• How Many Skeptics Are There In Toronto

    by  • 9/19/2009 • skeptic, Toronto • 2 Comments

    Last month, there were no “Skeptics In The Pub” style events being held in Toronto. I’m still new to town, and was surprised by this apparent oversight in a city with a reputation for having a strong skeptical community, let alone a city with a couple formal skeptics groups.

    Last week, I was rather happy to find the Skeptics Canada people arranged a Skeptics in the Pub event (that happened last night). Finally, a chance to meet other people in Toronto who know who James Randi is.

    Then, while I was looking for the information on meetup.com, I found there was another Skeptics in the Pub event set for the following Tuesday at one in the afternoon. Weird… from 0 to 2 in rather short order… It’s a bit weird that it’s set to occur at 1 in the afternoon on a weekday, but who am I to judge?

    Then today, I thought I’d post something about how I enjoyed last night’s event, and I did a bit of followup research on the local skeptic culture. Turns out the 1 in the afternoon organizer is also a member of Skeptics Canada, and he’s also involved at CFI Toronto. Interesting… so I find myself browsing CFI’s Toronto events page, and find that there’s ANOTHER Skeptics In The Pub event listed there for September 26th; next saturday.

    CFI Toronto and Skeptics Canada need to talk to each other, I think… How many pub centered meetups does Toronto need?

    I met some interesting people, and was able to spread my dislike of Toronto quack-peddler Damian Rogers, and hopefully convince others to visit her article online and submit their thoughts on this week’s article entitled “Don’t fear the flu.” The article starts off quoting someone who offers what sounds like rational advice, and then moves on to pitching the latest essential oil and “anti-flu” techniques…

    A representative of the Living Libations line of organic essential oils, raw chocolate and skincare, Millman combines her background as an aromatherapist, reflexologist and nutritional counsellor with her studies of Traditional Chinese Medicine to perform highly individualized health treatments for her clients. (I’ve seen her myself and think she’s great.) She agrees with Lytle that the amped-up anxiety levels around H1N1 are overblown and is particularly suspicious of the flu shot that has been rushed through.

    Millman, who recently managed to heal her own wrist injury in 12 days rather than the six weeks her doctor predicted it would take, is a great believer in the therapeutic power of pure, organic essential oils, which are not synthetic perfumes but concentrated plant oils extracted through an artisanal steam-distillation process (many cheaper brands often use chemical solvents for extraction). She says the oils have almost limitless applications because of their antibacterial, antiviral, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, antioxidant, anti-infectious qualities. “They are all anti-, anti-, anti-, anti!” she laughs.

    While the idea of using scent to stay healthy may sound flaky, you may change your tune if you keep an open mind and experiment a bit. I’ve noticed an immediate difference in my sense of well-being after exposure to high-quality oils. Millman suggests using the oils “breakfast, lunch and dinner” to see the greatest benefits. In addition to steam inhalations, she says you can introduce them to many daily activities like skincare and housecleaning (adding oils like tea-tree and rosemary to vinegar makes a great toxin-free surface disinfectant). Millman loves oils because they are inexpensive and easy to use; she says simply simmering drops of tea-tree, eucalyptus and rosemary in water on the stove for a couple of hours (in a pot you don’t mind mucking up; keep adding water as needed) will help eliminate pathogens in the air.

    To boost your immune system, Millman also recommends taking high doses of vitamins C and D, keeping your midsection covered to protect your kidneys from chill, wearing scarves, eating hot soup and drinking adaptogen herbal teas (like nettle, rhodiola and the Chinese herb jiaogulan). And, of course, don’t freak out.

    Keeping your kidneys warm? You don’t get flu from a chill, to any part of your body, let alone your kidneys.

    Tea-tree oil has no mechanism for eliminating toxins in the air. It might cover up the smell of the exhaust leaking in from the garage, but it’s not removing the carbon monoxide.

    Boosting your immune system is a fallacy, and the efficacy of high-dose vitamins C and D is unproven, and may be harmful in anyone who already eats a balanced diet.

    What does the wrist injury anecdote have to do with anything? If it’s important, what kind of injury? fracture? sprain? discomfort? Of course she “healed it herself” – you can’t subcontract healing – everyone does it themselves. Essential oils might smell pretty, but they don’t regenerate bone or heal tissues.

    In an unrelated matter, I just learned that Richard Dawkins is in town on the 29th as part of his book tour; of course, there are no tickets available for the event any longer.


    2 Responses to How Many Skeptics Are There In Toronto

    1. 9/19/2009 at 4:58 pm

      Part of this I think is just an incorrect events page listing.

      The “Skeptics in the pub” meetup is run by Justin Trottier, who also is head of CFI Toronto. So, it means that the CFI Ontario events page is most likely incorrect. So the 22nd date is probably the right one. There has been some mistakes on the CFI events page in the past.

      But it does seem that CFI Ontario and Skeptics Canada are sponsoring two of them. So they should work together.

    2. Hanzoman Black
      9/19/2009 at 5:04 pm

      If that kind of stuff bugs you, you’ll go livid for the Autism One conference at UoT next month. A friggin’ homeopath is going to be one of the presenters. And it looks like they are going to promote Andrew Wakefield’s theories, and say that Autism is something that can be treated effectively now. And probably say it’s all caused by vaccines.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *