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Starbucks to Offer Retail-Based Health Care Clinic…..

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Seattle, WA-Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse company in the world, announced earlier today that it would begin opening retail-based health care clinics in select locations as early as July.

According to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, the decision to expand into medical care was inspired by the growing popularity of clinics in supermarkets and pharmacies. “Folks are hurting out there, and retail-based clinics are a more economical option in many circumstances,” Schultz explains. “Starbucks will offer convenience and reasonable prices for the treatment of common medical concerns just like we do for whole bean organic Mexican shade grown medium roast coffee.”

But Schultz adds that Starbucks won’t be unveiling just another version of the CVS MinuteClinic or Walgreens Take Care Clinic. “There is a growing mistrust of mainstream medical establishments, regardless of whether they are located in a doctor’s office, a hospital, or a Walmart. And this won’t be one of them.”

Schultz points to a 2008 survey of health care consumers from the Center for Responsible Application of Pseudoscience (CRAP), a Seattle based think tank coincidentally located in the basement of a Starbucks. Advanced statistical analysis of the survey of nearly eleventy thousand adults revealed that almost 80% of responders would prefer that their medical care be provided by practitioners open to drawing from the world of alternative medicine for more natural treatment options. In response to epidemiological data like this, and the mounting evidence in CRAP approved peer-reviewed journals supporting the safety and efficacy of alternative therapies, Starbucks will staff its clinics with acupuncturists, chiropractors, and energy healers instead of the typical nurse practitioner. These operations will be supervised by naturopathic physicians.

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Written by skepticpedi

April 22, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Dan Aykroyd on UFOs…..

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While not having achieved nearly the same degree of irrational thinking as Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine brigade, SNL alumnus Dan Aykroyd has in the past few years surfaced as a UFO conspiracy theorist. I stumbled on this video of Aykroyd taken from an April 9th promotion of his Crystal Head vodka in Morris County, New Jersey, home of a recent high profile UFO hoax. In it he commits a few errors in thinking.

“Well I’ve seen two of them. They were flying end to end, wing to wing, at about 100,ooo feet doing about 20,oo0 miles per hour, zig zagging through the sky and meteoric bolides don’t do that. I’ve had unsolicited in seven states that I’ve been through at least twenty people come up and privately tell me their experiences. And they didn’t seem crazy to me.”

Aykroyd considers his own personal anecdotal experience to be valid evidence. Sometimes personal observances of unusual phenomena are helpful, but rarely in cases of unusual occurences such as UFO sightings. They invariably prove to be innaccurate. Steve Novella sums this up well:

“Sometimes people do report details, like windows or fins. They also report objects moving at fantastic speeds or carrying out seemingly impossible maneuvers. However, when viewing an object against the sky, without a clear background for reference, it is impossible to estimate size, distance, and speed, and we are subject to optical illusions. Such details are therefore not reliable, and there are numerous cases when they are demonstrably wrong.”

Meteoric bolides don’t do that, as Aykroyd correctly points out, but because of the weaknesses inherent in human neurology, he can’t really say for certain that what claims to remember is what really happened. We would have to know more to the story but I think that if there were a series of pictures or a video of the sighting it would have made the rounds by now. At best, all Aykroyd can claim is that he saw something which he could not identify. In reality, this could have been any of a large number of objects, including an alien piloted spacecraft, but it is a rather closed-minded argument from ignorance to assume that it is a visitor from another galaxy.

Many people who would not be deemed crazy, to use Aykroyd’s word, by most folks have reported UFO sightings. But even if these reports numbered in the millions it would still not serve as proof that alien beings are making pitstops here on earth. The plural of anecdote, as they say, is anecdotes not evidence. Even the most skilled observers have been fooled by ordinary objects. And all of us have had even so-called flashbulb memories become warped over time.

I hope Aykroyd does well in the vodka business, at least better than in his movie career since the 80’s. Regardless, as one woman in the video exclaims, proving there are some decent skeptics in New Jersey, “I’d physically have to see the little guys running around in front of me before I’d believe it.” While not completely accurate, as I’d settle for less than that, such as a few unambiguous photo series or videos that don’t fall apart under scientific investigation, her statement exemplify the classic skeptical adage that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Written by skepticpedi

April 12, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Acupuncture for Chronic Itching?…..

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The following gem was included in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation report on the recent identification by University of Minnesota researchers of specific spinothalamic tract neurons implicated in the sensation of itching and shut down by the act of scratching. The researchers, whose study is published as a Brief Communication in the April issue of Nature Neuroscience, express hope that now that this pathway has been discovered, it may eventually pave the way for treatments, pharmaceutical or involving electrical stimulation, that replicate the phenomenon and render scratching obsolete. For folks with certain conditions associated with chronic itching, which can be debilitating for some, this would be a welcome advance.

“Professor Marcello Costa, a neuroscientist at Adelaide’s Flinders University, says a pain treatment like acupuncture could be developed for itching.

“The acupuncture is not damaging, it’s a little bit invasive but it works very well because it activates much better than just rubbing,” Professor Costa said.

“So we all discovered rubbing by ourselves, just like we discovered scratching; we have a scientific rubbing which is called acupuncture but we don’t have a scientific scratching. So I expect this paper will generate interest in developing such a scientific scratcher.””

In the article, it is implied that Costa was one of the scientists or doctors in Australia excited by the team’s findings, and he appears to have no connection with the research. In reading the full text of the paper, I can find no mention of acupuncture so it would seem that Costa came completely out of left field with this comment, which makes not a lick of sense. How does one develop a new acupuncture treatment? Does a new acupuncture point, where there exists yet another mysterious blockage of “energy” as it courses along its equally enigmatic meridian, need to be discovered? One that impacts this specific spinothalamic tract pathway?

Clearly Costa already knows that acupuncture “works very well” for itching because it “activates much better than rubbing”. But activates what? Regardless, I’m sure we will soon be reading about a landmark study proving that acupuncture cures itching. It will involve a small number of unblinded subjects with no control group naturally but that won’t matter to the people that already know it works.

Written by skepticpedi

April 10, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Skeptics’ Circle #109 is Up…..

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Check out the 109th edition of the Skeptics’ Circle, posted by Martin at The Lay Scientist.

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April 10, 2009 at 9:21 pm

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Simply Brilliant: A Must See Video on Being Open-Minded…..

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April 7, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Supervillain Solomon Grundy Calls for More Research Into Pediatric Cancer…..

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Memphis, TN-During a widely publicized press conference held today at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Solomon Grundy, a former member of both the Legion of Doom and Lex Luthor’s Injustice Gang, called for an increase in government financial support of research that may lead to a cure for childhood cancers.

“This is a real shock to the pediatric oncology community,” St. Jude spokesperson Jim Whitstock explains. “We really didn’t see this coming from someone so, well, I mean, he’s an evil two hundred year old zombie for pete’s sake.”

Grundy, a frequent nemesis of Superman, Batman and the Green Lantern explains “Me Solomon Grundy think children are future. Also me have niece with leukemia.”

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April 6, 2009 at 9:51 pm

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Chiropractic Paleoanthropologists Discover Neanderthal Subluxations…..

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Port Orange, Fl-Shocking the scientific community today, and perhaps taking the first steps towards a new theory on the history of human evolution, chiropractic paleoanthropologists working at the Institute of Chiropaleoanthropological Studies (ICS) announced the discovery of several vertebral subluxation complexes in the well-known Kebara 2 and Shanidar 3 Neanderthal spine specimens.

“This report is the culmination of many months of painstakingly detailed research,” chiropaleoanthropologist and lead researcher Frank Grimes explained. “Not only did our highly trained team employ gentle palpation of the spine in each of the two sets of fossilized remains in order to help diagnose the lesions, the specimens were further analyzed by full spinal xrays, surface and infrared electromyography, thermal scanning, contact reflex analysis and leg length measurement.”

After a consensus vote confirmed their findings, the team set out to explain why the C-4, C-6, T-2, T-8, L-4 and L-5 vertebrae were affected in the two Neanderthals. After weeks of frustration, Arthur Fernandez, an expert in the science of Applied Kinesiology, was brought in. His involvement would prove to be a key component of the unraveling of this prehistoric enigma.

“Chiropractors aren’t used to working with patients that are deceased,” Fernandez revealed. “But we do take care of children. When I realized the connection, the similar inability of both dead people and infants to talk, it hit me.”

Using his chiropractor’s intuition, Fernandez placed his hands on a segment of subluxed Neanderthal spine and tested his own muscle strength while holding a variety of vials, each containing a substance potentially toxic to Neanderthal physiology. “When I noticed my arm feel weak as soon as I grasped the bottle of mercury, I couldn’t help but think of the irony. The same substance which is damaging so many kids today used to wreck havoc on this ancient population of monkey/human hybrids.”

With a diagnosis and an etiology in hand, the team from ICS decided to go public with their findings. And though they are all excited about the potential for future discoveries, team leader Grimes has unearthed a more melancholic interpretation of their results. “Just thinking about how an entire species was wiped off the face of the earth because chiropractic healing techniques were discovered 30,000 years too late, is a little unsettling. I’d hate to see the same thing happen to us.”

Written by skepticpedi

April 1, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Posted in chiropractic, Satire

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