26
Jan
10

Honest argument, or dishonest fraud

Look what Joy sent me! It’s so exciting to have someone send me things to rip to shreds. I’ll assume, for the sake of argument, that Mr. Mike “Health Ranger” Adams is trying to be honest, ok, so maybe at least with this. For the sake of sparing you some of my inane babel, here is my brief reaction before the line-by-line, which will be below the fold.

Mr. Adams seems to try very hard to present a straw man of his imaginary “skeptic” and also doesn’t present any EVIDENCE to support the contrary point which he is presenting without overtly stating it. (It makes disproving the implied subtext more difficult if he never spells them out) I’m not sure if this was intentional dishonesty, intentional use of fallacious logic, or just ignorance, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and state he’s severely lacking information. Additionally, he fails to supply specific examples and instead gives generalizations which have no homogeneous answer. For example, stating “

See below for a line-by-line

(NaturalNews) In the world of medicine, “skeptics” claim to be the sole protectors of intellectual truth.

Considering “skeptic” in the manner most frequently used by the “skeptic movement” is a methodology of starting from the acceptance of a null hypothesis and seeking to acquire understanding based upon evidence, it is a personal system rather than one which should be forced upon others. Being a “skeptic” in light of supporting evidence quickly becomes denialism (such as global warming denialism). The default position of a “skeptic” is doubt, but subject to revision given evidence.

Everyone who disagrees with them is just a quack, they insist.

Not exactly, the usage of “quack” is a bit more complex than that in this particular context. Generally, it means someone presenting medical-sounding or science-sounding terms to support a particular position which does not follow from the evidence or lacks evidence entirely, but is believed and presented as absolute truth even if there is contradictory evidence.

Briefly stated, “skeptics” are in favor of vaccines, mammograms, pharmaceuticals and chemotherapy.

In most cases, yes. Pharmaceutical should not be overused, and chemotherapy is just one of the best things we have for many forms of cancer at the moment. If we can find a more specific form of treatment with less severe side-effects and equal or better survival rates, then I would be in favor of this new treatment.

They are opponents of nutritional supplements, herbal medicine, chiropractic care, massage therapy, energy medicine, homeopathy, prayer and therapeutic touch.

Not entirely; most people don’t need nutritional supplements for many reasons, namely if you have a saturation of enzyme cofactors and precursors, having more won’t help any. Some cofactors are produced in vivo as a regulatory mechanism and taking these can cause regulatory pathways to be interrupted. As far as herbal “medicine” goes, I don’t doubt that many plants contain chemicals with physiological effects on the human body, but these should be explored methodically prior to taking them to “treat” a problem and it should be illegal to make a claim about a product you are selling to “treat” said problem without methodologically sound experiments verifying those claims. The same can be said for the remainder of your list. Massages feel good, and they may have beneficial effects such as lowered stress levels and all the beneficial effects associated with this. Most “studies” in “alternative [to] medicine” are plagued by methodological issues ranging from small sample size to poorly controlled conditions. Give me methodologically sound research supporting your claims, and I will happily listen.

But there’s much more that you need to know about “skeptics.”

Really?

As you’ll see below, they themselves admit they have no consciousness

What? Consciousness? I’m pretty sure we’re conscious; self-aware, too.

and that there is no such thing as a soul,

Sorry, but I have no reason to think a soul exists…

a spirit or a higher power.

Same with these; got evidence?

There is no life after death.

Again, aside from wishful thinking and the “truth is a popularity contest” fallacy, got any evidence?

In fact, there’s not much life in life when you’re a skeptic.

Interesting notion, but how exactly do you qualify “life,” and why do you define it as such. Personally, I find life quite exciting and interesting. We have one opportunity to understand this universe and all that is in it. It’s the ultimate giant puzzle and I really like puzzles. Sounds like tons of fun to me…

What skeptics really believe

Really?

I thought it would be interesting to find out exactly what “skeptics” actually believe, so I did a little research and pulled this information from various “skeptic” websites. What I found will make you crack up laughing so hard that your abs will be sore for a week. Take a look…

Ok..I will.

• Skeptics believe that ALL vaccines are safe and effective (even if they’ve never been tested), that ALL people should be vaccinated, even against their will, and that there is NO LIMIT to the number of vaccines a person can be safely given. So injecting all children with, for example, 900 vaccines all at the same time is believed to be perfectly safe and “good for your health.”

Since vaccines are mostly composed of attenuated or killed viral (or bacterial) particles incapable of replication, this aspect is safe. As far as allergic reactions (which can be treated with epinephrine quite easily) to the vaccine, this is a mild risk. In regards to ALL people being vaccinated, I don’t think you would hear a skeptic, physician, or scientist saying this. This is partially due to the fact that those with compromised or undeveloped immune systems would gain no benefit from a vaccine. Certain very rare medical conditions also mean some individuals should not receive vaccines. In terms of total number of simultaneous vaccines goes, provided no components are given in excessive quantities (such as the antimicrobials in the vaccine) there should be no ill effects. I certainly don’t know everything about every single vaccine available, but I can tell you that all the ones I am familiar with are very safe.

• Skeptics believe that fluoride chemicals derived from the scrubbers of coal-fired power plants are really good for human health.

Well, aside from it being derived from the production of fertilizers, not coal fired power plants, and its mechanism of action being pretty well known and a lack of evidence

They’re so good, in fact, that they should be dumped into the water supply so that everyone is forced to drink those chemicals, regardless of their current level of exposure to fluoride from other sources.

Dumped? Not exactly. Considering the maximum recommended level is 1.5 mg/L, that’s not exactly “dumping” by any stretch of the imagination. It is done for the purpose of decreasing the instance of dental caries. It is also quite effective at this. Exposure to fluoride by this AND other sources (aside from the obsessive tooth brusher-with fluoride rich toothpaste- or salt eater-fluoridated salt) would still be quite low. The only real danger (given the concentrations present in these sources) would be dental fluorosis.

This brings me to a question, though. Why do so many “naturopaths” (natural suffering?) and “homeopaths” (same suffering?) ignore quantity when dealing with “toxins” and “dangerous substances?” That reminds me of a quote from my freshman year Organic 2 instructor (he once worked for the FDA) who often repeated a statement he made during a congressional briefing when a congressman asked if something “contained any toxic chemicals,” his reply was “sir, could you please define ‘any’?”

• Skeptics believe that many six-month-old infants need antidepressant drugs.

Who says this?

In fact, they believe that people of all ages can be safely given an unlimited number of drugs all at the same time:

Yea, because your imaginary skeptic doesn’t think drugs can interact… Most physicians, on the other hand, will tell you they do.

Antidepressants, cholesterol drugs, blood pressure drugs, diabetes drugs, anti-anxiety drugs, sleeping drugs and more — simultaneously!

Depends on the specific drugs since they all have different mechanisms of action and side effects. This is why it is important to tell your doctor what drugs you are taking…

• Skeptics believe that the human body has no ability to defend itself against invading microorganism and that the only things that can save people from viral infections are vaccines.

Not exactly, microorganisms mutate so rapidly that vaccines are almost useless against them; antibiotics, antifungals, and antiparasitic drugs, however, are useful against microorganisms. Antivirals and vaccines are useful against viruses.

• Skeptics believe that pregnancy is a disease and childbirth is a medical crisis. (They are opponents of natural childbirth.)

Who gave you that impression that “pregnancy is a disease?” It isn’t a disease, but it certainly is a medically significant event. It alters the metabolic state, dietary requirements, psychological status, and many other aspects of the woman’s metabolism. If you want a “natural childbirth,” then I would think you’re also in favor of the 10%-40% morbidity associated with unsterilized environments.

• Skeptics do not believe in hypnosis. This is especially hilarious since they are all prime examples of people who are easily hypnotized by mainstream influences.

You owe me a new irony-meter.

• Skeptics believe that there is no such thing as human consciousness.

Wait, what? Do you even know what you’re talking about here? Human consciousness exists as a manifestation of the combined thought processes, memories, and interactions of our brains.

They do not believe in the mind; only in the physical brain. In fact, skeptics believe that they themselves are mindless automatons who have no free will, no soul and no consciousness whatsoever.

The mind exists, similarly to consciousness, as a function of the collective interaction of all those little neurons. We do have free will, to an extent, but it is not contracausal free will. It is a caused free will; i.e. we do make decisions, but those decisions are based upon our previous experiences and instincts. As far as the soul goes, there is no reason to think one exists. No evidence supports that hypothesis and what we know about the complexity of the brain and how neurons behave easily accounts for human behaviors.

• Skeptics believe that DEAD foods have exactly the same nutritional properties as LIVING foods (hilarious!).

Wait, what foods are “living” and which are “dead?” Is soup made from all fresh ingredients “dead” or “living?” Would it be healthier to eat raw venison directly from the still breathing deer or should I wait and cook it first? Would it be healthier to eat that uncooked soybean or perhaps steam it first? What about carrots and tomatoes? Should I cook them to increase the bioavailability  of most of those antioxidants you know and love so much. How about those antinutrient factors present in many foods? It’s not about if something is “living” or “dead,” it’s about the molecules and minerals present in that food. Hypothetically, someone could live on purely synthetic food sources if all the right substances were added in the right concentrations. It might not taste good, but that could be fixed with artificial flavoring (which is usually identical in structure to the chemical we taste or smell). It’s about the molecules present in it, the fact that it is living or dead has nothing to do with it.

• Skeptics believe that pesticides on the crops are safe, genetically modified foods are safe, and that any chemical food additive approved by the FDA is also safe. There is no advantage to buying organic food, they claim.

Most pesticides don’t affect mammals, almost all foods are genetically modified through domestication, and if it’s been thoroughly tested by the FDA (unlike homeopathic crap, I might add), then it won’t have a high incidence of dangerous effects (like loss of smell). As far as organic foods go, perhaps you should read those regulations on sticking an “organic” label on something. I think you might be surprised. If you wish to discus the merits of foods produced without artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and so forth, thanks for decreasing our already short food supply. Here’s a better idea: find a way to increase crop yield while simultaneously decreasing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and food additives without genetic modification, then we’ll talk. Oh, and while you’re at it, how about trying to solve the problem of our collapsing ecosystems due to deforestation and the destruction of fisheries to satisfy growing food demand. Humans eat a lot, “organic” labels aren’t going to help. They also have no health benefits aside from making someone feel better about themselves. If you want to decrease your environmental impact, don’t go organic. If you want to live healthier, organic foods won’t make a difference. If you want to spend more money on your food, go for it.

• Skeptics believe that water has no role in human health other than basic hydration. Water is inert, they say, and the water your toilet is identical to water from a natural spring (assuming the chemical composition is the same, anyway).

Well, yes, water is water is water;  water in the toilet, however, contains additional things such as bacteria, since the surface it sits in is exposed to contamination from human excretions. Water in natural springs contains minerals your local aquifer (or other water source) does not owing to the geological conditions and activity producing the spring. Often, spring water contains carbon dioxide, sodium, iron, or lithium salts, sulfur, aluminum… These contaminants are responsible for the “taste” of water. Pure water (or almost pure, even CLSI Clinical grade water has impurities) has no taste or smell.

• Skeptics believe that all the phytochemicals and nutrients found in ALL plants are inert, having absolutely no benefit whatsoever for human health. (The ignorance of this intellectual position is breathtaking…)

Examples? These all vary from one to the other; β-Carotene is inert, but it is a precursor to vitamin A.  Well, that’s not entirely true since β-Carotene is actually quite toxic in its pure form and may increase the risk of lung cancer in those exposed to sources of lung damage  from smoking, asbestos (a NATURAL mineral!), radon gas,  or some viruses. These MAY have beneficial or detrimental effects, at the moment, more research is needed to make such a claim. There is no evidence which shows humans benefit from these substances, and they are certainly not required for health.

Mr. Adams then goes on to post this in response to some of the responses he has received:

One such skeptic accused me of being a quack because he said that I believe “water is magical.” Was that supposed to be an insult? I do think water is magical!

I think pregnancy is magical. Human consciousness is magical. Plant life is magical. And water is at the very top of the list of magical substances with amazing, miraculous properties, many of which have yet to be discovered.

Think about it: Water expands when it freezes (almost everything else shrinks). Water is both a solvent and a lubricant. Water is almost impervious to compression. Water can flow upwards, against gravity, into small cracks and crevices. Water is made up of two gases, each of which is a combustible fuel on its own. Do I think water is magical? You bet I do!

I also think magnetism is magical. And gravity. And quantum physics. There isn’t a single scientist or skeptic alive today who truly understands magnetism or gravity.

Considering we understand why water expands (technically, it exhibits “negative thermal expansion”) and why it can flow upwards in small cracks and crevices (called the capillary effect and is due to surface tension and pressure). Water is comprised of two ELEMENTS, but is itself only one gas. If you wish to break everything down into its elemental composition, you’ll be listing off quite a list of gasses and solids to describe that organic carrot. As far as comparing a substance to a physical force, you’re comparing apples to quarks, they aren’t the same. Just because we don’t understand magnetism or gravity doesn’t mean we don’t understand water.

As far as the notion of water memory and homeopathy goes, I just want some methodologically sound experiments demonstrating these hypotheses to be true. I have seen no valid evidence, and so I remain unconvinced. How’s that for open minded? We can play word games comparing television shows to string theory all day long, but metaphors aren’t reality, and string theory isn’t “The Big Bang Theory,” but that doesn’t mean they are at all similar.  I would probably insult a great many physicists in comparing string theory to quantum physics at all. As far Feynman, he also said this:

“The idea is to try to give all the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another”

and

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong”

and

“We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.”

So please, prove me wrong with evidence that supports your notions and agrees with all of the available evidence. Additionally, we have learned a great deal about quantum mechanics since Feynman died in 1988. Perhaps you should keep up with your decades and context of the quotes you mine.

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3 Responses to “Honest argument, or dishonest fraud”


  1. 1 Pliny-the-in-Between
    January 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Wow – as a fairly skeptical person I thank this guy for showing me the error of my ways. My vote is for dishonest fraud.

  2. 2 jaredcormier
    January 28, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Well, he may genuinely be completely oblivious to mounds of scientific and medical information and gather his “science” from mainstream news organizations. I’m not saying it’s a valid excuse for not knowing (for example) vaccines, mammograms, chemotherapy, and such save real lives. Lots of them. Even if survival rates are increased only by 5% above placebo, that translates into real lives. This is much more than can be said for most woo treatments.

  3. 3 jaycueaitch
    February 1, 2010 at 6:22 am

    I’ve covered the self-styled Health Ranger’s ramblings on my own blog. Since he steadfastly refuses to provide links my vote is for “He’s making shit up”


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