The best psychic reader in the world?

Mini-Science logo Guest columnist Joe Schwarcz is the Director of McGill’s Office for Science and Society.  His talk “Science and the Paranormal”  opens the 2010 series of Mini-Science, “Pseudoscience: From Quirks to Quacks.”  Mini-Science starts April 7, so register for the series now!

She’s rich.  She’s famous.  And she’s heartless.  Who, but an unfeeling person, would tell the parents of a missing child, without any evidence, that their son is dead?  Sylvia Browne, that’s who.  “The best psychic reader in the world,” as she bills herself.  Well, maybe not quite the best. (more…)

Homeopathy: Illusion, Delusion or Solution?

Mini-Science logo Guest columnist Joe Schwarcz, Director of McGill’s Office for Science and Society, puts the sense back into common sense. On April 7, his talk “Science and the Paranormal”  opens the 2010 series of Mini-Science, “Pseudoscience: From Quirks to Quacks.” Space is limited; register now for Mini-Science 2010.

Living in New York City can undoubtedly be stressful.  So it is not too surprising that in many a pharmacy you’ll find “New York Stress Tabs.”  The label describes the product as a “homeopathic lozenge designed to manage daily stresses related to sleep, work, relationships, travel, hangover, over-indulgence and pre-menstrual syndrome.”  The instructions suggest that a lozenge be dissolved in the mouth and that the process be repeated hourly as needed.  New York must indeed be a very stressful place.

What magical ingredients can accomplish these wonderful stress-relieving feats?  The label reveals the presence of aconite and strychnine, two classic poisons!  (more…)

Bending Spoons and Bending Minds

Mini-Science logoGuest columnist Joe Schwarcz, Director of McGill’s Office for Science and Society, puts the sense back into common sense. On April 7, his talk “Science and the Paranormal”  opens the 2010 series of Mini-Science, “Pseudoscience: From Quirks to Quacks.”  Mini-Science registration opens March 1.

Everyone should go to a magic convention at least once in their lives.  You’ll be fooled and entertained as coins vanish, selected cards rise out of decks and ten dollar bills float in mid-air in front of your eyes.  But most important, you’ll never look at the world the same way again.  Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to foster critical thinking than to be fooled by the honest charlatans at a magic convention. (more…)

Monosodium Glutamate: Fact vs Fiction

Logo: Office for Science & Society

Sometimes beliefs are converted into fact by repetition alone. We constantly hear of people who avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG) for fear of being struck by “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” Restaurants have taken to posting signs declaring that “no MSG added” has been added to their food in a bid to pacify customers. This in spite of the fact that numerous controlled double-blind studies have failed to show the existence of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” (more…)

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