Friday, May 30, 2014

The Countries I Would Not Want To Visit

... or live in, for that matter.

Here is an interesting article in the Washington Post, that shows what countries in the world have apostasy laws (you get prosecuted for leaving your religion) and blasphemy laws (NO freedom of speech):

MAP: Where offending a religion could get you executed

Unfortunately, my native Poland is on the list of countries with an active blasphemy laws. Not only it has that law on the books, but it is used pretty often to silence people from expressing their views. The cases are numerous: here, here and here (in Polish).

Blasphemy laws are just a way to limit free speech, and there are no excuses for them in civilized countries. We all should have complete freedom of discussion of any topic, as that's the only way to ensure that all ideas have a chance to be heard. Bad ideas and crazy beliefs should be eliminated from the public forum, buy showing their weaknesses, not by legislating them out of existence.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Oh, That Dr Oz - The King of Nonsense

What's not to like about Dr Oz? He's engaging, uses his audience to make his points, gives people information and good advice... NOT!

Yes, he's a great TV personality and he does know hoe to sell himself to the masses, not because he has anything good to say, but simply because he delivers what the masses want to hear and see: "feel good" advice. His ideas don't help you much (maybe except the general: "live a healthy life"), they are usually pretty generic and not tested out, but they make you feel like you are in charge, doing something (anything) to get yourself in a better shape.

His problem is not only the fact that he peddles unproven therapies and medicine, which can be harmful in itself; his greatest sin is that he promotes other people who are filled with nonsense to the brim and who'll sell you their dangerous medical advises at all cost, even if it really means harm to you.

I'd say, skip Dr Oz's programs as they are not reliable source of real  information.

As always, Orac has the best take on Dr Oz on his blog: America’s quack: Dr. Mehmet Oz

Here is the best description of who Dr Oz really is (in his own words):
King finishes by asking Oz to respond to the idea that doctors should be optimists and that no doctor should tell a patient that he is terminal, because “no one knows.” To this, Oz responds that we “actually have to be more than just optimists, but irrational optimists.” Well, Dr. Oz has the irrational part down cold, at least when he’s on his television show. Sadly, my original quip about him becoming more like Mike Adams turned out to be more true than I could ever have imagined.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Interesting Debate: Death Is Not Final. Or Is It?

Great debate, with some of the best skeptical minds participating:

What's the Harm? - Part 2

So, after a brief hiatus on my part, with too many projects to complete to count, I have time to brows the news from time to time again.

And, after my last post, I have another depressing news item to share from the "what's the harm?" department.

There are news links in Polish here and here (sorry, I could not find an English version).

To summarize:

A six moth old girl was found dead a few weeks ago in the town of Brzezna in the south of Poland, while in care of her parents. It was determined that she had died as a result of malnutrition. After some initial investigation, it was also determined that the parents started using a "natural" approach for the baby's care, including refusal of any vaccines, lack of medical care and a whole bunch of holistic feeding techniques. They attempted to follow advice from a faith healer, who allegedly told the parents to use skim milk and herbs as the baby's diet staple. The healer, called "God's Man" in the area, is well known for advocating abandoning regular medical care and using herbs, fasting and prayer as remedies for any ailments (including cancer!!!).

This case is not the first one for the supposedly "godly" man. A few years ago it was alleged that he had caused a death of a five year old boy, who had kidney problems. After initial, positive reactions to the standard, hospital medical care, the mother took the boy to the healer and believed in his "miraculous" approach, which ultimately resulted in boy's death.

Those two cases are clear answers to the argument for the alternative medicine that I hear very often: "what's the harm?". The answer is very simple, the harm is in believing that unproven, often completely nonsensical treatments can and do work. When someone abandons reason and critical thinking in small cases, it is easy to do the same in cases that can cause harm, death and destruction. Belief in miracles, prayer, alternative medicine (like homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, etc) when your life, or life of your loved ones, is at stake, can really be deadly.