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Comment of the Week... Month...?

It seems like I'm going to have to start commenting on comments here, because commenting on them in the original post just doesn't seem to be working, and because some days I just need something to talk about. :) Got a real doozy of one to get us started. It can be found here. This one will take a lot to unravel. So much nonsense in such a small space...

Dear God (aka "all knowing entity" aka inafoxhole),...

I think this commenter was trying for sarcasm, but he just comes across to me as being stupid. Is God an atheist? Or maybe a better question, can god believe in himself and count that as believing in god, or does he have to believe in a higher power than himself? While I am sometimes accused of being all-knowing, I certainly don't profess to be. There are plenty of things that I don't profess to know a lot about. Economics, art appreciation, British sports... And I still don't understand how my concern about my aunt trying to cure her cancer with juice gets translated into "I know everything".

...you appear to be under the impression that science is infallible and that you knowledge of the former is all-encompassing. The models currently favored by the majority of scientists are imperfect, and so, by definition, are the conclusions we derive from them. If the science of medicine was perfect there would not be any side effects for any medicine and all illnesses would be curable. So in a perfect world I would do as my doctor says.

This is where it gets rich. I challenge anyone to read my entire blog and find one place where I said that science knew everything, or that science was perfect, or any of these other absurd claims. Only religion makes such claims. Science never does, and I have certainly not put more faith in science than it deserves.

However imperfect science may be, it is still the best option we have. All the easy answers have been discovered. What is left is found through hard, meticulous, careful work. Randomly making shit up, or following logical fallacies like post hoc, ergo propter hoc (it occurs after it, and therefore because of it) is essentially leaving yourself victim to random chance. The idea that you will randomly stumble upon a solution to your problem, an instant cure-all, while possible, is about as close to zero as you can get short of actually being zero; smaller even than the chance that you will win the PowerBall lottery if you only bought one ticket in your entire life. Science does not have to be perfect to increase those odds considerably. It was not alt med that turned cancer from being an instant death sentence into a condition that many people can treat and recover from. It was not alt med that saves the lives of accident victims everyday. It is science. Science is a vast improvement over what was before, and anything that there is to replace it. I can justifiably say that those who reject all of science in favour of quackery are fools and are far more likely to meet an early grave than I am from lacking health insurance.

I am also a bit astounded by this notion that side effects are generally so terrible that doctors must be avoided because the medicines they give to treat disease contain them. There is a medication I'm on right now that affects my balance. It's not great. Standing on one leg is a problem. Shifting my weight rapidly is another. At least we were able to stop me from walking into doorway frames like I did when I first started it. I certainly don't like it, but the fact is, the alternative would be far worse. The disease treated by this medication is degenerative, and would only get worse over time if left unchecked. So my choices are really balance issues but I might get to live to a ripe old age, and maintain my independence...or I can try reiki or some other fake cure and have to move back in with my parents because I couldn't take care of myself anymore. It's not really a choice. No more a choice than if you have cancer you can choose between drinking juice and hoping that you will be that one in ten million chance that the surgeon didn't leave behind a single cancer cell and maybe you will live, versus putting up with the chemo for a while. Sure it sucks, but your chances of surviving early stage cancer are rather significant for most types of cancer, certainly far better than drinking just juice. To believe otherwise is to deny reality, or to have been deceived by a charlatan.

In one of you previous posts you told us you did not think the pharma industry was corrupt. If you actually believe that, you not only fail at critical thinking, you don't even mange to pay attention. The pharma industry is a $643 billion industry with a 17% return on their revenues. Their income depends on people being sick! Let me repeat that (you need it). Their income depends on people being sick!!! Do you honestly think that our health is their goal? Just take a look at the people calling the shots at the FDA. Not few of them had been working in executive positions at the largest pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer et al.).

I never said that Big Pharma was to be trusted, but it is not corrupt in the way that the original poster (to whom the comment this guy refers to was made) intended it. Big Pharma does not make a profit on making people sick. Indeed, they make a profit on making people well. The more effective their drugs are at doing that, the more of the market share they gather. Problems with the drug industry relate to that it is a business (albeit, a regulated one). Business wants to make a profit; their goal is not to harm people because there is no profit in it. All you did is one company decide to actually cure people, and everyone will have to make a try at it. Our health is not their primary goal, no; their primary goal is short-term profit. That is why they would not be so corrupt as to conceal cures from the public once they find them, because there is no profit in doing so. They will not be able to conceal them for long, so they will try to get them to market as quickly as they can to gobble up the market for that product, lest some employee decide to give it away for free, or set up their own company to profit from it. Yes, one can argue about the business model, and why they are allowed to make so much profit, and the ethics of the market factors that drive which diseases they will research, and their pricing structure... but all of these are the same issues that effect any for-profit business. They are predictable, and as such, can be largely regulated into the same kind of semi-innocuous and occasionally beneficial entity as most other enterprises. Occasionally, they will lie and abuse the system to rush a drug to market that is not sufficiently tested, has serious side effects, etc., but that can't be done often, or they will get sued into oblivion. And the current speed with which drugs come to the market in the US is still slower than in most countries around the world, and was speeded up in the light of the AIDS crisis. Adjusting the regulations can again make them more effective, and prevent some of those issues, but at the same cost of a slower pace that we saw before the 80's.

I should also point out, since this commenter obviously needs it spelled out for him, that people will get sick regardless of whether Big Pharma exists or not. Even if they released drugs without side effects, people would still get sick. It is up to other industries, like fitness centers (and frankly, ourselves), to steal market share from Big Pharma and keeping people from getting so sick, so often, in the first place. Unless he is suggesting that their research budget goes to creating illnesses that they can later try to cure...which is nothing short of paranoid.

As for the FDA, under Bush, most of the government was snatched from industry to regulate industry. This was a systemic problem across the entire government, but the scale of it one that was new to our just-past President. No one before had ever been so blatant about it. And yet still under Bush, good people resigned from the FDA and other organizations to protest the over-politicization, and pro-business stances of the other board members to draw attention to the problem. Under most Presidents, not so much in the pocket of business, the FDA is run by scientists who are looking out more for effectiveness and safety, for us, rather than for "Big Pharma masters". And if Congress wishes to make this even more true, they can add additional regulation, or, as before, increase the requirements necessary for drugs to go to market.

But without the FDA, there would be no regulation at all, and they would be essentially in the hands of the alt med crowd, whose treatments are not regulated by the FDA for safety or effectivess. Juice is a food, so no one needs to prove it cures cancer in order to market it that way. The drug companies really would be our enemies, even more so than now, if they could peddle every elixir under the sun as a cure-all as those outside the medical establishment do now. They are doing no one any favours. He thinks Big Pharma is bad? He just doesn't want to admit that they are actually a shade of grey, and that alt med is the really feel-good guy well and truly on the dark side populated by crackpots who will let us die on false hope and still our money while they do it.


I'm gonna stop spelling it out for you at this point, since your mind is made up, and you seem to be too scared to even consider anything outside of your current view of the world (aka dogmatism).

I find it amazing how I'm the one always being accused of being "dogmatic". Show me the proof this alt med stuff works in a controlled clinic trial and I will be happy to embrace it (although, it would become part of the medical establishment then and h'd probably reject it). Until then, I see no reason to come to any other conclusion. Scared? I am scared for my aunt drinking herself to death on juice while cancer spreads through her body until it's too late. Scared? Amazing. Why do some many people project their own fears on me?

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
darkelf105
Nov. 28th, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)
If it helps any, I never got the idea that you think science is some sort of magic fairy dust that just fixes everythig....like some of these "alternative" treatments, diets etc. claim. Drink this juice, give up meat, don't eat purple things on Tuesday and everyhing will be alright. Fight the power, and by that I mean obviously ignore everything humanity has learned and experienced throughout its history.


...sorry, my uncle came to Thanksgiving this year and he's on a complete plant based diet....where everything is raw (which is okay, because cooking DOES get rid of quite a bit of nutrion in your diet) and no oils (this is the part that flabbergasts me. No olive oil? For real? You kinda need lipids in your diet and IDK people have been consuming olive oil forever, but yeah, okay do whatever even though your doctor told you going vegan was okay but that you shouldn't cut out plant based oils because there is absolutely no evidence that they are bad for you in moderation. But she didn't go to medical school or anything so obviously she knows nothing.)
inafoxhole
Nov. 28th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
I have a cousin on a special diet including little cooking because she has a hard time absorbing nutrients, so she needs the most nutrient-rich foods possible, but yeah, weird fad diets that don't have some clearly spelling out logic behind them is just silly. Logical fallacies run amok.

I suppose I should be grateful (for Thanksgiving, I guess) that my original alt med post was so controversial and that Google ranks it high enough (at least occasionally) to drive in some traffic. Because the traffic drives in more traffic. :) Ooh, maybe I'll become famous... oh, such responsibility!! :(
(Anonymous)
Nov. 28th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
Dear God
Guess who. Anyway, you raise some good points, so I'm gonna let this marinate till monday and post my response then.
On a different note, ripping this out from it's context is a bit of a low blow. Sure, people could go back and read up on what's been written, but I presume hardly anyone will. Though I was surprised, I realize I should not have been, since you are quite skilled at spinning.
inafoxhole
Nov. 28th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Dear God
I guess I will have to guess, since you are posting anonymously.

Second, it's not a "low blow". I linked to the original post, and frankly, I don't think the entire response would have fit in a comment box.

Last, I do not "spin". If you are going to continue debating me, I suggest a little more respect for the debate.
trained_skeptic
Nov. 28th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
I was just going to say...
...how common and cowardly it is for commenters on a blog to hide behind "anonymous" while on the attack.

That said, I arrived here after reading every last word of the comments on the Bruce Lipton post, Anonymous. Your concerns about your comment being taken out of context are moot, at least on my part. In this case, it doesn't help you. You have completely failed to impress me with your self-acclaimed skills of critical thinking nor with your knowledge of either medicine or science. I doubt I'll comment on this thread again, but take it to heart that at least one of the lurkers out here has read every single word you've posted on this blog and still considers your position in this debate incredibly weak.

Good luck! (You'll need it.)
inafoxhole
Nov. 28th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
Re: I was just going to say...
To be completely fair to the most recent anonymous poster, I *think* he's only made one post. The other posts under anonymous are from different anonymous posters. That's the other problem with nameless posts... not only hiding behind it, but also conflating himself with all the other nameless hoards. How hard is it really to get an OpenID?

And btw, welcome!
(Anonymous)
Dec. 13th, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
Examine everyones posts from a neutral perspective, then grow from it.
Even proven medicine has results that vary per person. Think about this for a moment, you seem to place so much on your position that you have lost foresight into what sparked the initial debate. Wasn't is your aunts decision? In a sense your ideals in this instance are compromised by your emotion on the subject. Sure your father woke you up and disturbed your sleep to discuss a subject that you most certainly had already made your mind up on. If you were open to any honest debate on the subject you would have first researched what he was talking about in detail and then debunked each point. The power of belief that Bruce Lipton outlines is very powerful. Look how belief works in our society, it's the foundation for everything that works. From Biology to Gov. To ignore current research without serious thought, meaning to have not stated the positive aspects of alternative treatments. I speak of this through patients that I have interviewed that have gone through medical combined with alt treatments. The process of healing and recovering from a life threatening disease it's self is far beyond you and I. Let you aunt past with the belief she did the right thing. It's her final days anyway not yours. When your faced with a "life ending diagnostic" make your our choice it will certainly give you the peace you need. If this post doesn't sit well with that fine. In summary it seems your position is so far to one side you can't see logical processes in life that could help you grow as a person. Overall be balanced you will learn more that way. Most importantly I hope your aunt pulls through.
inafoxhole
Dec. 26th, 2009 03:58 am (UTC)
Re: Examine everyones posts from a neutral perspective, then grow from it.
Grow from it? Are you kidding me? Do me a favour, and take your own advice.

I haven't lost perspective of what was in the original post. Of course it was my aunt's decision. I didn't even tell her I felt the way I felt until she, sometime later, started pushing her beliefs on her elderly mother and on me via Twitter. Only then did I even mention my disagreement. Of course it's her decision, but her right to make that decision does not in any way negate my right to disagree with it, and to express that disagreement privately, publicly or otherwise.

My ideals? What ideals can you possibly be refering to? I want my aunt to have the best possible chance of survival, and her denying medical evidence because it's too hard for her to face reality honestly... I am not the one whose ideals are being compromised. I was annoyed by my dad waking me up in the morning, yes, but you are in no position to claim that my "annoyance" compromised my ideals. I researched Lipton before I responded to my father, and before I wrote this post, and I only mentioned my aunt--whose condition had occured well before the phone call--because she was the one trying to further push my father into medical quackery. It's bad enough that see saw a chiropractor for a knee problem (and rather than actually using chiropractic, he just offered genuine medical advice that a standard physical therapist would offer, proving the chiropractor was essentially a fraud, and just using the term chiropractic to draw in people who reject science-based medicine), but to then have him get all caught up even more in the wishful thinking that is alt med... based entirely on we can show you the easy way out, so you don't have to face reality... no, then the two became inseparable and intertwined.

And to be perfectly frank, you are a hyprocrite, coming in here and telling me how I should behave toward my family, that I shouldn't tell them what to do,... you aren't even family. How dare you presume to lecture me. Especially, since it is perfectly clear that you didn't actually read the post I made clearly at all. I quoted from Lipton's own website. How, pray tell, did I manage that without doing research on the topic first?

I ignore no research. It is Lipton who is ignoring research. Dealing with the psychology of the patient is not alternative medicine. Alt med quacks would like to claim it, but they cannot. What they fail at is providing a rational explanation for phenomena that shows up in real research. They seek to take the short cut to the power of positive thinking, or sighting some special force (and throwing out all of physics in the process), rather than actually analyzing what is really going on inside the body. They want instant answers rather than the sometimes painfully slow process of real science, and real medicine.

Patients are in no position to know what it is that has cured them. They are anecdotal evidence at best, and they don't know what is going on behind the scenes. When medicine heals people, fool patients attribute it to prayer, or thinking positively, or the bowl of cereal they eat every morning, and refuse to give credit to the medical professionals that saved their lives, or the drugs that kept them going long enough to human medicine to intervene. Only careful research and control of countless variables can hope to determine what "works". Patients will credit magical sugar pills for their immune system just doing what it was designed to do in the first place. Patients naturally feel better when they are in the hands of powerful supernatural forces that are being weilded to heal them. It may make them feel better,and they may wish to believe it because it's really good for their egos, but it is by no means, a reflection of reality; nor, should it necessarily be encouraged.

more...
inafoxhole
Dec. 26th, 2009 03:59 am (UTC)
Re: Examine everyones posts from a neutral perspective, then grow from it.
Part II:

And frankly, I will not remain silent when my aunt harms not only herself, but bullies her mother into going off of her heart medicine abruptly and without medical supervision, and demands she take just vitamins. My aunt will kill not only herself, but her mother as well if she is allowed to persist. If she kept her decision to herself, to her own treatment, and wasn't trying to persuade others of her insane position, it would never have come up within the family. But I will not remain silent when she will not. She does not respect her mother's right to see a real doctor, and I will not let my aunt go to her grave believing that she is doing the right thing under such circumstances.

I can't see the logical processes that would help me grow as a person? My views are so far to one side? No, my views are the result of sound logical processes, whereas yours are clearly the result of too little critical thinking, and butting your nose in where you know too little about what you are talking about.... either about medical research or the situation within my family, or even what was in my original post. No, I grow plenty all the time, but I am unlikely to "grow" in a direction you would approve of. That, however, does not make it my problem. It is you, the concern troll, that needs to grow a little: be a little less superficial, and a little more observant, and stay out of matters that have nothing to do with you, and about which you know nothing.
iseeisaid
Mar. 17th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Examine everyones posts from a neutral perspective, then grow from it.
Obviously your aversion to Bruce Lipton and alternative practice is rooted from personal experiences. I agree with you that your aunt should utilize any medical remedies available. These practices have been proven to work in the past and are completely practical. I personally am definitely pro-science and consider my self a bit of skeptic. Having said that, I believe any avenue that could possibly improve human existence should without question be explored. While still practicing the methods that we know work. Bruce Lipton's outlook may have some relevance, but I would like to see more research and analysis invested in that area. I do not see his theory or proposal as being any disservice or detriment to our way life whatsoever. People should have sense enough to do the things they know work and they can just incorporate alternative methods, it's as simple as that. Even so it's ultimately up to the individual to make a decision based on their current situation.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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