alternative medicine

SkepSun #172 (01_10_2016)

On Freethought Radio, FFRF wins the Liberty Institute’s “Scrooge Award,” another FFRF banner is vandalized, a political candidate panders to piety, NYC mayor de Blasio hands $20 million to religious schools and Alabama chief justice Moore defies same-sex marriage law. After listening to Holly Near’s song “I Ain’t Afraid” and Dan Barker’s version of Ruth Green’s poem “FFRF,” we hear Ruth Hurmence Green interviewed in 1979 about her book The Born Again Skeptic’s Guide To The Bible.

Was 2015 the year that professional psychics proved to the world that their powers are real? The Skeptic Rogues from the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast have their annual look at how well professional psychics did at predicting events in the past year.

Gordon Bonnet of the Skeptophilia realizes that there’s nothing like scheduling a colonoscopy to discover your inner irrationalist.

Finally, we’ll hear a talk presented by Steven Salzberg at the Center for Inquiry’s Reason for Change conference in Buffalo, New York this past June. Salzberg exposes the how your tax money continues to be wasted studying therapies that have already been studied to death and never shown any efficacy above placebo and how the practice and promotion alt-med has infected some of the leading medical schools in the United States.

Steven Salzberg writes the “Fighting Pseudoscience” column for Forbes, and is Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, and the Director of the Center for Computational Biology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.


Dr. Steven Salzberger giving his lecture “Bad Medicine: Alt Medicine Infiltrates Medical Schools” at CFI’s Reason for Change Conference last June in Buffalo, NY.

SkepSun #71 (12_29_2013)

Time to reflect on the year gone by and look forward to the one ahead. On Freethought Radio Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker listen to some of their favorite freethought music, including tunes by Yip Harburg, Burton Lane, Tom Lehrer, Kristen Lems, George and Ira Gershwin, Joe Hill, Philip Appleman, Cole Porter, and Frank Loesser and end with a Scottish version of freethinker Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne.” Afterwards we here more from Dan Barker, his 14 minute case against the existence of God, given in a tux, in a November 2012 debate at the Oxford Union in Oxford, England. Then Brian Dunning of Skeptoid looks at the famous “WOW” signal received by Ohio State University’s radio telescope on August 15, 1977 and asks if it’s possible it was an alien radio transmission. In the final segment, we hear Dr. Paul Offit Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia interviewed by Lindsey Beyerstein . They discuss Offit’s new book “Do you Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine” in which he points a critical eye at the alt-med industry, one than takes in 34 billion dollars a year with little to no regulation. Are patients being harmed, and is it any worse or better than so-called “Big Pharma”?


The “WOW” signal recorded detected by Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977, while he was working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University’s Perkins Observatory in Delaware, Ohio. The signal bore the expected hallmarks of non-terrestrial and non-Solar System origin.

SkepSun #55 (09_08_13)

On Freethought Radio we hear how the FFRF stopped football prayer in Texas and exposed Hobby Lobby’s “crafty” and misleading ads about the founding fathers. Then Annie Laurie and Dan talk with Dan Savage, author and founder of It Gets Better, about his new book, American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics. After Freethought Radio, we hear Hemant Mehta’s 15 things to never say to an atheist. Then, on Skeptoid, Brian Dunning fields student question on hangovers, manuka honey, and probiotics. We’ll hear from the Skeptic Rogues of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe about homunculus-based medical pseudoscience. Rounding out the show is a For Good Reason podcast on which D.J. Grothe talks to Dr. David Gorski, a surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer surgery and a science-based medicine advocate. Gorski defines complementary, alternative and integrative medicine (CAM) and contrasts it with science-based medicine. What’s the harm of so-called alternative medicine?  What’s wrong with integrating it into standard medical practice and why aren’t more medical doctors skeptic activists?
David Gorski, MD, oncologist, blogger and champion of science-based medicine.

SkepSun #49 (07_28_2013)

Nothing fails like government prayer! On Freethought Radio, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker point out that today’s Governor of Florida got it just as wrong as those who prayed at the 1774 Continental Congress. And if atheism is the gateway to immorality, why do atheists make up only 0.02% of the federal prison population? Then they talk with University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of philosophy Lawrence Shapiro about miracles, science, and religion. Next, on Skeptoid, Brian Dunning examines the seemingly amazing parallels between the Lincoln and Kennedy presidencies and their assassinations. How amazing are they, really?  In hour two, the Skeptic rogues from the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe interview Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, about his new book “Do You Believe in Magic: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine.”  And finally we hear Luke Meuhlhauser interview Russell Miller, biographer of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. Did Mr. Miller get more than he bargained for when he set out to tell the true story of Hubbard and his Church?


L. Ron Hubbard: the 20th Century’s Joseph Smith?

SkepSun #41 (06_02_2013)

On Skeptical Sunday this week, we’ll hear about the personal philosophies of two different particle physicists, an infectious disease M.D. and an experimental psychologist/linguist. How does science influence their personal beliefs? First, on Freethought Radio, FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel describes a controversy at a college over creationism and Dan and Annie Laurie speak to physics professor Victor Stenger, author of God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion.” In hour two of Skeptical Sunday, we’ll hear from another physicist, CalTech’s Sean Carroll describe naturalism, the viewpoint that supernatural stuff just doesn’t exist, with Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef on the Rationally Speaking podcast. They discuss what a naturalistic worldview implies about free will, consciousness, and other philosophical dilemmas and address that long-standing debate: should scientists have more respect for philosophy? In between there, somewhere, we hear from doctor Mark Crislip who looks for some boundaries between science and pseudoscience and also cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker who says that for him, reason goes a long way in his personal worldview.


Sean Carroll, astrophysicist at CalTech.

SkepSun #36 (04_28_2013)

This week on Skeptical Sunday: actress, comedian, author and atheist Julia Sweeney join Dan and Annie Laurie on Freethought Radio to discuss her new book, If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother. Then we have one more look at the questionable therapy of acupuncture: Dr. Benedikt Matenaer is a German anaesthesiologist specializing in palliative care and also has a category B diploma (350 hours) in Acupuncture. We will hear his talk “Acupuncture: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” from the 2012 World Skeptics Congress in Berlin. Then on Point of Inquiry, Scott Atran is an anthropologist and an expert on the psychology and sociology of terrorism and is author of the book Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (un)Making of Terrorists. Chris Mooney talks to him about the Tsarnaev brothers and the Boston marathon bombing. Might these homegrown terrorists be getting what they want by the massive response and attention we’ve given to these events?