Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quotation of the day

Dialog from the TV show Bones which features one of my favorite TV atheists, Dr. Temperance Brennan AKA "Bones":

Booth: Right now I’m more worried about a safe distance between you and me.
Bones: Why?

Booth: Because we’re going to a church, and you tend to get blasphemous in churches.

Bones: What? You’re afraid that if God smites me with lightning you could get hit?

Booth: Yeah, I’m usually standing right beside you.

Bones: The Greek god Zeus also used lightning to incinerate his enemies. Although, Zeus apparently had better aim than your God.

--Bones, Season 5, Episode 14, "The Devil in the Details"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quotation of the day

But objective reality does not change because you refuse to accept it. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge a wall does not change the fact that it's a wall. And you shouldn't have to hit it to find that out.
--Leonard Pitts Jr., "Sorry, but you aren't entitled to your own facts",  February 21, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Quotation of the day

Whether a belief is consider to be a delusion or not depends partly upon the intensity with which it is defended, and partly upon the numbers of people subscribing to it.
--Anthony Store, Feet of Clay

Friday, February 5, 2010

Facebook Follies: Medical Herbalism Program

Today's Facebook Folly, isn't a post, but an ad that popped up on my profile. I guess because the ads are so carefully targeted to the Facebook user's profile:

Maybe Facebook decided to send this to me because they knew this is something I'd be interested in blogging about. If so, Facebook, send me more blog material. (Not that a day doesn't go by when something I might blog about fails to come my way, but I do get bored with blogging so much about my friends posting about Jesus and prayer.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Still more community college woo

The Community College of Baltimore County isn't the only Baltimore area community college offering classes in woo and pseudoscience . Howard Community College also offers these new-age nonsense and pseudoscience classes, sending its students who take the classes back into the community stupider less-well informed and more irrational than they were before. For shame, HCC! Have you no basic standards for the classes you offer, so that students are taught valid, factual information supported by evidence? Or can any charlatan, snake-oil salesman, or new age delusional kook true-believer teach classes at HCC?

[Note: I have no objection to yoga or tai chi taught as a form of exercise to improve posture and increase balance, flexibility, and coordination. Nor do I have a problem with the meditative component of yoga and tai chi to increase relaxation. What I do have a problem with is when yoga teachers make claims that it leads to "spiritual awareness," "enlightenment", "self-realization" (whatever that means), "liberation," or "union with the universal soul"; health claims not based on valid scientific evidence such as that yoga will boost the immune system, prevent the flu or lessen the effects of the flu; or claims that yoga and tai chi work with "energy flow" to increase better health.] 

Howard Community College's catalog of Winter 2010 Noncredit Classes lists the following woo and pseudoscience classes: 

Past Life Regression/Future Life Progression: Experience firsthand a review of your past lives or a peek into your soul's future lives. Deepen your understanding of your current life. Discussion following regression/progression.

Feng Shui Basics: You've heard the term, so come for an evening of fun to get acquainted with the 3,000-year-old Chinese practice of art and placement. Through the Tibetan Black Sect Tradition of Feng Shui, learn the history, Basic Principles, the four Cardinal Rules, and how to navigate the Ba-gua map, and apply your knowledge to bring harmony and balance into your life. 

Develop Your Psychic Ability: Psychic development--or could it be called "intuitive development?" Come to this class and discover your intuitive gifts. Learn how messages are received, as well as the meaning of divination tools and their uses. Get connected to the universal energy stream through guided mediation and energy work. Feel free to bring your cards or other divination tools to class for demonstration and practice.

Yoga and Self-Awareness: The practice of yoga enables you to establish a deeper inner awareness, ultimately leading to what the yogis call self-realization, or enlightenment. Classes will consist of yoga posts, breathing techniques, meditations, and yogic-ayurvedic philosophy aimed at cultivating that awareness.

Yoga and Ayurveda: Ayurveda, India's traditional system of self-healing, and Yoga, the science of Self-Realization, are integrated in this course to give you a complete approach to wellness, wholeness, and greater awareness. Learn techniques of physical postures, breathing, and meditation, and gain insights to determine what foods and lifestyle choices are good for you based on knowledge of your own constitution.

Yoga and Eckhart Tolle's New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose: Using body, mind, and spirit, we will explore the parallels between Yogic philosophy and Tolle's A New Earth in areas such as identifying not with the ego but with one's 'True Self' (sic), finding our inner purpose, and birthing a new, more loving and conscious world...."

Yoga for Bolstering the Immune System: As we approach the dilemmas of the flu season and flu shots, of wanting health and well-being for ourselves and our loved ones, we can use yoga to bolster our immune system. In this class, we will explore breathing and relaxation techniques, yoga postures and meditation, a positive yogic attitude, and appropriate lifestyle practices including diet and rest to build up the immune system. Thus the body can do its natural job of preserving our health and healing us when we become stressed or sick.

Yoga  & Exploring the Chakras: In yoga, the chakras are the seven major energy centers that parallel the spine. We will use the chakras as a map of human evolution, from survival consciousness to unity consciousness. Through classic yoga phases, breathing techniques, mediation, and discussion, we will explore how we and the human species are evolving toward our full potential. As we experience challenges in relation to ourselves, our fellow human beings, and our planet, we are inspired to engage life from an ever-deepening and more conscious place.

Monday, February 1, 2010

More community college woo

The Community College of Baltimore County's Continuing Education program offers a wide range of excellent,  beneficial classes to its adult and child students such as GED prep, vocational training,  technology skills, and recreational activities.

So, what the hell, CCBC, with also offering a goodly number of classes teaching people woo, quackery, and pseudoscience?!

Not classes teaching about these subjects. Not classes warning people of the dangers of medical quackery and health scams. Not critical thinking classes teaching healthy skepticism about the paranormal and non-science based healing techniques. Not classes debunking beliefs in the paranormal, supernatural, and pseudoscience. Those types of classes would be perfectly fine, valuable to CCBC students and the community. Teaching those types of classes would be laudable.

No, what CCBC is offering are classes that present pseudoscience, health and wellness quackery, and frauds and hoaxes involving the supernatural and paranormal as true and factual, subjects worthy of being taught by a respected community college.

In addition to some of the same classes I wrote about in yesterday's post: Kundalini Reiki I; Dreams--Self Healing through Dream Analysis; and Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine, CCBC is offering the following Continuing Education courses for its spring session:

Ghost Studies: Identify the different types of ghosts, spirits, and entities among us. If you've ever felt that you are not alone, learn how to find and investigate suspected haunted areas and sightings. You will apply what you learn and undertake a special investigation.

Advanced Studies in Reflexology: Gain additional tools and skills to use as a reflexologist. Practice ear  reflexology and energy balancing techniques. Unlock personality and health cues with foot analysis. Utilize referral and helper areas. Learn to synthesize technique to create a cohesive treatment plan.

Egyptian Reflexology: [Me: Ooooh, Egyptian reflexology. The exotic Egyptians built those magical, mystical, power-emitting/absorbing pyramids. So this must be more potent and effective than the other type of reflexology. Unless there's a class in, perhaps, ancient Indian reflexology.] Discover how to unlock your body's own natural ability to heal itself through Egyptian reflexology. Learn through touch and pressure techniques how to alleviate mental and emotional stress and tension painlessly. Experience the benefits of improved breathing, balance, and relaxation.

Awaken Your Purpose through Numerology: Discover the world of modern numerology, spiritual awareness, and universal and personal life energy patterns. Understand life's lessons and your inner desires and learn how to fulfill them physically, mentally, emotionally and intuitively.

Healing with Gemstones and Crystals: Discover the benefits of gemstones and crystals for first aid, emotional healing, mediation, space clearing and psychic protection. Learn ways to program, cleanse, charge and intuitively select personal healing stones. Topics include a hands-on introduction to over 20 different gemstones and crystals and their function based on mineral composition and structure.

CCBC, are you so hard up for cash that you are willing to sell your educational integrity to teach these scams, frauds, and hoaxes?

Is no one at CCBC embarrassed that their school is offering instruction in pseudoscience and the paranormal?  Is no one at CCBC concerned that courses are being offered that aren't based in reality and on rationality?

These are not beneficial classes; they are of no value. They are scams, flim-flams, preying on the gullible. By taking the money of students who take these courses, CCBC is complicit in an educational scam. Instead of teaching students to be rational thinkers, instead of offering its students reality-based information, instead of offering courses that benefit its students and the community, CCBC is harming its students and the community by teaching misinformation, magical thinking, and educational garbage. This is a scandal that needs to be stopped. Now!