Newage sewage flushed into the Atlantic

The Atlantic published a rather contemptible apologetic for alternative quackery titled “The Triumph of New-Age Medicine, which basically declared victory for the altie wackaloons. The way it did this was devious, and reminded me so much of creationist tactics. First, it declares that “mainstream medicine itself is failing”; it doesn’t really have any evidence of this, it just declares that modern medicine is built around the infectious disease model, and that it hasn’t solved all health problems. Familiar stuff, hey? If a science can’t explain every jot & tittle of every detail of every phenomenon, if there are still open questions and problems, why, it must be wrong!

Secondly, it portrays the altie quacks as nice, caring, sweet people who really, really care about their patients, and their ‘treatments’ as, at worst, totally harmless. Referring to one peddler of holistic care, the author says “Concerns of outright malpractice or naked hucksterism seem grossly misplaced when applied to a clinic like Berman’s.” Why? Because Berman is “gentle” and “upbeat” and has a pleasant demeanor. As everyone apparently knows, con artists must always be rude and pushy and arrogant and nasty and alienating. Oh, wait…no, they’re the opposite of that.

And then, thirdly, is the sly substitution. We’re finding that the best way to manage chronic illnesses like heart disease is with life-style changes that improve nutrition, physical condition, and overall well-being, and reduce the underlying causes. So what does this article do? It credits all that good common sense to the quacks who promote reiki and acupuncture and exotic herbs. You know what my traditional, mainstream, hidebound doctor of real world medicine first prescribed for me at those early signs of heart disease? Changes in diet and more exercise. She didn’t seem to think I needed homeopathic placebos in order to do something that would make a difference.

It was an infuriatingly dishonest article. Now Steven Salzberg, who was also quoted in it, has gotten a good rebuttal published in the Atlantic, and has also been interviewed on MPR on the subject.

I know that when I go to see a doctor, I want to see a commitment to figuring out what works. I am not at all impressed if they’re pushing fraudulent pseudoscientific BS into my treatment, no matter how sweet and smiley and sensitive they are. A good bedside manner is important, but it’s no substitute for incompetence.

From the land of Hume

Edinburgh will be hosting Skeptics on the Fringe in August — three solid weeks of skeptical events. Danger! All of your illusions will be scoured away, the flamethrower of reason will turn all your generous delusions to ash, the bones of reality will be unclothed and exposed…I expect people will come staggering out of Scotland at the end of August with eyes like lasers, burning with the unholy light of truth unmasked. Someone might want to alert the local fire department.

Starting them young

As one of those geezers in his grey, tired, wizened 50s, I’m torn between the cranky get-offa-my-lawn attitude and a patronizing bless-their-little-hearts when I see all these young’uns romping about at meetings nowadays. And the internet is even worse: look, it’s a literate 13 year old atheist and a hardnosed 16 year old skeptic!

I’m going to have to combine my views — it gets easier as senility looms — and kick their little hearts around on my lawn, I guess.

Those weren’t aliens! They were communist-Nazi mutants!

Author Annie Jacobsen has a new book that finally reveals the truly true truth about the so-called UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico. And here is the answer: Roswell Martians May Have Been Deformed Nazi Kids Sent by Stalin.

It explains so much.

The craft, she writes, wasn’t an alien spaceship, as many have since theorized, nor was it a weather balloon, as the U.S. military alleged in its clumsy cover story. It was, according to Jacobsen, a Nazi-inspired Soviet spy plane with Cyrillic letters embossed on the hull, crewed by malformed adolescents, two of whom survived the crash.

Stalin used captured Nazi aircraft designs to build the plane, according to Jacobsen. She says he had Mengele provide surgically altered “grotesque child-sized aviators” who were supposed to climb out of the aircraft and be mistaken for visitors from Mars — to sow the kind of confusion in the U.S. created by Orson Welles’s 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast.

Of course! Why didn’t I think of this before?

This “revelation,” such as it is, will no doubt gratify those who already suspected as much.

I…wait. I was being sarcastic. Really. This can’t actually have been an explanation with widespread currency, could it? I mean, I’ve seen the photos of the “wreckage”.

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It doesn’t look like a crashed interstellar spaceship, but it also doesn’t look like a top-secret Nazi Wunderwaffen, either. It sort of looks like tattered scraps of a weather balloon.

Australians are going to be insufferable

I can tell it’s going to be even worse than usual. They’re going to have another Global Atheist Convention, which I predict will be even bigger and more successful than the first one, and now I’m getting requests to plug other skeptical events in Melbourne, as if the kangaroos and drop-bears who will attend that sort of thing need even more recognition of their ungodly superiority over us gullible Americans.

It’s going to be a long 11 months, isn’t it? And even when it’s over, Oz will be smirking in that superior way over how they were able to pull off such a grand event.

Hey! How about if some of the smart Aussies come over here? All we ever get are the dregs.

Don’t let me down, Philadelphians

You know I’m coming to the big city in less than two weeks, right? I’ll be at the Anti-Superstition Bash on Friday, May 13, 2011 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM at the Corinthian Yacht Club, in Essington, PA. You know you want to go, if for nothing else for the snooty thrill of being able to tell your friends you have an engagement at the Yacht Club to attend that evening.

I’ll do my best to dispel any bad luck you might be experiencing right now, replacing it instead with chance events.