Category Archives: skepticism

Top Ten Creationist Arguments (& How To Disprove Them)

I have been searching for some time for a concise way to discredit some of the arguments out there about why creation theory is correct and evolutionary theory is not.  Sure, I could write a nice long essay about it, but very few people would bother to read it and long essays really are not memorable.

Fortunately, the Thinking Atheist has come to the rescue with a fantastic video that discredits the top ten creationist arguments.  It is short, concise but is packed full of information.  Also, it looks pretty damn professional as well.

If you ever need to debate a creationist feel free to grab this video.

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127th Skeptics’ Circle is now live

The final Skeptics’ Circle for 2009 (or is it the 1st one for 2010?) is now live over at Life, the Universe and One Brow.  As always, the Skeptics’ Circle provides some fantastic skeptical blog posts that are perfect for reading whilst you are recovering from your New Year’s celebrations.

The Skeptic versus the Astrologer

Channel 7’s Sunrise  had skeptic and host of Australia’s The Skeptic Zone, Richard Saunders and Australia’s leading astrologer and psychic Milton Black talk about astrology on the show this morning. I think the poor presenter David Koch was thoroughly confused by the end of it.

What I found most interesting is that Richard has thrown down the gauntlet to Milton Black to prove that astrology is accurate.  I look forward to the test that Richard devises and seeing how accurate Milton’s astrology charts really are.

What is your opinion of the interview?  Did Richard do a good job of discrediting astrology or did Milton prove that astrology is accurate?

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Does Arnica really help bruises heal faster?

Since I do martial arts and my girlfriend Lelak does CrossFit, we both manage to get a large number of bruises between the two of us.  Therefore a very common question heard in our household is “have you put arnica on that?”.  Coming home from training last night sporting some lovely new bruises made me wonder if arnica really does make bruises heal faster than doing nothing at all and if any scientific studies have been done on the effectiveness of arnica.

Arnica is a genus with about 30 perennial, herbaceous species, belonging to the sunflower family, Asteraceae. Within this genus, several species, such as Arnica montana and Arnica chamissonis, contain helenalin, which is a a major ingredient in anti-inflammatory preparations, mostly used to treat bruises.

A bruise is caused by the capillaries bursting open and blood spilling into the surrounding tissue.  As your body attempts to heal itself, it sends white blood cells to the area to clean up the spilt blood.  Arnica is said to increase the number of white cells sent to the area causing the blood to be cleaned up faster and your bruise to fade quicker.  But does this actually occur?

Scouring PubMed for studies into the effectiveness of arnica, I could find only one that related to arnica’s effectiveness in treating bruising. This was a study from August 2002 in Dermatologic Surgery titled Effects of topical arnica gel on post-laser treatment bruises by Alonso, Lazarus & Baumann. In this study the authors had 19 patients in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study where half the patients applied a cream containing arnica to one side of their face and another cream containing no active ingredient to the other side for two weeks before laser treatment.  The other half of the group did the same thing but for two weeks after laser treatment.  The results- no difference whatsoever in the prevention or healing of the bruising on the side of the face treated with the arnica compared to the side of the face without it.

However, just one study with a small number of patients doesn’t prove conclusively that arnica isn’t effective, so I went looking for more evidence, this time on Medline Plus.  In their article on the first aid treatment for bruises from the Mayo Clinic, it doesn’t mention using Arnica at all.  Instead, they recommend that you apply ice to the area several times a day for the first 2 days and use Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain relief.  The only sites I could find promoting the use of Arnica were natural therapy sites which contained no references to any studies done proving that Arnica is effective in healing bruises faster than if you did nothing at all.

Based on my research, I am not convinced that Arnica decreases the healing time of bruises.  In my opinion what probably does decrease the healing time is actually rubbing the bruised area.  This would increase blood flow to the area thus bringing more white cells to the area to assist in cleaning up the blood and reducing how long it takes for the bruise to fade.  Arnica has nothing to do with it at all.

Post NaBloPoMo Analysis

National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) is over for another year and this year I managed to post every single day for the month of November.  I also changed the focus of this blog a little bit and started blogging more about skepticism, science and pseudoscience as well as my usual “anything goes” blog posts.  I was curious as to how this affected the amount of traffic coming to my blog.  Were people interested in my daily ramblings and the topics I was posting about or were they turned off by the whole thing?

To my surprise, I found that over the month my daily traffic increased by 100%.  Now before you think that I am now getting an amazing amount of traffic, this 100% increase took my traffic levels from embarrassingly low to just very low.  No amazing amounts of traffic here.  My total month’s traffic was also up by 46% over last month.  All good signs, but still I have a long way to go in getting a decent amount of traffic.

Still traffic is not the whole story, people may come if I yell from the hilltops (or Twitter in this case) that I have a new post just to see what the fuss is all about, but they may not like what they see.  People liking what they read is the true testament as to whether I’m connecting with people rather than just making noise.  On this score, I really don’t know how I am doing.  A grand total of 3 people subscribed to my RSS feed this month bringing my number of subscribers to 33.  The lovely big number in my RSS feed total is due to the fact that when you friend someone on FriendFeed you automatically subscribe to their RSS feed – I don’t class these as actual subscribers cause I don’t know who actually reads my feed via FriendFeed.  Then again, do people still subscribe to blogs via RSS feeds or do most people prefer to read blogs when posts are announced via Twitter?  I really don’t know.

Basically, I have no idea whether people are enjoying my blog posts, so I am just going to ask you all with a poll, cause I find if you ask people to comment they get all shy.

If you want to elaborate on your poll choice or make any other criticisms/suggestions etc, please do so in the comments.

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