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Naked Skeptic

The Naked Skeptic column

Counting the Opinions

By Peter Bowditch

The same-sex marriage survey repeats the statistical mistakes of most opinion polls.

People who might never have heard of George Santayana would still be familiar with the quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Australia has been going through a process that repeats mistakes from the past.

Vaxxed Spreads Like a Plague

By Peter Bowditch

The anti-vaccination movement has employed dishonest tactics to ensure the public screening of Vaxxed in Australia.

Hold the Front Page!

By Peter Bowditch

The loss of specialist reporters in the clickbait era of journalism matters more for science than other rounds.

Irregular Regulation

By Peter Bowditch

A caustic paste can dissolve the authority of regulators more effectively than its purported use against cancer cells.

One of the things we expect governments to do is to make and enforce regulations that protect the health and safety of citizens. There are, of course, constant complaints about over­regulation, but generally people accept that there have to be rules and that most of these rules are reasonable and beneficial.

Don’t Let Straw Men Give You Hay Fever

By Peter Bowditch

Be prepared to face these straw man arguments when arguing with climate change deniers, anti-vaccination advocates and creationists.

In my previous column I talked about the futility of using straw man arguments in debates. A straw man is a statement that intentionally misrepresents your opponent’s belief or position. I also said that the use of such arguments is usually due to ignorance, and advised that it is wise to actually research your opponent’s position before going into battle if you don’t want to look foolish.

Is Philosophy Dead?

By Peter Bowditch

Beware the strawman when arguing that science has outgrown philosophy.

Smart people have recently talked about the uselessness of philosophy with regard to science. Yes, science grew out of philosophy, but the claims are now that science has outgrown philosophy completely and it has no relevance at all. An example is a recent video made by Bill Nye in which he responded to a student asking him: “Is philosophy meaningless?”.

The problem with his comments was not that they were just wrong about philosophy; they were fractally wrong. Nye didn’t know what he was talking about. His concept of philosophy was extremely naïve.

The Bloated Truth About Gluten

By Peter Bowditch

Only 1% of people have coeliac disease, so why are so many people sensitive to gluten?

I lived in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney for several years, an area that gave every impression of being the food fad capital the world. I remember having coffee in a cafe where the salt and pepper containers on the table were labelled “All Natural”, neither cane sugar nor aspartame were available to sweeten the coffee, and the gluten-free scones disintegrated into a pile of crumbs at the first attempt to break them in half. My local pub bistro advertised gluten-free steak.

Skeptics Aren’t Always Skeptical

By Peter Bowditch

Skeptical minds aren’t always applied when it comes to colonies on Mars and self-driving cars.

Why Did the Dog Go “Quack”?

By Peter Bowditch

People who reject evidence-based medicine also subject their pets to veterinary quackery.

I recently had to buy some veterinary care for my dog, and the expense didn’t just have me eating cheese on toast for a few weeks but got me thinking about the animal world’s equivalent of human alternative (to) medicine.

School Daze

By Peter Bowditch

Is there any science behind the theory that a child’s visual, auditory or kinesthetic learning style should determine how they’re taught?

There is something vaguely unethical about experimenting with the ways that children are taught in schools, because getting things wrong can have a serious effect on the children’s intellectual and social development.