Thursday, October 11, 2007

Some notes from Oct. 11, 2007 @ Cicero's

The inaugural meeting of the St. Louis Skeptical Society was by all accounts a success. We look forward to seeing more inquiring minds at November's meeting. Here are some notes from the first meeting:

  • October 11, 2007 (7:30 pm-10:00 pm)
  • Location: Cicero's
  • Members in attendance: 5 (BB, JF, DM, ST, GG)
  • Purpose of the society (tenuous)
    • Promote Science
    • Discuss the application of scientific skepticism and critical thinking to all aspects of life
    • Explore our own convictions and "sacred cows"
    • Give presentations on topics related to science and critical thinking, or the lack thereof
    • Provide a resource for the community as a place to seek help on topics where skepticism may be of service (looking at product claims, homeopathic remedies, alternative medicine, etc. )
  • Discussion of recent articles on alternative medicine
    • Loose definition of alternative medicine: Any treatment that claims to be beneficial but is not evidence based medicine
    • Acupuncture to treat lower back pain and many other ailments
      • What is Body Energy/Chi?
      • What are proper experiments to test acupuncture?
      • How much of an effect does the placebo effect have?
      • There are physiological effects to acupuncture but there seems to be little evidence that acupuncture helps correct the flow of Chi/Body Energy in the way claimed by practitioners.
    • Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin B6 for PMS (control mood changes, bloating, and flow)
      • How well can emotions be quantified as chemical effects?
      • Discussed credibility of sources which led to a mention of the argument from authority logical fallacy
    • St. John's Wort to treat depression
      • Studies lasted less than 6 weeks but most proponents claim St. John's wort takes 6-8 weeks to start working
      • Once something is proven to work, it no longer becomes alternative medicine as it is then evidence based. Therefore we should be weary of products/methods which have been "alternative" for a long time
    • Guided imagery to help ease pain and anxiety
      • Helps as much as general relaxation
      • Are therapists practitioners of alternative medicine?
      • Example brought of up of the 11 year old Emily Rosa who debunked therapeutic touch as a method of healing:
    • Glucosamine to lessen joint pain
      • "It's safe and it looks like is it's effective."
  • Short discussion on homeopathy
    • Like cures like
    • Incredibly weak dilutions
    • The lower concentration of a dangerous substance in the medicine, the stronger it works
    • Very popular in Europe
  • Cold reading, warm reading, hot reading
  • To be discussed at November's meeting (date, time, and location TBD):
    • Common Logical Fallacies
    • The Secret
    • Global Warming
    • Other topics TBD


Theo said...

Cicero's! What a great place for a skeptics' meeting!

Ben said...

It was a little loud but quite fun nonetheless.