Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Posts Tagged ‘CBC’

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.

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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.

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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.

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RFT Ep 249 – Killing the CBC Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 18, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Whine of the Week  : Killing the CBC

corrigan april 12 2014

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…

Friday, April 11, 2014

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.


Seriously the Unfair Elections Act is Important

Moudakis April 10 2014

How did Poilievre become Minister for Democratic Reform, how was the act craft and again…how it can destroy democracy in Canada – The Harper fix is in!


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The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report


Climate Change…even more certainty and dire warnings, again – The IPCC released it latest report on the state of the worlds climate and we’re serious screwed!

Conclusions of the WG1 report (The Physical Science Basis) are summarized below:

  • “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia”.
  • “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years”.
  • Human influence on the climate system is clear. It is extremely likely (95-100% probability) that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming between 1951-2010.
  • “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further [global] warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions”.
  • “Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped”

Conclusions of the WG3 report (Mitigation of Climate Change) are summarized below:

  • The global surface temperature increase by the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5 °C relative to the 1850 to 1900 period for most scenarios, and is likely to exceed 2.0 °C for many scenarios. With the possibility of an increase as much as 4.5°C
  • The global water cycle will change, with increases in disparity between wet and dry regions, as well as wet and dry seasons, with some regional exceptions.
  • The oceans will continue to warm, with heat extending to the deep ocean, affecting circulation patterns.
  • Decreases are very likely in Arctic sea ice cover, Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover, and global glacier volume
  • Global mean sea level will continue to rise at a rate very likely to exceed the rate of the past four decades
  • Changes in climate will cause an increase in the rate of CO2 production.
  • Increased uptake by the oceans will increase the acidification of the oceans.
  • Future surface temperatures will be largely determined by cumulative CO2, which means climate change will continue even if CO2 emissions are stopped.

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Society Is Doomed


NASA funded study shows the not only do civilizations collapse, it happens regularly and is inevitable…but there is an upside.

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RFT Ep 246 – Bit Coin Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on March 13, 2014

Download the episode here! 


Don’s Harangue :


Don’s harangue about journalist’s and speaking fees. Journalist the fourth estate are a fundamental pillar of a democracy. Journalist are afforded special privileges and protections. That is all compromised when they become journo-celebrities.

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Bitcoin – future or fantasy?


An in-depth look at Bitcoin…what is it, how do you mine them, how are they used and how can they be stolen. With emphasis on the MtGox event where almost a billion dollars was stolen…making it the 2nd biggest bank job in history.

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Web Wisdom

RSA animation, “Crisis with Capitalism”

In this RSA Animate, celebrated academic David Harvey looks beyond capitalism towards a new social order. Can we find a more responsible, just, and humane economic system?

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Web Wisdom

Aaron Dewald – What is critical thinking?

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Starving CBC to death

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 20, 2012

The new budget announced by the Harper government will hit Canadians in several ways thanks to the new word of the day “Austerity”.  Austerity has failed in Ireland, failed in England, failed in Greece, Spain and Portugal…so it seems we will try it here because? Well, our government must technically be insane, based on the definition that if you try something that has been done again and again with the same result but you assume you will get a different outcome well you might be a redne…er insane.

Seth Klein of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives stated it best “None of these spending cuts are actually necessary.  A balanced budget could be achieved just one year later than Flaherty’s target, without inflicting any of the damage.”

BUT I will suspend my usual rant about whether we should be stimulating an economy during a recession…something all but the most ideologue Friedman-ittes recommend…no, I would like to look at what was cut and its potential impact on the skeptical community.

First, it is no secret that Harper personally and the conservative movement in general has always considered a corporate-independent source of news unacceptable or at least uncomfortable. To this aim, Harper has (and to be fair Paul Martin as Liberal finance minister and leader before him) constantly attempted to undermine the financial base of the CBC.

The CBC has gone from a completely publicly funded institution whose primary aim was to provide an independent source of news and promotion of the uniquely Canadian culture to an emaciated version of its goals.

As funding for the CBC was cut, the CBC has become more and more dependent on corporate advertising. It is not coincidental that as politicians have attempted to starve the CBC out of existence its ability to be both effective and independent of its advertisers has diminished.

In a line made famous by Grover Norquist I will paraphrase what has been attempted. They wish to shrink the CBC to a size they can drown it in the bathtub. worst effect this has on the CBC is not only the reduced funding but the unpredictability of such funding. Prior to the election Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore stated that “We have said that we will maintain or increase support for the CBC. That is our platform and we have said that before and we will commit to that”.

Of course now that they no longer have deal with being a minority in parliament, this majority government doesn’t care. Harper’s group has shown time and again they don’t give a damn what the people want…what is best for Canada…their main, (dare I say) only concern is promoting their own agenda.

So, why should we care? I did say I would be taking a skeptical view of this issue. Well as Ethan has mentioned many times on the show before, his favorite CBC show…I suspect maybe one of his top 10 favorite show currently on, is Marketplace. Market place has taken some very tough stands that annoy corporations.

Now, as the CBC becomes more dependent on advertisers there will be pressure put upon shows like the CBC now airs to not ‘agitate’ its funding base. It is common operating practice for CTV and Global which has no show like Market Place or the Nature of Things…they know who pays the bills and jump to that master.

There is more than the independence angle. The CBC will be shedding almost 700 jobs. These are the people who do the interviewing and investigations around the world…or who will not be soon. The CBC’s ability to be a source of international independent (that is independent of other agencies like FOX news or CNN) is being destroyed. Soon the CBC will be a re-tweeter of news from other agencies or worse. Lacking the manpower to produce news, they will rely on a practice common in the USA now (and I suspect on our corporate news channels) where corporate press-releases and faux-news videos are broadcast as real news simply to fill the space and cut down on cost.

The loss of jobs also means whole regions of this country will lose their CBC presence, notably the Maritimes this time, after the prairies were decimated in previous budget cuts. We are a large county and one of the things that bound us together…created a Canadian identity was the CBC. As more and more of our voices are silenced, regionalism will grow and Canada will cease to be a culture but merely a warehouse repository for American/Asian raw materials.

And of course, let’s not forget the support the CBC gives to the Canadian arts. Regional programing like This Hour Has 22 Minutes…the Red Green Show…artist like the Barenaked Ladies, OLP, Nickelback would likely have never been if it were not for the CBC.  Now most ‘young’ people don’t think of the CBC as a cultural incubator…when was the last “hit” show produced by the CBC?

This is part of the fallout; the cutting of the CBC has been occurring since the Mulroney years…to live up to its mandate of serving public interest, the CBC first strangled its child “the arts”…in the hopes of keeping the rest of the broadcast family alive. Kids today don’t think of the CBC as entertaining because that role has already been cut to irrelevance; now the Harper government wished to finish the job…and it may well succeed if we remain silent.

Part of the problem is unreliability of the funding. The CBC never knows what its budget will be year to year. The CBC MUST play politics to ensure, or more often limit loses to, its budget. We could adopt a funding scheme like they have in the UK for the BBC.

In the UK every household watching TV must pay a licence fee…about 230$ a year. Canada, does not have the cultural history of such a licence, but a simple guarantee of a certain percentage of tax revenues as little as 0.08% or even a surtax could suffice. This would allow the CBC to know what it could expect long into the future and plan expenditures and development accordingly. It would also free it from both playing politics and being a target of politicians.

Why should we as skeptics care? As skeptics we rely on factual information from a variety of reliable sources. As Canadians we take pride in our culture. This is why we should care…why we should remember when the time comes to elect a Canadian government.

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Radio Freethinker Episode 161 – Budget Busting Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 10, 2012

This week:

–       Largest feathered dinosaur discovered,

–       Donald Trump promoting the anti-vax movement,

–       Passover myths,

–       Cuts to the CBC and

–       How budget austerity hurts skepticism.

Download the episode here!


Paleontologist get their feathers ruffled in a big way!

Ethan takes umbrage at a recent story about the discovery of the largest feathered dinosaur. We talk about how poor science reporting clouds people’s understanding of real science. We also talk about the where and what was discovered and it’s implications.

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Trump trumpets anti-vaxism

We talk about the recent verbal diarrhea from professional celebrity Donald Trump where he parrots the bad “science” of the anti-vax movement. We briefly debunk his claims and talk about the added ethical responsibilities of celebrities to ensure they do not harm their followers/fans by what they say.

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Passover myths

Don uses the current ‘holiday’ celebration to revisit some of the cultural myths of Passover. We talk about did slaves build the pyramids, where the Jews/Israelites enslaved as a people in Egypt and lastly was the bible god as sadistic to Pharaoh as popular culture (South Park) leads us to believe.

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CBC helps promote skepticism

We talk about how the recent budget cuts to the CBC will affect the skeptical community. We also discuss how important it is to skepticism to have a independent news/educational station in Canada.

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How austerity in the Harper budget hurts skepticism

We talk about how the recent budget cuts to health, safety and regulatory agencies will affect the skeptical community. We also discuss how important it is to skepticism to have a government…and the agencies that make it up…we can trust. How in cutting funding to things like product/nutritional labeling enforcement makes it harder to have confidence in our food as well as providing fodder to “woo” conspiracy type.

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Skeptical Highlights:

StatsCan making more data free and online.

In February, Statistics Canada made access to most of its data free, eliminating the previous charge of $3 plus HST for every series.

To let your inner geek or outer cynic free in the data head to CanSim were the data and a tutorial on how to use the site can be found.


Tracking food fraud

Now that the government has abdicated its responsibility to police food labeling, I found a site that may help. It’s a database created by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), a non-profit scientific organization that develops standards to help ensure the identity, quality and purity of food ingredients, dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals. The Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) compendium is a new database which provides baseline information to assist interested parties in assessing the risks of specific products. It includes a total of 1,305 records from scholars, media and the public. The vast majority though, 1,054, are from scholarly research.


Debating euthanasia

CFI Vancouver presents Dying With Dignity debate – featuring Wanda Morrisd

Executive Director of the Dying With Dignity foundation and in opposition to the notion of dying with dignity Dr. Will Johnston, Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, BC.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

7pm at Fletcher Theatre at Harbour Centre, Simon Fraser University

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Saturday Stub: Iridology on Dragons Den

Posted by Ethan Clow on September 17, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Saturday Stub where I share a story I came across that warrants a bit of skeptical thinking on a Saturday. Just a bit though, it is Saturday after all.

This week, I came across a bit of pseudo-science on the popular CBC show Dragon’s Den. You can see the offending segment here, the part I’m referring to occurs at the 9:41 point in the video (you’ll have to sit through a view ads unfortunately)

For those that don’t know, Dragon’s Den is a show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the CBC) which is a Canadian version of the UK show of the same name. Folks come on to the show to pitch products and ideas to some wealthy investors (the dragons) who either invest in the idea or don’t (after usually insulting the person) Actually the show isn’t all that bad. I personally find it rather interesting at times and I’ve seen a fair number of really interested products over the years on it. Occasionally however some practitioner of pseud0-science will come on the show to sell thing. One time a man came on the show attempting to sell magic water that could cure virtually any aliment. The Dragons, demonstrating some healthy skepticism, eviscerated his pitch and sent him packing.

However, in the most recent episode, a woman came on the show advocating iridology. The woman, Becky Thomas, was pitching her “Thomas Compact Herbal First-Aid Kit” Go ahead, watch the video if you haven’t already. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. So as you can see, she’s selling first aid kits made up of “natural” products to heal everyday injuries. Then she states that she does iridology to help diagnosis people’s problems. What’s iridology?

Iridology is a pseudo-science that claims to be able to assess health problems by examining the iris of the eye. According to the Skeptic’s Dictionary:

“Iridology is based on the questionable assumption that every organ in the human body has a corresponding location within the iris and that one can determine whether an organ is healthy or diseased by examining the iris rather than the organ itself. “

Iridology has failed several different controlled scientific experiments (see the article on Quackwatch which discusses the experiments)

On the show, Thomas conducts an examination of one of the Dragons. She claimed that Kevin O’Leary had “fecal matter” in pockets in his eyes…or something. She also told one of them that they had worms or parasites. The Dragons chuckled along with this and made some jokes but I was still surprised by how they responded to Thomas. Instead, they actually encouraged her, suggestion that a first aid kit of herbal remedies is a good idea.

It’s not.

This goes back to my rant on how alternative medicine proponents have (prudently) recognized that its a bad idea to give people alt-med when they need immediate science based medicine intervention. (Like with people who go into Anaphylactic shock)

Anyway, the Dragons are more concerned she doesn’t have a business model, instead of, say a product that actually works. One of them even thought her products were effective and didn’t want to invest simply because there was no business model. At least O’Leary seemed to suspect she was a bit off her rocker.

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Cure or Con?

Posted by Ethan Clow on January 13, 2011

Last year myself along with volunteers from CFI Vancouver participated in an episode of the CBC show Marketplace. It’s a consumer protection program that airs here in Canada and shines a light on scam artists, frauds and questionable businesses. They contacted us because they were doing a show on homeopathy.

And we were thrilled to participate!

We at CFI had been thinking about making a statement about homeopathy for a while and Marketplace happened to contact us just at the right time.

If you have absolutely no idea what homeopathy is and can’t figure out what the fuss is about check this out.

In short, we got together and decided to test the effectiveness of homeopathy by overdosing. Our theory was that if homeopathy works as the claim is, by taking a lot of it we should see some sort of reaction. For the sake of safety, we were outside Vancouver General Hospital.

Fortunately safety wasn’t an issue. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but obviously I’m still here.

However, if you’re interested in seeing Marketplace’s take on it you should tune into your local CBC on Friday, January 14th at 8pm (depending on when Marketplace airs on your local station) Our show is called Cure or Con. If you can’t find it on your TV don’t worry, they’ll put the episodes online on their website after it airs. We’re also hoping to put together a screening party about a week after it airs for those who want to watch it with a bunch of skeptics!

Of course, not everyone is happy that Marketplace is taking a skeptical view to the extraordinary claims of homeopathy. The Official Homeopathy Resource website, I have no idea how “official” it is, has declared that us skeptics are in the pocket of “big pharma”

“conventional pharmaceutical companies have created and funded skeptic organizations like “Sense about Science” in western countries to discredit them.”

Sense About Science, for those that are interested in facts, is a worthy organization that advances public understanding about science and the scientific method out of the UK. If you’d like to learn more about them, we interviewed Alice Tuff from Sense About Science way back in Episode 15 of Radio Freethinker.

The Official Homeopathy Resource went on to suggest that:

“Now a number of organizations directly funded by pharmaceutical companies have developed aggressive and hostile tactics to fight homeopathy and discredit its practitioners”

So just to clarify. Nor I, nor my fellow co-hosts, nor CFI has ever ever received any money from the pharmacological companies. If we did, we’d all drive cooler cars. And secondly, no one is attacking any homeopathic practitioners. We disagree with their claims, many of us are unsatisfied that they’ve produced any worth while evidence for their extraordinary claims. Like any medical claim that’s to be taken seriously, skeptics and scientists expect it to pass through rigorous peer review and be able to stand up to skeptical scrutiny. This is how one determines what is safe and what is woo. Unfortunately, sometimes woo can kill.

CFI Vancouver issued our own response to the claims of shilling for “big pharma.”

And if you’re interested in reading more about the event and how it went, I recommend you check out the Crommunist’s take in his post here and here (where he tried to return his homeopathy)

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