Respectful Insolence

Combining energy woo with The Secret

As hard as it to believe, it’s 2012 now. (I know, I know, I say that pretty much every year.) I’ve also been on vacation for the last week, which makes getting back into the swing of things a bit difficult. For one thing, we seem to have suffered an infestation of particularly brain dead alt-med and antivaccine trolls that drove comment totals on some posts into the hundreds. I must admit, that was something I didn’t expect between Christmas and New Years, when blogging and commenting are usually as slow as everything else outside of retail that time of year. I must admit, though, that it was actually fairly amusing, at least before it became tedious. Anyway, here’s hoping that things return to normal around here now that the holidays are over.

When it comes to woo of the purest sort that is so detached from reality that I have a hard time believing that anyone could believe it and still function in society. Think Robert Lanza. Think homeopathic plutonium. Think “eating the sun.” Note that, even though I’ve named a form of woo after Deepak Chopra, I exclude him from this because I strongly suspect that Chopra knows he’s full of crap when he promotes his “quantum consciousness” and various other forms of Choprawoo. Be that as it may, as a connoisseur of woo I’m always on the lookout for new talent, and I think I’ve found it in the form of someone named Adam Abraham, a man who refers to himself as “The Phaelosopher.” We’ve encountered him one time before, where he was promoting rather pedestrian, “structured water” woo. In the year and a half since then, however, Abrahams appears to have upped his game. Evidence of this improvement came to my attention in the form of a post entitled A worldview from the energy field.

The woo, it is strong in this one.

Again, Abraham starts out with fairly pedestrian woo, namely “auric field” woo, in which what appears to be obviously nothing more than Kirlian photography, a method used by certain woo-meisters who claim to be able to capture human “auras” and use the information to heal by following changes in what is represented as the person’s aura. But before you see just how Abraham views the whole concept of auras, you should check out this claim from Abraham:

Every human being – every living thing – has an energy field. Actually, every human being is an energy field. What’s more, we have, and are an energy field even if we do not have a physical body. In other words, the energy field that you are both precedes, and succeeds the formation and existence of the human body, which itself is an energy field.

When the body sleeps, or is otherwise inactive, and we subsequently awaken with fantastic memories of alien places, recall interactions with others that had passed away, or for those who have experienced amputations, be whole once again, it is through the auspices of eternal subtle energy fields, which can also be referred to as “energy bodies.”

So let me get this straight. We are all “energy fields” before we are born? How does that work? Where does the energy exist and what does it do before we are born? We’ve often heard the claim that we continue to exist as “energy” or “consciousness” after we die, but if the energy that is allegedly us exists before we are born, then the obvious question is: When did it come into existence? If that energy has always existed, then doesn’t that make us all gods?

So many questions. Abraham (sort of) has an answer:

What this tells us is that we already have the power to travel through time and space already, that “the dead” don’t “die,” and that a part of who we are is always a perfect whole. The question is: Are we ready to consciously accept these ideas as true?

Wow! Does this mean I can be just like the Doctor in the TARDIS, traveling through time and space and having all sorts of cool adventures? Heck, maybe it means I would even regenerate just like the Doctor! After all, if you recall, during his last three regenerations, the Doctor has shot pure energy out of his head and limbs until his form changed. Check out, for example, the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration:

And here’s another Time Lord, The Master, regenerating:

See what I mean? The obvious implication of Abraham’s ideas is that we are all in reality Time Lords!

Obviously, I jest, but the woo is so strong in this one that I couldn’t help myself, particularly given how huge a fan of The Doctor I’ve been for so long. In any case, why should we believe any of this is true? Because, maaaan, it’s science! Abraham tells us so:

Science has confirmed that energy cannot be created or destroyed, and only change form. The same principle applies to energy fields. As such, the same principle applies to you and me. We are, at our core, eternal beings possessing the implicit gift of immortality.

Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty in saying I was joking about us all being Time Lords, after all. If Abrahams is right, we’re all immortal, we’re all pure energy that’s always existed and always will exist, and we’ll live forever. Wouldn’t that be cool? But it goes beyond that. According to him, the energy of our aura determines the sort of “energy” we attract to ourselves. Knowing this, I bet you know what’s coming next, don’t you? Remember something called The Secret? Basically, it’s a woo concept that was in vogue a few years ago but, like Jason at the end of a Friday the 13th movie or Michael Myers at the end of a Halloween movie, refuses to die and always seems to come back, not unlike the “energy” Abraham describes. What “The Secret” says is that our thoughts determine what is attracted to us. Think happy thoughts and good things will come to you. Of course, there is a grain of truth to this in that having a positive attitude can certainly help one succeed, but The Secret makes this some sort of mystical, magical concept, even going so far as to call it a “law” in which “thoughts become things.” Wouldn’t you know it, but Abraham’s energy woo is just the secret, only with “energy vibrations”:

The significance and scope of the energy field is not limited to the state of the form alone. It is a magnet for experiences, attractor of all moments that pass through the consciousness, including the subconscious and unconscious. The electromagnetic nature of the energy field is one reason for the truth of the adage, “there are no mistakes.”

Chance, happenstance, “luck” and fortune, both “good” and “bad,” are all concepts that have evolved from our fuzzy sense of self.

I will give Abraham credit though. The flip side of The Secret is that, if our thoughts create or reality or, according the “law of attraction,” our thoughts and attitudes determine what sorts of things are attracted to us, then that means bad thoughts and attitudes attract evil things. In other words, all those Jews killed during the Holocaust? It was their fault because they obviously must have been thinking some evil thoughts to bring such evil on themselves. Cancer patients? Bad thoughts did it. Abraham even acknowledges this as explicitly as any woo-meister I’ve ever seen:

Not knowing the power of our thoughts, which energy will obediently follow, have made us unwitting creators of all of our calamities and ills. On the other hand, we are likewise the answer to the very prayers we’ve asked for, especially when it dawns on us that we are all connected.

Ah, so positive, so self-empowering! If bad thoughts created your ill health or the bad situation you find yourself in, then obviously good thoughts will fix the problem, right? Tell that to Holocaust victims or patients suffering from terminal illnesses or murder victims. Thinking positive thoughts doesn’t exactly work in such situations.

On second thought, maybe Abraham hasn’t upped his game as much as I thought the first time I read his post.

Comments

  1. #1 LW
    January 3, 2012

    It’s quite surprising how many people will suddenly, spontaneously, and simultaneously decide that they earnestly desire to be drowned in a tsunami or flood or crushed by falling buildings in an earthquake.

  2. #2 Andreas Johansson
    January 3, 2012

    It’s also surprising how geographically determined people’s desires are – why are, say, Italians more eager to die in earthquakes than Germans?

  3. #3 adelady
    January 3, 2012

    Bother. Now I have to get a new set of woo bingo cards. Will they be bigger because there’s a whole new extra line?

  4. #4 Dianne
    January 3, 2012

    Homeopathic plutonium. I’d somehow missed that one before. Depending on how truly homeopathic it is, the alties may have finally found a way to make homeopathy actively dangerous.

  5. #5 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2012

    I find this hilarious. Attribution theorists call the general public “naive psychologists” but- wow- this is going entirely overboard with that notion!

    Here is another disastrous application of energy woo: Gary Null believes that “everything is an energy exchange”- a person’s health, illness, emotions, thoughts are based on energy. People transmit and receive vibrations from others as well as that of the environment. So if you learn from a teacher – it’s an energy exchange; if you get sexually turned on by someone- energy exchange; if you become perturbed witnessing an argument- *la meme chose*- in fact, so are all human interactions.

    Now your energy patterns may become all wanky, scuzzy, and groddy…so you seek out an energy healer- like the aforementioned woo-meister- whose energy is all harmoniously flowing in magnificently aesthetic patterns. He then *adjusts* you – in an *energy exchange*- like a tune-up. Illnesss and emotional states are also dis-harmonies that may be fixed by the laying on of hands, better diet, herbs, supplements, and thinking better thoughts ( all having their own patterns).

    Of course, you can later f–k this up by going to doctors, taking meds, eating meat, reading the wrong books, hanging around “toxic people”, et al.( continued)

  6. #6 drama
    January 3, 2012

    While there is no doubt “pseudo-science” and “new-agy stuff” is, 99.9 % of times, fully biased, we could never, OTOH, ever, ever, ever… get to determine whether certain patterns such as the ones behind “The Law” of Attraction are or are not, real. Out of obvious reasons.
    The problem is they make scientific claims… yep.
    And, then again, despite the fact that I do agree on them being total BS, I do still believe ANY assumption to be made about the ultimate fabric to reality and its very nature is to be, to say the least, nothing but fantasy. Pure philosophy; mere speculation, in its very core. Scientifally we simply are not there, yet. It is philosophy’s domain.
    Then…
    When you rhetorically imply, for instance, that it sounds ridiculous the notion that we are (then) gods, as a result to the arguments, well…
    “Aren’t we all !?” May sound as logical as the notion we are not itself, for -deep down- both issue a ‘cosmovision’; subjective in its true nature; philosophycal, very very “theoretical”. Both involve dogmas. Deeply enrooted in their respective backgrounds, which serve as premises onto which everything else is attatched.
    The only difference is that yours is “received”; taken for granted by “most”; ‘standarized’ by (contemporary western) culture. Which is somewhat circumstancial to “reality” effects themselves. It certainly feels right and may appeal to “most”, nevertheless, being as “objective” as any other out there… Make no mistake !!! You may be a very well-educated person as far as medicine goes, but it becomes a bit obvious you are also biased if you think you can claim “we are not gods, obviously” without ending up being as biased as this charlatan must be. I know it may “feel” totally safe for you to make such an assumption, but… Mmmm… That is a fallacy; a misconseption, nevertheless.
    You couldn’t even claim that “we are not dogs” more than whatever else… This is philosophy 101.
    That is the problem with many doctors, IMHO… They take too many things for granted; things which have nothing to do with science. It’s like a Cliché.
    I have called this “The Authority Cliché”, haaa.
    There is a great deal of literature which deals with this problem… It is not medically-oriented, obviously, but I think you could really use some “classical” reading.
    Mind you; I love your blog, and you being so “clichéd” this way and everything is part of the charm itself…
    But, sometimes, it kind of hurts a bit as it feels as “violent” and “biased” as trolls content itself.
    Take smoking, for instance… You have stressed “smoking” is bad and you are pro-bans. And even though there is no doubt it is “bad”, medically speaking, you think it is perfectly logical to dismiss the so many aspects behind smoking which are connected with philosophy; anthropology; politics, etc and jump to a straight forward conclusion (which involves itself a great deal of values and is no longer “scientific” strictu sensu but you kind of communicate as such – This is a bit like seudoscience to me). Your reasoning is very simplistic…
    Smoking equals cancer: fact; cancer is bad: fact, then smoking should be avoided… But… Is this also a medical fact or an ethical/ political decision !? So, the issue itself requires some analysis, to say the least.
    I mean, don’t get me wrong… You certainly are entitled to have such an “opinion”, but are you fully aware it is just that; an opinion !?
    Sometimes I wonder…
    Because you seem to communicate your “philosophy” on this, as in the example, as if it was a natural extension which is THE OBVIOUS AND DIRECT result to science findings, thus scientific. Do you see what I mean…?
    Their “science” is no more science than that of a doctor who is against smoking and thinks him/herself empowered to practice their art by imposing this criteria; because even though it “makes sense” to a large group of people if not most, or even society as a whole: it is not part of the science process.
    I really wonder sometimes… If you are aware. Honestly.
    Because when you state things such as the fact that “all of us being gods” sounds so funny, and deploy so much irony in return, I am kind of surprised as it seems you don’t realize such a claim is per se as absurd as the very notion it makes fun of, for, technically speaking they are the same. Do you feel it seems more “scientifically” correct to assume we are not all gods !? Because it certainly is not. Science is not there yet, is it? THEY shouldnt make such claims; YOU shouldn’t as well. THEY are obviously not doing science, neither are you today.
    You think it is obvious that the victims of the Holocaust are not to be blamed because they cannot be “held responsible” for their destiny. Again…
    It sounds absurd to make such a claim, but that is just because of the cosmovision commonly shared. Since, actually, to be perfeclty objective… Who knows !? There is a philosophical premise behind every argument, and yours just “feels” more on the safer side of the spectrum, so to speak, but that’s just because of a chrono-centered bias altogether, and not because of a science principle or such.
    In my opinion this problem is typical of doctors, who will identify what causes a problem and if they are not able to fix that they will eventually tell you how to live your life avoiding the source of the problem, pretending they know better. Adopting a ritus. Everything becomes moral in nature, and they end up “educating” patients. As if they knew better. As if they actually knew. Not even fully realizing what they are doing is neither medicine nor science any longer…

    =)

  7. #7 Denice Walter
    January 3, 2012

    Needless to say, he then veers off in a spiritual direction, about *immortality*. Woo is not limited by earthy matters like death. We all vibe on.**

    Personally, I know an older fellow who attributes my interests in cuisine, art, and culture to my “past lives in the East”. One day while drinking tea, I pretended to have a vague recollection, which I then elaborated: seems I married a much older major and travelled to India in the time of the Raj where I instantly developed rapport with my Indian servants; I learned about their culture,visited temples, and had an affair with a young, native dude.

    I described the foods, the fabrics, and plants I encountered in great detail- flowing turquoise, silver embroidered saris wafting in the breeze, the fragant spices my cook masterfully employed, the temple facade jam- packed with undulating, voluptuous female devas,*au natural*, the lilting accents of the people, their enlivening- slightly dis-harmonic- music, smelling sandalwood incense as I gaze into the depths of the dense foliage outside my house while it rains…

    I relate this tale with a straight face: he believes it. I confess that I made it all up, that it was influenced by movies I saw and what I learned *in this life* by studying Indian art and interacting with Indian people. Even then, he believes I touched upon a past life.

    Woo encompasses supernatural explanations where more earth-bound ones would suffice: I studied stuff and have ability describing sensory phenomenon so others can experience what I do. It’s called “communication” – not an energy exchange, not evidence of past lives. Regular woo is attractive to those without a enough of a background in the life sciences while this spiritual woo appeals to those without an understanding of general psychology.

    ** my apologies to the late Mr Lennon.

  8. #8 LW
    January 3, 2012

    Shorter drama: all things are equally true and equally false and there’s no point communicating in any way. Which makes me wonder why drama bothered to type all that.

  9. #9 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 3, 2012

    drama,

    Do you feel it seems more “scientifically” correct to assume we are not all gods !?

    Well, yeah. The word “gods” has a specific meaning that relates to various qualities. We can observe that people do not have some of these qualities – ability to manipulate nature via force of will alone, immortality, or a variety of other characteristics unique to gods. There is nothing observable in people that requires them to be gods, and a lot that says they are not.

    We can make the same comparison of people to dogs and conclude we are not all dogs.

  10. #10 drama
    January 3, 2012

    There’s the thing… As you have stated…

    The fact that I have typed all that is as true as it is false…

    So, I may not even have typed that as far as I know…

    (Twilight’s Soundtrack Here…)
    ;)

  11. #11 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 3, 2012

    drama,

    The fact that I have typed all that is as true as it is false…

    If it is a fact that you typed all that (or at least caused it to be entered into the text box via some mechanism, which we shall refer to as “typing” for the purposes of this discussion), then it must needs be true. For you to say that you yourself do not know if you typed it or not means you are either being terminally vague in an attempt to appear deep, or you have a significant mental issue.
    Your statement reminds me of the joke that Murphy’s Law was not, in fact, created by Murphy, but by another person of the same name.

  12. #12 Mu
    January 3, 2012

    I think “immortal energy” has the same problem as water with memory. What it will remember most is being around crap.

  13. #13 drama
    January 3, 2012

    drama said: Do you feel it seems more “scientifically” correct to assume we are not all gods !?

    Mephistopheles O’Brien said: Well, yeah. The word “gods” has a specific meaning that relates to various qualities. We can observe that people do not have some of these qualities – ability to manipulate nature via force of will alone, immortality, or a variety of other characteristics unique to gods. There is nothing observable in people that requires them to be gods, and a lot that says they are not.
    We can make the same comparison of people to dogs and conclude we are not all dogs.

    Ok, there’s the problem, see !?

    1. The entry to the word “god” is itself odd. By nature. Furthermore, most concepts associated with “gods” do not get on well with logics/ science…

    2. Many of my neighbours would fit the dog category better than that of human. That’s a fact, I promise. And while this may be exceptional… I must confess I do not feel we are dogs, right… However… I get this intense feeling, at the same time, there is somewhat a human “inside” every dog… Hard to describe…
    Nevermind, thing is…
    If you get to think about it, no matter how crazy and surreal it sounds, eventually it may start to make sense…
    Just try this…
    Forget about your misconceptions…
    There is no dog…

    Huuuuuuaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh !!!

    =)

    PS: Oh! And about the typing issue…

    Ok, I may have mental issues…

    Got me !!!

  14. #14 Amenhotepstein
    January 3, 2012

    Every human being – every living thing – has an energy field. Actually, every human being is an energy field.

    It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.

    I’m beginning to see where he’s going with this! It’s part of a viral marketing scheme for Star Wars VII – Weturn of the Woo-Bots.

  15. #15 Vicki
    January 3, 2012

    Malaclypse the Younger: Everything is true.
    Greater Poop: Even false things?
    Mal2: Even false things are true.
    Greater Poop: How can that be?
    Mal2: I don’t know, man, I didn’t do it.

    Discordianism can be useful to shake things up now and then, but it should be taken in moderation.

  16. #16 drama
    January 3, 2012

    If Im not mistaken Darwin himself was inspired by the very concept of no distinction between dogs and men…

    He even said something along these lines:

    Whenever I see different animals yawning, I feel we are all the same…

  17. #17 drama
    January 3, 2012

    Woof woof !!!

  18. #18 TBruce
    January 3, 2012

    @drama #6:

    Is “cosmovision” Kramer’s superpower?

  19. #19 Karl Withakay
    January 3, 2012

    This may not be from Chopra, but it is Choprawoo at its finest. It would be better to stick with the term vitalism, as once you invoke energy, you’re really invoking a naturalistic, materialistic phenomenon that should conform to the laws of physics (known &/or unknown)and thermodynamics and shouldn’t be expected to meaningfully survive the probable eventual heat death of the universe.

    If you’re invoking scientific concepts to support your supernatural claims, especially those involving perpetual immortality, you’re probably doing it wrong. It’s best to keep supernatural claims non-falsifiable.

  20. #20 drama
    January 3, 2012

    Now, seriously…

    The fact that maybe, not consiously of course, one may desire to die and possibly articulate this into reality somewhat sounds legit as a theorie.

    But, anyhow, I think this type of pseudo-science “scam” is to be considered “entertainment”. It’s like sci-fi meets reality. It’s like a novel on steroids. It is like 3-D fiction…

    It’s cool, come on, people… !!!

    And to some people it may even work as a religion of choice, I don’t see why not… !?

  21. #21 Karl Withakay
    January 3, 2012

    How long until the vitalism woo crowd gets with modern physics and abandons the “we are all energy fields” idea and embraces the concept that we are all really gauge bosons?

  22. #22 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    Ugh, i have a friend who is an ardent folllower of the secret and similar nonsense, even the nonsense that contradicts other nonsense. He brought up Kirlian photography as proof that cancerous diseases are the result of holes in the aura/spirit. Is further proof, he furnished me with a book by Dr. Bruce Goldberg, dentist, naturopath and self described time traveler. I stopped half way through the book upon realizing that I was losing sanity and hemorrhaging IQ points by reading it.Perhaps one day Orac can post addressing this individual.

  23. #23 drama
    January 3, 2012

    Igor’s reminded me of Lobsang Rampa’s…

  24. #24 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    But, anyhow, I think this type of pseudo-science “scam” is to be considered “entertainment”.

    It looses its entertainment value when gullible and desperately ill individuals spend whatever little money they have on these scams. Or worse, when these individuals or their children end up less healthy or dead as the direct or indirect result of the “alternative medicine”.

    As for alt med being a religion of choice, I can see that. In many cases it is virtually indistinguishable and sometimes overlaps known religions (i.e. christian science, prayer, faith healing, etc.). Often, alt med supporters cite various religious texts as evidence of their preferred woo in history.

  25. #25 drama
    January 3, 2012

    When people die because of this scams is when it gets more interesting…

    No, no… Just kidding, of course…

    I did not mean alternative meds. I was just talking about pseudo-science non medical…

  26. #26 t_p_hamilton
    January 3, 2012

    “The woo, it is strong in this one.”

    Because of high levels of ridichlorians.

  27. #27 drama
    January 3, 2012

    Anyhow… People have also died because of traditional medicine/ science, and in large quantities, as well, through out history.

    Examples are in the millions…

  28. #28 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    Well, isn’t Scientology a religion founded in part on pseudo-science intended to replace psychology/scyhiatry?

  29. #29 drama
    January 3, 2012

    Not exactely but basically YES.

  30. #30 drama
    January 3, 2012

    And supposedly scientology has had its victims…

    Haven’t they killed some celebrities kids !?

    Gosh.

  31. #31 Edith Prickly
    January 3, 2012

    I detect a distinctively skunky odor coming from drama’s postings. Combine that with the fixation on smoking, and I think the answer is that he/she lit up some powerful stuff before sharing these “pearls” of cosmic wisdom with us.

    I mean really, Lobsang Rampa? http://skepdic.com/rampa.html

  32. #32 drama
    January 3, 2012

    The question is WHO has had more victims in history:

    Science or pseudo-science !?

    I know we should measure this according to many details and analyse carefully… And should select the right criteria for comparison…

    But maybe there is such a chart/ similar !?

    Would you know… !?

    Now Im veryb curious!!!

  33. #33 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    People have also died because of traditional medicine/ science, and in large quantities, as well, through out history.

    If you are talking about iatrogenic deaths, do a search as Orac has addressed this issue, frequently cited by alt med supporters unable to provide proof of efficacy of the alternative treatment. Adverse reactions or complications from medical treatments can be problematic, but are rarely a result of ineffective treatment. Informed consent, in theory, apprises patients of the known risks of medical procedures/medication as compared to the risk of avoiding treatment. Compare that to alternative gtreatments which lack evidence of effectiveness and are risk free only as the result of the treatment’s intangible nature (i.e. homeopathy, reiki, etc.)

    Keep in mind, that iatrogenic disease is prevalent because people overwhelmingly resort to conventional medical treatments which would also result in detailed medical records. Adverse health consequences in alt med are often ignored and/or unreported. Furthermore, iatrogenic deaths need to be compared with the consequences of avoiding medical treatment altogether. Moreover, researchers and doctors are continuously working on ways to decrease iatrogenisis, something that alt med practitioners never address within their woo fields for many obvious reasons.

  34. #34 drama
    January 3, 2012

    Iatrogenic deaths !?

    No, no…

    I was refering to the chantix type of dead…

    Now I wonder whether

  35. #35 T-reg
    January 3, 2012

    Anyhow… People have also died because of traditional medicine/ science

    Could you compare that with the number who have died due to religion or pseudo-science (Nazi-style eugenics, for instance)?
    Could you compare this with the number of people who have died because of delaying real treatment in favour of pseudo-science?

    While science may not be useful to answer all questions, most questions about health and disease are better approached through science.

    Try to stay off the weed; you sound high.

  36. #36 drama
    January 3, 2012

    Sorry I had an incomplete post; and sorry for the typos as well…

  37. #37 drama
    January 3, 2012

    I mentioned CHANTIX as it is a fact many people died as a consequence, right ??

    Doctors precribe Chantix sometimes, right?

    Speaking of which, many people die because of cigarettes and e-cigs work perfectly fine as a healthier alternative (I do know this for a fact as I have been vaping for years and I am really into this…) and medicine is not doing anything as to foster them when they could/ should. In general, I mean…

    Most doctors are not updated on this, for example… And totally biased.

    And it may very well prevent many many many people from dying…

    This is a gap, for instance.

  38. #38 Stu
    January 3, 2012

    Stoner takes 20 posts to get around to whining about iatrogenic injury; film at 11.

  39. #39 Lycanthrope
    January 3, 2012

    drama:

    Is it not better to stop smoking altogether, rather than simply smoking something else? E-cigarettes have their own potential problems. Have you considered that there’s a reason doctors don’t recommend them to patients yet?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but all your babble in your first comment about smoking seemed to boil down to how there are many factors that make people want to smoke, and in the end, it’s just a personal choice.

    Bullshit.

    I have nothing but contempt for the decision to smoke, and that includes your precious e-cigs. Knowing what we know now, I consider it the height of stupidity to start smoking. Your choice to poison yourself affects many more people than just you. It is very likely to shorten your life, which impacts your loved ones, and it represents a huge preventable burden on any health care system.

    As for your bit about medical mistakes and iatrogenic deaths, are you seriously implying that alt-med practitioners never make such mistakes, or make way fewer mistakes? (Proportionately, not by sheer numbers.) Because even if that’s not what you intended, the implication is there. No one claims that modern medicine is perfect; we only claim that basing treatments and practices on observable evidence of effectiveness is the best approach. There is constant effort to minimize, mitigate, and reduce the number of such mistakes, but sometimes they’re unavoidable.

  40. #40 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    The question is WHO has had more victims in history: Science or pseudo-science !?

    First, it’s a meaningless question. Science is primarily about observing and explaining natural processes. Just because physics gave us the law of gravity, doesn’t mean science kills people every time someone pushes another person to fall to his/her death. Further, it’s disingenuous to ask only one side of the question. Is it not pertinent how many people were saved by science. When you look at efficacy of seat belts you don’t look only at injuries and deaths sustained by using seat belts.

    If you are implying that science is responsible for poisonous gas, atomic weapons, germ warfare, etc. then it’s certainly an unfair comparison. Then you might as well blame science for motor vehicle deaths or airplane crashes. Moreover, you may want to deal with proportions, since population size varied at different times in history. Given the fact that most significant scientific developments took place over the past 100-150 years, pseudo science had a head start. And like I said, due to its nature, pseudo science doesn’t self-police or keep accurate records. Its practitioners are often fond of anecdotal evidence while ignoring the confirmation bias. As such, even if pseudo science was directly culpable for more deaths/suffering, finding reliable data is difficult.

    and medicine is not doing anything as to foster them when they could/ should.

    Doctors advise against smoking altogether. The extent to which they provide healthier alternatives is irrelevant, especially when these alternatives involve other newer nicotine products. They also don’t recommend wellbutrin for quitting, usually because it’s outside their area of expertise and because the patients aren’t there to quit smoking. I’m sure that doctors specializing in addiction treatment are well acquanted with e-cigarettes, but unless you go to a doctor for that specific purpose, “don’t smoke” is good medical advice.

  41. #41 Matthew Cline
    January 3, 2012

    I thought the “energy” in the title of the article meant that this was going to be some combination of free energy (perpetual motion) and The Secret, which would have been awesomely amusing (it’s a dessert topping and a floor wax!). I’m disappointed that it’s just normal New Age woo type energy.

  42. #42 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    Next thing you know drama is going to blame internists for not recommending methadone to their patients addicted to heroin. Incidentally, chantix, wellbutrin, nicotine gum, electronic cigarettes, etc. were all developed and tested using …science. As for alt med, why would it need healthier alternatives if its practitioners often claim ability to cure everything? If faith healing always works (except when it doesn’t) would any of its adherents even worry about the dangers of smoking?

  43. #43 Peter G
    January 3, 2012

    All these posts and not one Phallusopher joke!

  44. #44 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    “I thought the “energy” in the title of the article meant that this was going to be some combination of free energy (perpetual motion) and The Secret.”

    Well, there’s the kinetic energy acquired by gifted to me “Secret” DVDs upon dropping them down my incinerator chute. Incidentally, perpetual motion devices have always been the stuff of pseudoscience and crackpot inventors, who nevertheless made more sense than any proponent of the Secret.

  45. #45 Bubaracho
    January 3, 2012

    Speaking of woo and auras, I heard from an anoymous source that chris who lacks chromosomes has met orac in person. I doubt that since orac is not a real person and cannot correspond with people lacking chromosomes. I bet chris also met the tooth fairy and jolly green giant as well.

    Then again chris could be telling the truth since I did meet PZ Myers in person one time. It was not pleasnt for either of us. I trolled him in person. His class sucks. Damned evolution crap. So many more important subjects to take than his class. Even basic shop class was more interesting. People who lack chromosomes do not get to take shop class, they take home economics and learn how to meet real people in person and not just imagine things.

  46. #46 Stu
    January 3, 2012

    I have nothing but contempt for the decision to smoke, and that includes your precious e-cigs. Knowing what we know now, I consider it the height of stupidity to start smoking. Your choice to poison yourself affects many more people than just you. It is very likely to shorten your life, which impacts your loved ones, and it represents a huge preventable burden on any health care system.

    So I assume you do not drink either then?

  47. #47 Bubaracho
    January 3, 2012

    Chris this is stupid what about the comments that you and narad the nerd left at my site? Actually the better university to attend would have been Liberty University. Oh, hell conservapdia has all the info a student would ever need to know.

  48. #48 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    “I have nothing but contempt for the decision to smoke, and that includes your precious e-cigs.”

    Is this one of those “love the sinner, hate the sin” analogies. Surely good people make bad health choices not limited to smoking? Drinking, eating bad food, etc.? I find it hard to believe that you never acted in a manner detrimental to your health or life. Similar contempt can be held for the decision to engage in sports carrying high risk of injury? How about those choosing to drive instead of resorting to public transportation? What about salt lovers?

    I am in complete agreement about the dangers of smoking and efforts to encourage quitting, but people are bound to make bad decisions not limited to smoking and should not be subjected to self-righteous scorn of others who are likely ignoring their own shortcomings.

  49. #49 Interrobang
    January 3, 2012

    So I assume you do not drink either then?

    Since when does alcohol cause metabolic dependence (in pretty well all of its users) like nicotine does? Also, considering that some alcoholic beverages seem to have some beneficial effects (red wine, apparently), nothing like which can be said of cigarettes (unless you’re a lying tobacco industry shill), the comparison is inexact at best. Ditto with bad food.

    Eating junk food occasionally is not going to require you to take up eating more and more junk food each day to stave off withdrawl symptoms, while systemically poisoning you.

    So yeah, smoking = terminally stupid. Drinking and eating junk food = not the best for you, but not the end of the world in moderation, either. (For what it’s worth, I don’t drink and my consumption of junk food is quite limited. People under the age of about 40 who smoke, though, are partially braindead.)

  50. #50 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    Since when does alcohol cause metabolic dependence (in pretty well all of its users) like nicotine does?

    Wouldn’t that mean that smoker are physiologically compelled to engage in unhealthy conduct whereas others voluntarily do so time after time and are, therefore, more deserving of contempt?

    “Also, considering that some alcoholic beverages seem to have some beneficial effects ”

    With cancer as a trade off, especially in women who drink wine on a regular basis. I bet smokers can cite some perceived benefit to justify their habit (i.e. like calming nerves, appetite suppression, etc.)/ Generally, the established risks of these substances will always outweigh any perceived benefit. The salient issues is how should we perceive and treat people who engage in reckless unhealthy behavior and whether that makes them worthy of contempt. Is there a purely objective way to pass such judgment and is there a slippery slope?

    Certainly, I do not condone smoking, but I question the wisdom of passing selective judgment.

  51. #51 marty
    January 3, 2012

    Is there a correlation between the length of a comment on a skeptical blog post (in lines) to the woo-i-ness of the posting.

    Hypothesis: Ch = li / lp
    (Ch = Chopras, being the measurement of woo)

    (li being lines of text of the comment)
    (lp being lines of text of the original post)

    Example: comment #6 is 79 lines. post is 73 (not including quotes or empty lines). This leads to a measurement of 1.0822.
    comment #1 is 3 lines. Ch = 0.0411

    It appears to be directly proportional, however this will require further study.

  52. #52 Sauceress
    January 3, 2012

    #4 Dianne

    Depending on how truly homeopathic it is, the alties may have finally found a way to make homeopathy actively dangerous.

    They have indeed.

  53. #53 Sauceress
    January 3, 2012

    I just can’t resist..
    These two quotes fit so hand in glove:

    Not knowing the power of our thoughts, which energy will obediently follow, have made us unwitting creators of all of our calamities and ills.

    [Abraham]

    and..

    Large numbers of people could easily become convinced that they have been killed and hospitals would be unable to cope with the massive influx of the ‘walking suggestible’.

    [New Age terrorists develop homeopathic bomb]

  54. #54 drama
    January 3, 2012

    Lycantrhrope said:

    Is it not better to stop smoking altogether, rather than simply smoking something else? E-cigarettes have their own potential problems. Have you considered that there’s a reason doctors don’t recommend them to patients yet?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but all your babble in your first comment about smoking seemed to boil down to how there are many factors that make people want to smoke, and in the end, it’s just a personal choice.

    Bullshit.

    I have nothing but contempt for the decision to smoke, and that includes your precious e-cigs. Knowing what we know now, I consider it the height of stupidity to start smoking. Your choice to poison yourself affects many more people than just you. It is very likely to shorten your life, which impacts your loved ones, and it represents a huge preventable burden on any health care system.

    As for your bit about medical mistakes and iatrogenic deaths, are you seriously implying that alt-med practitioners never make such mistakes, or make way fewer mistakes? (Proportionately, not by sheer numbers.) Because even if that’s not what you intended, the implication is there. No one claims that modern medicine is perfect; we only claim that basing treatments and practices on observable evidence of effectiveness is the best approach. There is constant effort to minimize, mitigate, and reduce the number of such mistakes, but sometimes they’re unavoidable.

    REPLY:

    1. Smoking is not the problem “per se”. It is a ‘problem’ as it is bad for your health. However it is traditional to identify the addiction with the health risks. I think that while this makes sense, to a certain extent, there is nothing terrible in the addiction per se. Meaning: If smoking did not cause any side effects, it wouldn’t be so “taboo”. This distinction is to be made, and it is very important…
    While a doctor should communicate the facts behind smoking associated risks to their patients, I think it is totalitaristic for a doctor to “lecture” patients on how they should lead a healthy life and stay away from smoking, in this case. I think that this is unprofessional. This is biased. It is not science-oriented. It is phylosophical propaganda based on belief. It is a plan or design which pretends to contain the situtation because medicine is virtually ineffective. Problem is, it becomes a Dogma; a repetitive formula which shapes and forces this “culture of non smoking (technically that’s what it is)” into people’s minds; it prevents medicine from sticking to science facts and starts evangelizing.

    2. The risks associated with e-cigs are virtually non existent in comparison to traditional cigarettes. Most of you seem pretty unbiased, so you could really check out the extensive literature on ECF:
    http://www.e-cigarette-forum.com/forum/
    Because you are not updated whatsoever on this.

    Furthermore; ORAC should definitely check out the available data and fill you in on this.

    3. While pseudo-science in general is BS, part of the concepts behind new-agy stuff are at least cool and possibly hold, at least, a bit of truth, conceptually-wise, at least sometimes.

    Of course real medicine based on science is the way to go; that is out of the question. I was being silly…

    =)

    Today is my first day to post. Cool and “emoclew” (I have always thought this should be idiomatic, heee. It’s welcome but the other way round, as said by one in situtations in which there is a natural delay before they might welcome you… Just me being silly again, never mind !!!)

  55. #55 drama
    January 3, 2012

    I said: Anyhow… People have also died because of traditional medicine/ science

    T-reg said: Could you compare that with the number who have died due to religion or pseudo-science (Nazi-style eugenics, for instance)?
    Could you compare this with the number of people who have died because of delaying real treatment in favour of pseudo-science?

    While science may not be useful to answer all questions, most questions about health and disease are better approached through science.

    Try to stay off the weed; you sound high.

    Reply:

    You are right a science-based approach is the way to go here, but not because there have been fewer deaths…
    I think it is out of the question “who” killed more people; We should not “weight” people’s lives… It shouldn’t be a matter of quantity. That is no sensible criteria at all.

  56. #56 adelady
    January 3, 2012

    Thank you soooo much sauceress. This household is now evidence that homeopathy is much much more powerful than previously thought.

    No water needed. Simply reading about weapons-grade homeopathy has had a marked effect within this household. The neighbours are probably calling for emergency aid right now to deal with the screams of hysterical laughter.

  57. #57 Chris
    January 3, 2012

    And the stupidity continues.

    I see why Bubaracho flunked his basic biology class at UM Morris. He missed the difference between humans who are XY and XX, and that it is those who have the XY that are missing chromosomal material.

    Even by skipping the shift-key we can tell this is more trolling by MM.

  58. #58 Chris
    January 3, 2012

    Hello, Brave Sir Robin Right Wingnut, also known as Televisionless Conservative (where he had to told how to watch a PBS program from its website), Dr. Smart, Medicien Man, and whatever. At least this ‘nym is close to his mental state: borracho (drunk in Spanish).

  59. #59 Igor
    January 3, 2012

    Whoa, no chromosomes. I didn’t even know there are organisms completely lacking them. Orac must be a ghost, although the dearth of research on ghosts makes it difficult to study ghost chromosomes. Could be worse I suppose, posts #52 and 54 appear to be a product of numerous extra chromosomes.

    And don’t be taking about the tooth fairy, i got a back full of old dentures here. Tomorrow I get paid if only I can find a big enough pillow.

  60. #60 T-reg
    January 3, 2012

    @Chris:
    Also, it’s an interesting ‘nym for someone who is so homophobic; “barachod” is a derogatory word for male homosexuals in Bengali.

  61. #61 Lycanthrope
    January 4, 2012

    Stu @45: Actually, no, I don’t drink. Thank you for asking, and for the condescension. And as Interrobang already pointed out, alcohol and cigarettes do not carry comparable risks or benefits.

    drama:

    If you’re going for a health freedom, “let people do what they want” argument, then yes, fine. I accept this on the face of it – it is not my place, or a doctor’s, to tell you how to live your life and enforce it. But don’t expect anyone, least of all doctors, to stop truthfully saying that smoking is incredibly bad for you, and don’t expect me to have any sympathy for someone’s decision to knowingly poison themselves just because they can.

  62. #62 Igor
    January 4, 2012

    “And as Interrobang already pointed out, alcohol and cigarettes do not carry comparable risks or benefits.”

    To an extent, the risks and benefits are comparable, and the choice to condemn individuals engaging in one but not the other is drawing an arbitrary distinction. In fact, your comment that you hold smoking e-cigarettes in equal contempt, which arguable have a much lower risk, even as compared to alcohol, indicates that you are merely using risk/benefit evidence to bolster your preconception.

    I commend you on not smoking or drinking, in factn I recently stopped drinking myself. However, your comment is indicative of one of the reasons I think a high level of derision is unwarranted. If you start with alcohol, you eventually will have to arbitrarily exclude other unhealthy behaviors. You drew the line on alcohol which has limited, if any, proven benefit, can lead to physical addition withdrawal from which can be deadly, leads to fights and car accidents, cirrhosis and cancer of the liver, etc. As you can see, you glossed over these harmful consequences and speculated that that one is worse then the other.

    Moreover, why would you judge smokers, admittedly hooked on cancer sticks, harsher than alcohol users who chose to engage in behavior often immediately lethal to others? Will you draw a distinction based on the consumed amount (i.e alcoholic vs occasional smoker)?

  63. #63 Colin Day
    January 4, 2012

    @drama
    #53

    If 1,000,000 people try scientific medicine and 10,000 people die, that is more deaths than if 10,000 people try alt med and 1,000 people die. But the scientific medicine only killed 1% of the patients and alt med killed 10%. Which is worse?

    Warning: The numbers given above are completely made up. I use them to illustrate a point.

  64. #64 Igor
    January 4, 2012

    “Which is worse?”

    That depends on whether drama’s made numbers will beat your made up numbers. Yours is a good illustration, although for completeness I suggest rewording it so that it is clear that conventional medical practices result in proportionally fewer deaths by also successfully treating conditions that would result in death if left untreated, and that do result in death when treated by alt med only.

    Unfortunately alties rigged the rules, and I suspect that eliminating iatrogenic deaths altogether (were it even possible) will result in s claim similar to anti-vaxers’ contentions, that medicine is unnecessary because people are healthy without it.

  65. #65 alison
    January 4, 2012

    @ Igor (#22) – I was intrigued enough to follow up on Dr Goldberg & I almost wish I hadn’t. There is some concentrated weirdness on that site! Still, I had a bit of fun with it this afternoon (click on my name for the link). :-)

  66. #66 palindrom
    January 4, 2012

    It’s interesting that the woo-agers have appropriated “energy” as a term of art, instead of some other quantity like, say “angular momentum”. Even in physics energy is a bit mysterious, as well as centrally important — but, whatever it is, it’s always reducible to kg m^2 / s^2. I suspect these “energy fields” aren’t quite so well-defined.

    Loved the homeopathic bomb, by the way. (Linked by Diana @50).

  67. #67 Igor
    January 4, 2012

    @palindrom: I find this is a common practice which makes rational dispute of alt med virtually impossible. I noticed that new agers often tailor word meanings to support their claims, when no other dictionary definition will work. This is particularly so with terms borrowed from other scientific disciplines, such as energy, dimensions, etc. Of course they rarely warn in advance of relying on their own definition without which their claim has even less merit. As such, I wisen up to this semantic trip only after conversing for soem time. Amazingly, when i point out that they can’t just redefine terms at a whim to bolster their claims, they ignore the term altogether and fall back on changing the original claim. It’s an exhausting exercise.

  68. #68 Lycanthrope
    January 4, 2012

    Igor:

    Now that I’ve calmed down a little, you raise a decent point. I was mostly reacting to Stu getting my back against a wall.

    I dispute your premise that alcohol and cigarettes are comparable. To me it is clear-cut that, while the former certainly can be dangerous, the latter is much worse. Of course I also condemn out-and-out dangerous behaviour with regards to alcohol: binge drinking, DUI, addiction, etc. But I don’t think alcohol is equally contemptible. It seems to me that is perfectly possible to consume alcohol safely; I cannot say the same of cigarettes.

    However, I must acknowledge some bias here, which is that smoking angers me on a very visceral level, hence my contempt. Having had respiratory issues all my life (admittedly mild, but still problematic,) a large part of what I’m reacting to is what I see as smokers throwing their health away for no good reason. I hereby acknowledge this bias, but I won’t abandon it either.

  69. #69 Ian Kemmish
    January 4, 2012

    Isn’t this just a slightly garbled rehashing of the “ideas” of Falun Gong? In particular, the approach to time travel and the notion that virtue and karma can apply to this life as well as the next?

  70. #70 Interrobang
    January 4, 2012

    Wouldn’t that mean that smoker are physiologically compelled to engage in unhealthy conduct whereas others voluntarily do so time after time and are, therefore, more deserving of contempt?

    Well, they’re not physiologically compelled when they start smoking, so no. The decision to start smoking is the stupid one, particularly since at least where I live, there’s no comparable “smoking culture” to compare to the drinking culture.

    I’m perfectly contemptuous of people who drink to excess over and over again, but they also didn’t start drinking knowing that they’d wind up addicted after 40 or 50 years of hearing how drinking kills 50% of its users and so on. People who drink to excess are also the minority among alcohol users, whereas the majority of tobacco users smoke multiple cigarettes every day. You’re mixing up apples and buggy whips, here: Drinking to excess (alcohol abuse) is not the same as “normal” (commonplace, expected) use of tobacco, for several reasons, and I am wondering why you’re being obtuse enough to refuse to see that. Cigarettes are sold with the expectation that people will consume them exactly the way that they do, which causes addiction and illness in most users. That is not true for alcohol.

    Also, a drunk isn’t spraying second-hand alcohol around that harms me when I don’t want to be harmed. Yes, other people get hurt by alcohol abuse, but not the same way or to the same degree as people are harmed by second-hand smoke. There seems to be some evidence that smoking bans in occupational settings lead to an increase in overall health in employees, for instance.

  71. #71 Calli Arcale
    January 4, 2012

    I think smoking is a bad habit to pick up, but I don’t have any visceral hate for smokers. I, too, have respiratory difficulties, but a cat-lover is worse for me than a smoker. ;-) (Damn allergies. Cats are awesome, beautiful creatures, but my immune system hates ‘em for some reason.)

    I don’t really have a problem with people smoking. I think it’s foolish, but there are many foolish things a lot of people do. It’s part of what makes people human. The worse harm that it does, in my opinion, isn’t what it does to human health, though that’s significant. It’s the addiction. All addictions have the potential to destroy lives, relationships, and families, and they’re all costly and difficult to escape from. I don’t hate addicts, though. They made a very human mistake, and they’re already paying an unjustly high price for it. It’s very hard to get un-addicted, and society’s general condemnation doesn’t exactly help. I know a lot of drinkers and a lot of smokers. All the drinkers I know are careful not to drive drunk, and all the smokers I know are courteous and do their smoking outdoors or privately. I’m fine with that. There is a social cost to smoking, certainly. They do drain our health resources disproportionately. (Same with alcoholics.) But there are many classes of people who are a disproportionate drain. Professional bull riders, for instance, or hockey players, or, heck, members of the armed forces. I don’t think we get to judge people based on how much they cost the health system. We all have our biases, though, and it’s good to recognize them.

  72. #72 Igor
    January 4, 2012

    “It seems to me that is perfectly possible to consume alcohol safely; I cannot say the same of cigarettes.”

    It is possible to consume alcohol in a safer manner, but never safely, the same way it is theoretically possible to consume cigarettes in a safer manner, especially in light of e-cigarette which you equally condemn. Like i said, the risk of using either depends on varying factors, including amounts consumed. Ultimately, arbitrarily drawing the line you did is not based on any objective analysis of evidence, but likely on your gut feeling. I am only pointing out that your attempt to give greater legitimacy to your broad distaste for nicotine products as opposed to alcoholic beverages is fallacious reasoning normally avoided by the frequent readers of this blog.

    It’s ok to have an acknowledged bias. I have purely subjective preferences/dislikes as well. And of course nothing wrong with despising tobacco use or the industry. If you ever get a chance, read “Up in Smoke” which is a quick read of U.S. tobacco litigation. Take it easy on the smokers, however. Many are good respectful people who have enough problems, like smoking, without visceral condemnation by others.

  73. #73 Igor
    January 4, 2012

    “Well, they’re not physiologically compelled when they start smoking, so no. ”

    Yes, I thought about that discrepancy, but shouldn’t the age of the smoker or the age at which one started smoker be a mitigating circumstance for the start. There are those who start at a very young age without the benefit of proper guidance and someone who started 40-50 years ago when tobacco companies were still actively engaged in misinformation campaign. Surely, they should be treated with leniency?

    “Also, a drunk isn’t spraying second-hand alcohol around that harms me when I don’t want to be harmed. Yes, other people get hurt by alcohol abuse, but not the same way or to the same degree as people are harmed by second-hand smoke.”

    Why, do you have an accurate way of measuring the harm from second hand smoke against harm caused by drunk driving or alcohol induced violence? We already established that we all have our biases, and while you are certainly entitled to yours (hell, I might even agree) I expect better support for such speculative statements on this blog.

    Anyways, we can debate ad nauseum the finer points of what we essentially agree on, to wit, that smoking is a terrible habit with disastrous individual and public health consequences. I certainly have my own bias on the issue of addiction as my wife is a mental health professional who works with HIV+ addicts. Through her, I recognized the simplistic and reductionist thinking of many in our society who view addicts as criminals and a nuisance, which likely only further exacerbates the problem, instead of addressing and remedying the underlying causes of addiction.

  74. #74 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 4, 2012

    Why, do you have an accurate way of measuring the harm from second hand smoke against harm caused by drunk driving or alcohol induced violence?

    There’s a fundamental difference, though:

    drunk driving – illegal

    violence (alcohol related or not) – illegal

    throwing your drink in someone’s face – illegal

    forcing someone to drink alcohol against their will – illegal

    Exposing you to second hand smoke in the absence of a smoking “ban” – not illegal

  75. #75 Igor
    January 4, 2012

    @Mephistopheles: I understand your point, but simply because the damage from alcohol consumption results in dangerous illegal activity doesn’t make alcohol consumption necessarily less risky then second hand smoke.Does the simple fact that one legally owns a weapon decrease the harm from its use resulting in homicide?

    Incidentally, I think actively blowing second hand smoke into someone’s face qualifies as assault and battery.

  76. #76 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 4, 2012

    Igor,
    I never claimed anything related to the relative risk levels of alcohol and tobacco. I do recall (though cannot lay my finger on just now) that there have been studies that indicate that moderate consumption of various alcoholic beverages produces a net positive health effect, and that would suggest that alcohol can be consumed not only safely but beneficially to the individual. I do not know the studies that show that cigarettes (e or otherwise) produces a net health benefit.

    The issue is one of legal regulation. One may well say that alcohol consumption should be regulated in order to avoid the very harms you mention (plus others) and, strangely enough, it is. You cannot (in most places in the US) take your own wine into McDonald’s and drink it along with your hamburger – not merely by corporate policy but by law.

    One can reasonably argue that other behaviors could be regulated the same way.

  77. #77 Composer99
    January 4, 2012

    You know that (a) there’s not much more to say after an Oracian deconstruction of some particular quackery and (b) the defenders of said quackery and/or regular trolls are not active when a comment thread on energy woo derails into a discussion on smoking. :)

    (To be fair, drama, whose purpose on this thread appears to be about spreading post-modernist gibberish and alt-med apologia, started it.)

  78. #78 Igor
    January 4, 2012

    @Mephistopheles: Of course, an argument could also be made that the legislatures already addressed the greatest perceived risk to the public from alcohol use by criminalizing or otherwise penalizing certain incidences of alcohol consumption. DWIs can rise to the level of felonies, and DWI related deaths are prosecuted as reckless homicides. Further restrictions on use of alcohol are usually violations that suffer from lack of enforcement. Police (depending on jurisdiction) frequently ignore bagged alcoholic beverages. Moreover, the penalty for violence is unaffected by the assailant’s sober state. Although assault and battery are crimes, legislatures deemed it unnecessary to specifically address the exacerbating effects of alcohol.

    It is important that we recognize the precarious balance between the state’s interest in protecting the public and restricting individual liberties requiring public protection from itself. Ban on smoking in bars, and other enclosed public spaces was applauded even by most smokers. Extending the same protection to large ventilated areas in NYC was decried by most nonsmokers. Weighing relative risks is therefore important in determining the degree of public protection. Of course this idea is not limited to just substance use, but extends to issues like the recent NDAA.

  79. #79 Igor
    January 4, 2012

    Well, any proponent of the Secret worth his or her solt likely opposed Orac the only sensible way – by wishing really hard for the last couple of days that he went away. If only avid homeopaths took to their discipline with the same devotion by diluting their statements to the point where they wouldn’t post anything at all, for maximum message effectiveness.

  80. #80 Lycanthrope
    January 4, 2012

    Calli Arcale:

    Again, I should clarify after taking a deep breath or two. I don’t hate smokers; I hate smoking. I realize that’s a very fine, “love the sinner, hate the sin” distinction, but I’m prepared to cling to it. I know several smokers, including my aunt. I don’t hate them. I know that it does not define them. I know that people are complex. And I know that there are many who started smoking when the evidence was less clear-cut and the societal frowning upon smoking was simply not there.

    What really pisses me off and earns my contempt, though, is people like drama who try to justify the decision to start or continue smoking in 2012 with smug, trite arguments like “It’s my personal choice and you can’t take that away from me.” Of fucking course I can’t. I’m not a dictator. But I’m not going to clam up and respect a stupid decision just because you have the freedom to make it.

    And drama in particular seems to go one further and say “It’s just your opinion that smoking is hazardous to your health.” WTF?

  81. #81 Mephisto
    January 4, 2012

    Funny how comments magically appear. Maybe sockpuppetry is real. Maybe narad is real and not imaginary. Seems like colloidal silver really is good for something after all.

  82. #82 Barriga
    January 4, 2012

    Narad used to have problems with flies and gnats on his face until he tried some secret elixor that Doctor Smart invented. Hint hint.

  83. #83 drama
    January 4, 2012

    I have never said that. Smoking kills; period. What I have said is that:

    1. It certainly is your “opinion” the fact that the decision to smoke is stupid. If the criteria behind any decision is to be that of health-friendly standards or so, then: Of course you would be right. However, life is much more complex than that. And yours is just one way to look at it. Your notion that if smoking kills, then anyone who is pro-smoking is to be stupid, is simply biased; narrow-minded and totalitaristic. You have said so yourself, kind of, as you stated you have a bias. So, from that point on, your inconsistency becomes substained…

    2. I did mention e-cigarettes are a much safer choice. Far safer. You are totally ignorant and non-upadated on this. It shows. So, maybe you should do some reading first. Because comparing e-cigs to traditional cigarettes consumption is simply ridiculous. Do some reading and you WILL change your mind. Period. DO NOT spread missinformation. You should know better than that. Claiming some doctors are against e-cigs is silly and makes no sense, SCIENTIFICALLY. I know no doctor who is updated (not many…) who is against them… !!! YOU simply have no arguments to be against e-cigs… Guess what? THERE ARE NONE. Do your homework before repeating inaccurate data and being not informed properly. I thought these threads were about no-woo stuff… !!!

  84. #84 drama
    January 4, 2012

    And…

    1 Bis. While it is “common sense” that the decision to start smoking is stupid. Common sense may be odd and is NOT SCIENCE. IT IS NOT. Could never be. Philosophy studies “common sense”. What is considered “Common sense” largely depends on culture and is always biased as it is involves a process of hermeneutics…

    A. Smoking Kills: Science Fact.

    B. Decision to smoke being stupid/ legit: Philosophical Arena.

    My statement was that: Let’s not mechanically derive B from A as if it was a natural consequence thus as scientific as A or as obvious.

    While no one can show a solid argument against A (scientifically, of course…), B is a horse of a different colour altogether.

  85. #85 Narad
    January 4, 2012

    Chris this is stupid what about the comments that you and narad the nerd left at my site?

    This should be good. What comments are those, Rob? Last time I checked, you wouldn’t even have to take off your shoes to count every one you’ve ever managed, and that’s with the rather generous assumption that those weren’t sockpuppetry as well.

  86. #86 LW
    January 4, 2012

    “Smoking Kills: Science Fact.”

    How can that be a scientific fact when it isn’t even a fact, scientific or otherwise, “that ‘we are not dogs’ more than whatever else”?

  87. #87 tim gueguen
    January 4, 2012

    Wanna live forever? Just drink the water. Unfortunately if you’re like poor Artemis you’ll end up mute and having to use your psychic powers to save people from WW3.

  88. #88 drama
    January 4, 2012

    [LW said]
    84
    “Smoking Kills: Science Fact.”

    How can that be a scientific fact when it isn’t even a fact, scientific or otherwise, “that ‘we are not dogs’ more than whatever else”?

    [REPLY]

    “Smoking Kills: SCIENCE Fact”

    The entry science fact means “fact which has being determined by science”.
    The thing is that philosophicaly speaking science itself is undetermined, so to speak…
    What I actally wanted to focus on is that science can determine we are not dogs, however, as to do so, it is to take many things for granted, philosophicaly.
    Your very posts reflects the problem, in a way.

    =)

  89. #89 LW
    January 4, 2012

    But in order to determine that it is a fact that science has determined that it is a fact that smoking kills, you have to take many things for granted which you have no philosophical right to do.

  90. #90 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 4, 2012

    I would argue that “science” does not take things for granted, philosophically; rather, it defines a base set of philosophical axioms that have been proven to be useful and bases its philosophy on them.
    An axiom such as “there is no reality, it is all a butterfly’s dream” is not useful for understanding the observable universe.
    “Take many things for granted” suggests that these things have not been explored and discussed. If you look over the history of natural philosophy, I think you’ll find that they have been.

  91. #91 Stu
    January 4, 2012

    Smoking kills; period.

    Funny. I’d have to tell myself, my parents, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents and my wife that they’re dead then.

    Be right back.

    Or did you mean “smoking poses significant health risks” but went with the snazzier sounding line?

  92. #92 drama
    January 4, 2012

    philosohical axiomes are necessary, obviously as a setting for science. That does not mean it is not taking many thing for granted. It is. Again, it is necessary and logical to do so. However, an entire different beast is to do it once the scientif process is over. That is not done “in the name of science” anymore. Such is the case with certain proclaims which are not “technically” scientific. Such is the case of a doctor dispensing advice against smoking. Even though it MAY make full sense but according to parameters which are not per se part of the scientific scheme. That’s to be pointed out.

  93. #93 drama
    January 4, 2012

    I meant “kills” in general Stu…

    You are RIGHT.

  94. #94 Agashem
    January 4, 2012

    Is anyone else tired of this new troll? My ability to use the Secret isn’t working at this time :(

  95. #95 drama
    January 4, 2012

    M’Obrien:

    You are right many of this things have been extensively discussed… But just that; discussed… Not really that much “determined” objectively…

    Again; They are “OK” and it is not exactly accurate to say “they are taking things for granted”, but truth is they kind of are. Nevertheless, it makes full sense; sure!

    But, when it comes to the premise or background to scientific process in situ, not when it comes to the way to interpret the scientific facts in connection with life in general, if that makes sense.

    In his article, our host suggests the notion we are all gods sounds silly. Well, no more than we aren’t. This is pure speculation, no science “reality” here…

    That was my point, originally.

  96. #96 LW
    January 4, 2012

    I’m at a loss to understand why the drama troll would bother seeing a doctor anyway. Doctors give advice; they’re not going to just recite scientific facts (and besides we know from antivax trolls that reciting facts *is* giving advice). If the drama troll just wants a recitation of scientific facts, it can pick up a copy of Merck’s Manual and have at it. Why waste its own and the doctor’s time? And why even bother reading the scientific facts given that they’re philosophically unwarranted?

  97. #97 drama
    January 4, 2012

    First, I am not a troll. At least not your every day one.

    Second. I am pro-science.

    Doctors should provide advice, sure. They have a sistematic criteria. A mere recollection of facts is not enough, and they are necessary.
    Not every doctor is so biased, philosophically when providing advice. That’s a fact.
    Mines aren’t. I took care of this specially when selecting to trust them.
    And last but not leat: Let me repeat again that I think, as in it is MY opinion, that doctors MAY dispense any sort of advice but just be aware that this may not be medicine strictu sensu. Just that.
    Otherwise things may end up becoming a bit blury…

  98. #98 drama
    January 4, 2012

    “Blurry”…

    And sorry for the so many other typos…

    =)

  99. #99 Narad
    January 4, 2012

    Maybe narad is real and not imaginary.

    Oh, no, Rob, I’m a product of what might be casually referred to as “your unconscious mind.” Of course, given that so is everything else, including yourself, it’s really a minor distinction in practice for your average psychologically normal adult. You, however, seem to have a problem with not “getting what you want” and utterly blanking on Luke 17:21.

  100. #100 Narad
    January 4, 2012

    Narad used to have problems with flies and gnats on his face until he tried some secret elixor that Doctor Smart invented.

    Is there actually a name for a cocktail made of Sterno and Bryan Fischer’s curdled seed, or do the swampjacks take them as “shooters”?

  101. #101 Chris
    January 5, 2012

    Brave Sir Robin Right Wingnut:

    Chris this is stupid what about the comments that you and narad the nerd left at my site

    Wait, you have a website? What is it, and how can we access it to laugh at you even more?

    Ooh, look… all the comments are from someone named “Rob.”. Wow, Brave Sir Robin Right Wingnut is really stupid.

    Thanks for the laugh. It really helps to have some unintentional humor while a kid is still in the hospital. Good on you, Brave Sir Robin Right Wingnut!

  102. #102 Chris
    January 5, 2012

    This shows how Brave Sir Robin Right Wingnut is incredibly stupid, the following is a straight cut and past of the above link (he claimed to be three different people, yet signed as himself):

    My name is Chris and I use colloidal silver all the time. it does help with colds and the flu and as the author says, it is useful with plants as well.

    Posted by: Rob on Jan 03, 12 | 7:42 pm

    Hi, I am Narad. My first experience with Oregano oil was a few years ago. I constantly had flies and gnats around my face until someone told me about the oregano oil/water mixture. i sprayed my face and it worked. It is safer than OFF and deet and it smells nice too.

    Posted by: Rob on Jan 03, 12 | 7:45 pm

    I call myself Orac and run a science blog called respectful insolence. I find that Rob’s analysis of colloidal silver to be in accordance to industry standard and accurace according to Mike Adams of natural news. I recend any negative publicity about colloidal silver.

    Posted by: Rob on Jan 03, 12 | 7:47 pm

  103. #103 Andrew J. Daniels
    January 5, 2012

    For some reason I really do not think it matters anymore.

  104. #104 Lycanthrope
    January 6, 2012

    It certainly is your “opinion” the fact that the decision to smoke is stupid…Your notion that if smoking kills, then anyone who is pro-smoking is to be stupid, is simply biased; narrow-minded and totalitaristic.

    Yes. It is my opinion. In this, I hold firm. I am perfectly okay with being biased, narrow-minded and totalitarian in this matter.

    But in order to determine that it is a fact that science has determined that it is a fact that smoking kills, you have to take many things for granted which you have no philosophical right to do.

    I don’t know where you’re going with this, but I seriously doubt it’s anywhere good.

    “Smoking kills; period.”

    Funny. I’d have to tell myself, my parents, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents and my wife that they’re dead then.

    Be right back.

    Or did you mean “smoking poses significant health risks” but went with the snazzier sounding line?

    Stu, go to hell.

    No more comments from me on this thread. I’m done.

  105. #105 Paul Morgan
    May 19, 2012

    Hadn’t looked at the Phaelosopher blog for some time, but I remember it well from when “Bleachgate” broke out – he is a shill for Jim Humble’s organisation. Humble is the alleged former gold prospector who “discovered” the “Miracle Mineral Solution”, the cure for cancer, AIDS, malaria and all of mankind’s ills (yea, right!). Of course, “Miracle Mineral Solution” (MMS) is nothing more than a solution of 28% sodium chlorite which is an industrial bleaching agent. Humble conducted massive clinical trials proving it’s efficacy at treating many diseases, resulting in the abandonment of all other medicines in the world. Oh, sorry, he didn’t conduct any clinical trials and its just another form of quackery, occasionally killing or seriously injuring the victims of this particular scam. Humble has even set up a church (yes – a church!) to try to prevent regulators from interfering with his scam, using the effectiveness of the Catholic church in covering up decades of child abuse as a good example of how a church can avoid scrutiny. Pretty sickening.
    So “The Phaelosopher” has expanded into other forms of woo. I thought maybe he’d moved sideways, but no – he still thinks MMS is the cure for all known diseases. Like so many alternative reality medicine supporters, he cannot see the basic logical fallacy in his claims. After all, if MMS is so great, why do you need anything else. His blog attracts all the usual types of alternative to medicine dimwits and conspiracy theorists. A perfect example of crank magnetism.
    I think its best to refer to him by the nickname he was given during the height of the “Bleachgate” saga – The Failosopher. Seems more appropriate.

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