SkepTech is This Weekend!


The past month has been super busy, but this week I’ve been even more blog-lax than my usual – my mom had to remind me that I hadn’t posted our Cross-Country Connections! I’ve been obsessed with reading and preparing for my talk at the community’s newest skeptical conference:

SkepTech Banner reads "SkepTech"

It’s being held at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and is sponsored by the peeps at Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists (CASH) and the Secular Student Alliance Affiliate at St. Cloud State University (SSA@SCSU).

I’m giving a talk on the Food and Drug Administration. When I started thinking about topics to present I found myself gravitating toward my favorite skeptical topic: alternative medicine. I wanted to understand WHY, when I walk into Walgreens, do I see homeopathic preparations in the same aisle as cold medicine – you know, things that (for the most part) do what they claim they can do? Why hasn’t the FDA – a regulatory agency charged with making sure our food and drug supply is safe and efficacious – done anything about these “natural remedies”? Thanks to groups like Science-Based Medicine and CFI articles like this, I had a casual understanding of the FDA and why things like alternative medicine and dodgy “healing devices” like this are on the market, but I wanted to know more!

The title of my talk is FDA – Where Are You? and I’m scheduled for the the bright and early Sunday 9:30am time slot. But the fun actually starts on Friday evening at 5pm: There’s going to be a gaming fundraiser, some mind-reading by David Gamut, and two talks that night – Jesse Galef and Zach Weinersmith. Speaking on Saturday and Sunday is this rockstar lineup: Ben Blanchard, Greta Christina, JT Eberhard, Tim Farley, Geeks Without God, Maggie Koerth-Baker, Scott Lohman, Hemant Mehta, Brendan Murphy, PZ Myers, and Stephanie Zvan.

You can view the entire schedule and get descriptions of the panels on the SkepTech website’s schedule page.

EDIT: I’m also participating on two panels on Sunday! I’m a panelist for “Real World vs. Cyberspace Activism” and I’m moderating “The Implications of Brain Tech”.

So that’s where I’ve been. Oh, and Cross-Country Connections will be up in just a few minutes :)

Comments

  1. will owens says

    I was able to attend your presentation on the FDA. Thank you, I found it very interesting.
    I did have a question about one of your items. The 1970 inclusion of a warning with birth control pills.

    The implication I heard was that this was intended to inform women of the dangers of this medication. While this may may have been an important result of the warning, particularly with the high doses used at the time, I suspect it was not the intent. I am old enough to remember if I had been paying attention but I was not. I suspect the intent was to frighten women into not taking birth control pills.

    If anyone has a better history I would like to hear it. History as well as technology is important.

    Thank you again for your you presentation.

  2. says

    Thanks for coming to my talk, and to SkepTech, will owens! As an aside: Wikipedia and the FDA timeline are in dispute about when and for what drug the first patient package insert was required. The FDA website says it was 1970 for the Pill. Wikipedia mentions a 1968 requirement for isoproterenol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Package_insert

    Either way, the wikipedia article for the Pill provides some very interesting and detailed history of the development of the Pill. The pill was approved for sale in 1960, a full 10 years prior to the required package insert. Patients on the Pill began showing increased risk for venous thrombosis and doctors began to doubt the safety of the Pill. Wikipedia makes it sound like the package insert was actually the work of feminists and pro-Pill supporters, in an effort to keep the Pill available to women despite public and medical concern over the pill’s safety.

    Of course, since the Pill’s emergence there have been those who protest women’s right to control her reproduction, but it doesn’t sound like this was a case the package insert being used to frighten women into not using birth control.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combined_oral_contraceptive_pill#Public_availability

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