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May 24, 2007 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena was born in October, 2006 to help fight the good fight against the overwhelming majority of noise in the media supporting useless alternative medicine systems, psychics preying upon the vulnerable, the erosion of science education in the classroom, xenophobia of advanced energy and food production methods, and generally anything that distracts attention and public funding from scientific advancement. Episodes feature such prominent MeFi discussion material as organic food myths, blood for oil, chiropractics, and SUVs. Links are to podcast transcripts. Full episode guide.
posted by arcticwoman (38 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In this sense, organic food is really the same thing as kosher food. The food itself is identical, but it's prepared in such a way to conform to different philosophical standards.

Right, because the absence of rabbinical seals of approval and the addition of pesticides are functionally equivalent!
posted by imperium at 10:33 AM on May 24, 2007

Needs a batshitinanelinks tag.
posted by hank_14 at 10:40 AM on May 24, 2007

One word: wendell.
posted by GuyZero at 10:41 AM on May 24, 2007

Actually, I'd like to see the organic food debate. Skeptoid's argument is that organic food uses organic pesticides which aren't any better for you than industrial pesticides. A little bit like using crushed beetles for "natural" red food coloring.
posted by Richard Daly at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2007

Prices are driven by markets. Markets are driven by human beings. Human beings are driven by emotions. Emotions, like fear, explode when we get into a war. Everyone between you and the guy who connects the hose to the well in Yemen becomes terrified, and oil becomes the most prized commodity on the planet. It's simple, it's obvious, it's organic, and it's Economics 101.

If only this was narrated by Morgan Freeman... then we'd have a blockbuster on our hands.
posted by prostyle at 10:54 AM on May 24, 2007

More like STRAWMOID. A couple good points, combined with some spectacularly bad reasoning.
posted by boo_radley at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2007

prostyle: that would seriously rock balls.

FREEMAN: The commodity trader awakes. Unsure of what the day will hold, he logs on to as many as eighteen analysis websites before showering or eating. He will sit there, motionless, in front of his home office PC, until he is sure he is prepared for the day.
SFX: sparkly chiming music

posted by boo_radley at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

So is this real critical analysis or just knee jerk contrarianism, as per most "voice of reason" type stuff? A quick glance at the SUV article suggests the later.
posted by Artw at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2007

From the "Blood for Oil" link: The biggest supplier is Saudi Arabia, a relatively Westernized country that's our biggest ally in the region.

Um, what?
posted by gwint at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

If all of that SUV page's strawmen wanted brains, it'd make a George Romero movie look like the Sound of Music.
posted by notsnot at 11:04 AM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]

He really, really needs to take on the issue of how people think that carbon dioxide causes the earth to heat, when actually it's the sun or some other minor factor that climatologists would obviously be too dumb to account for.

My appologies if somewhere in this mound of garbage he already has.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on May 24, 2007

A minor inaccuracy in the organic food rant - people do not pay "premium prices" at Trader Joe's. That shit is CHEAP.
posted by bukharin at 11:13 AM on May 24, 2007

From Wikipedia on "Reptoid":

It has been suggested that The Reptilian Agenda be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)
posted by grobstein at 11:13 AM on May 24, 2007

I am so glad I'm not the only one who finds the idea of Morgan Freeman narrating absurdist statements appealing.
posted by quin at 11:14 AM on May 24, 2007

Fails to address the primary benefit of organic farming--ecological benefits. No discussion of the ways organic methods prevent salinization, eroding top soil, soil compaction, or the ways it improves microbial profiles. Completely glosses over research about residual pest/herbicides in convential crops verses organics. Absolutely no mention of groundwater contamination that conventional farming leads to. Nitrogen levels in the underground aquifer around here are approaching dangerous levels thanks to the wholesale dumping of anhydrous ammonia and the like.

In short, this is at about the same level as Peter Griffin's "Grind My Gears" segments.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:15 AM on May 24, 2007

Forgot to second the call for the batshitinsane tag.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:16 AM on May 24, 2007

Actually, I'd like to see the organic food debate. Skeptoid's argument is that organic food uses organic pesticides which aren't any better for you than industrial pesticides.

That assertion isn't backed up by anything other than a laundry list of dangerous organic products (without a similar list of dangers of synthetic pesticides) and the poop-in-our-food scare, which is a problem not limited to organic producers. The 8% of E. coli cases citation from Center for Global Food Issues is brought to you by Monsato, ConAgra, Dow, etc.). Yes, there is plenty of disinformation and false claims about the benefits of organic foods, but countering it with more disinformation and faulty reasoning is not a big help.

Plus they conveniently leave out the advantages avoiding the use of hormones and antibiotics in meats and dairy.
posted by peeedro at 11:17 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

in the organic food article, i couldn't find a single reference to animal growth hormones, which seems odd.
posted by destro at 11:18 AM on May 24, 2007

in the organic food article, i couldn't find a single reference to animal growth hormones, which seems odd.

I wrote and asked him about this, and he said it's on the episode coming out on Saturday.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:25 AM on May 24, 2007

Everyone knows that most of our oil comes from the Middle East, which is why we're so heavily dependent upon them for our energy. And when they don't like us, for example when we bomb them, they jack up our prices to hit us where it really hurts. Or so I've always heard. But is any of that really true?

Dear Stupid:

Do you smell that? I covered your strawman with crude oil, and now he burns.

The blood for oil argument is based on the fact that most of the world's oil reserves are in the Middle East, which is illustrated quite clearly on the charts here. The argument frames the conflict as a fight over oil that's still in the ground. There'd be no point fighting a war over oil that we are already buying on the open market anyway, would there?

You may now return to your regularly scheduled gibbering.


posted by Pastabagel at 11:31 AM on May 24, 2007

STRAWMOID is right.

Where are the citations? Where?

This is the only one in the organic article, and it's not exactly aiming for objectivity.

He has a few good points about industrial organic farming, most of which are the same reasons that many organic growers themselves actually opposed the USDA oversight over the 'organic' label - because it allows practices and endorses philosophies which stray far from traditional approaches to organic growing, and was passed to help large-scale industrial agriculture get in on the growing but still small organic market.

He leaves a lot out, and his reasoning isn't the sharpest.

Personally, I don't think there's evidence that organic produce is always superior to conventional produce; his examples of industrial organic production are true enough. But they don't tell the whole story. Simply because USDA standards allow farmers to use these questionable techniques while still qualifying for the 'organic' label does not mean that all organic farmers use these techniques.
posted by Miko at 11:35 AM on May 24, 2007

Did you ever wonder why Chinese drink only hot tea? They boil it to kill the bacteria.

or maybe the only way to make tea is by heating it up first so it dissolves in water more.
posted by destro at 11:49 AM on May 24, 2007

A minor inaccuracy in the organic food rant - people do not pay "premium prices" at Trader Joe's. That shit is CHEAP.

True indeed. Today I bought two pre-made sandwiches, a big jug of balsamic vinegar and about six pounds of assorted crackers, nuts and munchies for 21 bucks. My office will have snacks for weeks. If that's "premium prices," where the hell can I find the cheap stuff?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:50 AM on May 24, 2007

Well, killing bacteria is the reason we cook and/or wash food in the first place. The existence of bacteria on food is niether here nor there with respect to organic methods. Conventional produce is also loaded with e. coli.
posted by Miko at 11:50 AM on May 24, 2007

destro - well, the guy is Amercan, and therefore at a disadvantage when it comes to tea, which as far as I can tell in America exists primarily as a form of self mortification. That or people actually like it tepid and tasting of nothing.
posted by Artw at 12:03 PM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

destro: see, that's what drove me bonkers about that piece. There was a really well done essay about beer culture (european) versus tea culture (asia) that outlined the differences and explained that they really wound up working that way. Beer (and wine) was used to make water safe for drinking in europe, and boiled tea served the same purpose for Asian cultures.

But then he goes into "poopin in ur paddies lol" territory and forget it.
posted by boo_radley at 12:05 PM on May 24, 2007

Trader Joe's is cheaper than the two local major grocery store chains here in Columbus OH. I know the Charles Shaw isn't exactly Latour but TJ's needs some kind of public service award for bringing drinkable $2 wine($3.39 here) to the masses.
posted by well_balanced at 12:07 PM on May 24, 2007

I wondered what the Skeptoid's chops were.

He's a tech writer and consultant. He writes a fair amount of fiction. I can't find a resume or bio online.

He's skeptical of accreditation, so he created this website for Thunderwood College, which will award you a nifty dowloadable printable diploma. He is chancellor of the college, which also awarded his PhD.

A lot of his topics are indeed B.S. and thoroughly warrant debunking. For skilled skepticism, though, I think I prefer to stick with these guys, who do a better job drawing on expertise in disciplines, avoiding fallacies and keeping things rigorous.
posted by Miko at 12:26 PM on May 24, 2007

Anyone not aware of Bad Science? Much better than the skeptoid and plenty of false accreditation busting.
posted by Artw at 12:32 PM on May 24, 2007

Oh, and he's one of those types who moan on about how we don't pay enough attention to the green revolution as well. No word on his degree of support for Libertarianism though.
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on May 24, 2007

A real skeptic
posted by noble_rot at 1:31 PM on May 24, 2007

batshitinsane tag
posted by joedharma at 2:56 PM on May 24, 2007

"Today we're going to put on our tie dyed shirt, grow our hair long and dirty, claim hatred for science and corporate America, …"
I am interested in skepticism and support the skeptical analysis of any belief system. This ain't it.
posted by Rawhide at 5:57 PM on May 24, 2007

I like the parts where he just misses the point. They're less annoying than the parts where he's talking out his arse.
posted by pompomtom at 6:12 PM on May 24, 2007

Other skeptical podcasts that you may find interesting are Point of Inquiry, Skepticality, Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, and maybe Atheist Viewpoint. I recommend you avoid Skeptiko, as, despite the 'skep' in it's name, it's rather woo-woo.
posted by DataPacRat at 7:11 PM on May 24, 2007

skeptoid is john stossel. gimme a break!
posted by Hat Maui at 10:11 PM on May 24, 2007

You know these people aren't really skeptics, right? Just because you reject one line of thought does not mean that you believe another.
posted by Rubbstone at 2:00 AM on May 25, 2007

From the SUV article: Paris and London are two cities that have really gone agro over SUV's, fining them for entering downtown.

Well, it's a not a fine, more like a toll or charge. And it doesn't apply to SUVs but to all vehicles. But part from that, he's right!

A highly recommended skepticality podcast is "Truth-driven Thinking". The host is one of the few, true skeptics I've ever heard.
posted by outlier at 6:38 AM on May 25, 2007

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