Friday, January 18, 2013

That's Extraordinary! Homeopathy

Here's a new video from Centre for Inquiry, Canada. Homeopathy is ridiculous, pseudoscientific, nonsense. It's about time that all intelligent people recognized this fact. Tell your friends.





115 comments :

  1. Apparently it's impossible to magnetize a piece of metal by contact with a magnet because no molecules of the magnet are transferred to the non-magnetic piece of metal.

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    1. So I take it that you won't be sending CFI Canada a donation ?

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    2. Perhaps, because I think the ban the X-Files brigade actually cause much hilarity with their lunacy.

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  2. Luther, is there any nonsense that you won't swallow?

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    1. I don't find Hoagland's claims of alien structures on Mars very convincing.

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    2. Was that a complete list, or would you like to add some more?

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    3. I take a fairly calm attitude to most claims and find them very interesting. They don't bother me in the slightest, and while most such claims are not all gold, far from it, I think there is some gold in most of them. Far more concerning, from my perspective, are (organised groups of) scientists who reject empirical propositions a priori because they don't tally with their religious/ideological commitments all the while pretending they are doing science.

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    4. As usual. an answer that isn't an answer.

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    5. What kind of answer would you like? You want me to list every fringe claim and give my appraisal of it?

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    6. Nope. I would just be interested to know if there are any other fringe claims you reject to the extent you reject Hoagland's. Though not "very convincing" is kind of a low threshold, it's still something to work with. But in general I prefer answers that are answers.

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    7. I did answer. I said that most such claims are not all gold (ie, not all of any claim is true) but that there's some gold in most of them. That is, there is a kernel of truth - something interesting that has been overlooked/ignored by the mainstream. And that's just if one looks a them, which one should not, as if they're all straightforward truth claim. Even Hoagland's stuff, for example, yielded the interesting fact that when the face on mars was photographed more recently, someone at NASA doctored the photograph to make it look even less like a face than the undoctored photograph did - which didn't look much like a face at all.

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    8. Adding more words to a weaselly answer doesn't make it any less weaselly. I have become convinced that you're incapable of making clear responses, much less reasoned ones.

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    9. NASA doctored the photograph

      What's your source for that, and what's the evidence? (genuinely interested)

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    10. If you check online for 'catbox face on mars', you'll see the pictures that were put on NASA's website and some detail about what was done to them.

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    11. @Harshman
      It's not a weaselly answer at all. It a simple enough point - most fringe theories have at least a kernel of truth to them, some more than others, and so I don't think that black/white reject/accept dichotomy you seem incapable of moving away from is the nest way to think of them. Take for example, seeing auras. People obviously see auras - it's called synesthesia - and one guy sees them so well he uses them to help him remember pi to 50,000 places or some such thing. Does everyone who claims to see auras actually see auras - almost certainly not. But if we went down the ban the X-Files brigade route many fascinating psychological phenomena would be off limits to scientific scrutiny because you/Larry et al don't like to be disturbed while in your armchair and everyone else had-bloody-better feel the same (or go to jail).

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    12. If you check online for 'catbox face on mars', you'll see the pictures that were put on NASA's website and some detail about what was done to them.

      But it's all the same hackneyed stuff made up and circulated by conspiracy theory kooks (including Hoagland himself). A man's face... a lion's face... methinks it is like a weasel. I thought you had something serious in mind. Sorry.

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    13. You miss the point - the picture was doctored, by someone at NASA's JPL apparently, to make it look even less like a face than it actually did. I find this fascinating. And there are countless examples of similar dodgy doings when things like this come up.

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    14. That's OK. I'm used to you by now and know not to take you seriously. Go on about your business.

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    15. What's not serious? You don't believe synesthesia is real? What's your non-point this time?

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  3. BINGO! WE HAVE A HOMEOPATH!

    Apparently it's impossible to magnetize a piece of metal by contact with a magnet because no molecules of the magnet are transferred to the non-magnetic piece of metal.

    I *KNEW* that IDiots, who widely believe and support believe in ghosts, spooks, specters, phantasms, Near Death Experiences, quantum Shroud of Turin, etc. would stand up for homeopathy!

    What did I right a few threads back?

    Me: Does anyone want to bet me $100 that BornAgain77 or Kairosfocus use homeopathic remedies and have written a 2,800 word thesis explaining how homeopathy is a foundational principle of science explained by quantum entanglement, the Logos of John 1:1, and the Shroud of Turin, their references being YouTube videos?

    And what did I write to Luther in the World Problems thread?

    Luther... you have a low threshold of evidence. Translation: you stupid.

    You see why it's good not to ban IDiots and let them shoot off their mouths? Sooner or later, we get proof of why we call them IDiots.

    We need to write this down, keep a list. It's comedy gold.

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    1. Where did I say homeopathy worked? My point was more that the proof of whether homeopathy works or not is to be found in properly conducted medical tests and not in theoretical ideologically based armchair pronouncements (or stupid video propaganda).

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    2. And incidentally, I'm not a supporter of ID. I just don't like the way religious fanatics oversell the theory of evolution as if it was fact as opposed to fairly wild speculation.

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    3. And and, I don't have a low threshold of evidence. I have a threshold of evidence, in contrast to you who already knows the answers which are contained, a priori, in your ideology.

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    4. the proof of whether homeopathy works or not is to be found in properly conducted medical tests

      Which of course have been conducted and have so far failed to show that homeopathy works.

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    5. Rapey: My point was more that the proof of whether homeopathy works or not is to be found in properly conducted medical tests and not in theoretical ideologically based armchair pronouncements

      Listen Rapey, the tests have been done. They've been done for a hundred fucking years.

      Your real point is that it you like to believe you're smarter than the world's scientists, and you back that up by *IMAGINING* that they didn't do empirical tests, and by *IMAGINING* that they are blinded by "theoretical ideologically based armchair pronouncements", whereas you are not so blinded-- you, who believe women assault men *MORE OFTEN* than men assault women.

      NO. That is your mythology.

      Your claim that empirical tests have not been done is merely your "theoretical ideologically based armchair pronouncement".

      Rapey believes it because he needs to trash scientists, because their superior knowledge of science and its methods threatens his egomania, so he'll lie and invent any ridiculous story about scientists, so long as it assits his desperate need to believe he's smarter than the all the scientists in the world.

      Again: Rapey's implication that we oppose homeopathy, without referencing empirical tests is his "theoretical ideologically based armchair pronouncement", and he is blinded by his prejudice.

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    6. So? That doesn't change the fact that many here "know" homeopathy doesn't work because their ideology tells them so. And even the paper you cited is not as clear cut as you seem to think.

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    7. @Diogenes
      I didn't say empirical tests had not been done. I said that those, like you, have an ideology which commits you a prior to the truth or falsity of various empirical propositions. Thus you are the quintessential pseudoscience advocate.

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    8. It is pretty clearcut, Luther; just read it all. And there have been many more published test results and meta-studies. And perhaps you remember the Jacques Benveniste controversy and the opportunity that Nature offered him to demonstrate the "memory of water" effect. And how his team failed to replicate their own positive results in properly controlled and overseen double-blind tests. Anyway, I have very good reasons not to accept homeopathy. First, no-one has demonstrated that it works at all (let alone being in any way superior to "orthodox" medicine). Secondly, no-one has proposed an even remotely plausible mechanism to exoplain why it should work -- why, for example, some rotten duck liver (whether diluted or not) should have any medicinal effect. The first reason is of course more important. If there is no such phenomenon, no explanation is needed.

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    9. Nature didn't offer Benveniste the opportunity to demonstrate his effect. Instead they sent a sleight of hand man (a man with a history of pseudoscientific fraud from an organisation with a history of pseudoscientific fraud!) to his lab to turn it into a circus - taping samples to the ceiling etc. and then given themselves an out by claiming it had been tampered with (it probably had, but probably not by Benveniste). I wonder how many scientific claims could withstand similar attempts at sabotage. None of this means Benveniste's finding are correct, but the debunking was pure nonsense.

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    10. Rapey:

      (a man with a history of pseudoscientific fraud from an organisation with a history of pseudoscientific fraud!)

      Uh oh. Doesn't this remind us of our old friend Carrie who believed he had the power of telekinesis, and the the CSICOP or whaterver it's called, committed pseudoscientific fraud?

      Rapey, are you a sock puppet for our old table-tapping friend Carrie? What was his name again? The "I'm searching Darwin's website for mentions of eugenics" guy.

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    11. Rapey, are you The Thought Criminal?

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    12. @Diogenes

      Rapey, are you The Thought Criminal?

      This thought had crossed my mind a while back but TTC was incapable of not shoehorning his Darwin/eugenics conspiracy theories into every discussion.

      And while Rapey and TTC are both cognitively damaged in similar ways, compared to TTC, Rapey is garbage wrapped in skin.

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    13. The Thought Criminal? Is that someone else you were obsessed with O-berk-ski. Did you stalk him/her, think about him/her while listening to the radio, and muse about his/her turds?

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    14. Although Rapey does have a bit of a hard on for James Randi, just like TTC.

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    15. Must have broken your heart when you found out Randi had a fondness for young boys. Or maybe you liked him more because of it.

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    16. Rapey, If paedophila bothers you that much then stop raping children. Simple enough.

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    17. @Larry:

      Any way we can look up Rapey's IP address and compare it to The Thought Criminal's old IP address?

      Rapey: "Randi had a fondness for young boys."

      Rapey, what evidence do you have for that?

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    18. Yeah, go on Larry - check out The Thought Criminal's IP address and then inform Diogenes of what everyone already knows - his conspiracy theory is a fiction of his own warped mind. Oh how we laughed.

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    19. Me: Rapey, what evidence do you have for that?

      Rapey: Awww, you didn't know.

      Once again, I am buried under the mountain of Rapey's evidence to support his bare assertions.

      Hey, I don't know if Rapey is Carrie The Thought Criminal or not.

      But I asked a simple question, and never got a simple answer.

      Since you're not TTC, I'll just say right here that Charles Darwin opposed eugenics, and every major creationist from 1920 to 1980 supported eugenics.

      Yup. We know from his writing Chuck Darwin opposed eugenics. We proved it.

      Since Rapey isn't TTC, that won't bother him a bit.

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    20. You will be shocked, simply shocked, to hear that "Rapey" has some controversial ideas to do with the non-existence of rape culture.

      And as usual backs up his assertions with a stream of invective and ad hominem screeds.

      Basically business as usual.

      I have to say that I enjoy the guilty pleasures of scab picking and zit popping as much as the next person but it's getting to the point where the arrival of a new "Rapey" projectile is anticipated with about as much pleasure as opening the lid on a garbage can during a summer heat wave and encountering a festering, heaving mound of gag inducing maggots.


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    21. @Oberkski
      Why not try once, just once, to post about an issue rather than a person.

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    22. Why not try once, just once, to post about an issue rather than a person.

      Good advice for us all, especially for the person who responds to a question with "It's called projection."

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    23. Not an unreasonable response when those people have engaged in nothing bu outrageous abuse for several days - rarely stopping to actually comment on other than me.

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  4. And incidentally, I'm not a supporter of ID. I just don't like the way religious fanatics oversell the theory of evolution as if it was fact as opposed to fairly wild speculation.

    So you walk like a duck, quack like a duck but are not, in fact, a duck. Fair enough. But if not evolution and not ID, then what? YEC? OEC?

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    1. No, I don't walk like a duck, nor quack like one. I just don't like science being twisted by those with an ideological axe to grind. As regards an explanation, who knows. I suspect there will be several revolutions in thought before we get clearer about what the universe, and life, is all about.

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    2. You duck like a ducking duck, that's for sure.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. The Thought Criminal, like Rapey, also denied being a creationist. TTC hated atheists, believed in evolution but hated evolution by natural selection, and hated Charles Darwin who must be "dumped." If I recall, I thought he was Catholic.

      He also believed in all kinds of ooga booga, like telekinesis, and thought he had telekinesis.

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  5. Zicam has been shown to 'work',if you consider the cases of folks losing there sense of smell working.

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    1. Zicam is one of a class of products you might call pseudo-homeopathic: they say they are homeopathic, but contain ingredients at dilutions way below what homeopathy says is needed to be effective - i.e., with significant amounts of active ingredient left behind. In this case, there was a low dose of zinc (plus claims of other ingredients at homeopathic levels), and zinc administered nasally has side effects.

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    2. And by "below", I mean less dilute (e.g. 1X), which in the Wonderland logic of homeopathy means weaker.

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  6. I haven't given a lot of thought to the subject of homeopathy, but I do have to wonder why 'skeptics' get so worked up about it. It seems to work for some people. Your post prompted me to locate the following stories, among many similar ones.
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/22/Why-Skeptics-Love-to-Hate-Homeopathy.aspx
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1361681/Scientists-say-homeopathy-undiluted-hogwash-But-CAN-work--thats-matters.html
    as well as this comment from a poster named Scott, from just a few days ago on this very site:
    "Wow. What an arrogant ass you are.

    I have used homeopathic techniques all my adult life and am widely known as one of the healthiest individuals in my circle of friends. I have people come to me asking for advice for their children because they have seen that my children do not ever need to go to the doctor. I have experienced the relief that massage, lifestyle counseling and diet/herbal supplements/exercise have to offer. I have also seen my share of friends/family get hosed by a "traditional" doctor who has "evidence" to back them up.

    I have seen the medical community waffle back and forth on evidential claims on more things than I can possibly recount simply because someone "authoritative" states that his theory is fact, then science spends a decade or two building cures around that individuals theory, only to have it disproved later.

    I have seen homeopathy cure my children's ear infections, my own strep throat, lessen or prevent flu smptoms, relieve back pain and headaches. I personally know people who have used it to rid themselves of lyme's disease and others who have seen their lupus cured. I could go on and on with personal examples, that you would not consider anything but anecdotal... but simply because you don't accept the evidence, or because people don't perform the experiments, does not mean the evidence does not exist. It simply means that you, in your arrogance, believe you already know the answers."

    So, Larry, I realize it is sooooo important for you to invalidate all experiences that don't accord with your own, but just as a thought exercise, what is the harm in letting some people continue with treatments they feel they are benefitting from, and/or what will be the great boon to mankind should homeopathy be humiliated out of existence by you and your intrepid thought police?

    It seems to me, at the very least, you could all spare yourself the time and effort spent to make the -ahem - humorous video and graphic you posted above and spend more time at the bar cracking each other up with Flying Spaghetti Monster jokes and basking in the feeling of smug superiority they provide you with.

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    1. I haven't given a lot of thought to the subject of homeopathy, but I do have to wonder why 'skeptics' get so worked up about it. It seems to work for some people. Your post prompted me to locate the following stories, among many similar ones.

      That's anecdotal evidence. It can't be trusted on its own, no matter how strongly Mr Scott is convinced that homeopathy works for him and his family. Rigorously conducted tests have never shown homeopathic drugs to be more effective than placebo in control groups. And little wonder. Oscillococcinum, for example, is just water with some sugar in it. How is it supposed to cure flu? The average dose of duck liver sauce you ingest with it is several hundreds of orders of magnitude smaller than the mass of the electron. In other words, the supposed "diluted medicine" is as absent as anything can be in this universe. Hahnnemann, the father of homeopathy, lived in the 18th century. He knew nothing about molecules and atoms. At the time, is was possible to believe that any substance was continuous and divisible ad infinitum. It seems some people still believe it.

      People are free to believe in magic healing, but let's call it magic, not give it fraudulent prestige by pretending that it has a scientific justification. Quackery is not a crime in itself, but if someone sells sweetened water as an effective flu medicine for ten dollars an ounce, there are good reasons to treat him as a con artist and protect the public from such practices. If you think sweetened water does help you, you can make some yourself. Shake well before use.

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    2. ... but I do have to wonder why 'skeptics' get so worked up about it

      I want to live in a society that values rational thinking over superstition. I want to live in a society that bases decisions on evidence and not on wishful thinking.

      Homeopathy is a good example to use when trying to get people to change their minds about how they make decisions. There is no evidence that homeopathy works and there is no understanding of the natural world that is consistent with the claims of homeopathy. It's bunkum and quackery.

      ... what is the harm in letting some people continue with treatments they feel they are benefitting from ...

      Everyone has the right to substitute superstition and magic for real medicine since they are only hurting themselves. I'd prefer that they give up supporting the quack medicine industry but changing society is a long term goal.

      You do not have the "right" to force your quackery on your children if it means that you avoid traditional medicine. That's dangerous and it could (and probably will) harm your children. In Canada you could go to jail if you fail to treat your children responsibly when they become ill or have an injury.

      ... what will be the great boon to mankind should homeopathy be humiliated out of existence ...

      It will be one more step down the path away from a primitive society that believes in magic and superstition toward a modern 21st century one based on rationality and science.

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    3. andyboerger writes,

      I have seen homeopathy cure my children's ear infections, my own strep throat, lessen or prevent flu smptoms, relieve back pain and headaches. I personally know people who have used it to rid themselves of lyme's disease and others who have seen their lupus cured.

      You have seen no such thing. What you may have seen is a correlation between people getting better and taking homeopathic pills. You cannot possibly know whether homeopathy is responsible for those improvements or whether they would have happened anyway. Only a scientific double-blind study can tell you that.

      Furthermore, I strongly suspect you have witnessed numerous examples where symptoms did not improve when taking homeopathic pills. If you are like most people, you will ignore that kind of "evidence."

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    4. Larry, your comment directly above mine needs to be directed to 'Scott'. I have reproduced his comment, which runs for three paragraphs.
      I don't know that I know anyone personally who claims to have been healed by homeopathy, and so can't make that claim.

      Scott's post was written a few days ago on a much older post of yours, from 2010
      http://sandwalk.blogspot.jp/2010/09/what-is-naturopathy.html

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    5. Piotr, anecdotal perhaps, but there seem to be hundreds of similar stories on the net. That's an awful lot of people who are just fooling themselves and throwing their money away. They continue to use the treatments because they are convinced they work. People become convinced a treatment works, and continue paying for it, because they experience the alleviation of symptoms, the absence of pain, the return of well being, etc.

      I have no problem with YOU calling it 'magic', but neither do I have a problem with other people calling it 'the treatment that I used to get better'.

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    6. Larry, I appreciate your honesty in stating that your desire is to see a "modern 21st century one based on rationality and science."

      I don't want a society 'based' on those things. I want a society that uses them, in beneficial ways, but one that is BASES on the needs of all human beings in all their complexity. Such a society needs to acknowledge the many differences people have, some being more attuned to reason and science while others achieve happy lives that benefit others through other pursuits and predilections, including spirituality. I don't want a cookie cutter, one size fits all, values system in the 21st century.

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    7. OK, Andy, lots of people believe it works, based on personal experience. That's exactly why homeopathy has been given the benefit of the doubt and why dozens of researchers have found it worthwhile to test its claims. The tests have been published, repeated many times, and collectively subjected to meta-analyses. No significant effect has been observed, so what more can I say? It's very easy to fool oneself that something works. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide -- otherwise healthy individuals, not obsessive-compulsive cases -- believe in silly things like "my lucky mascot helps me to pass exams" (it has, twice; I had it with me, and I passed).

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    8. I understand that, Piotr. I just think this is a case of live-and-let-live, unless it has been proven that there are very harmful attributes to homeopathic remedies. If there are, those, rather than lame ridicule, should have been presented in the video above.

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    9. andybeorger says,

      Larry, I appreciate your honesty in stating that your desire is to see a "modern 21st century one based on rationality and science."

      I don't want a society 'based' on those things.


      That explains a lot.

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    10. indeed it does, as does your own statement. The idea of a society that is based on science and rationality is somewhat absurd. A society is, and only can be, "based" on people. And if people WERE purely rational and scientific, then our society already WOULD be based on rationality and science.

      The fact that it isn't ought to cause you to consider that attempts to shoehorn society into a truncated form would likely end up as a Mao-sized failure.

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    11. andyboerger says,

      I have no problem with YOU calling it 'magic', but neither do I have a problem with other people calling it 'the treatment that I used to get better'.

      Here's the problem. Those people who say, 'the treatment that I used to get better' are either lying or deluded. For me, that's a problem.

      However, I take your point. You have demonstrated repeatedly that truth is not a priority for you as long as people are happy.

      Some of my ancestors happily murdered a witch in Connecticut in 1653 [The Hanging of Goodwife Knapp in 1653].

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    12. "Live and let live" is fine as a principle, but I don't think it makes fraud acceptable. You might say that selling a small tube of plain sugar for a few bucks as an efficatious remedy is a lesser crime than selling an ingot of gilded lead as pure gold, but Boiron has been pushing its Oscillo in 50 countries for several decades. It would be an honest business only if they sold their magic stuff for a homeopathic substitute of money.

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    13. what some of your ancestors did was tragic. It was also tragic what happened to perhaps up to eight thousand people in Bhopal India. No superstition, no quackery. Just some very harmful chemicals that were produced in the types of laboratories you place so much faith in.

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    14. @andyboerger

      I haven't given a lot of thought to the subject of homeopathy

      But I won't let that stop me from pontificating about it.

      It was also tragic what happened to perhaps up to eight thousand people in Bhopal India.

      I think the NRA used this type of argument in their latest ad.

      You know, armed guards for the children of a highly visible public figure is exactly the same as armed guards for every school child in the US.

      Is this some sort of whirlwind logical fallacy redux ?

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    15. AB: It was also tragic what happened to perhaps up to eight thousand people in Bhopal India. No superstition, no quackery. Just some very harmful chemicals that were produced in the types of laboratories you place so much faith in.

      Uh, NO.

      The gas cloud in Bhopal did not come from research laboratories. It came from a manufacturing factory.

      Moreover, conservative Christians support what they call "operational science" (technology) and they aggressively promote pollutionism. If you don't support pollutionism, they call you pagan.

      Remember the last US presidential election, when Santorum said that Obama's theology was not Christian? He meant Obama was not pollutionist like conservative Christians are. Since he is not pollutionist, he is PAGAN.

      Secondly, Larry does not place "faith" in research laboratories. You are attempting to equivocate, to imply that our support of research labs is a "faith" thus the same darn thing as any other "faith", like the faith that disease is caused by demon possession.

      We have confidence in research laboratories to the degree that their observations are reproducible and their inferences are testable by observation. That is not "faith" and you know it.

      AB, if I want dishonest equivocation, I could go get it from Ken Ham.

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    16. steve,
      You may wish to address the point about 'logical fallacy redux' with Larry.
      Look at the comment of his that I responded to with my own comment about the Bhopal incident. He referred to a witch hanging, a practice that I don't believe homeopaths are known for. He referred to an event which happened nearly one hundred and fifty years before homeopathy even came into being.

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    17. Diogenes, if Larry wishes to imply - as he does with his comment - that all forms of 'superstition' lead down a slippery slope toward the gallows, then it is a valid form of counter-argument to suggest that all forms of science lead to Bhopal or Chernobyl.

      I don't happen to believe in either of those broad generalizations. But someone who believes in the first does need to contend with the second.
      Furthermore, the use of 'faith' is valid in the sense that Larry has stated he wants to live in a society 'based on' science and rationality. If you prefer 'unbridled confidence', I could go with that, but I wasn't equivocating.

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    18. andyboerger

      if Larry wishes to imply - as he does with his comment - that all forms of 'superstition' lead down a slippery slope toward the gallows, then it is a valid form of counter-argument to suggest that all forms of science lead to Bhopal or Chernobyl.

      Ah yes, the ever useful argument of last resort for those with no coherent rebuttal - but Mom, he hit me first !

      Larry presents what you claim to be a false generalization and you rebut with what you admit you know to be a false generalization.

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    19. You're mistaking no rebuttal for a rebuttal. The rebuttal in question being the "by that reasoning" rebuttal. Consider: religion is stupid because it has the letter "i" in it, rebutted by the claim, science is stupid because it has the letter "i" in it.

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    20. steve, just out of curiosity, what do you think might be a 'coherent rebuttal' to an incoherent argument?
      Should I have pointed out to Larry that no homeopaths were involved in the 1653 hanging, because they didn't even exist yet?

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    21. But of course it wasn't presented as a by that reasoning rebuttal in it's initial form was it ?

      That didn't happen until the false equivalence was pointed out.

      The "science is stupid" argument was advanced as one that the presenter believed to be true.

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    22. @andyboerger

      You could have addressed Larry's actual point which, as expressed by Voltaire was:

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities".

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    23. @Oberski
      Well, having gone back and reread it, it seems it kinda was. It was a tit for tat by that reasoning kinda point.

      And if it's atrocities you're after, well, science has a proud (ie, sordid) history of exactly that.

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    24. steve, Voltaire was a great man. But I could then use another well known quote; when one is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.

      In other words, people like you and Larry have very blunt views about what is and isn't absurd. You seem to allow no room for nuance in your discussions. You maintain the black-or-white mentality of a fundamentalist. So in your minds, it is reasonable to assume that all christians are getting their guns ready in preparation for a civil war, and every homeopath, though the stated purpose of their profession is to help people get better, is a witch burner deep down. You have such a bleak view of humanity that you view a sterile world of science as the only thing that can save us. It seems not to occur to you that millions of other species are much less rational than us and they don't go around tearing themselves into extinction all the time. You don't trust life.

      Above you wrote that a 'presenter' made an argument that 'science is stupid'. Were you referring to me? I have never, nor would I, make such an argument.
      You just don't get things, Steve. Furthermore, it is clear that you don't want to. You don't actually consider other peoples' arguments, you just rifle through them finding something to make an arch comment on.
      Piotr, Diogenes, etc., don't do that, so, as much as we disagree, I have great respect for them. Whether or not it is reciprocated I can't say. But your 'arguments' are invariably just silly put downs or demonstrations of how completely you miss points that are being made.

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    25. Relax Andy, I said science was stupid because it had an "i" in it. I said it in response to a hypothetical argument that religion was stupid because it had an "i" in it. I'm still trying to decide if either argument is any good.

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    26. Ah, I see. Thanks, Luther. Any way you look at it, I stand by my argument, and it is not the 'mom, he hit me first!' argument that steve, being steve, mischaracterizes it as.

      Larry is implying that all forms of 'irrationality', whatever form they take, are equally dangerous in that they can distort peoples minds such that they commit atrocities. Clearly, it doesn't matter to him that homeopathy, by virtue of not even having been invented yet, had nothing to do with the incident he injected into the conversation. It is guilty nonetheless.

      My argument is that misuse of science can also lead to or abet tragedies.
      Indeed, if Larry wants to believe that the 21st century should be based on 'science and rationality', he may have to consider the fact that those two may inevitably come into conflict. After all, what is 'reasonable' about conducting experiments that society has proven itself time and time again to not be capable of using properly?
      I am sure that most readers here are aware that Carl Sagan speculated that the reason that we have not yet encountered intelligent extraterrestrial life is that 'intelligent' species end up destroying themselves once they begin manipulating science and technology.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox
      So if Sagan were shown to be right, a 'rational' society would have to make a choice about what to do about science's tendency to lead to things like Bhopal, Cherbonyl, nuclear warfare, environmental devastation, etc.etc.

      Delete
    27. from the wiki article listed above:

      "... technological civilizations may usually or invariably destroy themselves before or shortly after developing radio or space flight technology. Possible means of annihilation include nuclear war, biological warfare or accidental contamination, climate change, nanotechnological catastrophe, ill-advised physics experiments,[Note 4] a badly programmed super-intelligence, or a Malthusian catastrophe after the deterioration of a planet's ecosphere. This general theme is explored both in fiction and in mainstream scientific theorizing.[50] Indeed, there are probabilistic arguments which suggest that human extinction may occur sooner rather than later. In 1966 Sagan and Shklovskii suggested that technological civilizations will either tend to destroy themselves within a century of developing interstellar communicative capability or master their self-destructive tendencies and survive for billion-year timescales.[51]."

      Delete
    28. tl;dr

      andy says "when one is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail."

      I tend to say, when one is a hammer, then everything looks like a thumb.

      Delete
    29. Or, it's only when you're hammered that you think you have all the problems nailed.

      Delete
  7. andyboerger says,

    Larry, your comment directly above mine needs to be directed to 'Scott'. I have reproduced his comment, which runs for three paragraphs.

    Oops. I didn't notice that most of what you said was a quotation from another source. You should have made it more obvious since it's not common.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry. But I did write
      'as well as this comment from a poster named Scott, from just a few days ago on this very site:'
      and then framed Scott's comment in quotation marks.

      Delete
    2. I have been questioning whether homeopathy is effective based on many published studies by scientists. I point out the the explanation for homeopathy conflicts with everything that scientists have discovered about chemistry and the human body.

      Scott wrote a little diatribe that was all about HIM. He claims that HE is "one of the healthiest individuals in my circle of friends." He points out that HE believes in homoeopathy because HE has personally seen it cure him, his children, and his friends.

      HE has "seen the medical community waffle back and forth on evidential claims on more things than I can possibly recount" and HE has personally witnessed bad doctors.

      It all about HIM.

      And he accuses ME of arrogance.

      I wonder if he knows the meaning of "irony."

      Delete
    3. well, Larry, I would say the reason Scott accused you of arrogance has to do with the WAY you 'pointed out' your views of homeopathy. To wit:

      "Good. Now I know the difference between naturopathy and other forms of non-evidence based medicine (i.e. alternative medicine, quackery).

      There isn't any."

      For someone like Scott, whose own experiences convince him completely otherwise, it would inevitably seem rather arrogant of you to invalidate his experiences, as if he hasn't really had them, when he is clearly convinced that he has.

      You wrote above that in your view, people like Scott, who maintain that homeopathy has been beneficial for them, are either "lying or deluded". I clicked on Scott's name, and he lists his profession as a financial adviser. In other words, we have no reason to think his profession involves profiting from homeopathic remedies.

      So, in your view, he is more likely to be deluded than dishonest. Given that he is convinced that he, his family, etc. have had maladies relieved through homeopathy, how could he NOT consider your assertions arrogant? It's like you are saying, 'don't trust your own experiences; trust science'. That statement WOULD be arrogant.

      Regardless of your own opinion of him, I am pretty sure he is going to trust his own experiences, and the relief that he has experienced and is no doubt grateful for, over whatever reports and research papers you could point him to.

      Delete
    4. Andy,

      "Delusion" is perhaps too strong a word for the kind of subjective bias we all tend to fall prey to, simply because of the way our brain is wired. We are extremely good at detecting patterns and correlations in the world round us. Since it is more costly to miss a correct association caused by something that might be beneficial or dangerous to us than to incorrectly attribute a causal relationship to a pattern produced by chance (like "constellations" in the sky), our natural bias produces lots of false positives, often giving rise to "superstitions". If, say, a stockbroker recalls that he's happened to make some exceptionally good investment decisions while wearing a particulat striped tie at work, he may develop the conviction that the tie somehow amplifies his intelligence and intuition. It's a delusion, but even completely rational people are occasionally guilty of it. You've heard the anecdote about Niels Bohr and the "lucky" horseshoe above his front door at Tisvilde, haven't you?

      That's why scientists should try to take every care that they don't fool themselves while carrying out experimental work. And they occasionally fail, see cold fusion or, best of all, Blondlot's N rays:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N_ray

      It wasn't a deliberate fraud. Blondlot was absolutely convinced he saw the effects of his "rays". He trusted his eyes and his brain so much that he didn't bother to carry out any control tests to rule out experimenter bias. Nor did the 120 or so French researchers who successfully and enthusiastically replicated his findings, as was their patriotic duty.

      Delete
    5. Good and valid point, as always, Piotr.

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. Oberski
      You're hatred is spiraling out of control. Perhaps it's time to stop.

      Delete
  9. Diogenes writes,

    "The gas cloud in Bhopal did not come from research laboratories. It came from a manufacturing factory."
    There's no point in arguing over this point. Perhaps I should have used the word 'developed' instead of 'produced' when referring to the ingredients of the death cloud.
    Regardless, Bhopal heralded their entrance into India with the slogan "Science Helps Build a New India". They could have used 'technology', but they didn't.

    as for

    "Moreover, conservative Christians support what they call "operational science" (technology) and they aggressively promote pollutionism. If you don't support pollutionism, they call you pagan."
    I don't really see the point here. The toxins that killed thousands and ruined the lives of many thousands more in Bhopal weren't developed via holy water and incantations. Nor am I arguing that religious people aren't just as capable of causing technological or other environmental catastrophes as secular people. If there is more to this point of yours, please clarify it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. erratum; that should read as "Union Carbide heralded their entrance into India with the slogan, "Science Helps Build a New India"
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/jm/1893703/

      Delete
    2. The residents of Bhopal were killed by the actions of the executives, management, staff and shareholders of Union Carbide working in collusion with various levels of the Indian government responsible for regulating this sort of industry.

      An adherence to an ideology of maximizing short term gain with a callous disregard to future consequences on the Union Carbide side conspiring with a notoriously corrupt Indian bureaucracy were the direct cause of this tragedy.

      Delete
    3. certainly the culprits were many, but your argument has no more than a hair's breadth of distance from the argument the NRA always trots out that 'guns don't kill people; people kill people".

      And can be argued against in the same way. What killed the residents of Bhopal were poisons. These poisons were developed in labs, for use as pesticides, among others. The people who developed them were scientists, call them 'technicians' if you prefer, but they probably all had degrees in Chemistry, or something similar.

      You are absolutely right about an "adherence to an ideology of maximizing short term gain with a callous disregard to future consequences" being the main reason why Bhopal happened.

      But science played a role. It provided the 'guns' and the 'ammo'. If it was just this one incident, then, tragic as it was, your argument might hold greater weight. But Chernobyl, Thalidomide, Three Mile Island, the many accidents at Japanese reactors, acid rain, etc. etc. show that Bhopal is not something that can be looked at in isolation.

      Delete
    4. So all chemical factories should be shit down ?

      Or outlaw all science that leads to the development of toxic chemicals ?

      If you think that it's science based toxins that kill people and not those that run the factories then this is the logical conclusion.

      Delete
    5. Shut down, obviously.

      My subconscious and a dependence on the chromium spell checker let that one slip by me.

      Delete
    6. so all chemical factories should be shut down ?

      Of course not, steve. Like so many things in life, this is not a black/white issue that can be reduced to simplistic and facile comments.

      It begins with acknowledging the tremendous risks involved in performing the types of experiments that humanity is now engaged in. If you or Larry showed a willingness to acknowledge these risks, and the fact that many of them have only existed in the Scientific Age, and are thus attributable to it, it would be easier not to consider you a blind ideologue.

      Larry wants a society 'based on rationality and science', and as I have written above, there may come a point when those two come into greater conflict. I am not alone in thinking this, and some of my thinking about this has been informed by Carl Sagan, no fan of superstition, as you know.
      Indeed, I consider it a form OF superstition to place blind trust in science leading us to a brave new tomorrow, so long as it is led by people who are unwilling to acknowledge science's dark side. To see only good in science and only bad in religion doesn't square with the facts. It is superstition, i,e, "a : a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation"

      Delete
    7. steve writes,
      "If you think that it's science based toxins that kill people and not those that run the factories then this is the logical conclusion."

      Again, this is precisely the type of argument that the NRA uses.

      Delete
  10. When I said ....

    However, I take your point. You have demonstrated repeatedly that truth is not a priority for you as long as people are happy.

    Some of my ancestors happily murdered a witch in Connecticut in 1653.


    andyboerger replied ...

    Look at the comment of his that I responded to with my own comment about the Bhopal incident. He referred to a witch hanging, a practice that I don't believe homeopaths are known for. He referred to an event which happened nearly one hundred and fifty years before homeopathy even came into being.

    Later on he replied to Steve by saying ..

    You just don't get things, Steve. Furthermore, it is clear that you don't want to. You don't actually consider other peoples' arguments, you just rifle through them finding something to make an arch comment on.

    That last statement describes andyboerger better than anything I could have written. This is why I will no longer respond to anything he writes.

    It's a complete waste of time.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. utter baloney, Larry, but have it your way. I consider everything you write and make responses. I am diametrically opposed to your way of looking at things, but I have always explained why.
      I explained fully why I feel your ideal of a 'society based on rationality and science' is not something I agree with. You took one single line, directly above and BEFORE I explained my view, and archly commented on it, 'that explains a lot'.

      So pot, meet kettle.

      Delete
  11. Larry wants a world built on rationality and science. Wonder if there's any room in there for humanity, decency, justice, compassion, beauty, pleasure, love, or even just a little peace of mind?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I want to live in a society where important decisions are based on evidence and rationality. You think that rational thinking about society precludes decency, humanity, justice, compassion, beauty. pleasure, love etc. I, on the other hand, think that all those things are valued by the rational mind. They are much more likely to be abused or ignored by those who fall prey to superstitious thinking.

      Decency, fairness, equality, justice, and compassion have never been characteristics of highly superstitious (i.e. religious) societies. All these characteristics of (some) modern societies have become prominent with the decline of superstition and religion. Even today, in modern industrialized nations, the main opponents of these goals tend to be higly superstitious (religious).

      Delete
    2. I see you've already had to replace science with something more akin to philosophy as one of your twin pillars. And so now our positions are not nearly so far apart - due in the main to you having just skipped several miles sideways.

      Delete
    3. I have always made it clear that my definition of science is "Science is a way of knowing based on evidence, healthy skepticism, and rational thinking." Anyone who has read this blog will understand that unless they are either stupid, or deliberately not paying attention.

      I've also made it very clear to everyone who is paying attention that science is NOT technology by my definition. Thus, things like making chemicals in a factory are not the same as science as a way of knowing. Again, anyone who has read this blog will understand that, unless, of course, they are deliberately trying to distort my views in order to score rhetorical points.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, I know all that, that's why I said you had dropped science and replaced it with something more akin to philosophy. That is, the stuff you're now advocating, like justice, democracy, equality etc - the stuff on account of which you think highly of modern societies - has precious little to do with science. If one was to study these things at university, for example, it would be in the faculty of arts/humanities, and not in that other place.

      Delete
    5. So the only way of achieving humanity, decency, justice, compassion, beauty, pleasure, love, or even just a little peace of mind is to be willing to believe the truth value of propositions without any supporting evidence ?

      Delete
    6. So the only way of achieving humanity, decency, justice, compassion, beauty, pleasure, love, or even just a little peace of mind is to be unwilling to believe the truth value of propositions without any supporting evidence ?

      Delete
    7. LM writes,
      " anyone who has read this blog will understand that, unless, of course, they are deliberately trying to distort my views in order to score rhetorical points."
      No, it doesn't work that way. You can't use your own definition that is not THE definition of science and then move it around so that it remains spotless. And then accuse others of misrepresenting your views when they don't adopt the same lenient and porous definition.
      For example, you can't decide that your own definition of 'ice cream' is 'a delicious food that is greatly enjoyed by people of all ages' and then use that definition to disassociate it from things like tooth decay, obesity and brain freezes.
      And if you think about that for a bit you will realize that.

      Delete