I Get Mail – You are Not Real!

This was just a weird piece of hate mail and I figured it needed dealing with. It’s rare that I get any vitriol from anti-vax. I know that many anti-vax groups bandied around a “Do Not Argue” List. A list of skeptics who should not be engaged on the so called “Anti-Vaccine Debate”.

So the mails stopped. It’s very easy to argue pseudoscience against the lay person but against a doctor? The arguments are laughable. So laughable I had to ask the question. Do the anti-vax actually know how the human immune system functions? And from the response?

No. No they do not. They have no idea. So let’s laugh at the people who send me weird things. [Read more...]

From Goo To You via Woo

The Huffington Post while critical of american right wing movement also plays host to some of the most amazing woo merchants in the form of Deepak ChopraBruce Lipton and Gregg Braden whose recent forays into the depths of pseudoscience have produced the idea of spirituality based science.This idea is a mix of religiously evocative ideology mixed in with science to give precedence to their metaphysical nonsense.

For instance Gregg Braden’s article evokes the idea that the world is ending based on our decisions. No it’s not. What’s happening is a shift in our energy considerations where we need to focus more on alternative and long lasting sources of power. If Needs Be then we need to utilise nuclear power because not everyone can afford building millions of windmills to power their nations. Every previous generation has had the same decision making process as we do to improve the world, it’s just that we are seeing the improvements now as we speak in greater fuel efficiency and better green technology that’s coming through.

It then goes into a spiral of lunacy stating that Spirituality linked with science gives meaning to our lives. Which it really does not. What he is describing is a pacifier. A way of shutting up a child, not a way of truly utilising your brain. But that’s not the best bit. It’s this paragraph.

The spiritual traditions that I’m describing are the core principles of ancient and time-tested understandings — principles now confirmed by 20th century science that include the interconnected nature of all things, the power of the human heart to positively influence the magnetic fields of the earth and all life, and the cyclic nature of life, climate, civilization and change. The spiritual traditions of our ancestors got these principles right and embodied them at the core of their lives in their time. It’s the marriage of these holistic principles with the best science of today that helps us to tip the scales of life, balance, and peace in our favor.

This is the point where we should slap the writer and take away his pens. This isn’t science this is industrial strength nonsense. Yes stuff is connected in nature and we know that. But nowhere has the spiritual traditions of our ancestors had any idea on how to utilise the environment ethically because IMHO most of our ancestors were kind of stupid by our standards. Just like their ancestors were kind of stupid. It’s a continuing trend by our civilisation to improve our knowledge and be less stupid that is the driving force of progress. Not spiritual balance principles.

Bruce Lipton continues the woo where Braden leaves off grasping at greater depths of unscientific knowledge and pseudo-science. He has seen the challenge laid down by Braden and has stepped up to prove that he is the true master of pseudo-science limbo starting with this lovely gem.

New science revises four fundamental beliefs that shape civilization. These flawed assumptions include: 

Are you holding onto your seats?

1) The Newtonian vision of the primacy of a physical, mechanical Universe;
2) Genes control biology;
3) Evolution resulted from random genetic mutations; and
4) Evolution is driven by a struggle for the survival-of-the-fittest.

Newtonian physics works fine as a model for us, since applying quantum mechanics to everything really is daft when we behave in a newtonian fashion. But that’s not my forte. You should not take my word on it, I may be (and quite possibly am) wrong on this subject.

No I wish to point out that points 2,3 and 4 are pretty much misunderstandings of basic biology. Genes do control biology. It’s not even an issue. It’s not a theory it’s law since the proof is seen when we tinker around with DNA causing massive changes to biology. Evolution however is due to changing allele frequency driven by the survival of the fittest concept. However the problem is people keep assuming that fittest means strongest and brawniest forgetting that fitness solely means “ability to survive”. Those that survive the best pass on their genes more than those who do not. If your genes produce a survival mechanism then you survive more. If humanity were like deer, I would not survive as I wear glasses. However since we are the badass tool builders of awesome that we are, I survive solely through my intellect rather than my ability to run fast and  detect leopards.

The article then goes into complete overdrive with this gem.

The exciting new science of epigenetics emphasizes that genes are controlled by the environment, and more importantly, by our perception of the environment. Epigenetics acknowledges that we are not victims, but masters, for we can change our environment or perceptions, and create up to 30,000 variations for each of our genes.

Epigenetics is the science of genetic expression based on non genetic principles such as control mechanisms such as methylation and histones.  We are still reliant on our genes and cannot do anything to change them the way this person thinks.

Also where does he get the 30,000 variations idea. It’s just such an arbitrary number.

Finally we come to Deepak Chopra whose metaphysical woo is phenomenal. In it he fails to understand consciousness. Consciousness is a by product of having a brain. It is the idea that the neuronal configuration leads to our personality and that is a product of our upbringing. Adventurous parents will have adventurous kids. Protective parents will have shy kids.

Consciousness is proven to be a transient state since it can be altered via drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, ecstacy and LSD producing different states ranging from extroversion, introspection and euphorias. In a more permanent sense we see the mental scarring caused by disorders such as PTSD where are conscious thought process is broken due to a traumatic event. We further see physical disruptions caused by head injuries and strokes that lead to altered consciousness.

What Deepak Chopra is trying to sell is the modern interpretation of the soul. The ability to control something out of our control (The biochemical process of our body) dressed up as consciousness.

There is no alternate world view in science that encourages this kind of thinking. There is just pseudo-science and the attempt to sell a whole bunch of books. It’s an attempt to give evolution a spiritual meaning that it does not possess and an attempt to delude people into believing a lot of pseudo science that Chopra and his ilk sell under the guise of science.

I am with Dr. PZ Myers on this one. The Huffington Post should know better than to give these people a platform and encourage their nonsense.

Not the Ducks – Israel, Polio, Judaism and Jiggerypokery

This one combines everything. Atheism and Skepticism combine to meet superstition, religious nonsense and plain old quackery.

Dr. Suzanne Humpheries is a “real” doctor. A Nephrologist in fact.

She also flogs quackery as if there was no goddamn tomorrow. I have repeatedly said this. The quackery lobbies have real doctors who give them credibility in their actions. Mayer Eisenstein’s a more deadly version of one but Suzanne does flog some particularly virulent nonsense. And this time it’s for the Israeli discovery of wild polio in the water bodies. [Read more...]