Christian Medical Comment – A Doctor Writes…

I stumbled across this site whilst checking out my Twitter stream the other day, and thought I’d share these “20 Questions Atheists Struggle To Answer”. I would point out that I do consider myself an atheist, and had no problem answering these questions.

1.What caused the universe to exist?
The Big Bang explanation is as good as any, as is the idea of a continuously existing, by oscillating universe. God(s)come from where and why?

2.What explains the fine tuning of the universe?
Our universe is the way it is because of the so-called fine tuning. If constants were different, it would be a different one (like the parallel universes to our own)

3.Why is the universe rational?
Is it really that rational? It certainly helps if it is predictable, otherwise how could we function day-to-day.

4.How did DNA and amino acids arise?
With the right basic elements and right conditions, they are likely to occur, as experiments show (as a trained scientist I’m surprised you have to ask this one)

5.Where did the genetic code come from?
Similar answer to 4. The successful code is the one that survived to today. It’s called evolution.

6.How do irreducibly complex enzyme chains evolve?
See 5.

7.How do we account for the origin of 116 distinct language families?
The early human race spread out from Africa far and wide. Isolated communities will develop their own local communication systems and languages, as is seen by variants of contemporary main-stream languages such as French and Dutch. There are still certain overlaps in word derivation within those 116 language families.

8.Why did cities suddenly appear all over the world between 3,000 and 1,000BC?
Presumably, as local populations increased in size and success, their villages became towns, then towns grew into cities. Obvious really.

9.How is independent thought possible in a world ruled by chance and necessity?
The world has a great deal of order and predictability, as seen by science. Independent thought is something that a vast number of sentient being show, as well as ‘pack’ behaviour.

10.How do we account for self-awareness?
It just is, therefore needs no further explanation. It is a development of high levels of sentience – that we know we have. Do other creatures have it? Perhaps.

11.How is free will possible in a material universe?
How is anything possible in a material universe? It clearly is, because we have it and the universe is still here (energy, matter, antimatter, dark matter, dark energy, etc. This is probably your stupidest question.

12.How do we account for conscience?
Perhaps we don’t need to, as it has developed from increased levels of sentience and the need to work together for mutual support and survival.

13.On what basis can we make moral judgements?
By judging what seems fair and reasonable, based on how we think others would like to be treated. Not a perfect system, but better that using Bronze Age made up rules, alleged to be handed down verbally to illiterate goatherds.

14.Why does suffering matter?
It is better for all creatures that suffering does not happen. By definition, it’s not very nice. Some would argue, that some humans become more caring if they have experienced suffering.

15.Why do human beings matter?
In many ways, they don’t as far as the Earth, Solar System or the Universe is concerned. Those three systems can continue without us.
As far as life on this planet, we do matter as we have (and continue to have) a wide ranging effect on our surroundings and the life of many creatures. As far as we are concerned, we do feel humans matter, as we are the one debating the matter!

16.Why care about justice?
It’s about projecting that same idea onto ourselves. Injustice and unfairness generally upset reasonable humans, though many seem unable to apply it in certain circumstances, particularly in defense of self, family or tribe.

17.How do we account for the almost universal belief in the supernatural?
Pareidolia, plain and simple. The human brain has basic ‘hard-wiring’ to look/listen for patterns, especially if it means spotting food or predators. It’s what’s kept generations going for thousands of years. Our ancestors that saw the long grass rustling and always thought “danger”, so ran away, tended to survive more often than those that thought it was just the wind. The pessimists did sometimes feel foolish, but their genes were successfully passed on.
This also partly explains the myriad of conspiracy theorists that abound (9/11 ‘truthers’, UFO fanatics, ghost hunters, mystics and the religious).

18.How do we know the supernatural does not exist?
The burden of proof is the other way. As there has NEVER been any repeatable, scientific evidence for any supernatural entities or experiences, I would say the ball is in your court. The JREF has a million dollars if you can prove it.
BTW, Supernatural implies above/beyond nature. If so, it should not interact or be observed within nature, i.e. the whole Universe.So, if there were supernatural beings, it would be of no consequence to us I feel.

19.How can we know if there is conscious existence after death?
We can’t, because there is no evidence to show that there is. Nobody has come back or communicated  with the living. It is magical and wishful thinking. It will be like it was before we were born, nothing. It is hard to accept, but we aren’t children and we have to grow up. Make the most of what you have got now and not deceive yourself it will be better the next time around.

20.What accounts for the empty tomb, resurrection appearances and growth of the church?
Empty tomb – if it actually happened at all (and the Bible is not completely consistent in this story), then there could be lots of explanations.
Resurrection appearances – based on a series of stories written down at least 30 years after the event, probably didn’t happen as described. Also, don’t forget there are plenty of modern day mass hallucination stories.
Growth of the church – or should that be churches? Back to earlier comments really. Humans as pattern matchers, looking for answers to puzzles, ‘prophets’ making a name for themselves/money by inventing stories. Charismatic  speakers sway a few, once a core group is established, they have a bigger effect on the uneducated or ‘unenlightened’, and so it grows. Add in some rituals, communal singing, socializing, and being told you are special – Bob’s your uncle!

Next questions atheists struggle to answer?

Check the comments on his blog for yourself to see how hard it was for others. (http://pjsaunders.blogspot.co.uk)

A warning from the Psychic Community

Words fail me!

Weird Delusional Dishonest Tosh Y’know? Part 1

Please note: This is an opinion piece, though based on the best internet searches that money and time can buy. Do check the references for yourselves.

This is much harder than I thought! In my previous blog I commented on an email from What doctors Don’t Tell You magazine, and stated that I was about to review the current issue. Well, I’ve managed to get past the headlines on the cover, which include “Just in-case masectomy”, “The Big Cancer Cover-up” and “I said no to chemo and beat cancer”, and the ambulance chasers advert on page two.

Now came the the list of people involved in producing WDDTY. Let’s break it down:

Editors: Lynne McTaggart, Bryan Hubbard (husband of LM)

Managing Editor: Joanna Evans

Contributors: Dr Harald Gaier, Dr Rob Verkerk , Dr Patrick Kingsley, Dr Annemarie Colbin

Now, all of these names are new to me , except Lynne McTaggart, who I have previously read about and listened to. So, let’s start with her (as the magazine is basically her pet project)

Lynne McTaggart – An investigative journalist, with no/limited formal science education.Not medically trained. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynne_McTaggart. Her medical skills are such that she self diagnosed her own illness as being caused by “toxic yeast”. She is also repeatedly quoted (usually by herself and sympathetic other authors & web sites) as “award winning author” and “internationally recognized spokesperson”. It took me until page 22 of Google to find out which award it was – brace yourselves, it’s the prestigious 2008 Nautilus Award for Audio Books! Take a breath and relax. I know that was quite a shock for you, but there’s more. Initial searches show that the Nautilus Award is not for best shellfish study (though selfish could work here – more later), but a Polish Science Fiction and Fantasy award, which for technical reasons, did not award in 2008. So, I thought, gotcha! But not so fast, there’s more than one Nautilus Award, and here is the one she has a gong from (http://www.nautilusbookawards.com/Home.html). It “recognizes books that promote spiritual growth, conscious (sic) living and positive social change” Its alumni include such purveyors of rational thought, such as Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss (medical intuitive and a mystic), Elizabeth Lesser (former midwife and co-founder of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies) and Gail Straub (co-director of the Empowerment Institute). There are others in the list, some of whom I am sure are more or less worthy of such an award.

Bryan Hubbard – A journalist, philosopher, author (The Time-Light Program: A New Spiritual Therapy) and publisher. Not medically trained.

Joanne Evans – Apart from editorial responsibilities, is a regular contributor to WDDTY. In May 2009 she wrote a piece that asserted a link between pesticides, plastics and tobacco smoke to obesity, mostly due to parental exposure. Not medically trained.

Now we come to the main contributors.

‘Dr’ Harald Gaier – (also on the editorial board of WDDTY) is an Austrian-born British osteopath, homeopath, naturopath, master herbalist and acupuncturist. He is not registered with the GMC (http://thedailyquack.com/daily/haraldgaier). Not medically trained.

Dr Robert Verkerk – Founder of the Alliance for Natural Health (funded by various individuals and suppliers of dietary supplements) and “internationally acclaimed (sic) expert in sustainability”. He achieved  an Ecology degree, then subsequently a Masters at Imperial College on Applied Entomolgy, follwed by a PhD in 1995 on ‘Multitropic Interractions’. Not medically trained.

Dr Patrick Kingsley – A retired M.D. Worked in “Ecological Medicine” (see also Patrick Holford). Ran his own clinic of ‘Nutritional Environmental Medicine’. Medically trained.

Dr Annemarie Colbin – Has a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Wholistic (sic) Nutrition, gained in 2002 from the Union Institute and University, Ohio – WHO ONLY AWARDED SOCIAL SCIENCE AND HUMANITIES QUALIFICATIONS. The title of the thesis (brace yourselves!) was “Wholistic Nutrition: from Biochemistry to Chaos, Complexity, and Quantum Physics – applying some concepts from 20th Century Science to a new understanding of how food relates to health”. This can be downloaded for only $39.90 +tax +shipping. She has links to good old Dr Oz and Deepak Shopra. There is a nice quote where, in discussing quantum mechanics, she says “…I did not get into the math…”. Not Medically Trained.

So, that’s it for now (I’ve not even read the editorial yet!). If you think this needs a wider audience, then please pass on a link to this blog (or copy & paste the contents). Thanks.

Response from WDDTY (Weird Delusional Dishonest Tosh Y’know?)

After my previous post, I decided to send the advertising department a link to The Nightingale Collaboration’s latest review, which includes the number of ASA complaints. Here is my email and their response:

From: Ben Sagan [cumbrianskeptic@gmail.com]
Sent: 28 February 2013 17:44
To: Jenny Scott
Subject: Advertising

I wondered what your response might be to the article here:http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org/news/143-wddty-9-taking-stock.html

If you need help generating copy tag lines, I offer you this: https://benseye.wordpress.com/ where you can also find a link to download a simple spreadsheet.

Enjoy

from Jenny Scott <jenny.scott@cabbell.co.uk>
to: Ben Sagan <cumbrianskeptic@gmail.com>
date: Fri, Mar 1, 2013 at 8:52 AM
subject: RE: Advertising

Hi Ben, you are my friend. The publicity has sent our sales through the roof! Bless you : )
regards,
Jenny

Now, apart from the slight taste of bile in my throat, I had a couple of other reactions:

1) I am definitely not her friend – we have never been in contact before

2) I seriously doubt that their publicity (I assume that of The Nightingale Collaboration) had any impact on sales this quickly AND I would love to see their sales figures for the current and previous issues. My idea of “going through the roof” may differ from theirs – anyone know how I can check this ‘fact’?

So now, what to do? Well I saved one (possibly two) poor soul(s) in our town by throwing myself on the grenade buying a copy, and hiding the other one. I will now attempt to read it and produce some comments for a subsequent blog and a lengthy email to them.

P.S. I did also tweet a comment to Lynne Mcaggart who produces the dangerous rag magazine with her husband, but as yet no reply.

Quantum Flapdoodle, or Keep the Red Flags Flying

(Thanks to The Nightingale Collaboration-www.nightingale-collaboration.org – for half the title)

Here is a simple game for you to play (all rights reserved, unless you are a competent App coder to help me convert it!)

What you will need:   Two standard dice                     A notepad and pen

A copy of any magazine with the words psychic, crystal, natural health, what doctors don’t tell you, wellbeing, caduceus, mind, spirit, paradigm shift, or soul in the title.

Age and number of players:  Any and as many as you like

How to play: The most credulous person goes first (or if you like, the least skeptical)

Simply roll both dice (you could choose only one of them if you want to have a chance of throwing a one – thanks Ashley) to get your first word from column 1 and write it down. Repeat with two more throws of the dice and the next two columns. You now have your QF phrase.

This repeats for all the players until the round is complete.

Now, pick up your magazine of choice and start flicking through it together, scoring 3 points if you find your entire QF phrase in an advert, 2 points if it has only 2 common words, or one if only a single. Scores are doubled if the QF phrase (or part thereof) is found in an actual article.

The winner is the first to reach an agreed score, or the first to tear up the magazine and put it in the recycling. Have fun!

 

 Column 1

 

 Column 2

 

 Column 3

1

Quantum

1

Oscillating

1

Energy

2

Holistic

2

Power

2

Memory

3

Natural

3

Healing

3

Field

4

Essential

4

Vibrational

4

Crystal

5

Nano

5

Resonating

5

Truth

6

Astral

6

Earthing

6

Aura

7

Psychodynamic

7

Synergestic

7

Bioenergy

8

Detoxifying

8

Normalising

8

Chi

9

Magnetic

9

Stimulating

9

Orgone

10

Homeopathic

10

Ancient

10

Bioenergetics

11

Biodynamic

11

Eastern

11

Frequency

12

Psychic

12

Modulating

12

Chakra

In case of a tie, contact the nearest psychic, naturopath, reiki master, nutritionist, herbalist, homeopath, chiropractor or astrologer to sense the winner. Anyone wearing a PowerBalance or Shuzi band is automatically disqualified.

WQDTY

Excel version available at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/173732312759179/275476302584779/?notif_t=group_activity

MMS – Jim Humble – A comment on Marc Rose’s review

MMS for the 21st Century

After a suggestion on Twitter (and my previous experience reviewing Melanie’s Marvelous Measles on Amazon), I thought I’d take a look at what folks were saying about this book

(www.amazon.com/Miracle-Mineral-Solution-Century-Edition/dp/0982471203/ref=cm_rdp_product_img)

Here are the comments from Marc Rose and my comments on what he has to say. I do not think he was using sarcasm!

There are several key words and phrases that should alarm readers of this review by Marc Rose – they are used repeatedly by the credulous, especially when dismissing years of properly scientifically tested research. His words are in quotes:-

“I am a naturopathic physician” (an oxymoron?)

“I run the Vibrant Health Clinic” (how is that term defined and what on earth does it mean?)

“I have used MMS with several of my clients and have been getting good results” (several means how many out of total treated?)

“He is feeling much better and symptoms are gone and PSA is coming down but haven’t done a biopsy yet to determine if cancer is actually gone” (therefore cannot claim anything yet)

“A client with genital herpes reported good results with no more outbreaks (but hasn’t been retested for antibodies)” (see above)
“The guy who says MMS killed his wife is probably a shill” (that is often a claim made by the lovers of ‘woo’ – define ‘shill’)

“I seriously doubt MMS caused it because it is harmless and breaks down into salt” (do some research – start here:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/29/schoolboy-blogger-us-clinic)

“It works by releasing oxygen. Chlorine is a common mineral our body needs. I think the guy probably works for a drug company or is a government disinformation agent” (lack of real science depth here – this also works: Production of O2 -H2O2 (aq) ————> 2H2O (l) + O2 (g) – Hydrogen Peroxide Solution —————> Water + Oxygen gas)

“Jim Humble…who is in the service of others. Even his name fits him. He has given this gift to humanity. He does not make any money from MMS. He only profits when you purchase his book and half of the book he gives away for free as a PDF on the Web.” (really, no profits – they guy who first came up with it? Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_Mineral_Supplement and http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/15/miracle-mineral-solutions-mms-bleach)

“This may be one product the criminals at your FDA won’t be able to take away or keep off the market. I have heard of some countries that are just outlawing it for no reason such as Canada and Australia.” (FDA criminals – really? By whose distorted opinions?) “They also outlaw Iodine, another essential nutrient.” (that is true, so are lots of others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_nutrient)

“Your FDA has been supressing (sic) natural medicine cures for almost 100 years.” (you know we call natural medicines that work MEDICINES, right?)

“Can you honestly say there is not a single natural substance in the world that is good for treating disease?” (nope, no one of any sense is – that is where most medicines came from in the first place)

“I consider both salt and MMS natural.” (well, sodium chloride -A salt – is definitely natural. MMS, by your own word, has to be synthesised – hence NOT natural!)

“the drug companies steal all their patent drugs from substances found in nature.” (can you really STEAL from nature?)

“They haven’t approved any natural substances, only man made ones.” (penicillin doesn’t count then?)

“I hope poeple (sic) will wake up and find out that our creator has given us everything we need from nature to treat our diseases.” (there it is, calling on God – just like Bishop Jim Humble, I guess)

“This medical fascism has to stop. It is starting in NZ too. It all comes from the Rockefellers, the same people who keep you addicted to oil and killing innocent poeple (sic) to steal it.” (Oh where to begin here – how is it fascism? Rockefellers? What next, the Illuminati or the lizard people?)

“The law of Karma will catch up to all the drug companies, the govenrment (sic) and the New World Order gang one day.” (yep, I was right, a conspiracy theorist – what no Bilderberg Group? Check out Jon Ronson’s book Them:Adventures with Extremists) or read it free at:http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/mar/10/features.weekend)

“In the mean time the best diet in the world is described in Genesis 1:29. It is living raw food diet.” (Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these among those which chew the cud, or among those that divide the hoof in two: the camel and the rabbit and the shaphan, for though they chew the cud, they do not divide the hoof; they are unclean for you. The pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, it is unclean for you. You shall not eat any of their flesh nor touch their carcasses. Deuteronomy 14:7-8 .Check other contradictions at: http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions)

“If for some reason you need a powerful medicine you can drink your own urine. It is totally safe and doesn’t taste as bad as you think assuming you are eating a proper diet.” (so no need for MMS then? Unless you are just taking the p*ss)

I would suggest you do a few things to improve your knowledge and ability to convince others of you views;
* spell check
* basic research, not just believing
* check the statements you make for validity
* avoid ‘big conspiracy’ statements – true, there are some out there, but probably not as many as you think
* as soon as you quote scripture, you immediately lose credibility with a lot of your readers (especially when the book in question is full of contradictions, erroneous reporting, statements of impossibility and proven untruths)

More on Countryfile – and better done

Simon Baker has done a much better review of the Biodynamics bull from Countryfile.

Check out:http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2013/02/biodynamic-farming-a-rather-magnificent-cow-dung-ice-cream-cone.html

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