Respectful Insolence

I’ve asked at least three times on this blog, “Is Bill Maher that ignorant?”

The first time was four and a half years ago, when, in a fit of germ theory denialism, Maher proclaimed erroneously that Louis Pasteur had “recanted” on his deathbed, while spewing nonsense hither and yon about how disease isn’t primarily caused by microbes but by “aggregate toxicity,” whatever that means in woo-speak. The second time I asked the question occurred in 2008, when Maher lectured David Letterman about “toxins” and and suggested that he consider giving up his heart drugs and pursue “natural” therapies. The third, and perhaps most hilarious, time came when Maher proclaimed that he never gets the flu and wouldn’t get the flu on an airplane, leading his guest Bob Costas to exclaim in exasperation, “Oh, come on, Superman!”

Bob Costas won my respect that day. My favorite part was when Maher looked at his guests and observed, “You all look at me as though I’m crazy.”

Why, yes, Bill, we do.

In between it all, I’ve taken the odd pot shot at Maher for his sympathy to HIV/AIDS denialism and his general anti-vaccine idiocy. More recently, I’ve complained about Maher’s being awarded the Richard Dawkins Award by the Atheist Alliance International (AAI), likening (quite correctly, in my not-so-humble opinion) giving Bill Maher an award that lists “advocates increased scientific knowledge” anywhere in its criteria, not to mention being named after Richard Dawkins, to giving Jenny McCarthy an award for public health and pointed out that Maher is anti-science to the core, at least when it comes to medical science. Along the way, I’ve ruffled the feathers of some of Maher’s fans.

I regret nothing.

Not only do I regret nothing, but now, a mere two weeks before the AAI Convention, Maher has provided me with more ammunition. In fact, this is probably the most blatant bit of crankery I’ve seen from Maher in a long time. Watch and learn. The “alternative medicine” nuttery begins at around the 0:50 mark:

Laetrile? Truly, the stupid, it burns!

The segment above comes from something called Overtime With Bill Maher. Basically, it’s a segment in which the audience submits questions, a few of which Maher and crew pick to respond to on the web after Real Time with Bill Maher airs. This particular edition aired last Friday, and in it Maher makes several nonsensical and obviously erroneous claims.

It begins with a question from an audience member: “Will the implication of universal health care help or hinder alternative medicine?” You know that’s just like holding a piece of bloody, dripping meat in front of a pit bull that hasn’t eaten in two days, and Bill goes after it just like the pit bull would tear into a piece of meat–and with just as much grace. Well, Bill doesn’t do it immediately. Rather, he does it after his guest, Jeffrey Toobin, paraphrases one of my favorite sayings by pointing out that “medicine is medicine,” continuing, “If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

To which Bill hops in ranting, “That’s not how this country works.”

Don’t I know it, Bill! Quackademic medicine is infiltrating medical academia at every level. How this country works these days is to accept pseudoscience and quackery as being on par with scientific medicine. How this country works is for woo-friendly legislators like Senator Tom Harkin to force pseudoscience upon the NIH and to slip provisions in one of the Senate versions of health care reform legislation declaring “alternative” medicine practitioners to be considered legitimate health care practitioners.

None of this keeps Maher from proclaiming that “alternative medicine often is illegal in this country.” As if that would be such a bad thing. Personally, I’d say right to Maher’s face that it’s a good thing to protect patients from charlatans who claim to be able to cure terminal cancer, like Hulda Clark or Nicholas Gonzalez, every bit as good as Bill thinks it would be to protect the public from large pharmaceutical companies. In fact, I’d tell Maher that, in my not-so-humble opinion, the problem with this country is not that “alternative medicine” often is illegal, but rather that the most egregious examples of quackery are not illegal often enough and that quacks all too frequently quite literally get away with murder.

Maher then goes on to say that you can go to jail for “so much as suggesting any alternative treatment for cancer.” Bullshit, Bill. I bet Bill can’t name a single person who has ever been sent to jail for “suggesting any alternative treatment for cancer.” (Not even Kevin Trudeau, although he did go to jail for credit card fraud years before he discovered “alternative medicine.”) But Maher can go on to rant about how Toobin supposedly doesn’t “understand how much the pharmaceutical companies have their tentacles wrapped around the government in this country.”

Toobin then (weakly) challenges Maher by asking, “For selling people Laetrile?”

Maher responds that he “doesn’t know whether Laetrile works,” but that he knows that “the shit we’ve tried for the last 50 years doesn’t. I know they’ve made no progress as far as cancer in this country. So, yes, there are people who actually go out of this country when they get cancer. Some of them come back alive after a death sentence. But in this country you can’t talk about that. I might get arrested right now.”

Bullshit, again, Bill. No one’s going to throw you in jail for spouting your ignorant nonsense. I would, however, love to know who these patients are who went out of the country for “alternative” medicine and survived? Coretta Scott King? Farrah Fawcett? Michael Landon? Steve McQueen (who, by the way, used Laetrile, among all sorts of other “alternative” or “unconventional treatments”)? Really, Bill, who are these survivors who were given death sentences and then remarkably cured at foreign clinics? Inquiring minds want to know!

Also, we do know that Laetrile doesn’t work. The studies were done well over 20 years ago and were resoundingly negative. The NCI states that Laetrile doesn’t work against cancer, and patients can suffer complications of cyanide toxicity from it. If you “don’t know” whether laetrile works or not, it’s because you’ve drunk the Kool Aid.

Bill’s other problem is a common one. Like all too many people, he appears to view cancer as one disease. It’s not. In some cancers, we’ve made enormous progress in the last 50 years. For instance, most leukemias and lymphomas were death sentences 50 years ago. Now many of them are highly treatable and even curable. Lest you think that I’m cherry picking the easy, another example is colorectal cancer. For patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, for example, the time of survival and quality of life can both be significantly improved by the new generation of chemotherapeutic, antiangiogenic, and targeted therapies, as The Cheerful Oncologist pointed out two years ago. In fact, I liked The Cheerful Oncologist’s posts so much that I’m going to steal the graph that he stole from this article to drive the point home:

i-a4ae03086c45e87e57b462fec4bd36c1-crcsurvival.gif

As one can see, the survival for untreated metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is in the range of 4-6 months. Older adjuvant chemotherapy regimens could result in median survivals of approximately 12 months. Over the last decade or so, recently developed chemotherapy regimens have pushed the median survival to nearly two years. In fact, my best friend’s father is evidence of that. He has metastatic colorectal cancer but has been doing well for quite a while now. He even still plays golf regularly. He knows that sooner or later his cancer will claim him, but in the meantime he’s enjoying his life for as long as possible, which is all that any of us can really do. As the authors conclude:

FU has been the cornerstone of treatment for mCRC for over 40 years. In the past few years, the introduction of more effective chemotherapeutic agents and targeted agents with their promising activities and mild toxicity profiles has pushed the overall median survival time from 12 months to 2 years. However, as discussed, there are still many challenges facing oncologists. Research is ongoing to understand these issues, and significant advances are expected through the implementation of well-designed clinical trials and continued preclinical investigation.

Moreover, if you look at the SEER Database, you will see a much different story. For all cancers, five year survival has improved from 50.2% in 1975 to 68.2% in 2001, and 10-year survival has increased from 44.5% in 1975 to 60% in 1996. Moreover, it’s not just quantity of life but quality of life. For instance, thirty or forty years ago, women underwent either radical or modified radical mastectomy for breast cancer. These days, maybe 25% still require mastectomy and virtually none of them require radical mastectomy. (Indeed, I’ve never even seen a radical mastectomy, and I began my surgical residency in the late 1980s.) That’s because surgeons, as part of multidisciplinary teams including medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, figured out that it’s usually not necessary to do a mastectomy to treat breast cancer. The same survival rates can be obtained with less invasive surgery. The same is true in other areas, such as the aforementioned colorectal surgery, where more and more colon operations are being done using minimally invasive methods.

It was science that accomplished this. Not the outrageous quackery that Bill Maher promotes. Science. Bill Maher doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. As usual. True, we have definitely not made as much progress as we would desire, and there are still a depressing number of cancers for which we don’t do much, if any better, than a couple of decades ago, but overall there has been slow progress. It remains incredibly hard to have to tell so many cancer patients that we cannot cure them, but that there remain a number of patients with cancer that we can’t cure doesn’t mean we’ve made “no progress.”

That doesn’t stop Maher from parroting the usual alt-med nonsense about “wholistic” medicine as opposed to drugging people with the evil products of the even more evil big pharma, after which he finiishes with his usual rant about Western medicine, in which he claims that the reason “people are so sick” is because “Western medicine…only treats symptoms. That’s how they keep the scam going. If you only treat symptoms, of course people are always going to be sick. Yes, Nasonex will stop you from sniffling. It will shove the mucus right down your throat.”

I wish someone would shove the utter nonsense that Bill Maher spews on such a regular basis back down his throat.

I know some of my readers will think I’m beating a dead horse over this. I also know that I haven’t exactly endeared myself to AAI members by constantly harping on just how idiotic it was to have chosen Maher for any award that has the word “science” anywhere in its criteria. It wouldn’t have mattered on iota to me if the AAI had chosen to give Maher a “best atheist movie” award or some sort of activism award. But it didn’t. It chose to give Maher and award, one of the criteria of which involves advocating “increased scientific knowledge,” and that irritated the crap out of me. I even realize that my expressing just how disappointed I was in Richard Dawkins’ nonchalant, “he’s anti-religion, so who gives a rat’s ass about his views on alt-med?” reaction to criticism of the selection doesn’t endear me to Dawkins’ fans.

I don’t care. His “shruggie” attitude towards someone who should have been featured in the second part of Dawkin’s documentary, The Enemies of Reason, as one of the woo-meisters he skewered demands his being called out.

In fact, I’m going to put into operation earlier than I had previously intended something I had planned on doing ever since I found out that Maher was going to be given the Richard Dawkins Award. My original intent was to posted a request a few days before the AAI Convention. What would this request be? I was planning on requesting from my readers suggestions for questions to ask both Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins at the AAI about Bill Maher’s beliefs in quackery and woo. I will repeat the request in one week. Then, the day before the AAI conference begins, I will post a list of these questions, assuming I have a sufficient number of good ones. Yeah, I’m trying to make trouble, and I don’t apologize for it. In fact, I’m just doing what PZ suggested, and helping to give those of you who are disgusted with Maher as I am ammunition to help put him in the hot seat.

Attendees of the AAI conference, feel free to use them. Put Bill Maher on the spot. Put Richard Dawkins on the spot.

Reason, rationality, and science demand it.

Comments

  1. #1 Jeff Read
    September 21, 2009

    Maher proclaimed erroneously that Louis Pasteur had “recanted” on his deathbed, while spewing nonsense hither and yon about how disease isn’t primarily caused by microbes but by “aggregate toxicity,” whatever that means in woo-speak

    Roughly it means this: Modern Science, in its arrogance and hubris, has only managed to poison and despoil the earth, dumping its toxic wastes into our rivers, streams, and atmosphere. The food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe are therefore loaded with toxic chemicals. Our bodies, having infinite and ancient wisdom in and of themselves separate from our minds, know these things are bad for us but the quantities of toxins our noxious civilization has produced are too much for them to get rid of, so they sequester them away in our bones, joints, and fatty tissues. Nevertheless, their continued presence there weakens our immune system, and subjects us to disease against which we would otherwise be perfectly invulnerable (since, again, Great Nature has imbued our immune systems with unerring divine wisdom).

    Something like that. There are many variations of the narrative, most of which are nonsense. It appears to be a sort of generalization of heavy-metal poisoning into a general theory of disease, with a heavy dash of other woo flavors. Which explains a lot about the putative vaccine-autism link.

  2. #2 Andyo
    September 21, 2009

    I was wondering if you’d comment on this one.

    That was not David Cross, BTW, it was another guest, the journalist. David Cross is Tobias Fünke.

  3. #3 Orac
    September 21, 2009

    You’re right. It’s actually Jeffrey Toobin of CNN. I corrected it.

  4. #4 Pablo
    September 21, 2009

    There are no sacred cows, Orac. Put Dawkins on the spot.

  5. #5 Janet Camp
    September 21, 2009

    Maher is just another example of a very disturbing aspect of the woo trend: Intelligent, well-educated people get little or no science training, even in college. What they do get, makes no impression on them. The hard-wiring (apparently) for “belief” easily overrides whatever they had to regurgitate in the two or so science courses they had to take.

    There’s a Dr. Hyman on HuffPo who does “functional medicine”–whatever that is? He had a column last week about cholesterol not being the cause of heart disease which is to be followed next week by his “advice” for the real “cure”. It’s not as far out as most of what you write about, but it’s not standard practice either. The point is, the comments that followed were nothing short of lunacy! People were crediting “recoveries” from all sorts of ailments to all sorts of woo and spouting these “theories” as if they really were doctors or in possession of superior intellect. I was the only one posting rebuttals that I’m pretty sure fell on deaf ears.

  6. #6 momkat
    September 21, 2009

    I would love for someone to come to the dance armed with verified numbers, diagrams and graphs of the amount of money spent on “nautural cures”. That’s all out-of-pocket, non-insurance covered, sweat-of-the-brow hard-earned money that is pissed away into the pockets of “Big Alt-Med”. I’m thinking the alties would be flabbergasted at just how big “Big Alt-Med” is.

  7. #7 Jeff Read
    September 21, 2009

    There’s a Dr. Hyman on HuffPo who does “functional medicine”–whatever that is?

    The treatments are guaranteed not to have side effects. :)

    (That is a computer science joke…)

  8. #8 Colleen
    September 21, 2009

    You should go on the Maher show.

  9. #9 Vindaloo
    September 21, 2009

    Plenty of apprehension and dead air from the guests during his rant. I wonder if it was worse actually being there.

  10. #10 Alison Cummins
    September 21, 2009

    Ok, so “they’ve made no progress as far as cancer in this country” and “toxins” are so vague as to be entirely compatible with woo. And Bill Maher does in fact match these statements with woo. Fine.

    But strictly speaking, they aren’t entirely wrong. In medicine, “cancer prevention” very often means secondary prevention: Pap smears, colonoscopy and BSE. All good things. (Well, maybe not BSE.) But ordinary people very sensibly want to know what they can do to make sure these tests come up negative. From a layperson’s perspective, anyone calling early detection “prevention” is not even wrong. (Note that in both popular literature and the medical articles I used to read, the modifier “secondary” is typically dropped: presumably too difficult to explain/ beside the point in the first case and implicit in the second.) Of course laypeople are disgusted. They are missing the full picture, but they are not nuts or stupid or even completely wrong.

    Still within medicine, primary prevention does in fact emphasize “toxins,” specifically cigarette smoking. Laypeople may be forgiven for thinking that there may be more to it than that: that cigarettes are very, very low-hanging fruit, a target so easy as to be cheating. Oh, ok, we have another one: lead. It’s not good for kids to live in old houses with lead paint or for them to live near highways and breathe fumes from leaded gasoline. (Maybe lead isn’t carcinogenic, but medicine does recognize it as a toxin with a health impact.)

    So… aren’t there more? You don’t have to be paranoid to think there might be, and patronizing people who think there are is missing the point.

    (And no, I don’t think that just because toxins cause lung cancer that coffee enemas will cure it. Just… laypeople really do share some of the basic concepts of medicine and should get credit for that even if they don’t have the knowledge to understand which details are relevant.)

  11. #11 Blake Stacey
    September 21, 2009

    Orac sez:

    It wouldn’t have mattered on iota to me if the AAI had chosen to give Maher a “best atheist movie” award or some sort of activism award. But it didn’t. It chose to give Maher and award, one of the criteria of which involves advocating “increased scientific knowledge,” and that irritated the crap out of me.

    And rightly so.

    I think that “book of the year” and “best atheist movie” awards would be a great idea, just on general principles, never mind Maher’s insane quackery. They’d be fun, they’d provoke interesting discussions, and they might provide a marketing boost to the works being honoured. Everybody would win.

    Yeah, I’m trying to make trouble, and I don’t apologize for it.

    You don’t need to.

  12. #12 selfification
    September 21, 2009

    @7

    Well… In that case, I guess I’m waiting for monadic medicine to show up. The only problem is all its practitioners will be lazy and nobody will use (or even hear of) the eager ones.

  13. #13 Denice Walter
    September 21, 2009

    Question to Maher: Where are all of these people who were cured by alternatives to EBM/SBM? Why aren’t they all clamoring up to congressional hearings with proof of their *cures*? (re Maher to Letterman: truth be told,my father was treated for heart disease for many years and lived well for most of them. I remember a few woo-sympathizers telling me to “get him off those meds”,”try a natural approach”,.Why,so he could be naturally dead?)

  14. #14 Pareidolius
    September 21, 2009

    The reason I visit R/I and Pharyngula daily is because this old dog needs constant reinforcement of his newfound powers of critical thinking (okay, I like the attitude too). I was once like Maher, all outraged at Teh eeeevil Big Farmer and Toxins. I’m a smart professional with a good education, but my critical thinking skills were weak and those I did possess were often overridden by fear.

    Well, as Mary Queen of Scotts once said, “I got better”, but the old neural pathways that lead to my mind’s logical fallacies have deep ruts in them and I still find my wheels sliding into them from time to time. Thanks for challenging my brain with a daily dose of insolence and thanks to your readers (I’m talkin’ to you Allison) for offering up many thoughtful posts. Walking in the light of reason is so much better than crawling in the darkness of ignorance.

  15. #15 T. Bruce McNeely
    September 21, 2009

    Alison:
    I can’t speak for primary-care physicians any more, but I have some thoughts based on my past experience and present knowledge. The most effective ways of preventing cancer are the same as those for good general health: don’t smoke, take it very easy with alcohol, get exercise, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Not sexy, but effective.

  16. #16 T. Bruce McNeely
    September 21, 2009

    Ooops, another thing. You specifically asked about cervical cancer. Prevention = safe sex. Abstinence or condoms. Definitely not sexy!

    And Orac, I congratulate you on continuing the Respectful Insolence directed at Maher, Dawkins and the AAI. I hope I can come up with a few contributions for the question pile. Again, thank you for not letting up.

  17. #17 Todd W.
    September 21, 2009

    Question(s) for Maher: How much money do the promoters/makers of “alternative” treatments put into research and development? How much money is spent on the preclinical and clinical research to show safety and efficacy? What percentage of each dollar made from the “alternative” treatments represents scientific research?

  18. #18 Alison Cummins
    September 21, 2009

    T. Bruce McNeely:

    Yes.

    But when you put it that way, it sounds patronizing. “No honey, don’t worry your little head about toxins. Just eat your vegetables and you’ll be fine.”

    It also sounds as if all those years and years of scientific research have turned up exactly nothing if all doctors can come up with is “eat your vegetables,” which is not exactly new. It sounds suspiciously as though there must be something we aren’t being told because we aren’t considered smart enough to understand.

    A little more explanation is great: a diet high in fruits and vegetables, after years and years of intense scientific research, has turned out to be the best for preventing cancer; it’s just that now we can explain why in more detail, and after all the research there’s nothing that we’ve been able to prove is better in pill form — and it’s not for lack of trying.

    It’s also a good way to reduce toxin exposure (eating low fat, low on the food chain) through food.

    Cigarette smoke is the biggest toxin most of us will ever be exposed to, so once that’s dealt with you’re way ahead of the game.

    A little bit of background can go a long way — partly because it makes clear that medicine and the layperson are both concerned about primary prevention and both acknowledge the role of toxins.

    When the end result (same old same old high-level recommendations) is presented without the background — and then charges of irrationality are levelled at laypeople who have the same qustions scientists have — um, it’s not fair.

  19. #19 Tom Jackson
    September 21, 2009

    Perhaps we should consider a different prospective, an inquiry that we are not having that Bill Maher unwittingly presents. Although significant progress has been made in cancer treatment, as the author points out, it is suggestive of his own hubris. Cancer treatment is inherently alternative; ongoing clinical trails indicate its experimental nature. Why, then, would he discredit alternative treatments elsewhere. For some, they are the only alternative treatments available, where progress isn’t being made, for instance, in this country. Furthermore, to invoke the stature of celebrity as the metric for success or failure, trivializes the sacrifice that cancer patients throughout the world have made; understanding that their efforts would be to improve only the possibility of success for others in the future, not now. Finally, shouldn’t consideration of alternative medicine relate to the question of preventative care,i.e.; that by simply promoting alternative diet and excercise, we would reduce the need for “conventional” treatment. Perhaps not inevitably, but certainly, an alternative.

  20. #20 Calli Arcale
    September 21, 2009

    @7:

    here’s a Dr. Hyman on HuffPo who does “functional medicine”–whatever that is?

    The treatments are guaranteed not to have side effects. :)

    (That is a computer science joke…)

    But what’s the return value? ;-)

  21. #21 aratina cage
    September 21, 2009

    This is bad, really bad. You could feel the audience gasp as Maher began advocating quackery. The problem with the healthcare system in the U.S. is not the medicine, it is access to the system for underprivileged people. I do share with Maher a vehement distrust of megacorporations and their unethical business practices that focus too heavily on the bottom line and lobbying, but that doesn’t mean woo-medicine is valid.

    We see Maher’s kind of wrongheaded thinking all the time when a Christian asserts that since evolutionary science has had its share of hoaxes and abuses (like Social Darwinism), Goddidit. The worst part about Maher’s rant is how they all nod in agreement with his loonery because he is the host and they are too nice to cut him down and put up with his passive-aggressive pouting. (I’ve seen him put on the long-face many times, he even did it in Religulous, and it is annoying.)

  22. #22 Kausik Datta
    September 21, 2009

    @Tom Jackson:

    Cancer treatment is inherently alternative; ongoing clinical trails indicate its experimental nature.

    Very hand-wavy kind of comment there! The experimental nature of cancer treatment hardly makes it ‘alternative’ (in the established sense), because cancer treatments – as well as most clinical trials for the said treatments – are evidence-based, with solid science behind them.

    Note that I say ‘most’, because I – to our collective shame – cannot any more say ‘all’ after this travesty of clinical trial perpetrated by Nick Gonzalez and his ‘treatment’.

    Alternative diet and exercise are all very fine as possible preventative measures against cancer. Do remember that ‘cancer’ is a very broad term encompassing malignancies of various kinds and descriptions. However, once one gets cancer, such ‘alternatives’ are going to do precisely nothing to it. One needs proper medication, i.e. drugs that actively target cancer cells and kill them, as well as procedures, such as surgery, as and when needed. Nutritional supplements and ‘coffee enemas’ (yuck!) are going to do diddly-squat, and, as Orac has already pointed out, are indeed far worse than chemotherapy.

  23. #23 Adam Atlas
    September 21, 2009

    It wouldn’t have mattered on iota to me if the AAI had chosen to give Maher a “best atheist movie” award or some sort of activism award.

    Even that would be less than satisfactory. Religulous wasn’t an “atheist movie”, but an anti-religion movie, as Maher himself has said that he does not call himself an atheist; if I remember correctly, he’s more the “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” type. I’m not saying we should shun anyone who doesn’t use our preferred label, but I am saying that we shouldn’t reward someone whose worldview leads him to have a beef with “organized religion” but not religious/spiritual/supernaturalist thinking in general, which doesn’t seem to make much more sense than objecting to organized crime but not crime in general.

    I’ll admit that I actually enjoyed Religulous, but on reflection, it’s basically mental masturbation for people who already agree with his conclusions. There’s no substantive reasoning in it; I doubt that anybody is going to become an atheist after watching it. That’s why I wouldn’t even give it a “‘best atheist movie’ award” or an “activism award”. We’ll lead more people to atheism by advancing a naturalistic, scientific worldview; when people understand that science is the only reliable Way Of Knowing about the universe, atheism (or something acceptably close to it) will follow naturally. Mockery is fun, but it’s not activism.

  24. #24 Seer
    September 21, 2009

    Question for Bill:

    We know that cig smoke causes lung cancer. What are the “toxins” you are talking about, specifically, that are causing the cancers you think can be cured by CAM. Also, where do the toxins go when you “detox” yourself? If we capture the coffee plus crap that comes out, will we find these toxins?

  25. #25 Pablo
    September 21, 2009

    I’m trying to figure out, who ever came up with the idea that squirting coffee up your wazzoo was in any way a good idea? Moreover, was able to convince apparently millions of people that it is a good idea?

    I don’t care whether you think “Big Pharma” is evil or not, the concept of hooking a Mr Coffee up to your keester has to be something to that would cause a few questions, wouldn’t it?

    Coffee, of all things? Why not tea? Why not milk? Why not lemonade? Grape juice? Carrot juice? Beer? Wine? The possibilities are endless, and somehow we come up with a coffee enema?

  26. #26 Pablo
    September 21, 2009

    And to continue on my last theme, if coffee enemas are so great, why haven’t the Evil Reductionist Scientists working for Big Pharma analyzed it and isolated the active ingrediant and made it into an enema solution? It would absolutely be patentable.

  27. #27 Gene Doctor
    September 21, 2009

    Question for Maher:
    You continually deride religious people for their faith in an unproven supreme being, a stance on which I agree with you wholeheartedly. Why then do you have faith in alternative medicine without any proof? The studies that have made it through an IRB (Insitutional Review Board) and been completed on any alternative medicine have come up as being as good or worse than no therapy at all, or as only having a placebo effect. Where is the scientific evidence? Big pharma can not control the scientific method – if there was proof of efficacy, that therapy would be adopted as quickly as possible. And the people responsible for discovering it would be well compensated as well as famous (to paraphrase Patrick Swayze).

  28. #28 Scott
    September 21, 2009

    Alternative diet and exercise are all very fine as possible preventative measures against cancer.

    Except for the fact that they’re even less alternative than experimental trials. Healthy diet and abundant exercise have been strong recommendations from mainstream medicine for many decades…

  29. #29 Calli Arcale
    September 21, 2009

    I’m trying to figure out, who ever came up with the idea that squirting coffee up your wazzoo was in any way a good idea? Moreover, was able to convince apparently millions of people that it is a good idea?

    There’s also, of course, the fact that coffee has plenty of toxins in it itself. Caffeine is a biggie, of course. They’re afraid of toxins, but have only a dim notion of what the word even means, since they cheerfully (wtf??!!!) squirt considerable quantities of various toxins into their own nether regions, where they can be efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream.

    People have died of alcohol enemas; I wonder if anyone has yet died of a caffeinated enema? It may only be a matter of time, given that most folks aren’t aware of how rapidly stuff gets absorbed that way.

  30. #30 doug l
    September 21, 2009

    By toxin, does he mean like CO2? Or THC?

  31. #31 Courtney teh Brave
    September 21, 2009

    Simple as it is why not ask Mr. Bill this… What is a toxin? If we can nail him down on this then we could have a real conversation, maybe… probably not tho.

  32. #32 Todd W.
    September 21, 2009

    Question for Bill: Why do you support the use of Gardasil, but disapprove of the use of other vaccines?

  33. #33 Orac
    September 21, 2009

    Oh, come on, that’s easy. The fundamentalists hate Gardasil; so Bill’s for it.

  34. #34 riotnerd
    September 21, 2009

    Orac, I’ve been frustrated with the identification of pseudoscience and the left for a long time. I’m not old enough to have been around when it started but I’ve always blamed the hippies and aquarians. Regardless of why it happened though, I was hoping you could comment. Why do “natural healing books,” “crystal energy books,” and etc. always have a place in Marxist and anarchist bookstores? Leftists don’t seem to be upset with the literary establishment or the physics establishment so why are they so antagonistic to the medical establishment? And could you please tell them to stop it?

  35. #35 Ovy
    September 21, 2009

    Alas, I was hoping that Maher had resigned these beliefs much like he had his old religious beliefs. I am sad to see them alive and well. There’s certainly someting to say about the business aspect of “western medicine,” but that shouldn’t give the slightest bit of credit to unscientific bullshit. Damn straight they should arrest people who prescribe distractions from proper treatment…dammit Maher!

  36. #36 Todd W.
    September 21, 2009

    @Orac

    Yeah. I know. I’d just be curious to hear what Bill would say if presented with that question.

  37. #37 1984
    September 21, 2009

    “Maher himself has said that he does not call himself an atheist; if I remember correctly, he’s more the “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” type.”

    I think you’re wrong on this. He puts himself in the I-don’t-know-club and if I remember correctly he has said that he doesn’t even know what spiritualism means.

    / Personally I don’t think Maher should receive the award, there simply is too much woo-woo.

  38. #38 Kismet
    September 21, 2009

    Tom Jackson, I’ve made the same mistake of calling experimental and most non-pharmacologic treatments including diet and lifestyle, “alternative”. And sometimes I continue to do it (but then I explicitely re-define my use of the word alternative in the post) just because it’s such a nice umbrella term. But I think we should stop, because the term is too strongly associated with woo.

    Similarly quacks have spoiled “anti-aging”. Even if a treatment or substance did work or looked promising in postponing intrinsic aging (e.g. topical tretinoin+sun avoidance), it’s futile to call it “anti-aging”, because the term is inherently associated with *useless* creams and potions.

  39. #39 Joseph C.
    September 21, 2009

    I couldn’t even watch that video for more than 10 seconds. It seems like the dumber you are the further you go as a pundit.

  40. #40 Noadi
    September 21, 2009

    I’m debating how much I want to make my mom flip out today. She’s about 9 months away from that wonderful 5 year mark since she finished her cancer treatment. 30 years ago she’d probably be dead this far out but her caner has an 85% cure rate today. No progress my ass.

  41. #41 Jon H
    September 21, 2009

    Just call it what it is: Maher is a proponent of faith healing.

    It’s not faith in a religious power, it’s faith in the quack and the power of his magic beans or whatever.

    But it’s the same thing, really, except getting a magic bean enema is probably a lot more expensive.

  42. #42 Jim B
    September 21, 2009

    Question #1:

    Since you doubt the methods of conventional method for proving efficacy, how do you distinguish between alternative therapies which work and those which are snake oil?

    Question #2:

    (requires a bit of set up)
    A friend had some back pain and went to his alt med practitioner and had cupping performed. As proof that cupping was drawing out toxins and not simply causing a bruise, he pointed out that the discolored areas were brown, not purple. But if I went to the same therapist, falsely complain of back pains, and they cupped me and raised the same discolorations on my skin, what would this mean to your theory of toxins?

  43. #43 Tsu Dho Nimh
    September 21, 2009

    @19 – Cancer treatment is inherently alternative; ongoing clinical trails indicate its experimental nature.

    1 – An anti-cancer drug will have been shown to be effective against a certain form of cancer in test tubes, and then in animal models. It will have, nowadays, a clearly defined mode of action against a certain characteristic of the cancer, down to the metabolic pathway or surface protein it affects.

    How much research do the BigAltMeds do trying to perfect their stuff? Can they explain how their stuff works, other than vague “makes your qi channels happier”?

    2 – Trying to improve on a treatment, to make it more effective, better tolerated, or just cheaper, and then discarding therapies that don’t work as well is not a characteristic of “alternative medicine”.

    Look at homeopathy, proudly stuck in the late 1700s, ignoring over 200 years of chemistry and biology and physics. Chiropracty, ignoring everything including well-known human anatomy since the 1930s … there are no obsolete therapies according to them. Even “cupping” has made a comeback.

  44. #44 Joseph C.
    September 21, 2009

    I just watched about a minute more of this shit. I can’t finish this video. It’s that awful.

    Richard Dawkins should be ashamed of himself for not publicly disassociating himself from this retard. I think I’m going to go burn my copy of The God Delusion.

  45. #45 Cath the Canberra Cook
    September 21, 2009

    I’ve been thinking of compiling a small woo to English phrasebook, and so far I believe that “toxins” is best translated as “demons”.

  46. #46 Mark Crislip
    September 21, 2009

    The striking thing was not what he said, but how. The demeanor changes and he looks like any number of crazy people with an idee fixe. Everyone around him tightens up as we all do around a crazy person.

    The first thought when confronted with someone like this is not confrontation but changing the topic, cause, well, the person is belligerently crazy.

    We all have a family member or someone we know like that and when they cut loose, you move on.

    Topic changes and he is Mr Smiley again.

  47. #47 k
    September 21, 2009

    @7:

    here’s a Dr. Hyman on HuffPo who does “functional medicine”–whatever that is?

    The treatments are guaranteed not to have side effects. :)

    (That is a computer science joke…)

    But what’s the return value? ;-)

    Null. (^_^)

  48. #48 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  49. #49 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  50. #50 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  51. #51 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  52. #52 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  53. #53 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  54. #54 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  55. #55 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  56. #56 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  57. #57 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  58. #58 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  59. #59 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  60. #60 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  61. #61 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  62. #62 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I’m glad someone else is pointing out Maher’s medical conspiracy delusions, and sometime anti-science rhetoric. Its a shame that some of his fans strike back, as though pointing out Maher’s imperfections is a knock at them.

    I’m a fan of Maher-If I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100 to watch his stand up show live, but just because I enjoy his comedy doesn’t mean I have to eat up every word he says, or ignore the incorrect statements he makes.

    It reminds me of when the prominent atheist Jullian Baggini wrote an article saying the ‘new atheist’ movement was being a little harsh, angry and unaccommodating toward believers, and hence not getting anywhere (which I agreed with). The article was posted on Richard Dawkins site, and the members there attacked Baggini’s article. It was as if the majority of the Dawkins members didn’t even know who the author was, and completely refused to really look at what the article was saying-They collectively refused to evaluate their own behaviors and approach.

    Just like with the Maher, I’m a fan of Dawkins while also disagreeing with some of his approaches.

    I think its a parallel to the Maher crap…Some people just don’t want to hear anything compromising about their personal convictions, or against someone they admire.

    Its important for opinions to be well rounded, or, like Maher, you can get caught up in some sort of delusional, conspiratorial or unaccommodating group/movement whose methods may not be so different than the methods of your perceived enemies (like religious organizations, CAM charlatans, etc…)

  63. #63 Orac
    September 21, 2009

    The treatments are guaranteed not to have side effects. :)

    (That is a computer science joke…)

    But what’s the return value? ;-)

    Null. (^_^)

    Oh, no! This comment thread is being taken over by computer geeks!

  64. #64 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  65. #65 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  66. #66 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  67. #67 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  68. #68 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  69. #69 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  70. #70 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  71. #71 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  72. #72 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  73. #73 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  74. #74 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  75. #75 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  76. #76 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  77. #77 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  78. #78 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

  79. #79 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  80. #80 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  81. #81 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  82. #82 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  83. #83 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  84. #84 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  85. #85 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  86. #86 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  87. #87 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  88. #88 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  89. #89 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  90. #90 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  91. #91 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  92. #92 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  93. #93 PB&J
    September 21, 2009

    I made up this little saying a while ago, it seems to fit here:

    ” While virtually all Skeptics are Atheists, Atheism doesn’t necessarily equate to Skepticism”

    I say this because it is very true- there are MANY atheists who hold views similar to Maher’s, and who have virtually no scientific knowledge or critical thinking skills.

    (many atheists use CAM, believe in ‘big pharma’ conspiracies, believe in organic food and vitamins, etc…) I dare say MOST atheists that I know are not keen on science. They simply do not believe in God.

  94. #94 Chris
    September 21, 2009

    PB&J – That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.

  95. #95 DLC
    September 21, 2009

    Bill Maher, somebody rewrite his bubble-sort!
    Or code him up a new filter or something!
    The guy needs some software patches or a hardware issue escalation.

  96. #96 Chris
    September 21, 2009

    Chris:

    While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.

    Examples would include Martin Gardner and Hal Bidlack. Of course I have not met either one (I’m a different “Chris”, but I agree with Chris).

  97. #97 snerd
    September 21, 2009

    Oh, no! This comment thread is being taken over by computer geeks!

    … says the Clear Plastic Blinky computer!

  98. #98 Mike
    September 21, 2009

    I consider myself a “fan” of Maher, in that I like watching his work, and generally find him to be very funny. That said, I also think he has a severe crank side, and don’t see any reason for other “fans” to not be able to admit that. I mean, do we really expect people to be perfect to the point of ignoring when they really, truly aren’t?

  99. #99 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  100. #100 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  101. #101 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  102. #102 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  103. #103 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  104. #104 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  105. #105 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  106. #106 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  107. #107 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  108. #108 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  109. #109 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  110. #110 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  111. #111 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  112. #112 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  113. #113 PB&J
    September 22, 2009

    “That’s nonsense. While it’s probably true that skeptics are more likely to be atheists, it’s certainly not true that “almost all” skeptics are atheists. I have met A LOT of skeptics who would not call themselves an atheist.”

    Nonsense- That’s a pretty extreme and conclusive write off.
    Maybe I should re-word ‘virtually all’ to ‘more likely’, which still affirms the larger point I was making.

    Skeptics take critical thinking and apply it to everything, whereas atheists simply don’t believe in god (a person who has no religious beliefs didn’t necessarily think critically to arrive at that position-They could simply dislike the organization, have been raised outside of religion, or simply be jumping on the ‘new atheist’ wagon).

    If one applied critical thinking to religion, they most likely would come to a more atheistic or agnostic conclusion, hence, virtually all skeptics are atheists (or, if you like, skeptics are more likely to be atheists or agnostic)

    A person who happens to be atheist doesn’t necessarily CALL themselves an atheist. It is only a position/opinion- Many atheists don’t use the word or even think on it, and many do who don’t understand fully what its implications mean (I have a friend who fancies himself ‘atheist’ but believes in ghosts, and another who is an acupuncturist-truly strange).

    In any case the larger point is the second segment: Atheism does not necessarily mean skepticism (or critical thinking). That is the important half, however the first half is worded, if at all.

    Just because someone doesn’t believe in God (or hates religion), doesn’t mean they are intelligent or apply the scientific method (or even understand science) to everyday goings on. There are people who call themselves atheists who believe in ghosts, astronomy, UFOs, conspiracies, woo, etc, etc…Like Bill Maher and others.

    Gardner and Bidlack are two very nice examples of intelligent theistic/deistic skeptics, but thats only two examples, where I can count off at least 10 non-critical atheists I know right now without effort (I don’t personally know any theistic skeptics). Perhaps my statement, which is based solely on my own observations, is incorrect, but it does suggest some truth, and I still stand by especially-and more importantly- the second portion.
    Have a good night:)

  114. #114 Chris
    September 22, 2009

    PB&J, your observations are actually just anecdotes, but your point is still valid… being an atheist does not necessarily mean being a critical thinker.

  115. #115 Kismet
    September 22, 2009

    I know what really is nonsense, though. PB&J’s observation about vitamins + organic foods. I really don’t think your overgeneralisation and choice of words benefits anyone. To the contrary, it fuels the unjustified, irrational scare of everything natural (make no mistake derivatives of natural substances have and still do play a huge role in drug discovery) some posters on this blog demonstrate, including vitamins.

    You don’t believe in ‘em? You know that we die without vitamins (hence they’re called essential) and that many vitamins at therapeutic doses, have uses endorsed by science based medicine? Folic acid for the prevenetion of neural tube defects? Benfotiamine (but thiamine works similarly) for the prevention of diabetic complications? Pyridoxamine (a natural derivative of B6) for similar conditions – currently in phase II trials.
    Niacin for the treatment of lipid disorders. Vitamin A and derivatives for skin disorders and some cancers (isotretinoin systemic, but bona fide vitamin A works as a topical, even though the natural derivative retinoic acid is preferred).

    Vitamin D and, possibly, Vitamin K2 for fracture prevention? And more speculatively, yet still rooted in science: Vitamin D and risk of dying in the elderly or the general population?

    Furthermore, it would be naive to think that preventing deficiencies of vitamins and minerals could not benefit healthy people (it can be *mostly* done with a good diet, but superb diets *can* be deficient in some micronutrients, which is the reason why food databases come in handy).

    I’m not an expert on organically grown foods, but organic berries usually have higher polyphenol contents, while macro- and micronutrients are pretty similar.

    Click my name, scroll down to the last post that I made on this topic not long ago about vitamin D and take care with those overgeneralisations.

  116. #116 Jeff Read
    September 22, 2009

    How much research do the BigAltMeds do trying to perfect their stuff? Can they explain how their stuff works, other than vague “makes your qi channels happier”?

    Perfect? It has been in use for thousands of years. It is already perfect.

  117. #117 Todd W.
    September 22, 2009

    @Jeff Read

    How much research do the BigAltMeds do trying to perfect their stuff? Can they explain how their stuff works, other than vague “makes your qi channels happier”?

    Perfect? It has been in use for thousands of years. It is already perfect.

    Yeah. Leeches were used for a very long time, too. Turns out, it didn’t really matter. They still didn’t work.

  118. #118 Daniel J. Andrews
    September 22, 2009

    Way to go, Orac! I, too, was annoyed and even felt mildly insulted when Maher was given that award. Glad to see he’s revealing more of his antiscience bent which confirms your initial thoughts were probably correct. I don’t see too many flocking to his defence this time.

    I’m also disappointed Dawkins doesn’t distance himself from this. He’s all about rationality, reason and evidence-based viewpoints yet he’s ok with Maher? This reminds me of the climate warming deniers and the antivaxxers who all spout ideas that contradict other antivaxxers and climate warming deniers, but it doesn’t matter because they’re all on the “same side”.

    When they get together they don’t debate their ideas but just embrace each other because all that matters is that you think vaccines are bad, that global warming is a hoax, or in Dawkin’s case, Maher is atheist (or at least anti-religion). Doesn’t matter if he’s a quack supreme and antiscience incarnate…he’s outspoken against organized religion so lets not only embrace him but give him an award that has a science-based criteria attached. Sad.

  119. #119 Jon H
    September 22, 2009

    “Leeches were used for a very long time, too. Turns out, it didn’t really matter. They still didn’t work.”

    Bad example, actually, because leeches are used in modern medicine for draining blood from tissues after reconstructive surgery.

  120. #120 Todd W.
    September 22, 2009

    Yeah, I know. I thought about being more explicit, in that leeches were used for every illness and that for the majority of uses, they sucked.

  121. #121 Jeff Read
    September 22, 2009

    Todd W.,

    My sarcasm didn’t propagate very well, I’m afraid.

  122. #122 Todd W.
    September 22, 2009

    @Jeff Read

    More proof of the need for a sarcasm font.

  123. #123 Militant Agnostic
    September 22, 2009

    Maybe Comic Sans would be a good sarcasm font.

  124. #124 Uncle Dave
    September 22, 2009

    “The shit they have been trying for the last 50 years doesn’t”
    “They have made almost no progress as far as cancer in this country”

    “there are actually people that leave this country and come back alive after they have been given a death sentence here”

    “Western medicine is a scam”
    “It only treats symptoms”

    Once Maher gets on a roll he is very difficult to stop.
    He’s like a giant rolling turd, you can say something (stepping in front of it to stop it) to counter or try and stop it but you end up getting soiled because it is the turds show.

  125. #125 MBA
    September 22, 2009

    They went off on a tangent and never answered the original question. Yes, government run health care WILL promote quackery. The funding for NCCAM will most likely expand, and they will be able to produce papers that “prove” just about anything that the alternative lobbies want them to prove, and it will be included in the insurance that everyone has to buy, so everyone will be funding it whether they want to or not. We are already seeing lots of garbage coming out of government research. Expect that to expand exponentially. This has happened in every country that has government run health care, because it’s cheap, and dammit people like it.

  126. #126 Militant Agnostic
    September 22, 2009

    MBA ranted

    Yes, government run health care WILL promote quackery. … This has happened in every country that has government run health care, because it’s cheap, and dammit people like it.

    Bullshit – it hasn’t happened in Canada.

  127. #127 Orac
    September 22, 2009

    We are already seeing lots of garbage coming out of government research. Expect that to expand exponentially. This has happened in every country that has government run health care, because it’s cheap, and dammit people like it.

    Got any hard evidence to back up that last statement. As MA said, it hasn’t happened (much) in Canada. At least, Canada doesn’t appear to have any more woo than the US. In the UK, it’s true that there is still a homeopathic hospital, but in tight budgetary times there is actually political pressure building to shut it down.

  128. #128 RMD
    September 22, 2009

    T. Bruce McNeely- I don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol, exercise, I have never been overweight and I eat well. GUESS WHAT? I GOT CANCER. You sound so patronzing.

  129. #129 MBA
    September 22, 2009

    The simple fact is that the burden of evidence is practically non-existent when supporters of CAM merely need to lobby Washington lawmakers rather than convince the scientific community in an environment of peer review.

    NCCAM already does lots of politically motivated research of questionable value, as has been reported here and on quackwatch. I’m sure everyone here is aware of the call to defund NCCAM. Bad research drives out good. Such objections are made frequently on skeptic venues, but as soon as someone states it a little differently–saying that government is actually funneling money and resources towards abject quackery, therefore promoting it, suddenly it’s all, “oh, no no no. Government run medicine would never do that!” I am not saying anything that is new, so the offense is confusing at best. I have little optimism that government run medicine won’t actively support quack modalities. I’m sorry for not playing along, but I think one can look at current trends and make predictions.

    In the UK government funded research recently bolstered the use of acupuncture in the NHS, which very well could happen here at our own NCCAM. In the absence of ongoing government support through funding for research and insurance mandates that are already in place in some areas of the US and likely to be expanded with more government involvement in health care, such modalities that offer no medical benefit would be hard pressed to exist for as long as they have, let alone prosper. Without government support, most of these modalities would have to depend solely on folie à deux for their revenue stream. I admit that this may still be a powerful force, and some quacks may still make money, as in the case of the late Hulda Clark, which, as far as I am aware, had no US government support. But it seems that it would be much easier to combat quackery such as this than it would be to combat quackery that enjoys state funding. Indeed, once a quack modality becomes entrenched through state support, the battle may have already been lost.

  130. #130 Mandos
    September 22, 2009

    I’d argue that quack modalities are even more likely in the USA because of the lack of public health care. Health care inaccessibility leads to the direct mental association of medical professionals with greed. Which leads to suspicion. And so on. Just read Age of Autism. These are parents whose needs have not been taken care of, and that increases their level of desperation and alienation from the system to the point that they are very vulnerable to antvaxery and the naturopathic stuff.

  131. #131 MBA
    September 23, 2009

    I would agree that health care inaccessibility tends to drive some people towards quackery. We disagree about how that inaccessibility comes about. This is an entirely separate argument.

  132. #132 patrick
    September 23, 2009

    You people just don’t get it :( Maher makes his point that mainstream (big pharma) attempts at curing cancer has failed for 50 years. Don’t you get it? If it doesn’t work (or at least 95% of the time according Dr. Ralph Moss) then why do it, it is like trying to drive a car that won’t start. Do something else!

  133. #133 Chris
    September 23, 2009

    patrick:

    Don’t you get it? If it doesn’t work (or at least 95% of the time according Dr. Ralph Moss) then why do it, it is like trying to drive a car that won’t start. Do something else!

    Um, assuming this is not a Poe (the frown emoticon doesn’t help), what evidence do you have that the “alternatives” are any better?

  134. #134 T. Bruce McNeely
    September 23, 2009

    …according (to) Dr. Ralph Moss

    Give me a break! Moss’ PhD is in Classical Studies.
    http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/Reviews/moss.html

  135. #135 Orac
    September 23, 2009

    Ralph Moss? The dude’s as quacky as they come.

    In any case, I’ve dealt with that dubious “95%” figure before. It looks as though I may have to do so again.

  136. #136 Calli Arcale
    September 23, 2009

    You people just don’t get it :( Maher makes his point that mainstream (big pharma) attempts at curing cancer has failed for 50 years.

    And Maher is wrong. Many cancers once thought incurable are routinely cured today. I know several cancer survivors personally. My godmother. My grandmother. One of my classmates, who had cancer when she was *five* and got held back a year because of it. (Hard to go to school *and* put up with chemo.) She’s 34 now.

    And then there are the cancers which, while still uncurable, are much more tolerable now than they were 50 years ago. My aunt lived fourteen years with ovarian cancer before it finally claimed her. It took a lot of chemo, each time the cancer started to expand again, and it was painful — but for most of those 14 years, she was in good form, able to enjoy life, traveling, attending all her daughters’ weddings, and even getting to know some of her grandchildren.

    A century ago, she’d have been dead in the first year, but instead she got many years, and *good* ones at that.

    So Maher would have a point, if what he said was in any way true. But it isn’t.

  137. #137 Pablo
    September 23, 2009

    Actually, the failure rate for cancer treatment is 100%…if you wait long enough, everyone dies.

    I was talking to my sis-in-law last night. She is a GP, and we were talking about thyroid problems. She mentioned how successfully thyroid cancer can be treated nowadays, even when it has matathesized into the nodes! Of all cancers, thyroid cancer can be targeted very, very, very specifically using I131 (remove the infected nodes, then).

    Gotta love this. Not only is it evil chemicals, it’s evil RADIOACTIVE chemicals!!!!! Yet, it works very well. As opposed to shoving a thermos of espresso up your butt.

  138. #138 Scott
    September 23, 2009

    Heh. I remember gaining 45 pounds after my radioiodine treatment before we got the right levothyroxine dose to normalize my hormone levels.

    Of course, I’d lost 60 pounds from the hyperthyroidism before that. (And didn’t think to tell people at work what was going on so they wouldn’t worry…)

  139. #139 Pablo
    September 23, 2009

    It’s good that you could actually deal with it via chemotherapy. My mom had 7/8 of her thyroid surgically removed, and my sis had all of hers taken out.

    My wife, OTOH, was hypothyroid, is taking levothroid, too.

  140. #140 Scott
    September 23, 2009

    Wasn’t thyroid cancer in my case, but Graves’ disease. But the radioiodine treatment is common between both.

  141. #141 Pablo
    September 23, 2009

    I understand that, Scott. “Chemotherapy” more or less just means treated with chemicals (I realize the usual cancer connotations, but that’s not required), and that’s all I meant by it.

  142. #142 Scott
    September 23, 2009

    OK, just wanted to clear up any possible confusion.

  143. #143 Tioedong
    September 23, 2009

    Pasteur committed two sins against the ignoramuses who hate science.

    One, he proved “spontaneous generation” did not exist, thereby proving that evolution was a viable alternative, since life came from life.

    Two: He lived and died a Catholic. Thereby proving science and religion are compatible, (albeit not the philosophy of scientism/materialism and theology.)

    Maher hates those who believe, especially if they are intelligent, not the “straw men” he pretends are the norm.

  144. #144 perceval
    September 25, 2009

    Ask him to comment on the philosophical similarities of Christian Science and much of CAM thought. Or: what is the difference between Reiki and healing through prayer? How does Maher view faith healing services?

  145. #145 franknbeans
    September 26, 2009

    a bit late but…

    in response to PB&J et al:

    First, I consider myself a skeptic and an intellectual, yet I am also a Christian. Now perhaps you will discount that and say I just think I’m a skeptic, etc. Whatever. I just thought I’d throw it out there.

    I have never seen any scientific evidence that “skeptics” are more likely to be atheists. There are a few polls but are far as I know, no hard statistical evidence. In my own experience, I’ve met some incredibly intelligent believers and non-believers in Christ, I’ve also meant a far larger amount of “evidence-free” people on both sides.

    On Dawkins: I think you guys are overlooking, Mr Dawkins is in it as a propagandist, nothing more. Cue the utter lack of science and reason in The God Delusion.

  146. #146 Sastra
    September 26, 2009

    I also know that I haven’t exactly endeared myself to AAI members by constantly harping on just how idiotic it was to have chosen Maher for any award that has the word “science” anywhere in its criteria. It wouldn’t have mattered on iota to me if the AAI had chosen to give Maher a “best atheist movie” award or some sort of activism award. But it didn’t. It chose to give Maher and award, one of the criteria of which involves advocating “increased scientific knowledge,” and that irritated the crap out of me.

    For what it’s worth, the inscription on this year’s Dawkins Award is targeted:

    “for outstanding contribution to freethought in Religulous and many insightful criticisms of religion, presented to Bill Maher by Atheist Alliance International, Oct 2, 2009.”

    The people who have received the award have been varied, some heavier on the science and skepticism criteria, some heavier on the outspoken criticism of religion aspect.

    Then, the day before the AAI conference begins, I will post a list of these questions, assuming I have a sufficient number of good ones. Yeah, I’m trying to make trouble, and I don’t apologize for it.

    Don’t apologize — it’s an excellent idea! I suspect that Dawkins and Bill Maher will both approve. One thing you have to admit about Maher, he enjoys provoking controversy, and apparently thrives on challenges and differences of opinion. It will be interesting to see what he does, and how he answers .. with Dawkins right there.

    I’ll be at the convention, and will try to take the list with me. Should be thrilling.

    And you should so be there.

  147. #147 Paul Blake ND
    September 27, 2009

    Oh let me see science based medicine, ya we can really depend on them to find a cure for cancer! They ask for donations and government money (it must add up to 100’s of Billions of dollars) to find a cure but they have not found a cure for a single disease in a half century not even Herpes let alone cancer, something is very wrong here. Cancer is epidemic 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will have cancer in their life time. They say less people die from it and more survive. Ya, survival is a delightful way to live and it makes for a very good repeat cancer customer. If it wasn’t such a tragedy for so many people it would be a colossal joke! Think about this, if every time you took your car to the mechanic and he told you “I can’t cure the problem but it’s treatable at a cost of $80 to $150 dollars a month for the life of your car.” How long would it be before you would be bankrupt and he would be rich? Bill is a breath of fresh air, his name is the only thing that makes your article less then boring. Paul

  148. #148 Joseph C.
    September 27, 2009

    Think about this, if every time you took your car to the mechanic and he told you “I can’t cure the problem but it’s treatable at a cost of $80 to $150 dollars a month for the life of your car.”

    Dumb analogy. A single cell is infinitely more complex than any car.

  149. #149 Chris
    September 27, 2009

    Paul Blake ND:

    Oh let me see science based medicine, ya we can really depend on them to find a cure for cancer!

    Which cancer? Cancer is not just one disease, it is several. Anyone who thinks cancer is one disease and can be “cured” with one thing does not know what he is talking about.

    Oh, wait… the “ND” behind your name stands for “Not a Doctor”!

  150. #150 ThatOtherGuy
    October 4, 2009

    @Paul Blake 91:

    Yeah, you know why cancers kill so many people? Because cancer almost inevitably shows up when your DNA starts to degrade as you age, and people are living longer now than ever before BECAUSE SCIENCE HAS PROVIDED SOLUTIONS TO MOST OTHER OBSTACLES TO LONG LIFE.

  151. #151 djbaxter
    October 10, 2009

    “Is Bill Maher really that ignorant?”

    Oh, yes. The sad thing is that he appears to be ignorant even of his ignorance, and that his arrogance encourages him to believe that it’s everyone else who’s out of step.

    What’s really scary to me is how many people look to entertainers for medical and health information (not to mention sociopolitical information). Why would anyone believe that talking heads like Bill Maher, Tom Cruise, Suzanne Sommers, Jenny McCarthy, John Travolta, or Oprah have anything at all to tell us about health and medicine? It baffles me.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.