Sunday, May 07, 2006

Medicine and Woo-Woo'ism

The following is reproduced from my personal page from years ago. It is still topical, particularly since I am listening to Art Bell's old radio program, Coast to Coast and a quantum Physicist/Geologist/spitualist is talking thru his ass about quantum mechanics. It partly new-age nonsense, partly postmodernism, partly eastern religion, mostly nonsensical garbage.

The Bastinado (go ahead - look it up) was an early attempt at what we now call a blog, except there were multiple authors and the writing was more lengthy.

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Who, or perhaps what, is a woo-woo? Is it kin to the thought processes of the founder of this sad little on-line offering, The Ozarks Bastinado?? Naw. Most modern Libertarians are too goofy to be called woo-woo's. Like present Governor, and Minnesota laughing boy Jessie Ventura, an ex professional rassler who delivered his State of the State Address by standing a foot away from the camera and shouting, "And I am sick of putting up with this scum ... baby."

No, our beloved Editor-in Chief, (EIC), is on a string of losses that has been pretty much unbroken for this year. It started with a bet of a fine bottle of Scotch from a witty, astute and politically wise individual that the gun nutzos in Missouri would have their collective muzzles shoved up their collective extraction apparatus in the April vote by the citizens to allow carrying of concealed weapons. This measure, which put the National Rifle and Tim McVeigh Defense Society further in bankruptcy to the tune of $5 million bucks, failed thanks to the expenditure of $600,000 by the opponents.

Ever the sore loser, EIC claimed massive voter fraud in St. Louis County. An assertion for which there has never been an iota of evidence, save St. Louis County is comprised of (1) Middle Class to wealthy whites who are tired of seeing their kids gunned down at school; and (2) Niggers -- well, we know how they vote don't we?

My single malt scotch tasted so good I relented, and got the EIC a glass of water from the toilet.

Trying to outdo himself, the EIC stepped into National Politics with another bet. It went along these lines. Remember those whackos in the House of Representatives who tried to pull a coup d'etat by impeaching Bill Clinton? EIC allows how Clinton will be gone by June 1st. Learning smartly from his mistakes, a $35 bottle of Scotch was not on the line ... EIC vows to shave his legs and mow his lawn in a miniskirt. Watch future issues of the Bastinado for pictures.


The EIC should change his game from poker with the grownups to slap down. It's cheaper and less embarrassing.

The final blow to the prognostication skills of our EIC came over Kosovo. You see, our beloved EIC was a jarhead before becoming our resident anarchist. And everyone knows that the USMC tests its people by having a 250 pound drill sergeant drool in your face. Wonderful training for your future political judgment. After preaching doom and gloom for two months and then watching while Clinton mops up old Slobby and his political enemies at the same time, he comes up with how Clinton has violated world laws and ought to be hung (well, maybe he is hung already, but that's a subject for the future).

No bets on this one, but his mother asked him to stop calling.

But the EIC is not really the subject of this month's column; quackery; or its more accurate term in today's world, woo-woo-ism is. I don't know how the term woo-woo-ism got started but a suggestion has been made that it is the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves. Or it's a recurring sound in the old TV show, The Twilight Zone. Either way, it is used an an indicative of the really erie, the really weird, the really goof ball stuff. And in this respect, at this time, there is so much woo-woo-ism going around that the world seems like it's rejecting all accumulated knowledge in favor of the knowledge of Aristotle, Pope Urban, and Julius Caesar.

Listen to the advertising on radio, particularly the American talk radio stations, that run a lot of infomercials. A very high percentage of the revenue of these marginalized stations comes from advertisements and infomercials from chiropractors herbals, vitamins and organic foods, various diet gimicks and frauds, and occasionally potentially dangerous over the counter products sold as various remedies such as DHEA I am not sure why the advertisers go to this particular market other than there is something about the listening audience that attracts them, and it is one of the few outlets that will permit advertising of this nature, which is either highly misleading to a scientifically uneducated listenership, or borderline fraud, or out-and-out fraud.

For this column I'll stay away from the cancer cure clinics in Mexico. The new age religions and millinialism of such woo-woo promoters as Andrew Weil and Depac Chopra. I will even stay away from from some local nutsos like Clyde N. Shealy, a M. D. graduate of Duke University, (and advertises a Ph. D. -- actually from the Saybrooke Institute, a distance learning Jungian Transpersonal school -- but he doesn't argue if you happen to think that his Ph. D. was earned at Duke.) who once had a coworker, Carolyn Myss, tell a patient that the reason she was having headaches was that she was a pirate in a previous life, who --fascinatingly enough had been whacked over the noggin' with a sword -- hence, the present headaches. He would be a disgrace if he weren't so laughable.

Instead, I will try to give you some terms that you may hear that will immediately tell you ...

"This is a quack trying to sell me something!!!! Stay away!!!"

1. Wellness ... Obviously, the state opposite to sickness. Shockingly, even though you may feel healthy you will learn that you have no wellness. No one is well at the Spring Valley Foods Market except the vendor.

2. Frequencies ... The vendors at your local health food store (with a high school education) have a powerful understanding of Fourier Analysis. They decompose everything into frequencies. Lucky for you. You have only one frequency to harmonize. In another stroke of incredible luck your frequency is right around Middle C if you are a woman and right around the F below Middle C if you are a man --so chanting at your special frequency is really easy.

3. Teachings ... The important information passed down with uncanny preservation and secrecy for thousands of years until a really lucky white guy traveling in some faraway country stumbles onto some spiritual master who reveals it all. The Master disappears where the skeptics can't find him, but the white guy gets the teachings into paperback and appears on the Art Bell Radio show.

(The above three items were in a list written by Physicist Rohan Wynar, I can't find a web link to let you see the rest of this very funny article.)

It pains me to say so ... but the EIC and the American public that buys into quackery are a bunch of ignorant louts. Fortunately for politicians, insurance salesmen, used car dealers, and lawyers this is the normal state of affairs today.

In my 9th Grade Citizenship course I learned all the techniques of propaganda, or how to sell me something including post hoc, strawman, false delimma and undistributed middle. All these techniques are used by alt.medder's to try to peddle an idea that has an underpinning that is shakier than a man with palsy on top of the TransAmerica building in San Francisco during "the big one".

But that doesn't matter too much to the woo-woo alt.medder's. Evidence is not important. Nor is reasoning. Take homeopathy for example. The foundation for homeopathy and the peddling of the various "wares" rests on the delusions of one Samuel Hanemann (1755-1843). This master of woo-woo-ism came up with the idea that sick people should be treated with more of what makes them sick. Then they will get well. What you see in your local friendly health food store today is Hanemann's Theory of Dilutions.

Lets say you are allergic to compound "X". To prepare a homeopathic "ware" one would take compound "X" and put it in water or alcohol and start diluting it by factors of ten. In the first dilution 1/10 of the original substance would be left, in the second 1/100, in the third 1/1000 ... and so on. This would be recognizable to a mathematician as an exponential curve of dilutions. But the homeopaths don't stop with three or four or even 20 dilutions .... they dilute to a factor of ten 30, 40 or even 120 times. Now we know that in every mole (gram molecular weight) of any substance there are 6 times 1023 molecules. This means that in the final dilutions of these homeopathic wares not a single molecule of the substance is left. Not one. Just a small vial of water or small toddy (if alcohol). Yet this essence of nothingness has amazing curative powers ... plus it makes a bunch of profits for the vendor.

Congratulations, you have just been conned.

Remember, nothing is everything and nothing has marvelous properties unknown to science.


Be sure to look at www.quackwatch.com

Where is the best place ot find a woo-woo? It's no further away than your web browser. The internet has the greatest collection of healthfraud, disinformation, lulu ideas ... and a haven for every paranoid schizophrenic that ever lived. Enter a search for any disease and what will you find? The first 100 sites will be woo-woo sites trying to peddle their wares, herbs, homeopathy, chiropractic, chelation and about a zillion others.

It's all magical thinking. Unlike the beautiful Melinda, First Lady of Magic, (she's the one on the right),who knows what real magic is like, alt.med'ers think that nature and medicine works by magic rather than fundamental rules of physiology, genetics, anatomy and chemistry. They throw around words like "paradigm" and "quantum" with wild abandon because they know that you don't have the slightest idea what they mean either, but they sure sound impressive.


If you want to believe this crap in the same fervent way that the EIC believes the Libertarian hogwash he writes about, fine. That's your right in America. But when you sell this stuff, or when you use the good graces of American willingness to let everyone have their say to perpetrate a fraud then it should cost you more than a $35 bottle of scotch .... about 5-10 years along with a hefty fine sounds about right to me

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