Supporting a fellow blogger who is being attacked by a homeopath

I follow some Australian skeptics’ blogs, mainly because of Meryl Dorey, the lunatic who runs the Anti-Vaccination movement in Australia.  One of the better ones is Dan’s Journal of Skepticism, run by Dan Buzzard.  He writes on a lot of issues with regards to pseudoscience, mostly in medicine.  Earlier this year, he wrote about how a homeopath, Francine Scrayen, treated her “patient”,  Penelope Dingle, who was suffering from rectal cancer, with homeopathic potions and lotions.  

In the report on Ms. Dingle’s death, the Coroner for Perth (Australia) reported the following:  

In my view the deceased’s rectal cancer was present and causing bleeding and other symptoms from at least 31 October 2001.  During the period 31 October 2001 until at least the end of November 2002, the deceased regularly described the symptoms of her rectal cancer to a homeopath, Francine Scrayen.  It was not until November 2002 that Mrs Scrayen and the deceased discussed the possibility of reporting her rectal bleeding to a medical practitioner and it was not until 5 December 2002 that she first reported those problems to a doctor.

I accept that Mrs Scrayen  believed that the deceased had suffered from haemorrhoids years earlier and the bleeding and pain was “an old symptom coming back”, but a competent health professional would have been alarmed by the developing symptoms and would have strongly advised that appropriate medical investigations be conducted without delay.

Mrs Scrayen was not a competent health professional. I accept that Mrs Scrayen had minimal understanding of relevant health issues, unfortunately that did not prevent her from treating the deceased as a patient.

This case has highlighted the importance of patients suffering from cancer making  informed, sound decisions in relation to their treatment.  In this case the deceased paid a terrible price for poor decision making. 

Unfortunately the deceased was surrounded by misinformation and poor science.  Although her treating surgeon and mainstream general practitioner provided clear and reliable information, she received mixed messages from a number of different sources which caused her to initially delay necessary surgery and ultimately decide not to have surgery until it was too late.

Continue reading “Supporting a fellow blogger who is being attacked by a homeopath”

How pseudoscience makes its case-Part 2. Revised and repost.

Recently, we discussed how science works. It’s not a belief. It’s not a random set of rules. It is a rational and logical process to determine cause and effect in the natural world. Pseudoscience, by its very nature, ignores the scientific process; instead, it claims to come to conclusions through science, usually by using scientific sounding words, but actually avoids the scientific process.  They tend to use logical fallacies to make their case.  Just to be clear, logical fallacy is essentially an error of reasoning. When a pseudoscientist  makes a claim, or attempts to persuade the public of this claim, and it is based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy. Continue reading “How pseudoscience makes its case-Part 2. Revised and repost.”

How pseudoscience makes its case-Part 1. Revised and repost.

This is a two-part article that partially describes how the science-denialist makes their case, not necessarily why humans accept it so easily.  I’m not a psychiatrist, and I certainly don’t play one on TV.  I thought we should start with the scientific method, or how real science works.

I always get suspicious when someone makes an argument with the statement of “it’s been proven to work”, “the link is proven”, or, alternatively, they state some negative about scientifically supported therapies. Typically, I hear these kinds of statements from the pseudoscience pushing crowd. For example, real science has debunked the “there is a proven link between vaccines and autism,” a common and popular pseudoscientific belief.  Or that most alternative medicine (CAM) therapies work based on numerous logical fallacies that suspends reason, and accepts “belief” in the therapy, something that evidence-based medicine just doesn’t do. Continue reading “How pseudoscience makes its case-Part 1. Revised and repost.”

Creationism legislation–Tennessee Monkey Bill (update 6)

According to the Nashville News, Governor Bill Haslam told reporters that he will probably sign antievolution bill, which allows teachers to discuss the scientific “controversies” regarding the fact of evolution and the fact of climate change.  Not to be overly pedantic, there is no scientific controversy over either theory; however, there is a political one.  Another problem with the bill is how will a teacher discuss everything there is to know about evolution in a few hours.  How can you critically analyze evolution or global warming denialism in just a few minutes?  That would be like teaching someone to be a surgeon in a couple of days.  It’s almost impossible.

Stay tuned.  We’ll see if Governor Haslam actually signs the bill.  Republicans rarely keep their word, so who knows what will actually happen.

Creationism legislation–Oklahoma update 4

There’s good news, modified with a bit of bad news, out of Oklahoma regarding the ongoing Republican legislative push for evolution and climate change denialist opinion to taught instead of real science.  Oklahoma House Bill 1551, which passed the House, died in the Oklahoma Senate, since they were unable to report out of committee in time.  Similarly, Senate Bill 1742 also died in the Oklahoma Senate. Both bills essentially required Oklahoma public schools to teach their students about the “debate” between creation and evolution, and about global warming.   Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Oklahoma update 4”

Creationism legislation–Tennessee Monkey Bill (Update 5)

There’s really not much more to report, except that House Bill 368 is still sitting on Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s desk, awaiting his signature or veto. Actually, there’s a third way, he can just ignore it, and it will become law after a set period of time.  

The Los Angeles Times, in an editorial, Tennessee’s attack on the teaching of evolution, makes a few more points that were intended for the eyes of Gov. Haslam, if only we could be sure that he read the LA Times.

In deciding whether the bill advances a religious agenda, the governor needs to look at context and history as well as the text. A useful reference work would be a 2005 decision by a federal judge in Pennsylvania striking down a school board policy requiring that students be made aware of “gaps/problems in Darwin’s theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design.” In that case, Judge John E. Jones concluded that intelligent design and teaching about “gaps” and “problems” in evolutionary theory are “creationist, religious strategies that evolved from earlier forms of creationism.” Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Tennessee Monkey Bill (Update 5)”

Ken Ham is clueless about evolution–shocking news

We are all apes.

Last week, I wrote an article about the growing whooping cough epidemic in Australia, which, of course, brought the absolute nutjobbery out of the woodwork in the form of Meryl Dorey, who is the leading mouthpiece for the anti-vaccination lunacy in Australia. She is no different than any other pseudoscience propagandist, such as the ones found in the anti-evolution crowd, global warming and HIV/AIDS denialists,  and sasquatch/alien abduction/Loch Ness Monster/crop circle idiots. That’s right, there is no difference between creationism, sasquatch and homeopathy–no science, and a lot of beliefs based on…nothing. Continue reading “Ken Ham is clueless about evolution–shocking news”

iPhone and iPad Apps–skepticism and atheism (update 2)

There’s an app for that.

Update 2.  Just added one more app that I’ve been using and just forgot to put in the original article.

When I write about skepticism, sitting at my trusty MacBook Pro, I have access to every source and bit of information that is required to write about evolution, vaccines, global warming, and the existence of sasquatch.  If I need to dig up a link to an article that debunks some silly anti-vaccination lunatic’s claim, it’s easy to do.  However, since people make pseudoscientific claims all the time, it’s always good to have access to information right at the tip of your fingers.  Of course, it’s relatively easy to put your question in google, in the hope of getting a good answer.  Then again, you have to weed through the 100 hits that might actually support the bogus claim.

Continue reading “iPhone and iPad Apps–skepticism and atheism (update 2)”