Cork Skeptics

Promoting Reason, Science & Critical Thinking in Cork City & Beyond


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“What’s The Harm”?

Originally posted on Sunny Spells:

Homeopathy Overdose by Richard Craig (CC Licenced)

Homeopathy Overdose by Richard Craig (CC Licenced)

“What’s the Harm”? It’s another question that often comes up from supporters of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Is it not the case that most people attending alternative practitioners can expect to happily live long, chaotic and unexpected lives just as much as the next person?

Yes, but. There’s always a “but”. In fact, there are quite a few “buts”.

Let’s tackle the extreme cases first. There are many cases of people foregoing proper medical care in favour of CAM, thus prolonging pain and suffering for longer than is strictly necessary. In the worst situations, this can be life-threatening. There are many examples of people foregoing medical care for ineffective practices, much to their detriment. So, if you are really sick, go to a doctor. That also applies to your kids.

Other cases exist where semi-medical interventions are being performed, using acupuncture needles without gloves, performing chiropractic…

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“It Worked For Me”

Originally posted on Sunny Spells:

Acupuncture Needle, CC Licenced via Acid Pix

Acupuncture Needle, CC Licenced via Acid Pix

“It Worked For Me” : these are the four words I always expect to hear when I get into a discussion on Alternative Medicine. In many ways, it’s very difficult to argue against. If you are not particularly careful in replying, you can come across as highly insensitive. How dare you assume that you know their circumstances better than themselves! Are you accusing them of lying? Furthermore, there is almost always a readymade refutation should you challenge any aspects of the assertion. It happened, you were not there, I was.

“It Worked For Me” is a minefield, and yet it needs to be tackled.

In the case of most alternative therapies, it’s implausible in the extreme for the putative cure to have been the cause of the recovery. Scientific studies have established, far beyond reasonable doubt, that homeopathic pills contain no active ingredient…

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How To Find Love On The Internet • Dr Martin Graff

MartinGraff_CorkSkeptics_650pxFriday 2 May at Blackrock Castle Observatory

Are there gender differences in attraction?  Can you really find true love on the Internet?  How do people actually portray themselves online?  Can you have a virtual affair?

In this talk, Dr Martin Graff will examine all of these issues and will draw on current empirical studies on online relationships.  He will cover some of the major research work on the online disinhibition effect, which suggest that we disclose more personal information, and do this more quickly in online environments.

Dr Graff will also give some factual advice on how to construct dating site profiles, and the way to approach an online liaison with a potential dating partner.  With the explosion in the provision of online dating sites, including those dedicated to finding partners for affairs, this will also draw on some of the speaker’s own research on online infidelity, asking whether it is possible to have a virtual affair.

 

About The Speaker:

Dr Martin Graff is Reader in Psychology at the University of South Wales. He is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Psychologist.

Over the years he has carried out research in the areas of cognitive processes in web-based learning, individual differences in website navigation, online interaction and the formation and dissolution of romantic relationships online and offline. He has also carried out research in the areas of online persuasion, and online disinhibition, and has supervised several doctoral degrees in this area.

He is a member of the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Education Committee, which oversees the running of Psychology degree programmes at British Universities.  In April 2013, he was invited as a visiting research professor to Cortland University, New York, USA April 2013.

Dr Graff has published widely in the field of Internet behaviour, and has also written for The Psychologist in the area of Online Infidelity.  He has also presented this work at numerous International Conferences.


 

This talk will take place at Blackrock Castle Observatory at 8pm — directions can be found on our information page. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers, and all are welcome at this free event. We hope to see you there!

 


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Why is science so important?

Originally posted on Sunny Spells:

epsos

Wooden Sculpture (CC image via EpSos.de)

Why is science important?

Some people think science is all about wild-haired, bespectacled geeks in lab coats, holding beakers and marvelling at their latest fantastic breakthroughs. Then there are the people who believe it to be some sort of church, where immutable truths are held in sacred reverence. Many consider it to be just a type of opinion, prone to change its mind with the same regularity as teenage fashion. In the worst case, it is condemned as an enterprise of pure evil, determined to foist dangerous chemicals, foods and drugs on a compliant public. All of these are lazy, small minded caricatures of what science is.

Put simply, science is about trial and error. Scientists test ideas against reality; dumping the failed ideas and retaining the successful ideas for further scrutiny. Ideas that survive multiple, repeated testing gain greater validity. Over time, the best ideas become part of the consensus of…

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References from Saturday’s meeting

The meeting on Saturday was particularly good with over 40 attendees. Our speaker, who had been with the Jehovah’s Witnesses from birth and spent over 50 years in the organisation, spoke about the origins of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, their core beliefs, the consequences of being disfellowshipped and how he came to doubt the organisations core tenets. It was a fascinating talk with loads of questions afterwards. Many thanks to everyone who attended.

Our speaker (who prefers not to be named) referred to a number of books in his talk which we provide links to below:

The Demon Haunted World (Carl Sagan)

Demon-Haunted World.jpg

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-haunted-World-Science-Candle/dp/1439505284/

Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (Donald Prothero)

Evolution (book cover)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Evolution-What-Fossils-Say-Matters/dp/0231139624/

God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer. (Bart Ehrman)

Cover of 'God's Problem' by Bart Ehrman http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gods-Problem-Answer-Important-Question–Why/dp/0061173924/

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Christopher Hitchens)

God is not great
http://www.amazon.co.uk/God-Not-Great-Religion-Everything/dp/1843545748/

In addition, the speaker mentioned the Silent Lambs website that is helping to document child welfare issues within the JW church:

http://www.silentlambs.org


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The Triumph of Bluster

Originally posted on Sunny Spells:

Yesterday, Cork County Council recommended by a “huge majority” to stop the use of fluoride compounds in public water supplies. Under pressure from the council, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has agreed to appoint a group of international experts to review the fluoridation of Ireland’s drinking water.

Water fluoridation was introduced in Ireland in the 1960’s to reduce dental cavities, after other countries had reported significant success in their own fluoridation programmes. Fluoride compound ingestion does have side-effects, so the issue has always been about establishing the correct dosage for safe use. Currently, the recommended dosage in Ireland is 0.8 ppm, which is substantially lower than the US Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum safe dosage of 4 ppm. The only established side effect of fluoridation at low levels is dental fluorosis – a temporary discolouration or mottling or teeth that is mainly observed in children. To date, and despite extensive…

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