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Showing posts from July, 2008

E-mail proof that god is real

What are the three topics you are supposed to avoid discussing with folks you just met? Oh yeah, sex, politics and religion. Well, I’m about to throw one of those out the window, so if you are easily offended, I suggest that you stop reading now.

I recently received a couple of e-mails which I think are meant to scare me into believing in a god. I’m also quite certain that the senders of these e-mails see them in a completely different light than I do. The first one I deleted in disgust so I will try to remember as much as I can. This was a PowerPoint presentation that started with informing me that god takes care of us even when we don’t know it. It explained that some of the people who survived 9-11 did so because they were delayed that day for some mundane reason such as being stuck in traffic, stopping at a pharmacy for some band-aids, their kid forgot lunch for school, etc. I guess this is proof that god was looking out for these people. This makes me angry. How pretentious. That …

Oh Oprah....

I don't watch the Oprah Winfrey show. But while channel surfing the other day, I had to stop and watch for a bit. Oprah had some guests on her show that claimed they could regress people into their past lives. One guest said that the phobias we may have today are a result from something that happened in a previous life. One woman was deathly afraid of dolls. Under hypnosis she recalled herself dying in a car accident while her frightened young children watched. The dolls in this life are the representation of her children in that life. After having found this out she can now be around dolls again. Wow. Sounds compelling. And Oprah agrees, so it must be true.

Hypnosis has many problems. The person being hypnotized already knows that they are to be regressed to a past life. This could cause their mind to make up something (perhaps something they saw on TV) to fit what the hypnotist wants. In turn, the hypnotist asks leading questions and plants memories. They help the subject embelli…

Cadavers Aplenty

Yesterday I went with my six year-old daughter to the Body Worlds Exhibit at the science centre. I wasn't concerned that she would be frightened. She enjoys learning about anatomy and has several books on the subject. Granted, the pictures are mainly cartoons but I showed her a picture of what we would see at the exhibit and she said she would be okay with it. She's a smart girl (yeah, I'm biased) and already knows the names of many organs and bones.

You may not want to read this if you are eating. The exhibit itself was fascinating in an educational yet sideshow freak way. The bodies are submitted to a revolutionary polymer preservation method called Plastination. They can then be cut up or sliced and posed any way revealing as much or little as desired. The skull can be sliced off to show the brain or any of the muscles and bones cut away to be able to see inner organs. The bodies can also be frozen and sliced into thick or paper thin sheets. There were also many individu…

Dissension and obsession

Why does the word “skeptic” have such a negative connotation? Most people’s first thoughts are miserable cynic when they hear me describe myself as such. I can see it in their faces. I’ve taking to saying that I’m a critical thinker instead. It means the same thing but doesn’t seem to get the same reaction. Until, of course, I explain what that means.

Then there’s the semantics. “Well that’s just your opinion and I have mine.” I get that a lot, is that true? Isn’t an opinion something objective and personal? People have opinions about what brand of peanut butter tastes better, or if it tastes good at all (ewww). People have opinions about which political party they favour. But what about facts? Can these be opinions too? It is a fact that psychic powers have never been proven to exist. It is a fact that homeopathy hasn’t been shown to work better than placebo. It is a fact that my eyes are brown. I state these facts. If someone refuses to accept these facts, do they then just become my…

If it were just that easy....

Flipping through a catalogue, I came across these frightening products. I'm not sure what's worse, the claims they are making or that gullible people will actually spend their money on this quackery.

1. Magnetic Jewelry. Magnets do not have healing properties. Period. No properly done scientific study has ever produced results that show any benefit resulting from putting magnets anywhere on your body. Do not wear if pregnant? Are they serious? I guess those in the family way should also stay away from the fridge. Wouldn't want to get too near to all those lethal fridge magnets. But it's been around for centuries you say? Yeah, well being old doesn't make it work, it just makes it....well, old.

2. Weight Loss Ring. Just think about that and try not to laugh. I dare you. Don't you think that if losing weight were that easy there wouldn't be a single overweight person anywhere? Sorry to burst your bubble but I think there is a lot of exercise and eating right in…

I Think my Energy is Broken

I have a co-worker who is a lovely girl. She is fun, helpful and always kind. But name a woo, any woo, and she likely buys into it hook, line and sinker. She is a fan of Sylvia Browne (gag) and believes wholeheartedly in ghosts, psychic powers, "The Secret" and much more.

It seems that she is now trying her hand at Reiki. Reiki is where you simply run your hands lightly over a person's body. This "re-establishes a normal energy flow of ki (life force energy) throughout the system which in turn can enhance and accelerate the body's innate healing ability." Okay. Basically it relaxes you. Of course it would, I feel pretty relaxed too when someone is lightly touching my body in a darkened room with soft music. Doesn't mean that there's anything happening to my ki or chi (whatever the heck that is) and I'm pretty sure anyone can relax someone else with a nice massage and you don't have to spend tons of money to become a re…

Eeeek...ants!

K, this isn't really about skeptical stuff but it is about sciencey stuff. Does that count? We recently bought an ant farm which contains a blue gel instead of dirt. NASA used this when they took ants to space as dirt would have collapsed and killed the little critters.

Our industrious friends have been working night and day tunneling a new home for themselves. Very cool to watch.

Cool ant fact: All the ants you see outside are female. The males are bred selectively only for breeding purposes. Hmmm, I think they are on to something there.

The appeal of Scientology

Twenty-some years ago my mother-in-law was pulled into the clutches of the Scientologists. I don't fault her for going that route. It was a hard time in her life and Scientology promises much in the way of happiness and taking control. She's just another example of why critical thinking is so important. After giving the church much more money than she should have, she came to her senses and demanded every penny back. They eventually did pay her back and all is now good. My husband was a boy of about 12 at the time that his mom was going to sessions and he often got taken along. He was put in another room to colour and kept occupied while his mom was "audited" and regressed into her past lives.

The Scientologists have now found him again. A few months ago a member of the church called us and asked Ken if he was still interested in the teachings. I found that odd since his mom sued them for the money they took from her, but I guess that may not be common knowledge in t…