Friday, July 30, 2010

Shame on Pharmasave - Shame on Global TV

No new news here, I've been out of town a lot in the past month.  Indeed after this weekend (which is the forseeable end of the travelling) I will have been out of town more nights than not since the 20th of June.

So I've been playing a lot of catch up on podcasts and news so this is a few days old.

The other day Global BC News aired this 193 seconds of imaginary health science.

Where do you begin with something like that?

This is just a mess.  I don't really know what is what in this news item, but it sounds as though what is happening is that actual stem-cell treatments were used.  (I don't know a lot of about stem-cell treatement, but I believe that injections in ligaments and knees is in fact a genuine use - though probably one which has not been fully tested yet.)  But that, emphatically is NOT homeopathy.  Yet here it is being dressed up as though it is homeopathy.  To say nothing of the fact that the definition of homeopathy that is given leaves all the parts of the preparation and philosophy out that would make any sane, non-fantasy-prone, intelligent person shaking their head screaming "THAT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING REAL MEDICINE!"

So, as you can imagine if you've followed my actions in the past this kind of got my goat.

So I went to write a letter to Global... and in the process reviewed the video and discovered that the Health Headlines (on the web page at least) are sponsored by PharmaSave!  So I made sure I CC'ed PharmaSave in my email.  ....One step further down the rabbit hole.

I also posted the links and the emails on Facebook so that other people could voice their disgust as well.  ( & - FYI)

Before too long my ever-curious (yet defiantly non-skeptical) girlfriend did some poking around and discovered that not only does PharmaSave deal sell homopathic remedies but they actively hawk them!  (And they get their medical advice from Oprah!  No, I'm not kidding.  Click on the link.)

So predictably when they wrote back, their response translated to "Thanks but we don't give a fuck."

Thank you for your e-mail correspondence. We are sorry to hear that the article on stem cell/Homeopathy caused you concern. Pharmasave indeed purchases advertising on the Global evening news, however please understand that we do not control content produced by Global. We will certainly forward your comments on to Global so that they are aware of the reaction of their viewers to this particular article.
Okay fine, don't give a fuck, Pharmasave.  I guess you won't give a fuck if I tell a bunch of people that you - an established purveyor of health products - is more interested in the bottom line than actually providing the service you ostensibly offer.  People will buy it, so they will sell it.

It's this kind of bullshit that sends people up clock towers.

So... rather than joining me in hte clock tower, can I suggest that you write a letter to PharmaSave and Global and let them know how you feel.  Feel free to explain to Global just exactly how homeopathy works and how poorly vetted and fact-checked that article was.  Feel free to tell PharmaSave that you are taking your dollars else where.  I sure as hell am.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Okay this is pretty light-weight...

I must have mentioned this already.  MUST HAVE.

So I made a movie.  It'a about the Ogopogo.
This past weekend it was at the Mississauga Independent Film Festival where it won Best Feature.
I KNOW!  Best Feature who would have guessed?
But it's pretty cool.
Before the screening I was the feature speaker at Cafe Skeptique in Toronto.  That was fun and rather skeptic-light.  In the end it was more "tell me about your movie" than "fill in some blanks about crypto-zoology for me."
Next week we have our World Premiere. Yeah yeah, how do you have a World Premiere that isn't your first public screening?  I'm not going to bother with the tale here, but it does make some sense in the end.
The Premiere appropriately is going to be in the Okanagan where the Ogopogo myth originates.
I'll be doing the Kelowna Skeptics in the Pub the night following that - I'll post about that separately.
I expect it will be kind of skeptic-light too.
Anyways, preparing and doing all of that has kind of sidelined my more active skepticism - heck the Mississauga screening was on the same week as TAM8, so there was no way I could be there.  Did you see the line-up of speakers?  No skeptic-light there!

Speaking of skeptic-light...

Have you seen this?

It's cool.  It's sweet.  It's a heart warming co-incidence.

A married couple discover that when they were kids they were at Disney World on the same day.  Not 30 feet from one another and they have a photo to prove it.

The husband is quoted as saying "“I got chills. It was just too much of a coincidence. It was fate.”

No.  It wasn't.

It was extremely unlikely for any given couple.  But when you start considering the sheer number of people in the world and all the places they might have been where a camera was taking pictures, it was bound to happen somewhere sometime.  Being in the same place is not that remarkable.

My ex-fiancee and I met when we were in our early 30s.  But check this string of coincidences.  For one year in grade one she lived in the same town as me.  My best friend from then (and now) sat beside her in school.  She and I were pretty confident (but there is no photographic evidence to prove it) that we were in swimming lessons together during that year.  When I went to university in a totally different city, one of the coffee shops I hung out at all the time... she worked at.  With another good friend of mine.  Neither of us actually remembered each other, but when I was introduced to her ex-boss (a roommate and friend of hers) he took one look at me and said "you used to hang our at Java all the time."  I even spent a fair bit of time (possibly not while she worked there - we never did nail that down) at another trendy restaurant she worked at.  Granted, we never lived in different countries.  But that seems to me to be a fairly unlikely set of coincidences - especially as we remained oblivious of one another.

Anyway - back to the Disneyland couple.  It is a great story.  But fate?  No.

How many couples, like myself and my ex have walked within feet of one another earlier in their lives but never had a photo to commemorate it?  Or have had it happen at a time that would have in anyway triggered either of their memories?  The answer is plenty.

Have you ever been on the other side of the country and just bumped into someone you knew who did not live there and had no reason connected to your reason (IE. You weren't attending the saem convention.) for being there?  It has happened to me three times - twice with the exact same person.  It can't be that unlikely if it happens that easily - or maybe I am the outlier here.

Heck, on this trip to Mississauga and Toronto I had an unlikely pair of coincidences happen.

1) On Friday night I was at the airport about to get on the red-eye, but first I had to do an interview about the film for a Calgary based radio show I did the interview and hopped on the plane.  When I got to Toronto I recieved a text from Scott Gavura of Science Based Pharmacy (and Skeptic North and Science Based Medicine) suggesting we meet up for lunch.  That fell through, but he did come to Cafe Skeptique.  His was the first familiar face I saw in Toronto.  But get this - the segment after mine on the radio show had been Scott.  Neither of us had known that the other was going to be on the show when we recorded our interviews.  Weird huh?

2) It had been 15 years since I had last been in Toronto.  Indeed I think it was 15 years minus a day - certainly very close - possibly even to the day.  Last time I had been there I had slept on the couch of my friend Shemina in a place near The Annex.  Pretty much the only neighbourhood I knew at all in Toronto, and since then I'd forgotten the specifics of street names - which was what, where.  Shortly after that Shemina and I lost complete touch with one another.  So when I get off the subway in downtown Toronto I was really just following google maps directions to find the place where Cafe Skeptique was going to be.  When I walked outside I immediately recognized that I was in The Annex.  I had walked past that same subway station dozens of times. but never gone in.  My first thought was "hey, Shemina used to live around the corner from here."  And that was that.  I went to Cafe Skeptique and then back out to Mississauga for the screening.  When I got to my hotel room I went on Facebook and there was a Freind Request from Shemina.  Seriously, what are the chances of that?  On my way back to the airport on Monday I stopped at her new place and had dinner with her and her husband.  It was not fate.