Archive for the ‘pseudoscience’ category

Human Regeneration, real or hoax?

February 20, 2007

There is an exciting development in the world of medical science.  Using a special powder made from, of all things, pig bladder, patients seem to be able to REGROW SEVERED FINGERS!

That’s freakin’ amazing.  Full story here:

I love this story for several reasons.  First, it is exciting stuff, and TEACHERS can use this story to promote interest in science.  This is the kind of topic that children and adults find intuitively fascinating.  Interest in science is waning, in my opinion, and is causing all kinds of problems in our society.

The second reason is that this story can be used to teach CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS.  If you read the article (and you should) you will notice that even though it is strongly correlated, it is entirely possible that the pig-bladder treatment had no impact whatsoever on the regeneration.  The article specifically states that regrowth in adults is rare, but not impossible.  It could be that the treatment is worthless, but that the victim is one of the lucky few.  It also could be true that the treatment only works on certain people, and the victim is in that lucky category.

It could also be true that the whole thing is a misguided hoax.

Our students are even weaker in the realm of critical thinking, and this article can be used by teachers and parents to teach those skills.  The biggest question that jumps to my mind is that if this treatment really does work, then why haven’t the creators conducted independent studies on random samples of subjects.  The subjects don’t have to be human for the studies to be valuable.  If the claims are true, then the product is so valuable that the costs of research pale in comparison (in other words are not a valid excuse for not “proving” that it works).

Weak critical thinking skills have lead to the rise in Pseudoscience.

There are perfectly good reasons to believe in nonsense.  But most charlatans, including Reiki, Crystals, Homeopathy, Astrology and Reflexology are phoney-baloney that may be entertaining but drains people of their hard-earned cash in exchange for momentary delusion.  TEACHERS and PARENTS have an obligation to teach the critical thinking skills that protect us from quacks.

This article can help you get started.

Good Luck!

Allen Dobkin