The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tragic Case of "Rights"

A recent court decision in Brampton, Ontario means that an 11 year old First Nations Mohawk girl will likely die a very preventable death. The argument is that First Nations people have the right to use their "traditional medicines" to treat illnesses and diseases, even if that means eschewing actual, proven medicine in the face of a deadly condition.

This is utter nonsense. The government should step in to protect the life of the afflicted girl regardless of the justifications Justice Gethin Edward talks about. To quote from the article:
Evidence showed the mother from Six Nations reserve is “deeply committed to her longhouse beliefs and her belief that traditional medicines work,...This is not an eleventh-hour epiphany employed to take her daughter out of the rigours of chemotherapy,...Rather it is a decision made by a mother, on behalf of a daughter she truly loves, steeped in a practice that has been rooted in their culture from its beginnings.”
If I may take this quote apart a bit, what the judge doesn't care about is that it really doesn't matter at all how evidence shows that the mother is committed to her beliefs that traditional medicines work. It matters if they actually work. What if my daughter gets acute lymphoblastic leukemia and I am committed to the belief that making her dust the house and eat nothing but Quaker instant oatmeal (only the maple brown sugar type) and water will cure the disease? Will I get applause from an audience in a court room for obtaining the right to "treat" my daughter with the aforementioned protocol?

The answer is "no".

Just because an idea is tenacious doesn't mean that it's worthy, if I may quote Tim Minchin. We must allow adults to seek out whatever treatment or "treatment" they want as part of their freedom of choice, expression, and religion, but we need to make sure that children are given the best possible path to make it to adulthood so they can receive those freedoms.

Chief Ava Hill was happy about the ruling saying, "This is monumental for our people right across the country, and we’re going to get the news out right away,...We were the first people here, we looked after ourselves, we had our traditional medicines. We looked after your ancestors when they arrived here, and what medicines do you think we used?”" Just to be clear, "looking after" is in no way the same as, "curing" or "increasing lifespan". You can "look after" a person and if they're sufficiently sick, they'll die. As I've said before, adding any modifier before the word "medicine" such as "traditional", "alternative" or "naturopathic" will, in all likelihood, decrease its efficacy substantially.

This family and the family of another First Nations 11 year old girl, Makayla Sault, have also travelled to a Florida clinic that claims to be able to treat cancer but is astoundingly full of woo and nonsense. This "clinic" is the definition of the kind of mentality from which we as a hopefully-advancing-species have to save our young people. It is abysmal and no one under 21 should be allowed on the grounds of this quackery farm.

I truly hope that both the girl in the court decision and Makayla Sault can go into spontaneous remission and somehow, against all odds, recover. My fear is that they will both have recurrences, receive "traditional" medicine, and die soon afterwards. Will the media cover those stories as follow-up? Will anyone listen then? The only certainty in these terrible situations is that "traditional" medicines will sadly be touted as valid for a long time to come.

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Ugh, Rick Warren Talking About Marriage

Pastor Rick Warren is speaking at the Vatican conference on marriage called "The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium". There's a ton of people attending, but one thing can be pretty much assured: the gays ain't welcomed, especially if they're havin' that gay sex.

Warren said in an interview that, "It's not a sin to love somebody, but it might be a sin to have sex with them." (quote comes at the 2:00min mark of the video) He also said that as an evangelical pastor, his source of authority is the Bible, but it says quite clearly there that homosexuality is bad and that gay people who have sex with each other should be killed.
Lev. 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Can't really argue with that. It also says immediately after that that if a man has sex with a woman and her mother, they should all be burnt. So I guess if the allegations are true, Mackenzie Phillips, John Phillips, and Susan Adams should be murdered. Wonder why that's not happening or if Warren thinks it should?

Helen Alvaré is the spokesperson for the event and is quoted as saying:
“Many believe that people talk about the relationship between men and woman all of the time,...That conversation is not very deep; it is usually about the troubles they are having, or about sex, but it doesn’t go deeper, to consider the meaning and purpose in the world and in the divine plan, of there being two sexes, drawn to one another, capable of a ‘one-flesh’ union, responsible for the creation of all new life.”
Yes, I realize that she's a devout Catholic whose views seem quite close to the party line, but who says there even is a "divine plan"? From where is she (or any of them) getting this plan? There's enough gayness in the Bible (even though it is, apparently, icky) that religious people shouldn't really be upset about it. Jonathan and David, for example (1 Samuel, chapters 18-23).

In reality, I don't care if religious people get together to chat about what they think marriage should be about. Who cares? Their ideas are dying, the rational people are getting the message out that religious views are nonsensical and silly, and as enlightenment values spread and the internet makes information easy to fact-check, sanctimonious blowhards will find fewer and fewer places to disseminate their hate-inciting fatuities.

Go do your talk, Mr. Warren. Polish the brass as the ship sinks.

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Pope Francis is Awesome! Except, Yeah, Not.

"Oh, he's so great. He thinks gays are just dandy." Except he leads a group of jackasses who, well, let's just say "don't agree". In fact they that, "there can be 'not even a remote' comparison between gay unions and heterosexual marriage".

"But this Pope believes in evolution!" Well, everyone who thinks this is news, perhaps you should check what Pius XII wrote in 1950 and JPII said in the 90's. No change there. Evolution happened, but Special Jesus Man started everything off, so cut it out with that Large Hadron Collider thingy trying to figure out the universe.

See, the trouble is that, even if he did make some bold statement on evolution or gay marriage/equality/humanity, it would likely be for invalid, wrong-headed reasons. I mean, take a look at this article talking about, of all damn things, exorcisms. I've written about exorcisms before and the gent who started the IAE (that's the International Association of Exorcists...they have a convention - wanna bet there's booze and tall tales?), Gabriele Amorth.

It's pretty crazy that the article says, "Priests who pursue the ministry of exorcism 'manifest the Church's love and acceptance of those who suffer because of the devil's works...'" That's a sentence more at home spouting from Helen Ukpabio's child-endangering lips. So many people believe in witchcraft that it really makes me doubt the ability of humanity to survive the coming decades. Read what Dwight Longenecker, a priest in South Carolina, said in the exorcist article, "Exorcism is a little bit like brain surgery in the spiritual realm..." No. Not in any way at all. At all. It's depressing to read that.

I don't really care if Francis "believes" in evolution, or if he thinks gay people are awesome, or whatever; if he thinks that there are demons living in certain people's heads and making them do things, then his brain is stuck in the deep past and that's where it seems it's going to stay.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Who Knew the Lucky Charms Guy Grew Up and is a Total Dick?

Not sure how many people saw this article, but wow. It boggles my mind how someone can grow up to be as old as that fucking guy is and be *that* much of a horsecock.

In case you didn't click through and read the article, some shithead on a TTC was sitting on one seat and had his bag on another, then when a woman asked him to move his bag so she could sit, he refused, called her an "airhead", then allegedly stomped on her foot and shoved her into some other people on the bus.

Now, this sucks and is inexcusable behavior and this clown-shoe motherfucker will eventually be found and certainly some more public shaming will occur. The problem is that he won't give a damn because he's a shit-head. My question is, why, on a crowded bus, did no one (save one person who said something like, "what the fuck, man?") do or say anything directly to this jackass? Social media shaming is, in the end, pointless, because it's not to the guy's face. Much like this blog post - nine people will read it and then go have a coffee, so it's yelling into a void.

Had the people on the bus gotten in that dude's face, shamed him right there, and forced him off the bus to walk his green-shirted ass home, *maybe* there would have been a *slight* amount of recognition that what he did was socially unacceptable. As it is, he's just getting attention. His jerkoff buddies will probably high-5 him and he knows that the next time he does it, likely no one will step up and do anything.

By the way, I'm not advocating anything violent here. Sure he may *need* a hard smack in the face, but that won't teach him anything about what to *do* differently, how to *act* differently. That'll just teach him to watch who's around the next time his shithead valve gets to "dump" mode. No, people needed to, en masse, confront him and tell him that what he was doing was not ok. He's not going to stomp on everyone's foot and he's certainly not going to shove everyone. Make him pick up his bag just as though he was a little kid, because that's what he's acting like. If he doesn't, then force him off the bus. Make his actions have consequence. Everyone on the bus could have made him leave.

As George Carlin once said to Dennis Miller, ...it's a macro idea...I'm just living in a different kind of world." - everyone has to do it. It's not reality because most people don't want to get involved, even when the offense is egregious and happening right in front of them.

A giant boo to that leprechaun fuckwit, but also boo to everyone on that bus who did nothing.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gary Goodyear in Parliament in 2008 - Translated

Gary Goodyear speaking in 2008 in the House of Parliament on Bill C-51 (An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts). Please allow me to translate select sections of his speech: "Many members in the House know, and most people in my riding of Cambridge know, that I was a chiropractor for 20 years." "I think that 'vital knowledge' flows through your body and by 'adjusting' vertebrae I can free this 'flow' and enhance the body's 'innate intelligence' to heal itself. I have no idea how science works."

"In 2005, a Health Canada survey showed that 71% of Canadians regularly took vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, homeopathic treatments, and naturopathic treatments." "I will use non-sequitur 'facts' and statistics to back up my nonexistent argument to attempt to sway the opinion of those MPs who also don't know how science works."

"In fact, we have known for decades that a vast percentage of the Canadian population use non-traditional forms of medicine, whether they are chiropractors, naturopaths, homeopaths, or reflexologists, all of these being outside the traditional allopathic course of action." "Because I don't know about logical fallacies, I shall use the 'argument from popularity' to persuade other MPs that bullshit like homeopathy and reflexology are in some way effective, that naturopathy is something other than absolute quackery, and I will use words like 'allopathic' to show that I don't realize that there is only one actual factor in science: the efficacy of the proposed modality, which all the above fail at spectacularly."

"These products can decrease the cost to the public purse significantly." "These products will initially seem to decrease cost to the public purse; that is, until these products don't work and the patients will have to go see a real doctor in a real hospital to treat their real condition with real medicine at a later date, likely when their condition(s) has/have deteriorated to the point where the interventions will be considered 'life-saving' rather than 'preventative'. The patients will then either get better at a higher cost than had they just used real medicine in the first place, or they'll die at which point they won't be able to bad-mouth bullshit 'therapies' like homeopathy."

"As a member whose past history is that of a chiropractor, I want to support the demand that Canadians have for a broader choice but for safe and effective natural health products." "As a member who has no formal training in science whatsoever, I also don't have a clue how to evaluate 'safety' or 'efficacy' within the context of a medical intervention. I will, however, comment on it at length with a sense of authority."

It is important that natural health products be regulated to protect Canadians, and no one argues that. There are clear examples where tainted products have been found not just among natural health products but even among prescription medication. "Protecting the voters is important and bad things happen all over, man. All over."

"Sometimes it happens that products have something in them that makes them unsafe. Everyone will remember the Tylenol incident of a decade ago where some of those products had to be removed from the market very quickly because they had been tampered with". "Sometimes products hurt people because they have contaminants in them, like that Tylenol thing. Pharmaceuticals. Bleah, amiright?"

"The other issue is that Canadians deserve to know what is in the bottle." "I have a hilarious inability to recognize flaws in my own position. If Canadians knew what was (or, more accurately, was not) in the homeopathic hoo-ha they claim to want, far fewer people would waste money on it."

"One example that the House is fully aware of is a product called black cohosh, which was found to contain a species of the plant different from what was stated on the label...the presence of this other plant actually caused liver toxicity. It was a major health problem for the people who were taking it.

These people were innocent. They read the label. They took their advice from their chiropractor, their medical practitioner or their naturopath. They went to the natural health store and purchased the product, but it was not the product that they were led to believe."
"Black cohosh was tainted, but what I'm not mentioning is that essentially zero homeopathic products contain any active ingredient of any kind. Not even one molecule. Yet, 'Health Canada assures that all Canadians have ready access to a wide range of natural health products that are safe, effective and of high quality', which I would find disgraceful if I were in any way scientifically literate, which I am not."

"As well, we have had instances where folks come along and make unfounded claims. They actually might stand up and say that if we take this product, this pond algae from some obscure place around the world, making it sound attractive and exotic, it will cure cancer. There have been examples of such claims being made in regard to a cure for SARS." "I will make this valid point but then fail to apply it to the modalities to which I am time-committed and value-committed."

"Not only is this misleading to the public, but let me explain the danger in doing something like that. We do know that there are proven aids for these types of conditions. There are treatments available to Canadians that will help certain conditions, such as terminal cancer, for example, treatments to extend the life of the patient or make the patient feel more comfortable." "We call these treatments, 'real medicine', but let's not get bogged down in semantics."

"...when someone comes along and says that all a patient needs to do to cure his or her cancer is take a particular product, that patient sometimes delays appropriate care. Through delaying appropriate care, the condition worsens." "Oddly, the products I have championed earlier in my speech will do just this, delay care so the cancer or other serious condition worsens. I see no problem with my position."

Here, there is much talk about the Bill and how other MPs have misused it, not read it, and some general trash talk.

"...we have listened to many people and professionals who say the same level of scientific evidence that Health Canada requires for drugs should not apply to NHPs. This is a very good amendment by the government. It is our intention to propose an amendment which would make it clear that the type and amount of information required for NHPs shall include traditional knowledge, knowledge of first nations, knowledge of the 5,000 year history of the Chinese on their types of medicine, and history of use, with history of use being safe use, or as has been used for decades by chiropractors, naturopaths and so on." "Your science shouldn't and, really can't study our indigenous/natural/Chinese/really old/special snowflake type of 'medicine'. It's been around FOREVER (or at least a couple of decades) and as such, is perfect for an 'argument from antiquity' fallacy. Again, I really don't know what I'm talking about here."

"In addition, given the wide range of therapeutic products, we proposed an amendment which would make it clear that the type and amount of information required to obtain a licence depends on the nature of the product and its intended use...if a product claims to cure cancer, versus the common cold, then certain things would be different. We will underline this in the preamble of the bill: that the use of history and traditional knowledge are valuable and important sources of information." "old stuff will get a pass on any kind of scientific inquiry or investigation because it is how I made my living and any scientific studies would ultimately be devastating to my argument."

There is a whole discussion from Parliament on this bill and a lot of it is face-palmingly horrible. No one that I read mentioned that naturopathy/homeopathy/reflexology/chiropractic/acupuncture is ineffective nonsense. No one.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Thanks to You, Dr. Phil Plait

The always great Phil Plait wrote a piece on his always great blog over at Slate about Jenny McCarthy and her nonsensical and unsupportable stance on vaccines being somehow dangerous. I'm posting quickly to say thank you to the good Ph.D for linking to one of my previous posts on Ms. McCarthy in his article. I have been *so* *very* *slack* in writing here over the past year that I have thought about hanging up the blogging gloves permanently, but something always stops me from pulling the plug completely. I think that's a sign (or might be, if I thought "signs" were a thing).

Let's do some skeptiking together, shall we? Yes, let's.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Naturopaths in Ontario

A buddy of mine hipped me to this article which talks about how regulated naturopathic clinics look like they're coming to Ontario as they have in other provinces, starting with British Columbia in 2010.

The article has some interesting quotes that I would like to examine a bit. Firstly, there's this one:
The intern overseeing Ms. Degabriele’s care is garbed in a crisp white lab coat. So is the clinic’s lead supervisor, Jonathan Tokiwa, who bustles around toting patient files, a stethoscope slung around his neck.
I can put a white lab coat on my four year old and hang a stethoscope around his neck, that doesn't make him a doctor. What is on the outside is irrelevant, it's the methodologies they use to diagnose and treat you that are important. Dressing up nonsense doesn't make it valid, it just make it a pile of shit covered with icing.

Next is this:
Those who support expanding the scope of practice say Canadian naturopaths, who require at least seven years of post-secondary education to earn a licence, can help alleviate the burden of chronic, lifestyle-related diseases using natural techniques such as dietary advice, vitamin treatments, herbs, teas, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, water therapy and homeopathy, among others.
Ok, about the "seven years of post-secondary education": if you spend seven years learning that your body has "innate wisdom" and that you need to find something that causes the same looking symptoms to what your patient has and then dilute that substance in water beyond Avogadro's limit and put a drop of that liquid on a sugar pill to cure what ails the patient, you've only succeeded in wasting money and seven years. You can study phrenology for 20 years, you're not going to help anyone.

Also, the "argument" that these people can alleviate the burden on the healthcare system is laughable. So you're going to give acupuncture, TCM, homeopathy and other bogus "therapies" to people in need? There is no other field where this would even be given the time of day. Imagine if someone wanted to approach the Ontario Building Code to offer the "alternative" of letting people choose to build the foundation of their houses out of Lego blocks. C'mon, man, it's a viable alternative! A lot of people would WANT that in their homes! The blocks are literally FOR building! It's stupid and don't even start with the, "But there are studies that show that homeopathy/acupuncture/herbal medicines/Bach floral remedies/crystals/ear candling/reiki/chiropractic/reflexology/coffee enemas/therapeutic touch/my personal favorite remedy actually WORKS, man!" When you look at the entire body of research (as you're supposed to), and take only the best quality/size/controlled studies, the mass majority of them show that your pet theory is not viable. If it was viable or worked in any sort of reliable/repeatable/testable way, it would be used and it would be the norm. The fact that it is not tells you that the people who do medicine for their lives know bullshit when they see/smell it.

"But it's a conspiracy, man, of all the Big Pharma companies, man, to keep us sick and dependant on their poisons, maaaaaannnnn." No, it isn't. Pharmaceutical companies have, to a large degree, a bunch of douchebags working for them who only give a shit about money, BUT - don't for get that the best, the absolute BEST way to get famous and well-respected in science is to overturn an established paradigm. Scientists are always trying to undercut each other and overturn well-established ideas or scientific theories. If some scientist discovered that homeopathy actually worked or that reiki actually helped people in real medical danger, that person would be on every news agency, all over the internet, and would be world famous in very short order. It just doesn't happen because the mass majority of anything called "alternative" medicine doesn't work.
“Over the last 12 years there have been no recorded incidents of patient harm,” he (Bob Bernhardt, the president of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine) said. “So how can people say that it’s not safe when actually it’s happening in other places with incredibly good records of safety?”
Great question, Bob. There are two kinds of harm: active and passive. By offering nonsense like homeopathy and acupuncture alongside conventional (real: "real") medicine, you're only convincing the patient that the nonsense works while it is a combination of the real medicine and time that is making them better. What you're setting the patient up for is a massive dose of uncritical thinking and leading them to believe that if/when something really harmful rears its head, they just might treat it with water on a sugar pill...sorry, "homeopathy".

Leading patients to believe in "treatments" that don't actually work is unethical. Period.
“We can’t just wish that this body of people who we consider quacks, frankly … would just go away,” he (Dr. Stanbrook, a staff respirologist at two Toronto teaching hospitals) said in an interview. “I think we have to acknowledge that our patients are seeking this group of people out and come to terms with that.”
Yes, Dr. Stanbrook, that's true, but the answer is not to regulate the quacks - it's to FIX what you're doing wrong or ineffectively. You wouldn't hear, "Well, the Lego foundation people aren't going to just go away, so I guess we'll have to acknowledge that people are going to want Lego foundations in their homes and come to terms with that." It's ludicrous.

Finally a patient quote:
"...I believe, a mixture of natural products plus medication is good for you.”
Well, she's half right.

Note: Thanks Ryan

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Missouri and the Embarrassment that is Bill Brattin

Can you even imagine your kid going to a school, and in that school the science teachers got together and decided to take a radical stance and teach Heliocentrism, the idea that the Earth and all the other planets in our solar system went around the Sun? The science teachers, through the school, then had to send a notification home to let parents know what a crazy idea was being taught to their sons/daughters so that the parents could get their kids to "opt out" of being instructed in this subject so as to keep their belief that the Earth is the centre of the solar system (nay, THE UNIVERSE!) intact.

Insane, right?

Well the equivalent is happening right now in Missouri. State Rep. Rick Brattin (what letter do you suppose came after his name in brackets denoting to which political party he belongs? Hmm...) was quoted as saying:
"Our schools basically mandate that we teach one side...It is an indoctrination because it is not objective approach."
One side. It boggles the mind how insular the population is that believes in creationism. There is nothing getting inside from popular culture, and this is the proof. The 22 Signs from Creationists after the Bill Nye/Ken Ham "debate" are face-palmingly soul-destroying in both their (mostly) dumbness and for their having been discussed/refuted thoroughly at length previously. Yet, there they are, smugly holding their signs asking about why monkeys are still here and how the second law of thermodynamics "disproves" evolution.

Side note: if anyone ever tries that on you, ask them, "What are the other laws of thermodynamics?"

Brattin then said:
“What’s being taught is just as much faith and, you know, just as much pulled out of the air as, say, any religion."
Well there it is, hey? Just dangling out there all pink and naked. He says that religion is, "pulled out of the air." He has not, apparently, been doing any science reading and he certainly hasn't taken any classes on evolutionary biology.

Can you imagine someone who has never driven a car, never looked at a combustion engine, never even driven in a car, trying to tell a 30 year veteran mechanic that the engines in all the cars on the road run on the urine of Unicorns and the so-called "exhaust" is nothing and doesn't exist? The insanity of that assertion is almost on par with what the creationists are actually saying.

Many people think that the Nye/Ham "debate" wasn't worth it because no minds were likely to be changed and it unfairly put creationism on level ground with actual science. I don't think it did the latter because the hundreds of thousands of people watching online (was this the most-viewed "debate" ever?) may have included just a couple of actually open-minded people (unlike Ken Ham) who would have seen how poorly Ham did against Nye, and may have had some questions brought up in their heads that they will now go check into.

If a couple of people question the nonsense and investigate, it was worth it in my mind. We're certainly unlikely to change this woman's brainwashed opinion.


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