Thursday, December 25, 2008

Requisite Holiday Post!

Hope everyone is having a nice federal holiday! Or shall we say ... Holly Day!

Why do we believe in Santa Claus
at Science Daily. If children attribute the same supernatural powers to Santa as they do to God, why do they stop believing in Santa, but continue their belief in God?

Brain activity altered during "religious experiences,"
at Scientific American.

Christmas at the Office by Penelope Trunk. This column argues that current religious holidays shouldn't be required days off; instead they should be normal floating days off tacked on to our pool of vacation days.

The Star, a short fictional story about a certain holiday and a certain supernova.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some updates to our "About" page

Check it out here! Let me know if there are any links you'd like me to add:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


At the CVille Skeptics second meeting, the food will be delicious, and the topic will be homeopathy. Amanda has already posted a whole bunch of great links to start the discussion on the message boards. I'd like to point out some of these and add a few more, especially since I won't be able to attend. (Instead I'll be running around midtown Manhattan with some old college buddies!)

Homeopathy is basically the claim that a substance that creates ill-effects in a healthy person can be used to treat the illness in a sick person after being massively diluted as to be rendered no longer harmful. This is a form of alternative medicine, which is the growing field of promised cures that fall outside conventional (some would say evidence-based!) medicine. The American Cancer Society gives a good basic description of homeopathy's origins and claims. Homeopaths, as the practitioners are called, have a society* and journals which I encourage you to browse, although most content is certainly geared towards their own members and dealing with the media. Homeopathy has found a forum with Oprah, and an interesting introduction can be found on her website. Yes, many of you skeptics will cringe at the section citing "vital life energies" and such things, but hasn't science uncovered even weirder sounding phenomena? There is no scientific basis for such a phenomenon... but what if?

Homeopathy promises to be safe and effective, more so than conventional measures. It sounds so great! However, one needs to look carefully at the studies. There's a good, short introduction to the most often cited positive studies on homeopathy, which includes the Benveniste study from the 1980s, which was later shown to be due to bias on the part of the researchers. Skeptical superstar James Randi was involved in that affair, and has also been known to down large amounts of homeopathic sleeping pills in front of Congress to demonstrate their ineffectiveness. (See his take on homeopathy here.) Homeopathy is also a popular topic with the doctors at the Science Based Medicine blog.

So if homeopathy is ineffective after all, then what's the harm? I'm sure this will prove to be a fruitful discussion topic at the upcoming meeting!

*Don't worry, SkepTools fans, I used nofollow on some of these links!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Welcome to CVille Skeptics!

Hey all! I hope this becomes a forum for our group members, and anyone else who's not in CVille that wants to chime in and join the fun. It's really easy to use Blogger so you can start writing. If you already have a Google account (such as with GMail), you are halfway there. Just sign into Blogger (see the "Sign In" link at the top right?) and leave a comment here telling me you want in, and I'll add you to the author list. Or, message me on our MeetUp site.

If you do not already have a Google account, you can go here to create one! Once you've created your account, follow the same steps as above to become an author. From then, you can click "New Post" up at the top to write your own blog posts. Or, just feel free to chime in on the comments. Be sure to check out Blogger Help for tips, tricks, and questions, and I can certainly try to answer technical questions!

**UPDATE**: I'm a dodo. In order to add authors, I actually need your GMail address (Google Account name), so go ahead and email me at gugnico [at] gmail [dot] com to be added.