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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Argument With Science Opponent

Here's anther exchange with an opponent of science-based medicine. Please evaluate how I did and if you have any suggestions of how I could do better, I'd love to hear. My adversary is in italics and I'm in normal font and the discussion was initiated when my opponent linked to an article claiming that the MMR vaccine was responsible for 40 deaths in the UK.

Other Guy (OG): ‎40 deaths is easily scoffed at by the people who say vaccines saves lives. However many vaccine problems do go unreported. There has never been a study done on unvaccinated children versus vaccinated with health comparisons. Who would like to see this and what do you think the outcome would be?

Me: A study like that at this point wouldn't be ethical. The rarity of most childhood infectious diseases is because of, in large part, the uptake of vaccines. When uptake wavers and herd immunity drops as has happened in the UK, these infectious diseases come quickly back.

Vaccines aren't perfect, but nothing is. You (and the many anti-vax websites) saying that because of extremely rare and usually very minor side effects people should not vaccinate their kids is akin to saying that because occasionally someone gets injured from a seat belt no one should wear one.

That article you link to would do very well to include some references instead of just stating hyperbolic statements without any backing.

OG: Not ethical? I would have to disagree and say it is also being responsible. I am not talking about injecting parties with infectious disease but let's measure the rate of acute illness, ear infections, asthma, food allergies, healthy gut flora.

Me: Vaccines have been extensively studied for years and years now. Millions of people have had them and the side-effects are well documented. If children had increased rates of "acute illness" or a higher rate of asthma or allergies as time passed, do you not think that would have been brought up and addressed in the literature?

I'm saying that the efficacy of vaccination has been established. What, exactly, in vaccines (the MMR or other) is it that you think is dangerous or objectionable?

OG: Let's set aside whether or not vaccines are effective or dangerous and look at what I see as a deep problem 1) people mostly choose whether or not to be vaccinated mostly out of fear from both sides of the argument where that fear comes from is the biggest problem I see. 2) People that do get vaccinations are mostly told this is the single most important way to stay healthy. Simply not true.

The most effective way to remain healthy is to work within nature not go against it. Medicine does not promote wellness. I do not have the room or time to go over the myriad of ways the system of thinking is more dangerous then beneficial but it is. Fear and the trail of the people who make health policies having major ties to pharmaceutical and the food industry is not ethical.


Me: Ok, while I agree that the pharmaceutical industry has serious flaws that need fixing, saying things like, "Medicine does not promote wellness" is just conspiracy theory craziness. Do you think that the people promoting so-called "natural remedies" are not making money off their untested, unregulated supplements and "treatments"?

Not everything "natural" is good - a lot of times nature wants to kill you and it's "working against nature" that saves your life.

I also don't agree that fear is a major motivator in people getting vaccinated. Evidence is very strongly in favor of vaccination being both safe and effective and that's why people do it. As far as people being told that it is the "most important way to stay healthy", that is simply untrue. Vaccinations don't keep you healthy, they protect populations from contagious diseases. They're a prophylactic measure, much like condoms. They don't keep you "healthy", they keep disease away.

OG: Please I would be interested in your examples of how medicine promoters wellness. Yes the majority of so called natural health products are not natural at all and are ineffective and can also contribute to toxicity.

Me: Off the top of my head: Insulin keeps diabetic patients from descending into a terrible state of health; blood pressure medication reduces stress on patients' hearts allowing them to live longer without the constant fear of heart attack, anti-seizure medication allows people to live more productive and quality lives reducing stress and improving overall well-being. Shall I continue?

I'd still like to hear what you think is in vaccines that is so dangerous that it warrants avoidance and, according to the link above, death.

OG: Most of these are not wellness. I have never said medications can not save lives but lets reverse disease and teach people to get off the medications. Yes there are rare cases where genetics play a role and some are dependent on medications but most cases medical should be getting patients off of the drugs. DFr. Gabrielle Cousins in Arizona has gotten people completely off insulin for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes using a raw food diet. You have seen the list of ingredients that some argue are toxic mine would not be any different. Things like aluminium but my point is more about that fact that I believe them to be unnecessary.

My reasoning for posting things like the article above is not to be anti vaccine and try to convert others, my choice is all I want to control. I am more interested in people's responses. Most debates on this topic lead to anger and frustration hence fear.What is your response when you see something posted negative about vaccines either way? Do you get upset? Do you ridicule others? Do you think everyone is going to die if not vaccinated? Anger is never justified and the underlying cause is fear. My opinion is that are systems of thought are diseased and there is a lot of evidence to support this just by pure observation.


Me: What do you mean, "most of these are not wellness"? What do you define as "wellness" then? People get sick and then they get treated. If you think carrots and celery will keep you disease-free you have very odd ideas about health. Do you think the germ theory of disease is valid?

That you think aluminum is "toxic" in vaccines along with the other common ingredients cited by anti-vaccine activists is disheartening. It shows me that you are only reading/researching websites and books/articles with which you already agree.

As for Gabriel Cousens, you're talking about the guy who injected a patient with "cow adrenaline or sheep DNA" which then got infected and instead of getting antibiotics, treated it with acupuncture and massage - which killed him.

Thanks, but I'll not be taking any medical advice from a guy who lost his medical license in two states before taking refuge in Arizona.

Choice is fine and I have no beef with people if they choose to not get vaccinated, provided they take the proper precautions when they get sick. I get annoyed when people post demonstrably false information that scares people into not getting a proven and safe medical intervention that prevents infectious childhood diseases that can cause sickness and death.

I know that I could be wrong, but I need to see solid evidence to show me. If you have evidence that vaccines are dangerous and cause problems and/or death, then show it. The fact is that the common infectious diseases of childhood that used to kill kids are very rare now and the main credit goes to the immunization schedule.

Are you willing to be proven wrong or are you too invested in your mindset now that you are dogmatic about it?

OG: Yes things like oxygen and enzymes and water found in living vegetables is critical to life. I can see clearly the error of this you must be eight it is odd. What cause high blood pressure once you get to the source of problems and correct it the problem should go away. This does not make sense? Medication may be necessary at time temporarily but get to the root and they should be removed although I am sure there is no side effects and nobody dies from them right?

As far as you link on Cousins I do not have a response I know nothing about it. How much time have you spent researching him with an opened mind. Have you looked at the documentation from places like the Hippocrates Institute that has helped many heal from catastrophic disease like stage 4 cancer. Careful you might be unsaved of one-sided research. Can you honestly tell me that there is never false evidence put out or advertising designed to stimulate action based on half truths by government or pharmaceutical companies?


Me: Please do not make strawman arguments that I have never expressed. I stated above that that vaccines can have detrimental outcomes in a small number of cases and obviously medications have side effects. If these effects outweighed the benefits they would not be used. That is how science-based medicine works.

I'd like to see the "alternative" medicine modality that was abandoned after it was found to be ineffective. Example(s)?

OG: Sorry for the errors in grammar and spelling hard to keep at three tired kids happy and write as fast as I am thinking. Science based medicine also works under who benefits. There have been many scientists that have done research on things like cancer but the work suppressed out of lack of profits, some of them has spoken up. I am afraid politics also plays a big role. Names I do not have now but can find. I do not feel the need to argue against vaccines once again my point is are thinking. Why does it bother you when people make claims whether backed by science or not? What do you fear is going to happen? I might of started getting a little sarcastic but you said some stupid things ie: carrots and celery. Did you know there is documentation of people who cured cancer with vegetable juice being a major part? Let's stop eating these things and eat a fast food diet only and see how fast we get sick. One can argue that we both could appear to be dogmatic and just the opposite side of the same coin.

Me: No, the argument of being dogmatic does not fly my way. I will change my mind if the evidence is there - but you say things like, "Did you know there is documentation of people who cured cancer with vegetable juice being a major part?" and just expect me to believe it with no citation or plausibility? Saying Cousens cures diabetes with a raw food diet is patently crazy, particularly type 1, because of the mechanism of the disease.

No one is arguing that there is a level of correction needed in medicine, especially the marketing and clinical trial aspect of pharmaceutical companies. These problems are being addressed by medical science, but if you are throwing those accusations at science, you have to address the lack of any regulation and safety controls in so-called "alternative" medicine and the injuries and deaths that result (http://www.whatstheharm.net/).

Finally, yes, you do have to argue against vaccines if you are going to post misleading information about them. When you make false claims (like there are "toxins" in vaccines) you have to back them up. I have not heard one argument from you that stands up in this whole thread (or ever) that shows vaccines are in any way dangerous or "toxic". I think it is because you don't have any such arguments.

I hope you and your kids have a great Halloween.

OG: One last thing. Have you looked at who makes vaccine policies and who controls the studies and who benefits? Not what others say, have you? Also how many vaccine studies have been put out showing vaccines to be dangerous or ineffective? All of them can not be faulty just like all proving effectiveness can not be valid. I would just enjoy people looking for a deeper meaning to health. Most of us are tired run down and stressed Health and happiness are synonymous. I do know I have been sick with a virus or bacterial infection maybe 4 times in 15 years and they are when I was not making choices I would consider healthy. I was also working in heavy traffic retail environment exposed to everyone. I did have a double sided hernia diagnosed by two doctors and healed without surgery. I have met people who have healed from most illness without pharma also people who have led healthy lives without vaccines.

My argument has not once been about vaccines but the fact that we do not take responsibility for our own health. Not saying you do not need medical assistance in this but would you not agree most our profoundly irresponsible and look for everyone else to be responsible for issues or health problems they have. Things like vaccines give people a false sense.


Me: Of course you can live a healthy life without vaccines - you just up your chances of getting a preventable disease and/or passing in along to someone else. If you're not vaccinated and you get pertussis, you likely won't die - but if you pass it to an infant, they just might.

Most things you get won't kill you. You will get better. Even some cancer goes into spontaneous remission. Medicine is supposed to get you healthy faster than if you did nothing or save your life should you have a life-threatening condition. I was being glib talking about carrots and celery before, but if you get a staph infection and you depend on those things to keep you strong, you will likely die.

And now I have to go carve pumpkins.

OG: Thanks "Me". I trust all is well and look forward to seeing you soon.

Me: You too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Alphonse deValk - Bigoted Hypocrite

Over at Catholic Insight, an absolute bastion of bigotry, we find exactly what we'd expect in the form of Alphonse deValk's latest scribe. Shall we dissect? Yes, we shall....
A radical "gay" Mayor for Toronto?
As early as November 2009 all four Toronto newspapers published articles and photos of "furious" George Smitherman and "his husband" kissing each other and holding hands.

Um, Al? You might want to take those silly scare quotes away from around "his husband" because those evil gays have the right to be married here, even if your ridiculous, archaic, misogynistic, homophobic, child-molesting, bigoted, genocidal, hypocritical organization doesn't recognize it. Remember what country you're in, sir.
Toronto’s Globe & Mail, which in the 1990’s had an openly “gay” editor-in-chief, does not like to be outdone.
Do the quotes deValk uses in this line mean that he doesn't even really think people are gay? Does he believe that there actually are gay people in the world? What a piece of work. And by "piece of work", I mean "asshole".

This whole paragraph is too good to break up. Enjoy the redness of the neck beneath the collar:
Both newspapers played up Smitherman as a homosexual activist, treating this aspect as an achievement worthy of praise. Comedians, meanwhile advertised a new musical called “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding” in the Globe & Mail (Nov.14) and on Moses Znaimer’s FM Radio, the New Classical Station. Clearly, the overall purpose of the Star and the Globe & Mail was to marginalize possible opponents of a “gay” mayor as “bigots” and “extremists,” and to normalize homosexuality in the minds of the readers.
I wonder if deValk thinks his being a Catholic activist is an "achievement worthy of praise"? Hmm.... Also, just so we're clear, opponents of a gay mayor (unless their opposition is based on policy) are bigots and possibly extremists. If the main reason you fight against Smitherman is his super-icky gayness, that's pretty much the definition of bigot.

Seriously, as would be the norm nowadays, replace the word "gay" throughout the article with "black" or "hispanic". See what I mean, deValk? No? I didn't think so.
We (Catholic Insight) oppose the candidacy of George Smitherman for mayor.
Well, duh.

Here's a fun thing. I put my comments inbracketed italics through this next paragraph!


Homosexual activity contrary to God’s (your invisible daddy's in the sky) Divine (made up and mostly silly) law.

· The homosexual condition itself is an objective disorder(even though it is found throughout nature) (ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, that of homosexual behaviour {much different from institutional child rape over decades and decades, spanning the globe, of course} );

· The promotion of homosexual activists as legitimate and acceptable role models:

- holds up narcissism as a value to imitate (and the spectacle of the Vatican does nothing of the sort, obviously); undermines the nature and rights of the family (while trusted priests ass-dicking twelve-year-olds and the Church hiding the perpetrators supports family values through and through); - divides the community; promotes pornography (what State consumes the most porn? Utah. Must be all those heathen Mormons - I bet most of them are gay, right?); exhibits vulgarity (as in “Gay” parades) (...or wearing a dress and fucking kids and condemning condom use in countries with soaring HIV/AIDS rates, ensuring that the death-toll will continue to rise);

- confirms others with a homosexual tendency to surrender to erroneous opinions (like a cracker actually turning into Jesus' flesh) when they should resist instead; misleads youth and society at large (like telling them that there's a fucking invisible man in the sky who will send you to Hell to burn forever and ever in a lake of fire if you disobey his orders and be one of those terrible gay faggot homos...but he loves you more than anything); distorts truth, with a materialist ideology which denies the transcendent nature of the human person (on full display in deValk's article) and that person’s call to seek eternal life. (against all rational sense and evidence)


Here, however, is the money quote to end all money quotes:
While those attracted to same sex orientation have the right to be treated with dignity like all other persons, they should not be appointed or elected to leadership positions.
Ok, do that thing again; replace "attracted to same sex orientation" with the words "with darker skin". See what happens? You should feel dirty for even reading something that racist and horrible. Al deValk gets away with being such a disgusting dick because of religion and that's all. He needs to be called on his ignorance by everyone, publicly.


I love how he's getting his thong panties in a bunch over gays being treated equally while Catholic schools are completely unjustly publicly funded and should be dropped from the provincial payroll immediately. I'd love to be in the room to watch deValk's head spin around when that happens.

(tip o' the horn to reader Eric D!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Once Again, The Catholic League Can Blow Me

NO ATHEISTS IN [CHILEAN] MINES October 15, 2010

The miraculous rescue of all 33 Chilean miners is difficult to understand from a purely secular perspective. In this day and age of militant atheism, coupled with relentless assaults on Roman Catholicism, it is refreshing to read about the central role that Catholicism played in helping these courageous men survive, and of their enormous gratitude to God.

To those who cling to the superstition that there is no meaning to life beyond sheer material existence, we ask them to reflect on the following testimonials. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no atheists in trapped mines. Click here (link removed) for some inspiring comments.
No, actually the rescue is not hard at all to understand. A collapse occurred, trapping miners underground. A group of smart engineers, miners, and drillers got together and figured out a way to safely get them out. They put their plan into action and, ta dah, the miners got out. Secular. At no point in the plan was there a, "Step three: God shows up to grease the wires and do some welding."

The fact that the Catholic League gives the credit to an invisible SkyMan rather than to the humans who actually did the rescuing is, while completely expected, still frustrating. It is thoroughly enjoyable to notice, however, the hilarious irony of calling "superstitious" those who are interested in "material existence". Yeah, we're the superstitious ones, not you guys who cross yourselves when pass a church while driving.

Really? There are no atheists in foxholes? What about these guys?
atheists_in_foxholes
Or Pat Tillman and the like?
atheist in foxholes tillman

I'm happy that all the miners got out alive, but testimonials or not, it was because of the hard work and intelligence of the men and women working to free them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Deepak, Deepak, Deepak....

Once again, Chopra steps in it over at the odious HuffPo (no, I will not link to them because their ludicrous anti-vaccine writings are helping to kill kids). He has opined about the nature of creation and uses the word "quantum" seven thousand times. Allow me to go through his piece and insert my words as needed:
The modern world is willing to throw out any number of beliefs about God if the facts don't fit. Science isn't willing to throw out a single piece of data, however, to satisfy an article of faith.
Well, sir, "science" doesn't throw out data without cause and "faith" is defined, at least in part, as: firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust. Scientists require proof, evidence, data, in order for an established idea or theory to be overturned or discarded. Faith, by definition, isn't going to provide what scientists require to "throw out" data. I would think someone who was a medical doctor and talks about what he refers to as "quantum mechanics" would know that.

Or, maybe he's using "quantum" as a metaphor...
I love that he uses the, "Science has become so arrogant in its premise that it has all the answers in the mechanistic approach...." horsepucky. As Dara O'Briain would refute, "Science knows it doesn't know everything, otherwise it'd stop."
Hawking's statement that a Creator is unnecessary is nothing less than a metaphysical statement.
Really? It was my understanding that Dr. Hawking was speaking about the theoretical physics that show that there had to be a universe from "nothing" because of the understanding of actual quantum mechanics which anyone can watch in this lecture by Dr. Lawerence Krauss. Fairly layman-friendly and highly recommended if you haven't seen it already and have an hour to learn some cool stuff.
They (scientists) want a unified model based on mathematical certainty, not a shrug of the shoulders. They already know that time and space emerged from the quantum void, but this nothingness has to be explained.
Scientists don't "want" anything but to understand. Science is all about trying to learn about the world around us by looking at evidence, making testable predictions, and subjecting findings to their peers (among other things). Some scientists are seeking a "
Theory of Everything", but it will come - if it does - from data, experiment, etc...not from vague notions of "nothingness", "proto-consciousness", or "quantum levels".
Religionists are trying to rethink God in light of quantum mechanics; scientists are looking to spiritual traditions for glimpses into the realm that transcends the five senses.
Religionists are trying to put their misunderstanding of physics into the realm of science where they, like Chopra, look silly to anyone who actually has a grasp on the facts. Both Sam Harris and Leonard Mlodinow did this on the ABC debate (see clip below).
A new creation story is trying to be born...here are the new founding principles that currently vie for acceptance: (number two) The universe may contain more than information. It could be imbued with proto-consciousness. That is, the raw ingredients of mind may be inherent in Nature at the quantum level.
Really? This is an explanation trying to "vie for acceptance"? Who is advancing this idea?
(number six) The observer is also a participant in creation. The universe we look upon is a perfect home for human beings because our minds are entangled with the laws and processes that create mind. To explain how the universe came about, you first must explain what the mind is. The two cannot be separated. There is no reality "out there" independent of the observer.
Let's start with, "The universe...is a perfect home for human beings...". Watch the first three minutes or so of this video (or all of it, if you want to):

Yeah, so, not exactly a "perfect home". Now, can we talk for a second about the idea that there's no, "reality 'out there' independent from the observer"? Is Chopra really saying that the moon isn't there when I'm not looking at it? That's certainly what it sounds like. If I'm the observer and I'm not observing, say, the garden in my front yard, is it still there objectively/in reality? Does my paper just magically show up when I open the door or does the paper girl (is she even "real"?) bring it? He's a crazy person spouting pseudo-spiritual nonsense with enough knowledge of horse-shit that he can argue with science-based people and talk around them. The ABC debate is a prime example of this where Sam Harris, primarily, tries to pin him down to a point and he just blathers on and on about subjectivity and the brain. It's painful.
...it is evident that quantum physics has probably reached its theoretical limit, even though not every physicist -- or most physicists -- realize it.
It's "evident", is it? And Chopra knows this from his vast understanding of the subject - or at least his understanding of the metaphorical area he refers to as "quantum mechanics", which has nothing to do with the actual science. I love how Chopra just decrees that a subject he has limited knowledge of is at its limit. That would be like me, the massage therapist with the English degree, saying that it is obvious that cell biology is at its limit. Who the hell would take me seriously?
The limit to any system occurs when its accepted foundation comes into question. In this case, advanced thinkers are asking questions that were unheard of in the past: What is mathematics? What is gravity? What is a natural law?
Yeah. No one ever asked those questions before. I mean, "What is gravity"? That's deep, man. I'm fairly certain that Chopra considers himself among the "advanced thinkers", although I could be wrong. But likely not.
...the nothingness that Hawking has peered into remains dark, inert, and empty. Yet we know it cannot be empty. Our brains are the product of DNA. DNA is the product of information arranged in a chemical code. Chemicals are the result of quantum interactions at the subatomic level. Quantum interactions wink in and out of the quantum vacuum. Moving backwards, that's as far as the modern creation story goes. Whatever step it takes next will have to be a step into the void.
Chopra just knows it can't be empty, and that is so much more powerful than, you know, data.

Just keep saying that word, Chopra. If you say "quantum" enough times, it'll sell books, but it won't give you credibility.