Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Atheist Blogroll

The Bastion of Sass blog has been added to The Atheist Blogroll, which you can now find in my sidebar. The Atheist Blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Homeopathic products ad in Newsweek

I'd put Newsweek's May 24 &31 double issue aside the day it arrived, since I was really busy then, and totally forgot about it until this weekend.

So, I'm finally browsing through it, and although I'm usually fairly oblivious to ads (I, and others like me, must be the bane of advertisers), I happened to glance at the ads under "Best of Healthy Living"--because, really, who doesn't want to live healthily?--and saw the above ad for two homeopathic products.

OK. I know the ad is legal, even though I highly doubt that either of these remedies can provide evidence that they are either safe or effective for treating fibromyalgia or tinnitus, as science-based OTC products that make medical claims are required to do. And that's just dangerous. And pathetic. And misleading. And a rip-off of gullible consumers.

But, geez, Newsweek, even though I realize that you are hard-up for advertisers these days, don't you have any standards for the ads you accept?

And when is Congress and the FDA going to finally take some action to protect consumers against misleading and potentially dangerous ads for untested products like these?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Facebook Follies: God killed you because He wanted me to suffer to make a point

God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be. So He put his arms around you and whispered "come with me". With tearful eyes I watched you, and saw you pass away. Although I loved you dearly I could not make you stay. A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest...God broke my heart to prove to me He... only takes the...BEST. (Repost if you have a loved one in Heaven) 

I didn't blog about this vapid, inane, saccharine poem the first time a Facebook friend posted it as his/her status. Nor the second. Nor the third. But now that I've gotten this same status update from a half dozen friends, I've had enough!

Really, do you people even think about the things you write and profess to believe? 

God saw..."a cure was not to be"? Wait! What? Aren't you the same people who were praying to God to cure me? Who ask me to pray for you when you are sick, or your family members when they're seriously ill? Are you now saying that God doesn't have the power to cure?

And don't you believe that God is all-knowing and has an eternal plan--you know that secret, mysterious one--for all of us since before the beginning of time? So wasn't it always God's plan that your loved one die at exactly the moment and in exactly the same way as her/his death happened? 

"God broke my heart to prove to me He... only takes the...BEST"? Aren't you always going on about how loving God is? What the heck kind of loving God kills someone you love to hurt you to prove a point? Yes, I've heard other Christians claim that God killed someone to "make a point," although that point is usually "you did something that made me mad, so now I'm going to show you that's a bad idea, and kill someone you love. So there!" But I thought you didn't believe in that mean, vengeful God, but the nice, loving one.

And, let me get this straight, your loved one's death is really all about you?

Finally, I assure you I will not be posting this as my status, because while I've had good, wonderful people--most of whom believed in your God--that I loved die, they're not in "Heaven." There is no Heaven, no life after death, as comforting as that fairy tale might be to you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Facebook Follies: Talent Scout for Christ

Today's episode of "Facebook Follies" is not courtesy of my Facebook friends, although it's only a rare day that goes by without my finding a candidate, or two, or more, for the FF blog series. For the first time, FF is featuring a Facebook targeted ad, one of those paid ads that show up on the right side of your Facebook page.

Now when I pay any attention to them at all, the ads generally seem related to the information on my personal page: my age, career, "likes and interests."

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spied an ad "Talent Scout for Christ." Wait! What? Where did that come from?

It was with some trepidation that I clicked on the link, afraid that it would lead me to some booby-trapped site set to infect the computers, or minds, of atheists.

I must admit that I was a bit surprised when I ended up, not at a site looking for new converts, but at AMTC Audition, Actors, Models, & Talent for Christ, "a movement to launch stars who are role models in the entertainment industry.....AMTC is a bridge between performers who love God and career-making agents."

Ah huh.

Still can't figure out what on my Facebook page could have triggered that ad, but given my "likes and interests" on my page, I'm having a good time imaging what it could possibly have been.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Woo medicine in The Baltimore Sun--again

Oh, Baltimore Sun! While I frequently lament your continuing wasting away into a emaciated and frail version of your former self, there are times when I feel almost a sense of relief that almost no one reads you these days. Thursday, June 10, 2010, was one of those days.

I turned to your "Health & Style" section, and there, on page 3, I found yet another article presenting woo medicine as fact: "How and when to seek alternative therapies," part of your "Ask the expert" series, taken from an edited transcript of a June 8 chat with Dr. Joyce Frye on the Picture of Health blog.

Dr. Frye, "an osteopathic physician board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and in integrative and holistic medicine with the Center for Integrative Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine," is the same woo-promoting doctor I previously blogged about in March in my post "Allergy woo." Homeopathy has not emerged from the pathetic pit of pseudo-medicine since March. No surprise really, since it's failed to provide any evidence of efficacy in the more than 200 years it's been competing with science-based medicine, and as admitted by The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, "a number of its key concepts are not consistent with the current understanding of science, particularly chemistry and physics." 

Furthermore, well-designed scientific studies have shown that acupuncture, which Dr. Frye also recommended in the article, works no better than a placebo or sham acupuncture.

Still, no wonder, as noted by the article, "alternative remedies are becoming more common." Not only are there plenty of websites promoting woo to the gullible and desperate, but also, as demonstrated by this article, claims for woo medicine are being credulously reported as fact by mainstream media like The Sun, increasingly taught at medical and nursing schools, and offered in hospitals.

(As to why and how academic medicine has increasingly supported alternative-to-real-medicine, and related issues--like medical ethics and academic-medicine-woo's pernicious effect upon the health of patients--I refer you to Orac's blog, Respectful Insolence, on which he has written extensively, and with increasing despair, about the subject.)

I did find this part of the article amusing, in the same way I find The Great Oz amusing when he insists, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain": 

Q: Are there watchdogs for alternative medicine practitioners?   

A: Unfortunately, the "watchdogs" are usually skeptics who want to hold all alternative practitioners out as "quacks," so they aren't very helpful...." 

Yes, indeed, don't listen to those silly critical thinking watchdogs who ask for evidence that alternative-to-real-medicine works as claimed.  

OK, Sun, I understand that you relied on an expert who is on the faculty at the generally well-regarded University of Maryland School of Medicine. But would you publish, without question or criticism, an article in which an expert in finance who taught at a respected business school, recommended alchemy as an effective method of attaining financial independence? 

Sigh. Maybe, given your credulous reporting of woo medicine, you would.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A woo-der-full weekend

I'm afraid I missed the Friday, June 4, beginning of the 6th Annual Reiki & Wellness Retreat in Reisterstown, Md., which looks like a woo-der-full weekend. I also missed retreats 1 through 5, and actually, will miss the rest of number 6, which continues through Sunday.

And just look what I'm missing! 

There's a workshop: "The Art of Prophecy: Courage, Imagination, and Humility: An Experiential Workshop in Intuition."

Indeed, I'm sure that believing that one has the gift of prophecy involves a lot of imagination. And humility. "Yeah, I know the future. I'm divinely inspired. But, shucks, I'm very humble about having that as my superpower."

In addition to that workshop, there's a veritable cornucopia of woo offered. There's "Introduction to Animal Communication"; "Casting Your Slice of LIfe: An Interpretive Card Reading Experience"; yoga; Qigong; "Find Your Inner Voice & Connect with Your Inner Rhythm" by The Sound of Healing; and--if those weren't enough--a "Grand Circle of Healing!" Woo-hoo!!

But the woo doesn't stop there! If you're fortunate, you may be able to schedule a "fabulous one of a kind healing session," and/or the readings offered by at least two women.

And, of course, what would a woo weekend be without woo merchandise so you can take some woo home with you? 

You can buy "smudge spray" which will allow you to clear away negative energy--without burning sage. Imagine! Plus energy healing bracelets, energy healing charging coasters, and energy infused mats and squares. Why after this weekend, you'll have energy to spare!

And that's not all!! You can buy "Solid Grounding oils," which, as best I can determine, are used in aromatherapy; phone stones, which will keep your cell phone from frying your brain. The secret is in the coating. "It's infused." Just stick one on your cell phone--they're adhesive!--and you're protected the natural way; pet charms; and more!

Of course, no woo weekend worth its weight in wooziness would be complete without crystals. So, naturally (word play intentional), they'll be on sale too. And not just crystals! You can also buy a variety of "crystal infused" products including Crystal Sage "crystal infused essentials" such as Cord Cutter, "specially formulated to help prevent and remove negative attachments from people, past events and material possessions." Who doesn't need a product like that?! Everyone has emotional baggage he/she needs to jettison. So yeah, an essential (heh, more word play) product.

Also available from Crystal Sage is Psychic Traveler which "may assist in all types of psychic work...[and] works great with all types of healing therapies such as Reiki, self hypnosis, and astral travel. It may cause a quicker and clearer connection with spiritual guides." Sounds perfect for just about anyone,"(f)rom people who are having trouble learning how to meditate to the experienced psychic." But be careful! "Psychic Traveler is to be used only when attempting a meditative state, pyschic (sic) work or healing therapies and not for casual use." But if you'd like to make your astral travel a smoother flight, I'm sure it's worth the risk.

And all this woofulness for only $450, double occupancy! $225 if you commute. Woo merchandise is extra, but worth it, I'm sure.