Thursday, July 24, 2008

It is finished

PZ Myers went and did it, and in exactly the ignominious and anticlimactic fashion it deserved to be done. Not that it will make any impact at all on the Catholic Church, but it gets the message across: nothing is sacred in any meaningful way.

I want a banana now. Unfortunately, I don't have any, so I may settle for a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A line in the sand on altmed

Resistance is not futile, but it certainly feels like pissing up a flagpole sometimes.

I'm disgusted by the concept of health freedom (disclaimer: I wrote most of that article). It really is an epic disaster -- quacks and self-deluded people insisting on unfettered access, free of criticism, to patients and doctors, and invoking happyfuzzy words like "freedom" to justify it. I once tried to warn a fellow customer at a bookstore away from a Kevin Trudeau book, only to receive a response that she believed in "alternative healing". Fluoridation was voted down by a landslide in my home town because the fluoride fearmongers got more hearts and minds than the dentists (you know, the people who are actually experts on the subject). And vaccination rates world wide are dropping as the paranoid claim links with autism, infertility, genocide, and other spurious accusations.

I'm going to put a few links at the bottom of this post that have a lot to do with the stupidity that seems to be eating us alive. It causes the rationalists of the world great despair, and this is all I can offer to help change things:

  • -- Stephen Barrett's uber-site of anti-quackery, and the hub of a growing network of skeptical sites, most of which revolve around medicine. One of the oldest, and best, and an absolute must-read -- the of altmed.
  • Respectful Insolence, Aetiology, ERV, and Denialism Blog -- some of my favorite anti-altie sites on Orac is a surgical oncologist, Tara Smith is a professor of epidemiology, Abbie Smith is an HIV researcher, and the authors of Denialism Blog are a med student, a lawyer, and a practicing medical doctor who all fight the good fight against teh st00pid.
  • In The Pipeline -- In the same vein as the ScienceBlogs crew, pharma chemist Derek Lowe (not the ex-Red Sox pitcher) writes about the real world of pharma chem, in which things are not quite as evil as the alties make out (though Pfizer in particular takes a beating in Lowe's estimation, he still takes great pride in his work and other scientists in the industry).
  • -- originally created as a response to the dysfunctional propaganda factory at Conservapedia, I've been involved on RationalWiki for quite some time and am one of a great many users (including PalMD from the above-mentioned Denialism Blog) who have been trying to make a humorous but authoritative reference for woo fighters.
  • The Millenium Project -- Created by Peter Bowditch from Australia, this site focuses heavily on anti-vaxers and faith healers, as well as attempts to profit from peoples' gullibility.
  • Don't forget more general skeptical websites such as the James Randi Educational Foundation, Robert Todd Carroll's Skeptic's Dictionary,, and many, many others.

I'm hoping to make some PSAs in the near future to put on YouTube so people can put them on local public access cable channels. In the meantime, consider these essential reading.