Respectful Insolence

Naturopaths vs. “stayin’ alive”

For all the good things about my life there are, there is one bad thing, and that was that I was born so that I reached high school age right at the height of the disco era. At least, that’s the way I viewed it at the time because at the time, like many teenaged boys of that era, particularly in Detroit, I hated disco. Loathed it. Despised it. I used to draw cartoons in the back of my notebooks showing Robert Plant destroying disco records, and I was a card-carrying member of DREAD. Not for me were the Bee Gees, who were so huge during my sophomore and junior years in high school, although I do have to admit that, even at the time, I did rather like the Trammps’ Disco Inferno. Of course, more than thirty years later, I now realize that it was rather silly to have such hostility towards disco. Heck, these days I even kind of like a fair amount of old 1970s disco, even going so far as to listen to the Studio 54 Channel on Sirius XM when driving to work. In retrospect, I rather suspect that the whole hating disco thing was just part of my identity at the time, a convenient bit of tribalism by which teens associate with groups and declare who they are. Be that as it may, at the time I really, really, really, really hated the Bee Gees, who to me epitomized everything that I thought was wrong with music at the time. These days, I actually own the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever, something unimaginable to me 33 years ago.

However, even during my most disco-hating, Bee Gees-hating phase, I wouldn’t have wished what what’s happened to Robin Gibb on him. It appears to have begun in 2010, when he was taken for emergency surgery for a bowel obstruction. Over the next several months Gibb looked increasingly frail and gaunt, so much so that I was shocked by a couple of the photos I saw of him. In April 2011, he was taken to the hospital with what were described by “crippling” abdominal pain. Finally, in November, the cause of Gibb’s declining health was finally revealed, when it was announced that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer and that he wasn’t responding to treatment:

Fears were growing for frail Bee Gees star Robin Gibb last night as he battled liver cancer.

The stricken singer, 61, was given the devastating news the disease was getting worse after months of treatment failed to have an effect.

He is being cared for at home by devoted wife Dwina while brother and bandmate Barry, 64, has flown in from the US to be by his side.

A family friend said: “We are all devastated.

“Robin has been a pinnacle of strength and is showing enormous courage and dignity in the wake of this terrible news.”

The star — who has been painfully thin for months — has bravely told friends and family he wants to “work until I drop”.

Presumably, Gibb has hepatocellular cancer (HCC), which is what is usually meant by “liver cancer.” Not knowing any more details than what are contained in the various news reports, it’s hard for me to comment with any degree of certainty on Gibb’s condition, but we can make some inferences. First, it appears that Gibb hasn’t undergone surgery. This implies that, at the very minimum the cancer is unresectable, and it’s probably metastatic. I say it’s “probably” metastatic because there is another treatment option for unresectable HCC. In fact, I discussed it in considerable detail in the context of Steve Jobs’ liver metastases from his neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas. That treatment is liver transplantation. In fact, the results for liver transplantation as a treatment can be quite good, certainly better than the results for Jobs’ neuroendocrine tumor, but patient selection is key. Be that as it may, given that news reports indicate that Gibb has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy, we can pretty safely assume that Gibb’s tumor was neither resectable nor amenable to liver transplantation and therefore is almost certainly metastatic, which means, if I’m correct, it’s not curable.

One should note, however, that “not curable” doesn’t mean “not treatable.” Palliation is very, very important. Unfortunately for Gibb, I see another celebrity alt-med tragedy fast approaching. The first indications came in November, not long after Gibb’s diagnosis was announced:

Gibb’s wife, Dwina Murphy-Gibb, an ordained druid priestess, said in an interview with Sky Arts TV that she’s looking into alternative treatments for her husband, including “spider medicine,” a type of Native American healing approach.

According to the website www.nativeamericananimalmedicine.com, which was created by Loretta Standley, a licensed acupuncturist and tribal member of the Cherokee Indians, spider medicine is a type of “animal medicine,” which refers to the “healing aspects that a particular animal brings to our consciousness.”

“As best I can tell, spider medicine is not medicine,” said Mark Boguski, MD, co-founder of the Celebrity Diagnosis blog, which also appears on MedPage Today. “However, there may be psychosocial benefits in the context of palliative treatment.”

I pride myself in being aware of pretty much all forms of alternative medicine, but I must admit that I’ve never heard of “spider medicine” before. So I went to the source, which tells me that spider medicine represents “creativity”:

Spider Medicine represents creativity. Its 8 legs represent the 4 winds of change and the 4 directions on the medicine wheel. Its body is in the shape of an 8, which represents infinite possibilities. “Spider people” must look beyond the web of illusion of the physical world and look beyond the horizon to other dimensions.

Gibb’s wife apparently was convinced that this Native American “medicine” can result in recovery from untreatable illnesses. But what is it? The source didn’t tell me much; so I went to the almighty Google. it didn’t tell me much either, other than that spider medicine is apparently some sort of spiritual treatment.

Yesterday, there was a story in the news updating Gibb’s condition entitled Robin Gibb Is A Natural Fighter:

BEE Gees star Robin Gibb has flown in a team of alternative medics from Switzerland as he battles liver cancer.

Robin, 62, has braved seven rounds of gruelling chemotherapy to try to beat the illness and doctors are pleased with his response.

Now he is getting 24-hour care from the naturopath nutritionists at his mansion in Thame, Oxfordshire, to help boost his recovery.

A close family pal said: “Robin is fighting this with dignity and courage. He’s trying everything possible to beat this disease.”

The naturopaths are believed to be the idea of his druid wife Dwina.

The naturopathic approach tries to reduce surgery and drugs, relying instead on the body’s natural ability to heal itself through good nutrition.

Whilst undergoing conventional treatment, Dwina has also encouraged Robin to undergo daily 20-minute sessions in a detox hut to sweat out toxins.

What irritates me about this article is not so much that Gibb is undergoing naturopathic treatment. He’s dying; he’s desperate; he has a wife is is, to put it kindly, very prone to woo. What would be amazing is if he managed to stick to science-based treatment for palliation. He’s also incredibly wealthy; so the usual complaint of quacks sucking down the last money of a dying man doesn’t apply as much as it usually does. And, make no mistake, “naturopathic oncology” is quackery, just as naturopathy is. For one thing, homeopathy is part and parcel of naturopathy. More importantly, there is no quackery that naturopaths don’t embrace. “Energy healing,” “detox” woo, unscientific use of supplements, these are just a few of the sorts of pseudoscience naturopaths embrace enthusiastically. What irritates me is the typical reporter lazily buying into the spin that naturopaths put on their quackery that “good nutrition” can stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal itself, even to the point of healing an advanced malignancy.

Unfortunately, from what I can tell reading about Robin Gibb’s desperate situation, it’s fairly clear that he’s unlikely to make it through 2012, all the “stayin’ alive” puns being bandied about nothwithstanding. It’s also clear that, contrary to what proponents of “natural healing” tell us, eating the “right” diet is no guarantee that you won’t get cancer. Multiple reports state that Gibb is a vegan and a teetotaler. Failure of cancer prevention notwithstanding, having a posse of naturopaths plying Gibb with their quackery isn’t helping matters. We can only hope that it doesn’t actually hasten his end.

When that end comes, I predict that we will hear precious little about it from Mike Adams, Joe Mercola, and the rest of the “natural cancer cure” cranks infesting the Internet. Mike Adams is well known for gloating over the deaths of celebrities from cancer (for instance, Patrick Swayze and Tony Snow) as “proof” that “chemo kills.” Actually, on second thought, I bet we will hear about it from Adams. The reason is that Gibb has reportedly undergone seven rounds of chemotherapy. That will give Adams the opening he needs to claim that it was the chemotherapy that killed Gibb and that, by the time Gibb listened to his druid priestess wife and turned to “natural healing” it was “too late” because the chemotherapy had already “destroyed his immune system” and “poisoned” him beyond retrieval. Yes, that’s what I now predict that Adams will say after Gibb finally succumbs to his disease. Unfortunately, although I’d love to see Gibb be a long-term survivor of his cancer, I doubt we have that long to wait to find out if my prediction is correct.

Comments

  1. #1 Catherina
    January 12, 2012

    If he has liver cancer, he has already lived beyond his average life expectancy (7.5 months from diagnosis). As long as nobody convinces him to forego pain medication he can do what he wants with his money for all I care.

  2. #2 daijiyobu
    January 12, 2012

    One ‘compound’ that hasn’t propped up in terms of a proposed ‘treatment’, and I was kind of surprised since the word “druid” does and the location is Switzerland…

    Iscador.

    Yet.

    -r.c.

  3. #3 D. C. Sessions
    January 12, 2012

    “Stayin’ Alive” is noteworthy in another regard: it’s frequently suggested as the rhythm for CPR chest compressions. Which might be useful, if I could ever remember that particular tune. Alas, my aversion to the Bee Gees goes back farther than Orac’s and has persisted; for me the appropriate tune is by Queen.

    Which brings us back to Robert Gibb.

  4. #4 LW
    January 12, 2012

    I went to the spider medicine website because I was curious why a Native American healing tradition would think it significant that the spider’s body is shaped like an 8, a symbol which was brought over from Europe. I didn’t find that out. However, here are a couple of excerpts:

    “The Brown Recluse Spider (middle right) or the Black Widow Spider (top right) reminds me not to kill my own creativity through my own inactivity.”

    Now me, if I see a brown recluse (aka fiddleback), that reminds me to squish it at once, look around for more, and seriously consider calling an exterminator. I know people who’ve been bitten by them; that is nothing you want to experience.

  5. #5 Man Called True
    January 12, 2012

    @D.C. Sessions: Given that the Queen tune in question is “Another One Bites the Dust”, ’tis best not to let on what you’re timing yourself to.

    I’ve never had any trouble with disco – I was born in the ’80s, so by the time my musical times could form, the hate had ebbed.

    Depressing as it is to see yet another celebrity buy into woo, I can’t get too dismayed. Like Catherina said, as long as Mr. Gibbs doesn’t actively hurt himself or someone else, he can do whatever he likes with his lsat few months on Earth. Best-case scenario, something works.

  6. #6 MikeMa
    January 12, 2012

    Skipped the 80’s musically except for Stevie Nicks. Landslide is my ringtone. The wife’s ipod is half filled with 80’s stuff. We listen to NPR a lot in the car.

  7. #7 Dianne
    January 12, 2012

    I’ve often heard people say that they had liver and X cancer when what they really had was cancer of the X (pick your organ) with metastatic disease to the liver. Given the history of bowel obstruction, I wonder if Gibb isn’t actually suffering from colon cancer with metastatic disease to the liver. If so, he might actually have a slightly better prognosis than if he had HCC. Rank speculation on my part, of course. And nothing “spider medicine” will help with either way.

    Also, the literal minded part of my brain is insisting that Murphy-Gibb can’t really be a druid because if she was she’d stick to druid woo, a European variant, and consider the native American woo to be just, well, woo. She sounds more like a randomly gullible person to me than a dedicated believer in a particular magic system.

  8. #8 Anj
    January 12, 2012

    Eh – don’t be hating on the brown recluse. I had some great fun researching the spider and the “reports” of brown recluse bites on the intertubez.

    Conclusion:

    Most people who had presumed brown recluse bites never saw ANY spider bite them, let alone an actual brown recluse.

    Most “diagnosed” spider bites had very little evidence that they were indeed spider bites, let alone brown recluse bites. The sad part of this is that these are actual practicing MD doctors who did this.

    There ARE actual tests for attempting to diagnose a brown recluse bite, but they are almost never used.

    ..and the kicker is that some of these “brown recluse bites” occurred in regions with NO known brown recluse populations.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/0213_030213_brownrecluse.html

    Not the link I originally found, but it covers the same material.

  9. #9 Dangerous Bacon
    January 12, 2012

    Given that Gibb has reportedly undergone multiple rounds of chemo and there may not be much else in the evidence-based armentarium to prolong life, it doesn’t seem so bad that he’s turned to woo – except that it seems cruel to subject a dying man to daily 20-minute sessions in a “detox hut” to “sweat out” imaginary toxins.

    It reminds me of a noted woo site where a woman asked about “natural” treatments for her ailing mom, who’d been diagnosed as having metastatic bladder cancer and had no further treatment recommended beyond palliative/pain control measures. A horde of altie vultures swooped in to recommended that she down fistfuls of supplement pills and undergo “urine therapy”. This struck me as futile, expensive and above all cruel.

  10. #10 daedalus2u
    January 12, 2012

    Hyperthermia might have a positive effect. Presumably tumor cells are not as resistant to high temperature as are cells with a healthy genome, so near death hyperthermia might kill more tumor cells than normal cells.

  11. #11 LAB
    January 12, 2012

    I agree with D. Bacon that at issue here is that the useless “detoxing” sounds uncomfortable and probably draining for a guy who is already really weak. It’s sad all around.

    For the record, I loved the Bee Gees when I was a teenager, but not for the disco stuff. I was a fan–and still am–of their excellent early work. Their 60s LPs are full of superb Beatle-y pop psychedelia. Some of the best stuff being done at the time. I can still listen to “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You” every day.

  12. This constant battle between “Western Medicine” and “Alternative Medicine” is not healthy. Both methods bring therapeutic modalities to the table. Only by exploring options in both methods is one truely taking care of themselves to achieve their best health. Knowledge is empowering… to ignore half of the story is to sit with the head buried in the sand.

    Kathy,
    Puristat Digestive Specialist
    http://www.puristat.com

  13. #13 Heliantus
    January 12, 2012

    @ Dianne

    the literal minded part of my brain is insisting that Murphy-Gibb can’t really be a druid because if she was she’d stick to druid woo, a European variant

    My brain was making backward sommersaults over this part, too.
    “Ordained Druid”? Ordained by who, and why is it of any relevance in her supposed ability to cure, or help cure cancer? And why go for Indian animism, when druidism is about European animism?

    Loretta Standley, a licensed acupuncturist and tribal member of the Cherokee Indians,

    Acupuncturist and Indian shaman?
    OK, that’s just crank magnetism and religious syncretism. Do-it-yourself set of beliefs.

    I also have a phobia of spiders. I got better, but bringing me a spider when I lay in bed in pain is not going to improve my spiritual well-being.
    OTOH, having a Goofus at my bedstand urging me to “look at the spider” is going to make me very upset. This distraction may be beneficial finally, anger has analgesic properties.

    A part of me just wishes that these cranks are right, that we have a magic wand somewhere to cure deadly illnesses. Alas, that’s not true.

  14. #14 Calli Arcale
    January 12, 2012

    Ack. Now I have that song stuck in my head, and probably will for hours. Thanks.

    It’s sad that he’s got cancer. There is no walk of life immune to cancer, and improving your health, diet, and lifestyle can only improve your odds — it cannot prevent cancer completely. Next May, we’ll be burying the ashes of a beloved relative who ate whatever she wanted (especially fried chicken), smoked, and had a very rough-and-tumble life. The last decade had been hard, dealing with the results of a botched surgery to repair a slipped disk that damaged her spinal cord, but even that didn’t kill her. She was 91 when she succumbed to a bacterial infection. And then you get dedicated health nuts who do everything right, but die of cancer at 40. It happens.

    I hope he doesn’t abandon medicine altogether; if his case is terminal, palliative care can make one’s final days/weeks/months much easier to enjoy. I’ve had several relatives go through battles with terminal cancer; palliative care made a huge difference. It probably didn’t change the outcome, but it meant they were able to get out and do things for much of their illness, and not just suffer.

    Kathy — yes, knowledge is empowering, but the main difference between mainstream medicine and alternative medicine is that we don’t have much knowledge about the latter. Even the people who practice it do not. They think they do, but this is hubris; to believe personal experience is sufficient is to overestimate your own brilliance. To really know, you need science. I have often wondered why alt med practitioners, who say they believe in knowledge and open minds, are so reluctant to subject their treatments to science, and so willing to promote them in the absence of science.

  15. #15 Heliantus
    January 12, 2012

    @ Kathy

    This constant battle between “Western Medicine” and “Alternative Medicine” is not healthy. Both methods bring therapeutic modalities to the table.

    No. Both methods bring modalities to the table. Period.
    “Western” medicine (which is as much Arab and Asian as European, but I disgress) sometimes manages to show it has therapeutic effects beyond pure placebo effects.
    Alternative medicine doesn’t.

    Oh, and Alternative Medicine doesn’t have much method into it.

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    January 12, 2012

    @ Dianne:

    Doctor, do you truly believe that the woo-entranced might actually be consistent and stick to one form of nonsense?
    No such luck!

    I find that they pick and choose as though they were at a buffet. Ancient, modern, European, Native American, mysterious Eastern, et al. Woo knows no boundaries. In the case of the Gibbs, they have lived, worked, and have relatives in the UK, AUS, and US, so I imagine that she’s had “educational opportunities” that most people lack. Recently I’ve heard more about trans-Atlantic woo, since woo-meisters like to raise the spectre of *Codex Alimentarius* to scare their customers into harassing any legislators who support more controls on supplements.

    On a lighter note: in the late 1970s, two guys ( twins) who studied architecture, were also amateur astronomers; they arranged a trip to Stonehenge: the funnier of the two later detailed the druidic nonsense he had witnessed- they made the mistake of visiting around the solstice. ( I’m really glad I’m an atheist because if I weren’t I could envision myself being attracted to the more poetical elements involved- traipsing about in diaphanous robes in the crepuscular mists..)

  17. #17 Edith Prickly
    January 12, 2012

    I rolled my eyes and snorted at “ordained druid priestess” too – amazing what reporters will let slide. I suspect it’s a self-bestowed title. I wonder if she’s going to try the Ritual of Oak and Mistletoe if the spider therapy doesn’t work out? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritual_of_oak_and_mistletoe

    Snarking aside, I sincerely hope the wife’s woo-meisters are not increasing Robin Gibb’s suffering and that he’s at least getting proper pain control. I unabashedly loved the Bee Gees disco stuff (partly as an FU to the disco-hating boys at junior high) and just recently discovered their ’60s catalog. LAB is right, it’s superb.

  18. #18 ConspicuousCarl
    January 12, 2012

    > Its 8 legs represent the 4 winds of
    > change and the 4 directions on the
    > medicine wheel.

    Aren’t the “4 winds” so divided as to refer to the 4 major directions? I also find references to the 4 directions on the medicine wheel representing the same thing.

    So they are actually adding the same number to itself to get 8. This isn’t even good numerology.

  19. #19 Adam
    January 12, 2012

    I wonder why a “druid” (which implies some kind of pseudo Celtic religion) would be reaching for a native American cure. Shouldn’t she be communing with the forests or offering human sacrifice or something?

  20. #20 Dangerous Bacon
    January 12, 2012

    The “Puristat Digestive Wellness Center” Kathy is promoting claims that “We all need regular colon cleanses and liver cleanses in today’s toxic world.”

    They offer a myriad of expensive supplements that will do nothing apart from cleansing your wallet of cash.

    Knowledge of quackery and how to avoid it is empowering, which is why I enjoy RI.

  21. #21 Chris
    January 12, 2012

    Dangerous Bacon:

    Knowledge of quackery and how to avoid it is empowering, which is why I enjoy RI.

    I often credit my subscription to “Skeptical Inquiry” in the late 1980s for inoculating me against quackery when my first born had several different issues.

  22. #22 Patricia
    January 12, 2012

    Even if one believes in naturopathic “cures” or “therapies”, just what is 24-hour care from a team of naturopaths supposed to provide that daily attention and advice from a single naturopath wouldn’t? Are they supposedly monitoring nonexistent toxin levels, or something like that? The vultures descend en masse.

  23. #23 Karl Withakay
    January 12, 2012

    Have any of the “natural cancer cure” cranks come out from underneath their rocks to say anything about Christopher Hitchens’ death?

  24. #24 Prometheus
    January 12, 2012

    Kathy (Godess of Woo, #12):

    “This constant battle between “Western Medicine” and “Alternative Medicine” is not healthy. Both methods bring therapeutic modalities to the table. Only by exploring options in both methods is one truely taking care of themselves to achieve their best health.”

    So much nonsense packed into three small sentences.

    The “battle between ‘Western Medicine’ and ‘Alternative Medicine'” is a battle between concern for patients and concern for profits. It may surprise nobody that it is “alternative medicine” that is primarily concerned for its profits.

    Real (“Western”, in Kathy’s jargon) medicine consists of those treatments that have been shown to work; “alternative” medicine consists of those treatments that have either not yet been shown to work or – sadly – have already been shown to not work. Thus, “alternative” medicine encompasses homeopathy (ritualised placebo therapy), “energy field” therapy, etc.

    If real medical practitioners were concerned primarily about making the most money, they would do better to be silent about “alternative” medicine, because having patients seek “alternative” medical care is a marvelous way to boost profits. Let me explain.

    First, “alternative” care is perfect for the “worried well” that require massive amounts of office time but generate no bills for procedures or extensive examination. The time these patients consume could be more profitably be used to see patients with actual treatable disorders.

    Secondly, those patients with mild self-limiting disorders (colds, sprains, muscle aches, etc.) will get better pretty much regardless of treatment, and also don’t generate much in the way of revenue compared to people who have more complex, chronic illnesses.

    Finally, those people who really need real medical care will either go directly to a real doctor or will waste time seeking “alternative” remedies while their condition worsens. Remember, real doctors get paid more to take care of sicker patients, so someone who goes to – for example – a “naturopath” for their hypertension will eventually have to see a real doctor, quite probably after they have developed complications of their poorly treated (or untreated) hypertension. Thus, the patient is sicker when they see the real doctor, who then can charge more to treat them.

    On the other hand, if the “alternative” practitioners cared more about patients than profits, they’d spend some time and money to find out if their remedies actually work and then abandon those that don’t. That is what real medicine started doing over a century ago, which is why it is now real medicine and all the rest is called “alternative”.

    So, there you have it – a conflict between profits and patients, with “alternative” medicine clearly choosing profits.

    Prometheus

  25. #25 Todd W.
    January 12, 2012

    Some quick thoughts on a druid using Native American shamanism. From my brief flirtations with neo-druidism in my teens, there’s no contradiction at all. Druidry is simply one form of many for “communing” with nature and attempting to harness the power of nature spirits. Native American shamanism is simply a different name for the same basic concept. It’s a do-it-yourself spirituality, with no prohibitions against competing belief systems. From what I saw, druidry isn’t as insular and jealous of other systems in the way that many Christian, Jewish or Muslim sects may be.

    In the end, it’s just different flavors, but they’re both still ice cream (with apologies to ice cream).

  26. #26 Geminize
    January 12, 2012

    @Kathy

    “Knowledge is empowering… to ignore half of the story is to sit with the head buried in the sand.”

    My problem with this sort of statement is that “alternative medicine” is not half of the story. This is a false dichotomy. Therapeutic modalities may emerge from traditional remedies, thus becoming medicine. “Alternative medicine” offers a drop of real potential in a growing sea of nonsense, while real medicine offers increasing therapeutic refinement and expansion of knowledge.

    My ex father-in-law is now a “practicing” druid. I love him, but I can hardly bear to have a conversation as he always brings it up. There are organized sects that will gladly charge you for training, costumes, and advancement in the ranks.

    This man has dabbled in the woo-du-jour for decades, which has been sad to witness. He is intelligent, well educated, and deeply delusional. Any cross-cultural mix of placebo enhanced woo could appeal him.

    Oh, and long live the Bee Gees.

  27. #27 Dianne
    January 12, 2012

    Druidry is simply one form of many for “communing” with nature and attempting to harness the power of nature spirits. Native American shamanism is simply a different name for the same basic concept.

    Native American shamanism is not a single entity. As there are multiple tribes, there are multiple belief systems, some contradicting each other. At least both druidry and the Cherokee religion revere trees, so I guess they have some commonality.

  28. #28 Militant Agnostic
    January 12, 2012

    Karl Withakay

    Have any of the “natural cancer cure” cranks come out from underneath their rocks to say anything about Christopher Hitchens’ death?

    I suspect they are too afraid of being haunted by his ghost to to try to exploit him. They do not want to risk a spiritual Hitch Slapping from “the other side”.

  29. #29 Calli Arcale
    January 12, 2012

    Dianne — Native American shaminism, as practiced by these types, also very likely has about as much to do with actual native tribes (e.g. the Cherokee) as modern Druids have to do with the Celts. In other words, nothing but the name. In my experience, most things found on the Internet claiming to offer “Native American wisdom” offer nothing more than BS dressed up with some feathers and drums. Thus, far from respecting the natives, it actually contributes to the destruction of actual native ways.

    I had to grit my teeth when watching a show about a rancher and his “Native American” wife. First, she’s way younger than him. Second, while it’s possible she’s got enough native blood to qualify for tribal membership somewhere, it sure didn’t show on her face — she’s obviously got a lot of European blood too. Third, and most irritatingly, she wore a faux Sioux chieftain’s bonnet throughout the program. Given that it’s a uniquely *male* headdress, this meant she clearly had little knowledge and even less respect for *actual* native ways. It was more like a grown woman playing dressup, and a very odd thing to see in this day and age.

  30. #30 Dianne
    January 12, 2012

    Native American shaminism, as practiced by these types, also very likely has about as much to do with actual native tribes (e.g. the Cherokee) as modern Druids have to do with the Celts. In other words, nothing but the name.

    I agree entirely. And think that that Murphy-Gibb’s apparent habit of borrowing from any religious tradition she thinks sounds cool pretty much demonstrates that she doesn’t have much knowledge of and certainly little actual belief in, druidism or Cherokee beliefs. I think we’re just lucky she didn’t reach for the deep connection between Druidism and some of the southwestern religions that use peyote as a sacrament…

    Third, and most irritatingly, she wore a faux Sioux chieftain’s bonnet throughout the program. Given that it’s a uniquely *male* headdress, this meant she clearly had little knowledge and even less respect for *actual* native ways.

    I suppose that MIGHT have been meant as a protest against fixed gender roles, but the probability of that is…low.

  31. #31 Heliantus
    January 12, 2012

    Third, and most irritatingly, she wore a faux Sioux chieftain’s bonnet throughout the program. Given that it’s a uniquely *male* headdress, this meant she clearly had little knowledge and even less respect for *actual* native ways.
    I suppose that MIGHT have been meant as a protest against fixed gender roles, but the probability of that is…low.

    Well, the girls of the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris do have this show celebrating Indian ways where they are wearing this faux Sioux chieftain’s bonnet and not much else and…
    OK, OK, I’ll leave.

  32. #32 In Vitro Infidelium
    January 12, 2012

    Slightly worrying that some of the replies here actually seem to credit Druidism as being equal to live cultural movements. While the magic of ‘Native American’ beliefs may be wholly ascientific, it does a least represent a real social bonding ediface which sustained a cultures over centuries. Druidism is just made up nonsense, a confection of 19thC ‘celtic’ revivalism (itself a fantasy) and 1960s hippy stupidity.

  33. #33 Dianne
    January 12, 2012

    OK, OK, I’ll leave.

    Don’t be ridiculous. You’ll be here all week. Try the veal.

  34. #34 Denice Walter
    January 12, 2012

    Oh my! Todd W., recovered druid. I *knew* it when I saw those sunset photos ( which were -btw- good)
    My teenaged esoteric/ pagan adventures were more unimaginatively restricted to re-reading “The Golden Bough” several times and “celebrating the gifts” of Dionysus whenever I could ( afterall, I was named for him so why not?)

  35. #35 Calli Arcale
    January 12, 2012

    in Vitro — I’m fine with that when it’s real, genuine, Native American beliefs. I’ve got my Christianity, they’ve got their abiding beliefs in, for instance, Gitchee Manitou. It’s the fakers who just stick a bunch of feathers in it and call it Native that bug me. They have no connection to the real social bonding edifices which sustained cultures over the centuries. It’s horribly exploitative, and contributes to the destruction of those same cultures.

  36. #36 ConspicuousCarl
    January 12, 2012

    > This constant battle between “Western Medicine”
    > and “Alternative Medicine” is not healthy. Both
    > methods bring therapeutic modalities to the table.
    >
    > Kathy,
    > Puristat Digestive Specialist

    LoLz.

    “Hey, why don’t we just split the bill down the middle?” says the guy who ordered a lobster and a bottle of wine. Sorry, but your nonsense is getting a separate check.

  37. #37 Adam
    January 13, 2012

    Druidry is simply one form of many for “communing” with nature and attempting to harness the power of nature spirits. Native American shamanism is simply a different name for the same basic concept.

    More accurately, nobody knows what druidry is except through the small amount of written and archeological evidence that has survived. Wikipedia has it well covered so I won’t repeat but there is not a lot to go on. So anyone claiming to be a “druid” is no such thing at all except in some New Age, neo-pagan hippy sense – they literally made everything up from scratch and don’t even have the excuse of living in the bronze age to justify their woo.

    But one would expect someone claiming to be a druid to remain consistent to their own origins and not start pulling neo-shamanism out of their backsides too. IMO it’s absurd as a Church of England vicar praying to Ganesh in their church service.

  38. #38 Tsu Dho Nimh
    January 13, 2012

    I looked at the “Native American Animal Medicine” … whey did they develop the leopard medicine? Hippopotamus Medicine?

    This is not any native American belief system I have ever seen, she’s just making up shit as she goes along.

  39. #39 Renate
    January 13, 2012

    There are more abusing Native American beliefs, like:
    http://www.2012hoax.org/kiesha-crowther

  40. #40 Goodfella
    January 15, 2012

    How can Orac get it so wrong? Homeopathy has nothing to do with Naturopathy in its pure form. Traditional naturopaths employed materials, agents & influences that have a normal relation to life. It has nothing to do with supposed remedies mentioned.

    Why is fasting so efficacious in aiding the body to heal itself? Oh, I suppose you believe the body is incapable of healing itself, except when big pharma lends a hand?

    Study the laws of life & health under Natural Hygiene, use modern medicine’s limited benefits in emergency situations (5-10% of medicine), eschew ALL therapies from whatever modality, & you, Mr Orac, will be on the right path.

  41. #41 Slutterella
    January 15, 2012

    Goodfella, healing is a kind of work. Wor we can do is limited by the fuel we take in and the amount of oxygen we can process.

    We all know what happens if you just increase fuel intake: Obesity.

    Doctors rarely talk about the importance of breath in determining health, until it’s too late, or the patient is obviously smoking.

    Food and medicines can be readily marketed and sold. Breath training not so. Once someone has learnt breathing exercises, you cannot sell them that exercise again. Not all health advice is profitable!

  42. #42 alison
    January 15, 2012

    Then it would seem that a lot of naturopaths are Doing It Wrong – here’s one example (there are many more) from my neck of the woods: http://chrisrhodes.co.nz/

    And do you have any evidence to support your statement that fasting is ‘efficacious’ in helping the body to heal itself?

  43. #43 lilady
    January 15, 2012

    @ alison: It’s a good morning for me, every time I see your great posts.

    The “practitioner” from your neck of the woods offers multiple “modalities” and “treatments”. Is he a double doc in homeopathy/naturopathy, “certified” acupuncturist and a “specialist” in other sorts of “therapies”? Such a talented learned individual. Or, a multi-tasking snake oil salesmen, with every conceivable…and inconceivable way of fleecing his marks.

    I think I smell dirty socks on this blog.

  44. #44 Sceptical Mama
    January 15, 2012

    When all fails, one can always try amber or hazelwood necklace. Did you know hazelwood necklace reduce acidity and amber reduces inflammation. How did this even start?

    http://hazelaid.com/C_Home.html

    https://www.facebook.com/hazelaid

  45. #45 lilady
    January 15, 2012

    @ S. Mama: It “happened” when you decided to advertise your wares here…pretending you are a legitimate poster.

  46. #46 alison
    January 16, 2012

    @ lilady: *blush*

  47. #47 Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
    January 19, 2012

    “And think that that Murphy-Gibb’s apparent habit of borrowing from any religious tradition she thinks sounds cool pretty much demonstrates that she doesn’t have much knowledge of and certainly little actual belief in, druidism or Cherokee beliefs.”

    As mentioned above, because the Druids were a purely oral tradition, we have bugger-all knowledge of what they actually believed or practiced save what the classical writers (e.g. Pliny, Caesar, Tacitus) describe, who of course had their own biases and distortions.

    There’s not much hints of religion in the Irish or Welsh myth cycles that survive, as those are (mostly) hero cycles. So we have no idea what the Celtic cosmological myths were, or their liturgies. So neo-druidism is a modern pastiche.

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