Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Posts Tagged ‘harm-reduction’

Radio Freethinker Episode 195 – Insight into Insite Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on January 8, 2013


This week:
– The End is Nigh,
The Doh! of Doha,
– Looking back at psychic predictions,

– Van Courier Fail
, and
– Interview with Dr. Thomas Kerr about Vancouver’s Insite.

Download the episode here!
(Due to technical issues, this episode’s quality may not be up to our regular standards…our station podcast server is still down)

The End is Nigh

jmp050607lThis year will be a existing year for cosmic visitors to earth. We discuss four expected flybys by cosmic rubble.

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Looking back at psychic predictions

the_economic_argumentDon reviews some of the predictions made last year by psychics. We assess their hits, misses and farces.

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Van Courier Fail

nyer-image2Ethan expresses his opinion about local newspaper The Vancouver Courier decision to use their front page to post “The Year In Stars” – astrological predictions from their in-house astrologer. We also examine those predictions.

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The Doh! of Doha
(Sorry, ran out of time for  this segment…check out our next show)

Don reviews one of the most under-reported yet vitally critical stories of 2012 – the Doha Climate Change conference. 

Interview with Dr. Thomas Kerr about Vancouver’s Insite.

ThomasKerr-WebWe talk to Dr. Kerr about harm reduction, the Insite experiment, drug law and the downward spiral of our current governments attitude towards hard reduction.

Dr. Thomas Kerr is the co-director of the Addiction and Urban Health Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia (Division of AIDS), as well as a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar.

In his role at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Dr. Kerr is a principal investigator of several large cohort studies involving people who inject drugs and individuals living with HIV/AIDS, including the Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study (VIDUS).

Find out more:

Skeptical Highlights:

Vancouver Comic Con

Sunday, January 13th, 2013
11am to 5pm
Admission: $4.00
Kids under 14: Free
Heritage Hall on Main, Vancouver

Idle No More meets The Harper!

Friday Jan 11
Although the issues are focused on First Nation rights, this is perhaps the strongest move against the autocratic Harper Government. If they can make some headway, the rest of the progressive movement should follow their lead.

CFI Vancouver’s book club – Voodoo Histories

January 12th at 1pm
Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar
“Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History’ by David Aaronovitch.

CFI Cafe Inquiry – Has Violence Declined?

January 19th at 1pm
Room 2200 of SFU Harbour Centre
This cafe will discuss of Steven Pinker’s latest book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” The central thesis of the book is that human beings have become less violent over the course of our history. From war to violent assault, Pinker believes that there is convincing evidence that we are living in the most peaceful time in human history.

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Radio Freethinker Episode 189 – The End of Coffee Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on November 13, 2012

This week:
– Coffee plant soon to be extinct,
– Talking Elephants, 

– Tyson find Superman’s home planet,
– Autism ‘links’ to the flu
– Mandatory Flu Vaccination – why doctors resist

Download the episode here!

Coffee plant soon to be extinct

According to scientist, coffee in the ‘wild’ will be extinct before the century is out. Its human destruction of habitat and climate change to blame. What impact will this have on our cup-of-Joe at the bux? Hint: did you know the commercial banana went extinct 100 years ago but we had the wild variety to ‘re-create’ a new commercial crop.

Find out more:

Talking Elephants

We respond to reports about a Korean Elephant that has learnt to ‘talk’ to its trainers. We compare this to other reports of talking animals and the idea that ‘this class’ of animal can ‘communicate’ as we do at all. What does ‘communicate’ even mean to an ‘alien’ species…like an elephant or whale?

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Tyson find Superman’s home planet

When DC comics ask Neil De Grass Tyson to do a cameo in an upcoming edition of Superman, little did they realize they would be getting a big side order of science to go in as well. Listen to find out where Kryton really could have been.

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Autism ‘links’ to the flu

In the past, we have talked about how major news agencies often misrepresent science. We have talked about how Autism discussion in the media often parrot the ‘anti-vax’ position as ‘fair and balanced’. This week we talk about a report in NBC that got most of it right. Science was hyped but in the end it trashed the Anti-vax position about vaccination and urged pregnant women to get the flu shot.

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Mandatory Flu Vaccination – why doctors resist

It is flu season again and the usual push to get every one, especially vulnerable groups, vaccinated. Doesn’t vaccination give permanent immunity? Then why an annual shot? How do the great the vaccine and is it effective? We answer these question and more with the help of special guest Dr. Rob Tarzwell.

We also talk to Rob about the apparent paradox as to why the most medically informed population (health care providers) seem to be so reluctant to get the annual flu shot. We confront the recent announcement that flu vaccination will become mandatory for healthcare providers and how the medical community is responding to this announcement.

Find out more:

Skeptical Highlights:

Philosophers’ Café

Fear as a tool for governance? For repression? For entertainment?

On an individual level we tend to seek out fear. One just needs to look at the success of writers such as Stephen King and the plethora of “scary movies”. On a societal or collective level, fear may have remained a constant tool in the hands of the powerful. Has fear become a crucial element in our Faustian quest for security?

Date: Monday, Nov 19, 2012, 7:30 pm

Location: Caffe Amici, Commercial Drive at Kitchener, Vancouver

Admission: Free

Moderator: Zahid Makhdoom speaks and writes extensively on the issues of justice, peace and human rights, and is currently engaged as a humble public servant.

If plants are sentient beings, should we eat them?

Recent discoveries indicate that plants may be as sentient as other natural beings. If a plant can feel and has some form of consciousness, should we still eat them? How should vegetarians respond to this notion?

Date: Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012, 7 pm

Location: Nature’s Garden Organic Deli, University High Street, Burnaby

Admission: Free

Moderator: Jason Carreiro,  a PhD candidate and instructor in philosophical and social issues in education at Simon Fraser University.

It’s the end of the Universe and I feel fine

Staff Astronomer, Raminder Samra will guide the audience on an tour of how astronomers believe that one day the Earth will meet its end — starting from the Big Bang, then progressing to the formation of our Solar System, and finally, to how our Earth will end and what is to be expected to happen to our Universe in the far future.

Date: Saturday, Nov 17, 2012, 8 pm

Location: H.R. MacMillan Space Centre

Admission: by donation

Moderator: Raminder Samra — UBC graduate student of astronomy and astrophysics.

Café Inquiry: How to do Cold Readings

Saturday, November 17, 2012
SFU Harbour Centre Room 2290 (West Fraser Timber Conference Room)

Café Inquiry is a monthly casual discussion group run by CFI Vancouver. Come along and enjoy afternoon tea and stimulating discussion with fellow freethinkers on a variety of topics.

Our presenter, Michael Glenister, is a both a professional magician and a high school science and mathematics teacher.This months Café is on how to do cold readings. Cold reading is a series of techniques used by magicians, illusionists and so called psychics or fortune-tellers to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do. It is a common practice by “psychics” to convince people of their supernatural powers.

Check out the FaceBook Event

Science of Harm Reduction Drug Policy by Dr. Thomas Kerr

Friday, November 30, 2012
Room A102 of Buchanan Building, Block A, 1866 Main Mall, Vancouver

Dr. Thomas Kerr is Co-Director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), and an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of AIDS at the University of British Columbia.

Harm reduction drug policy has become a politically polarizing issue, which often leaves the science behind the rhetoric. With recent court challenges over Vancouver’s safe injection site, Insite; society must become scientifically informed on what strategies are effective in treating addiction and improving public health.

This talk will take place in room A102 of Buchanan building block A at UBC. There is a suggested donation of $5 to $10.

Check out the FaceBook Event

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Oz Universities Defend Alternative-Medicine Teaching

Posted by Don McLenaghen on February 17, 2012

Friends of Science in Medicine — a recently formed group that includes more than 400 prominent scientists, doctors, academics and consumer advocates from Australia and overseas — wrote to the vice chancellors of Australian universities last month. They outlined their concerns about what they called the “diminishing of the standards applied to the teaching of science in our universities” and “the increased teaching of pseudo-science.

“Such courses involve so-called ‘complementary or alternative medicine’ masquerading as, and sitting side-by-side with, evidence-based health-related science courses,” the letter said.

In response to this, the Universities have pushed back. Nick Klomp, Dean of the Science faculty at Charles Stuart University, agreeing with some points of the letter continued to state that the degree offered at his university, a Bachelor of Health Science (complementary medicine) for example, was based on science.

He said the course was designed to impart evidence-based science to people who already had a qualification, like a diploma, in alternative health care. The course includes such subjects as biology and physiology.

Those behind the letter said “For many of us, we’ve been concerned for a long time that in this most scientific of all ages, pseudoscience seems to be flourishing,”

David Colquhoun, a Professor of Pharmacology at University College London has called for the ending of alternative-medicine programs in Britain, a member of the Australian group had some of the harshest words in the article I read when he said “Courses in alternative medicine are dishonest, they teach things that aren’t true, and things that are dangerous to patients in some cases,”

Logical does not mean rational

Now, I don’t think I have to take a survey of RadioFreeThinker to know we support the Friends of Science and would be glad to see all CAM programs ended in higher institutions with the caveat, made by the Friends group as well, that research into CAM, if warranted should not stop. That said, one thing Klomp said made me pause.

“I could ignore them or I could train them better,” Mr. Klomp said, adding that a majority of the university’s students were already practicing. “We actually create graduates who are much better health care providers. It’s all about evidence based, science based.

So, that argument is, I think, is even if you think that CAM is all fake, there is here an aspect of harm reduction. That these people would be practicing their pseudo-science regardless, this way they at least have an understanding of what real medicine is and the ethics attached to it. We often say that many CAM practitioners are not frauds but misinformed, this seems one way to at least reduce the potential harm they could do to their patients accidentally via ignorance.




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