The #Ten23 campaign, coming to a city near you!

The weekend of February 5th and 6th will showcase the second year of the #Ten23 campaign across the world. It is a campaign with similar goals to World Homeopathy Awareness Week. WHAW seeks to educate the public about what homeopathy is and how it works, and tell people it does work. 10:23 seeks to educate the public about what homeopathy actually is, how it actually works, and its actual efficacy.

The events in Australia are being centrally co-ordinated by Kylie Sturgess at the website for her podcast, The Token Skeptic, with (currently) more cities in Australia being involved than any other country. For more information on what’s happening near you, just keep an eye on that page for updates.

Those overseas, there’s no better site than the official 10:23 website.

Finally, the Sydney #Ten23 event details, being organised by Paul Cageggi, can be found here.

And while you’re checking out sites, vote for me in #NoPants for the Shorty Awards. Sorry, had to.
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Rom Houben wasn’t communicating after all.

Three months ago I wrote a blog post both here and at Young Australian Skeptics about the case of Rom Houben, a man who was left in a vegetative state after a car crash.  Some uncouth attention seekers decided to abuse this man, his family, and their dignity for their own 15 minutes of fame by claiming he could communicate with the outside world.  They used a common scam trick known as Facilitated Communication, and the media fell for it hook line and sinker.

Three months later it appears they have FINALLY run some very very basic tests.  The results are just as expected by the skeptical community – it wasn’t Rom communicating after all, it was all the work of the facilitator.  Of course, barely any media companies are covering this and letting the public know, so most people will continue to believe it was true. Continue reading

When care givers go bad.

(This was also posted at

The news sites are going crazy right now about a Belgian man called Rom Houben who has spent the last 23 years in a coma. His facilitators are now claiming he was not in a coma at all, but rather that he was just trapped concious inside is body unable to get out and communicate with the outside world.

The skeptic sites are going crazy as well about this story, but not for the same reason. Watch the video below and see if you can pick the reason why.

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Redefinition of words.

(This was also posted at

One of the great things about the way language evolves is that words change their meaning all the time. The main reason this happens is due to the way in which we generally learn words. How many of you upon hearing a new word actually go to the effort to pick up a dictionary or go to an online one and look up the words meaning? I am sure a few of you do, but the majority of people (myself included) don’t.

Instead we look at the context the word was used in, the sentence it is in and those surrounding, and from there we use our intuition and past experience to decide our own definition of the word. If we get it wrong, we continue to get it wrong until such a time as we are corrected. We may easily decide to start using that word, incorrectly of course, in our conversations with others. They then pick up on this incorrect meaning and maybe even apply their own meaning to it which is different again. As the word spreads and is picked up, the meaning changes. Dictionaries have in the past and continue today to change the official meaning of a word based upon common usage. Continue reading