Respectful Insolence

Alternative medicine as religion, again

Over the years, I’ve often likened alternative medicine to a religion—or even a cult. Basically, it requires belief in a set of precepts that have at best little and more commonly no evidence to support them that is often accompanied by magical thinking that a god-substitute, be it nature, one’s body, or, of course, the magically mysterious “quantum,” possesses magical powers that will protect one from all harm if one simply believes and acts on that belief. The belief systems that undergird various forms of alternative medicine are every bit as ridiculous from a scientific viewpoint as the belief that the earth is only 6,000 years or so old, that evolution is false, and that all that fossil evidence for evolution out there is either a trick by Satan to lure the insufficiently faithful away from god or a test of faith by god himself. It is not for nothing that I have described the “central dogma” of alternative medicine as being, in essence, the same thing as the new age woo known as The Secret, namely that wishing makes it so. That belief leads believers to twist, for example, the science of epigenetics to support the idea that you can basically rewrite your own biology to your own liking through the power of your mind.

Yesterday I came across a perfect example of just this phenomenon. It comes, not surprisingly, from that conspiracy theorist to rule all conspiracy theorists, that quack to rule all quacks, the man for whom no pseudoscience is ridiculous enough, no quackery is quacky enough, and no conspiracy theory is is out there enough (or compares its targets with Nazis enough), Mike Adams, a.k.a. the Health Ranger, proprietor of one of the top five quackiest sites on the Internet, NaturalNews.com. It comes in the form of a video that tells me that there might be a second “central dogma” of alternative medicine that I had forgotten about other than the belief that wishing makes it so, but it’s related enough that perhaps it’s just a matter of how you phrase it. You’ll see what I mean. In the meantime, take a gander at Adams’ latest screed, The greatest health conspiracy of all time: making you believe you can’t heal without medical intervention. Naturally, it comes complete with a video, which is apparently an episode of a podcast series Adams calls “Awakenings”:


This is basically Adam’s message, which goes far beyond just the dogma that your body is this perfect self-regenerating luminous being:

The newest episode of “Awakenings” reveals what I call the greatest health conspiracy of all time: the institutionalized effort prevent you from realizing that you are born with all the programming you need to create perfect health and even heal yourself of deadly disease.

Even though this universal, fundamental truth is undeniable, nearly every modern institution of medicine, food, science and media tries to convince you that we’re all born as “defects” requiring medical intervention to be “healthy.”

The truth is far more empowering: You are born as a complete, empowered human being, requiring no injections, medications or interventions to achieve and express perfect health!

Now that I think about this, this idea fits in quite well with my previous characterization of the central dogma of alternative medicine, namely that thinking makes it so. Think about it. The idea is that your body can heal itself of pretty much anything if you believe the message that Adams is telling you. But, just as Christians believe that original sin keeps them from reaching heaven, in Adams’ world, big pharma, big industry, and big food, like Satan in the original story of the Garden of Eden, tempt you away from the One True Path of belief with processed food, products that result in “chemicals” being introduced into your body, and the intentional obfuscation of the tools necessary to have this perfect health.

Adams asks, “Why isn’t everyone in a state of perfect health?” Of course, this being Adams, he has a simple answer. Two, simple answers, actually:

  • We are all poisoned by exposure to damaging substances. Of course, these include genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in addition to the other usual suspects: food additives, insecticides, heavy metal, endocrine disruptors, and, of course, non-natural “chemicals,” which are, of course, so much more evil than “natural” chemicals.
  • Despite our “amazing DNA blueprint for perfect health,” humans don’t given themselves the “tools” needed to experience “perfect health.” Naturally, these tools include “superfoods.” Personally, whenever I see the word “superfood,” I know that I’m dealing with pseudoscience because there is no such thing as the magical, mythical superfoods that can put your body into a state of perfect health, no matter how much Adams believes there is (or wants to convince his marks that there is).

Naturally, Adams can’t resist going on a typical rant in which he claims that there are miraculous anticancer compounds in the right kinds of foods, such as certain fruits and vegetables, but that because drug companies “can’t patent food” and charge huge sums of money to use it to treat cancer they ignore these chemicals or suppress knowledge of them. Apparently there’s also no money to be made in finding ways to “activate your healing potential” in “your incredible DNA.” While it’s true that DNA is indeed incredible, Adams seems to be invoking it here the same way that Deepak Chopra invokes quantum mechanics, namely as magic, as something that can perform miracles because we don’t understand it. Of course, scientists understand a lot about DNA, perhaps even more than they understand about quantum mechanics, but that doesn’t stop Adams.

Indeed, Adams goes on to marvel at how the body “knows how to heal itself,” which is true for some things. As a surgeon, I’m continually amazed that, for example, if I sew to pieces of bowel together end-to-end, they will heal together and function properly, or that if I place a skin graft on properly prepared dermis it will attach and function as skin, or that if I sew two blood vessels together end-to-end, they will heal together and function as one continuous blood vessel. Biology is amazing. Our cells are amazing. How our cells work together to heal after an injury is a source of continual wonder and awe, every bit as much as the stars and black holes as described by Neil deGrasse Tyson on the new version of Cosmos are. The mysteries of biology are part of the mysteries of the Cosmos, and they are wondrous enough without magic.

Unfortunately, magic is what Adams gives us. He even goes so far as to claim, near the end of his podcast, that if you consume these super foods and add the magical substances they contain to your blood, if you “detoxify” yourself and avoid the “toxins,” you can be a super man or a super woman. I kid you not. Adams even claims that if you do these things you’ll become so intelligent that people will think you’re a genius, adding with faux humility that when people ask him why he’s so awesome (OK, Adams didn’t phrase it that way but there’s no doubt that’s what he meant), he demurs, saying, “I’m not a genius. I’m just a human who isn’t poisoning his brain.” He then adds as an explanation, “I just eat superfood, and I don’t poison my brain,” further adding that we’re all geniuses, we’re all spontaneous healers, and we’re all amazing beings.

Well, we are, but not all of us are geniuses, I don’t care how many super foods we eat or “toxins” we avoid, and the human body has limits. Critical looks at faith healing will often ask, “Why can’t God heal amputees?” Well, the same thing applies here. Nothing Adams can do will enable a human being to regrow an amputated limb. Let’s say that you really do poison yourself with large amounts of alcohol, in the process destroying your liver, leaving it in end stage cirrhosis. Eat all the super foods you want. Detoxify all you want. Avoid all the “toxins” and “heavy metals” you want. Your body won’t be able to heal that burned out liver of yours, and the only thing that could save your life will be a new liver, as in a liver transplant. And, no, it won’t be big pharma holding you back; even if you do every single thing Adams tells you, avoid GMOs and all those other “toxic” insults, and eat super foods, your liver will still be toast.

It won’t grow back.

No matter how much Adams blames toxic metals, endocrine disruptors, lack of nutrients, GMOs, and chemotherapy for poor health and lower IQ, the truth is exactly the opposite of Adams’ “Secret” (and it’s no coincidence that Adams chose that precise word). You can’t believe your way back to health or eat your way back to being that “perfect healing being,” because you were never a perfect healing being in the first place.

Indeed, all it takes to understand this is a minimal understanding of evolution and how adaptive responses can lead to disease. For example, acute inflammation is something the body is very good at healing by itself. It’s how the body heals wounds, and it works very well for that purpose if the wounds are not too extensive. However, chronic inflammation, which is nothing more than prolonged inflammation, can lead to a whole host of diseases, including heart disease and, particularly, cancer. It’s associated with many of the other chronic diseases of our time, such as type II diabetes. It’s an example of an adaptive response that goes too far and goes on too long, leading to disease.

In the end, the central dogma of alternative medicine is indeed that wishing makes it so, but wishing makes it so because a second part of the world view of alternative medicine is that the body is somehow this perfect spiritual organism that would always be in perfect health if we human beings didn’t always muck it up by assaulting it with all those “bad” things that Adams blames for the myriad health problems that plague human bodies. Naturally, it’s turned into a big conspiracy, with big business, big pharma, big food, and big government all conspiring to keep us eating unhealthy food that they sell us, to keep us sick so that we need pharmaceuticals, and to keep us unaware of how faith in the natural can save us.

Hmmm. That rather sounds like Satan, doesn’t it?

There is a major component of so much of alternative medicine that shares another major component of religion, and that’s the infantile belief that the universe actually gives a rodent’s posterior about you. In other words, many “alt-med” modalities have at their basis the idea that we humans can somehow bend the unfeeling universe to our wills in order to prevent us from ever suffering from ill health or, if we do suffer from ill health, to enable us to overcome it. The bottom line is that the belief system underlying alternative medicine is indeed very much akin to religion. We have the perfect, sinless (in this case, disease-free) creation that is rendered with sin (disease) by an evil force such as Satan (or in the case of the version of alternative medicine promoted by Mike Adams, GMOs, vaccines, “toxins,” and the like). Virtue is health, which implies that lack of virtue is ill health. What flows from this concept is that if you behave virtuously you will never get sick. The universe/nature/great spirit/whatever will see to that, because it likes it when we do the “right” things and doesn’t like it when we do not. Only following the One True Faith can redeem us. Well, that and buying whatever supplements that Adams wants to sell you.

Comments

  1. #1 Yerushalmi
    May 13, 2014

    How does Adams explain the fact that before Big Pharma and before chemicals the average life expectancy was in the thirties?

  2. #2 Narad
    May 13, 2014

    We are all poisoned by exposure to damaging substances.

    Well, dur.

    “I’m certain that the vaccine encephalitis screwed up the DNA instructions for the teeth scheduled to come in five years later, while those for the baby teeth had already been finalized.”

  3. #3 Helianthus
    May 13, 2014

    You are born as a complete, empowered human being, requiring no injections, medications or interventions to achieve and express perfect health!

    “Which is why you don’t need to buy any of the food supplement, drug, gadget or any other treatment which is advertised on NaturalNews.com.”

  4. #4 StrangerInAStrangeLand
    May 13, 2014

    This magical wishing-makes-it-so is one of the most vile concepts in regard to healing, because it means telling the parent of a child that´s dying of an illness “Sorry, obviously he didn´t believe strongly enough that he could be healthy. His fault.”
    Everyone who would say something along those lines to me or my loved ones in a similar situation would afterwards say “Ouch, you broke my nose!”

  5. #5 Sarah
    May 13, 2014

    “The state of perfect health” (should be trade-marked) is an ideal concept for marketing because it can never be enough. There’s alway going to be more they can sell you, some other bit of nonsense which will “perfect” you.

    Plus, of course, you don’t actually know how “perfect” your state of health is. I was feeling absolutely fine until I found the breast lump that turned out to be the cancer for which I am currently being treated. So also room for lots of ‘investigations” which can find some lack of “perfection” for which they can sell you something.

    It’s brilliant. All you need to make it work is a complete lack of morals.

  6. #6 Renate
    May 13, 2014

    Not so long ago I read an interview with a Dutch politician, who stated that elderly people got prescribed to many medicines, which he thought was wrong, because if nature had ment us to swallow many pills, we should be equiped with a seperate intake opening. Instead, our food should be healthier.

    He currently is a member of a party for the elderly people and I would answer him that, before seniors got those medicines, they died earlier, so he wouldn’t have so many potential supporters.

  7. #7 Renate
    May 13, 2014

    Why is English to difficult? Of course it should be too many medicines.

  8. #8 MikeMa
    May 13, 2014

    Doesn’t Mikey understand that he is killing off his customers by offering them non-functional alternatives? Self- limiting business model unless there are an abundance of gullible half-wits willing to sign on in spite of the lack of efficacy. Oh, wait…

  9. #9 Chris Hickie
    May 13, 2014

    It will be interesting to see how Adams deals with his own aging, for if he was truly in a state of perfect health, why should he grow old and die like the rest of us?

    This reminds me of a quote by the late exercise guru Jack LaLanne, who said in his 90′s “Then I was a crackpot and a charlatan, today I am an authority… and believe me I can’t die, it would ruin my image.” (http://www.neatorama.com/2011/01/23/jack-lalanne-rip-10-facts-about-jack-lalanne-you-didnt-know/#!M1qnT).

  10. #10 Orac
    May 13, 2014

    Actually, Adams wasn’t in a state of perfect health. According to his own reports, he was once overweight and had borderline type II diabetes. Of course, it was all due to big pharma and big food “poisoning” him. Once he figured that out he popped some super foods and avoided those evil GMOs, and he’s fine now. :-)

  11. #11 Ann-Marie
    May 13, 2014

    Excellent post, particularly the last paragraph. That attitude/belief system is probably the thing that I find most frustrating about alternative health because it brings with it the implication that if you are ill it is somehow your fault.

  12. #12 palindrom
    May 13, 2014

    Ah, the ideal bucolic existence, before Big Pharma came along and poisoned us!

    I suppose that explains all those tiny gravestones in the mid-19th-century rural graveyard near my house? It’s heartbreaking to think about.

    There are also all those young men with dates like 1841-1864. That’s largely another matter, but disease bore away a great many of those, too.

  13. #13 Dangerous Bacon
    May 13, 2014

    One aspect of Natural Healing As Religious Cult is that nonbelievers will be cast into darkness, since it’s their own fault if they don’t harness their bodies’ awesome powers (available in capsule form for only $89.98 for a momth’s supply).

    “There are also all those young men with dates like 1841-1864. That’s largely another matter, but disease bore away a great many of those, too.”

    This recalls the time on another message board when there was an altie insisting that Civil War-era medical care was just fine. I’m sure the soldiers back then appreciated that care when they were having extremities amputated (for injuries that currently would be treated with limb-preserving surgery under toxic anesthetics, followed by toxic antibiotics) .

  14. #14 Mrs Grimble
    Out of the forest and now with added water....
    May 13, 2014

    Oh, those 19thC people? They got ill and died early because they didn’t eat superfoods and natural supplements of course! They didn’t have anybody like Mike Adams to tell them how to eat right.
    Same as with the North American natives before Europeans arrived – you may think they led healthy natural lives, but boy are you wrong about that! They didn’t have the Health Ranger’s marvelous superfoods and supplements either and THAT’S why they were killed off by European diseases!
    /woo

  15. #15 Denice Walter
    May 13, 2014

    @ Renate:

    “Why is English so difficult?”
    My international clients would often ask me that- I usually gave them a long tale which here, reduced to its essence,
    is- because the early inhabitants of England were first conquered/ visited by folk with diverse languages and then they conquered others- thus English picked up large parts of European languages ( vocabulary and grammar) and then words from languages all around the world.

    Which results in confusing rules and many words: I would illustrate how words could have synonyms with both Germanic and Romance origins. This makes the language rich and expressive- which writers love- but many students find to be rather irksome.

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    May 13, 2014

    I listened to Mikey** yesterday.

    According to worshippers of Superfoods ™, there are mysterious and potent phytochemicals within, graciously deposited there by the Creator, which heal all ills.They are like manna from heaven and possess Mana as well: their subtle energies empower a person’s life energies and essence, enabling long life in perfect health.

    If there’s Mana, there is also Taboo: these forbidden substances possess powerful destructive forces and should be avoided at all costs- plus they were not by the Creator but by human pride- GMOs. food additives, chemical preservatives, toxins, vaccines, meds, EMR and myriad other contaminants which interfere with purity of essence.

    Often, I listen to a loon who contrasts the evils wrought by particular drugs with the miracles achieved by powerful foods and supplements. Thus Prozac will destroy your life and health BUT SAMe, 5HTP and St John’s Wort will actually eliminate depression- which isn’t a real illness anyway, just a part of life which village elders would deal with effectively through Wise Counsel ™ in eras past.

    Why take meds for CVD when you could have onions and garlic? Vioxx kills but blueberries CURE athritis. And grapes possess enormously powerful nutrients that help just about everything. Both Dionysus and Jesus were associated with wine- btw- making rapes somewhat supernatural, I’m sure. However, latter day food cultists say less about the bread that goes with the wine as gluten is the devil it seems.

    And who are these demi-gods who, like the Creator, package up the vital essences of green power and berry magic in convenient powders and capsules in order to save you – body and soul- and protect you from the Evil Ones at GSK? They represent the Creator himself on earth. And they tell you so every day. Spirituality is a theme beloved by woo-meisters.

    ** I may have been the first to call him “Mikey”, you know.

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    May 13, 2014

    That’s making GRAPES…..yiiiiii!

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    May 13, 2014

    And believe it or not- Mikey will appear on Oz’s show today….

    They’re ganging up on us and on reality too, it seems.

  19. #19 janerella
    May 13, 2014

    Followers of Polly Noble are justifiably shocked at her death yesterday – one has to trawl through swathes of wellness and woo in her blog to actually find posts about her cancer, and her last mention of its progress was November last year.

  20. #20 Eric Lund
    May 13, 2014

    @palindrom: You don’t even have to go back to the 19th century to see that. My mother was one of seven children, four of whom died before reaching adulthood. Medical techniques developed during her lifetime may not have helped the one who died in a prairie fire, but they would have saved at least two and probably all three of the others. This was in the US in the first half of the 20th century, in a family that lived on a cattle ranch in the summer and a nearby mid-sized town during the school year. Which would be as close to the lifestyle Mikey advocates as was available at the time.

    Between the Industrial Revolution and sometime after World War II, the urban poor really didn’t have access to a good diet. But that doesn’t explain my mother’s family, or the people whose graves palindrom refers to (I know the area where he lives).

  21. #21 Shay
    May 13, 2014

    Why is English so difficult? What Denice said.

    “We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.” James D. Nicoll

  22. #22 muttpupdad
    May 13, 2014

    If we have a “amazing DNA blueprint for perfect health” does that mean that bacteria and viruses have an even better blueprint that can overcome ours and kill us.. He statement would seem to imply that in my reading of it.

  23. #23 jre
    May 13, 2014

    “Once he figured that out he popped some super foods and avoided those evil GMOs, and he’s fine now.”

    Well, more than fine, actually. As I never tire of bringing up, after Mike went on the all-natural diet he found that he could read books at the rate of a page per second. My hopes for a demonstration of this amazing ability continue to be dashed.

  24. #24 Renate
    May 13, 2014

    @ Denice Walter and Shay
    I often confuse to and too and then and than.

  25. #25 oldmanjenkins
    Wooville Florida
    May 13, 2014

    If we follow Adams logic down the rabbit hole, people in the past PNC (Pre-Nasty Chemicals) should have documented longer life spans and we now should have shorter life spans by comparison. Of course this logic does not pan out as genetic researchers as well as archaeologists and the like show we didn’t live very long 200, 300, 400 etc etc years ago. Oh Health Ranger and your Dunning Kruger!

  26. #26 janet
    well, at least it's not snowing
    May 13, 2014

    Denise @ #16
    I used to have a dog named Mikey. Although certainly not the highest wattage bulb in the package, he as smarter than THIS Mikey. Plus, he was very pleasant and personable.

  27. #27 AlisonM
    May 13, 2014

    Ah, yes, our perfect DNA. It never, ever makes anyone with cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, Sickle Cell Anemia, hemophilia, FOP, or any of those genetic conditions. Why aren’t any of these folks directing their miracle DNA manipulation cures to people who could really use them?

  28. #28 Dangerous Bacon
    May 13, 2014

    “And believe it or not- Mikey will appear on Oz’s show today….”

    I hope you’re making this up.

    If you aren’t, it might be fun to see Mike castigating Oz for his “unhealthy” diet and “lies” about organic food:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/mike-adams-on-dr-mehmet-ozs-colon-polyps-spontaneous-disease
    http://naturalsociety.com/dr-gary-null-mike-adams-organic-consumers-others-dr-oz-organic-food-lies/

    But I suspect Mike wouldn’t want to bit the hand that’s feeding him to a mass public. Nibble a little, maybe…

  29. #29 Dangerous Bacon
    May 13, 2014

    “bite the hand that feeds him”, dammit.

  30. #30 LW
    May 13, 2014

    “Why is English so difficult?”

    English is the product of Norman men-at-arms making dates with Saxon barmaids. (H. Beam Piper)

  31. #31 Eric Lund
    May 13, 2014

    English is the product of Norman men-at-arms making dates with Saxon barmaids. (H. Beam Piper)

    But that has actually been responsible for simplifying English. Most Indo-European languages (at least the ones I am moderately familiar with) have grammatical gender and the like. Grammatical gender is frequently arbitrary and inconsistent; e.g., depending which language you are speaking, the sun can be masculine (Spanish el sol) or feminine (German die Sonne). So Normans dating Saxons, and vice-versa, would likely conclude that grammatical gender is a worthless idea, resulting in an English language that doesn’t have that–people and animals still have gender, but other things don’t. Likewise, while English pronouns still have case, nouns do not (apart from the possessive form), unlike Latin, German, and Russian, where nouns do have case. A similar process accounts for the simplification of verb tenses compared to Romance languages.

    Vocabulary and spelling are still a mess, but few languages have grammars as simple as English.

  32. #32 Shay
    May 13, 2014

    “Vocabulary and spelling are still a mess, but few languages have grammars as simple as English.” — speaking as someone who wrassled with German, French AND Latin in her childhood, I agree with you.

  33. #33 Denice Walter
    May 13, 2014

    Oh Dangerous One:

    I would NEVER make up anything about Mikey ( the truth is far too entertaining) and I always SAY when I’m joking
    ………
    -btw- about those frickin’ Normans…
    there is an old family legend about an ancestor who came over with William – which I doubt- altho’ many of us can do the courtly sucking-up mannerisms rather well- which is great for business-
    I tend to believe that our ancestor was a Saxon who sold Wm something and then took on a Norman name to show off. A barmaid also make sense. Lots of sense.

    Other relations stick with the Fitz- part and a related story……
    …………….

    English grammar is excellent.

  34. #34 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    May 13, 2014

    The earliest Indo-European languages that we have record of (Vedic Sanskrit, Hittite, etc.) were probably in the last stages of the decay of a full-blown categorizing system, like the Bantu languages. They have as few as three and as many as twenty categories, or agreement classes, and from comparative work, we can see that some of the three-class systems are incipient, and some are on their last legs. (The somewhat artificial Trade Language, Swahili, with twenty, is probably just agreeing with all of them for maximum compatibility).

    The very fact that there are three rather than two categories is all the proof you need that they have nothing to do with sex, but the accident that the word for “man” wound up in one category and the word for “woman” in another was misconstrued, and we’ve been stuck with the results ever since. (What about that third category? Uh…uh…must be “neuter”. Yeah, that’s the ticket!)

    Worse yet, people have used “gender” as a euphemism for “sex” for so long now that when you tell them that Swahili has 20 genders, they look at you like you’re crazy. Why that’s any worse than three (or zero, like Finnish or Hungarian), I don’t know.

  35. #35 palindrom
    May 13, 2014

    English grammar is excellent; English idioms are a marvelously expressive rat’s nest.

    Did your house burn down, or did it burn up? Inquiring minds want to know!

  36. #36 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    May 13, 2014

    Did Mikey forget the most evil bogey of them all—raaaadi-aaation? (Which didn’t exist before 1945, of course!) Alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, neutrons, and the radio waves from your cellphone or microwave oven—they’re all the same, remember!

  37. #37 Derek Freyberg
    May 13, 2014

    We’re getting off topic, but it’s fun, so …
    IMO, the ideographic languages have very simple grammars, even more so than English: few tenses, no cases (declension, in Japanese, being indicated by postpositions), limited gender (Japanese having gendered words for humans, but a bull being “male bovine”, cow being “female bovine” or “milk bovine”, etc.) The upside is relatively easy to speak – the downside is tough to read or write.

  38. #38 herr doktor bimler
    May 13, 2014

    Mikey is rediscovering the old Gnostic philosophy — your soul / DNA starts out pure and perfect, an emanation of a higher reality, but is lured down and trapped in a corrupted, irreal physical existence. So the goal is to recollect those original (cellular) memories.

    Has he rediscovered the idea, or just stolen it from Hubbard’s version of it in Dianetics / philosophy, with the Thetans and Xenu and the volcano? Anyway, it can only be a matter of time before he realises the tax-free advantages of explicitly calling his alt-med a religion.

  39. #39 Bob G
    Los Angeles
    May 13, 2014

    Re: English as a second language: I have a colleague who grew up speaking Spanish and learned German and English along the way. He doesn’t get it that English is extremely dependent on word order, and that run-on sentences tend to confuse things when used in English. Apparently running a sentence on over 4 lines is OK in Spanish. I’m guessing that part of this is the fact that all those genders and cases provide enough information to the reader that the longer sentences can be deciphered.

    There are also a lot of specific usages that are exceptions to the standard forms. This is particularly the case when you have to choose the right preposition. And for some reason, the correct preposition in English and the correct preposition in Italian may be opposites of each other. We say “I’m going to Cleveland” and are understood. Lord help the newcomers if destination words get turned into verbs as slang.

    Re: the perfection of DNA: Long ago, I heard a music professor read a line written by a famous geneticist, which went something like this: DNA is almost perfect, but it is not completely perfect, which is why we have music.

    Paraphrased, this remark points out that even though DNA replication is generally very accurate, even in the best of cases there are mutations every hundred thousand base pairs or so that just happen. It’s all a part of chemistry. The idea that living the idyllic lifestyle will confer genomic perfection on your offspring is scientifically illiterate.

  40. #40 palindrom
    May 13, 2014

    Bob G — So, to expand on your statement, I suppose if a 1920s flapper were to say “I’m going to Charleston”, she’d be understood to mean she was about to start dancing?

  41. #41 Denice Walter
    May 13, 2014

    @ herr doktor bimler:

    Mein Herr, you are correct about that.

    We start out perfect and then are destroyed day-by-day through our interaction with the World.
    But there’s a way to get back to the Lost Paradise ™ of Perfect Health ™:
    “LISTEN to ME”, shrieks the woo-meister as he scolds his charges who have compromised, sinned and had truck with the Devil (i.e. they recognise a government, work for corporations, buy things, eat regular food, read news and watch television etc.) Sell Outs!
    Know you the error of your ways and REPENT, you wankers!**
    A person needs to get back to a Perfect :Life ™ by following the Master’s system and shutting out all competing messages ( like those from universities, doctors, experts, media etc) and hear only the Master’s Voice.

    They warn about Dire Consequences and the Day of Wrath fast approaching:
    your eating habits and lack of exercise wll result in cancer, CD and death..
    the government and corporations will use you and the media will lie to you and then climate change will devastate the land ( to Gary , not Mikey) and gangs will rise and take over, there will be food shortages, an economic collapse, hyper-inflation, war, nuclear diasters, solar flares, floods, fires and devastation.
    AND no one will help you. You must first become self-reliant and follow their orders so that you have a chance.

    To control information, they report on news, politics, economics all the while denigrating both the content and those responsible for it. Universities and the educated are also worthless.
    Both have new media of their own: THEIR style of news concentrates on the coming Apocalypse and the helplessness of people, governments and technology. Only a return to the Old Ways and Life on the Land will be an option with hope ( Mikey allows guns -btw-)
    The Earth will provide what Modernity cannot.

    ** actually neither idiot says “Wankers” but it sounded right.

  42. #42 Bruce
    Netherlands
    May 13, 2014

    The Health (De)Ranger…..Health Danger ????? B|

  43. #43 Ben Bradley
    North Georgia (USA)
    May 13, 2014

    Having read extensively op the topic (largely to deprogram myself), I hesitate to use the “c” word for such groups, even when they obviously are – it mainly riles up members of such groups and makes them defensive (there may be an argument that this helps “shock” people out of their beliefs to deprogram them, but for this post I’m arguing against it). It’s remarkable how disparate groups (religious, health groups/ideas like this one, multi-level marketing organizations) have so many common methods of recruiting and controlling members.

    This page by a “former member of X” work well when renamed “How to talk to an X” where X is just about any spurious or incorrect belief system:
    http://www.xenu.net/archive/infopack/16.htm
    It may need small but obvious changes, such as “don’t tell them 12-step groups are religious.”

    There’s also this video which doesn’t mention any group at all, but describes many techniques anyone will recognize:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VbKIfFyRXU

  44. #44 Narad
    May 13, 2014

    Worse yet, people have used “gender” as a euphemism for “sex” for so long now that when you tell them that Swahili has 20 genders, they look at you like you’re crazy.

    But this seems like a conflation of sex as encoded by independent personal pronouns with grammatical gender (which may or may not be sex-based, the former predominating; chap. 31).

  45. #45 Narad
    May 14, 2014

    Vocabulary and spelling are still a mess, but few languages have grammars as simple as English.

    I was surpised to be told by W—pedia that intransitive suffixing of ee is a matter of dialect.

  46. #47 Bob G
    Los Angeles
    May 14, 2014

    @palindrom: Yes, that would be a disaster if Charleston were both a city and some sort of activity. By the way, one of my friends made the TMC documentary about Clara Bow. She definitely had it, whether or not she ever got to Charleston. I notice that the word “got” in this usage is completely ambiguous, since it could refer to “arrived at” or “was allowed to.” No wonder my colleague has problems with typing scientific English.

    DW: I like your use of nuclear diasters. I think it’s diesters though, as in the phospho kind. Can also be out in the cytoplasm. Is this being pedantic on my part and therefore a banable offense, or just enjoying a bad pun?

  47. #48 The Grouchybeast
    May 14, 2014

    @Bob G

    I worked with a German colleague who was very interested in languages. It used to drive her crazy that the answer to almost any ‘what does [word] mean?’ question about English was ‘Well, really it depends on the context.’ I think she felt that not only did English have far too many words to start with, but it then also used them in far too many ways.

  48. #49 herr doktor bimler
    May 14, 2014

    therefore a banable offense

    Consider yourself baned.

  49. #50 herr doktor bimler
    May 14, 2014

    did English have far too many words to start with

    Please remove 3 30 300 3000 30000.

  50. #51 herr doktor bimler
    May 14, 2014

    [English] then also used them in far too many ways

    Perhaps the answer is to learn and converse in Loglan, a language designed to eliminate all possibilities for poetry and bad puns.

  51. […] if not the quackiest site, on the Internet, NaturalNews.com. This time around, I was simply using one of Adams’ wonderfully incoherent defenses of alternative medicine thinking to demonstrate how much magical thinking exists at the core of […]

  52. #53 palindrom
    May 14, 2014

    HDB @50, 51 — A language without the possibility of bad puns is not a language worth speaking.

    And your comment on removing words reminds me of a Simpsons (as does everything) in which Grandpa Simpson is writing a letter to the President:

    :”Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three. P.S. I am not a crackpot.”

  53. #54 Denice Walter
    May 14, 2014

    @ Bob G:

    I apologise for the error.-btw- I am not perfect altho’ parts of me are excellent.

    Being pedantic is only forbidden when one is acting in such a manner towards our most benevolent and gracious host who runs the show around here.

    -btw- does ‘banable’ mean that one can have a ‘bane’ ? e.g. Orac, bane of woo-meisters or Brian, Andy’s Bane – so, woo-meisters and Andy are banable.

  54. #55 Scottynuke
    May 14, 2014

    Nuclear disasters?? *eye twitch* Who said anything about nuclear disasters? *eye twitch twitch*

  55. #56 Denice Walter
    May 14, 2014

    @ Scottynuke:

    But what if….
    a solar flare hits the earth and the power grid goes down and nuclear power plants melt down or they’ll get hit by earthquakes or tsunamis like Fukushima or terrorists bring cobbled-together nuclear devices because we no longer have money to monitor things like that or there is a false flag attack engineered by our own operatives in order to solidify the encroaching power of the police state and justify their spying on citizens the internet or they want to set-up and blame Freedom Fighters etc.

  56. #57 Scottynuke
    May 14, 2014

    Have you been reading my incoming e-mail again, Denice? You know that spiel all too well… ; – )

  57. #58 JerryA
    May 14, 2014

    Is a requirement to ignore internal inconsistency (cognitive dissonance?) also a sign of woo/religion? As far as I can tell from the woo, ascorbic acid and citric acid are bad, because they make you acidic and are “chemicals”. Fructose is “toxic” and kills your liver. Limonene, myrcene and cellulose are bad because they’re “chemicals”. But having a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice containing all of the above in large quantities is good for you. Yup, it’s magic, not reality.

    As far as DNA being “perfect”, well, *which* DNA? AlisonM in comment 27 makes a good point about genetic diseases. We have over 7 billion people on the planet, all of whom have different combinations of genes. Are all of us perfect? Or only the chosen few who can afford to be ripped off buying expensive the super-woo-fad-food of the week and believing in the right profit I mean prophet of woo?

  58. #59 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    May 14, 2014

    I wonder how much Mikey would have to pay the Nigerian government to be made a “Prince”?

  59. #60 Denice Walter
    May 14, 2014

    @ Scottynuke:

    I swear, I could write pages of this tripe-
    And- most likely- could actually SELL it to people

    However I was raised by business people who believed that-
    you shouldn’t sell crap or lie in order to make money…
    there are other careers in the wide world and
    it’s below our dignity

  60. #61 Nick K
    Chengdu
    May 18, 2014

    Another point of similarity between Alternative Medicine and religion: the vehemence and violence with which its proponents react when anyone dares to point out the inconsistencies and absurdities of the dogma.

  61. #62 Narad
    May 18, 2014

    Then again, even religions have been known to revise things once in a while. Where’s the Vatican II of TCM? The Critical Buddhism* of homeopathy?

    * Not that they’re right.

  62. #63 Narad
    May 18, 2014

    ^ I suppose those two would be better swapped.

  63. #64 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    May 26, 2014

    Apologies if this isn’t relevant to this post.
    Manufacturers of alternative cures are bringing suit against the South African Department of Health to have numerous “cures” ruled safe.
    http://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2014/05/25/state-to-oppose-court-action-seeking-to-prove-alternative-medicine-safe

    [I]n November last year, new regulations were gazetted that sought proof the medicines were safe and had benefits.
    [A spokesman] said that in the past, certain products’ labels did not disclose “unsafe” substances such as yohimbine, teas containing cocaine, and slimming products with dangerous levels of scheduled ingredients.

  64. #65 Narad
    May 26, 2014

    [A spokesman] said that in the past, certain products’ labels did not disclose “unsafe” substances such as yohimbine

    Oh, tish tosh.

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