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Idle Science

Canadian Blood Services Promotes Pseudoscience 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the type-A-negative-personality dept.
trianglecat writes "The not-for-profit agency Canadian Blood Services has a section of their website based on the Japanese cultural belief of ketsueki-gata, which claims that a person's blood group determines or predicts their personality type. Disappointing for a self-proclaimed 'science-based' organization. The Ottawa Skeptics, based in the nation's capital, appear to be taking some action."

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Canadian Blood Services Promotes Pseudoscience

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  • by synthesizerpatel (1210598) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:57PM (#30291156)

    After looking through the site, it's pretty clearly just a marketing ploy to engage with people who believe it to be true.

    It even says right up front: 'The What's Your Type? program is a recruitment program with information provided for the participants' enjoyment. You should seek medical supervision for all matters regarding your health.'

    I don't care if you believe in pseudo-science, if I need a transfusion and you're a blood match as long as it's clean _Go team blood-donor!_

  • by Tanktalus (794810) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:13PM (#30291360) Journal

    You've obviously never lived in Toronto. They think they're not only the centre of the universe, but that "Canada" and "Toronto" are the same thing.

    Those who have actually passed (the local version of) geography assume that because "Ottawa" is in "Canada" that it must be a suburb of Toronto.

  • Re:Not surprising. (Score:5, Informative)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:26PM (#30291498)

    If you lived in Ottawa, like I do, you'd understand that we're nearly the most absurdly "politically correct" place on earth.

    From what I've seen, the Japanese take this only slightly more seriously than people here in the US take horoscopes. If Ottawa is actually concerned about not offending Japanese Ottowans, I think they should probably be more concerned about not assuming the Japanese are that stupid.

    Looking at the website in question though, it seems like it's just a gimmick to get people to donate.

    For type O here is the full extent of the information:

    So, you’re an O. You already know that having type O blood suggests that you might be competitive, goal oriented and a real meat eater. Did you also know that anthropologists believe that type O is the oldest and most common blood type, originating in Southern Africa?

    [next page]

    45% of Canadians have type O blood. Group O blood is like no other and can only receive blood from other people who are group O.

    One unit of your blood can help save up to three lives, and we know that giving blood is in your nature.

    Many experts believe that your personality, career and even your diet can be influenced by your blood type. In addition to your tendency towards romanticism, an aptitude for writing and a love of hearty eating and exercise, here are a few other things you should know about being an O [3x3 chart here with fluff]

    [next page]

    All Types

    Every minute of every day, someone in Canada needs blood. Blood is used to help save the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary health situations.

    If you are unsure of your eligibility, please take a look at our basic eligibility and temporary and indefinite deferral information, or call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236-6283) for assistance.

    If you have already made an appointment to donate, thank you. If not, please review our clinic locator and call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236-6283) to book an appointment or to find a "What's Your Type" even in your community today.

    For more information on blood and blood types, please browse our Web site or visit:

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:53PM (#30291794)
    The teapot belongs to Russell, see here [wikipedia.org].

    The aircraft scene is a Scientology reference. See the entry on Xenu [wikipedia.org].
  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:54PM (#30291810) Journal

    Third one in the second row: this is an airplane flying over a volcano, which either has a tree growing out of it, or more likely a cloud of ash?
    Xenu [wikipedia.org]
    Middle one, next row: there's a teapot between the Earth and Mars? Is this Sagittarius?
    Russel's Teapot [wikipedia.org]

  • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @09:05PM (#30291922) Homepage

    There funding was cancelled this year and is unlikely to ever be renewed.

  • Re:Not surprising. (Score:3, Informative)

    by roguetrick (1147853) <kazer@brIIIigands.org minus threevowels> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @09:23PM (#30292080) Homepage Journal

    There are plenty of Americans who take Astrology WAY too fucking seriously

  • by thirty-seven (568076) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:19PM (#30292592)
    The Canadian Blood Services "What's Your Type" page (linked in the summary) says (emphasis mine):

    The What's Your Type? program is a recruitment program with information provided for the participants' enjoyment. You should seek medical supervision for all matters regarding your health.

    No matter which blood type you select, it gives you a few tidbits of bullshit about what your personality and preferred diet might be, then a few tidbits of bullshit about what careers you might do well at. Then it tells you that no matter what your type is, it is important to donate blood, how you can donate, etc.

    So I don't think this is an example of Canadian Blood Services promoting or believing this pseudo-science. I don't have a problem with them having a "fun" online activity like this, if it encourages more people to give blood. However, I would prefer if it more explicitly said on the first page that these are beliefs from the Japanese culture, and state that they have no basis in science, but that they can be fun and interesting to read about.

  • by jpmorgan (517966) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:28PM (#30292662) Homepage

    Bacteriophage treatments would be effective, no doubt. But the problem is bacteria have much greater genetic variability than eukaryotic organisms we're used to thinking of. Bacteriophage treatments, to be effective, usually have to be tailored specifically to each patient individually, which is an expensive and time-consuming task. The nice thing about most pharmaceuticals (as opposed to phages) is that once your drug has been invented, generally producing more of the drug is dirt cheap.

  • by jpmorgan (517966) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:34PM (#30292714) Homepage

    You may not remember this, but back in the 90s blood services in Canada were run by the Canadian red cross. They infected tens of thousands of people with HIV and Hepatitis, due to improper handling and care. CBS was created in response to this scandal, so unsurprisingly they have always been enormously risk-averse when it comes to infectious disease. I, for example, am not allowed to donate blood because of time I spent in the UK- they're afraid I may be a mad cow. It seems a bit silly, but I understand the reason. Not everything is bigotry.

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:11AM (#30293322)

    Many, many famous scientists are such skeptics, such as Richard Dawkins, Phil Plait, Carl Sagan...

    I'm pretty sure you've got some agenda you haven't quite revealed to us. So, what exactly is your agenda? Believer in ESP? Ghosts? Homeopathy? Hmm?

    Your talk of going to pubmed and looking up the terms yourself makes you seem clever to the uninitiated but anyone who has ever used a scientific DB would know that those keywords are going to produce a lot of noise. Indeed, they do--and almost none of it, if any, has to do with ABO-typing and personality, but merely hormones or chemicals in the blood influencing personality traits, something almost no scientist / skeptic would deny. I looked over the keywords you gave. Some of them reference no association found between a personality characteristic and some chemical, some of them are completely tangential, and again, almost none of them have anything to do with the blood typing myth.

    You try to present yourself as a scientist very well, but I have to question how much you really do in practice, as any researcher, even on an undergraduate level, would be able to instantly spot how much noise the keywords "blood type personality" would produce. And indeed, it does--all the results that come up do NOT support ABO typing to personality, despite you implying that the results you'd get with those keywords indicate research done on ABO-typing and personality. It's telling how you don't even cite a single study, instead pointing people to impressive-sounding numbers on database hits in a database using broad key words in order to make it seem like research is being done on ABO-typing and personality when there isn't, because the notion has long been discredited even in Japanese scientific circles.

    You clearly have some sort of agenda, to so cleverly try to mislead people the way you have What is it?

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:15AM (#30293356)

    I forgot to further note that the ABO-typing and personality theory has nothing to do with hormones and possible effect of chemicals on behavior. That is what comes up on the studies provided on your keywords. That is what makes your attempt to fool people so obviously deliberate--you obviously know that those results don't have anything to do with what the "skeptics" (as you lovingly put in scare-quotes) are complaining about, yet you still went ahead and tried to present the results as evidence that ABO typing is mainstream science somewhere.

    Someone ought to mark DynaSoar down as a troll for this, because it's really just a disguised troll towards "skeptics" because someone pissed in his cheerios over his religion or pet superstition, that he wants to pretend is science, and is using this incident to further his grudge.

  • by OwMyBrain (1476929) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:21PM (#30298342)

    I'd love to go on the show Deal or no deal (The one with the women holding the suitcases), and select my suitcases in numerical order (1, 2, 3, etc)-- because my chances are EXACTLY THE SAME as someone who selects the cases according to their own numerological theory.

    I would choose the suitcases in the order of least attractive to most attractive suitcase-holding model. That way I could look at the pretty ones longer.

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