Respectful Insolence

Here’s part 1.

Here’s part II. It’s Bill Maher on David Letterman ranting about “toxins,” how we are being “poisoned by America,” and how your body is trying to produce a “river of mucus” to rid itself of the toxins, all standard tropes of “alternative” medicine and quackery. Sadly, David Letterman seems to buy right into the whole rant, more or less.

Maher’s mindless parroting of the vague claims of quacks who think that “detoxification” is the cure for every ill, combined with his being an antivaccination wingnut and a germ theory denialist, are just three reasons why, whenever I see anyone holding up Bill Maher as some sort of icon of rationality and reason because of his outspoken atheism, I can only shake my head. Yes, it’s possible to be rational in many areas but not in others, but Bill Maher is too credulous about pseudoscience in just too many different areas for me to view him as anything resembling an icon of reason, particularly given the inflated view of his own rationality that he apparently holds.

Comments

  1. #1 PalMD
    January 6, 2008

    It’s very frustrating. I enjoy his show, and his rants about religion, but every time he opens his mouth about health, irrational weirdness spews forth.

  2. #2 Eric Wallace
    January 6, 2008

    Maher argues for woo, Hitchens for war, Harris for torture…dang, where’s that perfect atheist I can worship?

    It’s too bad Maher goes off the deep end about “western medicine”, because he otherwise might have something interesting to say about our (legal) drug culture. Some of his points on Letterman are, I think, legitimate. Unfortunately I know too much about the root of his thinking to believe that those opinions stem from reason…

  3. #3 Prometheus
    January 6, 2008

    My question is why does anyone listen to BIll Maher’s opinion about anything?

    After all, it’s not like he has any education, training or experience in science, “Western” or “Eastern” medicine (except as a consumer).

    If anyone pays the least attention to his opinions about medicine, they might as well listen to my opinions about economics, global politics and gourmet cooking.

    As a drill sergeant once told me, “Opinions are like a**holes – everybody’s got one!”

    Not to toot my own horn (No! I am tooting my own horn!), but I cover part of this phenomenon in my latest ‘blog entry, “The Arrogance of Ignorance”

    (http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=140)

    Prometheus

  4. #4 Anon
    January 6, 2008

    I saw the interview–I did not think that Letterman bought into it, but was just being a host. He did not seem comfortable with what was being said, but also did not appear willing to confront a friend.

    Or I could be projecting.

  5. #5 Bad
    January 6, 2008

    I wrote an article on detox recently in which I compared the logic of detox to spending one day each year doing nothing other than picking your nose to get rid of all the toxic boogers that have built up in there. The more I hear about the subject, the more I think that may have been too kind.

  6. #6 Barn Owl
    January 6, 2008

    Maher’s rant reminds me of Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove. Obviously it’s not an isolated incident or clever parody…the guy has a bizarre confidence, for someone who is so woefully ignorant of basic biomedical science and evidence-based practice.

    If he were upset about “poisoning” Americans in the contexts of individuals who live near petrochemical plants along Cancer Alley, or who are exposed to high levels of pesticides in intensive agricultural areas, then I’d have some sympathy and interest. But Maher is just another irretrievably self-involved celebrity with an inflated opinion of his own abilities to observe objectively, and to think rationally.

  7. #7 Realist Rant
    January 6, 2008

    We realize that it is hard for people to give up old lifestyles, but just as our addiction to slavery was to our nation, our addiction to poisons(pharmaceutical drugs, antibiotic and hormone-laden milks and meats; pesticide-laden vegetables, etc.) is to our bodies and minds. We must let go of unhealthy and obsolete patterns.

    maher is just trying to make a point that we need to become aware of the toxins in our culture….(mind or body)because the FDA and our government are certainly not regulating safety for us and our children.

  8. #8 Anon in Dallas
    January 6, 2008

    I had the same impression as “Anon” above, that Letterman was uncomfortable with what Maher was saying about medicine but was trying to be polite.

    I very much enjoy Maher’s pointed commentary on religion and the Bush administration, and ignore his nutty ideas about medicine. There’s no such thing as a perferct person or perfect pundit.

  9. #9 Orac
    January 6, 2008

    maher is just trying to make a point that we need to become aware of the toxins in our culture….(mind or body)because the FDA and our government are certainly not regulating safety for us and our children.

    Wrong.

    Notice how he doesn’t mention a single concrete example of one of these “toxins.” Notice how he rants about them. Oh, no. Maher has totally bought into the “alternative medicine” crap about unnamed “toxins” as the cause of all disease.

    Re: Maher’s commentary on religion. I fully understand that it’s possible to be rational about some things and not others and that, indeed, most people are. However, there comes a point when the irrationality and idiocy is so over-the-top that it colors everything. Maher has reached and surpassed that point, and that’s without even mentioning his strong support of PETA.

  10. #10 Uncle Dave
    January 6, 2008

    Just another case of celebrity pretentious behavior. If your on television quite a bit and people (such as talk show hosts)ask you what you think or what you are doing all the time you begin to really believe that your opinion may actually be quite important, after all your being asked to appear on national television. More evidence to the mind numbing potential of that amazing box that sits in everyones family room.

    This kind of thing reminds me of that movie with Peter Sellers called “Being There”, Where the retarded gardener becomes a sought after national political advisor.

  11. #11 Barn Owl
    January 6, 2008

    If Maher’s wacky ideas about “toxins” and his support of alternative medicine arose from religious beliefs, particularly the Christian variety (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists), anything rational or positive he produced on unrelated topics would be dismissed summarily by many here. I don’t know any adherents of the JW faith; however, from both SDA and CS friends, I’ve heard wacky beliefs and ideas about nutrition and medicine that are strikingly similar to those that Maher spouts.

  12. #12 Ian B Gibson
    January 6, 2008

    This brings up an important point – just because someone is an atheist, it by no means implies that they’re rational. It’s perfectly possible to be an atheist for irrational reasons or for no reason at all.

    This is acknowledged far too infrequently by the current crop of prominent atheists, most of whom seem to incorrectly assume that most atheists have spent as much time as they have thinking about religion.

  13. #13 MBA / YOga Teacher
    January 6, 2008

    Is everyone on this blog over 80 and from the midwest? ORAC, toxins are mentioned in Rational Rant’s message (from which you quoted).
    Some toxins are “(pharmaceutical drugs, antibiotic and hormone-laden milks and meats; pesticide-laden vegetables, etc…).” That is what Maher is talking about, our food.

    I’m sure Maher just assumed that the audience knows what toxins are….

    Get out of your heads people and into your bodies.

  14. #14 E. Cunningham
    January 7, 2008

    Amen, MBA/Yoga dude. Methinks they doth protest too much. Do you all know anything about the science of obesity? Food addiction is powerful. So powerful that the people on this blog will never in their lifetime find out what it is, let alone admit that it exists. Americans eat more than any other people on earth. Let’s start there. Then we eat more things that are factory farmed, processed, and packaged than any other people on earth. Then we put that food on trucks that drive great distances and endure little to no regulation regarding refrigeration or distance or time travelled. Plain and simple, we are completely detached from our food sources, and have no idea what we’re putting into our bodies. Transfats in particular, are killers that most people have no knowledge of or desire to confront. This may shock the meat ‘n potato crowd assembled here, but the FDA is a joke. A close friend of mine does contract research for them, and their tolerance for things like ecoli and fecal matter in our food is shockingly high. Personally, I’m glad most of you disagree with Maher– healthy people are enlightened people, and we need more of them. You see, the food and drug lobby has, ironically, developed an excellent system for thinning out the herd. So, keep buying their crap.

  15. #15 HCN
    January 7, 2008

    For MBA / yoga person: What is the deal with being over 80?

    My dad is 80, and I am sure he has sucked in lots of toxins. When he was an MP (Military Police) he escorted trucks with fissionable material all around the American West (he was officially stationed in Hanford, WA). I think he absorbed a few more toxins that I have.

    I know I used to run after the spray truck in South Carolina. It went through the town every so often spraying a fog to kill mosquitos. Am I doomed?

  16. #16 Michael Ralston
    January 7, 2008

    Shockingly high … to WHO?

    I mean, I’m sure it’s shockingly high to the average person who hasn’t given any thought to the topic that ANY AT ALL is allowed.

    But of course you have to allow some – it’s impossible to keep it all out.

    So you get strict rules since they’re easier to enforce, and in practice they get set low enough that it isn’t a problem.

    I mean … seriously. Yeah, the food I eat has problems. But it’s not because of “toxins” or anything, it’s because I can’t cook, so I only eat prepared foods … which means I don’t get a balanced diet. I get more of some things and less of others than would be optimal … and worst of all, I live a sedentary lifestyle, because, well … I’m lazy.

    But it’s not “toxins”. The food I eat, individually, is perfectly fine. The problem is the amounts and combinations are suboptimal. One can be perfectly healthy and eat the same kind of food I do … if they mix it with other food and spread it out a bit more so that their bodies properly regulate hunger and they don’t wind up binging.

  17. #17 MBA / YOga Teacher
    January 7, 2008

    Nothing is wrong with being over 80, it is just that the comments made above seemed very “old school” and outdated.

    It has been documented that toxins to include insecticides and pesticides (neurotoxins), impairs brain function. And children are affected the most because they’re still developing. All slow the ability to think and judge situations properly. So, children have a harder time in school/academics, as well as, dealing with anger and anxiety.

    They are finding that over 90% of the men and women in prison were exposed to high-level toxins daily(to include household cleaners) at a very young age, which are also in our schools.

    You are never doomed, sounds like you’ve inherited great genes. Start eating organic or local produce when possible (it’s a bit more money, but you don’t need to eat big portions), work out daily and start going to a steam room or sauna to rid yourself of toxins (especially after a night out). You’ll have more energy. If you want, take up Yoga. If you are athletic, a Vinyasa or Ashtanga class will give you enough of a challenge. For a less intense session, Hatha classes are great. Try to get your Dad into a Yoga class — then he’ll be around until he’s way past 100 (my father is ex-Army Ranger – 3 tours in Vietnam and loves Yoga).

    We call it “therapy on a mat.”

  18. #18 natural cynic
    January 7, 2008

    Many of the poriblems with the FDA are political – lack of funding, lack of mandate, lack of personnel. This all goes to who is calling the shots, and it obviously isn’t the average FDA scientist who is overworked and has to live with compromises. Certainly not enough science has been done to identify the problematic chemicals, but assuming that they are there [an easy one to make], which chemicals are more benign and can still be accomidated in healthy regulations, and which ones should go?

    One of the more serious issues that has to be confronted is the cost of food. Healthy food is going to cost more – a lot more. The policy of the USDA emphasized from the time of Earl Butz has been producing the greatest amount of food for the cheapest price. A ‘large’ part of the obesity around us can be attributed to that policy. It is perceived that it is more economically efficient to have agriculture and food processing as it is. Any change is going to cost a lot of money at the grocery and necessitate a lot of retraining in the kitchen. Not something that is going to be ‘swallowed’ easily by the public and may only be feasible to do over a long period of time. The people that can best afford these changes now are people like Maher, but he probably hasn’t considered the economics of a heavily revised agriculture/nutrition system. There is a lot of inertia behind the crap that many ingest, so Maher should also be campaigning on how to economically introduce the changes he can rant about.

    Tfhe one thing that upset me the most was his advice to Letterman to “throw away your medicines”. I think that Letterman was taken aback by these comments, and rightfully so. The meds that a post-MI patient takes can certainly be toxic if used in the wrong way [duh], but they are life-prolonging when used correctly. And that’s a fact of EBM. Anybody that just throws out their statin and ACE inhibitor is a fool, and I think Letterman was thinking that when Maher was spouting off.

    As others have mentioned. Maher makes a lot of sense when he stays away from medicine.

  19. #19 DrFrank
    January 7, 2008

    Persdonally, I find it completely self-evident that the amount of toxins that we shovel into our systems are incredibly detrimental to our bodies.

    I mean, just compare our life expectancies today with those a few hundred years ago when everyone ate fresh farm-produced food and no access to drugs.

    Oh, wait.

    @Yoga Teacher – care to cite peer-reviewed studies to back up your assertions?

  20. #20 grinch
    January 7, 2008

    I mean, just compare our life expectancies today with those a few hundred years ago when everyone ate fresh farm-produced food and no access to drugs.

    Living longer, just not so tall ;-)

    Komlos, John & Lauderdale, Benjamin E.
    Underperformance in Affluence: The Remarkable Relative Decline in U.S. Heights in the Second Half of the 20th Century*.
    Social Science Quarterly 88 (2), 283-305.
    doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2007.00458.x

  21. #21 DrFrank
    January 7, 2008

    Thanks Grinch – what a strange result :)

    Their conclusion seems to be that height has declined due to inadequate healthcare provision – therefore, Americans should be guzzling down *more* pharmaceutical drugs to join we toxin-filled Europeans ;)

    Then again, the authors are probably just Shills for Big Pharma(tm).

  22. #22 Orac
    January 7, 2008

    Is everyone on this blog over 80 and from the midwest? ORAC, toxins are mentioned in Rational Rant’s message (from which you quoted).

    I second the complaint about your quite frankly idiotic remark about everyone being over 80 and add to it a complaint about the crack about the Midwest as well.

    As for “toxins,” please tell us: Which specific toxins? What is the peer-reviewed evidence supporting the role of all these toxins in common chronic diseases or that “detoxification” (as recommended by so many “alt-med” practitioners” does anything for these diseases. And explain how Maher’s recommendation to “throw out your medications” is a good idea for someone who’s undergone bypass surgery. Then put it all together with Maher’s antivaccination stance and his denial of germ theory in favor of “aggregate toxicity” as a cause of disease (discussed in the other links), and explain why I should consider Maher as anything other than a know-nothing blowhard when it comes to medicine and health.

  23. #23 J. J. Ramsey
    January 7, 2008

    To be fair, I wonder if he is still into the antivaccination junk, since he did endorse the HPV vaccine in a New Rules segment from March 2, 2007.

  24. #24 HCN
    January 7, 2008

    MBA / YOga teacher said “They are finding that over 90% of the men and women in prison were exposed to high-level toxins daily(to include household cleaners) at a very young age, which are also in our schools. ”

    Who is “they”, and where did “they” reveal this information?

    Also, what evidence do you have that yoga would provide me better exercise than the 2000 yards I swim two to three times a week?

  25. #25 Marcus Ranum
    January 7, 2008

    Orac writes:
    As for “toxins,” please tell us: Which specific toxins?

    You know, like the “pesticide-laden vegetables” that “Yoga Teacher” referred to. Of course he didn’t clarify whether those were the spray-on “toxins” or the naturally-occurring “toxins” created by the plants themselves. Wootards don’t seem to realize that “organic” (aren’t they all?) mushrooms are figuratively dripping with antifungals and antibacterials and broccoli (to choose another favorite example) produces its own insecticide – as does corn, peas, etc. Or maybe he was referring to many of the bacterial “toxins” …

    …but more likely he was just talking out his ass. I hear that you can do that if you practice enough yoga.

  26. #26 Freddy the Pig
    January 7, 2008

    But, E Coli and fecal matter are natural :) – and probably as common or even more common in organic foods.

    In the Celibrities and Vaccines , Prometheus provided some stats comparing lifespans and healthy lifespans which showed Canada having a 3 year edge on the US and Sweden even greater edge. This would tend to suport DrFrank’s comments regarding inadequate health care provision. Maher is boudn and determined to increase this discrepancy by encouraging Americans who can afford “Wesetern” medicine to forego it voluntarily.

  27. #27 Uncle Dave
    January 7, 2008

    “MBA / YOga teacher said “They are finding that over 90% of the men and women in prison were exposed to high-level toxins daily(to include household cleaners) at a very young age, which are also in our schools. ”

    HCN replied;
    Who is “they”, and where did “they” reveal this information?

    Lets not forget some of the standard Prison hygiene practices as well; including self administered tatoo’s using shoe polish and other items with dirty improvised needles and such. Give me a break.

  28. #28 Uncle Dave
    January 7, 2008

    “MBA / YOga teacher said “They are finding that over 90% of the men and women in prison were exposed to high-level toxins daily(to include household cleaners) at a very young age, which are also in our schools. ”

    HCN replied;
    Who is “they”, and where did “they” reveal this information?

    Exposed ot high level toxins???
    Lets not forget some of the standard inmate Prison hygiene practices as well; including self administered tatoo’s using substances for ink of unkown origin and other items with dirty improvised needles and such. Give me a break. Prison; Theres a great data source for healthful living.

  29. #29 Leni
    January 7, 2008

    That is unforgivably stupid, and I think it does color everything he says in a way that it doesn’t for Harris. (Which is too bad, because his rants on religion have been damn funny)

    I disagree with Harris, but his arguments for torture are at least rational and reasonable, as far as I remember. I don’t think it makes him look like a crank or an idiot in the same the way Maher does when he endorses psuedoscience and crackpottery.

  30. #30 Uncle Dave
    January 7, 2008

    YOga teacher wrote;
    Start eating organic or local produce when possible (it’s a bit more money, but you don’t need to eat big portions), work out daily and start going to a steam room or sauna to rid yourself of toxins (especially after a night out). You’ll have more energy.

    work out daily:
    no big miracle found here, good general advice regardless.

    “but you don’t need to eat big portions”:
    again sound advice for anyone, but nothing new.

    “Start eating organic or local produce when possible”
    Oh please! Its nice to get fresh vegetables when they are in season (tomato’s in particular) because you can taste the difference in quality, but for gods sake are you sitting in your Yoga position as your writing this ?

    Eat in moderation, eat the right foods (meat, fish, vegies etc.) and of course excercise. This is western advice and when done on a regular basis improves things for most people, but enough with toxin voodoo.

    Your more likely to get an immediate E. coli and potential death sentence from fresh local vegies not properly washed or fruit juices not pastuerized (organic) than any health issues from mystery toxins.

  31. #31 Barn Owl
    January 7, 2008

    Food addiction is powerful. So powerful that the people on this blog will never in their lifetime find out what it is, let alone admit that it exists.

    For both E. Cunningham and MBA/ YOga Teacher:

    Omniscient, are you? There’s a lot of that on teh interwebz, I’ve noticed.

    FWIW, I’m not obese (not even overweight), and I swim 2-3 miles, walk/jog 7-10 miles, ride my horses at least once, and take two intermediate-level Iyengar yoga classes, every week. I don’t eat much processed food (prepare most meals from scratch), and I eat predominantly vegetarian, organic, and seasonal foods. By most reasonable (and even wingnut) standards, I don’t put “toxins” in my body (I occasionally take loratidine for allergies, and ibuprofen for pain). Yet if I were diagnosed tomorrow with something nasty like breast cancer, or glioblastoma multiforme, I would certainly not rely on any of those healthy lifestyle practices to cure me. Although the Iyengar yoga has undeniably improved my posture, balance, and stamina for standing, it’s done diddly-asana for my cedar allergies and endometriosis. Yoga is definitely beneficial, but don’t expect everyone to buy into the chakra and coiled serpent energy woo. And I know a couple of people who might require orthopedic surgery because of overzealous and unwise Ashtanga practice….

  32. #32 Calli Arcale
    January 7, 2008

    Your more likely to get an immediate E. coli and potential death sentence from fresh local vegies not properly washed or fruit juices not pastuerized (organic) than any health issues from mystery toxins.

    Obligatory nitpick: “organic” does not mean “unpasteurized”. It doesn’t even mean “unprocessed”, really. And as far as E. coli goes, organic foods are generally just as safe (or hazardous) as the regular kind. In fact, there’s rarely much difference at all.

  33. #33 jre
    January 7, 2008

    I have come sadly to the conclusion that this gulf is too deep and too wide for either party to cross, even with the best will in the world.
    When someone uses the word “toxins” in a way so vague and untestable that “evil spirits” could be substituted without loss of meaning, I tend to look on that person as lacking in critical thinking skills.
    To RR, EC, MBAYOT and others, that reaction is sure to seem condescending at best, but I can’t help it. I just don’t know how to act respectfully toward a style of thought that, in my view, does not deserve respect.
    And I don’t doubt that they feel something analogous about me, tool of the rational establishment that I am.
    I just don’t see any way to bridge this one.

  34. #34 Prometheus
    January 7, 2008

    MBA / Yoga teacher said:

    “They are finding that over 90% of the men and women in prison were exposed to high-level toxins daily (to include household cleaners) at a very young age, which are also in our schools.”

    And the percentage of people in the general (i.e. non-prison population) who were “…exposed to high-level toxins daily…”? Probably also over 90%.

    A botanist a floor below me has done some fascinating work with psoralen (plant-made mutagens and potential carcinogens) levels in “organic” vs “non-organic” vegetables. He’s found that the levels in “organic” produce is often many times that seen in produce that was sprayed with “toxins” to keep off the insects.

    Seriously, the best way to avoid “toxins” is to eat only meat, since plants are notorious for making toxic compounds to keep from getting eaten.

    It’s a toxic world out there, people, and the only way to avoid eating toxins is to stop eating. Even if you go all the way back to the hunter-gatherer life-style, you’re still ingesting plant, fungal and bacterial (and maybe even archaeal) toxins. Not to mention the mercury, arsenic and antimony that is released from fumaroles, geysers and volcanoes.

    And before somebody tears up another straw pile (to make a straw man, of course), I’m not claiming that we should all be seasoning our salads with mercury or weed-killer. But how about at least naming the “toxins” before claiming that they are “killing us”?

    I’m with JRE on this – using the word “toxins” the same way that our distant ancestors would have used “evil spirits” is not going to get you any traction with rational folk.

    Prometheus

  35. #35 Uncle Dave
    January 7, 2008

    Calli arcale wrote;
    “Obligatory nitpick: “organic” does not mean “unpasteurized”

    I was only refering to the common source of E. Coli being unpasturized fruit juices (juices not exposed ot 250F pasturization process).

    My main point is that you are at risk of coming down with E.Coli with any type of veggie or fruit if precautions are not followed.

  36. #36 Sastra
    January 7, 2008

    This brings up an important point – just because someone is an atheist, it by no means implies that they’re rational. It’s perfectly possible to be an atheist for irrational reasons or for no reason at all.

    Over the past several years I’ve enjoyed going to a bunch of different conventions around the country: atheist, secular humanist, and skeptic. There’s a lot of overlap in subjects, speakers, and attendees, and very little if any religion or theistic belief. But I think every atheist convention I’ve been to, I end up talking to someone who is into something nobody at the secular humanist or skeptic conventions would be into. Alternative medicine, psychic powers, UFO’s, 9-11 conspiracy — or something of the sort. It’s one of the few distinctions I’ve noticed between the three interconnected groups.

    The difference? Method, method, method. Secular humanists are nontheistic skeptics (I use the word “skeptic” in the modern cultural sense) heavily oriented towards science and reason as methods, and are well up on current understanding. The skeptics will have less philosophy and a few Deists and liberal theology types, but otherwise the groups are pretty similar.

    Atheists are a more mixed crowd, and contain some “think for yourself” ideologues who apparently can’t tell fringe science from the real thing. Their reasons for being atheist also seem to run more of a gamut. Maher doesn’t surprise me a bit.

  37. #37 Barn Owl
    January 7, 2008

    *channels Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”*

    REG:
    Right. You’re in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the f***ing Judean People’s Front.
    P.F.J.:
    Yeah…
    JUDITH:
    Splitters.
    P.F.J.:
    Splitters…
    FRANCIS:
    And the Judean Popular People’s Front.
    P.F.J.:
    Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters…
    LORETTA:
    And the People’s Front of Judea.
    P.F.J.:
    Yeah. Splitters. Splitters…
    REG:
    What?
    LORETTA:
    The People’s Front of Judea. Splitters.
    REG:
    We’re the People’s Front of Judea!
    LORETTA:
    Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.

  38. #38 Uncle Dave
    January 7, 2008

    Barn Owl

    Laughing out loud right now!!!!

    What’s the Point Reg!!!!

  39. #39 Skwee
    January 8, 2008

    @Eric Wallace:

    That’s the beauty of it. You can disagree with Maher and Hitchens and Harris and they won’t tell you that you are hellbound because of it. I personally differ in at least one opinion from every prominent atheist.

    http://jesusandmo.net/2006/10/11/park/

  40. #40 Rene
    January 8, 2008

    I think you are missing the point about Maher. While I like him, I don’t expect perfect rationalism from him — He’s a comedian! Neither do I expect him to be accurate on all subjects.

    While I understand the perspective that what he said is not “factually correct”, the broader point that we have a medical system with far too much influence from the drug industry is not entirely false.

    Exaggerated: Absolutely. But their is some nugget of truth in there.

  41. #41 Barn Owl
    January 9, 2008

    I don’t think I’m “missing the point about Maher” at all. Orac provided several detailed examples of Maher’s irrationality and stupidity about evidence-based medicine. Not every rational person is willing to ignore or compartmentalize idiotic beliefs and potentially harmful rhetoric from a celebrity, just because that celebrity happens to support a cherished philosophy in some other area. Reclassifying Maher’s freethinker philosophies as the Bloggorhean Atheist’s Front, in contrast to the Atheist’s Front of Bloggorhea, changes nothing. Maher’s atheism doesn’t change the fact that he’s a wootard celebrity with a bully unpulpit on alternative medicine, just as Hitchens’ atheism doesn’t change the fact that he’s a bigoted warmonger.

  42. #42 Freddy the Pig
    January 9, 2008

    Maher’s idiocy isn’t just harmless eccentricty – it can kill. Telling someone to go off of their medications when you are utterly clueless about biology, medicine and science in generaly is potentially homicidal as well as utterly arrogant.