Monday, August 16, 2010

Facebook Follies: Homeopathy? Aw, no, cuz!

Most of the irrationality that appears in my Facebook newsfeed is religious in nature. No surprise there. Most of my friends and relatives both in real life and on Facebook identify as religious. But every once in a while, some medical woo passes by too.

My favorite cousin now "likes" San Diego Homeopathy. At first I was rather surprised. "Aw, no, cuz!" He's a smart, educated, well-traveled man, so why would he believe such a silly thing as homeopathy?

But after I'd thought about the "why" a while, I realized my cousin exemplifies a certain type of woo believer: the free-spirited, nature embracing, non-conformist New Ager.

Rather than just yell, "What are you thinking?!" at my cousin, I decided to find out how much he really understood about homeopathy. And the answer was, "Not much." Literally. That was his answer.

I asked, "Do you know how homeopathic remedies are made? What they contain?"

"No, not really," he answered." 

Drat!" I said. "I was hoping you could explain to me how homeopathy works when it seems to defy our current knowledge of biology, chemistry, and physics."

In reply, all I could hear were the crickets: "Chirp, chirp, chirp."

I then asked my cousin why he "liked" this particular homeopathic center when he knew little about homeopathic theory. He said, "I have a friend who is a homeopathic doctor, and she seems pretty healthy. Plus, homeopathic treatment costs a whole lot less than going to a regular doctor." 

By "regular doctor," he meant "a doctor who practices medicine, rather than some alternative-to-medicine.

I've never done any research on what homeopathic treatments from a homeopathic doctor cost, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they're less expensive than science-based medical treatments are. After all, homeopathic remedies are basically water. And seccussion--the shaking that makes each successive dilution of the homeopathic remedies increasingly powerful--probably doesn't cost as much as the technology used by science-based medical doctors does.

But really, if you consider the cost vs. benefit, with homeopathy, gullible patience are paying for water, not medication or treatments that have been shown to be generally safe and effective.

Personally, I'd rather pay more for something that might actually work, than a lesser amount for something that couldn't possibly do any good for what ailed me.

Plus, if I wanted to treat my illness with water, water from my tap is a lot cheaper than even the homeopathic remedies used by my cousin. And it works just as well. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Facebook Follies: Daily Prayer/Reflective Time for the Gulf of Mexico

The Facebook group Daily Prayer/Reflective Time for the Gulf of Mexico has only 31 members, and one of them is a Facebook friend--a dear, valued friend, both on Facebook and in real life.

This group is "dedicated to the idea that daily prayer and/or reflection can help bring about a solution to the environmental disasters this beautiful region faces."
My friend is kind, gentle, caring, tolerant, intelligent, and funny. Generally, she's a rational person. 

She's a good mother and politically liberal. She's environmentally conscious. She supports gay rights. We share a love of dogs, cats, art, travel, and gardening. Our tastes in books, music, TV, and movies are pretty much identical. We support many of the same causes.

In fact, the only area of our lives where we seem to have a major disagreement is religion. She embraces it; I reject it. Her belief in God is deep and unshakable; mine is so shallow as to be virtually nonexistent and extremely skeptical.

And, yet, we like each other. A lot.

We don't talk much about her belief and my disbelief. Although I've often wondered how someone so smart, so reflective, and typically much more rational than so many of my other friends, could believe something as irrational as Christianity, albeit a liberal, "my God is a loving God," Cafeteria Christian who picks-and-chooses which Bible verses she sees as allegorical, historical, or God's actual instructions on how to live her life (which, surprisingly, almost always coincide perfectly with her own personal, non-religious convictions and philosophy).

But I never ask the question. Nor do I ask what kind of solutions for the Gulf environmental disaster have resulted from her daily prayers. And I probably never will ask either question. Because this friend is one friend not easily dismissed and defriended on Facebook.

Facebook Follies: Christ! Walking Billboards!

I've been invited by a Facebook friend to "attend" the public event, One Million Walking Billboards for Christ on October 10.

Really? You're my friend, and you thought I'd like to: "Just throw on a Christian T-Shirt, hat, button, Hang a flyer, sticker or anything you can think of that will let those around you know of your love for Jesus"?

Oh, you think, maybe my friend is being snarky, and thought I'd respond by wearing a t-shirt like this one:

Or this one:

But, alas, no. My friend is serious about wanting me to join "fellow Christians" and "show overwhelming enthusiasm for the One Million Walking Billboards event."

Ah, no. 

But I think I'll try to organize a event with my atheist friends that day which will involve drinking, enthusiastically--and enthusiastic blasphemy.

Sorry, Facebook-friend-who-invited-me, that's the best I can do.

No, wait! Actually, I'm not sorry at all. Except for the fact that I have Facebook friends who are as oblivious as you are.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Facebook Follies: God is Awesome!

Forty-eight people currently "like" I BELIEVE THAT GOD IS AWESOME! and six of those people are my Facebook friends.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Barnes and Noble Woo Books

Because I'm drawn to less-than-full-price books like, well, a thrifty book addict to inexpensive books, I've perused the Bargain Book shelves at Barnes and Noble easily a hundred times since they opened stores in the area. But until my most recent visit, I'd never noticed how many of the bargain books are no real bargain because they promote the irrational duo: woo and religion.

OK. I had noticed the Bargain Book section that "Religion" has all to itself before. How could I miss it, even if I wanted to? But while I'd scanned the other sections on earlier visits, my eyes--and brain--seem to have passed over the woo books as if they weren't there so they could home in on more rational books. Or at least more rational books that were being marketed as non-fiction.

But this time I focused on the titles of all the books in the "Mind and Body" Section and found a what seemed to me to be a disproportionate number of woo books on sale. Among them:
  • The Feng Shui Dictionary
  • Reflexology Basics
  • Parkers' Astrology
  • Healing with Crystals and Chakra Energy
  • Crystals and Healing Stones
  • Reflexology: A Hands-on Approach to Your Health and Well Being
  • Feng Shui Home
  • The Tarot Workbook
On the maybe a little-bit-positive side, at least these books weren't selling at full price. On the negative side: the fact that they were being sold at all, and even if they were no longer full price, gullible readers will waste their money on nonsense, and perhaps, end up believing in its validity.

To help cleanse my mind after wading through the woo goo, I bought these books, also in the Bargain section:
  • The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker
  • The Illustrated A Brief History of Time/The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking