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How many has Oprah killed?

Read this excellent long form expose of James Arthur Ray, the New Age guru who had been promoted by Oprah and who then ended up scamming swarms of people and killing a few of them in a ridiculous sweat lodge ceremony.

Or watch the video.

Or do both!

Daytime talk shows do a really good job of pandering to gullible people and elevating con artists like Ray as “spiritual leaders”. Oprah has been pushing phonies and frauds for years, poisoning the citizenry with nonsense…and getting obscenely rich in the process.

Comments

  1. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    My most recent e-mail from JAR

    Dear ,

    I know it’s been quite a while since you heard from me, and I just want to begin by expressing my sincere thanks for staying with me over the last 4 years. For the last 4 months since my re-emergence I’ve been catching my breath and doing my best to rest, spend time with my family, and integrate the experiences of the last 4 years. Frankly understanding and integration will probably take the rest of my days.

    After my birthday yesterday, it seemed the perfect time to begin a new chapter in my life; and continue to find ways in which I can be of service, given all that I’ve learned and experienced.

    I’ve posted my first blog today and I plan on many more to come. If you’ll take a moment and read it when you have a chance, my sincere hope and prayer is that it will be of value to you and your current situation in life.

    Again thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued love and support, and I look forward to connecting again soon.

    Much love and gratitude,

    James

    Please be encouraged to forward this letter and the blog to anyone that you feel may benefit.

  2. grumpyoldfart says

    The new-agers are probably already saying to themselves, “He will have learned from his mistakes so whatever he comes up with this time will be absolutely perfect. Where do I sign?”

  3. sambarge says

    “He will have learned from his mistakes so whatever he comes up with this time will be absolutely perfect. Where do I sign?”

    Did you watch the video? In an interview, Piers Morgan says that exact thing, essentially handing him his “Get Out of Jail/Start Fleecing Folks” card.

  4. Sastra says

    A very powerful video.

    The parents of the murdered young woman speak very eloquently about the need for these Spiritual therapies and groups to have ethical standards and accountability — but I’m not sure they really realize what they’re up against. While it may seem obvious that the Sweat Lodge in question was physically dangerous and life-threatening, the entire POINT of New Age spirituality is to reject (or at least detach from) physical life. When you’re seeking wisdom and experience which goes beyond reason and sense, then you’re not likely to become either reasonable nor sensible — and of course the spiritual therapy is going to reflect that.

    How do you maintain ethical standards in bullshitting?

    Spirituality and its subset religion trade on deepities. Superficial similarities of interpretation are shamelessly traded on, drawing you in until you can no longer distinguish where the plausible ended and nonsense began. Since it’s all about a personal connection with the Divine and individual insights I don’see how “proper training” is going to be particularly useful. It’s like liscensing homeopaths. The standards of the field aren’t going to stand up to any sort of realistic test. All you’ve got is an aesthetic consensus in an area which both validates and celebrates the Brave Mavericks who aren’t afraid to push a person’s credulity past their usual limits.

    It’s a recipe for disaster.

  5. Chie Satonaka says

    Dr. Oz is on when I get home from work on the same station that I watch the morning weather report, and every time his show comes up on my screen he seems to be peddling some other type of woo, usually in the “weight loss” or “dietary supplement” vein.

  6. george gonzalez says

    Well, yeah, she may have helped kill a few folks. But she gave away some cars. And those nose-washing teapots probably have not killed anyone, and have generated much mirth among the bystanders. So, in more ways than one, it’s a wash.

  7. says

    Daytime talk shows do a really good job of pandering to gullible people and elevating con artists like Ray as “spiritual leaders”. Oprah has been pushing phonies and frauds for years, poisoning the citizenry with nonsense…and getting obscenely rich in the process.

    True that, with Dr. Oz getting in on the act and lending the aura of medical authority to such quacks. Yesterday, Katie Couric jumped into the antivaccine crank pool and found the water to be just fine:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/12/05/katie-couric-on-the-hpv-vaccine-antivaccine-or-irresponsible-journalist-you-be-the-judge/

  8. jlmjlm says

    And those nose-washing teapots probably have not killed anyone, and have generated much mirth among the bystanders. So, in more ways than one, it’s a wash.

    Unfortunately, they have.

  9. Plac ebo says

    If I can play devil’s advocate. How dare you be outraged by New Age gurus, chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists, naturopaths, and all of their fellow alternative medicine practitioners. You “real” medicine proponents need to get your own house in order first. You need to explain why the occasional alternative medicine tragedies are any worse than the 100,000 plus unnecessary deaths due to medical errors in US hospitals. Why thousands of unnecessary surgeries are performed on Americans each year. Why antibiotics and other drugs are overprescribed in America. Why fraudulent research for new drugs and procedures is undiscovered and tolerated so frequently. And on and on.

    It is very difficult for me to criticize and argue with family and friends about their alternative medicine treatments when they can point out all of the abuses and other shortcomings of traditional medicine. Traditional medicine gives alternative medicine practitioners and advocates much to much ammunition.

  10. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It is very difficult for me to criticize and argue with family and friends about their alternative medicine treatments when they can point out all of the abuses and other shortcomings of traditional medicine.

    Yet in your screed, not one citation to real evidence by you. Just vague unsubstantiated accusations, which can and will be dismissed. That is the problem with alt-med. Until they can demonstrate anything above the wonder drug PLACEBO (which is free by the way) with double blind studies, they have nothing but bullshit. Funny how NIH-CAM was supposed to demonstrate alt-med works. Only acupuncture has shown anything (and even there, it is only slightly statistically better), above placebo in properly run and double-blinded studies.

  11. says

    You need to explain why the occasional alternative medicine tragedies are any worse than the 100,000 plus unnecessary deaths due to medical errors in US hospitals

    Incredibly leading question: How many lives are saved via conventional vs. alternative therapies?

    X# of deaths from a therapy that does nothing is worse than X# of deaths from a therapy that saves thousands.

  12. says

    Also, a death as a result of a faultily applied therapy is worse than a death as a result of a correctly applied therapy. Mistakes by practitioners can be remedied. Inherent flaws in the treatment method cannot (except by abandoning the method altogether).

  13. playonwords says

    Oh dear, Plac ebo; how many millions of treatments are carried out by conventional medicine to result in the toll you find unacceptable? How many billions have not died an early death because modern medicine largely works?

    Yes, there are iatrogenic deaths but guess what? There are also pretty strict sets of ethical standards which practitioners of conventional medicine agree to follow. What ethical standards are followed by the merchants of woo, fuzzy thinking and deceit?

  14. Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy says

    Of course, “Plac ebo” doesn’t actually mean or believe a word of that comment: “if I may play devil’s advocate” is practically a warning that at best they want us to do their homework, and at worst they’re going to chortle at having successfully trolled the blog.

  15. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    From the Wiki article on herbal supplements:

    Because of the lack of quality control and regulation, it is difficult to assess what the effect of many herbs is, or even what people may be taking, given the label often fails to match the content.

    If an ethical drug manufacturer tried that shit, his door would be padlocked tomorrow. Why are herbalists allowed to market such shit¿

  16. MJP says

    This seems like a pathological combination of New Age mystical beliefs and motivational-speaker bullshit.

  17. Great American Satan says

    I despise con artists, above almost every other form of criminal, and I agree that medical woo ends human lives and must be reduced to a marginalized and heavy FDA-warninged up hobby, instead of something otherwise intelligent adults are using in lieu of tested medicine.

    However, I think the medical system is fucked from top to bottom, run by greedsacking corporate shitstains, and I hate the way this subject makes otherwise intelligent adults leap to the defense of people who care more about products to sell than whether you live or die, just because they’re establishment approved.

    Mainstream is medicine is better than nothing and better now than it was 100 years ago, but don’t lose your skepticism over it. Also, there’s a ton of shit that there are NO CURES FOR, of which my near and dear has at least three. Specialists have just wasted our time and money (& more importantly, emotional resources), and it would have been better to be told off the bat that there was nothing for these problems.

    Also, doctors are human and members of our culture and all that entails… Fuck doctors. Also, fuck humans, because I’m in that kind of mood today.

    http://skepchick.org/2013/10/providerassault/

  18. says

    Plac ebo:

    How dare you be outraged by New Age gurus, chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists, naturopaths, and all of their fellow alternative medicine practitioners.

    Oh, I dare. Particularly in the case of Ray, who happens to be the topic of this post, as that seemed to have slipped right by those little grey cells of yours. This is what I wrote about Ray on the earlier thread, handily linked in #6:

    There’s another message in all this, one that reflects on the particularly poor education of USians in one regard. If anyone spouts something like “Native American whatthefuckever”, walk away. There is no “Native American whatthefuckever”. There are Indians, yes. There are tribes, yes. There are nations, yes. Do they all live alike, act alike, have the same traditions, and have the same beliefs? No.

    White people love to get all starry-eyed over “Native American whatthefuckever” and that seriously needs to be slapped out of them, hard.

    A rather large segment of those who peddle alt med today co-opt anything they think they can sell as “oooh, look, native ‘merican!, special, magic, yeah, yeah, yeah.” As I’m half Indian, I don’t much care for that shit. I don’t like the idiocy, the co-opting, the dishonesty, the outright scamming. You going to tell me I just don’t have the right to be outraged by white assholes everywhere, passing off what they do as part of my culture? I don’t think so, Cupcake. Go elsewhere and be an ass, the internet awaits your manufactured outrage.

  19. Plac ebo says

    Wow! There definitely are some defensive, quick-tempered science advocates on this board. Regardless, I wish I was a better communicator. The point I wanted to make is that those of us that believe in science and the scientific-method need to devote more time addressing the shortcomings of standard (i.e., evidence-based) medicine. No argument from me that it’s important to refute alternative medicine and all the other quackery associated with it. Too frequently it’s a threat to people’s physical and/or financial health. And, of course for many of us there’s the additional benefit that it’s fun to ridicule the silly things that alternative medicine practitioners and advocates say and do.

    As easily as we scientific-minded attack alternative medicine I detect a hesitancy to criticize, or listen to criticism, of the deficiencies of standard medicine. Standard medicine should not get a free pass due to its scientific underpinnings and the billions of people that have benefitted from its successes. There is much greed and incompetence in standard medicine. Any well-read person will be aware of numerous examples of this. There is fraudulent research, unnecessary surgeries and procedures, over-prescribed medicines, ineptitude and errors. For example, a simple thing such as hand hygiene is a major cause of spreading infection. A 5/28/13 New York Times article claims that “hospital workers wash their hands as little as 30% of the time they interact with patients.” Another, The Journal of Patient Safety says that preventable harms contribute to the deaths of 440,000 patients in US hospitals.

    I follow several scientific blogs. I would like to see at least as much outrage and coverage from the authors of these blogs on the failings of standard medicine as they devote to the fraud that is alternative medicine. The loss is the same for the family of a loved one who died under the watch of the doctors at the Burzynski Clinic as it is for that of one who died during an unnecessary surgery at the local hospital. All of this waste needs a spotlight shined on it.

  20. anteprepro says

    Shorter Plac Ebo: “Dear Muslima…”, but for medicine.

    Sorry, the myriad failings of the medical establishment doesn’t make alternative medicine less bullshit or less misleading or less dangerous. Yes, the real medical establishment deserves to be criticized. No, that doesn’t have to be done to the exclusion of criticizing alternative medicine.

  21. ekwhite says

    Nerd@18

    Thanks to former Senator Orrin Hatch and a slick astroturf campaign by the “natural supplements” industry back in the Clinton era, the FDA has virtually no authority over the natural supplements industry. They have to cause major death or injury, aldulerate the pills with actual drugs, or make claims that throw them into the “drugs” category before the FDA can act.

  22. ekwhite says

    Plac Ebo

    You have no clue about the level of quality control and oversight involved in the manufacture of ethical drugs. I have been involved in bringing new drugs to market, and it can literally cost hundreds of millions of dollars between development, clinical trials, construction of new facilities, and quality control testing.

    You have obviously never seen a pharmaceutical QC lab with its rows of HPLC’s, GC-MS’s, electrophoresis setups, and other instrumentation needed for release testing of those drugs. I can guarantee that none of those alternative therapies has been as thoroughly tested and controlled as that pill or injection you getfrom your doctor.

  23. says

    Plac ebo:
    Let me get this straight: because the mainstream medical establishment makes mistakes, we must first criticize that before we criticize CAM?
    No.
    Uh-uh.
    Ain’t gonna happen.
    (and no, that’s not because I blindly follow and support the system)

    How dare you be outraged by New Age gurus, chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists, naturopaths, and all of their fellow alternative medicine practitioners.

    How? It’s pretty damn easy.
    Peruse the site What’s the harm and you’ll see many reasons to criticize Complementary and Alternative Medicine practitioners. Given the harm so many of them have done to people, it’s very easy to be outraged by such bullshit.
    In fact, how dare you try to tell anyone where and how they should direct their outrage?
    While there are undoutedly New Age gurus, chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists, and naturopaths who honestly think they’re helping people, there are a great many con artists who are scamming people left and right. People have lost their entire life’s savings, friends and family, even their own lives bc of unscientific bullshit.
    The battle against superstitious thinking extends beyond simply religion. It extends into battling woo. Anti-scientific bullshit that actively harms humanity. Yes, as more people develop their ability to think critically and employ skepticism, things may improve. But people should not stop criticizing those people who are doing harm to their fellow man, whether they genuinely think they are helping or if they are con artists.

  24. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    How dare you be outraged by New Age gurus, chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists, naturopaths, and all of their fellow alternative medicine practitioners.

    They are scamming people, offering them magic fingers or magic water instead of real medicine… and most of them know what they’re doing.
    That’s how I dare be outraged.

  25. Great American Satan says

    I see only one person bothered to address the fact PlacEbo said they were playing devil’s advocate, and then only to say they were not doing so honestly (that is to say, actually advocating a position they’re against). I do agree that it’s more important to attack “CAM” than to counter problems in the medical establishment, but only slightly. The state of the medical profession – especially of pharmaceutical companies – is disgraceful. Why not check out the link in my last post for an example of how sensitive and nurturing and good for your health medical professionals can be? It’s a charming little tale. Anecdotal, I know, but on point like a motherfucker.

    By all means, take medical woo assholes to the curb and put two in they domepieces. But don’t act like their legit counterparts are automatically great. I remember when drug commercials were cleared to pollute the airwaves. ZYYYYYYYRTEEEEEEEEEEEC!!! I remember my mom bringing home swag drug companies heaped on doctors at the hospital. I had alarm bells ringing in my head before I was 18.

    I’ve had my bodily autonomy disrespected and a potentially lethal condition misdiagnosed and had my pain ignored because I had long hair (so I must be drug-seeking). And that isn’t half of what overweight people have to deal with, or anyone with chronic pain conditions.

    Understand, some people look to woo AFTER mainstream medicine fucked them over or failed them, and woo doesn’t help, and it often hurts, but sometimes there is nothing else.

    Hell, while I’m pissing on science-based medicine, allow me to piss on science at large. I know we all love to mock EvoPsych for being shit science, but how good is actual “good” science? I’ve seen science journalism which seemed legit enough, checked out the studies behind them, and seen data that just doesn’t support the conclusions. Not strongly, anyways, and that’s perfectly fine by the establishment’s standards.

    I don’t know. Maybe the good shit is all behind paywalls, which again, raises my skeptical hackles. What’s wrong with this picture? The internet was supposed to be the sum of all human knowing, and I run into its limitations when chasing down idle curiosity all the freakin’ time. Shit is not where it needs to be.

    Our biosphere is falling to pieces and most of the science money is in looking for ways to either make that happen faster, or take advantage of it for profit. I hope when Bezos’s drones take out thousands of human jobs, he changes his tune about giving poor people welfare money. Because if not, we won’t have anything to buy drone-delivered goods with.

    I’m rambling, but I guess that all just boils down to a reiteration of my above conclusions. Fuck the humans.

  26. chigau (違う) says

    Did you know that medical practice and medical research occurs in places that are NOT the USofA?

  27. tsig says

    Medicine can’t work miracles and sometimes doctors make mistakes therefore my woo is true. /alt med apologist off

  28. says

    @Stephen Grant
    Okay, how about this one: How many times has Oprah contributed to someone’s death, by actively peddling the nonsense that killed them?

  29. Plac ebo says

    Response to #25 by ekwhite

    You come across as an unconditional defender of the “ethical” pharmaceutical industry with knowledge of its innermost workings. Defend this:

    FDA Lets Drugs Approved on Fraudulent Research Stay on the Market
    http://www.propublica.org/article/fda-let-drugs-approved-on-fraudulent-research-stay-on-the-market

    Drug Company Used Ghostwriters to Write Work
    http://www.propublica.org/blog/item/drug-company-used-ghostwriters-to-write-work-bylined-by-academics-documents

    Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Ghostwriting
    http://www.pogo.org/our-work/articles/2011/ph-iis-20110620.html

  30. Great American Satan says

    chigau @29
    Did you know that medical practice and medical research occurs in places that are NOT the USofA?

    tsig@30
    Medicine can’t work miracles and sometimes doctors make mistakes therefore my woo is true. /alt med apologist off

    Chigau- Like the unethical research conducted by pharmaceutical companies in poor nations?

    tsig- Boy, you got my number. I’m drinking lemon juice and having colonics every other day. Yup. And the hate-rapist ob-gyn discussed over here? That’s just “mistakes,” yes indeed.

    I am offering no solutions, just criticism. Kinda like when we vote for the lesser of two evils on election day and groan, I go to the science-based medicine when I need care. And sometimes it’s half useful. Other times it costs a load of money I don’t have and accomplishes nothing. Lesser of two evils. I’m asking people to acknowledge it, that’s all.

  31. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Still waiting for the studies to show your scams called alt-med really work Plac Ebo. Until you can demonstrate the frauds actually work, your criticisms of standard medicine will be ignore.

    You have to demonstrate alt-med is right. Anything to do with standard medicine is a non-sequitur.

  32. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m asking people to acknowledge it, that’s all.

    Acknowledge what? Medicines that help the Redhead and myself effectively control our blood pressure, versus quackery that doesn’t do squat?
    Medicine, like science, is incomplete.
    But real fraud like homeopathy goes on forever because since it doesn’t do anything, it can’t hurt you.

  33. Bicarbonate says

    At the risk of passing for some sort of old school Marxist here, I’d like to point out that much of what people complain about having to do with standard medicine are problems generated not by the medicine itself but by the economic model and organization of healthcare. As long as medicine is for profit and practitioners make more money by doing more (rather than by doing whatever is best or most appropriate, which, in some cases, may be nothing at all), then there are going to be unnecessary procedures, prescriptions and surgeries. And even when you do have so-called socialized medicine, doctors may be under pressure to fill hospital beds in order to justify their budgets and avoid the cuts which would mean that in the future they would be in the opposite position, i.e. of having to release patients who do need to stay in order to free hospital beds. The same can be said for iatrogenic disease, when wards are short staffed and overworked to save money, then hands get washed a lot less. When hospitals are under pressure to cut costs, they may hang on to old water boilers too long and that is when the water can become infected by all sorts of very nasty things. None of these are medical problems per se, but problems relating to economic models and management.

    Likewise, medicine doesn’t take place outside of society in some utopia where all citizens are treated with equal respect. Patients do get mistreated, violated and disregarded. Medical staffs have the same array of prejudices that exist in the society around them and they act on these prejudices constantly in prioritizing, in deciding who gets what kind of care (… Oh, these old ladies from North Africa, complaining that they are in pain is just a way of life for them. Don’t bother with her.) There is not only prejudice at work but also cultural attitudes towards the body in general and sickness in particular. An example is that in historically Catholic countries there is a tendency to believe that pain is good for you (purifies the soul) or somehow deserved (everyone needs to do penance for original sin) and even when no one actually believes that stuff anymore, such belief has become infused and diffuse and has an impact on care. Again, these are not strictly medical issues, but standard or “Western” medicine will nonetheless be faulted for them: They kept telling me there was nothing wrong with me. It took so long to find someone who would at least listen. (Yes, I am also speaking from experience and yes, this is what led to my becoming partially paralyzed. But I do not feel that I was betrayed by “Western” medicine.)

    And then there are the psychological aspects of the health-care provider to patient relationship. People do not want to be told to go home and stay in bed, take plenty of fluids and wait it out. They want a pill. This leads to over-prescription. Nobody wants to hear that they should change their lifestyle, job, relationships, beliefs, diet or see a therapist. Often, people are not in a position to change most of those things even when they know it is necessary for their health. Any kind of medication or procedure will have a placebo effect and practitioners are well aware of this. Though medicine may be science-based, the practitioner-patient relationship is not. Rather, it is infused with a kind of magical thinking and what psychoanalysts call “transfer”.

    As for bad studies, cutting corners in research, corruption in the process of accrediting substances or over-marketing of said substances to physicians and patients, these, again, are not medical problems per se. They are not evidence that “Western” medicine is bad. They are the result of the greed and desperation that can be encouraged or curbed (but never wholly eliminated) by the way institutions are organized.

  34. kurczaki3 says

    I am very moved by the video, especially the parents. Though I am a scientist, I can see how easy is to fall for the traps of such deadly retreat. Such events like the inappropriate sweat lodge is absolutely not surprising as well as the multi-million dollar guru. I long for mysticism on my difficult days. I read fiction and watch movies. On my nerve draining days at work I reach for chocolate and complain to friends to remove the pain, or call the tension in my cells. Or when I go to Disney or have the roller coster experience how rational is this action as compared with the “new age” renewals?

    I am so sorry for the family of those who died, for their grief and pain

  35. Plac ebo says

    Response to #36 by Nerd of Redhead and all the other critics of my posts

    Do you understand what a Devil’s Advocate is? Do you understand that I am a critic of alternative medicine. Do you understand that I believe that alternative medicine is quackery and causes harm? Do you understand that my point is that there is a dark side to science-based medicine? Do you understand that there is corruption and malpractice in science-based medicine that claims hundreds of thousands of victims a year in the United States alone? Do you understand that these victims are just as worthy of our concern as are the victims of the alternative medicine practitioners? Do you understand the importance of addressing and correcting this corruption and malpractice to lessen the appeal of alternative medicine? Do you understand that our goal should be to reduce the number of victims of all practitioners of medicine- alternative and science based?

  36. eveningchaos says

    I’ve spent some time this week debating with an anti-vaxxer here at work. The garbage this person uses as “evidence” is so divorced from the scientific method it’s appalling. She has shown me Dr. Mercola’s awful arguments for not vaccinating, brought up the fact that her chiropractor doesn’t recommend vaccinations (which spurred another debate on whether chiropractors are medical doctors), argued that Jenny McCarthy’s child was made autistic because of vaccines etc. I easily found evidence that debunked all of her claims, but her confirmation bias and anecdotal evidence made her steadfast in her belief in this quackery. I’m just glad this person will probably never breed and subject her kids to this awful belief in quack medicine.

  37. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Do you understand what a Devil’s Advocate is?

    A troll who should shut the fuck up.

    Do you understand that I am a critic of alternative medicine.

    No, not with your trolling.

    Do you understand that I believe that alternative medicine is quackery and causes harm?

    You presented no evidence. Just trolling.

    Do you understand that our goal should be to reduce the number of victims of all practitioners of medicine- alternative and science based?

    Do you understand there are smart way, and dumb ways (and your method was a dumb way) to say that?

    That is why you aren’t taken seriously. Problems with A have no effect on the truth of B, and problems with medicine have to do with the profit motive and the fact medicine, like science, is a work in progress.

    The discussion would have proceeded better if you were direct and not playing the “devils advocate”.

  38. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Plac Ebo, if you want to discuss the problems with medicine, you should have taken it to the Thunderdome, an open thread. This thread was and is about alternative medicine.

    You sounded like the typical modern medicine is bad, therefore alt-med must be good apologist.

  39. Bicarbonate says

    Plac ebo @41

    Do you understand what a Devil’s Advocate is? Do you understand that I am a critic of alternative medicine. Do you understand that …

    Yes, I do and I bet a lot of other readers/lurkers do too. My post above is also a reply to you or comment on what you have to say, i.e. that a lot of the problems you bring up are social, political, organizational issues rather than of science-based medicine per se.

    One of the reasons you got the response you did is that here there is a constant search for a new chew toy to practice debunking on. This is legitimate and leads to wonderful threads in which we all learn a lot. There are also people who claim to be playing devil’s advocate when they are really not. Both these things lead to people not always getting the benefit of the doubt. Try not to take it personally.

  40. says

    There are also people who claim to be playing devil’s advocate when they are really not.

    In my (granted, limited) experience, that’s very often the case. If somebody comes along to play devil’s advocate, I instantly get suspicious.

    And as Nerd of Redhead has pointed out, this is really a tangent from the subject of the thread. If you want to discuss the problems of modern medicine, the Thunderdome might be more appropriate.

  41. Rich Woods says

    @Bicarbonate #39:

    At the risk of passing for some sort of old school Marxist here, I’d like to point out that much of what people complain about having to do with standard medicine are problems generated not by the medicine itself but by the economic model and organization of healthcare.

    I don’t think your points suggest old-school Marxism, just good sense and compassion! If only our politicians had a bit more of both…

  42. Plac ebo says

    You guys are hilarious. If not for the subject matter I would think that I’m on the Hannity forums.

  43. anteprepro says

    If not for the subject matter I would think that I’m on the Hannity forums.

    And the blatant troll tactics begin. Either add something of substance and actually try to have a conversation, or shut the fuck up. If you want to just see much smarminess you can secrete, go to the fucking Thunderdome where people can poke you with a stick and you can ooze all over the place freely without mucking up the carpets. Please and thank you.

  44. says

    Plac ebo:
    What part of you are off topic is so difficult to understand?
    No one here has said the mainstream medical establishment is without problems.
    But this thread is not about that. This thread is about woo, CAM, or Oprah’s support of such.
    Stop trying to make the thread all about what you want to talk about.
    If this means so much to you, *please* go start your own blog where you can discuss what you want, when you want. You do not get to dictate what is discussed here.
    Now kindly buzz off.

  45. Plac ebo says

    @Bicarbonate

    Your posts #39 and #45 were very good. Also, I don’t take the harsh responses to my posts personally. The world is full of passionate people. Not all of them are diplomats.

  46. dianne says

    The difference between “alternative medicine” and actual medicine:
    Actual doctors, epidemiologists, and, yes, outside critics discover that something is wrong. Let’s use iatrogenic infection as an example. It is discovered that people get sick in hospitals from bacteria being passed on staff member’s hands. Result? Increased push for hand washing, appearance of alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout hospitals, people being fired for not following good hand hygiene.
    “Alternative practitioner” discovers something is going wrong. Say, people are dying in his sweat lodge. Result? He complains about how persecuted he is and tries to put the blame on someone else, anyone else, as long as he can continue his highly profitable quackery.
    I’ll take mainstream medicine, corrupt, dark, prejudiced, and insular as it is, over alternative medicine. At least there’s some chance that its errors will be corrected some day.

  47. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Not all of them are diplomats.

    Nobody who engages in “devil’s advocacy” is anything other than a troll. Polite and diplomatic they are not. Making your appreciation of being diplomatic hypocrisy.

  48. mhph says

    Hey guys come on that troll has a valid point.

    Despite our best attempts to keep records of how things work, and restrict how they are used, people are occasionally given useless or even harmful conventional medical treatments. This is a pretty good reason to consider that useless or harmful fake medical treatments might have some real value, despite the complete lack of any attempt to keep records or regulate their use.

  49. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    mhph

    This is a pretty good reason to consider that useless or harmful fake medical treatments might have some real value, despite the complete lack of any attempt to keep records or regulate their use.

    Talk about a massive fallacious argument….I hope you said that with tongue in cheek.

  50. says

    I can’t help but notice that Plac ebo and associates have not raised the discussion of the problems of the medical industry in Thunderdome. Wicked minds might conclude that it’s because they weren’t really interested in a thorough discussion of the subject itself, but only brought it up to divert attention away from the failings of alternative medicine.

    Those of us who are more charitable of course realize that the reason they’ve let the subject fall is that they… is that… it’s because….

    Why is it, again?

  51. dianne says

    The charitable reading is that s/he got bored and wandered off because this is the internet and such things happen. In support of the less than absolutely charitable reading, I’ve yet to see a discussion of the dangers of alternative medicine where supporters had any argument other than “but there are problems in the medical industry too.”

  52. satanaugustine says

    I don’t understand why the couple whose daughter dies didn’t pursue a civil case against James Ray. He was found guilty despite his lite sentence. It seems like they could have at least recouped the money their daughter lost plus money for emotional suffering. Seems like they would win. It’s obvious that Ray hasn’t learned his lesson. Perhaps bankrupting him would hammer the point home in a way that he couldn’t ignore. I don’t mean this as a purely punitive measure (though, being human, there is a bit of that in there), but rather as a make-the-guy-hit-rock-bottom-so-he-will-learn-some-fucking-empathy measure.

    Has any skeptical organization gone after Oprah? It’s not as though this guy is the first harmful quack that she’s endorsed. She bears responsibility for the shit her guests peddle and I don’t know of anyone who has introduced or spread harmful woo more than Oprah. I’m sure she means well (Ray, on the other hand, seems to be a sociopath), but she’s, perhaps indirectly, caused a great deal of harm. In the very least, a prominent skeptic organization could tarnish her reputation a bit simply by pointing out all of the charlatans (and the harm they’ve done) to whom she’s given her stamp of approval. She sickens me.

  53. theoreticalgrrrl says

    Satanaugastine,

    Colleen Conaway’s family has filed a civil suit. She died two months before the sweat lodge deaths. Other people have been seriously injured during his seminars, years before the sweat lodge incident. Didn’t seem to phase him. I don’t think anything will make James Ray have empathy for anyone, ever.

    There really needs to be some kind of regulation in the self-help industry. Literally anyone can claim to be a self-help expert just based on spouting some New Agey ideas. They’re not required to have any training in psychology or even basic safety.

    This article details JR’s bullying techniques and the injuries he’s caused:

    Mystic’s Past is Guru-some

    Even before a sweat-lodge retreat led by guru James Arthur Ray claimed its third victim over the weekend, his seminars were already tainted by serious injury and even suicide, The Post has learned.
    Ray — billed as a motivational prophet in the flick “The Secret” and touted by Oprah — is at the center of a murder probe after two people, including Kirby Brown, a 38-year-old upstate woman, died at an Oct. 8 “sweat-lodge” event he led near Sedona, Ariz.

    A third victim, Liz Neuman, 49, from Minnesota, died Saturday from injuries sustained at the event, and her family plans to sue.
    Ray’s past seminars are also peppered with horrific incidents, public records show, including:

    * The July 2009 suicide of a Minnesota woman who jumped three floors to her death from a San Diego mall balcony.

    * A May 2005 event at Disney World, where a New Jersey woman shattered her hand after Ray allegedly bullied her into performing a ritualistic board-breaking exercise
    On July 25, just 10 weeks before the sweat-lodge deaths, Colleen Conaway, a typically cheerful 46-year-old from Minnesota, made her fatal plunge at the California mall.
    Like the victims in Arizona, Conaway had no identification on her when she died, according to law enforcement.

    After the jump, Ray and his staffers left the mall knowing that Conaway was missing from the group, according to authorities.

    “I had just talked to her two days before, and she was still the sister I knew,” said Lynn.

    “I can’t even comprehend what changed, what went on in those two days that would cause her to do this.”

    In the Disney World incident, a 2005 negligence lawsuit charged a “reckless” Ray pushed seminar attendee Diane Konopka to smash the board to “overcome . . . self-esteem issues.”
    Repeatedly unsuccessful, the “humiliated” and “extremely exhausted” Konopka felt “she had no choice” but to do what Ray demanded, the suit says.

    The guru settled in 2007 for an undisclosed sum.

    jeane.macintosh@nypost.com