Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Is 'Long Island Medium' Star Theresa Caputo A Fake? Woman Interviewed For Show Says Psychic Is A 'Phony'

Via The Eye: Fashion & Style
(Photo : TLC) A former client speaks out about filming "The Long Island Medium".
It turns out not everyone who signs up for TLC's "Long Island Medium" actually makes it onto the show. One Long Island resident revealed that despite spending six hours filming a segment for a Season 6 episode of Theresa Caputo's series, she doesn't think it'll ever be seen.

"Right when she left the house I said, 'Wow, that is NOT what I expected,'" the woman told Radar Online earlier this summer. "I don't believe her. I think she's full of crap!"

She went on to say that while Caputo claims to have no prior knowledge of her clients' lives, one of the self-proclaimed psychic's assistants questioned her about her deceased husband.

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The Vaccine Truthers: why parents shun life-saving shots

By , via Toronto Life

A new generation of parents are refusing to vaccinate their kids. They’re convinced the shots are far more dangerous than the diseases they’re meant to prevent, and they’re willing to become social pariahs to prove it

Jennifer is a 30-year-old store manager in Georgetown who agreed to talk to me if I withheld her last name. She dresses plainly, rarely wears makeup and follows what she calls a green lifestyle, eschewing drugs and chemicals in any form, taking homeopathic remedies when she’s sick and observing a strict vegetarian diet. She met her husband, Frank, an independent contractor, in 2008. In 2011, she gave birth to their daughter, Franca, at home in a bathtub.

Jennifer was adamant that Franca not be vaccinated. As a teen, she had a bad reaction to a flu shot that kept her in bed for a month. In her 20s, she read horror stories about parents whose children had adverse reactions to routine vaccines that contained things like mercury and formaldehyde.

Five months after Franca was born, her parents divorced. Frank only agreed to give Jennifer custody if she had their daughter vaccinated. So, in late 2012, Jennifer reluctantly took Franca, then 10 months old, for her first round. Jennifer says Franca developed cold and flu symptoms within hours, picking at her ears incessantly. Then, after Franca’s second and third sets of immunizations at 18 months, Jennifer thought she noticed her daughter’s speech and mobility development regressing.

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Witch Hunter Sues BHA

By , via NeuroLogica Blog

The British Humanist Association has announced that they are being sued by notorious Nigerian “witch hunter”, Helen Ukpabio, for half a billion pounds for alleged libel. The only reasonable response to this situation, in my opinion, is to magnify the criticism of Ukpabio as much as possible.

For those who are not aware, I am also being sued for expressing my critical opinions. You can read the full details here. I have always supported my fellow skeptics in the past when they faced being silenced through legal intimidation, but now I have to disclose that I have a personal connection to this issue as well.

In any case – Ukpabio, in my opinion, represents an extreme version of the harms that result from abject superstition. She considers herself (or at least claims to) a “Lady Apostle” and makes a career out of exorcising children she believes are possessed by spirits.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Anti-Vaxxers Have a New Hero

By Russell Saunders, via The Daily Beast
The Daily Beast/Elena Scotti
A CDC scientist says he and his colleagues hid research regarding the MMR vaccine and autism. Hello, anti-vaxxer field day.

Is a whistleblower still a whistleblower if, after blowing it, he professes he didn’t even know he was holding a whistle in the first place?

Such is the bizarrely ambiguous status of Dr. William Thompson, a senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and the epicenter of a manufactured controversy within the anti-vaccine community. One of the authors of a study on the safety of the MMR vaccine published a decade ago, Dr. Thompson recently collaborated with Dr. Brian Hooker on a reanalysis of the data used in that study, apparently motivated by remorse at having deviated in some way from scientific probity during the original research. Recorded snippets of phone conversations between the two were then featured in an amazingly inflammatory YouTube video produced by Andrew Wakefield, in which the CDC’s study is compared negatively not only to the infamous Tuskegee syphilis scandal, but also to Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot.

According to Dr. Hooker’s more recent paper, the original data actually showed an increased risk of autism in African-American males given the MMR vaccine before age 36 months. The article was published in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration, and I would love to offer my own thoughts on its methods. Unfortunately, the only conclusions I will be able to draw at this time stem from this statement appearing on the journal’s website where the study used to be:

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Turkish President Erdogan Appoints Aide who Believes in 'Murder Attempts by Telekinesis' as Economic Adviser

By Fiona Keating, via International Business Times
Yiğit Bulut, close aide of the Turkish president was chosen as economics advisor (24 TV)
Yiğit Bulut, close aide of the Turkish president was given a top cabinet job, despite his unorthodox beliefs.

Bulut was an important figure in Erdogan's regime when the latter was prime minister.

However, the newly appointed economics adviser caused consternation and controversy when he suggested that foreign powers were trying to kill Erdogan through telekinesis.

He also believes that there is an international "interest rate lobby" working to sabotage Turkey's economy through higher rates.

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The “CDC whistleblower saga”: Updates, backlash, and (I hope) a wrap-up

Given that this is a holiday weekend here in the US and that I’m having a bit of a staycation right now, I had thought of simply not posting today or of rerunning a “classic” (if you want to call it that) blast from the past. But the topic I wrote about last week has only festered and grown bigger since Monday; so at the very least I felt obligated to do a post updating you, our readers, on the twists and turns that have occurred in the saga of the so-called “CDC whistleblower.” For those of you familiar with the story (not to mention following my not-so-secret other blog), much of this will be familiar, but, given that this is SBM, I felt that this material should be on record here for your edification and (hopefully) education. I’ll take (more or less) a chronological approach since last Monday and then finish up by trying to put this whole mess into perspective. This is going to be longer than even my usual posts, but I want to be authoritative. So, if you’re very familiar with what’s happened, you might want to skim everything before the “backlash” and “conclusion” sections to fill in what you might have missed. If you’re less than completely steeped in what happened, read every scintillating word!

But first, for those who might be entering this saga right now, let me recap a moment. I’m referring to a conspiracy theory, which has been flogged to death by the antivaccine movement for nearly two weeks now, that there is a CDC whistleblower who has made “devastating” reports that the CDC hid data that showed a 3.4-fold increased risk of autism in African American males, based on an incompetent “reanalysis” of a 10 year old CDC study that found no evidence that children with autism were more likely to have received their first MMR vaccine earlier than neurotypical controls. As I (and others) have discussed, Hooker used howlingly bad statistical methodology (for instance, analyzing case control data as a cohort study and using risibly bad statistical analyses) to torture the data until they confess that vaccines cause autism. As I said at the time, when it comes to data, call Hooker the Spanish Inquisition. Such was the weakness of what he found that, even after forcing the data to sit in the comfy chair for extended periods of time, the most damning “confession” he could get from them was a correlation between age at MMR vaccination and autism diagnoses in one small subgroup: African American males.

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Ron Paul Dons 9/11 Truther Tin Foil

By Olivia Nuzzi, via The Daily Beast
Justin Sullivan/Getty
The former Congressman – and father of the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination – thinks the government is keeping secrets about 9/11.

Former Rep. Ron Paul believes that the government knew beforehand, in detail, about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and that the information has been kept from the public in a classified section of the 9/11 commission report.

When the host of Money and Markets, Charles Goyette, recently said that it is "shocking that the American people are prohibited from knowing the whole truth about 9/11," Paul countered: "Boy, that's for sure. It's shocking, but then, when you stop and think about it, shouldn't we expect this from our government? Which is really sad."

Paul admitted of his beliefs: "It's politically very risky to talk about it," particularly when your son is in the process of trying to run for president, which Paul's son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, is.

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