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From time to time, I get irritated with some attitude, or opinion, or lack thereof, and after it stews for a while, it pokes its nose out in diary form, if I can figure out how to write it so that it gathers substantive comments, rather than more of what irritated me in the first place.

This all started in SkepticalRaptor's excellent diary, which was a takedown of homeopathy. That didn't get me irritated. It was well researched, and well written. But through some process which I haven't quite figured out, the threads developed into a pie fight between scientific materialism and, well, anything that could conceivably be an alternative, all lumped together under the pejorative of "woo". Even the suggestion that alternative modes might be viable was jumped on with both feet, unless it was presented with appropriate scientific terminology, at which point it was generally ignored.

And that got me irritated.

Those of you who've been reading my stuff know that, for the most part, I confine myself to going after bad arguments, rather than standing up for, or going after, one side or another. Over the course of an interesting life, I have poked my nose into engineering, psychology, mineralogy, horse training, science fiction, medieval re-creation, microcomputer consulting, the Tarot and a number of other divination methods, astrology, psychic phenomena, semantics, poetry, graphic arts, and a few dozen other areas. It has all been interesting, and there have been very few areas that didn't in some way add to my ability to deal with a broad and varied universe.

So there's a lot of "woo" in my background. It neither blinds me to the accomplishments of science and technology nor qualifies me to assert any standards of "morality" in reference to human norms, actions, or societies. Nor should it be seen as an automatic disqualification of my opinions, or anyone else's.

But all too often, that is precisely how it is seen. And, with a wave of the hand, the person who has had the temerity to mention an alternative viewpoint has any other contributions summarily dismissed in any diary which purports to be about science. Like walking into a far left diary and saying you think President Obama is cool, or trying to support a reasonable method for gun control in an RKBA diary.

And it bugs me that a diary that damn well ought to support scientific curiosity would automatically become a safe haven for those who think that curiosity should be limited to only those areas already supported by the scientific establishment.

To be strictly fair, when those alternatives are presented as "I don't trust science, and you must be wrong", there is more than a little justification for a strong and not particularly civil comeback. But it's not an either/or situation for most people, and doing a general putdown of people who embrace multiple possibilities as idiots is not the best possible way to attract and keep a broad audience.

So, please ditch the "woo" comments, as you would (or should) dump any other attempt at a cheap insult, and at least try to respond to an individual comment with a response aimed directly at the comment and not some hypothetical chimera.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cannot agree... (14+ / 0-)

    This online community is at no risk to "suppress scientific curiosity," rather the risk for it is to lose its "reality-based" attribute - and I am not just talking about various quack diaries, but about regurgitation of, say, Putin's propaganda.

    •  agreed (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kalmoth, raptavio, vcmvo2, indubitably, susans

      -You want to change the system, run for office.

      by Deep Texan on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:29:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So you would approve a comment that dismisses (16+ / 0-)

      a legitimate opinion on a subject because the original commenter also states other opinions with which the commenter does not agree?

      I love the notion of a reality based community, but where you have human beings, you also have varying definitions of reality that are not, generally, entirely susceptible to rational analysis. Or there wouldn't be  half as many pie fights.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:37:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Begging the question. (5+ / 0-)

        "Legitimate opinion" is an assumption you're making.

        Woo, by definition, is not shown to be legitimate.

        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

        by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:50:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmm. Did you read the diary and the comments? (9+ / 0-)

          You're making an assumption about my assumptions, I think. ;)

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:57:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Possibly I am. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            susans, Deep Texan

            But even in full context, your statement at least presents the appearance of begging the question.

            "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

            by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:19:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  "Shown to be legitimate" (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serendipityisabitch, Penny GC, G2geek

              How does one "show" an opinion to be legitimate?

              There are only two possible definitions of 'illegitimate' that could apply to an opinion. One is 'this opinion is not in accordance with reality', in which case it is not an opinion, it is a statement of fact. (Because opinions are by definition a statement of personal feelings on a subject that has not yet been or cannot ever be quantified.) The other is 'your opinion is illegitimate because it does not agree with mine'.

              Alas, in dKos diaries, these two refutations of other people's honestly-held opinions are more or less used entirely synonymously and without any distinction drawn.

              •  But that's the rub. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Neuroptimalian, pasadena beggar

                What is considered "woo" has to do with fact, not opinion. Homeopathy either works, or it does not. If you believe it does when all evidence shows it does not, your belief is as illegitmate as the belief that the moon is made of green cheese.

                "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

                by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 12:44:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not necessarily... (3+ / 0-)

                  If someone takes a homeopathy remedy then declares it works for them though all scientific evidence shows it doesn't, then presumably it is haven't a psychosomatic effect. In other words, while the "remedy" isn't triggering a physical response, it is triggering a psychological one which is having the desired effect. In that instance, the belief is legitimate in terms of experienced effect, they are just wrong about the process.

                  I am aware of the dangers of the "carrot sticks for cancer" type homeopathy but I see that as a separate issue and one that should be measured against the acuteness of the illness since, for example, echinacea for a cold is not in the same territory.

                  Please note that lamps in the Magic Lamp Emporium are on a genie time-share program so there may be a slight delay in wish fulfillment. (◕‿◕)

                  by Mopshell on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 06:54:13 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Incorrect. (0+ / 0-)

                    If someone takes a homeopathic remedy and declares it works for them then it may be they got better anyway, and the homeopathic remedy was incidental, and they just assumed a causation.

                    The placebo effect is very limited -- and is also not a matter of opinion.

                    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

                    by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 07:08:28 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Legitimate? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Penny GC

          It seems to me that everyone has a legal right to hold whatever opinion they choose to hold. An opinion may be objectionable or even wrong, but it cannot be "illegitimate".

        •  So: would you treat mainstream religion... (0+ / 0-)

          ... the same way?

          Insist on de-rigeur atheism, and drop in on "mourning a dead loved one" diaries to chastise people who make references to deities, prayers, and hereafters?

          Why or why not?

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:39:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  unqualified generalizations again. (0+ / 0-)

          Not shown to be legitimate what?

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 01:07:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Semantics again! (0+ / 0-)

            In context, it's obvious -- or you could look up the definition and see for yourself. I helpfully provided one downthread, from RationalWiki.

            Jesus.

            "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

            by raptavio on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:28:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Your question is ill-posed n/t (3+ / 0-)
        •  So, would you care to try another method of (9+ / 0-)

          posing it? Not a joke - I would like to see whether you can rephrase what I was trying to say more cogently. It might at least give me a springboard to try an alternative phrasing.

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:23:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  fair enough... (6+ / 0-)

            I would ask - how would you talk to people who agree with you 99%, but on 1% have views that you find totally wacky?

              •  Ah. "respectfully". (5+ / 0-)

                Possibly the best one-word answer on the subject and one that could serve as a watchword for all who post on dKos and elsewhere.

                So you find someone's opinion or belief outrageous. That does not mean you have to savage that person for not having the same mind as you. And being verbally aggressive is the best way to guarantee that person will be predisposed to ignore anything you have to say.

                You catch more flies with honey.

                Respectfully. That's how you conduct political discourse and any discourse of consequence.

                Kindness and respect. They take personal integrity and intellectual strength/restraint, but when given, they command the same in return from all worthy of taking part in discussions with you.
                If someone rounds on your opinion like a frightened pitbull, it is fair to excuse them from all consideration for now and the future. The world is too large and life too short to have to deal with assholes unnecessarily, no matter how correct, informed or educated they may be.

                Respectfully. Or STFU.

                (yes, I know.)

                Lead with Love. Forgive as a reflex.

                by Gentle Giant on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 01:14:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Yes. I'd even shift the percentages to 80/20, (9+ / 0-)

              without having a problem with it. Can you deal with the 80% without needing to put down the 20%, when the comment as a whole is reasonable? (okay, putting the word reasonable in there may be counterproductive, but...)

              Thank you.

              mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

              by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:54:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  and to elaborate... (5+ / 0-)

              on one hand, an outright dismissal of the "wacky" might serve to reinforce it rather than make the listener doubt it, on the other hand, allowing even polemic legitimacy to some points of view might, to the ears of some listeners, validate them.

              So, you cannot win, but you cannot win. The people who already are wrong will only listen to what they want to hear, and will only hear what they want to hear - regardless of what you say.

              •  Well, it's how I deal with comments that (7+ / 0-)

                begin with what may be a legitimate question and end with an insult - when I deal with them at all - ignore the insult and try to answer the question as clearly as I can. Sometimes it works. If the person is determined to have a fight, it won't, but if it feels as though it's worth trying, I do.

                mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

                by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:27:34 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Or you could think of it another way (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Penny GC, Mopshell, G2geek

                Which is to say, "If you continuously beat them about the head and shoulders with how wrong and stupid some portion of their beliefs are (whether or not they actually are 'wrong' in any meaningful sense doesn't actually matter), you might drive them away from the venue entirely, and make them unhappy, and possibly even make them give up on politics entirely or drive them over to the other side (in the case, say, of some kinds of Christians, who would be welcomed there)."

                On the other hand, if you don't beat them upside the head for having beliefs that are different than yours unless and until those beliefs start hurting other people then you run the risk of having them assume that some faceless internet person that they don't even know exists because they don't even know that you read their post might agree with them.

                Clearly, since this is a value judgement, it is a matter of opinion which of those is the worse outcome. I tend to come down on the side of 'not hurting people unnecessarily'. (Where, as I mention above, it becomes 'necessary' when those beliefs are actually and actively hurting someone else — and no, the possibility that someone else might start believing them doesn't count as 'hurt'. There are a billion things online that people could start believing. Browbeating someone for posting the billion-and-first one doesn't help the situation.)

                Alas, a lot of dKos would really like people who have different beliefs than they do — political, religious, or any other kind — to just go away. (What they think they want is for those other people to suddenly convert to their own point of view, but since on the internet the two are practically indistinguishable...) And the demonstrated best way to get them to do so is to ceaselessly beat on the differences over and over again, as hard as they can, in the hopes of causing enough pain to 'get through'. Or, to put it another way, 'hurting someone because you want to help them'.

                We do it to the Christians, on a regular basis. We very occasionally do it to the Jews (although we tend to walk the fine line between yelling about Israel and yelling about Jews rather well in this particular Jew's opinion). We occasionally do it to the 'pro-business libertarian Democrats' who show up on dKos, although you have to be pretty egregious to get piled onto for that. We do it to the people who make empirical statements about the world that don't stand up to scrutiny, even if those beliefs don't actually hurt anyone. But we most of all do it to anyone who is farther left than, say, Elizabeth Warren — who would be a center-left person in any European country, and would have been so 40 years ago here, too. (And often to people who are of the same political stripe as Elizabeth Warren but don't happen to be named Elizabeth Warren, at least until she says the exact same thing at which time it becomes okay to say. It's quite an interesting phenomenon.)

                It's a shame, because the Republicans will always be better at it than we are. So you'd think we would want to try a little tolerance instead. And a lot of us do, but there are plenty who think that dKos is a much better place if everyone sounds exactly like them, and as a community we tend to encourage them more than we encourage those 'other people'.

                Ah well. At least it's still a useful source of news, if you only read the diaries and not the comments.

                •  well said. (2+ / 0-)

                  All of this mutual sniping on the left, hissing & scratching, barking & biting, has got to stop.

                  According to climate scientists we are presently facing a threat of the extinction of humanity in two centuries or less.  That makes Hitler and Stalin look like amateurs by comparison, and it calls for an effort that will make WW2 seem like child's play by comparison.

                  In the face of which, there is exactly no room for the mutual sniping, etc.  Ours is a war for our species' very existence.  

                  We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                  by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 01:29:28 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  ;-) (19+ / 0-)



    For an idea that does not at first seem insane, there is no hope.
    - Albert Einstein:  Leftist, socialist, emo-prog, cosmic visionary.

    by Pluto on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:33:46 AM PDT

  •  Disagree, strongly. (28+ / 0-)

    Untested, unproven, or disproven claims that someone tries to foist onto an even playing field with tested and scientifically valid ones deserve to be disregarded, and "woo" is a perfectly useful term to describe such claims.

    If people wish to subscribe to astrology, spiritual healing, faith healing, or religion in general, without trying to foist these things onto a level playing field with science, then I would agree with you that such things do not deserve derision. But when the effort is made to assert them to be as valid as science, no, they deserve the derision.

    Let us not forget that the phenomenon of placing one's trust in woo has a real cost -- Peter Sellers, for example, put his trust in a psychic surgeon and died for that choice. People have been poisoned by colloidal silver (not just to be turned blue, either!), people have given their life savings to charlatans who promise a cure for cancer they cannot provide, and let us not forget the resurgence of preventable childhood illnesses thanks to the anti-vax scare.

    Yes, deriding it as woo is both valid and appropriate, given the harm it causes.

    That all said, I'm T&R your diary because I think this is a useful discussion to have.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:39:00 AM PDT

    •  I have no problem with someone who gives a (15+ / 0-)

      stiff putdown when someone says "my opinion is as valid as your science". If that had been the case for the most part, I wouldn't have gotten so irritated.

      It's the "if it's not hard science, it's worthless and so is the person mentioning it" part of the comeback that ruffles my feathers, especially when the original comment is in general agreement with the diarist's point.

      Yes, there are con men, and yes, there are idiots out there who let them make a living, and yes, we need to be damned careful about how we respond in situations where the con is ongoing. But that doesn't detract from the point of the diary, I don't think.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:51:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you sure (4+ / 0-)

        that "it's worthless and so is the person mentioning it" is in fact the dialogue or is that what you're projecting onto it? Because "woo" says nothing about the person mentioning the woo, it devalues only the 'alternative' that the person is presenting.

        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

        by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:04:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  People have investments in belief systems. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Silencio, Penny GC, Mopshell

          If you internalize any concept deeply enough, it becomes a personal threat when that concept is challenged.

          •  That doesn't oblige anyone (10+ / 0-)

            to treat any and all such concepts with kid gloves.

            "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

            by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:20:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I replied to Serendipity somewhere in this thread- (0+ / 0-)

              Basically, I pointed out that if we are going to accept this belief system as valid, we may as well go forward with Christianity and Scientology as well...

              •  Well, the Church of Scientology and I (9+ / 0-)

                have had a fairly confrontational relationship anyway. :)

                Like I said above:

                I have no problem with people who believe things that are untested (or untestable) if they do not attempt to place these things on a level playing field with science. If it's in the realm of philosophy, morality, or simple emotional comfort, more power to you (no pun intended). Whatever gets you through the day.

                It's when you try to get your chocolate in my peanut butter that I have issues with it.

                "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

                by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:40:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Which is to say... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Penny GC, G2geek

              "If someone says something that is irrational, I am fully justified in hurting them."

              Now, of course, I'll take it as given that you make a perfect ultimate arbiter of what is rational and what is irrational, because to do otherwise would be impolite. But that's still what you're saying: 'my obligation not to hurt you stops the moment you say anything irrational'.

              I have a different line, myself: I say 'my obligation not to hurt you stops the moment you start hurting other people'. And no, saying something that is 'irrational' (by my standards OR yours) doesn't constitute hurting other people. There are a billion pieces of irrational writing on the internet. Adding one more is not going to make a material difference in the world. And even if for some unknown and unknowable reason you feel absolutely impelled to refute it, that does not, in fact, require you to hurt someone in order to do so.

              So yes, in fact, if you are a human being who actually cares about other human beings, I rather think it does exactly oblige you to treat any or all such concepts with kid gloves. Kid gloves are what you wear when you want to do delicate work; gauntlets are what you wear when you want to beat seven colors of shit out of someone. (Or, if you prefer, boxing gloves: in the long run, you still give people concussions, brain damage, and all the other nice metaphorical adverse sequelae.) If you care about people, then you remember the difference, and you wear the gauntlets rarely if ever.

              If you aren't a human being who actually cares about other human beings, or if you only care about human beings with whom you have a relationship, then, of course, your mileage may vary.

              •  quoth: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pasadena beggar
                "If someone says something that is irrational, I am fully justified in hurting them."
                That, sirrah, is a pernicious lie, and shame on you for even trying to foist that shit.

                "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

                by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 01:34:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I'm lost in the words (2+ / 0-)

                I don't think I generally have to choose between "treating concepts with kid gloves" and "hurting people."

                Some commenters in the homeopathy diary seemed to think it was an act of arrogant aggression to offer arguments against homeopathy. Others seemed to think that intellectual honesty required them to be personally obnoxious. But many people avoided those positions. raptavio certainly did. He did refer to "woo" several times, but I'd say generally his remarks were blunt, on point, and not abusive.

                "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

                by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 03:48:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  well said, and useful principle: (0+ / 0-)

                What you said:  'my obligation not to hurt you stops the moment you start hurting other people'...

                We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 01:42:04 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Hmm. There could be some projection here, (9+ / 0-)

          of course. But when the general discussion starts including references to the kind of person who would hold the belief, then my presumption is that the people are being devalued along with the alternatives. YMMV.

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:28:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  the most dangerous pseudoscience of all... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch, etbnc

        ... is the belief in the economic perpetual motion machine of indefinite "growth" on a finite planet.

        And yet ...crickets...

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 01:32:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree, but was that a reply to my comment? (0+ / 0-)

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 01:38:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  this: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch

            "Yes, there are con men, and yes, there are idiots out there who let them make a living, and yes, we need to be damned careful..."

            The promoters of growthism are the most dangerous cons of our times, and are the root of what's putting us at risk of extinction.  Unfortunately they're not a small group of conspiracists that can be readily identified: they're a large plurality in the culture.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 03:13:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not sure I'm awake enough to argue this (0+ / 0-)

              one fully, but this may be one of the most easily solvable of all the cons - if we can redefine growth to include human value added, and not just goods and services, we can short circuit a world of trouble - maybe.

              mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

              by serendipityisabitch on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 03:20:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  human value added? (0+ / 0-)

                You really really don't want to live in that kind of world, where human value, and human values, are eaten by the economy, converted to commodity, and turned into profit on somebody's quarterly P&L statement.

                What price love?, what price loyalty?  To quote Shakespeare in the intonation and cadence of Jean Luc Picard, "No!, No a thousand times!, No!"

                An economy is a tool for meeting human needs.  When it ceases to do that, and when it threatens the very existence of the species, it becomes obsolete and dangerous, and in need of replacement.

                This: Steady state economics.  No more "growth as end-in-itself."  Meet human needs.  Joe Random in GiveADamnistan deserves clean drinking water and a toilet, and his cousin-in-law in West Africa deserves a vaccine for Ebola, before Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg deserve another personal 747 (or are they up to 777s now?).  

                There is no getting around this: not only smashing the oligarchy, not only converting the economy, but also converting the culture and evolving the species.  The instinctual urges to multiply like mice, consume like locusts, grow like cancer cells, and dominate others, are atavisms that have become a threat to our existence.  Either we will evolve out of them or we will cease to exist.  

                We have it fully within our grasp to turn this world of ours into a Paradise of our own making.

                There's a really subversive word that people would do well to contemplate:  "Enough."

                We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 05:02:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Untested (20+ / 0-)

      Overall, I'm a great fan of modern, scientific medicine, but I think caveat emptor is a useful attitude to take when it comes to treatments proposed for oneself.

      In particular, prescription pharmaceuticals do not have to demonstrate a dramatic benefit in order to be approved clinical use. They just have to show a statistically significant improvement over other treatments (or no treatment). But the improvement can be quite small, and the side effects can be quite uncomfortable, to say nothing of the expense.

      And sometimes allopathic remedies just stop working. I've had a lot of problems with sinus infections over the years. I used to take antibiotics, but they just stopped working, even after changing them several times. So, I turned to acupuncture and have gotten fast and effective relief whenever sinus infection flares up.

      I don't know if acupuncture is woo considering that my health plan does cover it. But I think it remains an untested protocol by the standards of scientific medicine. But lots of people get plenty of relief for a wide variety of symptoms from it, and the side effects are virtually nil.

      "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

      by Demi Moaned on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:57:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh crap, you said "allopathic." (5+ / 0-)

        I'm in full agreement with your post above, but I've been derided for the use of that word.

        I too see an accupuncturist, infrequently but it does happen.  There's definitely been subjective benefit.  I feel a case for objective benefit could be argued as well, though proving it would require extensive before/after testing that I'd have difficulty affording, and (quite frankly) probably wouldn't want to bother with if I weren't able to stand up straight without excruciating back pain (this does happen).

        Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

        by Jon Sitzman on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:29:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know how you do double-blind testing (9+ / 0-)

          ... on a treatment like acupuncture. So, it can never be validated to the level that pharmaceutical treatments can.

          But I think we have to be sensible about this. A good doctor will make suggestions but will also encourage you to find out what works for you in the case of minor ailments and infirmities and even some chronic debilities. Lots of people think massage is good for you, but I don't know that it's ever been the subject of rigorous scientific study to define the limits of what it's good for.

          Any reasonable medical practitioner will admit that there's lots we don't know about the body, its ailments and treatments. And lots of people have to go fishing for treatments to conditions for which there is no recommended treatment or that prove intractable under standard treatments. Are those people to be ridiculed?

          (I didn't know allopathic was a controversial word. I was puzzled that spellcheck didn't know it. But I didn't mean anything derogatory.)

          "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

          by Demi Moaned on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:52:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not controversial to me, but to some, yes. (5+ / 0-)

            "Allopathic" appears in most online dictionaries (yes, I googled it), but according to at least one person on DKos, it was coined by charlatans and quacks trying to hoodwink uninformed consumers with worthless, unsubstantiated treatments for medical conditions.  The person who discussed it with me basically said, if you use that word, you've been taken in by the "woo woo."  I don't really agree, but can understand the viewpoint.

            Apparently chiropractic (as an example) is really oversold in some states, billed as the magical cure to all ills ("if your spine is in line, everything's fine").  That's crap, and it doesn't take medical training to figure out that it's crap.  Chiropractic - specifically syndesmotic and osteopathic manipulation - does have a validated, if narrow, range of conditions for which it may be indicated and may provide varying degrees of relief.  Chiropractors whom I'd personally define as "good" understand the benefits and limitations of their modality and offer it within those bounds. They don't promise impossible things if you take their treatment; they'll work with your treating physician to develop an overall treatment plan, often including other physical therapy (and your treating MD will usually work with them, at least here in TN); and they'll encourage you to treat with other modalities if their work doesn't address your pain.  I've seen chiropractors like that for years (and walked out of the offices of others with far shadier practices).

            Forgive the rambling.  I was just trying to say you might draw some fire for use of that word.  Glad to see that doesn't appear to have happened.

            Also, I agree with all you said in your initial post and the one above, and I try not to ridicule people - though I may try to offer helpful experience if I have it, in a respectful way.

            Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

            by Jon Sitzman on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:23:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I think there's enough research (7+ / 0-)

        that points to acupuncture not being total woo. although i'm not sure (and I haven't looked in on this in a long time) how much of its relief is a placebo effect.

        so acupuncture is usually something i don't throw shade at :)

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews, Seralini=Wakefield. yadda yadda.

        by terrypinder on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:30:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You're right (7+ / 0-)

        that caveat emptor is a good rule of thumb for even tested medicine.

        You're also right that prescription medicine can be of only marginal value and that the cost (both health and financial) may not be worth the benefit. A good doctor will work with his or her patients to make that evaluation before prescribing such medicine.

        But none of that invalidates evidence-based medicine, nor does it validate woo in any respect. Nor does the fact that some woo (e.g. acupuncture, most chiropractic care) is covered by some health plans.

        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

        by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:30:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, raptavio (0+ / 0-)

          that's a key issue.  Most of my doubts about modern medicine center on prescription medicine.  Often the fine print on medicine says something like "This medicine can have serious side effects, but hopefully you and your doctor have decided the risks are worth the chance of the benefits."

          “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

          by 6412093 on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:34:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That it's covered by health plans frustrates me (4+ / 0-)

          because now, my doctors seem to want me to try their uber-woo alternatives to everything all the time here in merry old Northern California where doctors all prescribe yoga (which I've done as a religious practice since I was two-years old) and meditation (ditto) and herbal crap that doesn't work (I believe in some herbs when I've taken them and they work for my ailment but that doesn't include linden tea or whatever), and they won't always give me real and decent treatments.

          Do not get me started on EMDR, which I had covered by insurance, and which was as useless as staring at a blinking refrigerator light. I am aghast that such therapy was actually considered scientifically legitimate. Studies should be beyond a shadow of a doubt OR there ought be no standards at all for coverage. One or the other.

          I'm really angry right now because the FDA is messing with the only medication that works for me, and my doctor, yesterday, recommended acupuncture. Which is probably malpractice but whatever. I'm ready to move to a CONSERVATIVE state to get better health care. I'm not kidding. I'm really fed up with this treatment. And it does become systemic. I anticipated this with the FDA years ago, BTW, because of how doctors were behaving.

          I've had stage IV cancer with multiple radical neck dissections and have several other pretty major medical problems, and I have very little tolerance or time for bullshit when it comes to my health. I have been a pacemaker candidate, for example, since I was in my early 20's. Awesome, right? I barely ever go to the doctor's anymore because of their laissez-faire attitudes about how I can just meditate it all away. I want MEDICINE. Not complicated.

          Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

          by mahakali overdrive on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 04:42:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I miss Seconal :( (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek

            Not even kidding. I had a prescription for it in the very early 90's, sigh...

            I wasn't even 18 when this was prescribed to me.

            I used to have so many more interesting and effective prescriptions! Medicine is very boring now.

            So maybe not a conservative state, but I should move to Sri Lanka or Cambodia or something. Quality of life is more important to me than being nannied about my so-called health, which is truly poor, and frankly, I am surprised I am alive at all after what I've been through.

            I'm digressing from the diary though, apologies. Just a minor rant.

            Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

            by mahakali overdrive on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:13:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  link, please (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4Freedom, Silencio

      supporting your claim that

      People have been poisoned by colloidal silver (not just to be turned blue, either!)
    •  If there were an effective anti-Ebola vaccine, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      would Jenny McCarthy oppose it?  

      A word to the wise is sufficient. Republicans need at least a paragraph.

      by d3clark on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:54:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, G2geek
      Untested, unproven, or disproven claims that someone tries to foist onto an even playing field with tested and scientifically valid ones deserve to be disregarded, and "woo" is a perfectly useful term to describe such claims.
      So, the molecular biologists who held the Asilomar Conference to voluntarily put limits on their genetic engineering experiments out of caution, before any negative consequences were known, were practicing "woo"? Paul Berg? John Carbon? Wooey? No. They respected the precautionary principle and acted accordingly.
    •  Really? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, kbman, G2geek
      Untested, unproven, or disproven claims that someone tries to foist onto an even playing field with tested and scientifically valid ones deserve to be disregarded, and "woo" is a perfectly useful term to describe such claims.
      So all speculation and untested hypotheses by scientists should be disregarded as woo? Interesting. What would that view, if widely held, do to creativity in science, I wonder.
      •  That's a ridiculous (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrypinder, Deep Texan

        and very deliberate misinterpretation of remarks. I'll untwist the words.

        Yes, an untested hypothesis by a scientist which someone attempts to give equal weight to tested and validated hypotheses... is woo.

        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

        by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 12:05:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nice selective response. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          But you included unproven. An alternative scientific explanation for a phenomenon backed by fewer data than the widely accepted explanation but that is widely considered plausible by scientists is included in your categories, but is not woo.

          •  I have to make a selective response (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Deep Texan

            to a loaded and misleading statement.

            You're talking about something completely different than I am. Woo is not something that has scientific evidence behind it when alternative claims have more scientific evidence behind it. That's absurd, though asserting the explanation with minority evidence is factual and the explanation with majority evidence is not might be considered woo. A critical thinker would go "Either of these might be right; let's do more research to figure out what's what." Or maybe "I'm going to go with the assumption that X is right, and see how it works in practice; but Y might be right so I need to tread cautiously." Or something like that.

            "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

            by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 12:39:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, be more careful what you write. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek
              •  Be more careful what you assume. (0+ / 0-)

                "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

                by raptavio on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:12:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I addressed the plain meaning of your sentence, (0+ / 0-)

                  which apparently, in part, wasn't the meaning you intended. The latter is all you needed to say. Instead, as is so often the case with you guys, you overexplain to someone who knows more than you assume they know, and add a series of insults projecting other assumptions.  

                  The people attacking woo are more emotional in their expression than the others, which to me is counter-intuitive. So I'm learning something. Thank you.

                  •  No, you did not address the plain meaning of my (0+ / 0-)

                    sentence, you deliberately added to it things which were never expressed and attacked that. It was remarkably disingenuous of you and if that's how you frame your argument then you're doing it wrong.

                    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

                    by raptavio on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 08:54:28 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  Likewise, tipped and rec'd for an excellent diary (4+ / 0-)

      from someone who is pretty much woo-phobic (other than the fact that I am admittedly somewhat religious, and thus could be accused of woo-woo for that alone).

      I liked the original diary and thought it was excellent. I do see the limits of science in their constructed nature and incomplete information; for every study, there's usually another study that will oppose it, for example. Thus it's easy to use science to "prove" anything, especially to non-scientists. And THAT scares me.

      Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

      by mahakali overdrive on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 04:33:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you. I value your input. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mahakali overdrive, G2geek

        mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

        by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:09:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And likewise, I respect your points (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          serendipityisabitch, G2geek

          and I like astrology and Tarot, FWIW. I also think there could be a scientific explanation for some psychic phenomenon in terms of some of our newer understanding of physics. Might be a woo-vestige though; I grew up totally inculcated in it. My parents, oh boy, you can't imagine. Okay, think of two people with pan flutes surrounding by goats with a yurt and you're on the right track. Then add a lot of millet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Remove all electricity. Chant all day. Consult the I Ching and say "It's all karma" no matter what happens.

          I had to learn to be scientific on my own, more or less. I wanted to be a scientist, actually, when I was younger. My sister is sort of the apple who fell closer to the tree in my family and imperils my nephew with her insane views, about which I am sad but can do absolutely nothing.

          Harmless is harmless. I love the new physics and quantum physics in general and probably FIRST dipped my toes into science through Fritjof Capra before moving on to Stephen Hawking and such. But what the universe is made of or how it functions seems to me to be a philosophical question more than a scientific one until we can fully measure it, so it's mental play only with few possible harms that can come from it. When applied to medicine, it is very inconvenient except as a mild adjudicant. I've had Western doctors diagnose me and treat me incorrectly too, so I don't revere them or anything. It's all interpretation. I do respect science-based medicine, however, and think it causes less harm overall. A family friend who was an alternative practitioner recently died of something pretty benign that could have just been treated with antibiotics. That troubles me. Speculating about the nature of reality does not. As you can see, I'm definitely in rant mode. I guess this is a hot button for me, especially after my interaction with my doctor yesterday which was so absurd that I don't have words.

          Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

          by mahakali overdrive on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:22:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rant on. I'm enjoying it, and if I'm for it, it (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mahakali overdrive, G2geek

            can't be a threadjack. Not that there has been much in that direction - I'm rating this as a successful discussion, all things considered.

            I enjoyed camping when I was younger, but I like housen for good folk, and the wild hills can be left to the fae.

            mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

            by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:32:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  i'm with you on this: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch

            "I also think there could be a scientific explanation for some psychic phenomena in terms of some of our newer understanding of physics."

            This one particularly sticks in my craw.  

            First the antis say "can't exist, therefore doesn't exist."  

            Then you come up with a list of peer-reviewed research with significant results.  

            Then the antis say "bad research" and nit-pick it in such a manner that if that type and degree of nit-picking was applied across the spectrum of the human sciences including much of modern medicine, little to nothing would remain.

            Then if they can't nit-pick it to death, they say "it must be fraud."  

            Thereby starting with "can't be, therefore isn't" and ending up at "must be, therefore is."

            It's the worst sort of a-priori thinking, to the point of pure obscurantism.

            So yes, in the end I think psi is going to be found to result from the interactions of neurons with pervasive entangled particles.  After which point, the antis are going to claim the result as part of consensus science and never even bother to apologize for having been obstructionists on a scale that would make Mitch McConnell proud.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 02:13:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  So about that playing field: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      serendipityisabitch

      There was a particular piece of silliness going around in the 1960s - 1970s: the phrase "higher states of consciousness."  This was typically used by advocates of meditation and psychedelic drugs (both of which are useful so long as one doesn't lose one's perspective) to refer to the insights achieved through those methods.  

      Cal Davis psych prof Charlie Tart did a pretty good job of debunking that.  To paraphrase him only slightly, "Which state of consciousness is best for solving a math problem?  For playing the violin?  For working in the garden?  For making love?"   Tart was the originator of the value-neutral term "altered states of consciousness," referring to states other than the "baseline waking state."  

      The point of which was, judgements of "higher or lower," or "better or worse," are purely subjective value judgements unless they specify "for what purpose?"

      So about that playing field:  Your statement:

      "If people wish to subscribe to astrology, spiritual healing, faith healing, or religion in general, without trying to foist these things onto a level playing field with science, then I would agree with you that such things do not deserve derision. But when the effort is made to assert them to be as valid as science, no, they deserve the derision."

      To be terribly reductionistic about it, that statement translates to another form of higher/lower fallacy.

      And to paraphrase Tart's debunking:  What body of knowledge is most useful for measuring the cosmos?  For writing a business plan?  For facing the death of a loved one?  For falling in love?  For curing a disease?  For choosing the right thing to do?  For understanding another person?  For inventing a new piece of hydraulic machinery?  For helping a friend through a crisis?  For listening to a jazz concert?  For playing with your kids?  For elucidating your values?  For approaching your own death?

      What tool is most useful for cooking a meal?  For building a house?  For going into combat?  For going into space?

      No one body of knowledge, no one tool or set of tools, is sufficient for the tasks and challenges we face as individuals and as a species.  

      This is why I group them together under the phrase "the creative endeavors."  The arts, sciences, humanities, technology, philosophy, religion, athletics:  all of these are parts of the essential tool kit of humanity.  Each of us chooses the tools that work for the purposes we have.  

      These tools are not interchangeable:  One does not cure a disease with a painting, or leave a moral choice to a machine.  

      These tools are not reducible to a common denominator:  One does not describe a sculpture as a symphony, or a baseball game as a randomized controlled trial.

      But one of the surest ways to damage any tool is to use it for a purpose for which it was not intended.  Pounding nails with a trowel or smoothing concrete with a saw, does not get the job done and does damage the tools.  

      The attempt by philosophical materialists to claim the entire ground of truth, in the end resembles nothing so much as the attempt to do likewise by religious fundamentalists.  

      Materialist fundamentalists do as much harm to science as religious fundamentalists do to religion.

      And last but not least, re "they deserve the derision." "Derision" is not a form of rational arguement.  It's an exercise in seeking to dominate others through the use of ridicule and other forms of emotionalism.  There is no place for emotionalized dominance-seeking in a rationalist/empiricist worldview.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:12:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's funny (0+ / 0-)

        how you on one hand correctly note that empiricism is not an appropriate tool for every endeavor (though wrongly presume I said it was), yet on the other try to wedge it into a treatise on how to approach an argument, and you on't seem to be aware of the self-contradiction.

        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

        by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:17:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  entirely misses the main point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          serendipityisabitch, pigpaste

          There's a difference between this:

          "But when the effort is made to assert them [religious beliefs in general] to be as valid as science, no, they deserve the derision."

          And this:

          "But when the effort is made to assert that, as descriptions of nature, religious beliefs in general are equivalent to supported scientific theories, that's a category error that deserves to be called out."

          The former is not qualified in any way: "valid" for what purpose and under what conditions?  For all purposes and under all conditions?   It closes by asserting a right to engage in emotional attacks and assertions of superiority:  "they deserve the derision" translates to "I am justified in treating them with derision."

          That's not how to get people onboard with the scientific view of nature.  It produces polarization and backlash.  

          Contrast to Carl Sagan, contrast to Neil DeGrasse-Tyson, contrast to Ethan Siegel on Scienceblogs, all of whom are successful science communicators.  What all of them have in common is the talent for communicating not only the proverbial facts of the matter, but also the emotional narrative of profound aesthetic beauty and deep personal meaning in relation to the universe at-large.

          This is not optional.

          We are living in a world where +2 Celsius is expected to become "the new normal," and human extinction is a very real possibility, unless we change not only our predominant sources of energy but ultimately our entire global economy and engrained ways of thinking.

          For example how many times a day do you hear otherwise-rational people use the phrase "economic growth"?  Have they found a way to map an infinite plane (economic growth) onto the surface of a Euclidean solid (finite planet)?   Or are they just propagating old flat-Earthism wrapped up in new language?  

          Meanwhile the other kind of fundamentalism rages across the globe, from the depredations of Dominionists in the US to the human rights atrocities of IS in Iraq.

          All of this has to change, and it's not the kind of "change" represented in the pages of Wired magazine, where robots will drive our cars, make our moral decisions, watch us like Big Brother dressed up as a TV game show host, and provide new silicon homes for uploaded immortal souls.  

          To get from where we are to a world that's sane, humane, and sustainable, requires a complete change in the culture.

          But we're not going to get there by dividing into ever-smaller tribes with ever-larger orthodoxies.  Rather instead we must learn to see each other as one people, one species, one planetary lineage, sharing a common trajectory into a common future.

          For this purpose, literacy in the sciences is essential.  But literacy in the humanities is as well, for either without the other is blind and deaf.

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 12:13:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You spent a dozen paragraphs (0+ / 0-)

            criticizing me over semantics.

            That's completely ridiculous.

            I do not concern myself with your inability to ascertain my plain meaning from the full context (which is about "woo", remember?).

            Science exists on one playing field. Religion exists on another. To assert the equal validity of religion and science is necessarily to force one onto the other's playing field -- either to discredit science as faith-based, or to pretend religion is evidence-based.

            One cannot assert one as equally valid to the other without doing this.

            FFS, why do you need this explained?

            "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

            by raptavio on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:08:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  addendum: (16+ / 0-)
    A small crack appears
    In my diplomacy-dike.
    "By definition", I begin
    "Alternative Medicine", I continue
    "Has either not been proved to work,
    Or been proved not to work.
    You know what they call alternative medicine
    That’s been proved to work?
    Medicine."
    --Tim Minchin

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:40:27 AM PDT

  •  "some hypothetical chimera" (16+ / 0-)

    Like what, fer instance?

    Homeopathy?  Woo.
    Accupuncture?  Likely woo.
    Anti-Vaxxers?  Socially irresponsible woo.
    Deepak Chopra? King of the Woo-ers.

    "Alternative" medicine?  You mean like the "medicine" that Steve Jobs tried for 8 months that likely permitted his pancreatic cancer to kill him?

    I'm swatting this stuff down as hard and as fast as I possibly can;  people's lives (and their savings) are at stake.  They're not getting a wave off from me because their feelings might be hurt.

    If people who promote these therapies have the evidence and the science to back up their claims, we're good.

    If they don't, they're charlatans and snake oil vendors.

    •  i was just about to mention that (5+ / 0-)
      "Alternative" medicine?  You mean like the "medicine" that Steve Jobs tried for 8 months that likely permitted his pancreatic cancer to kill him?

      -You want to change the system, run for office.

      by Deep Texan on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:49:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  SBM has some really good (0+ / 0-)

        writing on this. Read this, first, but also read the update.

        Good stuff.

        “…The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole.” – Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch

        by mikidee on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 03:53:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Pancreatic Cancer is Curable? nt (10+ / 0-)

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:55:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  a rare few can beat it. (6+ / 0-)

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews, Seralini=Wakefield. yadda yadda.

        by terrypinder on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:59:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not an MD; don't play one on TV, either. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cville townie, susans

        I could be wrong.  As usual.  But my understanding is that there are (at least) two kinds of pancreatic cancer--type one kills you very quickly.  Type two, if caught early and treated aggressively, has a much better long-term survival rate.  Jobs had the second type, which is why the first time he got it, he lived several years after his second diagnosis of it.  The second time, he "treated" it nutritionally.  Ergo, he died.

      •  Steve Jobs had a very slow-growing cancer (9+ / 0-)

        That had already spread years and years before he was diagnosed. He was a goner no matter what.

        The current state of oncology is that people go through treatments that are simply torture and end up with just a couple of extra years of life in exchange.

        "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

        by Crider on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:05:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Such certainty you have .... (0+ / 0-)

          I prefer the honest, science-based discussion found here.

          “…The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole.” – Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch

          by mikidee on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 04:25:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  From that pop-sci site you cite: (0+ / 0-)
            Rather, he had the much less aggressive form of pancreatic cancer, a neuroendocrine tumor. These tumors are often indolent and slow-growing.
            So, what is your point?

            "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

            by Crider on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:24:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  C'mon, honey .... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek
              That had already spread years and years before he was diagnosed. He was a goner no matter what
              Did you read the article? It's not clear, based on what was  known about his particular condition, how advanced his cancer was when it was first diagnosed. Yet you somehow know "he was a goner no matter what." Bill Frist comes to mind ....

              Unlike your glib and shallow commentary, that "pop sci" link I posted was written by an oncologist who determined reactionary blaming of CAM was just as unsupported as blaming the treatment Jobs ultimately received.

              Here's the thing - if you are agreeing that "biology is king and queen," no matter what treatment Jobs got, then say that. But don't presume to know either how much time or what the quality of that time for Jobs would have been.

              Unlike you, Steve Gorski acknowledged limitations of his knowledge and expertise, and respected the life of the man who died.

              “…The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole.” – Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch

              by mikidee on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:56:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You neglected the obvious (0+ / 0-)

                If the cancer was so slow-growing, the metastasization would have had to happened a long time prior to it's discovery. In other words, the rate of growth of the tumor was a known fact.

                Now, run along back to your pop-sci dottohead playground.

                "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

                by Crider on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 07:13:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Mmm... I had a 5% chance of living (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mikidee, G2geek

          due to the extent of my metastases. I was also a "goner." I was treated with heavy, aggressive surgery as well as radioactive iodine and chemotherapy (unusual for my cancer).

          That was about 25 years ago.

          Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

          by mahakali overdrive on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 04:45:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Case Where It's Found Early, Like By Accident (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        susans, wilderness voice, Silencio, G2geek

        I seems like it is generally painless until it is completely out of control and the patient is literally days from death.  Survival rates seem to be not bad if it's caught earlier and it's treated with surgery and chemo.

        Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

        by bernardpliers on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:33:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Gooserock - Ask Justice Ginsberg. (0+ / 0-)
      •  The particular form Jobs had often is (0+ / 0-)

        It's a fairly uncommon form that has a much higher survival rate than the most common one.

        Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

        by ebohlman on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 04:34:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yup, just like that. Assuming that a wider range (13+ / 0-)

      of interest always makes someone incapable of telling the difference between data based and faith based paradigms isn't the best way to go. Unless, of course, you're arguing from a faith-based paradigm yourself (general you), and the cognitive dissonance bothers you.

      I say alternatives, and you assume alternative medicine, and further assume that the greater potential is for harm, by cherrypicking those instances you know to be fallacies, and assuming that any deviation from the scientific norm equates to promoting them.

      The idiocies have to be put down, yes. Not necessarily by insulting an entire class of commenters, though.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:14:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Eh- It's sticky... (5+ / 0-)
        The idiocies have to be put down, yes. Not necessarily by insulting an entire class of commenters, though.
        Take a look at the idiocies that are characteristic of the Christian Right. Nobody around here seems to have a problem insulting that whole class.

        I see a lot of stuff that is every bit as faith-based and every bit as dangerous every day from the dKos anti-science brigade.

        If it's appropriate to point out that kind of magical thinking as "woo", why is it not appropriate to point out this kind of magical thinking as "woo"?

        Conversely, if we're going to accept psuedoscience as a valid worldview that must be respected, and whose proponents should not be mocked- Are we willing to extend that courtesy to other flavors of magical thinking?

        I have to admit, I find it hilarious when alternative med folks describe themselves as non-religious.

        •  If we alienate all religious people at this site (7+ / 0-)

          Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and all the rest, how many progressive voters will we have left?  Last time I checked, this website was for promoting more and better Democrats, not alienating non-atheists.  Every time I have seen an attack on a religious group here, there has been some pushback.

          If you want to rant about how smart and rational you are, a good place for that is James Randi's website, where everyone who comes there to post knows they are going to be on woo defense.

        •  It strikes me that you may be conflating a strong (4+ / 0-)

          interest in the area with an anti-science standpoint. One of the things I'm trying to point out is that the two do not necessarily conflate.

          If, of necessity, the whole area qualifies only as "magical thinking" and/or "pseudoscience" (btw, the two terms are not particularly equivalent), then perhaps you're right. Personally, I like to separate my definitions a bit more strictly. It's quite possible to be interested in oddball phenomena without having a vested interest in having them be "true".

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:08:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Acupuncture is not "faith based." (0+ / 0-)

          you lump all "other ideas" into one basket of dismissal and that is just as short-sighted

          "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

          by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:59:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sticky, yes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          serendipityisabitch

          Thanks Remembering Jello for this comment that comes closest to expressing my own concerns.

          People see themselves as right because that makes them feel good about themselves. On this site, we try to be more inclusive and less dogmatic about it, compared with, say, a republican right wing site or a fundamentalist Christian site.  

          But we still see ourselves as right, versus the others that are wrong.

          At this point, some of us are saying "but they ARE wrong". And possibly "I'm just pointing out their wrongness because their wrongness is causing damage, so it must be countered".

          If we want unity for the purpose of electing more and better democrats, then divisive diaries are counter-productive.

          If we can include both woo-thinkers and reality-basers within our concept of "progressive democrats", we will be stronger as a group. There is no benefit to making those of either stripe feel so unwelcome here that they leave, taking their other talents and contributions with them.

          Maybe we can use this site as an opportunity to practice being respectful with each other. Someday we might even be able to disagree respectfully with republicans and fundamentalists.

          working for a world that works for everyone ...

          by USHomeopath on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:41:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  "Call your friends by the names they choose, and.. (0+ / 0-)

          ... call your enemies by the names you choose."

          The reason we come down hard on the religious right is that the religious right is systematically mean, cruel, and tyrannical, and it seeks to impose its ideology on others via both the laws of the land and overt terrorism.

          The fact that they believe (for example) that the universe is 6,000 years old isn't the problem: the fact that they seek to impose that belief upon others is the problem.  But along the way, what happens is that we conflate the form with the content: the tyrannical form with the belief content that the tyranny is used to promote.

          This has begun to reach the point where religious progressives get the same kind of shit that should be reserved for religious righties.  And that's wrong.

          It's wrong on principle because it's bigotry.  "All Christians" resembles nothing so much as "All Jews" and "All Blacks" etc.

          It's wrong on politics because one of the central premises of progressive politics is the "consenting adult" principle: people have the right to believe whatever, so long as they aren't hurting anyone else (and BTW, anti-vaxxism is not that: it hurts others by breaking herd immunity and producing disease outbreaks).

          And it's wrong on pragmatism for the simple reason that if we piss off and alienate a wide swath of potential Democratic voters, we lose.

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 02:37:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Accupuncture/pressure can do some things (6+ / 0-)

      Just, not everything many proponents claim.

      Some aspects of this so-called "woo" term are context-specific, as in, "how far will you go in claiming that a given treatment or regimen will provide specific benefits?"

      Will accupressure cure arthritis?  No.

      Will it help with temporary pain relief and enhanced movement of tightened muscles/connective tissue related to arthritis?  Possibly.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:37:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No one claims acupuncture cures arthritis (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader

        but pain relief from this treatment is medicine as much as a pill is, so I hope this is not on your "woo" list.

        a lot of the problem people here have with complementary medicine is ASSUMING others advocate herbs and no surgery for cancer, for example, instead of as part of an overall treatment plan

        "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

        by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:53:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Perhaps you'd be surprised what people claim. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader

          People claim that spinal "adjustments" cure cancer.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:40:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I am supporting the diarist's point that (3+ / 0-)

          there are often black/white shutoffs of consideration for some ideas, usually due to extreme assumptions.

          And yes, I hear many people claim that various alternative therapies for truly serious medical issues can be either "turned around" or managed through relatively simple manipulations on the body.

          I'm living post-chronic-Lyme and am unfortunately rather acquainted with all sorts of complementary therapies, mostly because most of the standard practitioners of medicine I speak with tend to prescribe medications that would alter my emotional state and worse - for things that I can simply bear with discomfort, but manage through tactical meds and strategic physical therapies.

          Yet, in the Lyme-infected community, I've read so many woo-like ideas and claims . . . much of it paralleled in communities for different infections and/or conditions.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 01:37:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  When Western medicine can't help I am sure (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wader

            people will try any kind of crazy idea and I would support them in trying, you never know, but only AFTER you tried the "tested" treatments.

            The sad thing is there are other ways to help people but the hucksters and the irresponsible make it tough to get respect for the sincere practitioners.

            "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

            by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 04:24:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Its fine to use whatever is there if you are dying (0+ / 0-)

      and no western medicine can help, he was dying, nothing else would have helped

      "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

      by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:55:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Deepak Chopra doesn't even rate, in comparison... (0+ / 0-)

      .... to Andrew Wakefield and Jenny What's Her Name.

      Last I checked, Chopra was pretty good on comparative religion, majorly sloppy on science, but at least wasn't personally responsible for outbreaks of dangerous diseases such as measles and pertussis.

      IMHO, if someone can lose their 2nd Amendment rights for using a firearm in ways that harm innocent people, then someone should also be able to lose their 1st Amendment rights for using their mouths in ways that harm innocent people.  That would be Wakefield.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 02:19:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not seeing the problem here: (19+ / 0-)
    And, with a wave of the hand, the person who has had the temerity to mention an alternative viewpoint has any other contributions summarily dismissed in any diary which purports to be about science
    Not every viewpoint is equally valid. Some questions really are stupid questions. That American society seems to say otherwise has been really damaging, in my opinion.

    Listen, I think some woo is generally harmless, but don't expect me to not be dismissive of people who insist that (without irony):

    1. water has memory and feelings
    2. the location of planets in the sky at ones birth determines their personality
    3. the optical illusion of those planets moving backward through the sky actually causes techfail
    4. psychics (beyond people who are adept at cold-reading ones body language) actually are real
    5. homeopathy works

    the divide you've encountered is because people make up their own realities and ideologes do this to extremes. if that's the case, then daily kos isn't a reality-based community, and neither are liberals or progressives (that i've been alleging this for years of both this community AND progressives notwithstanding.)

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews, Seralini=Wakefield. yadda yadda.

    by terrypinder on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:41:29 AM PDT

    •  so tired of friends showing me pictures of their (8+ / 0-)

      ghosts...

      it's not a ghost.

      -You want to change the system, run for office.

      by Deep Texan on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 08:50:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I do like your last paragraph. ;) (7+ / 0-)

      And I hold you wholly innocent of the practice that irritates me. Every one of your comments I've ever seen was a direct reply to a particular comment, not a generalization. It's always a pleasure to see you in a thread.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:18:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  6. Corporate science is truth (10+ / 0-)

      (especially in the field of nutrition.)

      "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

      by Crider on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:30:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Corporate science", oh noes! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch, NE2

        Dismissing science because it's "corporate," whatever that's taken to mean, is as bad as dismissing climate science because it's not.

      •  yes, we know, corporations are evil. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phenry, serendipityisabitch

        anyway it's going to amuse me greatly when walmart starts up a store-brand organic line (assuming they haven't already) and millions of acres are placed under "organic" cultivation at big gigantic corporate farms to meet the demand.

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews, Seralini=Wakefield. yadda yadda.

        by terrypinder on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:20:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Capitalist driven science (6+ / 0-)

          ...certainly can be evil in consequences. It is not required by the sponsors to serve the public interest, but rather only the shareholders' interest. A major flaw with such a system is the need for profiteering which disproportionately steers research and vast sums of money to product development, rather than alternatives which, if they were explored, might lead to developments which better serve humanity and the planet.

          No matter how "sound" such science might seem to be when studied in the vacuum of reductionism, what it doesn't take into account is the larger context of what is the best course to develop for the people. Corporate science never studies this, because it doesn't have that responsibility in a capitalistic system. It resorts to all sorts of methods to make the science appear safe, such as limiting studies to shorter terms, epidemiological studies which often flattens results due to inability to eliminate variables.

          Science can be wrong, and when it is, it can be devastating. It is always appropriate to be skeptical of products that exist to create profit.

          For example, HRT was long held to be safe, and gynecologists who warned of the "side effect" of cancer, based on clinical observation, are nearly driven out of their fields with blistering ridicule and accusations of being anti-science, only to be proven correct years later by large government studies.

          "Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality." - Michael Bakunin (Economic Left/Right: -10.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.79)

          by ZhenRen on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:07:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If the choice is DDT or Malaria, I'll take DDT.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch, Silencio, G2geek

        Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
        I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
        Emiliano Zapata

        by buddabelly on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:45:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  funny thing is... (0+ / 0-)

        ... DDT was an absolute boon to public health when it was first developed.  It was total death to mosquitoes and flies that carried horrible diseases that were endemic in many areas.  

        Then, like antibiotics, it was terribly over-used and misused and abused, until a) it bred resistant strains of insects and b) led to higher doses to overcome the resistance, which c) produced ecological hazards such as harm to species higher on food chains.

        Pesticides and antibiotics both need to be restricted to applications where they will do good without risk of doing serious harm.  

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 03:01:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The very heart of woo (5+ / 0-)

      http://www.skeptiko.com/...

      Dr. Michael Persinger is the King of Woo Science.  And he's found out some interesting things.

      Also there is this:

      http://cornellsun.com/...

      I am reading Daniel Boorstin's book, The Discoverers, a book about important scientific discoveries, and in his preface he writes:

      The obstacles to discovery--the illusions of knowledge--are also part of our story.  Only against the forgotten backdrop of the received common sense and myths of their time can we begin to sense the courage, the rashness, the heroic and imaginative thrusts of the great discoverers.  They had to battle against the current "facts" and dogmas of the learned.
      •  (OT: Boorstin's 'The Image' is incredible.) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cordgrass

        "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

        by Silencio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:51:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  do you have any serious critiques of.... (0+ / 0-)

        ... either of those studies, or are you just going to sling emotionalisms and ad-homs?

        I would have thought Persinger appealed to atheists, since his findings on religious feelings in response to EM stimulation of the temporal lobes could be interpreted as demonstrating that beliefs in deities were the result of brain abnormalities.  Oh well.  Still not orthodox enough for the truly orthodox.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 03:07:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  he doesn't appeal until I see it widely replicated (0+ / 0-)

          he's woo until that time.

          although useful woo, i may poach it for a novel.

          Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews, Seralini=Wakefield. yadda yadda.

          by terrypinder on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 04:33:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "taboo" rhymes with "woo," and causes... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cordgrass

            .... people to get scared-off from attempting to replicate anything controversial, particularly if it goes against any part of the orthodoxy.

            And IMHO, taboo is also superstitious nonsense of the worst kind, implicit and arbitrary rules and "social punishments" that reinforce obscurantism.  

            Poaching Persinger for a novel is trying to "have it both ways."  

            One more bit about Persinger's findings:

            (BTW, I read all of his papers in the journal Perception and Motor Skills.)

            One of his findings was that with the temporal lobe stimulation (TLS) turned on, subjects showed a higher degree of "verbal substitution behavior," for example:

            S is asked to repeat a sentence, "Sarah stepped over cracks in the sidewalk."  Verbal substitution behavior entails substituting words, for example "Sarah skipped over cracks in the pavement."  

            Why this is important:

            Religious fundamentalists are obsessed with textual literalism.  Any technique and any hypothetical mechanism that shows potential to break down textual literalism in any context, has potential to be used to counteract the textual literalism that is a key component of fundamentalism.

            In other words, wider access to TLS could help shift the culture away from the type of thinking that is conducive to fundamentalism.

            That's something progressives ought to care about, and ought to want to build on, rather than pooh-poohing it or tabooing it.  

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 07:48:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I meant "woo" in the positive sense (0+ / 0-)

          I'm a witch!  No critiques here, except lack of replication.  Which is completely understandable.

      •  I should add I actually own one of (0+ / 0-)

        Persinger's devices and was in correspondence with his assistant.

    •  Reality based: what if a person finds relief (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio

      in some form of healing you poo-poo, isn't that person's reality that it worked for them?

      "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

      by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:50:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I feel uncomfortable also (17+ / 0-)

    reading some of the dismissive responses to comments that question existing scientific and medical techniques.

    I do support summarily and strongly objecting to the "alternatives" listed by terrypinder and pasadena begger as absolutely justified (homeopathy, anti-vaxx, etc)

    However I also believe that the recent history of medical and scientific errors also justifies folks who express skepticism about current scientific and medical approaches.

    I personally am not that concerned about the health risks from GMOs, for instance.

    But someone who in the past trusted science and medicine and ended up seeing people addicted to Darvon, wildlife killed from DDT, and the ozone layer thinned from the unwise approval of chemicals, is certainly justified in saying wait a minute, I want more information.

    For almost 30 years, I have made part of my living from studying the efficiency of pollution control devices and techniques, and I burst with pride at how far we've progressed on those fronts, through advances in applied science.  I love science and I'm grateful to scientists.

    But I can understand while others are asking questions about the "latest" advances, and are feeling uncomfortable with the status of the information.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:01:45 AM PDT

    •  I'm cool with asking questions (12+ / 0-)

      I deeply questioned the assumption that "fracking makes earthquakes" for a very long time. My problem is when people don't bother to follow up. I followed up on that entire thing and now I know I was wrong.

      But at the other extreme, I also believed thimerisol in vaccines caused autism (and that the Bush Administration was actively covering this up).  I learned I was wrong on both counts.

      People have to be willing to follow up and I think sadly a lot of people are not willing to follow up.

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews, Seralini=Wakefield. yadda yadda.

      by terrypinder on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:08:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for your response, terry (4+ / 0-)

        Oddly I had the similar concerns as you, about fracking and thimerisol.  

        Truth be told, it was actually wastewater re-injection and  not fracking that is causing the earthquakes.

        And knowing how toxic mercury is in certain forms, I never thought was a good idea to give it to people in any form or compound or in any dose.  

        Although it has been cleared of causing autism or any other ailment, I'm still glad they've reduced or ceased its use in vaccines (and in fillings).

        You are right that most folks lack the time or inclination to follow up on these and other issues, and that's the core problem of the "woo-woo solutions,"  they allow folks to believe they've thought the issue through to a conclusion.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:28:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Woo does not promote scientific curiosity (6+ / 0-)

    You wrote: "it bugs me that a diary that damn well ought to support scientific curiosity would automatically become a safe haven for those who think that curiosity should be limited to only those areas already supported by the scientific establishment."

    Woo cannot support scientific curiosity, because it is not science. The latter term means the study of things via testing available evidence using the scientific method. Woo is, by definition, magic thinking used by people who wish the outcome of the above testing would come out more favorably for the interested parties.

    •  Thank you. You have given an admirable example (11+ / 0-)

      of precisely the response that most irritates me.

      You have made the assumption that any interest in anything except science presupposes a limited mindset on the part of those who are interested, even if they're also in favor of science.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:39:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm still not sure what this diary is about (4+ / 0-)

        I think I've generally tuned out the comments you have in mind.

        Personally, I usually avoid describing people's ideas as "woo," even if I think it fits, if I don't think that is obvious to everyone reading. I just don't see the point. It isn't that I intend to be respectful of nonsense; on the contrary, I hope I can gut it more effectively on the merits.

        But I think you are referring to something other than the aforementioned nonsense, and I'm not sure what.

        "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

        by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:16:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have never seen you reply in any way (4+ / 0-)

          that would produce the kind of irritation I've been feeling on this general topic. You do reply to every comment on its merits, as far as I know. Politely, succinctly, and with a razor edged scalpel. Even when you're taking me apart, I enjoy the elegance.

          But it was precisely the aforementioned nonsense, over a range of comments, that got on my nerves. I'm used to seeing it in a number of different areas, and certainly I coped with much worse when I was questioning Ray.

          The difference here is that I'm not convinced that most of the people who are doing it realize how much it's more of the same shit. So I decided to see whether I could make some small difference for the future.

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:43:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  thank you for that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch, G2geek

            I was off with my wife watching an extremely silly movie. :)

            I'll have to catch up with the comments, but yes, while it's interesting to consider what does or doesn't qualify as "woo," in most discussions what seems to matter to me is whether people are... well, open to discussion. (I do mean real discussion.)

            "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

            by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 01:51:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong. (7+ / 0-)

      Woo can be a dismissive label applied to anything whatsoever the labeler deems unworthy of interest.

    •  Much depends as well on (11+ / 0-)

      what is being lumped into the kettle of 'woo'. I've seen quite a few who lump herbals in with homeopathy as if there were no difference between them. And no clue to the fact that a great deal of Big Pharma's medicine chest came directly from the natural world's pharmacopia before isolated alkaloids and compounds from the plants were synthesized in mass in vats of genetically engineered bacteria to provide intense dosages you wouldn't get from the natural sources.

      There's a reason there's all those PhDs out there trudging through the jungles and across the tundras seeking rare flora with curative powers they heard about through some local shaman or other. Hell, I had to remind my own sister just a few months ago in the heat of one of her intellectually elite style put-downs of all things natural that she earned her PhD in plant physiology by being identifying and quantifyiing the anti-cancer alkaloids/compounds in American Mandrake root. Sure, those are now fully synthesized and concentrated, but it started out as simply noticing the plant colony's ability to prevent the growth of competing flora for the time it takes to mature, flower and fruit.

      Semi-interesting factoid about that nifty growth prevention ability: it also works on kudzu. Which, if you know about kudzu, is pretty darned impressive because basically nothing other than goats has any effect on its voraciousness.

      There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

      by Joieau on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:12:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes! anti-vaccine people put others in danger (5+ / 0-)

        that is different than using homeopathy instead of antibiotics to cure a urinary tract infection, which won't hurt anyone else if it doesn't work, but if it does, even IF placebo, the fewer anti-biotics you take the better.

        "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

        by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:05:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, I'm a very pragmatic herbalist. (3+ / 0-)

          There are many natural antibiotics, and many more anti-virals than modern medicine can boast, but they aren't particularly concentrated, tend to come with peripheral components that gentle the action - best used before a situation gets bad, and over a longer period of time due to working as immune system assists more than as direct invader eradicators.

          If you've got a well advanced problem, I'm gonna send you straight to the ER/Urgent to get a shot. §;o)

          There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

          by Joieau on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:58:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  WTF? (5+ / 0-)
      Woo cannot support scientific curiosity, because it is not science.
      See the history of alchemy as the predecessor to chemistry.

      Attention is the precursor to science, and among those who attend, there will be a subset with a scientific habit of thinking, no matter where they start.

    •  Your comment displays a narrow-minded (3+ / 0-)

      arrogance as you imply that science is comprised only of those theories which currently have scientific validation through testing and data.

      The broader view of science is that it is a methodical and logical approach to exploring what's so about the world in which we live. It is a process which seeks explanations for natural phenomena. Many scientific advances have some about in an evolutionary manner, where pieces of a puzzle were partially understood and theories sufficient to explain their part were developed, only to later find that when more pieces of the puzzle were considered, the earlier theories were no longer sufficient and were replaced by more robust theories.

      Yes, some of the things considered "Woo" have been proven to be pure snakeoil/BS. Other areas of human experience, not so much. According to the current state of scientific thinking, it is impossible for information about the future to be transmitted backwards in time to the present. And yet, this phenomenon exists. Not only have there been many documented cases of people quite accurately predicting future events, I have personally experienced this on a number of occasions. I can't explain it, I can't prove to you that it happens, I can't control the circumstances enough to run a valid scientific test, but I know that the phenomenon is real.

      I also do volunteer work for a local medical organization that provides first aid and crisis support for concerts and festivals. There are two of us in the organization who are "the woo people". We work with mind energy and the power of focused intention to create a space where people remain safe and healthy. And we have developed enough of a reputation for having relatively incident-free events, that even the more hardcore "realists" on the medical staff have stopped pooh-poohing what we do.

      Just because we don't understand the physical mechanism by which something works doesn't mean it doesn't work. For millennia mankind did not understand how gravity worked. Nevertheless, nobody floated away as a result, because understood or not, gravity is real. In fact, we're still kind of hazy on exactly the mechanism by which gravity does its thing. We know it works and we can describe its effects to a gnat's ass, but the quantum mechanical explanation is still up in the air.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 01:36:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  here's an experiment for you: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kbman, serendipityisabitch

        Someone in cognitive science was looking at the response of the human brain to emotionally loaded sensory input as compared to emotionally neutral input.  They put the subjects in an MRI and showed them slides of various pictures: sexual ones, violent ones, and emotionally neutral ones.  They duly recorded all data and drew some interesting conclusions about how the brain processes these different types of inputs.

        So far, no controversy.

        Then someone else got hold of the data and ran another analysis, and found something very interesting:

        Often enough to produce a statistically significant result, the subjects' brains displayed a distinct response immediately before the emotionally loaded slides were shown.  In other words, a retrocausal effect occurred.  Information apparently going backward across time.  The researcher used the term "presentiment" to describe this, because unlike precognition, the content is not consciously perceived by the subject.

        That generated a controversy, with the antis saying, per usual, "it can't exist, therefore it doesn't exist."

        I wish the heck I had a citation for that but I could probably Ixquick search the relevant key words and find it.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 05:14:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've read about that before (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          I believe there have been other studies found the same results.

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 10:18:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  there's a very large quantity of work in this area (0+ / 0-)

            ... over the past century or so, and the methodologies got substantially tighter starting in the late 1960s to the present.

            Keywords: presentiment, precognition, psi, remote viewing, PK (etc.).  Go to any decent social sciences library and you'll be able to find the relevant articles and journals, and more keywords and authors to look up.  Avoid the sensationalistic popular treatments of this material, many of them do devolve into silliness.  There are some decent books written by researchers in these fields for lay audiences, and those might be useful places to start.

            See also my reply to Serendipityisabitch, below, under the header "yes, of course."

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 07:31:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Pardon me if I play with this one - to posit that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          there was a retrocausal effect, you also have to rule out the possibility that the researcher knew which slides were about to come up.  If there was a random shuffle beforehand, and the researcher had no knowledge, then maybe. Otherwise, it's a simpler posit that what the subjects were picking up on was the researcher's knowledge of which slides were coming up, or possibly his/her emotional reaction to them.

          Was the researcher also being monitored in the same way? Most likely not, because it wouldn't have occurred to them. But I'll settle for a simpler hypothesis of emotional pickup before I'll look at retrocausal effects.

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 12:10:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes, of course. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch

            That's basic double-blind methodology, so I didn't feel any need to spell it out.

            The goal of the original research team was to look at brain activity after each image was presented.  

            The order in which images were presented to subjects was randomized by computer for each subject and each test period.  

            The experimenters did not know the order of the images before, during, or after each subject was tested.  They were not in the same room as the subjects, to avoid any potential for nonverbal cues in either direction.

            Scoring of brain responses was done by assistants after the whole thing was completed.  Only then were the responses matched to the images.

            This kind of methodology is very standard for any kinds of experiments involving scoring of human responses to stimuli.  Anyone with social sciences background can confirm these points.

            After the results were published, a second team, wholly unrelated to the first team, asked for and were given the raw data.

            They used the same scoring methods as the first team, with the only difference being that they were looking for brain activity before each image was presented.

            Yes I'm fully aware of all of the ferociously nasty issues (both scientific and philosophical) around this kind of stuff, and I could easily write another ten or fifteen pages on the subject.  It presents paradoxes analogous to those in the work on entanglement, and in fact entanglement is a highly useful analogy for a number of reasons, most notably that the recipient does not know if their received impression is correct until they get confirmation via normal/classical means.  (Yet, any mention of entanglement in this context is also dismissed as "woo," another example of a-prior bias.)

            There is an "easy way out" in the form of superdeterminism, but a) in its complete form, superdeterminism is unfalsifiable therefore not science, and b) if one allows the arbitrary exception for the degree of predictability of algorithmic random numbers compared to physical random numbers, then there is a way to get at this issue indirectly via precognition scores on each type of random number targets.  I've designed experiments to measure this.

            With that in mind, and having studied this subject in more depth than anyone here wants to hear about, I am highly skeptical of superdeterminist hypotheses, and favorable toward information-theoretic hypotheses and entanglement hypotheses.

            The antis would like to wish this stuff away, but the empirical findings for it, numerous controlled experiments included, are too strong.  Bottom line: there's a real physical phenomenon here, the effect size is small but it's highly statistically significant, it is not going to "go away," and our task is to ascertain the physical mechanism involved.

            I'll close with a prediction: after the physical mechanism is found and confirmed, the whole thing will be seen as totally mundane and unremarkable, just like thunderstorms after we figured out what caused thunder and lightning.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 07:27:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, I started remembering more about it as (0+ / 0-)

              you were describing the methodology. There's a slight case to be made for direct perception of the slides before they were projected, but I can't quite bring myself to make it.

              Most of the predictive stuff I've run into has me tending to make the case for unconscious collaberation of the parties involved, but I think my biggest objection is that I've never personally run into a case that I could cleanly call prediction. At least partly jealousy, maybe?

              mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

              by serendipityisabitch on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 07:43:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  If I'm understanding it rightly, (17+ / 0-)

    I think the diary is right on.  I do not think the diary in any way supports what some derisively call "woo."  I think -- and this is where I may be wrong -- that the diary is mildly objecting to a type of dogmatism that creeps into a certain scientific mindset, a mindset that assumes Science has an unchallengeable monopoly not only on truth but on what might count as a meaningful account of truth.  (Personally, I see a parallel between that mindset and the mindset of the belligerent atheist, who is every bit as militant as the belligerent religionist -- though that's probably off-topic.)

    "Reality-based community."  That term gets used a lot.  What does that mean?  Fact-based?  Facts don't interpret themselves.  Sure, evidence is critical.  But so is the reasoning that orders that evidence into a defensible theory or interpretation.  And to summarily dismiss a claim or viewpoint because it doesn't have the imprimatur of Science seems unnecessarily hard-headed.

    Just to be clear: I'm not defending what people here call "woo."  Rather, I'm remembering that Einstein had a sign above his office door (unless this is just a legend) that said "Not everything that can be measured matters, and not everything that matters can be measured."

    Now, if I've just misunderstood the intent of the diary, everyone please ignore this comment.  :)

    "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

    by Silencio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:16:02 AM PDT

    •  The obnoxious anti-woo people here would say (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, CJB2012, Silencio

      Einstein was a drooling no-nothing for saying that not everything that matters can be measured

      "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

      by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:51:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        merrywidow, G2geek

        I'm trying to be neutral here, so I rec your comment but not the "obnoxious" part of it.

        I'll say this: I know people who've done yoga for decades.  They believe things that would probably be dismissed or even ridiculed here.  I don't feel comfortable endorsing or dismissing their beliefs.  I see the merit of both sides.

        "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

        by Silencio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:03:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  precisely (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, poco, G2geek

      People who use the science label to enforce their own version of religious dogma.

    •  Good point silencio (5+ / 0-)

      The self-righteous condemnation of all things "woo" around here is tiresome. I see it as a cult of scientism, projecting their fears onto the big scary woo, criticizing wooers and raising the flag of science with mob-like passion. I mean, what is the big deal about someone believing in angels, or homeopathy, or whatever? Is it hurting you, are you worried about a slippery slope to chaos, that it might be contagious? People are capable of having multiple opinions in multiple domains, you don't have to feel so threatened.

      •  A few things: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch, G2geek

        Yeah, I think to classify certain beliefs as "woo" and then insinuate that anyone who believes in "woo" is akin to a naive simpleton -- that's disrespectful, a bit arrogant, and also strategically ineffective.

        To be fair, however, I think part of what drives the anti-woo people is a concern about public health and public health policy.  For example, imagine I was persuasive enough to start a campaign alleging that, if you meditate and exercise enough willpower, then you can negate the connection between smoking and lung cancer and emphysema.  Suppose I said that actually there is no connection between smoking and ill health outcomes -- so long as you believe there isn't.  That, pretty clearly, would be objectionable and harmful to people.  Silly example, but I think it illustrates why some are adamant.

        But to turn around and say that a reductive approach to health and well-being is the only valid approach, and to disagree is to be wooed by "woo," that in my view is also unfortunate.  

        "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

        by Silencio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:36:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  interesting facet of the problem: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio

      What you said:  "... but on what might count as a meaningful account of truth."

      What you said:  "... but [also] on what might count as a meaningful account of truth."  This is clearly true: it's not just about given sets of facts and theories, but also about the emotions they invoke and the meanings they have.

      Also what you said about militancy and belligerence isn't off-topic, it's a full-on bull's eye.  

      This is also about how emotional contagions spread.  First the religious right goes on an anti-science crusade.  Then the targets of their attacks get militant in return:  reacting against the content but catching their emotion-virus.  The system runs in positive feedback mode for a while until it becomes something like an auto-immune response, and next thing you know the progressive community devours itself with internal nit-picking.

      That factor, plus the fundamentalist mindset, that suffers from an excess of concrete thinking and seeks to convert truth into Truth, a concrete object that exclusively occupies a set of coordinates as its turf, and jealously guards that turf from all other possible "competitors."  Fundamentalist thinking occurs across the political spectrum, and across the spectrum of beliefs.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:31:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  SkepticalRaptor's diary may have been (10+ / 0-)

    "well researched, and well written" but it was also highly inflammatory and insulting, comparing people who believe in homeopathy to anti-Semites, and homeopathy itself to shit, complete with large diagram of toilet and plumbing.

    It seemed to be written to stir up trouble, which would have been fine if she had left it on her original blog where it was originally posted, but posting it here was bound to stir up dissent.

    •  Well, I didn't think it was particularly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, susans, G2geek

      inflammatory, but I'm not a fan of homeopathy, either, especially when it is used specifically as a scam, as was mentioned in passing in the diary.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:44:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lots Of Overlap With Ugliest CT Subculture (5+ / 0-)

      Someone should do a network diagram of the more innocent seeming forms of woo, so the diagram would show the overlap of various conspiracy theories.  Read the anti-GMO stories on NaturalNews and that's only a mouse click from their antisemitic stuff and Truther stories.  Traditional liberal woo is becoming part of the internet conspiracy subculture, which means that liberal woo will lead to interactions with far right  Holocaust deniers and such.  Those people are everywhere, trying to fly under the radar, and they are all into the woo.

      Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

      by bernardpliers on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:56:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Naturalnews is an idiot. (5+ / 0-)

        and I use homeopathy when I start to get cold symptoms.  It seems to nip it in the bud.  I don't care if it's placebo effect and I would never rely on such treatment for a life threatening illness.  Where would you like to put me on your network diagram of CT subculture?

        •  Placebo effect means there is a mind-body (7+ / 0-)

          connection that anti-wooers also say does not exist! Though they admit that studies proved the placebo was as good so mind-body control is proven

          "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

          by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:13:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have a simple challenge for these folks (3+ / 0-)

            who deny the mind-body connection.

            1 - Measure your resting pulse rate.

            2 - Select a rate that is 20% lower or higher than yours.

            3 - Set a metronome to that number of beats per minute.

            4 - Keeping your fingers on your pulse point for feedback, focus on matching your pulse to the metronome.

            Several of us tried this simultaneously in college. We chose a rate that was lower than that of the couch potatoes and higher than that of the athletes. (One of my roommates was a basketball player who had a resting heart rate of 44.) Within a few minutes we were all able to match the rate, and within another minute be completely in sync with the beat.

            Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

            by kbman on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:35:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  easy targets do not a marksman make. (0+ / 0-)

        Natural News?  Mike Adams?  Surely you jest.

        You could hit that side of a barn with a ping pong ball at 100 yards.  

        The underlying dynamic behind CT appears to be a sense of lack of control over the circumstances of one's life.  That causal factor can become a point of entry into any sort of politics whose platform holds out hope of relief.  

        In other words, we the progressive left should be actively seeking to engage with CTers, give them an "agree to disagree" about the CT, and strengthen the parts of our platform that give them hope of regaining control over their circumstances.

        Then over time the direct acts of participation: registering voters, working for campaigns, and the like: begin to succeed, and translate to concrete progress.  Over time the CTers lose their CT.  

        At minimum this is a hypothesis that deserves to be tested.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:41:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't agree with that representation (4+ / 0-)

      The diary didn't compare people who believe in homeopathy to anti-Semites; it referred to particular anti-Semites. And it used a graphic that crudely expresses the point that if water remembers the 'active' ingredients of homeopathic treatments, presumably it also remembers its past encounters with feces.

      "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

      by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:20:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  here are direct quotes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wonton Tom, G2geek
        When I hear some pseudoscience-pushing lunatic (sorry, I can't help being snarky) say that the CDC is bought off by Big Pharma or some nefarious Jewish conspiracy (no, I'm not making that up)
        Homeopathy:  Shit and Sugar
        These pseudoscience pushing nutjobs even have their own "peer-reviewed journals" (by peer-reviewed, we mean other homeopaths reviewing each other for the quality of their pseudoscience), one of which describes a dilution with a ground up crustacean. Seriously, these people live in a world that somehow passed over the last 200 years of real science. Medieval alchemists have more credibility.
        I haven't mocked Homeopaths without Borders in a year.
        Where are those homeopaths? Oh, they're actually just cowards, spending their days trying to take money from saps who believe in these lies.
        And there were quite a few Kossacks who posted in the comments that they were long-term users of homeopathic remedies.  Not a good mix.

        There is a way to debate homeopathy without resorting to a constant string of insults and condescension.  

        •  OK (3+ / 0-)

          Yes, the diary referred in passing to actual anti-Semites (one can only assume) who trash the CDC. If you can read that comment in context — it is by no means a central point in the diary — and tell me that it compares homeopaths to anti-Semites, I can only question your reading.

          The words "Homeopathy: Shit and Sugar" do appear in that graphic (less visibly than "If water has a memory then homeopathy is full of shit"). I would not call that a quote from the diary at all, but hey, it is what it is. Certainly not a peace offering. If anyone attempted to rebut the point of the graphic, I missed the attempt.

          I agree that calling people "nutjobs" is insulting and not even good science. I don't know much about medieval alchemists, but my impression is that at least some of them performed valid experiments to test what at the time were plausible hypotheses. That may indeed make them more credible than homeopaths in general. I read hundreds of comments in that diary and didn't see anyone offer a mechanism by which homeopathy per se (the repeated dilution of particular substances) could work.

          I don't think it is realistic to expect that a group that promotes "homeopathic care and healing in emergency situations" should be exempt from mockery. It is far from obvious to me that homeopathic care and healing is the best thing that anybody whatsoever can offer in emergency situations. If saying so makes people who use homeopathic remedies uncomfortable, perhaps that is not primarily the problem of the speaker.

          There is a way to debate homeopathy without resorting to a constant string of insults and condescension.
          I don't support constant strings of insults ("condescension" is more subjective). But the substance of the diary — even the substance of the graphic — mostly stands unrebutted and even ignored by most of the diary's critics. I didn't rec the diary, but I wouldn't say it was posted to "stir up trouble." As for "dissent," I would have been interested to read substantive dissent, but all I saw was at the margins.

          "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

          by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:05:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek

            I was playing devil's advocate in that diary, and I did find a few double-blind placebo-controlled studies with positive results and I'm never a big fan of meta-analyses, but homeopathy, unlike, say acupuncture, does lend itself very well to a traditional clinical trial structure--there should be more studies supporting it if it works the way its proponents say it does.

            And it sounds like the Swiss made a good faith effort to prove the efficacy of homeopathy.  The Swiss government does consider it a valid form of treatment and will reimburse providers, but from what I've read, that seems to be due more from political pressure and popularity than sound science.

            For the most part, it seems that homeopathic medicine can't beat a placebo.  But being a witch, I have a healthy respect for the power of the placebo and mind over matter.  From my point of view homeopathy may be just a placebo but it is the king of placebos.  You saw how many advocates posted comments in that diary.

            •  yes, exactly, with one little quibble. (0+ / 0-)

              I find no evidence to support homeopathy, but I do find evidence of unscrupulous people trying to hawk it in ways that are highly objectionable.  

              That said, if consenting adults want to use it for various minor ailments, fine.  Compared to e.g. anti-vaxxers or climate denialists, there's no harm being done to others.  And if it makes them feel better, good, and I'm not going to put them down for it.  (I'm an engineer and a hardcore empiricist: "whatever works.")

              Though, I'll quibble with you about which placebo is the best.  

              Chicken noodle soup.

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:53:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Chicken soup is NOT a placebo (0+ / 0-)

                There have been studies on it showing the efficacy of compounds in chicken soup to help upper respiratory ailments.  If I recall correctly, however, it must be made the old-fashioned way, with long cooking of the skin and carcass.

            •  exactly this: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serendipityisabitch
              there should be more studies supporting it if it works the way its proponents say it does.
              (which doesn't preclude it working in other ways, we agree)

              "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

              by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 07:38:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  the problem is: it's counterproductive to try to.. (2+ / 0-)

            ... persuade someone of something by calling them a stupid lunatic, a coward, a sap, and a liar.

            If someone said to you, "listen up, asshole," and they were not your Drill Sergeant, chances are you wouldn't say "Sir!, Yes sir!", you'd write them off as a low-order jerk and stop listening.  

            Emotional narrative is every bit as important as the factual content of a message.  How do you think advertising works?  They could just show you pictures of the car, but it's a lot more enticing to see a family climb in and head off to vacation.

            A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and a spoonful of rotten eggs does the opposite.

            We got the future back. Uh-oh.

            by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:48:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  oh, I generally agree with that (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, serendipityisabitch

              I still think cordgrass's synopsis of the other diary — which she has worded similarly in at least three comments — is inaccurate. But I certainly don't think the diary was tailored to convince homeopaths.

              I always thought Dana Houle's approach to the election fraud debate was horribly off-putting, and (naturally) I always thought my own approach was more "constructive." But as to the effects of anything either of us ever wrote, I really can't say much empirically. I hope that some lurkers learned something. Sometimes I learned something, but disproportionately I "learned" that reasonable discussion is hard. I'm not saying that to rebut any of your comments; it just reflects some of my sensibility about these topics.

              "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

              by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 07:34:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Whether or not you are sufficiently able (11+ / 0-)

    to compartmentalize your 'woo' experiences from rational investigation is one thing.

    The overall degradation of our societies ability to rationally evaluate data and ideas because of the general acceptance of 'woo' is quite another. Many of the people you are responding to see the acceptance of 'woo' as an endemic, societal issue akin to racism, sexism, and other social ills that does real damage and needs to be confronted wherever it rears its head. It wastes resources, and actually harms and kills people.

    That said, I'm beginning to become more of a mind that critical thinking skills are secondary to the evaluation and acceptance of data, especially contradictory data. That self and group identity are the primary sources of belief, and those sources are relatively immune to critique regardless of the general rationality of the holder.

    We liberals seem to have a mentality that more closely reflects reality, but is perhaps only coincidentally because reality has a "liberal bias", mostly. When reality diverges from our liberal mindset, we can become just as intransigent in accepting the conflicting data.

    So, 'to woo' or 'not to woo', might not really be the question at all.

    •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, G2geek
      That said, I'm beginning to become more of a mind that critical thinking skills are secondary to the evaluation and acceptance of data, especially contradictory data. That self and group identity are the primary sources of belief, and those sources are relatively immune to critique regardless of the general rationality of the holder.
      Well, but certainly not immune if the person trying to change their view starts out by insulting them...how could someone resist engaging in a constructive, mind-opening conversation when approached by a bully with a chip on his shoulder? If it works for fundamentalist, hell-fire preachers bringing folks into the fold, it ought to work for self-selected emissaries of  anything.
      •  It's almost never about convincing (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrypinder, Silencio, mikidee, guyeda

        the person one is directly engaging in dialogue. Most of the time it's the fence sitters watching the back-and-forth that might be swayed.

        I have no reason to believe that either a respectful debate, or a humiliating excoriation is more or less effective at convincing those watching from the sidelines. Is it better to graciously let someone dodge a question, or pin them to the wall until it's obvious to everyone that they are talking BS?

        That said, while I do believe people deserve respect, at least initially, wacky ideas do not. Furthermore, and you see this a lot in religion/atheism debates., often anyone who challenges a 'woo' belief is automatically considered an angry 'bully' with a chip on their shoulder, regardless of the tone of their initial foray.

        That gets old real fast.

        Additionally, mind-closing volleys and attempts to cut-off debate occur as often, if not more, from those being challenged by using accusations of shilling (and being a bully).

        In short, it's common wisdom: "attract more flies with honey than vinegar", that gets applied in politics (President vs. Congress), religious debate, scientific debate, and so on. And with much 'common wisdom' I truly wonder how much wisdom it really does contain. It ignores the reality that often those flies just really, really hate your honey.

        •  Maybe that shows (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          serendipityisabitch, G2geek

          that a "honey or vinegar" approach is a limited means of persuasion.  It assumes the purpose of debate is to win, and to convince the other person of "my" point.  If the greatest claim of science is that it's truth-tracking, perhaps the "honey or vinegar" approach isn't the best.

          "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

          by Silencio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 12:20:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I'm firmly in the science over woo camp, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          guyeda, CJB2012, Silencio, G2geek

          but many of the attempts at defending science I see here are embarrassing in their hostility and narrow-mindedness.

          •  Narrow-mindedness? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mikidee

            Can you be more specific.

            I get the hostility, that's sometimes quite apparent, and sometimes quite understandable.

            But I often see the charge of being 'narrow-minded' leveled against anyone who refuses to consider the validity of the 'woo'. So, given you're in the science 'camp', I'm wondering what you mean by 'narrow-mindedness', cause I can't say it's readily apparent to me in these discussions.

            •  Sure. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek

              But I'm remarking on some diarists and commenters here, not "anyone who refuses to consider the validity of woo."

              Dismissal of the precautionary principle, for one. The attitude that it's somehow scientific to exclude all but scientific considerations from decision making, for another.

              •  And then, from personal experience, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek

                for example, there's "ASMR", which is, from what little I've read, not recognized as a real thing by medical professionals, yet it's the subject of many videos on the net, designed to induce it. So, woo. But when I first read about it recently, I immediately realized it's a sensation I have experienced at times since childhood and assumed was just a quirk with no name.

                Or the G-spot, long dismissed as mythical by the medical establishment, and what did I know? Then I dated someone with an easily palpable one that did everything as advertised.

                But woo that is clearly a misrepresentation of known science (Chopra's quantum whatever, for example, and anti-vaxxers) I have no patience for.

                By decision-making above, I mean how society makes decisions about things like GMOs.

            •  more specific: (0+ / 0-)

              Below are a few examples of really bad communication I frequently see from "rationalists" and the like.  The point of which is to emphasize that we can do better and we'd damn well better learn how to communicate effectively if we want to succeed.

              For an example of how to do it right, look up Ethan Siegel's blog "Stars with a bang" on Scienceblogs, and read all of his stuff including commentaries, for the past two months.  There are some postings & comments that go directly to this issue.

              Now onward to the list of persistent bloopers:

              Use of emotional language to assert superiority or dominance.  

              Ad-homs.  Gratuitous insults.  

              Attitude that conveys impression of smugness.  (Smugness is infuriating all the time regardless of circumstances.)

              Ontology by majority ("most people say that what you think is real is crazy")

              Ontology by authority ("everybody who matters says that what you think is real is crazy").  

              Telling people that things they experienced did not happen at all ("you don't have a cat"), which is one of the fastest ways I know of to get someone to stop listening.   After arguing that point a while, grudgingly conceding that maybe they did experience X after all, but it's meaningless coincidence ("OK, you think you have a cat but you don't really", I also call this "the skeptical blackbox").

              We got the future back. Uh-oh.

              by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 08:49:27 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Much of what you say is certainly true (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek

                but falls outside the claim of narrow-mindedness and more into the realm of overt hostility or bad communication.

                I was mostly curious about the claims of narrow-mindedness because they often are implicitly connected with the idea that people should treat personal anecdotes, hearsay, gut feelings, 'intuition', personal religious experiences and revelations, and so on, on an equivalent level (or nearly so) to rigorous investigation.

                And anyone who fails to do so is being a narrow-minded materialist. Furthermore, any attempt to offer a rational explanation for personal experiences is often rejected out of hand generally accompanied by the charge of 'narrow-mindedness' that is under discussion.

                Once again, I would question the assumption that toning down or eliminating some of these bad communication practices would have any measurable increase in success when it comes to contentious topics like evolution, climate change, abortion rights, and so on.

                I certainly would like to think so, but I'm not convinced that isn't just wishful thinking.

                •  we're on the same page about communication... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  serendipityisabitch

                  ... and that's the most important part for the tasks we face.  For example the North coast of California is a notorious hotbed of vaccine refuseniks, as is Washington state (outbreaks included), and these are liberal areas.  We need to get through to people in those areas, and to do it, we need to communicate effectively.  

                  Agreed, anecdotes != data, nor do any of the rest of the items on that list, with the exception that all of those are potential data for the social sciences.

                  The place where the narrow-mindedness comes in is the difference between:

                  a)  methodological materialism (the necessary assumption that nature is lawful, natural phenomena are measurable, and experiments are repeatable) and

                  b)  philosophical materialism (the arguable assumption that nothing exists beyond what can be measured), and

                  c)  ideological materialism (the assertion of philosophical materialism as a political dogma).

                  And also, the difference between:

                  a)  Atheism (the assertion that observable natural phenomena do not entail any need for the existence of a deity), and

                  b)  What might be termed "anti-theism" (the assertion that others' beliefs in deities are delusional, and disqualify or invalidate anything else they have to say).

                  Example:

                  Someone comes to you and says "I was walking through the woods when suddenly everything was illuminated in golden light and I realized the complete oneness of all life and felt as if I was in the presence of God, and totally at peace.  What do you think that was about?"

                  Response a)  "You were hallucinating, it might have been some form of epilepsy, and all this talk of 'oneness' is a bunch of wooey crap, but if it makes you feel good, I suppose it's better than getting drunk."

                  Response b)  "That's what's called 'mystical experience,' and you probably also felt a sense of timelessness and connection to something much larger than yourself.  According to the science on these things, it's likely that you'll also have long-term positive changes in outlook toward other people.  If you want to learn more, you can look up the literature on the subject.  And as for the oneness of all life, ecologists and biologists know about that too, and we routinely study the details of those relationships such as food webs and limiting feedbacks in ecosystems.  If you want to learn more, you can look up that stuff as well."

                  Notice that response (b) did not entail invoking or assenting to any kind of supernaturalism.

                  When someone hears response (a), they are likely to shut down and decide that scientists are narrow-minded, and they are also likely to give up on science as a way of understanding the world.

                  When someone hears response (b), they are more likely to be happily surprised, feel that the person understands them ("Yes!, I did feel a sense of timelessness, and this was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life!"), and more likely to become curious about the scientific literature on both counts: the social science material on mystical experiences, and the material from biology and ecology.  

                  Now it may turn out that the person doesn't have the background to become well-educated in biology and ecology, but at minimum they are more likely to become favorable to scientific findings in those areas, and the scientific worldview in general.

                  See how that works?

                  We got the future back. Uh-oh.

                  by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:54:24 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  i'll differ with you as to causes. (0+ / 0-)

      "The overall degradation of our societies ability to rationally evaluate data and ideas because of the general acceptance of 'woo'..."

      That's a highly questionable "because."  

      Pervasive beliefs in theistic religion, "luck," "fate," and so on, were nearly universal in the US right through most of the 20th century, and yet we see no evidence that they caused shoddy thinking.  

      To get a grip on this, first one has to operationalize "shoddy thinking" in a manner that is not self-referential or circular.  Then keep testing independent variables until we find the one that scores the highest correlation coefficient combined with a plausible mechanism that can be tested in controlled experiments.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:59:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Teach the controversy! (9+ / 0-)

    I think we need to differentiate between whether calling something "woo" is justified, and whether it is helpful.

    It's one thing to believe in UFOs or Bigfoot, but snake-oil health products have a genuinely harmful effect on society in general and on the people who believe in them specifically. Anti-vaxxers, homeopaths, people who push secret herbs and spices for real, serious medical problems... fuck 'em. They don't deserve anything other than contempt, and it's important that rational people oppose them at every turn.

    At the same time, as my mother always reminds me, there's a right way and a wrong way to talk to people. If you're actually trying to have a discussion with someone who believes in woo, calling it "woo" is not going to help you make your case. In that case, it's better to avoid potentially inflammatory labels if your arguments can be made just as easily some other way.

  •  Having (11+ / 0-)

    Having had my first child a year ago, I became aware of just how much 'woo' there is around birth and infant care. Because I'm a single dad, I was immune to mommy guilt and debates over breastfeeding, but I was amazed at the ideas people throw about surrounding the whole process. Women guilted into not seeking pain relief, breastfeeding when their nipples are cracked and bleeding, lead to believe that homebirth is safe until the moment things go horribly wrong and you discover that the CPN not only does not know what do to, but she has no insurance to cover the care of your injured child.
    I was just amazed and appalled by it all. Anyone who tells me they have 'other way of knowing' or that science is the tool of the patriarchy and that one should just 'trust birth' will be automatically dismissed in my mind.

    I don't know how I'm meant to act with all of you lot. Sometimes I don't try, I just na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na

    by Zornorph on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:35:36 AM PDT

    •  That is not "woo" but childbirth nazis (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, USHomeopath

      and breastfeeding nazis and I delt with both, but don't lump that nonsense into alternative healing which works for some people and if it works who is to say its just stupid?

      "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

      by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:43:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not alternative (6+ / 0-)

        because you say it's not?

        See, this is the No True Scotsman fallacy right here.

        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

        by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:45:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It is not alternative medicine, it is a belief (0+ / 0-)

          that something is more natural, but there are no studies proving that babies whose mothers were in pain are healthier, but yeah, you could call it that if you want

          "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

          by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:49:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And there's no studies proving (0+ / 0-)

            that alternative medicine helped anyone, either.

            "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

            by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:52:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  THIS is the kind of blanket dismissal (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Silencio, wilderness voice

              of all complementary healing that is the very subject of the diary.

              "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

              by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:41:54 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's also the fact. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                terrypinder, Deep Texan

                Minchin was making a joke, but he's right:

                What do you call alternative medicine that's been proven to work? Medicine.

                "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

                by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:57:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  How much of (0+ / 0-)

                  Medicine has been proven to work?

                  •  With the caveat (0+ / 0-)

                    that by "proven" we mean "demonstrated through scientific testing to yield significant benefit", nearly all of it. Why do you ask?

                    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

                    by raptavio on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 08:56:36 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Because studies to actually figure out what does (0+ / 0-)

                      work in western medicine are increasingly popular. See surgery vs. time for lower back pain, for example.

                      •  That's not (0+ / 0-)

                        a study that determines whether or not something works at all, it's an in-depth cost-benefit analysis.

                        However, revisiting things which we previously accepted as true, even based on hard data, is good scientific practice. What was thought to be true can be shown to be false as new evidence is presented. That's how science works. That's how science SHOULD work.

                        And it is distinctly and pointedly NOT how woo works.

                        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

                        by raptavio on Fri Aug 08, 2014 at 05:48:35 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  yes, medicine is becoming more evidence-based (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        serendipityisabitch

                        And that's a good thing. Blood-letting abounded for centuries before people got around to figuring out that it is almost always worse than useless. But as long as people were relying on tradition and anecdote, it was practically impossible to figure that out.

                        The trouble is that some proponents of "alternative medicine" (or whatever), instead of advocating evidence-based medicine, call precisely for reliance upon tradition and anecdote, at least with regard to their own favored methods. I've read several variations on "Hey, if someone finds relief in method X, who are you to question it?" Well, I don't look for opportunities to pick fights with people who go to homeopaths, etc. But it's perfectly reasonable to publicly question whether method X works, regardless of whether it is "conventional" or "alternative."

                        "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

                        by HudsonValleyMark on Fri Aug 08, 2014 at 07:26:37 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

    •  Did you actually look into any of those ideas? (6+ / 0-)

      Out of curiosity's sake?  Or are you just assuming they're 100% crackpot without any research?

      Personally, I've breasfed with cracked and bleeding nipples.  Hurt like hell for quite a while; I kept up with it anyway, and eventually it passed.  For various reasons mostly to do with my son's health -- reasons I couldn't have known about at the time -- it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.  It also gave me a great boost of self-confidence, to persist at something difficult and succeed.

      Dangers of formula feeding compared to breastfeeding are real.  So are dangers of epidural pain relief compared to not having any.  (And I did have one of those.)  It's easy, when you know nothing about any of the research -- well established research, mind you -- to sit back and dismiss the entire thing as silly women being silly; but it's no more enlightened a position to take than is that of the person who's operating from the ideological belief that modern medicine is worse than useless.  Both positions fail at judging risks and benefits, insofar as it's possible to know them.

      •  Very well said. Great case in point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        merrywidow

        I am sick of people claiming ideas they have not properly researched to be "woo", when in fact they are merely presumptuous ignoramuses.

        •  I did (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Texan

          I did tons of looking into all this. I don't consider reading articles on the internet to be 'research' but I found as many facts and points of view as I could. Honestly, at the start, I was coming more from a 'natural' approach. I changed my mind the more I read.

          I don't know how I'm meant to act with all of you lot. Sometimes I don't try, I just na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na

          by Zornorph on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:44:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I did (3+ / 0-)

        Obviously I was never in a position to breastfeed as I lack breasts, but I considered the possibility of donor milk. What I found was that the benefits of breastfeeding, while real, are minor and do not continue past a year.
        I had told my surrogate mother that I did not mind at all how she chose to give birth as long as it was in a hospital. We agreed on this (and many other things) before we decided to sign the contract. In fact, I am glad she didn't go with a birthing pool as I have since discovered the dangers of fecal contamination with that.
        I have no problem with mums who want to push through the pain of breastfeeding; I only have problems with those who guilt other mums who don't.
        My surrogate, after initially deciding against an epi, did change her mind and have one - something I would never tell a woman they should or shouldn't do - pain is such a personal thing. But I do not agree that research shows there is a danger in having an epi - this is mostly pushed by CPMs who can't administer them so they try to convince women they are bad for them.
        I think what surprised me the most was that the whole natural childbirth movement was not started by women, but by a very misogynistic Englishman named Grantly Dick-Read. He seems to have been a read dick who wanted to convince women that childbirth pain was all in their heads.

        I don't know how I'm meant to act with all of you lot. Sometimes I don't try, I just na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na

        by Zornorph on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:43:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  93% of women at my hospital have birth pain (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zornorph

        relief so if pain relief is so bad, how could that many women choose it?! How could the hospital let them if bad things happened routinely?

        this birth and breastfeeding thing is the most touchy of all subjects and should maybe just be avoided totally, I bet worse than I/P diaries if we had one!! :)

        "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

        by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:44:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this, I totally agree. There is so much (5+ / 0-)

    we don't know that to dismiss all alternate thinking is short-sighted

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:39:37 AM PDT

  •  The anti-homeopath mentioned studies where (3+ / 0-)

    a placebo worked as well, so the diarist is admitting the mind ca control the body. Scientists study Yogis who can control their body functions at will, so one big "woo" always dismissed is a mind-body connection, but that has been proven to be true though we may not be able to harness this yet

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:41:19 AM PDT

  •  Woo: Problem With Authority, Lots & Lots Of Anger (8+ / 0-)

    If I cared about an issue, I'd go learn about that issue. And that would be more than reading woo web sites or conspiracy web sites.

    A lot of people claim to "care" about issues, but not knowing anything about the subject is like a badge of honor.

    Then they want other people to explain to them why they are wrong.   I think there is at best only a very fine line between this behavior and outright trolling.  

    And then there's a big need for a sense of belonging to a larger group that shares a common boogeyman "enemy."

    Together they have a narrative that learning stuff is for suckers. This is a childish fantasy (Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Percy Jackson) of natural superiority over people that actually work hard on stuff.

    I think we see this in purified form on the internet with people like the Sandy Hook Truthers.
     

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:45:35 AM PDT

    •  First paragraph, full agreement. The rest of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio

      it is part of the reason I'm irritated - the lumping of a large segment of people into an amorphous and uneducable "they", and proceeding to describe their thoughts and justifications in such a way as to prove your point.

      And yet, in your case I can't hold the irritation very long, because I have seen you do your best to educate, and from a pretty non-confrontational viewpoint.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:20:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

      I gave my examples upthread: human-induced quakes and thimerisol in vaccines. I went and looked. woomongers don't bother, or stick with conspiracy sites.

      I just ended a friendship (although, to be honest, I really was just looking for an excuse) with someone who insists on sending me stuff from that Food Babe person. No amount of gentle rebutting would make it stop.

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. Russia Today=FoxNews, Seralini=Wakefield. yadda yadda.

      by terrypinder on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:22:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Homeopathy Treats AIDS !!! (0+ / 0-)

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:56:58 AM PDT

  •  There is a misunderstanding about complimentary (6+ / 0-)

    healing. I just had a surgery and the REAL western trained doctor prescribed arnica for the swelling. COMPLEMETARY, not instead of real medicine.

    Most doctors prescribe arnica gels and creams and even homeopathic arnica pills before and after surgeries to minimize swelling and bruising. REAL medical doctors, tooth implant surgeons, plastic surgeons...so not all woo I guess.

    And as I said below, surgeons at the best NE hospitals use Reiki in the operating room because the patients have better outcomes. Are surgeons full of woo? They would be the LAST ones to say take herbs instead of surgery.

    its a problem if someone wants to cure cancer with homepathy but as a complement to other medicine, lots of "woo-ey" things make people feel better

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:58:45 AM PDT

  •  Just as Rox vs Sux was calming down (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch, Pluto

    we now have Woo vs Poo. Daily Kos never changes.

    •  There is away to diffuse this: If we could all (0+ / 0-)

      agree that if you have a broken leg you go to the bone doctor, but if the patient also thinks arnica would help with swelling than why tell them they are stupid?

      And if you need a heart transplant, go to a surgeon, but that surgeon might use a Reiki practitioner because his patients have better outcomes. (this is true in NYC at Mt. Sinai)

      So, where is the issue?  

      "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

      by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:23:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I want to see the reiki performed after the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IARXPHD

        patient is anesthetized.....then we can see whether it's purely placebo,  as I suspect,  or if there is actually an "energy field" that can be changed by holding your hands near someone.....

        In a actual study....

        Also here in Tucson where many heart transplant procedures were perfected as well as the best artificial heart developed, I have never heard of a transplant surgeon using reiki at all....

        Got a link to this top surgeon using reiki?

        Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
        I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
        Emiliano Zapata

        by buddabelly on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:59:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Acupucture works, and there was a time (0+ / 0-)

    when people would poo poo this so we just don't know and if I had a baby after 3 failed IVFS, but after acupuncture and chinese herbs and so have other friends of mine, who would say no?

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:20:27 AM PDT

  •  here is something for all you pseudo-sceintific (0+ / 0-)

    woo debunkers out there. C'mon, have at it - try to debate this one:http://www.dailykos.com/...

    •  umm, OK (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      I'm having a hard time spotting the argument.

      ...according to materialism, consciousness cannot influence behavior.  Its existence or lack thereof cannot then be subject to forces of natural selection.  So evolution could play no role in the origination of consciousness.
      That makes no sense. It may seem to make more sense in context, but as far as I can tell, the sense would only be rhetorical. Many things that can't "influence behavior" (certainly in the sense traditionally attributed to consciousness) are subject to natural selection.
      ...as regards consciousness, materialism has, at best, zero explanatory power.  Nonetheless, it remains an article of faith among materialists.  Such a “theory” would not be tolerated regarding any other phenomenon.
      Huh? You've written that "the central principle of materialism is that every physical effect must have a physical cause." By that definition, materialism isn't a scientific theory at all. Moreover, unless you've defined consciousness as a physical effect, consciousness poses no threat to that principle. So, what is it that shouldn't be "tolerated," and on what grounds?

      "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 04:51:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks for reading, and writing a thoughtful reply (0+ / 0-)

        as to the specifics:

        Many things that can't "influence behavior" (certainly in the sense traditionally attributed to consciousness) are subject to natural selection.
        Only things that have some kind of physical effect on the organism are subject to natural selection.  Contrarywise, point mutations that have no effect are not subject to natural selection.  In the context of consciousness, that physical effect, if there were one, would be upon the behavior of the animal.

        After your reply we can discuss your other objections.

        •  now I think the problem is "subject" (0+ / 0-)

          You seem to be saying something like this: evolutionary processes favor traits that improve reproductive fitness, but on a materialist account, it is impossible for consciousness to improve reproductive fitness, so consciousness cannot have been produced through evolutionary processes.

          But evolutionary processes can produce all sorts of traits that don't improve reproductive fitness, as long as they accompany traits that do. Our bodies are riddled with such traits. One might say colloquially that evolution can't "explain" those traits, but their existence doesn't rebut evolutionary theory. Similarly, evolution doesn't have to "select for" consciousness per se in order to produce it.

          "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

          by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 06:17:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  that is no different than saying (0+ / 0-)

            Evolution doesn't have to "select for" random point mutations in order to produce them.  It's just a random variation that does not improve reproductive fitness, and the organism could just as well do without.  I do not think proponents of the idea that consciousness was selected for by evolution had that kind of accident in mind.

            •  now you're critiquing unnamed others (0+ / 0-)

              The first part of your statement seems garbled. Point mutations happen, but whether they are reproduced and become more prevalent over generations depends on other circumstances. Depending on what you mean, my statement either could be or certainly is different.

              At any rate, your response isn't responsive to my point. It seems that evolutionary processes have 'selected for' many physical traits that aren't beneficial. Why not for consciousness? (I put 'selected for' in single-pops as a hazard warning: in this case, instead of trying to avoid all possible ambiguity, I'm trying to foreground where I think the trouble begins.)

              I do not think proponents of the idea that consciousness was selected for by evolution had that kind of accident in mind.
              I can neither defend nor critique an argument I cannot see. But I thought you set out to critique "scientific materialism." If your critique of scientific materialism depends on speculation about what certain people think, then it doesn't seem very compelling.

              It seems clear that human cognitive capabilities have provided reproductive advantage. It seems at least logically possible that a species could have many or all of these capabilities without possessing subjective consciousness. (I'm not sure that we can reliably infer what other species possess subjective consciousness. We don't even have a reliable Turing test, do we?) So I see no reason why consciousness can't be, as it were, a side effect of human evolution — one that, of course, many species seem to have done very, very well without.

              "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

              by HudsonValleyMark on Fri Aug 08, 2014 at 06:45:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  It depends on what you mean by "woo." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    Some of the things you listed among your interests (astrology,
    Tarot, "other divination methods") are definitely woo.
       Psychic phenomena are also woo, although you might study such a thing looking for natural explanations.

    •  No, they are things that people do. Sometimes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, Silencio, mahakali overdrive

      for fun, sometimes just to interact with each other, sometimes for serious research into the possibilities, sometimes just for the hell of it. If you feel you need to denigrate all of that, then the problem might just be on your side.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:18:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Suggestion: separating the paranormal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch

        from the medical. I think the stakes of each are different, so the two aren't quite in the same category to me.

        Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

        by mahakali overdrive on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:02:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  One can make all sorts of divisions, of course. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mahakali overdrive, kbman

          But too often the only external distinction seems to be that if it isn't accepted science, it's crap, and that if it's not repeatable, it can't possibly have anything to do with science, and that curiosity outside a laboratory setting is useless.

          You may notice that there's nothing on my original list about the medical side - I was in the original diary to defend the science, and found myself defending the right to be able to talk about alternative views.

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:22:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure, I totally understand (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch, kbman

            I started an anti-nuclear group on this site that was often assailed by people who felt I was espousing anti-science when I am opposed to nuclear power because of all that I know about it based on science! But it did skew oddly as well at times. Thus said, I tried to remain respectful. Sometimes those who posted in my diaries in support held views that I didn't agree with at all and that were very imported, and those who disagreed did so on grounds that I agreed with, if that makes sense.

            And some were just fanatics.

            Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

            by mahakali overdrive on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:26:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, I recall you trying to rein in Radical Def (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mahakali overdrive

              as he was going off the deep end. I often wondered if he wasn't a reverse-shill - operating on the site as such an extremely non-reality-based anti-nuke as to make your position look extreme and kooky. No matter now as he's been banned for a few years.

              Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

              by kbman on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 10:55:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't even remember that poster (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kbman

                but if he's banned, then he's banned. Thanks for being civil, kbman, and also for recognizing that I had a tough row to hoe, so to speak, especially since I will always support getting rid of nuclear power because of science, not anti-science, specifically. That is a good debate to have and perhaps so good that it's the only group I've started to date. I am not here enough now to maintain it, posting only in bits rather than daily, which is unfortunate. My favorite memory was of a poster using the words of a research scientist to make his (dubious) claim, so I emailed said scientist and invited him to clarify, which he did. What a great group!

                Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

                by mahakali overdrive on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:20:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  This is of course a fascinating subject that ca... (4+ / 0-)

    This is of course a fascinating subject that can't be sufficiently covered in one diary. Suffice to say being gentle and genuine with one another is an art we all have to practice. I usually get annoyed by people who insist they are right w/o much to back their claim but anecdotal evidence and get upset if they are challenged. I see this far more with woo heavy people than those who engage in critical thinking.

    •  Any religious person who dismisses all (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio

      other kinds of mystical practices whose intent is to connect with a bigger intelligence, looks pretty foolish.

      "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

      by merrywidow on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:11:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I see it all over, but yes, people who engage in (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, Silencio, kbman

      critical thinking seem to do less of it. I doubt, however, that there is a real case to be made that any particular group does more or less of it.

      I've been avoiding the area very strictly for the last few years simply because admitting that I had any interest in it, at all, struck me as a way to be marginalized on this site.

      I expect that there are a number of other people who feel the same way that I do, which means that you will seldom if ever see them tackle it publicly, but I figured I might have enough credence at this point to get away with it.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:28:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We are all vulnerable (3+ / 0-)

        to such kind of thinking.

        human beings are unique among the animals for our ability to recognize patterns. Pattern recognition is one of the things that has allowed us to advance so successfully as a species.

        However, that comes with a price: we are very good at false pattern recognition, and tend to assume causation where we see correlation.

        Even people who consider themselves critical thinkers are vulnerable to this. Which is why it's important to always check our own assumptions.

        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

        by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 12:19:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm a little confused about this comment, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch, raptavio

        and about the focus of the diary, I guess.

        Are you saying you've avoided discussing CAM on DKos out of fear you would be marginalized? And are you trying to avoid feeling marginalized by asking people to not use the word "woo" in reference to various CAM modalities/practices?

        It's one thing to be curious about how/if CAM works - I don't think anyone would argue with that.

        But I don't think it's realistic to expect everyone to give a pass to the medical claims put forth by so much of the CAM world. And for sure it's unrealistic to expect anyone to give a pass to the more outrageous pseudo-scientific claims that are out there.

        I will agree to stop calling CAM "woo" in these diaries because it shuts down the conversation before it can get started. In that respect, I thank you for this diary - you made me think. But I can't promise that my antipathy towards CAM will not make you or anyone feel marginalized if I argue, passionately, against what I perceive to be bullshit claims.

        “…The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole.” – Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch

        by mikidee on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 12:37:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, I've been avoiding mentioning that I had (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mikidee

          any interest in about half the things I listed in the diary that aren't strictly logic based pursuits. I saw too much casual denigration of a number of things that could be generally said to fall into the New Age area to want to base any response on anything I had learned in that context. Especially as a newbie and occasional commenter.

          I'm still not likely to make a big deal out of any of those topics - it's simply not useful in 95% of the stuff I do here - but in this case I thought it was relevant data.

          Alternative medicine has never been high on my list of things to explore, and I'm a strong opponent of a number of the theses going around. Argue as passionately as you wish - most of the time you'll find me supporting you, or possibly there before you. In general, I've been in agreement with your comments that I've seen.

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 01:03:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  O/T (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    I love those butterflies. Makes me want to be one.  :)

    Stephen Colbert does superb satire. Pity those offended by it.

    by VirginiaJeff on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:08:31 AM PDT

  •  I found myself on the anti-woo side (3+ / 0-)

    against many in the liberal and Kos community when fluoridated water was on the ballot in Portland.

    My side lost.

    Lovely butterfly graphic, BTW, SAIB.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:49:34 AM PDT

  •  A primer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    cribbed from RationalWiki, on what "woo" is.

    Woo is a term used among skeptical writers to describe pseudoscientific explanations that have certain common characteristics.

    Woo generally contains most of the following characteristics:

    1. A simple idea that purports to be the one answer to many problems (often including diseases)
    2. A "scientific-sounding" reason for how it works, but little to no actual science behind it; for example, quote mines of studies that if bent enough could be described in such a way to support it, outright misapplication of studies, or words that sound scientific but make no sense in the context they are used in
    3. It involves the supernatural and paranormal (not necessarily)
    4. A claim of persecution, usually perpetrated by the government or the pharmaceutical, medical, or scientific community (see Galileo gambit)
    5. An invocation of a scientific authority
    6. Prefers to use abundant testimonials over actual scientific research
    7. A claim that scientists are blind to the discovery, despite attempts to alert them
    8. A disdain for objective, randomized experimental controls, especially double-blind testing (which are kind of what makes epidemiology actually, y'know, work)
    9. And, usually, an offer to share the knowledge for a price.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 01:13:00 PM PDT

    •  I have a problem with people who post lists of (0+ / 0-)

      what constitutes unacceptable behavior, especially when it is sometimes used to justify categorizing people rather than just their comments.

      As you may remember, I cut my teeth on Ray Pensador's diaries. This reminds me very much of the sockpuppets and trolls box, which he used primarily to allow himself to insult people who didn't agree with him, rather than trying to post substantive comments.

      You, as far as I have seen, do not generally stoop to that kind of petty behavior, so I am not comparing the two of you at all. But the list - that brings up some really interesting memories.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 01:27:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Woo has been humanity's default setting (0+ / 0-)

    for 50,000 years. It doesn't need any help.

  •  As long as you know (3+ / 0-)

    you are taking it on faith and not making up BS pseudoscience to "prove" your beliefs I don't think a person has to be a strict materialist in order to be reality based.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 07:12:46 PM PDT

    •  I have to argue with your assumption of "faith" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman

      in this general area. I don't have to take anything on faith to sit back and see what happens and try to figure it out - what I need is something a bit more difficult - the ability withhold belief or disbelief indefinitely and actually think about the data.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 07:53:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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