Skepticism in the Bush

1 November, 2011

by Russell Kelly

There is plenty to keep a skeptic busy in the bush; alternative medicine abounds and belief systems involving the weather and animals are plentiful.  The recent drought spawned a plethora of water diviners but lacking confidence in the Bureau of Meteorology, many believe that the best indicator of impeding precipitation is the squawking of Black Cockatoos. The myth has been around for at least 100 years but for some reason the squawking during the drought seemed to have less effect than the nude dance in the paddock.

Emu oil is currently very fashionable to cure a wide variety of maladies and snake-oil salesmen find easy pickings especially with weight loss scams. A long-running study has confirmed that rural women are more obese than their city cousins and they are more likely to use alternative medicines, so there are plenty of candidates for the wacky products.

Medical conditions triggered by pollens and sprays are endemic in the bush and so are the charlatans who peddle ‘natural’ allergy therapies including the instruments to test allergy susceptibility. The TGA has recently closed down the web site of one of our local operators who with her gadgetry could diagnose the offending allergen and then provide a rapid cure using the latest in homeopathy potions.

Read the rest of this entry »

The writings of Samuel Hahnemann

8 March, 2011

I admit to a certain curiosity about old homeopathy books. What do they contain? Is there any science in these books?  Exactly what did Samuel Hahnemann write that gained him such a dedicated following?

If you’re unfamiliar with Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, or the alternative medicine practice of homeopathy, you might like to read this introduction before reading any further with this post.

Generally, Hahnemann’s writings about homeopathy were translated into English not long after the publication of the original German versions. In all my reading about homeopathy, I’ve seen almost no comments taken from these translations of Samuel Hahnemann’s work.

My approach to this material will be: just because a book is old, that doesn’t mean I’ll ignore poor reasoning and throw away everything learnt in the last 200 years.  I’m looking for good evidence and logical reasoning to back up any claims.

Critics might suggest I’ve only looked into Hahnemann’s writings with the idea of cherry picking it and then dismissing it. Not so: if I find good science I’ll change my mind.  Hahnemann claimed to have done experiments. Read the rest of this entry »

Vic Department of Health’s “Better Health Channel”

7 March, 2011

by Graeme Hanigan

This is the background to a petition addressed to The  Minister of Health, David Davis MLC, calling for a review of the Victorian Department of Health’s Better Health Channel

Penelope Dingle was 45 years old when she died of colorectal cancer on the 25th of August, 2005. Had her cancer been detected and treated when symptoms were first observed 4 years earlier, she may still be alive today.  Instead of seeking medical treatment, Penelope put her health into the incompetent hands of a deluded Homeopathic quack.

At the conclusion of the inquest into the sad death of Penelope Dingle, the W.A. State Coroner made two recommendations. Read the rest of this entry »

Homeopathy is safe?

20 February, 2011

One of the main comments by homeopaths on the 10:23 overdose campaign is that skeptics have yet again demonstrated that homeopathy is safe.

That’s one possibility. Another possibility, and I think a more likely one; is that homeopathy is safe because there isn’t anything in it.

10:23 comments

Skeptics would also argue that homeopathy is unsafe precisely because it has nothing in it. If consumers are convinced enough to treat life-threatening conditions with homeopathy, results can be tragic. Take, for example, the case of Penelope Dingle: the coroner’s report in relation to her death in 2005 was recently released. [PDF]

Warning: this is a coroner’s report; it’s a very graphic and distressing account of her death and the role of homeopathy in the events leading up to her death.

Returning to the broader question of homeopathy being safe, I’ve found the view that homeopathy is safe, and that you can’t overdose on it, is not a universal opinion in the world of homeopathy. Read the rest of this entry »

The 10:23 Event in Melbourne

8 February, 2011

On Saturday, the Victorian Skeptics joined forces with the Melbourne Skeptics and the Young Australian Skeptics to take part in the worldwide 10:23 Campaign.

The campaign was launched last year by the Merseyside Skeptics, as a public education stunt to demonstrate the ineffective nature of Homeopathy.

A video of the Melbourne event was posted a couple of days ago, and as I write this, it’s had over 1,000 views on YouTube.

(If you’re keen, there’s also a great video playlist of 10:23 events around the world).

We also had John, a good friend of the Victorian Skeptics, busily snapping some great stills while we were overdosing.

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Of course while it’s all fun and games in retrospect (and there’s a message in there somewhere too), it almost didn’t happen.

Torrential rain and flash flooding had hit Read the rest of this entry »

10:23 in Melbourne, the video

6 February, 2011

The 10:23 overdose event in Melbourne went off very well yesterday.

The deluge of rain stopped minutes before 10:23am.

This is just a quick post to show you the video. A more detailed blog post about the Melbourne event will go up in the next few days. Thanks to the willing participants that came along from three skeptical groups in Melbourne. I think you’ll agree, great work done by our brilliant cameraman/editor/director Doug Hubbard.




The Great Ocean Road Skeptics were also launched on Saturday, and decided to celebrate the launch with a 10:23 demonstration on the beach.

Nice work guys!

Superheros Are Amongst Us!

20 September, 2010

by Lucas Randall (aka Codenix)

I used to think superheros were the domain of fiction, existing only in comic-books and on film, their powers limited to battling their super-villain foe, equally the domain of fiction. I didn’t realise superheros and super-villains are actually real, living amongst us and affecting our lives in very real ways. Read the rest of this entry »