The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Archive for September, 2010

“The Secrets of Scientology” Documentary Exposes the Cult

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 30, 2010

I just finished watching a new documentary from the BBC titled “The Secrets of Scientology”, and I wanted to share it with you all here.  In it, investigative reporter John Sweeney interviews former members – from rank-and-file members to some of the most high-ranking church officials – about their time in the Church of Scientology, its practices, its secrets, and its abuses. After watching this documentary, I think it is safe to say the Church of Scientology is rightly classified as a dangerous & abusive, money-grubbing cult. See for yourself…

Posted in cults, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Ironically, Non-Believers Know More About Religion Than Believers

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 28, 2010

**Update: Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, has an excellent analysis over at the Chicago Tribune religion blog – check it out!

===========================

In a widely reported poll today (here is the link to the actual Pew survey), it seems there are some rather counter-intuitive results regarding religious affiliation & level of factual religious knowledge in the United States.  Namely, from the survey, the non-religious (atheists & agnostics) are among the most religiously literate when it comes to knowing facts & details about various religions…

Survey: Americans don’t know much about religion

A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish. …

Now, while I am not a religious believer myself – I identify as an “Epicurean freethinker”, basically a modern-day atheist – I am a pretty serious student of religion and religious history.  I also include among my circle of friends & acquaintances people from all religious and non-religious backgrounds: Christians (including Catholics & Mormons), Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and so on.  However, I have to say that while I don’t believe any of the supernatural aspects of religion, I do understand how a knowledge of religion & religious history is advantageous in knowing more about who we are as a society.

This is why I am a bit amazed and upset by the results of this survey.  I would think that people who are sincere religious believers would want to be educated about the facts & history behind their faith.  If people don’t learn for themselves the factual information about the origins, history, and basic tenets of their own religion, then that opens them up to all manner of hucksterism in the name of God, etc.

For example, I know someone who is what I would call an ardent fundamentalist Christian; however, they are also terribly ignorant of the origins & history of their own religion.  When I try to have a discussion with them about where the Bible came from, who wrote it, when it was written, the formation of the early Christian Church, and so on, they just want to ignore me or change the subject.  It is almost as if they are uncomfortable with the very thought of learning about their religion, as if they have a fear that if they learn too much their faith might be shaken (perhaps it might be).  As a result, they are heavily influenced by those who would use Christianity for political and other nefarious purposes.

Perhaps that is what is going on with some religious believers: they want to remain willfully ignorant, because – as the saying goes – ignorance is bliss.  Or maybe they just want to be told what to believe by their religious leaders, either because they are a bit intellectually lazy (thinking about this stuff is hard work), they don’t have the time to look into it (if you’re working three jobs, it’s tough to study during what little free time you have), or they believe that if they question things they could be cast out of their religious community.  I’m sure it could be a combination of all of the above.

In any case, I think it is a sad state of affairs.  Knowledge, even the knowledge about religion, should be something that we aspire to collect & nurture.  Cultivating an environment of intellectual curiosity & critical thinking should be encouraged among the religious, partly because people can then arm themselves against those who would use their beliefs to manipulate them (such as politicians making bogus “Christian nation” claims or crusading faith-healers).

To sum up: we need skeptics & critical thinkers in all areas of human endeavor, including religious believers within their religious communities.  Since the majority of the U.S. population is religious, the more ignorant they become about their own beliefs, the more susceptible they become to erroneous claims & extremism – and that can affect all of us.  If you know someone who is religious, or are religious yourself, take some time to actually learn more about their (or your) faith.

Posted in philosophy, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

An Actual Geocentrism Conference? Are You Frakkin’ Kidding?!

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 25, 2010

You know, there are days when I think I’ve seen it all.  I think to myself: “there are some things which are just too stupid, crazy, and/or ‘out-there’ that nobody will attempt to believe & defend.”  And then something like this crosses my email inbox: an actual conference, titled “Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right”, which attempts to seriously argue for… get this… geocentrism. You know, geocentrism – the idea that the Earth is the center of the universe.  You know, geocentrism – the notion which has become, and deservedly so, synonymous with the Dark Ages & all manner of backward and nonsensical thinking.  You know, geocentrism – the completely defunct idea which even the modern Catholic Church itself has admitted as having no merit whatsoever!  Yeah, that geocentrism…

Actually, before I facepalm myself into a state of blissful unconsciousness over the incredible level of stupidity embodied by this conference, allow me to seriously address the entire question of geocentricity.  I wish to do so because of two reasons: 1) if these pseudoscientists are holding a conference, they are attempting to get more media attention and must thus be countered; and 2) it seems that a whopping 18% of people in the United States actually believe the Earth is the center of the universe (which is far too many)!  So here goes…

First off, I’m going to hit just a few major points in this post.  If you want a much more thorough treatment of this topic, go see Phil Plait’s post over at Bad Astronomy; and if you are interested in reading more about the history of geocentric models of the universe, I suggest you check out Wikipedia as a starter.

Now, let me begin by saying that if you don’t have any education at all in the topic of Earth & space science, astronomy, physics, and what-have-you that I can understand an almost blind acceptance of geocentrism for one simple reason: it certainly appears that everything in the sky moves around the Earth.  Look in the sky and you’ll see the Sun, Moon, planets, stars, etc all moving – from your frame of reference – around the Earth.

Of course, a little more thought, along with a deeper analysis of astronomical data, will show that the geocentrism as mentioned by these “Galileo Was Wrong” goofballs is totally bogus…

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in astrology, creationism, physics denial/woo, religion, space | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Research from the National Science Foundation: Scientific Consensus and Cultural Context

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 23, 2010

There has been an interesting study which came out from the U.S. National Science Foundation regarding the cultural context in which science is received by the public, and the results are simultaneously interesting and a bit depressing.  In short, when the scientific consensus on a particular topic is found to be in conflict with cultural values, the scientific consensus is often downplayed, dismissed, or viewed with excessive skepticism.  While it can be somewhat of a downer to read these results, it is also useful because it provides (or at least it should provide) the scientific community some clues about how to approach the manner in which it interacts with the public.

The example provided here deals specifically with the intersection of the consensus within the scientific community on climate change and the public perceptions of the same topic.  However, you can see how the results of this study can be extrapolated to a variety of scientific fields & related pseudosciences: evolution vs. creationism, science-based medicine vs. alt-med quackery, established physics vs. various New Age woo-woo, etc.  Here is more information about the study…

Why “Scientific Consensus” Fails to Persuade

Suppose a close friend who is trying to figure out the facts about climate change asks whether you think a scientist who has written a book on the topic is a knowledgeable and trustworthy expert. You see from the dust jacket that the author received a Ph.D. in a pertinent field from a major university, is on the faculty at another one, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Would you advise your friend that the scientist seems like an “expert”?

If you are like most people, the answer is likely to be, “it depends.” What it depends on, a recent study found, is not whether the position that scientist takes is consistent with the one endorsed by a National Academy. Instead, it is likely to depend on whether the position the scientist takes is consistent with the one believed by most people who share your cultural values.

This was the finding of a recent study conducted by Yale University law professor Dan Kahan, University of Oklahoma political science professor Hank Jenkins-Smith and George Washington University law professor Donald Braman that sought to understand why members of the public are sharply and persistently divided on matters on which expert scientists largely agree.

“We know from previous research,” said Dan Kahan, “that people with individualistic values, who have a strong attachment to commerce and industry, tend to be skeptical of claimed environmental risks, while people with egalitarian values, who resent economic inequality, tend to believe that commerce and industry harms the environment.”

In the study, subjects with individualistic values were over 70 percentage points less likely than ones with egalitarian values to identify the scientist as an expert if he was depicted as describing climate change as an established risk. Likewise, egalitarian subjects were over 50 percentage points less likely than individualistic ones to see the scientist as an expert if he was described as believing evidence on climate change is unsettled.

Study results were similar when subjects were shown information and queried about other matters that acknowledge “scientific consensus.” Subjects were much more likely to see a scientist with elite credentials as an “expert” when he or she took a position that matched the subjects’ own cultural values on risks of nuclear waste disposal and laws permitting citizens to carry concealed guns in public.

“These are all matters,” Kahan said, “on which the National Academy of Sciences has issued ‘expert consensus’ reports.” Using the reports as a benchmark,” Kahan explained that “no cultural group in our study was more likely than any other to be ‘getting it right’,” i.e. correctly identifying scientific consensus on these issues. They were all just as likely to report that ‘most’ scientists favor the position rejected by the National Academy of Sciences expert consensus report if the report reached a conclusion contrary to their own cultural predispositions.”

In a separate survey component, the study also found that the American public in general is culturally divided on what “scientific consensus” is on climate change, nuclear waste disposal, and concealed-handgun laws.

“The problem isn’t that one side ‘believes’ science and another side ‘distrusts’ it,” said Kahan referring to an alternate theory of why there is political conflict on matters that have been extensively researched by scientists.

He said the more likely reason for the disparity, as supported by the research results, “is that people tend to keep a biased score of what experts believe, counting a scientist as an ‘expert’ only when that scientist agrees with the position they find culturally congenial.”

Understanding this, the researchers then could draw some conclusions about why scientific consensus seems to fail to settle public policy debates when the subject is relevant to cultural positions.

“It is a mistake to think ‘scientific consensus,’ of its own force, will dispel cultural polarization on issues that admit scientific investigation,” said Kahan. “The same psychological dynamics that incline people to form a particular position on climate change, nuclear power and gun control also shape their perceptions of what ‘scientific consensus’ is.”

“The problem won’t be fixed by simply trying to increase trust in scientists or awareness of what scientists believe,” added Braman. “To make sure people form unbiased perceptions of what scientists are discovering, it is necessary to use communication strategies that reduce the likelihood that citizens of diverse values will find scientific findings threatening to their cultural commitments.”

The Journal of Risk Research published the study online today. It was funded by the National Science Foundation’s division of Social and Economic Sciences.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF (703) 292-8070 bmixon@nsf.gov

Principal Investigators
Dan M. Kahan, Yale University Law School (203) 432-8832 dan.kahan@yale.edu

Posted in psychology, scientific method | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“Skeptics Under the Stars” Event in October!

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 19, 2010

If you happen to be in the upper Midwest in early October, I invite you to attend an event hosted by the Women Thinking Free Foundation: it’s called Skeptics Under the Stars! Here’s more information…


Skeptics Under the Stars!

Saturday, October 2nd

McIntyre’s Resort

N 6471 Milwaukee Road

Delavan, WI 53115

Come join the Women Thinking Free Foundation for a night of astronomy and outdoor camping.  After setting up camp at McIntyre’s Resort in Delavan, Wisconsin, we’ll have an outdoor BBQ with burgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers complemented by a talk by skeptical astronomer Dr. Pamela Gay of the popular Astronomy Cast podcast.  After dinner, we’ll make our way to the world-famous Yerkes Observatory for a private tour and chance to take a peek through their historic 40 inch refracting telescope!

After our stint at the observatory, we will head back to the campground for a late night of stargazing, more short talks by our illustrious, skeptical astronomer, and of course roasting marshmallows and generally having fun camping outdoors.

Timeline:

3-5pm – set up camp at McIntyre’s Resort

5-7:15pm – eat and talk with Dr. Pamela Gay

8-11pm – tour of Yerkes Observatory

11pm-???am – stargazing (weather permitting), food, and fun

Cost: $75/person + children under 10 free (so bring the kids!)

What is included in the trip cost:

Tour of Yerkes

Campground Costs

Burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers for BBQ

Lighter Fluid & Charcoal

Snacks

Limited Beer and Wine

What to Bring:

Bug spray

Boots (if hiking)

Jacket/Rain gear

Tents

Sleeping bags/Blankets

Warm Clothes & Boots

Matches/Lighter

Flashlight

Pocket Knife

Telescopes (we have a couple already, but if you have your own, be sure to bring it!)

We’ll have some limited beer and wine until we run out, but you may want to BYOB if you plan on drinking into the night. Same goes for any other food or snacks you want to bring.

We understand that many people may not own all the needed supplies or may not have a car for traveling from Chicago. Please visit the message board at the Skeptics Under the Stars Facebook page if you need or have extra tents/sleeping bags or want to take part in a carpool. We don’t want to leave one skeptic behind just because you don’t own your own sleeping bag.

Additionally, some of us skeptics might want to head up to the campground early to enjoy some hiking and boating prior to the start of the official event. This can all be worked out at the message boards as well.

If you’re on Facebook, check out our event page. If you get lost or have a problem on the way up, make sure to take these phone numbers with you and don’t be shy in calling one of us.

Jamie Bernstein: 858-442-4415
Matt Lowry: 847-533-5717

If you have any other questions or problems, send us an email at marsmattus@yahoo.com and/or jamiebb@uchicago.edu

Posted in skeptical community, space | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Testing String Theory? How Real Science Progresses

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 16, 2010

Something very interesting has happened recently in the world of theoretical physics.  One of the hottest ideas around is the notion of so-called string theory: it’s the idea that all matter & energy in the universe – from the electrons & quarks that make up atoms to photons of light to everything in between – is composed of ultra-tiny strings of vibrating energy.  It’s a marvelous and mathematically elegant idea, one which many theoretical physicists believe holds the key to unifying the fundamental forces of nature, but it suffers from a big flaw: these strings are, according to the theory, so small that we have no way to experimentally detect them. Thus, if such is the case, then many physicists & critics of string theory have equated the idea with a dragon in the garage, an unfalsifiable notion which isn’t subject to scientific investigation.  I have placed myself into this category of string theory skeptics for quite a long time for this very reason…

… up until now, that is.  It seems that the question of whether or not string theory is testable, and therefore real science, has been answered.  That’s because recent theoretical analysis of string theory has revealed that it makes unique predictions which can be tested in a controlled laboratory setting having to do with a weird phenomenon called quantum entanglement. Up until now, physicists haven’t had a good way to really predict the behavior of systems that coupled via quantum entanglement, but it seems that some aspects of string theory can shed some light on this…

New study suggests researchers can now test the ‘theory of everything’

String theory was originally developed to describe the fundamental particles and forces that make up our universe. The new research, led by a team from Imperial College London, describes the unexpected discovery that string theory also seems to predict the behaviour of entangled quantum particles. As this prediction can be tested in the laboratory, researchers can now test string theory.

Over the last 25 years, string theory has become physicists’ favourite contender for the ‘theory of everything’, reconciling what we know about the incredibly small from particle physics with our understanding of the very large from our studies of . Using the theory to predict how entangled quantum particles behave provides the first opportunity to test string theory by experiment.

“If experiments prove that our predictions about quantum entanglement are correct, this will demonstrate that string theory ‘works’ to predict the behaviour of entangled quantum systems,” said Professor Mike Duff FRS, lead author of the study from the Department of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London.

“This will not be proof that string theory is the right ‘theory of everything’ that is being sought by cosmologists and particle physicists. However, it will be very important to theoreticians because it will demonstrate whether or not string theory works, even if its application is in an unexpected and unrelated area of physics,” added Professor Duff. …

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in physics denial/woo, scientific method | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

It Bears Repeating: Yet MORE Evidence That Vaccines DON’T Cause Autism!

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 13, 2010

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but… hell with it, let’s beat the dead horse once more: here is YET MORE evidence that vaccines DON’T cause autism!

No link found between vaccine mercury and autism

By Frederik Joelving Frederik Joelving Mon Sep 13, 3:38 am ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new government study adds to the evidence that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative until recently found in many vaccines, does not increase children’s risk of autism.

It shows kids who had been exposed as babies to high levels of the preservative — through vaccines they received or their mothers received while pregnant — were no more likely to develop autism, including two distinct subtypes of the condition.

“This study should reassure parents about following the recommended immunization schedule,” said Dr. Frank Destefano, director of the Immunization Safety Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, and the study’s senior author.

Concerns about a link between vaccines and autism were first raised more than a decade ago by British physician Andrew Wakefield.

His report, based on 12 children, has since been discredited and was retracted earlier this year by the journal that published it. In the meantime, it sparked a fierce worldwide debate among scientists and a health scare that caused many parents to shy away from recommended vaccines like the one against measles, mumps and rubella.

Outbreaks of all three diseases followed.

One widespread worry has been that thimerosal might play a role in the development of autism, a condition that affects as many as one in 110 U.S. children, according to the CDC.

Most scientists consider autism a developmental disorder, likely influenced by genes.

Autism spectrum disorders range from mild Asperger’s Syndrome to severe mental retardation and social disability, and there is no cure or good treatment.

The CDC researchers used data for U.S. children born between 1994 and 1999, who were enrolled in one of three managed care organizations.

They found 256 children with an autism spectrum disorder and compared them with 752 children who did not have the condition, but were matched for age and sex.

No matter when a child had been exposed to thimerosal — before birth when the mother had a shot, or when the child itself was vaccinated as a baby or toddler — there was no increase in the risk of any type of autism spectrum disorder.

In fact, those kids who were exposed to the preservative between birth and 20 months of age had slightly lower odds of developing the condition, although the researchers could not explain that result.

“This is a very reassuring study,” said Dr. Michael J. Smith, a pediatrician at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky who was not involved in the research.

“These data show that you could receive a thimerosal vaccine and not be concerned about it.”

Smith, who said he has a fully vaccinated two-month-old at home, noted that autism rates have continued to rise, although thimerosal has been removed from all routine childhood vaccines, except flu shots.

For parents who remain concerned about thimerosal in the flu shots, he said there are alternatives without the preservative, such as FluMist, a nasal spray that can be used in children aged two and older.

Some parents have also worried that giving too many shots at once, or in children who are too young, could cause mental problems. Smith said studies had dispelled those concerns one by one.

“There is no credible evidence” for a link between vaccines and autism, he told Reuters Health.

SOURCE: http://link.reuters.com/gas77m Pediatrics, online September 13, 2010.

These sorts of things, sadly, need to be repeated over and over again because, in my experience, when those on the pro-science & reason side go silent, that is precisely when the pseudoscientific nuts will come crawling out of whatever rock they’ve crawled under.  And you need to look no further than the comment section on this article to see what sort of entrenched, conspiracy-mongering mentality we are dealing with from those in the anti-vaccination movement: they immediately dismiss one of the most comprehensive studies on the matter by making insinuations that the government is in league with Big Pharma or whomever to do… something.  I’ve rarely been told be the anti-vax conspiracy theorists what this “something” is supposed to be, but we can all be assured that it’s definitely something sinister…

In short: against such dangerous nonsense & irrationality, we must be ever vigilant, folks.  Ever vigilant – because if we are silent, these loons win the argument by default.

Posted in conspiracy theories, media woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Center For Inquiry Chicago Event: “On Deities, Doctrines, Superstitions and Other Things to Die For”

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 12, 2010

Anyone involved in skepticism in and around the Chicago area no doubt knows that one of the key organizations in the local skeptic/freethought movement is the Center For Inquiry Chicago. They have an upcoming event that I would like to pass along to you all in case anyone’s interested in attending…

The Center For Inquiry/Chicago invites you to our multi-media, participatory, Fall extravaganza!

On Deities, Doctrines, Superstitions
and Other Things to Die For

In Wicker Park at “St. Paul’s” Cultural Center – 2215 W. North Ave. – Chicago
Saturday, September 18th 2010, from
7:00 pm – 11:00 pm

The program includes:

  • Mark Twain “in person”Warren Brown, a nationally renowned Twain scholar, will perform as Twain, Huck, and Jim, the runaway slave, and will illuminate their views on science, humanism and slavery. A Q&A discussion will follow the performance.
  • Davis Schneiderman, a thought provoking multimedia author, college professor, and editor will read sections from his new book: “Drain.
  • Miki Greenberg of “It’s A Girl” will mobilize us with his satirical songs.
  • Poetry Slam! Write your own verse and then sign in with Davis Schneiderman, the host! Be ready to present! As always with a Slam, everything goes: reading, reciting or singing your poem/song, in costume or in plain clothes. Use your creativity, but stay with the theme, “On Deities, Doctrines, Superstitions and Other Things to Die For.” Be prepared—in keeping with the Slam tradition, the audience will express its admiration or disapproval of your wordsmithing!
  • Art exhibit by three CFI/Chicago members—Ayala Leyser, Eric Wall and Ivan Phillips—on the theme “Not What Meets the Eye: On Deities, Doctrines, Superstitions and Other Things to Die For”

Throughout the evening:

  • Food and snacks included with your admission. Cash bar is available for very reasonably priced drinks and soft drinks.

Free street parking, public transportation is nearby, and bike stands are available.

Click here to register online! Don’t miss this one!

Admission:

If you’ve never before been a Friend of the Center, become a Friend at $60 and pay only $7 more for this event—over half off!

Price if purchased online by Sept. 11th (one week before):

Regular: $15
Current Friend of Center: $12
Student: $8

Price if purchased online after Sept. 11th, or at the door (if at door, cash is much preferred):

Regular: $18
Current Friend of Center: $15
Student: $10

See below for performers’ bios:

Warren Brown, a nationally known Illinois Humanities Council “Roads Scholar,” presents a first-person Chautauqua-style program as Mark Twain. Twain will take us on a journey on water, land, and air, sharing insights from the “Diaries of Adam and Eve” and thoughts about Galileo and Newton. Mark Twain is claimed by freethinkers as one of our own for his still remarkably contemporary, funny and humanist viewpoints on religion, hypocrisy, and the straight-laced Victorian “virtues” of Then and Now.  Brown received the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award for his Chautauqua-style portrayal of Samuel Clemens, “bridging the lessons of history with the demands of contemporary living.”

A multimedia artist and writer, Davis Schneiderman is the author and editor of eight books, including the novels Drain, Abecedarium, and the forthcoming blank novel, Blank: a novel. He co-edited the collections Retaking the Universe: Williams S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization and The Exquisite Corpse: Chance and Collaboration in Surrealism’s Parlor Game; as well as the audio collage Memorials to Future Catastrophes. His creative work has appeared in numerous publications. He is Chair of the English Department, and Director of Press/&NOW Books, at Lake Forest College.

As a pianist, composer and arranger for Maestro Subgum & the Whole, Miki Greenberg has been making music on Chicago’s underground scene since 1986. He co-founded the Lunar Cabaret in 1994 and is currently with the group “It’s A Girl,” working on his 16th album. Superstition, religion and things people die for were his obsession while working with his previous band, “Fetal Position,” as he continues to mix good entertainment with wit and critical thinking.

For more information, please visit centerforinquiry.net/chicago or email chicago@centerforinquiry.net.

Posted in religion, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dragon*Con Vaccine Clinic Interview on Skeptic Zone Podcast

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 11, 2010

As another quick follow up to the successful launch of the “Hug Me, I’m Vaccinated!” campaign at Dragon*Con last weekend, I wanted to share with you all an interview conducted by the fine folks at the Skeptic Zone Podcast. In it, Dr. Rachael Dunlop interviews me, Brian Anders (husband of the WTFF’s fearless leader, Elyse Anders), and Dr. Bill Atkinson of the CDC.  Check it out (start at the 30:30 mark for the relevant section of the podcast)…

Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Vaccination Clinic at Dragon*Con = Massive Success!

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 9, 2010

All I can say is “Whoo Hoo!” – well, that’s not all I can say.  I can also say…

Take THAT, whooping cough! :)

I’m happy to say that the launch of the “Hug Me, I’m Vaccinated!” campaign at Dragon*Con in Atlanta this past weekend was an unqualified success.  The clinic was put together via the combined efforts of the Women Thinking Free Foundation, the groovy ladies at Skepchick, the Centers for Disease Control, and the vaccination team from Cobb & Douglas counties.  Over the last few months, we raised money to rent the space; put together a really great FAQ brochure on things everyone should know about vaccines; and mobilized volunteers to help with the clinic.

How successful was the clinic?  Did I mention the word “MASSIVE”?!!!  We provided free booster vaccinations for tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis (also called TDaP) to over 200 Dragon*Con attendees – so many that the people from the CDC and health department almost ran out!  The health department volunteers were flabbergasted by the turnout, because they say that often when they conduct similar events barely anyone shows up, and here we were having almost run out of vaccine because attendance was so high!  In addition, there was free HIV testing available for anyone interested.

Not only that, but we at the WTFF have been notified that others have heard about our successful “Hug Me…” launch, and they are now contemplating holding their own vaccination clinics in the same manner.  I had no idea that it would take off like this: that when I mentioned in my last blog post about “light a candle rather than curse the darkness” we’d end up lighting a freakin’ bonfire!  Did I say “Whoo Hoo!” yet?  :)

If you are among those interested in learning how we put this all together and are considering holding your own vaccination clinic, just send me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

In closing, allow me to share another photo with you.  This one includes the nurses & workers from the local health department, our CDC representative, as well as many of the skeptics who volunteered their time at Dragon*Con for such a worthy cause…

Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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