Why I rail against pseudo-science, quackery etc


#1

I thought it might be an idea to explain why I rail against pseudo-science, quackery, psychic-abilities etc so much. So many off-topics appear to involve this kind of stuff and I seem to be constantly battling against it. Some people might find this annoying so I thought I better explain why I can’t just ignore it.
Firstly, I think some ideas (or memes) cause real harm in the real world. (I recognise this involves subjective opinion). My “agenda” for want of a better word is to promote critical thinking (for want of a less pretentious sounding sentence….lol). I try to encourage “good memes” and stamp all over bad ones basically.
A recent example of a pseudo-scientific post trying to marry quantum physics with consciousness in some Mystical way invoked Psychic abilities, religious ideas and other mumbo- Jumbo as supporting evidence. I think this is dishonest and methods to fool people into believing things like Psychic abilities are endorsed scientifically.
As I said, these ideas cause harm – how sick are the fraudsters that pretend to talk to some grieving mother’s dead child for example?. I also know just from personal experience of 2 young kids who after already losing their dad from an early heart attack, lost their mum with breast Cancer - she had refused conventional medicine because some quack sold her on the idea of herbal snake oil. If you are advocating any of this way of thinking, then you had better be damn sure of your claims and have researched the hell out of it to claim to be acting in any way morally or ethically.
On a more fundamental level you can either think critically or just accept supernatural explanations for things. I think if you accept one such explanation, then you will be primed to accept others – this is how it works with things like religion I’d say.
To put it in a coding analogy, some people would like to access your root system and install viruses that affect how all your logic runs on a very basic level – I am the anti-virus software in effect……lol
If this gets too annoying, then maybe revisit the idea of having a section for religion/pseudo-science etc, a solution I have raised a number of times but I don’t particularly mind myself, I’ll just keep doing what I do because I believe it is important.


#2

I expected something like “I am INSERT_NAME_HERE, and I’m a dick”, but this is close enough!

Related to the content of your post, it’s all good, but in course of your activities (anti-virus scanning) don’t forget that one man’s virus is other man’s… something else (I’m trying to connect this with discussion on voluntarism, etc.).


#3

Also not trying to be a “dick” but tt seems at this point you simply don’t have familiarity with enough of the science or philosophy necessary to carry out your task. This can make one look like a pseudo skeptic. In supporting scientific orthodoxy its also important to be aware of its actual hierarchy. Let got of the notion that science establishes truth or even a strong approximation and apply your political thinking to science itself and the problem is solved. Its also time to learn what the actual mystics were (and are) about. Many of the most established minds in science were/are quite favorable to the philosophy and perspective of the ancient East in particular.

Human power has always been a constant conspiracy of retention. Those with power almost never got there for their ability to best address societies needs but rather for their ability to address their personal desires at others expense or by pure accident. They generally want to burn mystics at the stake because they almost universally have a viewpoint that is not compatible with this retention of power process. The mystics see an intrinsic equality where mind is at the very least shared. That won’t fly with people trying to press intellectual property claims for instance. Any notion of a blurred out or open mind threatens the very basis of property claims and power claims, it undermines wealth accounts and titles. People stop marching to orders. They stop feeling incomplete and scared. So aristocracy opposes this with all their might, in particular they use ridicule for its power to shame. They like religion based on guilt where that is channeled into service of an elite.

So its time to up you impression of the real mystics. They were a towering middle finger to the useless power elite through the ages. Its why when Galileo first came around they wanted to burn him at the stake. That they didn’t was a testament to science not quite being as threatening to power as raw mysticism. But any science that works out will displace the elite eventually and find the same things mysticism does. Its the basic truth, and it doesn’t have to have the sneering about collectivism or Borg mind. Its not far off from where John Lennon went and notice they had to kill him, like Gandhi and MLK.


#4

Yes, I conceded that it’s subjective, I don’t tend to start these discussions, just respond to others’ ideas and hope that free speech and rational argument will do the rest.
I’m not proselytising for Humanism, just railing against any supernatural ideas that I see as causing harm. Everyone can express their ideas, but in doing so, they are also throwing them open for discussion/criticism, otherwise it is just proselytising I think though. I do hope people see the distinction here; for example constantly extolling the virtues of Humanism would be the same as constantly promoting Catholicism (or Mysticism). This is different from legitimately criticising supernatural ideas that I see as potentially harmful.
There seems to be a concerted effort to promote all kinds of pseudo-science on the forum for whatever reason and I just have to respond to it - I can’t live with myself if I don’t really.


#5

It’s good to put your thoughts accross, but do it respectfully and humbly.

If you go about it with a patronising and arrogant view that you have the truth and these deceived fools need you to protect them, then you’re not contributing, but being annoying.

I’m sure your views can contribute, but if you go about it in the wrong way, they won’t.


#6

Warren, I am only too aware of the limits of my knowledge, but I will increase that knowledge through rational thinking, not Mystical thinking. You constantly post pseudo-scientific nonsense and answer absolutely nothing when asked, instead preferring to just accuse me of “Scientism” and “Pseudo- Skepticism”, without evidencing, as usual these are empty claims. Why not for a change actually answer criticisms and explain your theory of quantum consciousness in your own words without linking to hours of video?
It is courtesy in discourse to have a two way conversation, with points raised addressed, it is also indicative of a lack of understanding of your own subject or argument to just link to various other people giving their sales pitch/argument; this is just spam/propaganda otherwise - something you hypocritically rail fiercely against.
The rest of your post appears to put forward the argument that aristocracy, govt, elites whatever don’t like Mysticism, therefore Mysticism somehow has value…brilliant…


#7

I made the point earlier that I do not claim to have “the truth” nor have I ever done so, only responded to those who put forward supernatural explanations for things that I believe to have harmful effects.
I also expect this will be annoying, especially to those with such supernatural views. I think you misunderstand my position - I am not apologising for being annoying, I’m just explaining why I am annoying if you find me to be. I have no intention of stopping being annoying, if what I do entails this.
I would argue that posting supernatural ideas is the “not-contributing” bit - stop this, or partition it off, then the annoyance will stop.


#8

@AlKafir I could go into detail. I could even try to educate you and rationally try to explain to you why you are wrong or where you are in error but there seems to be little point. Suffice it to say you are indeed a dick and a narrow minded one at that. What bother’s me is you constantly devalue things that deviate from your position and belief system, and it is a belief system make no mistake about that.


#9

Go ahead…please do…there would be a massive point, you’d have increased my knowledge, which I would be grateful for. Can you elaborate on the narrow-minded bit and belief system bit too, or where I deviate from anything I have not fully explained in this very post. My belief system is Humanism but I do not proselytise for Humanism, I argue against supernaturalism from an atheist perspective only which is not a belief system. My belief system involves an injunction to not proselytise so I try not to…I would say I haven’t ever proselytised to the best of my knowledge, but let me know where I have, then you have a case for accusing me of proselytising.
Seriously…go ahead.


#10

This is actually very interesting because I too consider myself a humanist. You say you argue against supernaturalism? How do you define that? We differ in that I am a theist, that is I believe in the divine. It’s blatantly obvious to me. I tend to avoid organized religion (so we agree in our distaste of religion there. :smile:) but yes am quite spiritual but don’t find this to clash with either science or nature. You say you rail against “psychic abilities” but this is just one example of why I would label you narrow minded. To put it simply for you to say that because you cannot perceive something, or that the technology has not been invented yet that can accurately measure, something someone, or a group of people are experiencing and agree is happening is narrow minded. It is akin to saying that because they can see a frequency of light that you cannot see that you will deny that frequency of light exists rather than acknowledge you might just be blind to it. If you were color blind and could only see a limited number of colors or none at all, would it be logical for you to deny that all color did not exist and that the rest of the world was insane for insisting it was so? This is how I perceive you to be when you rail against things like homeopathy or “psychic abilities” or even spirituality. I perceive you to be someone who is blind insisting that something I can perceive does not exist but I know it exists because I can perceive it. And because I can perceive it the subsequent realities that follow also exist. Homeopathy for example is based on understanding and accepting both scientific understand and spiritual understanding. I say spiritual because if you can’t understand the concept of energy or vibration you really have no hope of understanding homeopathy and yes you’d think it was nuts. Again, back to the color blind scenario. As an atheist I know this might be hard for you to take in but need you think of all this in terms of “God” and rather as vibrations and energy? Would it be so difficult for you to be open to the idea that there are those that could perceive something you do not and there is more that has yet to be documented?

On a more concrete rational tone who the hell are you to be throwing the term “quack” around willy nilly. Herbal medicine is real and works. You’re right you should do extensive research no matter what you do. And if you had done your own research you’d know that chemo does more harm than good. Conventional cancer treatments all but wipe out the immune system and damage the patient making them not only weaker and more vunerable to cancer but unable to heal themselves. We have plenty of cures of cancer but cancer is now an industry. Do your own research. DCA, canabis oil, mega doses of vitamin C, all these are viable cures for cancer. All of them have been proven to work. There is evidence. DCA wasn’t taken up because it’s a generic drug so Big Pharma can’t patent it and make money. Canabis can be grown by anyone, can’t have that, can’t have the cure to cancer being grown in someone’s back yard. Oh no Big Pharma needs their cut. Same with vitamin C. And that’s just off the top of my head. There are plenty more treatments for cancer and preventions. But I’m diagressing here. My point here is don’t label people as “quack” so easily. That’s what I mean b you devaluing people. For crying out loud I send you info and you dont read or watch it because it’s too long or produced by the wrong people, you don’t even get to the actual information in order to make a critique on the content itself.


#11

I am not sure how you can simultaneously be a Humanist and a Theist, as they are pretty much mutually exclusive concepts. I used Supernaturalism as a catch all word really for any idea that depends on super-natural explanations: This would include Theistic beliefs, such as afterlives, souls, Creationism etc - it would also include manyalternative therapies such as Homeopathy, Crystal healing etc. Also on the list would be Psychic abilities and Mystical ideas, along with pixies, fairies and the like and various scams and frauds.
Your argument that because I cannot perceive whatever a group of people claims to be able to, demonstrates narrow-mindedness is clearly dishonest. The group are claiming that they have access to some higher order perception facility that I and others do not possess. The onus is on the group to demonstrate the existence of this facility and explain how it works, without invoking magic.

We can discover that other frequencies of light exist with methods other than sight, we cannot discover Psychic abilities by invoking magic. No Psychic ability has ever been shown to exist under laboratory conditions…just fact.
Sorry, but I really can’t be arsed addressing all the rest of the vibrations, energies etc - answer these points first. Your claims involve implicit use of Faith which is not a reliable method to discover anything.


#12

So, after me relating the story of the two orphaned children, your response is to post this crap? Here’s a piece about your DCAS conspiracy theory bullshit:

"The Internet loves a good conspiracy.

Have you heard the one about scientists finding a cure for cancer, but it being blocked from the public because Big Pharma can’t make a cent off it?

Those sensational accusations appear on multiple websites and YouTube videos that purport to expose the “truth” about how a cheap and safe drug that has been around for decades is actually an expert cancer-cell killer. They claim that because the drug, called dichloroacetic acid or dichloroacetate (DCA), is a widely available chemical compound and can’t be patented, drug companies aren’t interested in pursuing it as a cancer treatment. Some conspiracy theorists take it a step further, saying that health organizations and cancer charities are in on the plot to keep this miracle drug out of sight because they have ties to drug firms and want to keep money flowing their way."

It’s this kind of quackery, along with telling people that vitamin C etc cures Cancer that kills people. You have the temerity to tell me to do my research…you ain’t worth talking to mate… thanks for illustrating along with Warren et al the whole point of my post.


#13

Although this is somewhat of a joke and I at times agree with your input, I think you really believe this over what other people say. I feel as though I’m competent enough to spot good science and quackery but a real scientist or physician or whoever that is actually qualified might look at me and say “idiot”. Many of us didn’t have the same opportunity as them and make our way by doing late night reading and being a jack of all trades. We seek out good data and try to be open enough to let go of our own bad data and let’s face it sometimes we’re stuck with it. And EVERYBODY does this to some variable extent. Your post title “am I a dick” is rightly off topic but also a target. Instigating the same people that you sometimes enjoy debating with. And there a few of you that blow up off topic not a big deal but “am I a dick?” That seems unnecessary and a little ego centric. But you proved your point by making the post and by saying others responses proved Your point.


#14

I did say it was an analogy, but to say I believe it above whatever other people may say - I’m not sure what you mean. I titled the post the way I did in response to being called a Dick and didn’t really think about it, but I can see how it might look ego-centric.
I don’t really get the scientists/physicians bit either, unless you are insinuating I am not qualified enough to speak on such matters, or that I am wrong in some (non-specified) aspect of what I have said. I don’t particularly enjoy responding to Warren or Blindsite and I have explained why I respond as I do. I also do not get your last point about me being a Dick: Apparently because when I post and give a personal example of how Cancer curing quackery caused death. Blindsite posts exactly this same quackery after reading my post at the same time as telling me to do my research…me correctly pointing out that this illustrates the reason for the post makes me a Dick how exactly?


#15

really classy guys, this is the top post on the homepage :confused:


#16

I changed the title of the topic, because, yes, this didn’t give a great first impression for new visitors.


#17

I didn’t read that. You’ve been burned by the snack oil? I’ve experienced the burn by the orthodoxy and was really anti MD for a while. Then I realized how demoralized MDs are in the states. Its not just because money was ruining everything but also because the basic approach isn’t working. Works to an extent for acute ER room type stuff but unacceptable for increasingly chronic illness. Most kids in the states are graduating with pre-diabetes or diabetes but MDs are shunned from preventative practice or from speaking out and they don’t get the training they need in med school because it would be counter to the money. Standard medicine isn’t meeting the public’s expectation and as a result the industry you consider snake oil, homeopathy etc. is growing rapidly apparently based on results. That’s not an industry that is comparatively huge on ads and outreach but its growing because people think it has better results.

We used to have Drs all the time that would say stuff like “there is no evidence for” as if they were personally aware of everything and the cutting edge. Guessing it became a point of contention in malpractice. You generally won’t get two Drs that agree even on major diagnosis ( well know inter-rater problem,) and yet the same people in the face of seeking second opinions were going on about “no evidence for.” We still have MDs that tell people you will be dead in 3 months. I think it was Carl Sagan who started that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” refrain. We don’t hear that refrain much anymore because the old orthodoxy isn’t doing too well in science and won’t as easily be able to wrap itself in dogmatic selective blindness or cult like practices. The public finds systematically ignoring anomaly less acceptable. I think the internet has made the public less willing to accept claims based on careerism.

In the end you can’t be persuaded and so there is no use throwing around terms like quack and pseudo science etc. Haven’t you noticed people don’t use that stuff anymore? Its not that the standards have lowered they’ve improved. The quack busters were quacks. Its so often the case that people are accusing others of the very things they do. Those who call others quacks or soft thinkers are at risk of having the same accurately thought about themselves. Its also a form of censorship and trying to control what can be spoken of through shame and guilt no less.


#19

Sorry about the title people, I should have thought about it more - I tried to change by Nigel’s post, but no function to do so - anyway apologies. Warren, I haven’t a clue what you are talking about as usual. The gist appears to be trying to shift the burden of proof/persuasion to me rather than you as the proponent of your quantum consciousness idea. You haven’t explained it or answered any questions and the posts are there for anyone to read… so whatever Warren…


#20

We all have a hard time following each other’s post sometimes my post wasn’t as clear as I thought while writing it but I’m not going to dwell on anything. Personally I found this funny

Let’s all just appreciate that we’re different, have different views, and the banter could be more meaningful in the long run if it was a little more light hearted. We’re all here for the same reason. I was actually drawn in by many of the philosophical and topical issues that now reside in the off topic category, I would hate for a first timer to be disinterested because of hostility amongst fellow forum members. In my eyes we are the lucky ones to participate anyways. Also sometimes I logon looking for new development and all I see is off topic I know I can filter it out but I shouldn’t have to and a first comer will have a similar mindset. @Al_Kafir @Warren @Blindsite2k you all have good posts and insights sometimes lengthy, sometimes conspiratorial, sometimes failing to relate to others but the one thing I can comment on as a reader is the distasteful hostility. Hope this post isn’t too hippy dippy but I’m drinking beers and I’ll give cheers to comrodary wether you all see eye to eye or not. So, cheers!


#21

I appreciate your reply Nigel and agree totally. I have honestly made a number of suggestions to isolate this kind of stuff over a long time but it appears there is no workable solution. I fully understand peoples’ annoyance, I expect it is the same as the annoyance I feel at the sheer volume of posts of this nature. For my part, I have explained what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I feel I have to run the risk of being seen as an annoying dick really…as it is not my primary concern. Thanks though I understand where you’re coming from.