Witch-Doctors on display

There is an organization in the UK called the Christian Medical Fellowship. OK, no problem, you might think — nothing wrong with Christian fellowship, nothing wrong with doctors who go to church or pray together. But you’d be wrong. Religion poisons everything. This is what the 4000 members of that organization talk about: demons.

The New Testament tells us that Jesus has commissioned us to ‘drive out demons’ (Mk 16:17), and we must be ready to respond to this commission if and when we are called to do so.

Psychiatry, then, is not the only domain within which we need to be aware of demonic influence, and perhaps it is not even the most important such domain. Furthermore, we cannot expect to make a simple differential diagnosis according to certain signs or symptoms of demonisation. However, this does not exclude the need to consider other possible links between demonic activity and mental illness.

Demon possession and mental illness, then, are not simply alternative diagnoses to be offered when a person presents with deliberate self harm or violent behaviour, although they may need to be distinguished in such circumstances, whether by spiritual discernment or the application of basic psychiatric knowledge. It would seem reasonable to argue that demon possession may be an aetiological factor in some cases of mental illness, but it may also be an aetiological factor in some non-psychiatric conditions, and in other cases it may be encountered in the absence of psychiatric or medical disorder.

How about some truth in advertising: I suggest they change their name to Christian Witch-Doctor Fellowship. I would not want to go to a doctor to discover that he would diagnose depression as possession, or that an ulcer was demonic.

Unfortunately, the US has its own national quack, Dr Oz. The New Yorker has an excellent exposé of Oz.

“I want to stress that Mehmet is a fine surgeon,” Rose said, as he did more than once during our conversation. “He is intellectually unbelievably gifted. But I think if there is any criticism you can apply to some of the stuff he talks about it is that there is no hierarchy of evidence. There rarely is with the alternatives. They have acquired a market, and that drives so much. At times, I think Mehmet does feed into that.”

At times? The man uses his bully pulpit to endorse destructive quacks, and peddles snake oil himself. I don’t care if he is a fine cardiac surgeon; he operates, presumably with high competence, on one patient a week, and then misleads millions.

There are many legitimate and articulate opponents of genetically modified products and, for that matter, of conventional medicine itself. But Oz has consistently chosen guests with dubious authority to argue those positions. Joseph Mercola, an osteopath, runs mercola.com, one of the most popular alternative-health Web sites in the country. Oz has described Mercola as a “pioneer in holistic treatments,” and as a man “your doctor doesn’t want you to listen to.” This is undoubtedly true, since Mercola has promoted such alleged experts as Tullio Simoncini, who claims that cancer is a fungus that can be cured with baking soda. Mercola has long argued that vaccines are dangerous and that they even cause AIDS. When Oz says that Mercola is “challenging everything you think you know about traditional medicine and prescription drugs,” it’s hard to argue. “I’m usually earnestly honest and modest about what I think we’ve accomplished,” Oz told me when we discussed his choice of guests. “If I don’t have Mercola on my show, I have thrown away the biggest opportunity that I have been given.”

It’s bizarre. He thinks his position within the bona fide medical profession means he now has a responsibility to open the door to frauds. It makes no sense…until you discover that the man doesn’t have the slightest understanding of science.

I was still puzzled. “Either data works or it doesn’t,” I said. “Science is supposed to answer, or at least address, those questions. Surely you don’t think that all information is created equal?”

Oz sighed. “Medicine is a very religious experience,” he said. “I have my religion and you have yours. It becomes difficult for us to agree on what we think works, since so much of it is in the eye of the beholder. Data is rarely clean.” All facts come with a point of view. But his spin on it—that one can simply choose those which make sense, rather than data that happen to be true—was chilling. “You find the arguments that support your data,” he said, “and it’s my fact versus your fact.”

Millions worship this guy, and watch his show religiously for medical advice. But his story is to simply throw away evidence-based reasoning.

I told Oz that I was aware of no evidence showing that Reiki works. He cut in: “Neither am I, if you are talking purely about data. But this is one of the fundamental disconnects between Western medicine and what people often refer to as complementary medicine. Not everything adds up. It’s about making people more comfortable. I offer things like massage therapy, and offered Reiki if people wanted it. I did not recommend it, but I let people know it was their choice.”

Please. Give me medical treatments that are backed up by data, rather than ones that make Dr Oz feel good.


  1. says

    I just returned from a 5 week holiday in South Africa. A Reverend and his family whom I stayed with believed in such demonic possession. His wife had gangrene at the age of 36, and he thought she just needed “prayer” to get the demons out, and wouldn’t take her to the doctors.
    I visited witch doctors. Since “most” illnesses get better on their own, the power of positive thinking and the placebo effect can be very powerful. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for diabetes, HIV, epilepsy or cheating husbands.

  2. DLC says

    Demonic Possession. I’m trying to wrap my brain around the idea that modern medical doctors, people who’re supposed to be trained in the scientific practice of medicine, believe in Fucking Demonic Possession. But then, they also believe that the first woman ate fruit from the wrong tree. The only tree in Eden that Gawd said eat not of. Witch-doctors. Spare me.

  3. davidct says

    Judging by the widespread acceptance of alternative medicine by supposedly educated people, Dr. OZ and professionals like him are doing considerable harm. We now have homeopathic remedies in every major pharmacy with even flu meds for children. This is as if different doses of nothing were meaningful. Many people want more control over their own health care. This could be a good thing if it were not for such blatant misinformation. Adding demons into the mix just makes a bad situation worse.

  4. says

    Now here’s a very weird statement, to paraphrase: “I know of no evidence, IF you’re talking about data.” Data is essentially a synonym for information, or more precisely I suppose verified facts. There’s quite a bit of ontology behind that — the creation of categorical definitions, measurement, the logic of verification, all that jazz — but it’s hard to imagine what “evidence” could exist without “data.” The assertion is almost psychotic.

  5. says

    According to an article I read several years ago the number of exorcists employed by the Catholic Church in Italy has actually gone up massively over the last couple of decades. So it’s not just the fundies who go for that kind of stuff, even the much more friendly to modern science religious types do as well.

    Like Oprah it’s not hard to suspect Dr. Oz might be less than honest about alternative medicine. You don’t build the kind of empire she has, and Oz has been doing in her wake, if you’re easily duped by fakes and con men.

  6. katenrala says

    Back when I as spending 10 months with my Father and Aunt, and being abused for those ten months, my Cousin, daughter of my abusive Aunt visited, and as they are both alt-med quacks they attacked me for my cancer.

    It was my fault I had cancer you see, I’m taking chemicals (chemo) and more chemicals (to fight the side effects of chemo and the pain from cancer) and they argued repeatedly that it wouldn’t hurt if I just quit my treatments and take all natural holistic shit and homeopathic medicines. These people both listen to Dr. Oz and Oprah and their guests uncritically as well as read quack alt-med websites. The thing is though, it would hurt, a lot, and these kinds of people are dangerous because every now and then they get others to believe them.

    I tried to explain how the various chemo I take works and how everything that is and everything we are is made up of chemicals, like our cell walls, our DNA, our organelles, our neurotransmitters but apparently my cousin who is my age and presumably got the same education I did failed chemistry and biology if she ever took those classes. Both made a big deal about “natural” things vs. chemicals and it makes me think that alt-med people have their own special vocabulary since they twist words around so much.

    They got heavily on my chase for sipping a Dr. Pepper while they both were slamming back glass after glass of wine, 4-5 full glasses each. When I pointed out to them what ethanol in wine metabolizes into before te liver can clean it out, and how many free radicals it creates, they completely denied their was any ethanol in their wine cause ethanol is one of the poisonous alcohols in their mind even it is in fact the only edible alcohol, and then the just denied it and said wine was just merely grape juice. Bull. Bull-Shit.

    Then when I asked them if they were hypothetically dying of organ failure from alcohol wouldn’t they want my love and compassion and for to do what I can to make them comfortable rather than victim blame them, they told me they’d rather get victim blamed, which I think is a lie and their little excuse to harass me.

    And “victim blame” is some “cute” word I made up to them. >:(

    My cousin is also extremely cruel to her German-Shepard. He tore his ACL and she did nothing in the 5 day window there is to fix it. I wish I had the guts at the time to call animal control. I plan on sending her a letter, along with one to my aunt, explicitly not inviting them to my services and once I get my cousin’s address I am going to call animal control on her. I hope she didn’t put the dog down by now for her mistakes.

    I really hate alt-med types, they have only he wrong answers but insist they know more about other people’s diseases than those peoples doctors, and believe there is a conspiracy to keep people sick by western medicine when the only conspiracy is the one that tells them western medicine will kill you.

  7. says

    Can’t say for sure what Oz believes between teevee shows, but con artists generally have to believe their own bullshit on some level in order to be effective.

  8. katenrala says

    I think the “just world phenomenon” plays a major role with alt-med people. They can’t accept the bad thing happen to some for completely random and spontaneous reasons.

  9. says

    Sort of OT: I happen to be in London this week, and I just walked back to my hotel via a route near Leicester Square. I passed a Baptist church. A Baptist fucking church! As is my habit, I gave it the middle finger salute as I walked by. Nothing good can come from American biblical literalist sects spreading to Europe. Perhaps I need to up my game and start mooning these churches instead?

  10. says

    Jeezus Keereist, katenrala. I am so sorry you’re dealing with these awful people on top of all you’re going through, and hope you have the support and love from others that you need and deserve. Perhaps we should sic the Witch Doctors on them? Alternatively, I would happily moon them on your behalf. My ass is perfectly “natural.”

  11. ChasCPeterson says

    Perhaps by “driving out demons” the apostle was refering to obstetrics?

    That same verse of Mark, by the way, is the source of the whole ‘speaking in tongues’ phenomenon, and the very next one is the taking-up-serpents thing as well as the concept of faith-healing. Lots of batshit behavior tracable to a single sentence!

  12. twosheds1 says

    My mom watches Oz every day, and, even living on her meager pension and Social Security, wastes her money on the crap that he suggests. And she still has cancer.

  13. Scr... Archivist says

    @11 irisvanderpluym,

    You may want to look into the origins of the Baptists before too long.

  14. says

    One reason I stayed in the Catholic church for so long was that I kept finding pastors who were very scientifically minded. I remember clearly one sermon where the priest talked needing to interpret the bible from a modern viewpoint. He cited the story about Jesus “casting out devils” and how the outward symptoms of the “possessed” people were remarkably similar to epilepsy. His conclusion was that Jesus was just being a healer and healing these people of their epilepsy (or similar neural disorder), but the witnesses didn’t fully understand what was happening so they interpreted it as “casting out demons”.

    So for the longest time I thought rational Christians just didn’t believe in silliness like “demonic possession” (especially since, to me, demonic possession made no sense in light of the idea of free will — by removing free will via possession, doesn’t the demon negate the free will of the possessed, thereby invalidating any “sins” that the demon might force the possessed to commit?). So when I started reading outside my Catholic bubble and saw those “other” Christians talking about possession as if it were real, I felt superior, because Catholics were rational and didn’t believe in that stuff. And then I started meeting Catholics that believe in that stuff. That was when I really started to question things, and what really started me towards being an atheist.

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    Does exorcism by a Christian™ MD count as “alternative” or “allopathic” treatment?

  16. billyeager says

    They can’t accept the bad thing happen to some for completely random and spontaneous reasons.

    That’s because they don’t Katenrala. Well, according to a commenter on the ‘Demon Wrestling’ article at Charismamag.

    There is no sickness or torment or disorder of any kind from God, period. So if you have anything wrong at all affecting your life it is from the enemy

    See, it all makes sense now, no?

  17. says

    All facts come with a point of view. But his spin on it—that one can simply choose those which make sense, rather than data that happen to be true—was chilling. “You find the arguments that support your data,” he said, “and it’s my fact versus your fact.”

    Ken Ham could hardly have said it better. Funny how pseudoscientists from completely different domains and pushing radically different causes tend to wind up resorting to the same sort of epistemic relativism.

  18. Gnumann+, Radfem shotgunner of inhuman concepts says

    I’m a bit uncomfortable with the witch-doctor simile.

    Most genuine witch-doctors are merely trying to help with the knowledge-base they’ve got access to.

    This lot is far worse.

  19. Sastra says

    All facts come with a point of view. But his spin on it—that one can simply choose those which make sense, rather than data that happen to be true—was chilling. “You find the arguments that support your data,” he said, “and it’s my fact versus your fact.”

    Familiar, isn’t it? Creationists use the same damn argument: evidence is neutral, and people come in and apply the interpretations which fit into their “world view.” There’s no such thing as a compelling argument which is capable of convincing a skeptic to change their mind. No. People seek confirming evidence, see what they want to see — and this is the way it’s supposed to be. Don’t fight it: embrace it. Good people are drawn to the Truth and bad people run away from the Truth. “For those who believe no evidence is necessary; for those who don’t believe, no evidence is possible.”

    Faith. Faith that every belief is a matter of faith, with no checks and balances from critical inquiry, but just competing world views chosen on …. faith.

    Oz’s reasoning comes right out of religion and religious thinking. He even admits it explicitly:

    “Medicine is a very religious experience,” he said. “I have my religion and you have yours. It becomes difficult for us to agree on what we think works, since so much of it is in the eye of the beholder.”

    Being into liberal religion, Oz is trying to promote the spiritual smorgasbord approach to faith: choose what you need and leave the rest. What is right for one person, is not right for another. And, if push comes to shove and it becomes apparent that no, the religious belief can’t be factually true or technically correct, then who cares? If it provides comfort — even a delusional and temporary comfort — then that is good enough.

    Such thinking does not empower anyone. The good doctor here is practicing what I think of as maternalism: fib to the child in order to make them feel better, a metaphorical kiss on the scraped knee.

    Alternative medicine is riding triumphantly on the back of the cultural respect given to being a Person of Faith, having faith, respecting faith, respecting diversity in faith. Critical inquiry towards a universal consensus is smothered under the idea that there are many paths to truth, other ways of knowing, and special revelations and special snowflakes who have them. The real enemy is not any particular form of “extreme” alt med any more than it’s an “extreme” religion.

    Method, method, method. The underlying problem is the sloppy thinking that mixes up categories and fetishizes “choices” — and it’s fueled by the idea that faith is a virtue.

  20. loreo says

    I agree with Gnumann+, the term “witch doctor” is rooted in a thoughtlessly racist denigration of the spirituality, culture, and knowledge of brown folks. That racism certainly doesn’t grant demonic possession any legitimacy via white guilt, but maybe you could use a term like “wizard” which hasn’t been used to beat up the oppressed with images of bone-through-the-nose savages.

  21. loreo says

    Also, katenrala, that’s a motherfucker of a situation. I will certainly remember that story. So sorry you had to experience that.

  22. birgerjohansson says

    Katenrala, if -by emerging new medical treatments- your cancer can be cured, please feel free to move here to Scandinavia. You deserve to live in an asshole-free zone. We have some creeps, but they know their ways are not accepted by mainstream society.
    Hugs if you want them.

  23. birgerjohansson says

    Nomenclature: How about “Shamans For God”?
    “Vulcan Mind-melders for Jesus”?

  24. The Mellow Monkey says

    The thing that really troubles me about Dr. Oz and those he promotes is not the healthy, affluent people who flit from alternahealth fad to alternahealth fad. Those people have resources and will be able to seek out real medical care when it’s needed. They won’t starve without GMOs.

    But there are less affluent people who will. There are people who are seriously ill and are scared and will take baking soda instead of chemo. There are people who will have less access to things they need because now there’s “controversy”. And there will be people like my family who had poor access to medical care and rather than fighting to get it, accepted alternahealth claims that made it okay to just not get medical care.

    No immunizations, no dentist visits after the age of eight, no doctor visits after that point either, for that matter. That’s how I grew up and then when I would get sick time and time again, I’d be told that my illnesses had to be the result of negative thinking or that I somehow wanted to be sick. I was told to take echinacea instead of antibiotics, to take vitamins, to chew on garlic. And when none of it worked, it was my fault for wanting to be sick. Because that was so much easier than blaming it on poor parenting choices and the lack of money that led to them.

    The affluent who embrace this alternahealth crap are largely insulated from the results of their choices. They still have the option of getting actual medical treatment. They already have the benefit of a good diet and lower stress and all of the other health markers of affluence. It’s the poor and marginalized who lack those resources who are really hurt by this pixie dust “healthcare”. Those are the ones who, instead of having the choice to avoid GM foods, will just not have any.

  25. says

    “I have my religion and you have yours. It becomes difficult for us to agree on what we think works, since so much of it is in the eye of the beholder. Data is rarely clean.”

    There’s enough truth to that, especially in medical studies where placebos are often distinguishable from the “real thing,” and a bit of flim-flam can guide studies without anyone finding out. But that just gives us cause to be skeptical, not to choose whatever we want.

    Apparently he just takes the fact that there’s a lot of impure data as an excuse not to care at all about data or its purity.

    Anyhow, if the CMF wants a shill for its own recommendations to commit malpractice, there’s a good candidate.

    Glen Davidson

  26. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    I do have to say, a takedown of Dr. Oz with a guest appearance by Dr. Gorski is a fine way to start the morning. *raises coffee in salute*

  27. Sastra says

    @spamamander #32:

    “Guest appearance by Dr. Gorski?” Not in here … not yet, anyway. You need a second cup.

    Of course, Dr. Gorski doing a guest appearance on Dr. Oz’s show would be awesome. He values diversity and hearing other views? Well, then, prove it. If Oz doesn’t have Gorski (or Novella or Hall or any of the other SBM docs) on his show, then he will have thrown away the biggest opportunity he has been given.

  28. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    I guess I phrased that poorly. Dr. Gorski is quoted in the article. (I agree with you, that would be one HELL of a show if it happened!)

  29. Kevin Dugan says

    I think Sastra #22 hit it on the head. This is a colission between a culture of Faith and feelings vs a cutlure of Doubt and evidence. I can’t remember once in school being told doubt is good. That understanding reality comes with error bars and if you don’t see them, you’re being lied to.

    Our media and especially hollywood push faith all the time. And just look at the Anime culture the kids are now growing up on: While some are ok, most of them (Naruto, Digimon, Card captors, and endlessly etc.) just push “Just believe in yourself and you can do it”. How does this prepare them to live in a world full of woo?

    No! Hard work, analysis, preparation and using the right tools makes a much bigger difference. We need to be in schools, teaching skeptcism and critical thinking.

  30. neutrinosarecool says

    Modern efforts to treat mental illness seem pretty hopeless, regardless of the approach used – rather like the efforts to treat tuberculosis in the 19th century. The very existence of all the quackery supports this – nobody today goes to a faith healer or sanatorium if they’re diagnosed with TB or any other bacterial infection – they go and take antibiotics – effective unless they came down with a drug-resistant strain, which is ever more common these days (a phenomenon explained by evolutionary science, for example see prophylactic use of antibiotics in the hog/poultry industry).

    Mental illness often does not respond to available AMA-, FDA-approved treatments. Brain function is still relatively poorly understood at a biochemical level, and pharmaceutical therapy as well as psychotherapy are typically ineffective. Hence, the streets of US cities are full of the non-functional mentally ill, as anyone who looks can see. You also have your psychotic gun-toting types, as well as many more borderline-functional people who are treated (not cured) with large doses of antipsychotics and antidepressants, with all kinds of nasty side effects. The only current solution seems to be more sanatoriums for the mentally ill, which will at least get them off the streets and prevent some violent rampages.

    Point being, future generations will likely look at our efforts to treat mental illness today with the same disdain that we now look back on 19th-century efforts to combat infectious disease – western medicine is still just another kind of witch doctoring when it comes to treating these disorders.

  31. grumpyoldfart says

    I wouldn’t worry about it. The Governments in UK and US won’t allow the charlatans to put lives at risk. All this nonsense will be over by the end of the week. The politicians will not sit back and do nothing while their constituents are being misinformed.

  32. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    I feel obligated to point out that season three of digiomon had an arc where the lesion was “some mistakes are so big you can never make them right and some events are so traumatic you don’t come out strong you come out wounded” dark for a kids show but probably a better lesson. Be careful the first time because you can’t rely on everything turning out ok now matter how hard you work to fix it

  33. Tapetum, Raddled Harridan says

    It is a sad, but true, fact that many, if not the vast majority of physicians are not scientists, but rather technicians. They use the techniques they were taught, and they use whatever worked for the last patient they had that was sort of similar to the patient standing in front of them, regardless of the evidence or lack of evidence for the treatments. It’s one reason why it’s so bloody hard to get new techniques added to the repertoire of the average practicing physician, outside of new treatments where no treatments existed before. If you merely have a better treatment – well, they have this history of patients they made better with the old one, so what are all these studies to them?

    Daughter of an MD who was a researcher here, so rants on this subject were common mealtime conversation.

  34. katenrala says

    @ irisvanderpluym

    I’m living with my Mother again, and even if she sometimes pulls crap on me because she’s bipolar and won’t take her pills, I know that she loves me more than anyone and I trust her as my caregiver.

    @ billyeager

    I confronted my Abusive Aunt once when she stuck a camera or cell phone in my room and took a picture of me. Since she didn’t want to tell the truth, nor lie as she regards herself as a great “born again” Christian, though she refuses to name her sect; she instead screamed that I’m not allowed to talk to her “that way” (confront her on her actions and boundary violations), screamed that it was my bitterness causing my cancer, you know the bitterness cause by abuse, pulled a pair of scissors on me, ’cause one armed people sick with cancer are sooo dangerous, and yelled with her face two feet from my face “In the the name of God” over and over and over as if she were trying to exorcize a demon from me. Then she cried when I told her that invoking her stupid God was meaningless and cried that her God wasn’t stupid. Some all powerful deity she believes in if it needs her to defend it. :p

    I’m very certain she believes demons and devils walk the land, even though according to Christianity they are in hell and remain in hell for punishment.

    She also despises atheists and non het people but can’t stand to be called a bigot and always pushed her Focus on the Family newsletters on me even after I explained my sexual orientation to her and that I consider FotF a hate group.

    @ birgerjohansson

    I wish I was born in a country with better healthcare, but I’m ready to die now as I’ve accepted it. I found a 3rd tumor on my body today and it’s larger than the others that aren’t in my lungs. It was hiding under my left buttock.

    I just want treatments that take the worst of the pain away and to be made comfortable until the end. I doubt I could be cured at this point.

    @ loreo

    I was shocked at the treatment I received which started at day 1, when my Aunt asked me to fix her macbook, which I never used before as a strict pc desktop and laptop user, but a couple of hours later I fixed it and instead of a thank you she gave me a tirade about how I might be good at things, but she’s good at other things too. I think the all the abuse stemmed from her insecurities because she’s aware that I’m more accomplished than her, more educated than her, smarter than her, have more skills than her, and had goals in life whereas she just went were the wind blew her.

    I used to think my Aunt was nice but she completely betrayed me.

    I’d never did hold my advantages over her either, but her insecurity put her on attack mode all the time. She hated that I am a open and proud autistic, and she always demanded I act like an allistic NT; so when I wouldn’t she’d take cheap potshots at my Mother for “not raising me right.” She thought the dad from the parenthood tv show was a “great man” for forcing his autistic child (an actor faking autism) to do things he was absolutely not comfortable doing. Of course my Aunt has trouble telling the difference between fiction and reality anyway.

    Same with her daughter, when I presented her hypothetical situations where intent didn’t matter, but the harm did, after she said hurtful things I warned her well beforehand not to say, but ended with a “‘cuz I care about you” and told her flat out my examples were hypothetical, she completely missed the point and blamed me for causing those situations that never happened.

    @ The Mellow Monkey

    I’m so sorry. I hope your family didn’t cause you any permanent physiological or psychological damage. *hugs*

  35. unclefrogy says

    nihilist materialism
    that is what alt med and religious promoters are really promoting with their everyone has their own facts and it is about faith
    underneath all the bullshit and phoney rationalism they do not care if it is true or not because they are already dead anyway and they need money and power now.
    they do not have the excuse of being innocently ignorant they are engaged in actively denying reality for personal gain and/or personal aggrandizement.

    uncle frogy

  36. karmacat says

    I am a psychiatrist and I think Dr Oz should have his license revoked. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to happen. With mental illness people would rather believe it is due to demons rather than think there is something wrong with their brain. People are often afraid of mental illness.

    To neutinosarecool at 37: mental health treatment has made a lot of progress. The mortality from eating disorders has been reduced from 20% to 10%. ten percent is still unacceptable, but at least there is progress. We still need a lot more research. Medications do work for a lot of people. However, some people don’t get completely well, esp. When it comes to schizophrenia. The other problem is that not enough people can get therapy and therapy is helpful for problems that don’t respond to meds (such as relationship issues, personality problems, etc.). I just don’t want anyone to get the notion that nothing can help his or her mental illness. That just compounds the hopelessness that one often gets with mental illness

  37. raven says

    Psychiatry, then, is not the only domain within which we need to be aware of demonic influence, and perhaps it is not even the most important such domain.

    Demons are weak. If you don’t believe in them, they have no power at all over you.

    Whenever, I hear someone babbling on about demons, I wonder what century they are living in. They are as real as fairies, elves, the Easter Bunny, vampires, werewolves, Mickey Mouse, and for the same reasons. They are just fictional characters people made up.

  38. unclefrogy says

    I made a mistake in reading and what I meant was nihilist maternalism
    uncle frogy

  39. says

    Some of Dr. Oz’s intellectual failures stem from his association with the transcendental meditation movement.




    One of many thoughtful debunkings of claims made by transcendental meditation advocates, including some of the “research” Dr. Oz extolls: http://www.process.org/discept/2010/01/30/lies-levitation-and-defamations-most-foul/


    As Skeptico reports: “There were many problems with this experiment. One was that the murder rate rose during the period in question. Another was that Hagelin’s report stated violent crime had been reduced by 18% (in the film [What The Bleep Do We Know] he says 25%), but reduced compared with what? How did he know what the crime rate would have been without the TM? It was discovered later that all the members of the “independent scientific review board” that scrutinized the project were followers of the Maharishi. The study was pseudoscience: no double blinding, the reviewers were not independent, and the experiment has never been independently replicated. Hagelin deservedly won an Ig Nobel Prize in 1994 for this outstanding piece of work.”

  40. cyberCMDR says

    Ah, but maybe Reiki works because of Quantum! On the flip side, I imagine the quantum demons are the worst kind. You’re never certain if they’re there, or have tunneled someplace else….

  41. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    Like Oprah it’s not hard to suspect Dr. Oz might be less than honest about alternative medicine. You don’t build the kind of empire she has, and Oz has been doing in her wake, if you’re easily duped by fakes and con men.


    I’m not sure about that.

    Plenty of pretty stupid and unbelievably gullible people are very successful, especially as salespeople.

    Being gullible and stupid does not affect your ability to convince other gullible people. You may be end up as the victim of some scams yourself, but as long as you manage to sell, it will not endanger you very much.

  42. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    I think the “just world phenomenon” plays a major role with alt-med people. They can’t accept the bad thing happen to some for completely random and spontaneous reasons.

    There’s also the “It could happen to me, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it” denial syndrome.

    They deal with that inevitable fact of life by pretending that whatever magic ju-ju they’re involved in will protect them, and when someone they know is on the same magic ju-ju falls sick, they’ll say that person wasn’t really into said magic ju-ju, or was doing it wrong.

    This isn’t about them helping sick people, it’s about sparing their own anxious fee-fees.