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May 28, 2016

May 27h, 2016 Episode 46

Hi and welcome to the brainstorm podcast. This is episode 46 and today is May 27th, 2016. I’m Cory and my panel tonight are Destin, Rene, and Leo, with the always amazing Dave doing sound and We’re here in Roman Empire studios in Regina, Saskatchewan. Tonight's guest is Shawn Vulliez a leader in the Pirate Party of Canada. 

Before we get into the woo report I want to talk about a comment during the live chat last episode. I made the comment that there really isn’t such a thing as a cough suppressant and one or our live listeners mentioned Dextromethorphan. Without the information at hand I didn’t want to address it at the moment but I wanted to give a short run down on cough suppressants this episode. Most skeptical articles discussing cough suppressants are also discussing other symptoms under the common cold grouping. So first I want to say, that while I’m not a hundred percent sure where I originally heard the no real cough suppressants concept it was either on the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe or on The Reality check. Both great shows with a good reputation for basing their shows on facts that can be backed up. As a result I often don’t double check the information presented there. This was apparently one of those times. I’ll provide links in the show notes but when I was looking into this I found a few good sources. I’m going to start with Science Base Pharmacy, in an article from January 11, 2012 titled Super Cold-Treatment Reference Spectacular! They talk a bit about dextromethorphan or DM. Right off the hop they make the statement, “there is a lack of evidence showing it works for colds” The also mention Codeine but that also appears to be ineffective. The go through a few other remedies and over the counter treatments but I’m going to stick to DM. So the study they link is called Antitussive efficacy of dextromethorphan in cough associated with acute upper respiratory tract infection. In this study they had 43 patients, in a double blind, stratified, randomized, and parallel group design. For those who may not know, double blind means that nobody knows who got medicine or placebo, stratified means that the patients were sampled in homogeneous groups in this case men and women we sampled separately, randomized means that there was no system to determine who got which treatment, and parallel means that each group only received one type of treatment or placebo with no crossover. They had the objective measures of cough sound pressure level, cough frequency, and the subjective measure of cough severity. To quote the study, “the results showed similar results in both treatment groups”. There was a reduction in all three categories of measurement but no statistically significant differences between the treatment groups.
So that’s science based pharmacy, and the study they looked at.

The site skeptical medicine has cough suppressants listed on their page, medical practices unsupported by science.

They link to a Cochrane systematic review of allthe decent studies of over the counter cough medicine and concluded that, “There is no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of OTC medicines in acute cough”

On the website Science Based Medicine, Steven Novella said in his article from Feb 16, 2011 that, “Over the counter (OTC) cough suppressants simply do not work and are not safe in children.”

and while I’m not usually one to use Mother Jones as a source, they have an article from Jan 20 2014 that’s titled Today’s Health Tip: Cough Medicines Don’t Work , Where Norman Edelman, MD, chef medical officer at the American Lung Association says, “We've never had good evidence that cough suppressants and expectorants help with cough but people are desperate to get some relief. They’re so convinced that they should work that they buy them anyway.”

So, my conclusion is that no, they don’t work. The evidence doesn’t support it and many medical professionals don’t encourage it. This may lead some people to alternatives in the CAM camp but none of those do anything either. Just wanted to clear that up. I didn’t mean to dismiss the listener but I didn’t have the information in front of me at the time.

Now into the woo report.

Woo Report




Just a heads up, this is fucking disgusting. There are people who think that drinking a smoothie with pieces of fresh raw placenta in it. They think that by doing this they will consume stem cells and growth factors which heal damaged tissue and organs at super speed. A few of the claim on the website placentaremediesnetwork are that it helps stop postpartum hemorrhaging, that it gives the body an immediate supply of essential vitamins and nutrients, that it provides the body with a boost of hormones to aid in healing, that it gives the mother a feeling of strength and balance, milk supposedly comes in faster, and they take the round about way of saying it but they claim it will help with post partum depression which they call the baby blues.

I read through a few articles about this and found that some of them aren’t as dismissive of the idea as I had expected. An article from Dr. Harriet Hall on Science based medicine basically said that there are a lot of nutrients that could replace the lost nutrients depleted during pregnancy but that with the level of access we have to safe food in the modern era, it wouldn’t be necessary to eat or drink the placenta. I recommend her article. She directly addresses the sources that a website called Placentabenefits use. Not in detail but by saying, “My own search of PubMed didn’t uncover any relevant studies on humans. If these 9 articles are their best effort, they’re grasping at straws. All they’ve got is rats and speculation. The best they can do is to mention the need for adequate iron and speculate that placenta-eating might be a useful source of iron. To counter that, we know enough about iron metabolism to make us think it is highly implausible that a one-time ingestion of placenta would contribute very much to effectively replenishing the body’s iron stores.”

The skeptical ob, Dr. Amy Tuteur seems a bit more dismissive with an article titled, Eating the placenta: stupid is as stupid does.  In the article she starts off by saying that, “Homebirth and natural childbirth advocates can’t make up their mind about the placenta, they all agree that has magical traits, but they can’t agree what those magical traits are”, and she finishes by saying,” Eating the placenta is an excellent example of the profound ignorance of human physiology that undergirds most of homebirth and natural childbirth advocacy. Advocates have no clue how the actual physiologic processes of pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum work. They create a fantasy physiology where profound complications are “variations of normal,” where birth in water (unknown in any primate species) is natural, and where eating the placental hormones that suppress breastmilk production are supposed to promote breastmilk production.Only someone profoundly ignorant of human physiology would recommend consuming placenta and only a gullible fool would actually do it.”

There were some more articles I read about the practice but the conclusion I came to was that there is no decent reason to eat or drink pieces of placenta. There are a lot of claims made but none that are supported by research and some that are contradicted by reality.


Religious Nuttery



Not so religious nuttery


10:15 pm music break – Brainstew by Green Day as per Gumby’s idea, Hush by Tool, and a song by a band called Goth Brooks. I’ll post a link in the show notes to their website. Mike Lee who used to run the youtube channel the Religious antagonist kind of fell off the atheist youtuber grid for a while but now he’s back with his new band and I’ll leave it to you to decide how serious you take them. The song we’re going to play by them is called Fall to Pieces, I think it’s the one I enjoyed the most on the album but I rather enjoyed all of the songs so check it out. They’ve got it for free download at their site

Skepticism 101 part 13: Breaking down the logical fallacies part 7

Any form of argument where the conclusion is assumed in one of the premises.  Many people use the phrase “begging the question” incorrectly when they use it to mean, “prompts one to ask the question”.  That is NOT the correct usage. Begging the question is a form of circular reasoning.

Paranormal activity is real because I have experienced what can only be described as paranormal activity.

So I actually skipped a couple fallacies in the wiki list this episode because I wanted to jump right to one I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot. Begging the question. Contrary to what people think, begging the question doesn’t mean that it brings up a question, which many people use for. What it means in logical fallacy speak is that it assumes the conclusion and presents it as a premise of an argument. A good example of this is a recent discussion among various scientists and skeptics of varying degrees. There was some discussion about the universe being a simulation and they assigned the probability of that as quite high. The problem is that they are assuming a high probability without presenting any reason to accept it as a possibility.

Atheism for Dummies part 11

Religion for atheists part 6 – Taoism

I was looking through the list of religions looking for the next largest religion that we haven’t covered and according to the site I use the next biggest one was just called Chinese religion but in the description it said that it was a combination of Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Chinese folk religion so I figured we’d better cover those first. We did Buddhism already so this time around we’re doing Taoism.

So, Taoism is based on the teachings of Lao-Tzu from 550 BC, in China. There are currently around 20 million adherents, specifically but are a portion of the general group of Chinese religion. It’s a Pantheistic religion that uses the concepts of Tao and yin and yang. The meaning of Life in Taoism is inner harmony, peace and longevity which is achieved by living in accordance with the Tao. After death, you revert back to a state of non being. And their holy texts are the Kojiki and Nihongi.

Listener Feedback and shoutouts

Patreon Patron – Rob Geiger and Nathan
Twitter – @RandyLaMonda said This was such a fun listen. Congrats on your conference.
@Pixiechixie6 thanked us for donating to the Fort Mac fire relief fund

 So that’s where we’re going to end the episode.

Gumby would you like to tell us a bit about the progress on next years Shift To Reason.

We’ll record another half hour for the patreon page but you can join us for the next live broadcast by watching for our events on or you can go to our website and check out the live show page and the upcoming events page.

There are some upcoming conferences in Canada, there’s the annual Non conference, this year in Niagra Falls on August 13th and there’s the AB Secular conference on September 15th and 16thin Edmonton. I’ll post links to the facebook pages for all of those in the show notes.

The Non-Conference -

The AB Secular Conference -

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