If there’s one fallacy that grips the brains of proponents of “natural healing,” “holistic medicine,” or, as the vast majority of it is, quackery, it’s an appeal to nature. Basically, the idea that underlies the appeal to nature is a profane worship of nature as being, in essence, perfect, with anything humans do that is perceived as somehow being “unnatural” being viewed as, at the very least, inferior and at the very worst pure evil. We see it in the pseudoscientific stylings of cranks like The Food Babe, whose epic appeals to nature are legendary in their stupidity, particularly her demonization of any chemical perceived as synthetic to the point where she actually says thinks like, “If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it” and “There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever.”

That’s just one example. The appeal to nature undergirds so much of alternative medicine that it’s hard to think of an example of alternative medicine that doesn’t to some extent embrace the this fallacy. Now, I hate to go back to the same well twice in less than a week, given that I just laid a little not-so-Respectful Insolence on the living embodiment of the Dunning-Kruger effect and the arrogance of ignorance, The Thinking Moms’ Revolution, but this time I must, because I’ve just seen there what is perhaps the most potently concentrated distillation of this in one place that I can recall ever having seen. I almost have to admire its awesome simple-mindedness, but its simplemindedness serves to illustrate my point. It’s an article by Amy L. Lansky, entitled On Mother’s Day — A Message from Mother Earth: Don’t Mess with Gaia!

Amy Lansky, as you might recall is a homeopath whom we’ve met before on Joe Mercola’s site laying down the same old pseudoscientific justifications for homeopathy that we’ve all come to know and love. Let’s just say that she has a penchant for calling homeopathy “the impossible cure,” thinking she’s being ironic and not knowing how correct she is to characterize homeopathy that way because it is pretty much impossible. Be that as it may, she starts out her post with, in essence, a message that says, “You can’t fool Mother Nature!” She then can’t resist expounding upon it. Her message is delivered early on:

Every time we try to control the inherent flow and wisdom of nature itself, especially in a dramatic and large-scale way, things always seem to backfire. Inevitably, we find ourselves feverishly trying to repair the damage we have done, often foolishly wreaking even more havoc. And the more severe our intrusion into Gaia’s domain, the more irreparable and severe the consequences have become.

It’s the theme of many 1950s science fiction and horror films that portrayed scientists tampering with nature in a way that human beings shouldn’t tamper with nature, with disastrous results. Heck, it’s a theme that goes at least as far back as Frankenstein, the idea that there are some things that humans just aren’t meant to know and some aspects of nature that human beings are just not meant to control. It’s a great idea for fiction, but it’s a horrible idea as a medical philosophy.

Lansky starts with a couple of examples that aren’t entirely unreasonable, first anthropogenic global climate change due to our addiction to fossil fuels and the subsequent rise of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last century. I’m not sure that I’d necessarily call that “messing with nature” in that fossil fuels are quite natural, being the end result of the decomposition of dead organisms from millions of years ago. Then she brings up invasive species; i.e. species moved out of their habitat and into another by humans, which, if there are no natural predators or other species that can compete with them, can result in the invasive species outcompeting native species and, in essence, taking over. Of course, I’m not sure that either of these examples are due to humans “messing with Gaia” more than just being careless, as human beings have been wont to do ever since they started forming civilizations. There’s a reason why archeology is sometimes referred to as ancient garbage picking.

From there, the examples get less science-based. Lansky easily conflates problems with monoculture farming with—of course—GMOs, blaming both for “the growth of super-weeds, depletion of soils, pollution of fresh water, rampant deleterious effects on human health, and more.” After that, Lansky gets to medicine, and that’s when the real fun begins:

A more controversial and less acknowledged area of “messing with Gaia” has been perpetrated by modern medicine. The primary modus operandi of conventional medicine is to either to suppress the body’s natural responses to disease, or to kill viruses, bacteria, cancer, etc. through the introduction of killing or suppressive agents — for example, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and chemotherapy poisons. Unfortunately, we are finding that profligate use of such medicines can ultimately backfire or be even worse than the original disease itself. Don’t forget: Mother Nature knows how to fight back.

Consider this. The medical world, even if it isn’t talking about it openly, is currently bracing for a firestorm. Overuse of antibiotics — for every cough and cold (even though most are viral and not affected by antibiotics), in hand soaps and other household products, and especially when given prophylactically to animals on large monoculture feedlots (because such farms are perfect breeding grounds for disease)—has led to the evolution of deadly super-bacteria that can no longer be easily controlled. The only solution conventional medicine will have for us will be more of the same: stronger antibiotics. But that will only delay and perhaps even aggravate the inevitable.

Yes, the overuse of antibiotics is a problem. It’s been a problem for a long time. However, it’s not just medicine that is the biggest contributor to the problem of resistant bugs, although, make no mistake, we doctors do contribute to the problem. It’s the routine use of antibiotics in farming that could well contribute just as much to the evolution of multidrug resistant bacterial species and their introduction into human populations.

Be that as it may, Lantz doesn’t seem to understand that the body’s “natural response to disease” is often a major problem, the major cause of the complications of various “natural” diseases. One good example of that is influenza, which, depending on the strain, can have a tendency to kill younger, “fitter” people because the inflammatory and immune response in these people is stronger. There’s a reason why the pandemic of Spanish flu in 1918 disproportionately killed younger, healthier people. Another example is sepsis, where the body’s “natural” reaction endotoxin released by bacteria is deadly, consisting of a vasodilatation that drops the blood pressure and a hyperdynamic state. Yes, Lansky is correct that humans and animals can recover from bacterial infections, but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily will, and antibiotics, appropriately prescribed for the appropriate bug and disease, greatly increase the chances of survival.

Think of it this way. Human beings can survive Yersinia pestis infection. It’s a bacteria that causes a disease known as the plague, or, more colloquially, the Black Death. Let’s see. What happened in the age before antibiotics when the Black Death took hold. For instance, the Plague of Justinian, which began in the 6th century produced millions of deaths. Procopius reported that at its height, the plague was killing 10,000 a day in Constantinople, with bodies left stacked in the open because there was no room to bury them. Then, in the 14th century, there occurred the most famous pandemic of bubonic plague, known as the Black Death, which, or so it’s estimated, killed one third of the population of Europe and might have reduced the world population from 450 million to 350 to 375 million.

Ah, natural living! There’s nothing more natural than dying of infectious disease in huge numbers. That Gaia, she’s a harsh mistress, and, personally, I’m all for keeping her from killing me and large numbers of my fellow humans through her indifference. Oh, sure, Lansky claims that there are “much safer” medical alternatives, including herbalism, homeopathy, and other systems that can “heal serious infectious diseases.” Not surprisingly, she provides no evidence to support this contention, but goes so far as to claim:

Hundreds of years of successful experience with these medical alternatives, all over the world, has proven their efficacy. In fact, these medicines may end up saving humanity — if we allow them to coexist and thrive. Not only do they generally work with the body and help to enhance its ability to fight disease naturally, but they also do not lead to bacterial or viral mutation and resistance.

Which is, of course, a load of fetid dingos’ kidneys. We saw the results of “natural” treatments. We’ve had hundreds—nay, thousands—of years to see the results of “natural treatments.” Those results are epitomized by epidemics of bubonic plague, cholera, and all manner of diseases that are now treatable or preventable.

Speaking of preventable, you know where this is heading, of course. After the diatribes against invasive species, anthropogenic global climate change, and GMOs, you just knew Lansky would end up here:

Unfortunately, there is one more looming “mistake” brewing on the medical horizon: our ever-increasing use of vaccines. Just as the indiscriminate use of antibiotics was considered perfectly harmless for most of the past century, vaccines are currently considered by most of the general public (thanks to very effective media campaigns) as no more dangerous than candies, to be applied liberally and without consequence. The truth, however, may surprise you.

The vaccine schedule has exploded in the past 60 years and continues to grow. In the 1950s, children received seven doses of vaccines in the first six years of life. Children today receive 49 doses of 14 vaccines by the time they are six years old, and 69 doses of 16 vaccines by the time they are 18! And hundreds of new vaccines are currently in the development pipeline.

Gee, you say that as though it were a bad thing!

Of course, I always wonder how antivaccinationists like Lansky come up with these numbers. I’ve looked at the vaccine schedules for 0-6 years old and 7-18 years old. I get 34 doses, but only if you include a yearly flu vaccine. Otherwise it’s 28. As for ages 7-18, I get only five recommended for everyone, plus three doses of HPV and 12 doses of flu vaccine if the child gets the flu vaccine every year. In any case, I have a hard time coming up with more than 51. In any case, it doesn’t matter. It’s all the “too many too soon” fallacy, the claim that the current vaccine schedule somehow “unnaturally” stresses the immune system. It doesn’t. Lansky claims that viral shedding from vaccinated children is dangerous. It’s not.

Lansky trots out the usual antivaccine tropes, such as “too many too soon,” the claim that because of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, vaccine makers are somehow “indemnified” against claims, and, of course, the Brady Bunch fallacy, which is the claim that measles was harmless childhood disease without consequence, so much so that sitcom writers used it for laughs. It isn’t, of course. Measles is dangerous, as was acknowledged even back in the 1960s in the New York Times article about the licensing of the vaccine and was accepted decades ago. Not surprisingly, Lansky claims that “natural” immunity is better. Of course, “natural” immunity carries with it the distinct disadvantage of having to suffer through the actual disease. It also neglects the observation that, in the case of measles at least, it’s the disease that damages the immune system, not the vaccine.

All of this leads to a crescendo of woo:

Ultimately, however, I believe that our overreliance on vaccination to achieve health will fail, just as surely as the overuse of antibiotics has failed — because the only way to stay healthy is to work with the natural functions of the body, not to trick or subjugate them. You can’t fool Mother Nature!

Although the practice of vaccination may seem as if it is mimicking a natural body process, it is not. Vaccines provide a poor imitation of true immunity that is incomplete and never permanent. Here is something that most people do not realize: the practice of vaccination over-stimulates one part of the immune system (humoral immunity—which triggers a response to a specific disease antigen), while leaving another part of the immune system unexercised (cell-mediated immunity—which provides a generalized mechanism that fights all disease). As a result, our immune systems are becoming unnaturally skewed and exaggerated in one direction, while becoming weaker in the other. That is why people are developing more and more autoimmune diseases (overstimulation of humoral immunity), and have become less and less able to naturally fight disease in general. The result has been widespread chronic disease among the young and old — including diseases like diabetes, asthma, autism, and cancer that were unheard of or extremely rare among children in the 1950s.

As I’ve pointed out many times before, there is no good evidence that vaccination is associated with autoimmune disease, including asthma. As has also been pointed out before, in the case of one disease, measles, it’s the virus that causes problems with the immune system, not the vaccine. In any case, looking at this discussion, I couldn’t help but think that Lansky thinks she understands the immune system, but does not, which is not surprising, given that she’s a homeopath. I’ll give her credit for realizing that there are two main divisions: cellular immunity and humoral immunity. But that’s about it. Again, there’s no good evidence that vacines are responsible for any of the chronic diseases that antivaccinationists attribute to vaccines.

None of this stops Lansky from ramping up to a grand finale of an appeal to nature:

I’m sure that many who read this article will rankle at what I am saying. Many people accept that humanity has triggered climate change and acknowledge the danger of pesticides, but scoff at those who point to the dangers of GMOs and vaccines. Others accept the dangers of vaccines, but think that climate change is a hoax.

But consider this: all of these problems are the result of humans trying to control or work against Mother Nature instead of cooperating with her. In the end, such misguided efforts are futile, because we are not outside of nature — we are part of it. We are all part of the body of Gaia — a living system that is larger than all of us put together, and that has many feedback loops and corrective mechanisms. If we mess things up too much, we may find ourselves thrown out of the system, eaten up like so many microbes devoured by a horde of white blood cells. Hopefully, Gaia isn’t terminally ill and humanity can finally learn its lesson: that we must cooperate with our fellow organisms and learn to coexist in a state of sustainable health.

I love “logic” (if you can call it that) here: If you accept that humans are causing potentially catastrophic climate change on this planet, then you must accept that vaccines are evil affronts to Gaia. If you don’t, then you must be either a hypocrite or only seeing half the story. Or a sheeple. I particularly like the implication that, “if we mess things up too much,” maybe Gaia will destroy us, sending her white blood cells to eliminate us like an infection.

If you want to see the naturalistic fallacy in all its “glory,” you need look no further than Amy Lansky’s ramblings.

Comments

  1. #1 Dangerous Bacon
    May 12, 2015

    I don’t get it. if using drugs derived from herbs/plants is messing with Gaia, then isn’t using herbs also a way to trick her that will surely backfire? And homeopathy uses various chemicals as well as herbs, another interference with the natural order that wasn’t even around until the 19th century.

    As far as herbs go, the typical excuse runs along the lines of the human-centered universe fallacy – that these plants were put on earth to serve us.

    It’s hard to imagine a more arrogant attitude, especially bizarre when these people are scolding us for overuse of fossil fuels and otherwise harming the planet, yet at the same time exploiting Nature and threatening the extinction of plants and animals used in non-evidence based health care.

  2. #2 ChrisP
    May 12, 2015

    One of the most important factors behind the rise in antibiotic resistance is hospitals. If we were not collecting large numbers of people with compromised immune systems together and keeping them alive with antibiotics, multiple resistant bugs would be a much lesser problem.

    I just can’t imagine an effective alternative.

    • #3 Orac
      May 12, 2015

      It’s actually more complicated than that. It’s overuse of antibiotics in hospital and outpatient settings, yes, but it’s now been shown rather convincingly (IMHO) that overuse of antibiotics in animal feed on farms is also a major contributor to the problem. It’s hard to estimate the relative contributions of these factors, though.

  3. #4 johnny
    May 12, 2015

    You have missed something here. Particularly with herbal preparations that have an antibiotic effect, their value lay in the non standardization of the product. The big issue with ‘manufactured’ and standardised medications is that its their uniformity leads to resistance. Yes there are plenty of idiots making herbal stuff up doing no good at all, that isn’t my point. And, also the current antibiotic looming disaster that has been created by proper doctors dishing out antibiotics……….

    I know plenty of patients, although I am not a herbalist, who have had limbs saved with herbal preparations that were being lost with pharmaceutical standard preps, because of resistance. By rotating the herbal preparations the infection was brought under control.

    Natural, in a sense, means nothing. It is the suppression of normal cleaning events/ acute processes that is more of a worry. Putting t tree oil on an infection which is caused by poor circulation is not different to using an antibiotic. In old people antibiotics and ulcers are a disaster for prolonged periods, the only way to resolve them is diagnose why they have static circulation and treat that.

    So yes plants can be abused as well as pharmaceuticals, down to the operator every time. It is why vaccines will never solve the ‘disease’ dilemma.

  4. #5 johnny
    May 12, 2015

    “I just can’t imagine an effective alternative.” Christ

    Well that’s why we need people that can. You have a stagnant pond, do you keep bleaching it or do you get the water flowing.

    Maybe you need to get off this site for a bit and go and look at something a bit more useful, it’s obviously stuffed something. Some of the greatest scientists in history have been artists, go and learn to paint, all of the best Architects were painters, sculptures and musicians.

  5. #6 johnny
    May 12, 2015

    “One of the most important factors behind the rise in antibiotic resistance is hospitals” christ

    no wrong, doctors prescribe antibiotics, not hospitals. It is an idiot with a script pad and a weak desire to get rid of the patient

  6. #7 TBruce
    May 12, 2015

    Maybe you need to get off this site for a bit and go and look at something a bit more useful, it’s obviously stuffed something. Some of the greatest scientists in history have been artists, go and learn to paint, all of the best Architects were painters, sculptures and musicians.

    I play the uke. Will that do?

  7. #8 Lawrence
    May 12, 2015

    In a lot of cases – parents who demand antibiotics because they don’t know the difference between a virus and a bacteria….as to vaccines “not solving the disease problem” – I’d say a 95 – 99.9% reduction in diseases that we vaccinate for is one heck of a solution.

  8. #9 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    May 12, 2015

    johnny:

    [W]ith herbal preparations that have an antibiotic effect, their value lay in the non standardization of the product.

    Hm. It seems to me that “non-standardisation” would be more likely to induce antibiotic resistance. After all, suppose you used a strong treatment to see off an illness. Then next time you got an infection, the treatment wasn’t so strong. The disease then has a chance to develop immunity.
    In addition, non standardisation can be very dangerous. Suppose you use a painkiller that’s weak, so you have to take several doses. Then the next batch turns out to be much stronger. Taking several doses of a full strength painkiller can be fatal.

    I know plenty of patients, although I am not a herbalist, who have had limbs saved with herbal preparations that were being lost with pharmaceutical standard preps, because of resistance. By rotating the herbal preparations the infection was brought under control.

    Riiiiiight. I mean, it’s not like doctors rotate antibiotics to do the same.
    Also, citation needed.

    • #10 Orac
      May 12, 2015

      It seems to me that “non-standardisation” would be more likely to induce antibiotic resistance.

      Indeed. A weak batch could result in incomplete treatment of the bacterial infection, leaving behind resistant bacteria that could then proliferate and recolonize the site.

  9. #11 Gray Falcon
    May 12, 2015

    johnny, you still haven’t answered my question. If natural medicine is so effective, why were the native Americans nearly driven to extinction by European diseases?

  10. #12 travis
    United States
    May 12, 2015

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that these “super bugs” really only thrive where there is widespread antibiotic use, and that when reintroduced into non-resistant cultures they are quickly out-competed. Is that just an internet urban legend, or is there some validity to it?

  11. #13 Helianthus
    May 12, 2015

    they also do not lead to bacterial or viral mutation and resistance.

    It seems Alt-Meds proponents want to sell their cake and eat it too. It’s natural, but it’s also supranatural.

    Some bacteria were resistant to antibiotic molecules before we started mass-producing them*. The resistance factors didn’t come out of nowhere, but were born out of Mother Nature.

    I am somewhat skeptical that bacteria would go to the pain to resist molecules produced by a fungus (penicillium) but won’t deign to evolve similar resistances against stuff made by plants or whatever alternative is proposed.
    Heck, the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa has even evolved a limited resistance to bleach.

    Although, I’m open to the idea that some classes of molecules or cocktails thereof could be more difficult to develop resistance against. That’s the logic behind tri-therapies against HIV.

    *similarly, weeds have become resistant to herbicides before we started making round-up resistant crops – we had to pick-up the DNA somewhere…

  12. #14 Incitatus
    Her Majesties Realm
    May 12, 2015

    Travis- it depends on whether the resistance imposes a selection burden or not. If it does then the resistant strains will be outcompeted but there are as many types of resistance mutation as there are resistant bugs, it sometimes seems. Say that the resistance comes from a mechanism only triggered by the presence of an antibiotic. In that case it would have a very low energy cost in a non-AB environment and so would not necessarily be selected against

  13. #15 Mike
    May 12, 2015

    There was a recent article that described how creating a vibrant biological community in the soil by adding organic matter in the form of manure from organic cattle which did not receive antibiotics led to an increased amount of antibiotic resistance in the soil microbiome. A thriving biological community means that the bacteria are engaging in chemical warfare with each other with the use of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance existed long before humans even knew of antibiotics.

  14. #16 zebra
    May 12, 2015

    From Wikipedia, or any other source:

    “An appeal to nature is an argument or rhetorical tactic in which it is proposed that “a thing is good because it is ‘natural’, or bad because it is ‘unnatural'”.[1]

    Not to be confused with naturalistic fallacy.”

    But confuse away. The Minions always see clothes.

    • #17 Orac
      May 12, 2015

      Or: “Appeal to nature can be thought of as a specific instance of the naturalistic fallacy.” Which is rather how I’ve usually thought of it. However, I could argue that Lansky is committing both the appeal to nature AND the naturalistic fallacy in that she clearly views anything “natural” to be better than anything she views as “unnatural” (like those evil vaccines) while at the same time clearly viewing the “natural order” (i.e., Gaia) as right and just and the way things should be; that is, until we humans messed things up. Come to think of it, there’s an appeal to utopia in there too. She also assumes that those who live “naturally” are better and more moral people; that attitude drips from her whole article. Still, perhaps I was a bit too loose conflating the two, even though I do agree that the appeal to nature fallacy is arguably a subset of the naturalistic fallacy.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature

  15. #18 Gray Falcon
    May 12, 2015

    zebra, do you have anything useful to say here?

    • #19 Orac
      May 12, 2015

      Actually, zebra’s clarification of the naturalistic fallacy is the first useful thing I’ve seen him/her/it contribute in a long time, perhaps ever.

  16. #20 Denice Walter
    May 12, 2015

    Most of the alt med sites I survey rely upon the naturalistic fallacy to generate sales of their products.

    The question I must ask is- How natural is guzzling green smoothies along with handfuls of diverse supplements and powdered vegetables?

    Similarly, they make a fuss over a cornucopia of vegetables and fruits that originate all over the globe which are then dried, pulverised and packaged- often in capsules or half liter plastic containers. They advocate veganism.

    I doubt that our ancient ancestors- especially those living in temperate climes- followed any of these dietary regimes, probably settling instead for whatever small mammals and fish they could catch and whatever roots they could dig and fruits they could pick.

    But has lack of logic or a knowledge of history ever stopped these ‘natural living’ entrepreneurs before?
    I’m afraid not.

    I continuously marvel at selected individuals’ tendencies to praise the nearly magical powers of phytonutrients- which will replace pharmaceuticals: their inner purity and arcanely appropriate healing capacities are praised to the skies in what amounts to an altie version of food porn. Then there are the accompanying photos illustrating Gaia’s bounty, photoshopped to perfection and artfully arranged- just like they are in Nature.

  17. #21 shay
    May 12, 2015

    “The primary modus operandi of conventional medicine is to either to suppress the body’s natural responses to disease”

    Yes. Particularly when the body’s natural response to a disease is to die.

    I remember reading (years ago) a theologian who explained that the profound religious faith and belief in Heaven in the pre-modern world can be attributed to the fact that the average citizen was only too well aware that life on Earth at that time was full of pain, fear and death.

  18. #22 Camilla Cracchiolo, RN
    United States
    May 12, 2015

    Actually, hospitals do contribute disproportionately to drug resistance. It’s a great environment for bacteria who might never otherwise come into contact to exchange resistance genes. IV antibiotics can be spilled, nurses and other caregivers pass them on to other patients.

  19. #23 Sarah A
    May 12, 2015

    the practice of vaccination over-stimulates one part of the immune system (humoral immunity—which triggers a response to a specific disease antigen), while leaving another part of the immune system unexercised (cell-mediated immunity—which provides a generalized mechanism that fights all disease)

    Every time I hear this it makes me want to pull my hair out. You can’t activate humoral immunity without activating cellular immunity. Yes, we all learn in Immuno 101 about the “two branches of the immune system,” but they’re not really separate – its just a convenient classification system (well, that might be overstating the case a bit, but my point is that cellular and humoral immunity are inextricably intertwined and each is constantly giving and receiving feedback to/from the other.)

    Also, I really wish the antivaxxers would update their repertoire of T helper subsets – I think we’re up to a dozen or so at this point. And even if simple Th1/Th2 dichotomy was a realistic model (its not), there’s no mechanism (that I know of, someone correct me if I’m wrong) that could permanently bias your immune response to all future infections one way or the other, unless you count genetics. But of course, nothing is ever due to genetics because that would imply that there are aspects of your body that are out of your control. I guess Balb/c mice have a Th2-biased immune response compared to other strains because Jackson labs secretly administers a series of vaccines to each and every Balb/c mouse before they ship them out to us (#sarcasm)

    Okay, bitter grad student rant over. Kind of off topic, but has anyone heard from lilady lately?

  20. #24 Quark
    May 12, 2015

    Always the same, you could resume this bull—- by “don’t buy their stuff, buy mine ! It’s way more expensive but natural, hiho !”

    Greenwashing at it’s finest.

    And of course, take a good splash of arrogance (and ignorance) in your face.

  21. #25 Denice Walter
    May 12, 2015

    @ Sarah A:

    I haven’t see her and I looked at other minions’ sites and Jake’s ET as well,

  22. #26 Denice Walter
    May 12, 2015

    haven’t SEEN her

  23. #27 Elliott
    May 12, 2015

    To a research chemist, “natural” just means from a natural source, and it doesn’t matter whether the chemical was extracted from a fungus or made in the lab. So long as the chemical structures are the same, the two are going to be functionally identical.

    Many antibiotics came from natural sources—penicillin, erythromycin, & others. The bacteria, plants and fungi that are the sources of these drugs produce them because they can’t move, don’t have teeth, and need to defend themselves against their neighbors (other bacteria, plants & fungi), so they resort to chemical warfare. Since the biochemistry of these organisms is in some respects different from that of people, these chemical warfare agents sometimes leave us alone and can be useful as drugs.

    This also means that other bacteria, fungi, plants, etc already have been exposed to these things and have evolved resistance before you even discovered this new drug. Bacteria also have general resistance mechanisms–ways of pumping out obnoxious compounds, for instance, that can work well on completely synthetic antibiotic compounds. So, an antibiotic that is completely free of resistance and stays that way hasn’t happened yet and probably never will.

    As someone who works trying to discover new drugs, I often hear various people, the news media & other scientists, advise that I should focus on natural products–some believe that those are just better, and others think that since many other drugs come from natural sources, then there’s a better chance of finding new ones from the same place.

    When it comes to natural antibiotics, you’re fighting against Darwin and his natural selection, too. Also, since there’s this long history of finding drugs in nature, your chances of finding new ones from the same natural sources are actually not that good–so you’ve got to find a new source. If it’s a natural source, then it’s usually something exotic and rare. So, you have to figure out what it is & learn to synthesize it, or you get nowhere, unless you want to have the natural plant or whatever driven to extinction in an effort to get enough drug to cure something more than the occasional lab rat.

    Those are some of the reasons why there’s not going to be a deluge of new antibiotics anytime soon.

  24. #28 TBruce
    May 12, 2015

    That is why people are developing more and more autoimmune diseases (overstimulation of humoral immunity), and have become less and less able to naturally fight disease in general.

    Is the incidence of autoimmune disease actually rising? I hear this claim over and over again from the alties, but I see no evidence presented for it.

    The result has been widespread chronic disease among the young and old — including diseases like diabetes, asthma, autism, and cancer that were unheard of or extremely rare among children in the 1950s.

    I was a child in the 1950’s and I certainly was aware of diabetes, asthma and cancer (leukemia) in other kids. Autism was around as well, only it was called retardation or feeble-mindedness, and the kids were hived off to institutions. There may be more kids around now with chronic illnesses but I suspect that it’s because they are alive with their illnesses, rather than dead and out of sight as during the 50’s.
    Of course, we also had polio, measles, chicken pox and congenital rubella. Guess what happened?

  25. #29 MI Dawn
    May 12, 2015

    OT to Sarah T and DW: I haven’t seen lilady on line for a while now. Does anyone have a contact to see if she’s OK?

  26. #30 zebra
    May 12, 2015

    #17 Gray Falcon

    Apparently Orac thinks so, since the title has been updated to reflect my input.

    You are welcome, Orac.

  27. #31 JGC
    May 12, 2015

    By what rational argument does vaccination fail to qualify as “working with the natural functions of the body’? It prepares the body’s immune system to rapidly recognize and respond to antigenic epitopes upon subsequent exposure–exactly as occurs as the result of contracting infectious disease.

    If “responding by producing protective antibody titers’ isn’t the immune system’s natural function, what the hell is?

  28. #32 MarkN
    May 12, 2015

    Along the same line of “overstimulation,” I can argue that the overly protective soccer-mom antiseptic attitude of not letting kids play in the dirt “causes” such “overstimulation.”

  29. #33 Dangerous Bacon
    May 12, 2015

    One of the intriguing aspects of the “hygiene” hypothesis to explain rising incidence of type I diabetes in children is correlation with the decline of parasitic infection:

    “Helminths were ubiquitous in human evolution, and it seems likely that 100% of our ancestors were affected at some time in their lives. To take one example, pinworms (E. vermicularis) affected almost all pre-school children until the recent past, and their decline in the European population closely reflects the rise of type 1 diabetes, asthma and other conditions. Correlation does not prove causation, but pinworm infestation effectively abolishes susceptibility to diabetes in colonies of NOD mice.”

    http://www.diapedia.org/type-1-diabetes-mellitus/hygiene-hypothesis

    So there you go. Will moms start to hold “pinworm parties” for their toddlers*, so that their immune systems can rev up and prevent autoimmune disease? Or should we just allow them to crawl around in the yard eating dirt and other random objects so that they may ingest the healing helminths?**

    *Has T. Bruce noticed a decline in incidental findings of pinworms in appendectomy specimens? I can’t recall the last time I saw one of the little beasties in sections taken to document appendicitis.
    **My Labrador retriever eats random items in the yard and has never been diagnosed with diabetes. Proof of the hygiene hypothesis, I say.

  30. #34 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    Kind of off topic, but has anyone heard from lilady lately?

    Been about a month since she’s commented using Disqustink. I’ll try dropping her a line this evening.

  31. #35 MarkN
    May 12, 2015

    If the pinworm parties allow moms the perceived empowerment found through social media girl-power, more than likely yes. Youtube videos to follow….

  32. #36 JP
    May 12, 2015

    The question I must ask is- How natural is guzzling green smoothies along with handfuls of diverse supplements and powdered vegetables?

    The word “natural” here is basically a worship word and has pretty much no relation to nature itself. Most of the people who obsess over “natural” medicine and food and whatever have rarely ever had a real encounter with nature. Maybe they went on a hike once, or saw Avatar or something, but drop them deep in the middle of, say, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and they wouldn’t last a day.

    I was talking about this last night, whilst out drinking pitchers of awful cheap beer, actually. (It wasn’t even me who brought it up. It was my friend’s ex of 7 or 8 years who we always seem to run into at this particular establishment.)

    It’s consumer fetishism, really. If you just buy the right things – the green smoothies, the supplements, whatever – you will obtain their magic power and live, if not forever, then longer and better than everyone else. And really, even though people know intellectually that it’s not going to make them live forever, it’s still ultimately an attempt to ward off death altogether.

  33. #37 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    I was a child in the 1950’s and I certainly was aware of diabetes

    If you count teenagers, so was Ron Santo. Anyway, you could try starting here for what’s known about the incidence of T1D.

  34. #38 JP
    May 12, 2015

    I particularly like the implication that, “if we mess things up too much,” maybe Gaia will destroy us, sending her white blood cells to eliminate us like an infection.

    I have known people who would say things to the effect that, say, AIDS is basically the planet’s “immune system” trying to get rid of the human virus. It is not an attitude that I find endearing at all.

  35. #39 ruthq
    May 12, 2015

    There will be someone peddling “helminth therapy” at the Autism One conference. And, for those who worry about too many intestinal worms , instead of not enough, causing their autism, the bleach enema lady will be there, too. It calls to mind the Fix-It-Up Chappy in the Sneetches. They have a Worms-In and a Worms-Off machine, and you can use either or both until “every last cent of your money is spent.”

  36. #40 TBruce
    May 12, 2015

    *Has T. Bruce noticed a decline in incidental findings of pinworms in appendectomy specimens? I can’t recall the last time I saw one of the little beasties in sections taken to document appendicitis.

    In retrospect, yes I have noticed a decline. Interesting…

    Or should we just allow them to crawl around in the yard eating dirt and other random objects so that they may ingest the healing helminths?

    Eat shzzt and live?

  37. #41 zebra
    May 12, 2015

    #36 JP,

    Since I’m helping out on language today, perhaps “magical thinking” is what you are intending, but maybe also “consumer fad” rather than “fetish”.

    An example of magical thinking would be going for a yearly checkup.

    Also, it might be considered “faddish” to have the latest disease identified by science; the desire to get (or give) a diagnosis with that cachet.

  38. #42 JP
    May 12, 2015

    No, zebra, I mean precisely fetishism, in the anthropological sense, you arrogant a**. Maybe you should try looking things up before you spout off about them.

  39. #43 Eric Lund
    May 12, 2015

    One of the intriguing aspects of the “hygiene” hypothesis to explain rising incidence of type I diabetes in children is correlation with the decline of parasitic infection

    Time out. I’m willing to believe that such a correlation exists, but I don’t see a causal mechanism here. I suspect this is your point, but your post implies the existence of allegedly intelligent people who think that there is such a mechanism. Of course, just because I don’t see how anybody can be dumb in that particular way doesn’t mean that nobody is dumb in that particular way–I’ve fallen for that trick before.

    Ms. Lansky seems to be wrong on many different levels. We humans have been messing with nature for millennia: certainly ever since we invented agriculture, and arguably ever since we invented spears for hunting and knives for butchering. Many species went extinct shortly after humans first appeared in their habitat. And the region known for historical reasons as the “Fertile Crescent” (the Tigris and Euphrates watersheds, plus the nearby portion of the Mediterranean coastal plain) is anything but that today, thanks to millennia of farming.

  40. #44 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    The word “natural” here is basically a worship word and has pretty much no relation to nature itself.

    Apropos of Phildo’s dismissal of the big bang, Br. Consolmagno comes through again:

    “He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a ‘kind of paganism’ because it harked back to the days of ‘nature gods’ who were responsible for natural events.”

  41. #45 zebra
    May 12, 2015

    JP,

    Wikipedia:

    “A fetish …is an object believed to have supernatural powers, or in particular, a man-made object that has power over others. Essentially, fetishism is the emic attribution of inherent value or powers to an object.”

    Consuming supplements is not predicated on them having supernatural powers. The (erroneous) belief is that they have naturalistic (scientific) benefits.

    “Magical thinking is the attribution of causal relationships between actions and events which cannot be justified by reason and observation.”

  42. #46 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    May 12, 2015

    Every time we try to control the inherent flow and wisdom of nature itself, especially in a dramatic and large-scale way, things always seem to backfire. Inevitably, we find ourselves feverishly trying to repair the damage we have done, often foolishly wreaking even more havoc.

    So she would advise parents to stop trying to “fix” their autistic children, right?

    Here is something that most people do not realize: the practice of vaccination over-stimulates one part of the immune system (humoral immunity—which triggers a response to a specific disease antigen), while leaving another part of the immune system unexercised (cell-mediated immunity—which provides a generalized mechanism that fights all disease). As a result, our immune systems are becoming unnaturally skewed and exaggerated in one direction, while becoming weaker in the other.

    Hints of Bill Maher here. Apparently, if you don’t exercise the immune system, it will atrophy.

  43. #47 JP
    May 12, 2015

    Consuming supplements is not predicated on them having supernatural powers. The (erroneous) belief is that they have naturalistic (scientific) benefits.

    When you’re in a hole, zebra, stop digging. People might give lip service to imagined scientific backing of their favorite food obsessions – in fact, they often do really want “science” to be on their side, though that’s arguably another form of fetishism – but the whole gist of what I was saying is that “eating naturally” has basically become a new religion for a lot of people. The drive isn’t based on logic, it’s based on association and halos: natural = healthy = good = Gaia = G-dliness.

  44. #48 Carolyn
    May 12, 2015

    Seeing as it was just Mother’s Day, I’d like to nominate my Mom for sainthood. In the 1950s, we lived in Alaska, in a house with no running water. My brother and I both had pinworms, which at the time was treated with gentian violet. Two kids under five years old, pooping purple. And she didn’t kill us!

  45. #49 zebra
    May 12, 2015

    JP,

    “in fact, they often do really want “science” to be on their side, though that’s arguably another form of fetishism”

    Exactly my point.

    People go to their yearly checkups as a kind of magical ritual, even though science tells us it does no good for healthy people. But it has the “association and halo” of science.

    ( I still would replace “fetishism” with “magical thinking”, but we are talking about the same thing.)

  46. #50 JP
    May 12, 2015

    People go to their yearly checkups as a kind of magical ritual, even though science tells us it does no good for healthy people.

    Yes, and? Yearly checkups were not the topic of discussion last time I checked. All you’ve succeeded in doing is looking like an arrogant a** again by presuming to “[help] out on language” but instead merely showcasing your own ignorance yet again. You may fail to recognize that you have attempted to condescend to somebody who does not need your “help” when it comes to language.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a chapter of a manuscript to go over with a fine-toothed comb.

  47. #51 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    the practice of vaccination over-stimulates one part of the immune system (humoral immunity—which triggers a response to a specific disease antigen), while leaving another part of the immune system unexercised (cell-mediated immunity—which provides a generalized mechanism that fights all disease)

    Every time I hear this it makes me want to pull my hair out. You can’t activate humoral immunity without activating cellular immunity.

    She actually seems to be confusing the cellular–humoral concept with innate and adaptive.

  48. #52 johnny
    May 12, 2015

    “I play the uke. Will that do?” T bone
    Well it could do, but I have never heard it called that before, ask NobRed about tissue consumption

  49. #53 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    Yes, and? Yearly checkups were not the topic of discussion last time I checked.

    Ah, but Z. has brought it up before, and therefore the very Light of His Presence makes it on point.

  50. #54 zebra
    May 12, 2015

    JP,

    It’s rather ungracious of you to respond that way over a word quibble when I am agreeing with and expanding on your basic point.

  51. #55 Alex
    May 12, 2015

    “Hundreds of years of successful experience with these medical alternatives, all over the world, has proven their efficacy.”

    I’m sure my Algonquin neighbors will be happy to hear that. Oh, wait…

    “The result has been widespread chronic disease among the young and old — including diseases like diabetes, asthma, autism, and cancer that were unheard of or extremely rare among children in the 1950s.”

    Can’t speak to asthma, diabetes, or cancer, but for autism, it’s rather unsurprising that it was “rare” in the 1950s, when no Anglophone doctor had even identified it before 1943. Asperger’s work didn’t enter the American consciousness until the 1980s, at least. Given the greater stigma attached to mental illness in those days (not helped by the fact that Kanner’s work focused on the low-functioning end of the spectrum, and that he hypothesized that the parents were to blame), and the fact that it was newly-diagnosed overall, is it any wonder that diagnoses were limited?

    “Every time we try to control the inherent flow and wisdom of nature itself, especially in a dramatic and large-scale way, things always seem to backfire.”

    Smallpox, polio, rinderpest. Two eradicated, one almost there. Where’s the backfire?

  52. #56 johnny
    May 12, 2015

    “johnny, you still haven’t answered my question. If natural medicine is so effective, why were the native Americans nearly driven to extinction by European diseases?” Greyfxxwit

    The Europeans brought with them their lifestyle and food. It is well known that when populations move to new cultures they ‘inherit their disease processes’. They brought their stresses, they were very nasty too. Aboriginal cultures in Australasia went sterile due to the stress of occupation. Your question is very easy to answer, why don’t you look it up yourself?

  53. #57 johnny
    May 12, 2015

    “She actually seems to be confusing the cellular–humoral concept with innate and adaptive.” NobRed

    As usual you are confusing talking with polishing the helmet

  54. #58 johnny
    May 12, 2015

    “OT to Sarah T and DW: I haven’t seen lilady on line for a while now. Does anyone have a contact to see if she’s OK?”

    I wouldn’t bother, she rarely says anything useful, most of it is just a kind of ‘my mother was a homeopath’ reactionary rant, like Edvard Ernst – too much vomit is more than………………

  55. #59 johnny
    May 12, 2015

    It seems to me that “non-standardisation” would be more likely to induce antibiotic resistance.

    Indeed. A weak batch could result in incomplete treatment of the bacterial infection, leaving behind resistant bacteria that could then proliferate and recolonize the site.” Orac

    Nice try but you didn’t really get my point. Different plant variant is not the same as weaker or stronger. I can only speak from experience – the people concerned had reached the end of the antibiotic road and the competent herbalist was able to outwit the infection.

  56. #60 johnny
    May 12, 2015

    “Seeing as it was just Mother’s Day, I’d like to nominate my Mom for sainthood. In the 1950s, we lived in Alaska, in a house with no running water. My brother and I both had pinworms, which at the time was treated with gentian violet. Two kids under five years old, pooping purple. And she didn’t kill us!” Carolyn

    Indeed, pumpkin seeds are good for this too, as well as stopping kids eating too much sugar rich foods. It is the GIT environment that becomes conducive to worm prolfieration, not the other way round. My cat has been raw fed for years and never wormed. Every time I send off a poo sample the report comes back ‘0 ovum.

  57. #61 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    When you’re in a hole, zebra, stop digging. People might give lip service to imagined scientific backing of their favorite food obsessions – in fact, they often do really want “science” to be on their side, though that’s arguably another form of fetishism – but the whole gist of what I was saying is that “eating naturally” has basically become a new religion for a lot of people.

    Or the Science of Man has become the latest iteration of the Demiurge.

  58. #62 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    May 12, 2015

    johnny @56:

    The Europeans brought with them their lifestyle and food.

    The European lifestyle at the time involved hard physical labour, unless you were of the upper class. As for the food, it’s very interesting that the first thanksgiving involved foodstuffs from the Americas, including corn, pumpkin and turkey. If you are suggesting that food was brought over from Europe to the Americas, then I’d say you know nothing about trade or historical food preservation methods.

  59. #63 KayMarie
    May 12, 2015

    “The Europeans brought with them their lifestyle and food. It is well known that when populations move to new cultures they ‘inherit their disease processes’.”

    So you are saying that when Europeans set foot on the continent their lifestyle and food spread across the whole of the continent long before their bodies did and killed off all those people decades or centuries ahead of the Europeans finally getting around to settling the now vacant areas?

    Because I would think viruses and germs could spread faster than powdered wigs, heeled shoes and meat pies. Who knew?

  60. #64 Gray Falcon
    May 12, 2015

    “The Europeans brought with them their lifestyle and food. It is well known that when populations move to new cultures they ‘inherit their disease processes’. They brought their stresses, they were very nasty too. Aboriginal cultures in Australasia went sterile due to the stress of occupation. Your question is very easy to answer, why don’t you look it up yourself?””

    If that were true, Europe would have died out entirely before they ever arrived in the New World. Try learning some basic logic, and actually studying the real world.

  61. #65 MI Dawn
    May 12, 2015

    @ Gray Falcon: Aboriginal cultures in Australia went sterile? When did that happen? I imagine the Aboriginal groups would be surprised to hear they were all sterile and their children don’t exist.

  62. #66 MI Dawn
    May 12, 2015

    Ooops…..apologies…just noticed you had quotes around that. Must be from the droolings whom I have blocked. All praise greasemonkey codes!

  63. #67 Lawrence
    May 12, 2015

    Yes, Cortez was responsible for bringing fine European Dining to the Aztecs….never mind measles, Smallpox and the other host of diseases that killed tens of thousands in a matter of months.

  64. #68 Denice Walter
    May 12, 2015

    If you ever visit California, you’ll hopefully learn about its indigenous people ( see wikip—- article) being decimated by the European incursion chiefly through diseases in the 19th century. There are museums, mockups of villages and gambling casinos that document the history of many tribes.
    .
    I found it both enlightening and humbling to contemplate incredible Pomo art baskets whilst having a drink within earshot of electronic slot machines..
    I’m glad that they’re making money.

  65. #69 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    Aboriginal cultures in Australia went sterile?

    Don’t forget New Guinea.

  66. #70 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    Yes, Cortez was responsible for bringing fine European Dining to the Aztecs….never mind measles, Smallpox and the other host of diseases that killed tens of thousands in a matter of months.

    Ah, but at least he (and Europe) “inherited the disease process” of syphilis.

  67. #71 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    ^ Although it looks like syphilis for Cortés himself is a matter of some controversy.

  68. #72 TBruce
    May 12, 2015

    “I play the uke. Will that do?” T bone
    Well it could do, but I have never heard it called that before, ask NobRed about tissue consumption

    Thank you for your reply. Gratified that it makes about as much sense as usual.

  69. #73 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 12, 2015

    The Europeans brought with them their lifestyle and food.

    This point was made clear in the documentary at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXmCIFKRrTY starting at 8:44.

  70. #74 Gray Falcon
    May 12, 2015

    MI Dawn: Sorry, that was the other johnny. I probably shouldn’t have quoted the whole post.

    johnny: I have some advice for you. When you come up with an explanation for an event or phenomena, check all the evidence before you post and make sure there isn’t something that contradicts your idea. Just because you think something up does not mean it’s automatically correct.

  71. #75 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 12, 2015

    From the cartoon above:

    Not everything that is natural is healthy. Arsenic and sharks are natural too!

    I’m sure there are both healthy sharks and those that suffer some sort of shark diseases. I wish the healthy sharks well and the unhealthy sharks a speedy recovery. Unless they’re trying to bite me.

  72. #76 herr doktor bimler
    May 12, 2015

    Aboriginal cultures in Australia went sterile? When did that happen? I imagine the Aboriginal groups would be surprised to hear they were all sterile and their children don’t exist.

    “No, we didn’t confiscate your children and take them away to be trained to enter decent society, as servants for white families. You never had children, you’re sterile. You must have imagined them.”

  73. #77 Denice Walter
    May 12, 2015

    Wasn’t there an altie meme a while back that ‘sharks don’t get cancer’ ( must be all that cartilage of which they consist preventing it)?

    Also ‘clams don’t get cancer’.

  74. #78 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    Also ‘clams don’t get cancer’.

    Au contraire.

  75. #79 Narad
    May 12, 2015
  76. #80 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    Just because you think something up does not mean it’s automatically correct.

    Wait, Phildo actually thought something up? He usually just barfs up manglings of things that picked up somewhere or, when that runs dry, starts cutting and pasting or link-dumping.

  77. #81 JustaTech
    May 12, 2015

    Eric Lund @43: I’m under the impression that the “hygiene hypothesis” posits that because children have fewer parasitic infections now due to cleaner living spaces, the part of the immune system that fights parasitic infections (TH2 mediated) does not have ‘appropriate’ targets and then attacks the body, producing auto-immune disease.

    It’s a hypothesis that has fallen out of favor more recently (since the basic mechanism is that the immune system ‘gets bored’).

    I had a co-worker with several serious auto-immune diseases who was trying to get into a clinical trial of hookworms to slow the advance of MS. Don’t know what ever happened with her.

  78. #82 Gray Falcon
    May 12, 2015

    Narad: That does seem more likely.

  79. #83 Denice Walter
    May 12, 2015

    @ Narad:

    WELL, it could possibly be a mangling of what I occasionally say…
    *;just because you can think of something doesn’t mean it’s true*
    and numerous other variants.

  80. #84 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    I’m under the impression that the “hygiene hypothesis” posits that because children have fewer parasitic infections now due to cleaner living spaces, the part of the immune system that fights parasitic infections (TH2 mediated)

    Other way around.

  81. #85 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    WELL, it could possibly be a mangling of what I occasionally say…
    *;just because you can think of something doesn’t mean it’s true*

    Mebbe.

  82. #86 anneb
    Amsterdam
    May 12, 2015

    It is correct that we are not letting the ‘natural’ flow of events occur and we are fighting Gaia. In a natural setting, the natural system resists overpopulation of a single species. As more of us are born and cramp together in congested cities, it would be natural that we deplete our food sources and start contaminating each other with deseases that feast on the widely available human bodies. From our point of view, this natural behaviour of the Gaia system does not seem very favorable? So why are some of us promoting it? In the end, nature will probably restore the balance, but I prefer we help restoring the balance by unnatural means, such as birth control and sober use of natural resources, above the natural way: desease and famine.

  83. #87 JustaTech
    May 12, 2015

    Narad @84:
    I’m confused by what you mean by “other way around”. I’m looking at my textbook (Janeway’s Immunology, 7th ed) and it says that protective immunity against helminths is generated by CD4 TH2 cells.

    Is my textbook out of date, or am I mis-understanding it?

  84. #88 Narad
    May 12, 2015

    Is my textbook out of date, or am I mis-understanding it?

    No, you’re right; it was I who sloppily mixed things up.

  85. #89 sadmar
    "Lord of the Flies"
    May 12, 2015

    natural” is basically a worship word and has pretty much no relation to nature itself. people who obsess over “natural” whatever have rarely ever had a real encounter with nature. drop them deep in the middle of, say, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and they wouldn’t last a day.

    Brilliant JP! And I’m just gonna leave this here…
    https://youtu.be/3xQyQnXrLb0?t=3s

  86. #90 Helianthus
    May 12, 2015

    The Europeans brought with them their lifestyle and food [to the America]

    Yeah, Christophe Colombus, an Italian, opened a chain of pizza shops and Samuel de Champlain brought French fries with him.

  87. #91 herr doktor bimler
    May 12, 2015

    Arsenic and sharks are natural too!

    True, I have never seen a shark with arsenic poisoning.

  88. #92 Denice Walter
    May 12, 2015

    I also imagine that the word “natural’ exudes an aura of worshipfulness- to certain people- for it carries a connotation of untampered Creation, the Lord’s handiwork, without corrupting interference by humankind.

    Thus when woo-meisters ( and it’s mostly meisters, not maitresses) harvest fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and seeds, re-packaging them as powders, jamming them into capsules, pressing them into tablets or extracting their divine essences, they are merely doing the Lord’s work, making them easily accessible to the masses.
    ( Although actually the work itself is done by factories).

    So ingesting unnatural foods makes one ritually unclean by contaminating the temple that is the body: cleansing is in order, as are sackcloth and ashes, in atonement for one’s sins against nature. Why do you think that woo-meisters often sound like preachers giving sermons?

    It’s where they got their routines.

  89. #93 Daniel Corcos
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Corcos2/prf
    May 13, 2015

    Is natural death better than artificial life? Is death after artificial life natural? If not, I prefer not to die.

  90. #94 JP
    May 13, 2015

    Or the Science of Man has become the latest iteration of the Demiurge.

    Yeah, when it comes to the ones who are quite happy to let their anti-science flag fly. See Rudolph Steiner’s idea of “Ahriman,” for instance. “Reductionist” science is going to turn us all into cogs in a devilish machine, or something. Man should not look up Mother Nature’s skirt, or woe will befall him, etc., etc.

  91. #95 JP
    May 13, 2015

    Brilliant JP! And I’m just gonna leave this here…

    I have a certain appreciation for Werner Herzog – the eating his own shoe moment was particularly fun – but apropos, in fact, of the “nature” discussion, I just have not been able to bring myself to watch Grizzly Man.

  92. #96 JP
    May 13, 2015

    Is death after artificial life natural?

    Do androids dream of electric sheep?

  93. #97 Gray Squirrel
    May 13, 2015

    We need some new words here. “Natural” means so many things it almost becomes meaningless.

    “Natural vs. artificial or synthetic.” >> “herbs are natural, drugs are not.”

    “Natural vs. supernatural.” >> “herbs and drugs are natural, energy-healing is not.”

    “Natural” vs. “unnatural.” >> “natural immunity” (getting sick) vs. “unnatural immunity (vaccines).” Also the usage “X is unnatural” meaning a value judgement such as against gay relationships.

    Does anyone here have a better word than “natural” for any of those usages?

    Denise @ 92: Yes, and also sales pitches along the lines of “our herbs are specially harvested from exotic plants in exotic locations all around the world.” The contradiction of creating demand for at-risk species and intrusions into at-risk ecosystems does not occur to them. I recently saw an example of that having to do with “natural soap-nuts” that are supposed to be better than detergent and are harvested from some exotic place or another. They contain “natural” saponins (in other words, endogenous detergent).

    Meanwhile all these devotees of “Nature with a capital N,” see nothing wrong with lifestyles that are infested with consumer baubles made of nonrenewable resources that end up in landfills.

  94. #98 Narad
    May 13, 2015

    I have a certain appreciation for Werner Herzog

    When he can do “My Dream from the Dream of Franz Biberkopf,”* then he gets to complain.**

    * There’s an apropos panel “from,” I think, Mr. Natural #2 that I never have found online. (“Can you do this?”) That box of my stuff never got unpacked to start with.
    ** My actual knowledge of German cinema extends little further than having had a mamesh crush on a scholar and Persian who found herself trying to do something with hopelessly scientific manuscripts for a while. This is all about youthful PBS imprinting.

  95. #99 Helianthus
    May 13, 2015

    @ Gray Squirrel

    The contradiction of creating demand for at-risk species and intrusions into at-risk ecosystems does not occur to them.

    Another closely related contradiction which is riling me up, especially among the Paleo diet crowd, is when someone trots the old canard of “species-appropriate food” or more specifically “foodstuff we co-evolved with since 1 million year”.

    These people seem oblivious that most of the food we are eating today didn’t exist in the same form a few thousand years ago.
    If, on top of this, they see nothing inconsistent with going for some exotic food in some remote place which hasn’t seen many human beings in the last few million years…

  96. #100 James Lind
    May 13, 2015

    Why not use “authentic” instead of natural? No philosophical problems there.

  97. #101 ann
    May 13, 2015

    I have a certain appreciation for Werner Herzog – the eating his own shoe moment was particularly fun – but apropos, in fact, of the “nature” discussion, I just have not been able to bring myself to watch Grizzly Man.

    It’s very, very good. I can’t say that it’s not distressing. But I can say that it’s not more distressing than Woyzeck, if that helps.

    @#zebra —

    It’s rather ungracious of you to respond that way over a word quibble when I am agreeing with and expanding on your basic point.

    Well. It was more than rather ungracious of you to do that by suggesting that you were helping her out with language. Not to repeat the faux pas by speaking for her or anything. But I imagine that was what she was responding to.

    @MarkN

    Along the same line of “overstimulation,” I can argue that the overly protective soccer-mom antiseptic attitude of not letting kids play in the dirt “causes” such “overstimulation.”

    You can. But if you did, there wouldn’t be a whole lot you were adding to your argument by describing contemporary cultural ideas about hygiene as “overly protective soccer-mom antiseptic attitude” besides a little likely inadvertent but nevertheless gratuitous hostility towards women, imo.

    That’s really, sincerely IMHO, though. I mean it mildly and respectfully.

  98. […] having written yesterday’s piece about the fallacy known as the appeal to nature, a favorite fallacy of the alternative medicine crowd. The idea that if something is somehow […]

  99. #103 Gray Squirrel
    May 13, 2015

    Hellanthus @ 99: But didn’t you know that paleo-humans traveled the planet in search of the perfect foods?;-) Good point.

    James @ 100: I’m not sure which usage of “natural” you propose to replace with “authentic.” “Authentic” variously means having the character of true originality or truthful representation of itself or oneself; or accurate or realistic, or bearing a close resemblance to something that is recognized. (I just did that off the top of my head and then looked it up, it’s pretty close.) In essence, “true or truthful,” for which the antonyms would be “false or fallacious” or perhaps “fictional” in a nonjudgemental sense as with novels and the like.

    The meanings I’m looking for unique words are:

    1) Occurring in the wild, without deliberate human intervention.

    2) Consisting of matter and energy interacting in spacetime and subject to empirical measurement, and/or of theories based upon those things.

    3) Consistent with the activities of the overwhelming majority of similar entities.

    The word “normal” works for (3) but has the problem of being confused with its application in statistics e.g. “a normal sample” from which we would expect to measure various normal distribution curves. However I’m inclined to think that this problem with “normal” is sufficiently minor that it’s OK, and when talking about statistics the context makes clear the more specific statistical meaning.

    If I had to pick, I would say the best use for natural is (2), in juxtaposition to “supernatural,” the latter meaning “above, before, or outside of nature,” which meaning should rightly be specific for the deity and the immortal soul. Science describes nature, including humans and the activities of humans, etc., so allocate the word “natural” to science and find other words for the other meanings.

    So that leaves us with (1) having no good substitute that I’m aware of. For which we might have to get outside of American English. Anyone from Canada, the UK, Australia, or New Zealand: do you have any substitutes for “natural” in (1)? If we can’t get something in English we can borrow it from another language. In America the logical choices are Spanish and Chinese since these are widely spoken here, and the next languages I’d search would be German and French. Anyone bilingual here who might have one to offer?

    Yes, I am proposing this as an exercise toward standardizing the words in the SBM community, so we can keep our meanings unambiguous, and minimize the opportunities for our opponents to get away with leaping from one meaning to another when arguing with us.

    The only benefit we get from the ambiguous N-word is occasional rhetorical usage in arguments with quacks: “Do you mean natural as opposed to supernatural?, and if so, why aren’t you having this discussion with a theologian?”

    But to my mind there’s more to be gained by making our meanings so specific that our adversaries have no opportunity to weasel out. Because, as y’all know, squirrels don’t much like weasels. They’ve been known to raid our stashes looking for nuts, which is a pain in our squirrelly derrieres.

  100. #104 JP
    May 13, 2015

    Anyone bilingual here who might have one to offer?

    I’m searching through the languages in my head to see if there’s anything to offer, but I don’t think an imported word is going to catch on, TBH. There’s also the fact that these fuzzy definitions when it comes to “natural” also exists in other languages, at least all the ones I’m thinking of at the moment.

    Take Russian, for example. You’ve got various words that do the various things that “natural” does in English, but there’s some overlap, as well. You’ve got “estestvennyi,” which means “natural” as an antonym to “artifical” – “iskustvennyi.” It largely refers to people and their personalities, etc., but it also has other uses, like referring to the “natural” sciences, etc. You’ve got “prirodnyi,” which usually means something like “inherent” or “intrinsic,” but can also mean something occurring in nature. Then you’ve got the imported word “naturalnyi,” which is what gets put on food products, genuine as opposed to artificial leather, etc. There are more, too, but I’ll stop there.

  101. #105 has
    May 13, 2015

    Orac@3:

    Another major driver of antibiotic resistance is widespread misuse throughout the developing world. Funny how Lansky failed to notice that too, what with Homeopaths Without Borders getting around like guinea-worm.

  102. […] anything from lilady. I didn’t pay any attention to it at the time, but then two days ago another commenter asked the same question, and I started to get a sinking feeling; so I investigated and found that the last time lilady had […]

  103. #107 Gray Squirrel
    May 14, 2015

    JP @ 104, thanks anyway.

    OK then, I’ll try my hand at making neologisms.

    The usage we’re concerned here is the distinction “natural/artificial” where “artificial” comes from Latin roots referring to “handicrafts” and “the making of art.” The Latin “facere” means “to make,” implying that a human is deliberately making something.

    If it’s accepted to turn “facere” (“to make”) into “-ficial” (“something that is made”), then how’bout this:

    Latin “non” = “not,” so an obvious neologism is “nonificial,” meaning “not-made” (implied: by humans).

    Artificial: adjective, made by humans.
    Artifice: noun, something that is made by humans.
    Nonificial: adjective, not made by humans.
    Nonifice: noun, something that is not made by humans.

    For example a building is an artifice, a rock formation is a nonifice.

    A quick lookup shows that the word is not in the dictionary nor online yet, so this counts as an actual new word.

    Is it any good?

  104. #108 Ada Brown
    USA
    May 14, 2015

    Agree! Being natural doesn’t mean better. There will be more unknown matters in some natural product. But if the component of the so called natural products have been identified, It may be better. Natural compound is produced by the nature, may more compelete than the compound man made. Both Natural and synthesis compound can be found there.

  105. #109 Bill Price
    May 14, 2015

    Natural compound is produced by the nature, may more compelete than the compound man made.

    A compound is, by definition, that compound only. There is no “more comp[]lete” or less complete. If there is any more or any less, then it’s a different compound.

  106. #110 herr doktor bimler
    May 14, 2015

    Johnny @56:
    The Europeans brought with them their lifestyle and food [to the America]

    I’m just trying to imagine the volume of commerce there must have been across the Atlantic during the 1500s and 1600s, shipping barley and wheat to satisfy the newly-developed taste among American Indians for pasta and polente and other European foods. No wonder the Conquistadors started shipping gold back to Spain… they had to load something onto those ships.

  107. #111 Renate
    May 14, 2015

    No wonder the Conquistadors started shipping gold back to Spain… they had to load something onto those ships.

    Didn’t they bring potatoes to Europe as well?

  108. #112 Lawrence
    May 14, 2015

    More basic misunderstand of chemistry…..an element is an element, no more, no less.

    And a compound, whether man-made or natural is exactly the same thing….if it isn’t, it isn’t.

    Man, is American education so poor that people don’t get that?

  109. #113 herr doktor bimler
    May 14, 2015

    Didn’t they bring potatoes to Europe as well?

    Native Americans weren’t eating them anymore (nor pumpkins, nor maize, nor tomatos). They really liked that European food. Wheat and carrots and cabbage.

  110. #114 johnny
    May 14, 2015

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/pre-publication-peer-review-process-entirely-misguided-warns-former-editor-of-the-british-medical-journal/5449164

    “Peer review is a failure and, ironically, it’s more faith-based than science-based, says Smith”

    “the peer review process also ends up fostering discriminatory sentiment against innovative research that challenges the status quo, including papers that question things like vaccine safety or the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy.”

    “The global cost of peer review is $1.9 billion, and it’s a faith based rather than evidence based process, which is hugely ironic when it’s at the heart of science.”

    “What passes as “science” today is really a cult of pet opinions pushing an agenda”

    Well, there you have it. The only ‘weapon’ you have is medical peer review – citation required.

  111. #115 ChrisP
    May 14, 2015

    Natural compound is produced by the nature, may more compelete than the compound man made.

    A compound is, by definition, that compound only. There is no “more comp[]lete” or less complete. If there is any more or any less, then it’s a different compound.

    I get the impression this was a failed spammer. Not as failed as Philip Hills mind, but failed none-the-less.

  112. #116 Krebiozen
    May 14, 2015

    johnny,
    Not only does your hero Richard Smith support vaccines – the quote about vaccines is from Natural News, not Smith – but he also has a solution for the peer review problem:

    “My conclusion is that we should scrap prepublication peer review and concentrate on postpublication peer review, which has always been the ‘real’ peer review in that it decides whether a study matters or not,” adds Smith.
    “By postpublication peer review I do not mean the few published comments made on papers but rather the whole ‘market of ideas,’ which has many participants and processes and moves like an economic market to determine the value of a paper.”

    So he is suggesting that we determine scientific truth by looking at the whole ‘market of ideas’, just as we have in the case of vaccines which, as I will continue to remind you whenever you mention him, led Richard Smith to write:

    Three million children die every year in poor countries from diseases that can be prevented by vaccination. Millions more die from diseases—like malaria and AIDS—that should be preventable by vaccines if they were developed. […]
    Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria are the countries where polio has never been eradicated. India was one of those countries, but after a massive effort where 2.5 million health workers vaccinated 174 million children in three days, polio has been eradicated in India.

  113. #117 TBruce
    May 14, 2015

    Didn’t they bring potatoes to Europe as well?

    Yes, they did. These were made into French Fries and sent back on the next scheduled galleon.

  114. #118 johnny
    May 14, 2015

    “Not only does your hero Richard Smith support vaccines – the quote about vaccines is from Natural News, not Smith ” Krapper

    I don’t have medical heros or saints dear boy, nice cherry pick to support your holey boat. Natural news may have picked it up, like lots of people have. To imply that means ‘no discourse’ is what one has come to expect from a vaccine shill like you.

    “medical journals.

    “Most of what is published in journals is just plain wrong or nonsense,” says Smith, warning that there is no credible evidence to suggest that the peer review process is an effective method of detecting errors or ensuring that only sound science gets published in the world’s leading journals.” Smith

    ““If peer review was a drug it would never get on the market because we have lots of evidence of its adverse effects and don’t have any evidence of its benefit,” contends Smith. “It’s time to slaughter the sacred cow.” Smith

    We could play the game of cut and paste if you like – it’s about the limit of your credentials. And that silly fox picture, is that supposed to impart the stereotype folklore of Foxxy krebby or what?

  115. #119 johnny
    May 14, 2015

    “Native Americans weren’t eating them anymore (nor pumpkins, nor maize, nor tomatos). They really liked that European food. Wheat and carrots and cabbage.” Heretic docky

    Your average stinking conquistador was not really what you would call ‘clean living’. You can take the piss if you like, I know the idea of unclean living and disease isn’t on your radar – you prefer the idea that it’s the germs that make us ill. Happy fairy story.
    Not Mr Hill and never have been, sort your obsession out or you will end up like NobRed the Red, no cream will sort that one out.

  116. #120 johnny
    May 14, 2015

    “They really liked that European food. Wheat and carrots and cabbage.” Docky

    yes and what a disaster eating wheat is doing to the population

  117. #121 johnny
    May 14, 2015

    There are plenty of natural pro vaccine axxholes on this site – just check out the depth of the rancor

  118. #122 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    May 14, 2015

    johnny doesn’t get sarcasm, I see.

    I know the idea of unclean living and disease isn’t on your radar – you prefer the idea that it’s the germs that make us ill.

    A lack of hygiene can cause germs to flourish. Harmful germs, like botulinus and salmonella amongst others.

  119. #123 justthestats
    May 14, 2015

    @johnny
    Speaking of rhetorical devices you don’t get, you obviously aren’t recognizing hyperbole. Those Richard Smith quotes you love to spout without understanding are full of them.

    But let’s take them at face value. Let’s say that half of everything that gets past peer review is crap. The problem is that 99.999% of everything that doesn’t get past peer review is crap, and the median craptitude of the stuff that doesn’t get past peer review is much, much crappier than the median craptitude of the stuff that does make it past.

    So while peer review is not perfect (and anyone who has any formal training in scientific research knows this), it’s still very useful as a minimum bar to be passed in that it weeds out the most egregiously worthless stuff.

    Again, what does it says that your ideas can’t even get over that low hurdle?

  120. #124 sadmar
    Werner, 'nature', politics...
    May 14, 2015

    JP:
    Grizzly Man is ‘minor’ Hrezog cinematically, rehashing a lot of themes he had addressed more artfully in earlier work. It’s almost ‘Werner by numbers’ seemingly a bit dumbed-down for a more general audience. Apropos the “nature” discussion, though, it still ranks as one of the most trenchant critical explorations of the naturalistic fallacy I can think of. It’s not that hard a watch, either, nowhere near as disturbing as e.g. The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser. There’s also some cool subversive stuff about the mythologizing of ‘nature’ in its much lighter companion piece Encounter’s At The End of The World, especially the takedown of March of the Penquins.

    Narad #98:
    The blurb you inked from the New Yorker claims:

    nobody who loves the cinema remembers Fassbinder for his political views or cares very much about them.

    Which is utter nonsense.

    Mandelbaum’s question to Herzog is odd, in only mentioning Fassbinder and Shroeter (Wenders? Schlondorff? Necht and Kluge? Syberberg? etc. etc.) opening to a kind of pissing-contest response by not defining “the new German cinema”. Yeah, Herzog was a key figure in ‘New German Cinema’, a category created by critics as an umbrella term for a wide range of films that differed markedly from the traditions of German ‘national cinema’, but had no cohesive take on politics or anything else. There were certainly tendencies or ‘camps’ within this generation of makers, and Herzog’s iconoclastic take on “petits-bourgeois who played with the idea of world revolution and whose political analyses seemed absurd to me” is uncharitable. There’s a grain of truth in it, but Fassbinder’s The Third Generation for example, is a highly sophisticated critique of petits-bourgeois engaged in absurd political play with the idea of world revolution.

    The ‘New German Cinema’ did emerge in a highly politicized intellectual scene prone to a good deal of hyperbolic dogma that led to simplistic celebrations or condemnations of films that were almost all a lot more complicated. Herzog was labelled a ‘fascist’, not because he hung to himself, but due to dumb-ass readings of the ploitics in films like Auch Zwerge Haben Klien Angefangen. Werner may be many things, but ‘fascist’ is not one of them, and I can understand why these critiques still burn in his craw.

    Though, on a personal level, it’s fair for Herzog to say he’s “always been solitary and isolated” in his work, the work itself is anything but isolated from the larger issues and themes addressed by his contemporaries, in and out of Germany.

  121. #125 Bob
    May 14, 2015

    Antibiotic resistance arises because we create an environment that favors the resistant bacteria. I’d be interested to know her theory as to why homeopathy doesn’t have this problem. What, the bacteria can’t tell what you’re being treated with? Or maybe it’s because homeopathy is 100% effective and leaves no survivors left to evolve? That could be it. It would explain why people who practice alt med live forever and never get sick.

  122. #126 johnny
    May 15, 2015

    “But let’s take them at face value. Let’s say that half of everything that gets past peer review is crap. The problem is that 99.999% of everything that doesn’t get past peer review is crap, and the median craptitude of the stuff that doesn’t get past peer review is much, much crappier than the median craptitude of the stuff that does make it past.” Justashitstain

    Well that’s full of assumptions and bias – nothing new there. let’s assume that 99.99999% of what does get past is utter shit for starters

  123. #127 JP
    May 15, 2015

    Grizzly Man is ‘minor’ Hrezog cinematically, rehashing a lot of themes he had addressed more artfully in earlier work. It’s almost ‘Werner by numbers’ seemingly a bit dumbed-down for a more general audience. Apropos the “nature” discussion, though, it still ranks as one of the most trenchant critical explorations of the naturalistic fallacy I can think of. It’s not that hard a watch, either, nowhere near as disturbing as e.g. The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser.

    My avenue of introduction to Herzog was this guy I had a crush on in college; I’ve seen a fair bit of his work, and I agree that there are films of his that are probably sort of objectively more disturbing that Grizzly Man. The main thing for me when it comes to Grizzly Man in particular is this: I have, as is perhaps evident, a general hatred of stupidity, which sometimes runs over into an antipathy toward stupid people, which conflicts with my general sympathy toward pretty much everyone. As far as I can tell, this Treadwell fella that the film is based on was a grade A f*cking moron, and I can only imagine that watching the end of the film would play on the inner conflict I have described in a particularly painful way.

  124. #128 JGC
    May 15, 2015

    Natural compound is produced by the nature, may more compelete than the compound man made.

    What exactly do you mean by ‘more complete’_-have a few extra carbons or hydrogens tacked on? In that case they’ll be an entirely different compound than the one produced by man.

    If by ‘more complete’ you mean ‘more effective’, that wouldn’t be the case as long as they molecules are identical Aspirin is aspirin, regardless of whether the molecule is synthezied in vitro or isolated from willow bark tea.

  125. #129 justthestats
    May 15, 2015

    @johnny

    “But let’s take them at face value. Let’s say that half of everything that gets past peer review is crap. The problem is that 99.999% of everything that doesn’t get past peer review is crap, and the median craptitude of the stuff that doesn’t get past peer review is much, much crappier than the median craptitude of the stuff that does make it past.” [j]ust[thestats]

    Well that’s full of assumptions and bias – nothing new there. let’s assume that 99.99999% of what does get past is utter [crap] for starters

    Total reading comprehension fail on your part – nothing new there. The only “assumption” I made was that the “fact” you keep bandying around was literally true.

    But fine, if 99.99999% of what gets past peer review is utter crap, that just lowers the bar even more*, which makes the fact that your ideas can’t get over it even more pathetic.

    * Assuming fixed rates of crap and non-crap submitted.

  126. #130 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    May 15, 2015

    JP:

    I have, as is perhaps evident, a general hatred of stupidity, which sometimes runs over into an antipathy toward stupid people, which conflicts with my general sympathy toward pretty much everyone. As far as I can tell, this Treadwell fella that the film is based on was a grade A f*cking moron

    Cracked has referred to Chris McCandless, whose story is told in Into the Wild. In 1992, McCandless went into the Alaskan wilderness to “find himself”, as the old cliche goes, and died.
    While I understand the feeling of meaninglessness that drove him to do that, McCandless was a fool. He took inadequate provisions with him, had no emergency point of contact for if he got into trouble, and told no-one where he was. His body was found in the wrecked bus he’d used as a home. He’d died of hunger.

  127. #131 Candy
    United States
    May 15, 2015

    Actually, if I recall correctly, McCandless had some sort of edible plants guide with him, and he mistook a plant that was actually quite poisonous with a plant with a very similar appearance that would have been safe to eat. Thus, he died of poisoning by, um, nature, technically. But it’s a minor quibble. He was certainly starving.

    INTO THE WILD is an excellent film. It’s heart rending. But yeah, what he did was very, very dumb, especially for such a bright young man. But then, most of us were very lucky to survive our youth. I know I was.

  128. #132 JP
    May 15, 2015

    Cracked has referred to Chris McCandless, whose story is told in Into the Wild. In 1992, McCandless went into the Alaskan wilderness to “find himself”, as the old cliche goes, and died.
    While I understand the feeling of meaninglessness that drove him to do that, McCandless was a fool. He took inadequate provisions with him, had no emergency point of contact for if he got into trouble, and told no-one where he was. His body was found in the wrecked bus he’d used as a home. He’d died of hunger.

    Yeah, I remember seeing that movie 5 or 6 years ago, a little while after it came out. But there’s stupidity, and then there’s stupidity. McCandless, as I understand it, was a profoundly troubled young man, much more so than the movie lets on. There’s a difference between actual idiocy and a sort of passively suicidal recklessness; I understand the latter quite intimately, actually. And he did at least seem to be aware that the woods of Alaska are not a f*cking Disney movie.

    Treadwell, on the other hand, was a grown-a** man who somehow convinced himself that grizzly bears were his friends. It shows a profound lack of respect for the nature of wild animals. And he didn’t just get himself killed, either; his girlfriend was killed by the same bear that killed him, and then that bear was shot. I mean, the f*cking bear sure as hell didn’t deserve to be killed.

  129. #133 herr doktor bimler
    May 15, 2015

    As far as I can tell, this Treadwell fella that the film is based on was a grade A f*cking moron

    But his moronicity was of such a characteristically human form! He wanted to identify with the bears in their majestic non-human naturalness, use them as an expression of his ‘inner bearness’… but he projected himself onto them, turning the bears he wanted to identify with into no more than large hairy people. Meanwhile claiming personal ownership of them and trying to drive away other visitors to that part of state land.

    In the end, of course [ SPOILER ALERT], the bears were not large hairy people; Treadwell dies; his girlfriend dies; the bears he claimed to be defending also die.

    Anyway, not so much lack of intelligence, but a very human misuse of intelligence.

  130. #134 herr doktor bimler
    May 15, 2015

    Ah, I see that JP has typed faster.

  131. #135 JustaTech
    May 15, 2015

    Just to poke a bear (given how well it went for the guy int he movie):

    johnny: you say that all peer-reviewed medical studies are crap (I am paraphrasing).

    To clarify: do you think that *all* peer-reviewed science is crap? Or is it just *medical* studies?
    Are peer-reviewed mathematics studies crap?
    Are peer-reviewed astronomy studies crap?
    Are peer-reviewed geology studies crap?
    Are peer-reviewed physical chemistry studies crap?
    Are peer-reviewed organic chemistry studies crap?
    Are peer-reviewed plant ecology studies crap?
    Are peer-reviewed animal ecology studies crap?
    Are peer-reviewed zoology studies crap?
    Are peer-reviewed veterinary studies crap?

    If you can’t tell, I’m trying to help you clarify to us where you draw the line on science and peer review, so we (I) may better respond to your comments.

    Thanks!

  132. #136 Bob
    May 15, 2015

    I honestly never grasped the purpose of alties insulting the peer review process.

    “The peer-reviewed medical literature is empirically untrustworthy, so please instead go with my inherently untrustworthy anecdotes.”

    The correct answer to bad science is better science, not catastrophically worse science. As someone around here has said before, if my car breaks down I get a better car – I don’t invest in a magic carpet.

  133. #137 Bespectacled Sloth
    A tree.
    May 16, 2015

    Forgive me for not responding to the threads of commentary, but I’ve always been fond of nightshade and bears as examples of things that are all-natural and organic.

    Mother Nature, that icy bitch, is delighted to try and kill us. Just like everything else.

    (Also, Bob, be sure that magic carpet that you’ll inevitably buy once Big Automotive inevitably fails you is 100% organic Tibetan silk and only treated with natural dyes! You need essence of dead sea urchin to enable proper levels of Belief Magic to sink into the fibers.)

  134. #138 CanonicalRabbit
    PNW, USA
    May 17, 2015

    Wow, I’m surrounded by all sorts of natural stuff! Arsenic (20-44ppm–thanks, ASARCO smelter!), digitalin (Foxglove), taxine (Pacific Yew), zygacine (Death Camas–you’d think the name would tip people off) and dozens of other poisonous plants, not to mention the poisonous toadstools/mushrooms. Other than the arsenic, every year I’m damned if there isn’t a number of articles about some idiot or other playing Russian roulette with vegetable alkaloids or neurotoxins because, “Hey! It’s natural” either in search of a “natural” cure or a high.

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