Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Whats the Harm…

Posted by thinedgedev on March 12, 2016

This is a response to a listener who wanted my opinion on this store I shared on Facebook

Alberta toddler died from meningitis because he was taken to a naturopath instead of a doctor

There are several issues at hand here…first, our current government allows people to claim to be medical practitioners with out actually employing any medicine. And that is the first crime here…when the family FINALLY took their child to a doctor…they chose a not-doctor.

Now, some are going to say the naturopathy is healthcare…it is not! Okay…most of it is not…because if a collection of bs and mumbo-jumbo, a very small part may actually serve some good…the personal interactions help enhance the placebo effect…offering supplements on top of regular medical care, might be waste of money but likely again enhance the placebo effect.

I could spend hours about naturopaths, but when the child was take to this not-doctor and that person did not immediately call for an ambulance…remember according to the report even a nurse could see the real problem…and just gave the child more snake oil…well, that person acted criminally.

Okay…lets assume you agree with me on that…and yes, a big ask of some of you sadly…but that still leaves the other problem about should the parents be charged? In and of itself, probably not…especially because of the outcome…justice if deserved or not was reeked upon these two.

However, there are some special circumstance that want me to see these people charged and found guilty. We live in a world were people this miracle cures exist…the story related to Truehope…shows that in many ways, there were, in unrelated areas, a willful intent to mislead…these parents were not unfamiliar with the scientifically questionable nature of naturopathic products.

Secondly, people often say…”well, even it does really work, what is the harm”…well this is that harm. The prosecution of these parents will hopefully be a wake up call to everyone that ignoring reliable heath care has consequence…if this sways the mind of some other parent or any ill individual to so see a real doctor it WILL save lives. I can also guarantee that if it dissuades any number of people for see a naturopath…well, nothing will be lost.  And most ethical naturopaths, will say in a defensive manner that you can do both…so long as the naturopath does not actively thwart the doctor’s treatment.

So, to recap…the naturopath they visited is at best guilty of malpractice and at worst accessory to the child’s death. The companies that market this snake oil should be shut down…and last the parents in this particular case should be convicted of negligence…especially considering this child was very sick for weeks.

But there is a greyer area…when should you go to a doctor for care. I can agree that it is uncomfortable to charge a parent because they confused a flu with something worse…if you don’t go in 24hr, is that a crime…what about a week?

And parents are people too…they don’t have medical degrees…what might seem like something mild or just something kids go thru…was actually life threating…

On this matter I don’t have a simple answer…and each case should be decided on by their merits…with the benefit of the doubt going to the parents. Sadly in this case, they acted in such a way that I think criminal.

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Prairie Correspondent – Good neighbours

Posted by Don McLenaghen on June 27, 2014

Good neighbours, we all want to be good neighbours and we want to have good neighbours. Mostly our neighbours are the people next door, either down hallway or down a street. Neighbours are usually close enough to know each other if not intimately then sight wise. If the walls are thin or the windows are open sometimes they now each other more than is comfortable. We know the comings and goings, the different vehicles, the new siding. When the plumber comes a calling we may not know the why but we can figure it out. The guy who parks his truck on the lawn and the one that is down on his hands and knees pulling the dandelions out by hand. A neighbourhood is full of all types of people.

Neighbourhoods can be welcoming places and some can be anything but. Like the barbeque that the Smiths had and invited everyone on the south side of the street but Hanna family. Everyone else got along as did Hanna’s and the Smiths, until one weekend when the RV arrived, something happened nobody was sure what. All that were invited went, they noticed the Hanna’s weren’t there, they talked among themselves yet no one said anything to the Smiths. After all it wasn’t their party or their yard or for that matter their food, what right did they have to say who the Smiths could invite and who not. This slight didn’t go unnoticed by the Hanna’s either. It was a small block and they had noticed the people passing their yard on the way to the Smith’s. Well the Hanna’s didn’t care because they liked the Smith’s just about a little as the Smith’s liked them. Well truth be known after the puffing of feathers and the bravado, they cared a great deal.

You see the two neighbours used to be friends, heck they borrowed each other’s tools and returned them, now that’s a good neighbour.  It all started one day when the Smith’s brought home a spanking new RV. 39 feet long with fold out sides a magnificent RV to the Smiths but a monster to the Hanna’s. The fallout wasn’t over jealousy the Hanna’s were glad the Smith’s had the RV they had four small boys so they too could imagine the fun ahead for the family. What the Hanna’s objected to was the RV had been parked in the driveway as far back as possible and RV’s large window lined up perfectly with the Hanna’s sundeck, patio doors and all the back yard for that matter. Now as much as one might like the people next door there are limits. The same reason people build fences, plant trees and build pergolas, was the same reason the Hanna’s found a problem with the RV. They liked their privacy

When Mrs Hanna awoke the next morning and rounded the table in the kitchen she was staring straight into the window of the RV, it was parked 6 inches from the dividing fence. Usually Mr Hanna was a more forgiving sort but he too stared at it eyes bulging. There was room in the driveway to pull ahead and therefore solve the problem so what the he double l is going on, the nerve. So out they go after cramming down their breakfast fit to be tied. They erected a makeshift blind with wood and an old sheet blocking the RV’s view of the property. Looked crappy but they wanted to make a point and after all what were the Smiths thinking! It escalated from there.

And so this leads to the night of the barbecue. The Smith’s and Hanna’s never talked and the other neighbours looked the other way. Was it the perhaps the Hannas fault if they had of voiced their problem with the way the RV was parked in the driveway explained the discomfort it caused, or was it perhaps the Smiths fault if they had taken the Hanna’s right to privacy into account. They could have hashed it out and came to an agreement that worked for both of them .It may be …a simple conversation could have alleviated the situation that developed.

And isn’t that the way of the world, we’re all neighbours some of us are closer than others, and our block is the planet. The Planet Earth is our neighbourhood. Perhaps we should make the effort to listen and talk to our neighbours. Good neighbours, we all want to be good neighbours and we want to have good neighbours, don’t we.

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RFT Ep 257 – Sex Sells Redux Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on June 24, 2014

Download the episode here! 

<NOTE: Due to technical issues, CiTR's pod-casting server is down. The show can still be enjoyed via the link above...sorry for the inconvenience>


This Week Whine – The Iraq Dilemma and Globalized Ethics


This past couple of weeks has brought to light the very precarious nature of the idea of an Iraqi nation…and it does not look good. We provide a quick historical context for the civil war in all but name that has resurfaced in Iraq. We also look at the UN’s Responsibility to Protect…a high point for humanity where we no longer limit people to be citizens of a nation but citizens of the world with rights the global community is charged to protect. Alas, we discuss how Iraq shows the utter failure of the UN, NATO, The US and the global community in general to actualize these rights…to ACTUALLY protect people from military violence.


The New Prostitution Bill…oy vey


In the wake of the Supreme Court striking down Canada’s prostitution law, the Harper government has presented to parliament a replaced based on the so called “Nordic Model”.

We review the reason the previous law was struck down and how this new law makes matters worse for sex workers. We deconstruct Justice Minister Peter McKay’s regressive, paternalistic sexist misogynistic law and the real reasons Harper is introducing a law he knows will be struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Further Reading:

The Case to Legalize Brothels


In the previous section, I asserted that prostitution and more specifically brothels were not innately harmful…well, to be a good skeptic…we take a moment to review the evidence out there and see if the proposition – legalizing brothels makes sex work and sex workers safer is justified or just dogmatic.

Further Reading:

How Class Works


Based on a presentation given by Richard Wolff, an economist who has studied class issues for more than 40 years.

Wolff explains what class is all about and applies that understanding to the foreclosure crisis of 2007–2011. He argues that class concerns the “way our society splits up the output [and] leaves those who get the profits in the position of deciding and figuring out what to do with them… We all live with the results of what a really tiny minority in our society decides to do with the profits everybody produces.” As you watch and listen, consider what we know from research about disease and illness patterns among groups with lower income, more stress, and less control of their lives. Consider how investment decisions in neighborhoods, over transportation, school facilities, parks, location of grocery stores, quality of affordable housing, etc. influenced by powerful interests, affect the quality of life for large segments of the population.


This was produced by the National Association of County and City Public Health Officials (NACCHO) as a part of their Roots of Health Inequality Project. The project is a web-based course for the public health workforce and “How Class Works” is one section of the course.

Further Reading:


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RFT Ep 256 – What Good is the News Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on June 17, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Truth about Canada

Free trade - 5

Mel Hurtig is probably not a name most of us know and yet we should. Mel made good money in the 80 by selling some books. He took that windfall and was the driving force behind the Canadian Encyclopedia…the only encyclopedia made by Canadians.

Mel is a fervent nationalist and has talked for years about the erosion of both Canadian identity as well as Canadian sovereignty.

In 2008 he wrote the book “The Truth About Canada”, which is about how Canada has changed, very much for the worse, in the last twenty years. As a result of these profound (often hidden) changes, we are no longer the people we think we are.

From the book…To take one example, the Canadian media usually leaves us with the impression that Canadians are really heavily taxed. Yes, compared to the U.S.A., the usual point of comparison. No, compared to other countries with our standard of living, other OECD countries, for example; there we come in 23rd on the high-tax scale.

How do we rank in the world in voter turnout? Try 109th. Number of physicians per 100,000 population? Try 54th. Our rank in reducing pollution? 126th out of 146 countries.

Mel states that he wrote the book because we can’t do anything to fix the direction we’re drifting in unless we recognize it — and recognize The Truth About Canada.

Now this book was published in 2008 as I said but I came across an interview he did on TVO and he makes some predictions about Canada…now, 8 years on, it is surprising how these predictions fared.

Further Reading:

What Good is the News


I have a question for you…does the News Do Us Any Good? Alain de Botton

Given the current events in Ukraine, the way that news is reported (on all sides, sometimes opposing and sometimes oversimplified) is both interesting and unsettling.

Well Alain De Botton takes a philosopher’s approach to the general issue of the consumerisation of the news – making a plea for the media to treat us all more as grownups, and for us as consumers to be more objective and challenging.

Great advice – but is it ever possible?

Alain de Botton asks: “What is it that we’re really looking for when we watch or read the news – and is it doing us any good?”

Over the last decade the amount of information available to us has exploded. Stories, reports, updates and media of all sorts come at us from every angle, every day.

And yet we still have a significant relationship with “The News” – seeking it out, and investing it with an importance and authority in our lives, despite the fact that it often leaves us feeling confused and powerless.

Listen as de Botton turns his philosophical lens on The News, to examines the peculiar position it holds in our lives – and offers counsel on the precautions we should take before venturing anywhere near it and the “noise” it generates.

Further Reading:

I bet you’re a mutant

lactose intol cow50

How many of you have gone out and spent too much money to watch X-Men: days of future past?
I bet a number of you wish you were mutants with special powers…well it may surprise you that many of you ARE mutants and that power may have help your kind rule the world.

Further Reading:


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RFT Ep 255 – Dirty Dozen Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on June 13, 2014

Download the episode here! 


The dirty dozen and misreporting toxic food


A loyal listener told me that they regretfully were switching to organic apples. “Why?” I asked. They said they read on the CBC website about the Dirty Dozen…the 12 most toxic laden fruits and veggies in our supermarkets.

I discovered the Dirty Dozen is published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)…I investigated their claims, evaluated their data (not really theirs but the USDA) and after a little more research proclaimed the story rubbish.


It got worse though, first because it was such a poor example of “journalism” by the CBC…it took be a few minutes to raise some red-flags about the story and an hour or 3 to complete debunk it…and yet the CBC not only reported uncritically but expanded by include and even worse study.

Secondly, i seem to have my loyal listeners that they did not seem to know how to evaluate this story. So listen to see both why the dirty in the Dirty Dozen applies to the EWG more than the flora and how you too can debunk a story like this.

Further Reading:

Blinded by Science

Our semi-regular segment about cool science stories…this week:

Blinded by Science – Mice gotta run


Ever wonder why a mouse will run in those little wheels? Do they like it, are they bored or is it a sign of psychosis? Well, someone did some finally set out to answer that question…list to find out why and how snails came in second place in the wheelly marathon.

Further Reading:

Blinded by Science –  The Beast asteroid


This past weekend a continent-killing asteroid whizzed by the earth, what makes this one so scaring is we did not know it was coming until April this year. We talk about the asteroid and the need to increase spending in locating near-earth object…especially those that might want to hit the planet .

Further Reading:

Blinded by Science – DNA expands


DNA is the foundation of all life on earth…as far as we know the universe. Well, scientist have improved on the (at least) billions year old formula. No longer are we limited to the traditional two base pairs…they have added another. Why? How? Listen and find out.

Further Reading:

Prairie Correspondent – Reflections on the phrase “thank god”

This week, our correspondent reflect on “thank god” how we use it, abuse it and well, just sometimes get it wrong.
Web Wisdom – How to choose your news

There is a lot of  “news” on the internet…most of crap. Listen in on a Ted-Ed talk that help show you how to separate the chaff from the wheat.

D-Day…meaning to Canada and the context of controversy

D-Day is 70 years old. One of the most pivotal moments in western history. It is also a story of coming of age for Canada as one of the three nations (along side the US and UK) to be given the task of taking a beach (Juno)…we, not only succeeded but was perhaps the most successful under some of the hardest resistance of any of the landing forces.
Canada-landings June6th
I also talk about how heartless and stinging the Harper Government has been in only providing about 40% of the funds need for our dwindling number of vets (most 90 and up) participate in this 70th anniversary. Or it started out that way, but i go where the evidence leads me, and as it turns out (from my research, please correct me if i have it wrong)…Canada seems to be the only nation subsidizing our vets at all.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
I started out being negative because of the large amount of bad press this issue has received, which now seems unwarranted. This lead to more important question…why the anger?
As it turns out, context is everything. Listen and find out why people are so angry over what seems to be a generous government.
Further Reading:

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RFT Ep 253 – Dark Origins Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on June 12, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Evidence Based Medicine


In a double dose of this weeks whine, we start off talking about how alt-med…the practitioners of ‘woo’ medicine have coopted the term evidence based medicine. Find out how they have done, why its important and what we can do about it.

Further Reading:

A child’s capacity to consent


In a recent decision by the Child Protection Agency in Ontario, a 10 year old girl have been given the right to refuse life saving treatment.

We discuss what is wrong (as it if was not obvious) why this responsibility should not be given to a child…hell, she can’t even buy smokes or a beer but make critical medical decisions…that’s okay.

We also provide the context as to why such a terrible decision seems to be the right thing to do, no make who wrong it truly is.

Further Reading:

Prairie Correspondent Talks Language, Bias and Politics


When we elect an official…be they an MP or school trusty, what responsibility to they have to be “respectable”…how much should they suppress personal opinions…what right does the public/electorate have to dictate their lives and behaviors.

Listen and find out how a small local issue in Brandon can shed light on our society at large.

Bright Side

This semi-regular segment was inspired by a conversation i had with a friend of mine lately.

We talked for a couple of hours about a number of things.I could not help but notice that every time I had a new conversation bit, it was always a downer…some new scandal here…global catastrophe there…people being bad to other people…another study that is just propaganda…nothing up.

Anyway, it has set me on a quest to find some positive happy stories. So, this week:

Bright Side – New Prize to Save the World


300 hundred years ago the UK government offered a huge prize, the Longitude Prize,  to anyone who could solve the driving problem of the age…how to determine a ships longitude (hey, who are we to judge).


In the spirit of the first prize , the UK government is setting up the the Longitude Prize 2, which will offer 10 million pound to whom ever can solve today’s most pressing problem…what is it? Well, this is the cool part, they are leaving it up to vote of UK residence.

save the environment

Which problem is more pressing? Food shortage, clean water, mobility and paralysis, independence and dementia, superbugs and the end of antibiotics or a green plane (yes, a green plane, have no idea why its on the list but it is).

images (5)


Old School Tricorder

Also related, we discuss the X-Prize to develop the first Tricorder…yes, like in Star Trek…how cool is that? There is also a 20 million dollar prize to land a rover on the moon…


Tricorder the Next Generation

Further Reading:

Web Wisdom

A semi-regular segment where i share with you my loyal listeners shyte I found on the internet just too interesting to keep to myself.

Web Wisdom – Dark Origins of Fairy-tales and Nursery Rhymes

We all know about Sleeping Beauty…Cinderella…how often as kids did we sing Three Blind Mice or Humpty Dumpty?  Did you know the real story behind these kid classics? Well, be forewarned, once you discover their dark origins you may never be the same again.

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RFT Ep 254 – No Bananas Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 27, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Too big to jail

GM Fine

In the wake of revelations the GM executive knowing allowed a car to go into production with a defect that would kill people…and no one charged? Well, there seems to be two legal system, one for you and me and one for corporations (and the rich). We get put into jail, they get a fine and have go back to doing what they do.


<note: at the end of this segment I confused two issues, one the call to arms is a thing in the USA…check it out here.

And my Canadian call to arms was actually meant for the “media consolodation” segments, you can be active here.>

Further Reading:



Thoughts about being neighborly in a global community from a Prairie Correspondent.


UnFair Election Law

Fair Elections Dragon

Just days away for become the law of the land, we look and what was change and what we lost.

Further Reading:

Media consolidation


Canada has the highest levels of media concentration in the world, we also have the most vertically integrated media in the world. We look at how this harms society and what we can do the fix it!

Note that Corus is controlled by Shaw, so Shaw really has a 32.3% share.  Giving the Big 3, a 75% share. Source CRTC

Note that Corus is controlled by Shaw, so Shaw really has a 32.3% share.
Giving the Big 3, a 89% share.
Source CRTC

Further Reading:

And what one media source was reporting on this? You guessed it the CBC

Justin and the Pope

Justin Trudeau exercises dictatorial powers to deny an anti-abortion candidate from running as a liberal, he then get threatened with excommunication for his “pro-choice” views…so, we are left wondering is religious people should be banned from public office?
Friday, May 23, 2014
Further Reading:

“Yes, We have no more bananas”

It is likely that with a decade our beloved proof of god, the Cavendish banana will be on the verge of extinction…how did it happen and what can be done about it? Plus, why doesn’t banana pudding taste like bananas?
Further Reading:

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RFT Classics – Best of the 240s

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 13, 2014

Download the episode here!


Killing the CBC:


As ye sow, so shall ye reap…can also be stated, as ye fast, so shall ye whither, and whither the CBC has. Facing an $100 million budget short fall…thanks to Harper, losing hockey and other factors…the CBC is cutting staff by over 650.

Polling shows the CBC is the most trusted media source in the country, more three-quarters think the government should fund the CBC at a sufficient level…most of those think funding needs to increased.

The Harper government has regularly and consistently slashed the CBC grant budget after budget while spending  the entire CBC budget on a single F-35 jet…or overpriced frigates. What money they are giving, they think would be better spent by just giving it to private media companies…here’s how that would turn out…

Why are we not moving to a BBC style of funding…create a strong, stable and independent broadcaster, whose sole interest to provide the best of Canada.

Further Reading:

CBC Update


In the wake of the pending cuts to the CBC, three prominent CBC hosts have decided to leave the CBC both to help protect new talent and as a sign of protest of the defunding of the CBC.

Listen to Linden MacIntyre explain why he is leaving.

Find out more:

The birth of Canadian Citizenship


In the wake of the debate of the soon to be release reform of the Canadian Citizenship act, we take  nostalgic look back and how and when a Canadian actually became a Canadian Citizen…you would be surprised.

Find out more:

What’s Your Sign – The evolution of astrology


In the wake of the controversy, in the skeptic community, about MacMillan Space Center event regarding Astrology, we take a quick look at astrology and how it evolved into the real science astronomy.

Find out more:

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RFT Ep 252 – The GMO and You Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 10, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Prairie report – The price of dignity?


A special report from the Prairies on poverty – How kicking out a homeless man from a grocery store reflects on the deficiencies of our society.

Further Reading:

Non-English signs


Recent debate about a Chinese only sign in Richmond leads to thought about what multiculturalism ultimately means.

Further Reading:

Temporary foreign workers


A 40yr old program gone off the rails under Harper’s watch…how did it happen?

Further Reading:

Chernobyl at 28


28yrs later, life has not only survived at Chernobyl but is flourishing.

Further Reading:

After tens of thousands of years of modifying organisms, what does GMO mean now? And the most counter-intuitive argument for GMO labeling.

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RFT Ep 251 – The Sector Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 1, 2014

Download the episode here! 


NGOs, Non-Profits, Charities…what are they and what are they good for?

Bloomerang IG1C

What is the difference between a NGO…a Non-Profit and how do they relate to charities. We discuss how these terms are defined and what regulation governs their operation.


The Sector


Our irregular regular Ethan Clow joins us as he discusses his new project – The Sector. The Sector is a radio show and podcast dedicated to discussion of non-profits, social justice, activism and everything in between.

Further Reading:


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