Archive | Evaluating evidence

Quackwatch featured on dating advice site

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Posted 12 December 2017

DatingAdvice has posted a feature article about Quackwatch and Dr. Stephen Barrett.  In addition to providing tips on how to spot and avoid quackery, Dr. Barrett notes that big difference in health beliefs can wreck relationships and therefore learning a prospective partner’s beliefs is important.

[Brooks A. Quackwatch explains how health misinformation can affect your life & relationships. DatingAdvice.com, December 11, 2017]

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International Summit on Quackery & Pseudoscience: Stellenbosch

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Posted 30 October 2017

The International Summit on Quackery & Pseudoscience is being held in Stellenbosch 20-21 November 2017.

The dangers of pseudoscience and quackery in healthcare will come under scrutiny later this year at a ground-breaking international summit in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Numerous high-profile health and science communication experts will gather at the International Summit on Quackery and Pseudoscience to explore how science communication efforts by the media, scientists, health regulators and governments can counter the impact of pseudoscience and advance the use of evidence-based healthcare practices.

The summit will be held from 20-21 November at the University of Stellenbosch (SU). It will be jointly hosted by the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care (CEBHC) of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), and the Centre for Science and Technology Mass Communication (CENSCOM) of the postgraduate Department of Journalism at SU.

To read more, and register, visit the Censcom Read the rest

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Reasons To Believe

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Posted 14 October 2017

Have you ever wondered why people believe things like religion, spirituality, conspiracy theories and political ideology without evidence? Why it’s so hard to change their minds, even after presenting the facts?

Reasons To Believe is a thought-provoking documentary by filmmaker Ben Fama Jr., that explores the psychology and science of belief and why we believe, sometimes falsely, in things that may not match up with reality. Facilitated by leaders in the fields of science, philosophy, neuroscience, moral reasoning, psychology, perception, memory formation, and indoctrination, these experts answer a variety of thought provoking questions and provide tangible structure to the definition and creation of belief in the human brain.

Fama asks the question: Why do we believe?

Starring Michael Shermer, Peter Boghossian, Jennifer Whitson, Caleb Lack and Chad Woodruff.

Directed by Ben Fama Jr. Produced by Mesa Fama

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Why people believe in conspiracy theories – and how to change their minds

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Posted 23 August 2017

This article published in The Conversation, makes the following argument: “The simple answer is that facts and rational arguments really aren’t very good at altering people’s beliefs”. 

We often see this to be true on CamCheck, where facts simply will not alter people’s belief in a CAM, scam or other nonsense claim.

The author adds the following:

“Another reason we are so keen to believe in conspiracy theories is that we are social animals and our status in that society is much more important (from an evolutionary standpoint) than being right. Consequently we constantly compare our actions and beliefs to those of our peers, and then alter them to fit in. This means that if our social group believes something, we are more likely to follow the herd.”

And:

“A related issue is the ever-present confirmation bias, that tendency for folks to seek out Read the rest

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Stellenbosch: International Summit on Quackery & Pseudoscience

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Posted 24 July 2017

Stellenbosch University hosts first international summit to counter quackery, pseudoscience and fake news in healthcare.

The dangers of pseudoscience and quackery in healthcare will come under scrutiny later this year at a ground-breaking international summit in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Numerous high-profile health and science communication experts will gather at the International Summit on Quackery and Pseudoscience to explore how science communication efforts by the media, scientists, health regulators and governments can counter the impact of pseudoscience and advance the use of evidence-based healthcare practices.

The summit will be held from 20-21 November at the University of Stellenbosch (SU). It will be jointly hosted by the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care (CEBHC) of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), and the Centre for Science and Technology Mass Communication (CENSCOM) of the postgraduate Department of Journalism at SU.

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The Fallacy Fork: Why It’s Time to Get Rid of Fallacy Theory

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Posted 18 June 2017

Why do people believe weird things? Why is there so much irrationality in the world? Here’s a standard answer from the sceptic’s playbook: fallacies. Fallacies are certain types of arguments that are common, attractive, persistent, and dead wrong. Because people keep committing fallacies, so the story goes, they end up believing all sorts of weird things.

An interesting point of view, arguing why fallacies should be considered more complex than at a superficial level, and often may not be fallacies.

Read the full article: The Fallacy Fork: Why It’s Time to Get Rid of Fallacy Theory

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Study finds children can be taught to detect dubious health claims

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Posted 29 May 2017

Vox has has described a remarkable series of interventions in which grade school children were taught to detect “bullshit health claims.” In 2009, a researcher challenged aged from 10 to 12 to figure out whether M&M candies could help them write more quickly or cause them to develop stomach pain or dizziness. When they readily figured out how to do randomized controlled experiments, he began working with researchers around the world to develop lesson plans and textbooks for critical thinking skills to school children. In 2016, his research team tested some of the materials in a trial of 10,000 children in central Uganda and found that the children who were exposed to them did remarkably better than those who were not. The results of the study were published this month.

Reference: Nsangi A and others. Effects of the Informed Health Choices primary school intervention on the Read the rest

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There’s no good way to kill a bad idea

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Posted 02 May 2017

We have often wondered why individuals believe in crazy claims being made for CAMS. In spite of great evidence refuting the evidence, many will continue to believe the nonsense. This article published in Quartz, tries to make sense of this.

Millions of people refuse to recognize man-made climate change. Americans spend billions on homeopathy. Around 12 million people believe that lizards are secretly ruling the world. The world is filled with bad, baseless, factually inaccurate ideas that refuse to die. If you’ve ever found yourself unable to halt someone else’s idiotic plans once they were already in motion, you’re not alone.

Read the article at Quartz

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When Evidence Says No, But Doctors Say Yes

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Posted 23 February 2017

Although not directly related to CAMS, this article addresses the aspect of evaluating evidence – in this instance, pertaining to Big Pharma – but just as applicable to CAMS.

Years after research contradicts common practices, patients continue to demand them and doctors continue to deliver. The result is an epidemic of unnecessary and unhelpful treatment.

by David Epstein, ProPublica

February 22, 2017

https://www.propublica.org/article/when-evidence-says-no-but-doctors-say-yes

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