Straight away I have grave concerns about the content of this document. This is the governing body for medical doctors in Ontario, and they're actually considering using the word "allopathic"? This word is not a part of the science based medical lexicon. Doctors do not call themselves "allopaths", that's a word used by the alternative medicine crowd. It's one of those words that sounds science-y and technical, but isn't useful in any way except as a pejorative label.
The word has no business being part of the title of a document released by the CPSO. There's no reason for any medical professionals to adopt this word, and the CPSO shouldn't be giving it legitimacy by using it so casually. They put "Non-Conventional" in parentheses, I suppose partly as a recognition that medical professionals may not recognize the term "allopathic", but that's silly. They could have just said "Non-Conventional" and left it at that.
If it was just the title that bothered me, though, I wouldn't have enough material for a blog post. Unfortunately, the document makes several statements intended to open the door for alternative medical treatments and to stifle opposition. CFI Canada has released a response to this draft policy that I sincerely hope will encourage the policy makers at the CPSO to rethink their position.
But I presume you're here to find out my perspective on this document, other than my nitpicking on the title. Well, they actually defend their use of the term "allopathic" in their key features of the revised draft policy:
CFI Canada has been watching the actions of Peter Popoff, who came to Toronto recently in order to peddle his healing schtick, and now he provides financial miracles as well - what a deal!
As a member of CASS (the Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism), I had the privilege of being able to Skype into the meeting with James Randi where they discussed this issue, and I've been waiting for the news on how it turned out. Well, the wait's over! CFI has released a video of the results of the investigation into what Mr Popoff has been up to:
Perhaps it's my prejudice, knowing that this man is a complete fraud, but when I watch him speak, I can't help but feel that he just looks deceitful and conniving. I can almost feel the oily, oozing miasma of nefariousness emanating from his every glance.
If you paid attention to my last podcast, you'll remember that I promoted the book The Invisible Gorilla by by
Christopher Chabris, and Daniel Simon. If you haven't looked into the book as I suggested, and you've never heard of the experiment that it references, take a look at this video before continuing:
It's a fascinating book, and to get it in audiobook format simply follow this link, and if you don't have an audible.com account you can get one here, along with a 14 day free trial and a free audiobook. The book is fascinating, and I highly recommend reading it. What I want to talk about today involves another subject mentioned in the book, and I have a couple of videos that illustrate the concept. If you've already seen these first videos, you might still want to scroll past them to the other funny videos I'm posting because I think you'll enjoy them. The first one is from Richard Wiseman's Quirkology channel:
This is a PSA that ran here in Canada that people from other places around the world might not have gotten the chance to see. I particularly enjoy it because it encourages critical thinking, and I thought some of you might get a kick out of it as well:
This is a segment from a Canadian science news show from back in February of 2009 regarding Obama's first visit to Canada as president.
I wanted to talk about this because it seems to me like a case where somebody builds himself up as an expert on something when there's really not a whole lot verifiable to what he's saying.
Perhaps there's something to the suggestion that Obama's body language indicates a take-charge type of personality. I can see that. The extra directional gestures he makes do kind of look as though he's trying to be in complete control of the situation.
But what about him jogging down the stairs? Is that really a statement about Canada's relationship with the U.S.? That seems to be really reaching to me. Those were a lot of stairs, and Obama's a busy man!
And what about how they walked between those columns? Was Harper's being off center really a statement about the balance of power? I kind of doubt it. The stairs they walked up were off center with the columns, and they just had to adjust to that a little bit awkwardly.
If you ask me, this guy's just spitballing and coming up with what we expect to hear based on what he already knows of the political situation.
I want to plug a great skeptical podcast by some fellow Canadians: The Reality Check. This podcast is produced by the Ottawa Skeptics, a skeptical group over there in our nation's capital.
It's a group style discussion podcast where each member prepares a talk on some issue for discussion. They seem to have a lot of fun, and the deliberately awkward segues between segments are just great.
The show often starts out with a parody song on skeptical matters, which is also pretty fun. A new episode comes out every Monday, and I highly recommend giving them a listen.
As a Canadian, I enjoy having a Canadian source for my skeptical news and analysis. They have a very good staff of regular contributors, and a weekly segment of skeptical fails and wins from the media.
My main disappointment regarding this test was that it didn't tell me what questions I got wrong. I was very confident in almost all of my answers, but I only got 100% in one small sub category "use of pattern and relationships -> calculate -> formulae".
It would be nice if the way the tests were scored was transparent and available online. Perhaps the information is available on request.
If anybody's interested, I scored a level 4 in prose literacy. In document literacy, I scored in level 3, and in numeracy, I scored in level 5.
I was supplied with a bewildering array of results from numerous sub-categories, which must have been a labour intensive undertaking to design and program. I have my doubts about how much these tiny slices of meaning can possibly tell me about myself and my abilities. But over all I'm sure the test gives at least a rough idea of a person's literacy level.
Take the test yourself and let me know what you think.
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