This past weekend I was interviewed for the Which Side Podcast and the episode has now been released. The show format is pretty casual and we end up talking about everything from skepticism, veganism, Mormonism, to train hopping, and more. You can stream or download it directly here. Give it a listen and let me know what you think
Big news is making the rounds, the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to halt their Southern Ocean whaling program and that while the program “involves activities that can broadly be characterized as scientific research” that “the evidence does not establish that the programme’s design and implementation are reasonable in relation to achieving its stated objectives”. Ultimately concluding that such whaling permits issued by Japan were not “for purposes of scientific research”.
Ive written before about my personal belief that Japan’s “scientific” whaling program is little more than a commercial slaughter operation hiding behind the guise of science. I was not alone in this assessment either, with many conservation scientists saying the same. Now at last there may be some legal vindication. But the way this development has been reported has been somewhat confusing. Does this mean an end for Japanese whaling? What are the actual implications of this ruling? For a clearer picture please check out this great post from the folks at Southern Fried Science where they break it down.
I’ve been hearing a lot about oil pulling from other vegans lately. If you are not familiar with oil pulling the idea is that you take an unrefined oil and swish it around in your mouth, sometimes for as long as 20 minutes or a half hour. Proponents of the practices cite all sorts of health benefits from improved dental health (the advice to brush well afterwards probably has something to do with that) to detoxifying the body (a nonsense claim) and curing cancer. As evidence they often point to personal anecdotes as well as the ancient origins of oil pulling in Ayurvedic “medicine”. But the plural of anecdote is not data and tradition does not establish effectiveness. To find out what the science actually says about oil pulling please check out this post titled Oil Pulling Your Leg over on the Science Based Medicine blog.
I tend to not follow the whole “vegan” Hollywood/celebrity scene. So I was alerted to this next piece of news by Rebecca Watson of SkepChick. It seems that Ellen DeGeneres has been promoting “psychic” Theresa Caputo, aka the Long Island Medium, on her show. I probably shouldn’t be surprised but I am disappointed. In her post Rebecca calls Ellen out and asks her to not promote such unethical hucksters. You can check it out here.
You may have also heard of how Ellen raised 1.5 million dollars for St Jude’s Children Hospital and Humane Society of the United States with her tweeted selfie from the Oscars while at the same time raising a lot of controversy among animal advocates and the public with her choice of charities. The Canadian Inuit community in particular has taken exception to what they view as an attack on their community by the HSUS campaign against the seal hunt, responding to Ellen’s tweet with their own “#sealfie” twitter campaign. I feel that issues like this can be hard to approach for animal advocates in mainstream culture. I’m not prepared to tackle this issue myself however I highly recommend that everyone read two of Dylan Powell’s pieces on indigenous communities and vegan activism titled, “Veganism in the Occupied Territories: Anti-Colonialism and Animal Liberation” and “Shadowboxing: An Animal Liberationist Perspective on the Conservative Administration, The Commercial SealHunt, and #InuitCounterProtest” and take some time to reflect. Hopefully a more nuanced conversation can be had in the vegan community along with more bridge building between communities.