Maher and Chachoua get taken apart

Last Friday, Maher hosted cancer quack and HIV fraud Samir Chachoua on his show for an embarrassingly credulous segment, in which he claimed to have cured Charlie Sheen’s HIV with goat’s milk. This weekend, Virginia Hughes quickly put up a good takedown, and now this morning, as I expected, Science-Based Medicine eviscerates Chachoua and Maher at length.

If there’s one person who is living proof that being an atheist has nothing to do with being a skeptic, it’s Bill Maher. Touting himself as being supremely rational in comparison to those “God botherers” and Republicans, Maher has himself embraced antivaccine pseudoscience, other cancer quackery, and general pseudoskepticism about “Western medicine.” Nor is this the first time he’s embraced HIV quackery, either. Indeed, I’ve been pointing out for more than a decade now just how much pseudoscience Maher embraces. Unfortunately, in some circles, that doesn’t seem to matter. For example, in 2009 Atheist Alliance International awarded Maher the Richard Dawkins Award, which was likened to Jenny McCarthy receiving a public health award.

So I suppose it’s not that surprising that Maher went full quack. I just never expected him to embrace so quacky a quack so credulously. My bad.

This is not the first time, it won’t be the last, and sadly, it will not harm his career as a self-proclaimed skeptic one little bit.


  1. davidnangle says

    An important thing to remember is, people of other ethnicity or skin color aren’t aliens… they’re the same as us. When you see them living in squalor, preying on each other, rioting, destroying, engaging in self-destructive behaviors–Just try to imagine what it would take to turn your family and your town into that. How bad would it have to be for this to seem like your only way to act?

    If you’ve got a good imagination, then you might start to realize what’s already been done to those people.

  2. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    seems Maher has taken “skepticism” where it was never intended, bordering on “denial-ism”. As in, skepticism is intended to keep questioning assertions to get more evidence supporting it, not to keep refusing to believe everything presented regardless of the evidence supporting it. Beyond even that is then using pseudo-skepticism to accept “discoveries” with anecdotal, flimsy, evidence.

  3. Sastra says

    Ah, Maher is such an ass. For a while after receiving the Dawkins Award (which was focused for him not on his science or “body of work,” but the movie Religulous) he lay encouragingly low on the alt med — but now he’s letting his freak flag fly proudly. I do wish he would invite Gorski on the show. Double dog dare.

  4. erichoug says

    These people are doing real harm in the world at large. Steve Jobs being the perfect example. His cancer had a 90% survival rate for people diagnosed when he was diagnosed. That of course assumes an immediate treatment regimen. Jobs instead took 9 months to go through all sorts of cancer quackery and holistic healing. Now he’s dead.

    So, had he just done what we know works, there is a pretty dang good chance he would be alive today and still rocking that black turtleneck. Instead, he listened to people like Samir Chachoua and now he’s dead.

  5. qwints says

    Another perfect example of how being right on atheism means nothing for being right on other subjects.

  6. says

    Bill Maher is one of those people who shouldn’t be such a big personality in the atheist movement, and certainly not the skeptic movement. Yes, he saw the problems with religion and turned against it, but all he really did is turn against ‘The Man’. He’s too lazy to actually do any research into any of his positions, he just rails against whoever he sees as authority figures.

  7. says

    Gorski AND Novella on the same show. That would be fun.

    It’s not going to happen, but if it did, it’d be bad because Maher would just play the two of them back and forth and maintain control of the discussion. Better would be Gorsky or Novella and keep it focused one-on-one. Maher’s too smart to allow any of that, though.

    When I see people on shows like this I assume it’s because some PR agent knew someone in someone’s operation and got them on the schedule. If Maher cares at all, he probably yelled at whoever schedules his interviews and is wondering who did what favor for whom. The talking head show industry is more about quid pro quo than it is about the benjamins, and it’s a lot about the benjamins.

    Remember: Maher is an entertainer. He’s not on ‘our’ ‘side’ – he’s trying to get ratings/eyeballs and keep his show lively and funny. He’s not there to teach skeptical thinking. Not for what he’s getting paid.

  8. andyo says

    Someone elsewhere mentioned in a comment how Maher never discusses this stuff when he has Dawkins (WAIT! stay with me here) or even Neil Tyson on. He knows what he’s doing and who to converse about this stuff with. The few times that I can remember that he’s been called out on his bullshit has been from unexpected sources, like Bob Costas on a panel, and of all people, Bill Frist about vaccines (though Frist by default was “the enemy”).

  9. andyo says

    BTW, Dr. Oz did invite Steven Novella on his show a long time ago (I didn’t watch it though). But what does it say when even Dr. Oz didn’t buy this quack’s (Sheen’s doctor) BS, and Maher did?

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    Dawkins, now Maher – isn’t it time for Harris to (re-)make a big ass of himself, just to keep up?

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

    Gorski and Novella, if invited to be on the same program, would probably coordinate things ahead of time, likely including scripts, maybe code phrases, and a certain amount of explicit “David, what do you think?” and “Steve, this of course connects to your recent post” to make it harder for the host to throw them off track.

    Yes, Maher could change the subject, but short of cutting the mike, it’s harder for the host to control things when he asks “Steve, here’s an unrelated and possibly loaded question” and gets “As David was just saying, $back_to_previous_topic.” I suspect Maher is canny enough to realize that host+two cobloggers as guests is a less controllable environment for him than a panel who basically agree facing one guest, and not do it.

  12. VP says

    It reveals how worthless the Richard Dawkins award is when one of it’s winner is less skeptical than Charlie Sheen.