This is low

Oh, look what’s on the pharmacy shelves! It’s “medicine” for cute little babies! Everyone loves babies, and we want them to gurgle and coo and be happy, so when their widdle tummies make them cranky, we give them a little medicine to make them feel better.

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Only…Brauer is marketing homeopathic “medicine” to kids — it’s not going to do anything. Those colicky babies are going to suffer and continue to cry and cry and cry, and the only change will be that Brauer will be a little richer.

Brauer profits off the pain of children, and offers nothing in return.

If you use advertising that exploits our susceptibility to sympathize with cute smiling babies, there ought to be some kind of backlash against them when it’s discovered that they are abusing those babies.

The heroic Andy Wakefield

The New York Times has a long profile of Andrew Wakefield. It’s not at all laudatory (read the last paragraph in particular), but it does include quotes from people who regard Wakefield as a hero…and even something more.

“To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one,” says J. B. Handley, co-founder of Generation Rescue, a group that disputes vaccine safety. “He’s a symbol of how all of us feel.”

Handley, of course, is a certifiable kook and an awful excuse for a human being. I am amused that he sees Wakefield as a Jesus, though; there doesn’t seem to be much self-sacrifice in Wakefield’s past or any prospect of martyrdom in his future. Jesus did say “suffer the little children,” though, which we can quotemine to apply appropriately to these promoters of childhood mortality.

After reading about callous fraud Wakefield, though, you need some context. How about this?

Europe, especially France, has been hit by a major outbreak of measles, which the U.N. health agency is blaming on the failure to vaccinate all children.

The World Health Organization said Thursday that France had 4,937 reported cases of measles between January and March — compared with 5,090 cases during all of 2010. In all, more than 6,500 cases have been reported in 33 European nations.

“This is a lot of cases, to put it mildly. In past years we’ve had very few cases,” said Rebecca Martin, head of WHO’s office in Copenhagen for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization.

“There’s been a buildup of children who have not been immunized over the years,” she said. “It’s almost like a threshold. When you have enough people who have not been immunized, then outbreaks can occur.”

Wakefield’s body count is much higher than Jesus’s or Mandela’s.

Stop drinking that fake water!

The world is full of people selling products that are nothing but advertising, like those silly “power balance” bracelets that do not give you either power or balance. Add another one to the list: Real Water. Did you know that going through a pipe strips water of its electrons? That lots of the foods we eat are lacking electrons? Well, Real Water is good for you because it adds extra electrons! The Guardian has an excellent take-down of their claims.

Now the real question is whether an expose by some science nerd will outweigh celebrity endorsements by Paul Oakenfold, Melanie Brown, and Chad Kagy. Anyone want to take any bets on whether Real Water will collapse into bankruptcy now that their fraud is revealed? Nah, not me either.

By the way, Real Water hates ORAC. No, not that one — the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Test, because they say it doesn’t do a good job of measuring how powerful Real Water with Electrons is at clearing free radicals.

Chiropractic will fix your junk DNA!

I’m really interested in DNA and genes and genetics, so I was of course attracted to this website that explains a lot of secret information about DNA. Did you know that all the problems in your life are caused by a misaligned DNA code? The author of this site, Tom OM, is a German chiropractor, and I guess it’s a short jump from cracking spines to aligning DNA, because he promises to fix everything in your life just by activating your DNA, whatever that means.

That site is just a teaser, though. You have to give them your name and email address, and then you get to read his seven part introduction to the science. How could I resist? I did it, so now you don’t have to, and I will spill the secrets right here.

What I discovered is that once I attune myself and awaken my DNA, the hidden secret functions of my junk DNA will be activated, and you will be able to “manifest anything you desired in your life, live a life without drama, create your ideal physical body, become immune to all dis-ease, and REVERSE the aging process.” Awesome.

And there’s more! We mundane people only use 2 strands of DNA, but we all have 12 strand DNA. Awesomer.

The six pairs of strands are called the 12-strand Spiritual DNA. In the 12-strand system, the first pair is physical and the other five pairs of strands are non-physical energy imprints in the human energy field.

1st Pair: governs the creation of all aspects of our physical body. It controls our genetic patterning, our physical body, our predisposition to certain health conditions, our aging process, our metabolism and much more.

2nd Pair: governs our emotional body. It creates and controls our genetic emotional profile as well as our predisposition to certain emotional conditions. For example, it governs our EQ (our emotional intelligence), determines whether we will be a type A or a type B personality and determines whether we will be introverted or extroverted.

3rd Pair: governs our mental body. It controls our genetic mental profile and determines whether our mental energy be directed toward logical, linear, rational thinking (as in a scientist or an engineer) or toward the intuitive, artistic expression. Furthermore, it controls whether we will be primarily optimistic or primarily pessimistic.

4th Pair: governs our soul. It controls our karmic patterning and our genetic soul profile. Karmic patterning refers to the karmic pre-conditioning that we have brought into this lifetime to work with and master. Specifically, it includes karmic wounds, issues or lessons that were not resolved or completed in past lifetime experiences and which will re-manifest in this lifetime to give us with an opportunity to resolve them.

Genetic soul profile governs our soul’s mission. It determines what soul level archetypal pattern we will have. For example will we be destined to be a leader, healer, builder, teacher, student, warrior, monastic, parent, etc? Furthermore, it contains a profile of the experiences we are to have, the wisdom we are to develop, the spiritual strengths we are to master, the service we are to provide to others and the path we are to take to find pure joy.

5th Pair: governs our soul cluster and controls the movement and timing of specific souls within a soul cluster to seek and find each other to the mutual fulfillment of their souls purpose.

6th Pair: governs all of creation and aligns your 12-strand DNA with the divine will.

Before you get too excited, though, realize that 10 of those strands have been de-activated. You have to turn them on. How, you ask? Wait, I say.

First you have to grasp our history.

As far as you know, we are on our way back to the creator. We were originally angelic beings, which out of some reasons and free will choices left our paradise to experience in the dense material world. In this evolutionary process of going back to God/Creator through cycles the human race was at several times in a high developed state of multidimensional consciousness – like Atlanteans – but was unplugged from their power through dark alien forces called Annunaki (Gods of the Sumerians) which intended to gain and maintain their power. So they first decided to do a genetic manipulation, which created the split brain. This separated the analytical part of a person’s reasoning from their intuitive, emotional part and the problems associated from this can still be seen today. They then unplugged 10 of the 12 strands of DNA but left them there. Some of this is the chemical DNA that science calls “junk” DNA, the DNA that is just sitting there inside your cells, the other is the etheric DNA that exists in higher harmonics of frequency that you can’t see with the naked eye. Once the 10 etheric strands of DNA were unplugged, humans that would come after this would have a terrible time deciphering thought. So these beings that called themselves gods then introduced language. Language separated tribes and peoples. Think of how much easier life would be if there was only one universal language! And so, humans started having to have verbal commands to understand and perform certain tasks and this is still very apparent to this day. Look at how the militaries of the world accomplish this with “orders”. The next decision was to change the humans’ DNA structure to suppress psychic abilities and make the unconscious mind almost unavailable. So the 10 DNA strands were unraveled and implants were placed in the etheric bodies to keep the strands from re-fusing. The strands were also disconnected from the endocrine system in the physical body which stopped the creation of a chemical which activates the pituitary, pineal, and hypothalamus glands. Thus, these glands have since shrunken from non-use, and scientists can’t figure out what they are used for. This is why most people currently only use less than 10% of their brain. Only a few individuals retained the use of these glands in future generations – these individuals carried the special gene that makes them natural psychics, mystics, or shamans. The general population of mankind was left with the ability to activate the glands and 10 DNA strands, but only if they were dedicated and aware of how to do it. And this is what DNA Activation Power does – re-activates these DNA strands so a person can realize their true genetic potential and original blueprint. And activating your DNA will also enable you to finally have 100% brain utilization. It’s a very interesting history – that of humankind, and I encourage you to experience the knowledge through your own diligent research. Our race was not only affected by genetic tampering and experimentation but was also almost totally decimated by distortions in the planetary grids. You see, the Earth is a living organism as well and brings in energy from Source just like any living organism or planetary structure. We as humans living on the Earth, can only bring into our bodies the frequencies that Earth can bring in from Source. If the Earth’s grids are damaged, then every life form living on Earth will have a damaged DNA template. Planetary grid distortions of the 3470 BC “Babble-on” Massacre caused mutation in the human DNA template that shortened human life span, blocked higher sensory perception, caused loss of race memory, and scrambled our original language patterns, which are built upon DNA fire letter sequencing. Our race has been amnesiac, dying young, and “babbling on” in rhetorical conflict ever since. This historical event was recorded as the biblical “Tower of Babel” story.

We stupid scientists have no idea what the pineal, pituitary, ahd hypothalamus do, you know, and we use less than 10% of our brains and only 3% of our DNA. So we need to use all that power, somehow.

How you ask, how? Well, now I would tell you, except I don’t know. I have to buy some CDs first. When you give your name and email address, this is what you get: a list of CDs you can buy to attune your DNA and become a higher being. So the cost of switching on my DNA is, and I’m just listing the CD prices here, $39 + $49 + $69 + $89 + $99 + $111 + $33 + $19, or $508. I have this vague suspicion that if I actually ordered all of those CDs, there would be a few others that would suddenly appear, demanding the attention of my wallet and my activated DNA.

I’m stupid and unenlightened. I just can’t cough up that much cash, even if it does magically turn on my junk DNA.

Can prayer help surgery?

The American Journal of Surgery has published a transcript of a presidential address titled, “Can prayer help surgery?“, and my first thought was that that was absolutely brilliant — some guy was roped into giving a big speech at a convention, and he picked a topic where he could stand up, say “NO,” and sit back down again. If he wanted to wax eloquent, maybe he could add a “Don’t be silly” to his one word address.

But a reader sent me a copy of this paper, and I was wrong. The author spent four pages saying “Yes”. It flies off to cloud cuckoo land in the very first sentence, which compares prayer to “chemotherapy and radiation as adjuvant therapies to surgery, working synergistically to cure cancers”, and then justifies it by pointing out that patients do internet searches for alternatives to surgery, and prayer is a popular result. So, right there in the first paragraph, we get the Argument from Extravagant Assertion and the Argument from Google. It’s not a good start.

This was given at a professional conference, though, so he has to talk about the data, and this is where it starts getting funny. He explains that there sure have been a lot of prayer studies lately, 855 in the past 15 years, and with 46 prospective randomized series in the Cochrane database, which he summarizes succinctly:

Equal healing benefit has been demonstrated whether the prayer is Hindu or Buddhist, Catholic or Protestant, Jewish or Muslim.

That’s the way to spin the data into something positive. Unfortunately, this is the happy peak of his foray into actually looking at the data, putting a cheerful universalist twist on the actual results, which he later grudgingly admits are non-existent. When they all show no benefit, that is equal benefit, after all.

Can medical science prove the benefit of prayer to im- prove the result of an operation? I refer you to the latest Cochrane review on this topic.5 This 69-page manuscript is a meta-analysis of 10 prospective randomized studies on intercessory prayer to help the efforts of modern medicine involving over 7,000 patients. Some studies in this meta- analysis showed benefit, while others did not. The conclusion of the authors was that there is no indisputable proof that intercessory prayer lowers surgical complications or improves mortality rates.

That’s the point where he should have stopped and stood down. The science has answered his question, and the answer is no. Unfortunately, this admission is at the top of page two, and he’s going to go on and on. He rants that the studies all basically suck — there can’t be good controls, people would pray for themselves, they didn’t check how devout the prayers were, and of course, that most excellent catch-all refutation, “What happens when the outcome being prayed for is not in accord with the will of God?”

The paper can be summarized so far as an argument that prayer helps because there have been a lot of studies on it, and those studies all show equal benefit, but that benefit is zero, and the studies are all bad science. How can his thesis be saved? Oh, I know: needs more anecdotes.

There is no indisputable proof that prayer can aid in healing. Those who believe do so by faith alone. I’ve seen the power of prayer work together with surgery many times firsthand. An example of this was witnessing my father-in-law miraculously survive an aortic arch dissection, outliving his surgeon by 20 years.

Wait, what? The family prayed, a skilled surgeon saved the patient, so prayer works? And also, from this one story, shouldn’t we just as reasonably conclude that prayer kills surgeons?

The rest of the paper is empty noise about how many patients want to pray and how it makes them feel better emotionally, and how the author is wonderfully open and supportive in praying with his patients. Meandering over the field of anecdote and citing his patients’ wishful thinking does not rescue his premise from the pit of rejection, I’m afraid; the only accurate answer to the question of whether prayer helps in surgery is “No, but people like to think it does.” It certainly doesn’t justify the author’s conclusion.

So, have I answered the question, “Can prayer help surgery?” While there is not conclusive scientific proof that prayer improves surgical outcomes, it certainly can help
relax an anxious preoperative patient and may help enhance the relationship between patient and surgeon. A surgeon must be comfortable with prayer to offer it. Professionalism can be maintained provided the prayer is offered in a non- confrontational manner and reflects the spirituality of the patient. Surgeons who want the best for their patients need to utilize every tool available, and to quote one of my patients, “Prayer is a powerful tool.”

Nah. Let me add a better quote: “The author is a powerful fool.” If he actually escaped unscathed from this address without being splattered by flung rubber chicken and puddin’ cups, my opinion of surgeons will be shattered.


Schroder DM (2011) Presidential Address: Can prayer help surgery? The American Journal of Surgery 201:275-278

The Brits are going to be insufferable for a while

I can tell. It’s coming. A royal heir has gotten engaged to some young woman, and there will be one of those royal weddings, and the sentimental argle-bargle in the British media will soar to new heights of fatuousness. I’ll miss most of it, fortunately, but I pity everyone in the United Kingdom who’s going to have to suffer with the royal romanticism for a while.

At least this time the Telegraph has set the bar for stupidity abysmally low, and I have no idea how anyone else willl sink lower (the fun will be in the trying, I’m sure). Someone has found a jelly bean that looks like Kate Middleton.

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I don’t know what this means. Even the candy-making machines in jelly bean factories are infatuated with tabloid press stories about the imminent wedding, and are pressing their obsessions into sugar and gelatin? Kate’s visage is so potent that speckles and spots are spontaneously rejiggering themselves to conform? Or, perhaps, credulous idiots are rife in both the public and tabloid editorial rooms?

I suggest that The Telegraph document this novel property of random dots and send a reporter/photographer to the nearest sewage treatment plant and gaze adoringly into the feculent froth until more detailed images of connubial Windsorness bubble to the surface.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia time

I have an excuse to visit Philadelphia this May: I’ll be attending the Friggatriskaidekaphobia party that Margaret Downey will be putting on on Friday, the 13th of May, along with Tom Flynn.

Meet Tom Flynn, along with PZ Myers, at the Freethought Society (FS)’s 2011 Anti-Superstition Bashon Friday, May 13, 2011 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM in the beautiful Corinthian Yacht Club on 300 West 2nd Street, Essington, PA (just minutes from the Philadelphia Airport). FS will host a “Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center,” which will be equipped to assist party attendees in getting over all their superstitions and starting the process of ending magical thinking. Enjoy food, dancing, drinking and camaraderie.

Get rid of your secret superstitions! Anti-superstition “nurses” and “doctors” will be on hand to cure you. Enjoy a DJ Dance Party featuring Ladder Limbo, Horoscope Trashing, Open-Your-Umbrellas, fast and slow dances, Mirror Breaking Ceremony, and more! Cash bar and free hors d’oeuvres, door prizes and free educational literature will be available!

The general admission (includes light fare) is $10 with $5 discounts available for students and seniors. Cash bar only. No BYOB. There is no charge for children under the age of 13. The Club is located at 300 West 2nd Street, Essington, PA 19029.

If you will be attending, please email tickets@FtSociety.org.

I’m a little worried about the dance party business, though. I think seeing me dance would be bad luck.

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I hope there will be many Philadelphians in attendance!

CONvergence and SkepChickCon

I’m giving you advanced warning: the awesome science fiction convention, CONvergence, will be taking place in Bloomington, Minnesota on 30 June-3 July. You should go. Really. It will be fun, and I’m always telling atheist activists to go to a few science fiction conventions — they have mastered the art of being inclusive, interesting, diverse, and interactive. Even if you aren’t an SF fan, go to one and study the mechanics, they work.

CONvergence has another distinction, in that the Skepchicks have attached themselves leechlike to the larger con to run a skeptics’ track. So yes, you should go for the fun parties attended by strange people in exotic costumes and the panel discussions on how to survive Zombie Armageddon, but you can also sit in on entertaining and educational sessions on critical thinking and science.

Go forth and register now.