In this week’s eSkeptic:
SHERMER SPEAKS OUT
Torture Doesn’t Work
In this video, based on his column on the subject in Scientific American, Michael Shermer demonstrates why torture does not work as a method of extracting useful and actionable information, primarily because people being tortured will say anything to stop the pain, including confessing to crimes they didn’t commit (like witchcraft) and giving false information (where a terrorist attack may happen next). Instead, studies show that developing a rapport with the person under interrogation produces higher quality intelligence.
SCIENCE SALON # 17
Dr. Kip Thorne — Gravitational Waves, Black Holes, Time Travel, and Hollywood
This amazing conversation between Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. Kip Thorne (February 18, 2018) is now available for viewing (and listening, in audio format!).
Dr. Thorne reflects on his life and career in theoretical physics, his pursuit of the detection of the long-elusive gravitational waves through the LIGO detector, his relationship and bet with Stephen Hawking, how he came to consult on Carl Sagan’s Contact and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, his curious work on black holes, wormholes, and time travel, and what it’s like to go to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize.
Watch (or listen to) all of our previous Science Salons for free online. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and get notified instantly when we post new content! Do you like what you see? Show your support for our work. Your ongoing patronage is vital to our organization’s mission.
In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka The SkepDoc) examines many of the health benefit claims for juicing, and finds them lacking scientific scrutiny. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 22.3 (2017). Buy this issue.
Juicing for Health or Torture
We are ingenious at finding new ways to complicate our lives and torture ourselves. One of those ways is adopting fad diets in the quest for health. Juicing is a big fad today. I find that hard to comprehend. I recently endured two interminable months on a liquid/pureed diet while my fractured jaw healed. It was miserable. If I were a prisoner being interrogated, the promise of solid food might have tempted me to tell all. It was hard to maintain a nutritious diet and find foods that could survive being blenderized and still tempt the appetite. The only “health benefit” was the loss of a few pounds that I really didn’t need to lose; it brought me down to a BMI of 18.8, close to the “underweight” range of 18.5 or less. Since that experience, I cherish the pleasures of being able to chew. We have teeth for a reason. The idea of systematically taking delicious solid fruits and vegetables and reducing them to liquid strikes me as a truly revolting idea. I don’t object to the occasional fruit juice, but celery without the crunch? No thank you.
Health Claims for Juicing: Detoxification
People juice for various reasons. One is “detoxification,” a buzzword that is a red flag for pseudoscience. My liver and kidneys do an excellent job of removing toxins from my body, thank you very much. They don’t need any help, except in the case of acute poisoning with lead or other heavy metals. And juices are useless in acute poisoning. Several companies will sell you juices for detoxification. Some examples:
Juice Served Here tells us “everyday life contributes to the congestion and buildup of harmful toxins in the body from processed foods, pollutants and stress.” They offer a Soft Cleanse, a Semi Cleanse, and a Hard Cleanse: 25% off; originally $55 a day! When a customer asked Juice Served Here to specify the toxins he’d be flushing from his system, the company answered with this lame copout: “Unfortunately, due to regulations by the FDA we are unable to specify exact health claims for our products.” Naturally.
Paleta offers a PURIFY Cleanse that will “cleanse the toxins right out of your system so you can experience a more joyful and healthful life.” Benefits? Lose weight, kick the caffeine habit, reduce or stop smoking, detoxify your liver, boost your metabolism, refresh your mind and body, curb sugar cravings, increase energy and stamina, improve skin, hair and nails, sharpen cognition and focus, reduce sensitivity to allergens, and improve moods. The full 10-day program costs $645. Gee, if it really could do all that, it might be worth that much.
Moon Juice offers “plant-sourced alchemy to nourish and elevate body, beauty and consciousness… Juice cleansing enables the body to naturally go into detox mode while flooding it with live nutrients and enzymes… Some signs that it is time to cleanse are: a weakened immune system, troubled skin, allergies, low moods or anger, sleeplessness, poor digestion, weight gain, low energy, feeling and looking blah.” (I can relate to feeling blah, but I’m not sure I understand “troubled” skin.) They offer Rainbow, Indigo, and Green cleanses that they claim will “flood your system over the course of the day with over 20 pounds of certified organic, raw produce and nuts or seeds. The only thing missing is the fiber.”
Pure Pressed offers Green Cleanse, Detox Cleanse, and Energizer Cleanse.
That’s enough examples. You get the idea. […]
MONSTERTALK EPISODE 150
Magic: Spiritualism and Theosophy, Part II
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we continue our discussion about Western Esotericism with John L. Crow. In part two, we talk about the origins of Theosophy, the nature of secret and occult societies in this era, and the groundwork that led to the rise of magical orders in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Theosophy figures into the modern Western conception of Tulpas, which we discussed in episode 86, and also Slenderman.