestly, how can you attack someone for their weight especially since Dr. Dunlop from all the pictures I have seen of her looks perfectly normal and of satisfactory health.  It was very gratifying to hear of the skeptical community rallying round the flag to put a legitimate medical practitioner and skeptical advocate deservingly not just into the race, but apparently over the top. Congratulations to Dr. Dunlop and job well done skeptics.

And why does Dr. Dunlop deserve to win, why for segments such as "Dr. Rachie Reports."  This week Dr. Rachie reported on Blue Green Algae, and whether it, as Spirulina and a superfood supplement, is even worth the risk of possibly becoming ill or death from actual toxic effects of impure batches of the stuff.  I enjoyed her intro a great deal where she explained a bird attack in California in the early 1960's might have been caused by birds drinking tainted water from a blue-green algae bloom.  The birds went a bit wacky, and seemingly attacked the town.  This was one of the influences on the great Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds."  Dr. Dunlop did not mention whether Blue-Green Algae had a hand in inspiring the stiff performances in "Torn Curtain."  Basically, blue-green algae bacteria at a certain phase of their life cycle can contain dangerous levels of toxins that no footpad treatment could ever cure, so if you eat a bad batch of the alleged health food wonder supplement spirulina, you could be as dead as Norman's mother in "Psycho."

The show started with an interview by Saunders of the great Dr. Eugenie Scott, of the National Center for Science Education, which is on the front lines of keeping Creationist junk science and its variations out of the science classroom and into the religion, literature or philosophy class where it rightfully belongs.  During the interview, Scott discussed Prof. Richard Dawkins newest book "The Great Show on Earth," which I have not read, but basically spells out of the various lines of evidence that reveal just how strong the evidence is for evolution by means of natural selection.  However, Scott indicated that she disagrees with Dawkins on how important the fossil evidence as pillar of evidence for evolution by means of natural selection.  Dawkins indicates that the fossil evidence is a nice bonus to support natural selection, while Scott indicates that fossil evidence is more than just a nice bonus.  She feels is it some of the more important evidence for natural selection.  Two proponents for natural selection disagree on a point this must mean natural selection is not true.  Ray Comfort must be right time to toss out natural selection and science books and go back to Genesis.  (No.  Just kidding)  Anyway, Scott as always was a wonderful interview, after all she is chock full of awesome.  Saunders and Scott discussed how little the creationist arguments have changed despite being knocked down again, and again.   Creationist arguments wabble, but they don't fall down.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this week's episode.

Once again congratulations to Dr. Dunlop and the skeptical community pushing Dunlop over the top.


  1. My first time reading your blog; I enjoyed your thoughtful and sincere review of Skeptic Zone. Thank you.

  2. Ridiculous - several studies have proved that spirulina is totally innocuous for human beings throughout its cycle. The issue is having other (potentially health-adverse) algae blooms taking place in the lakes where spirulina is harvested. No such thing happens in well-controlled pond environments. That's why Klamash blue-green algae is basically bogus and why non-lake harvested chlorella or spirulina are deemed GRAS.


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