Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dialogues with Hopeless Delusional Idiots ep. 3

This is a little switch from the prior entries in the series, but still fitting in the theme.  My previous two episodes involved religion and religious beliefs as the core topics of discussion.  This one is more on the alt-med end of the spectrum, mainly regarding anti-vaccine and autism-related nuttery.  Nonetheless, I'm still dealing with a hopeless delusional idiot here.  Let that be a reminder that idiocy of this scale is not limited to religion alone, and that this blog is about all kinds of stupidity.  It's things like this that make it bear mentioning that the moniker of "grumpy anti-theist" isn't enough by itself.  I'm "anti-" all kinds of insufferable stupidity.

There are several sub-movements within the set of alternative "medicine" believers, with a relatively minor amount of crossover between them.  It's not necessarily the case that someone who is anti-vaccine is also a believer in Ayurveda, or that someone who buys into homeopathy is also a reiki healing fanatic.  That's not to say, though, that such people don't exist.  In this case, I'm dealing with one such person.  It is pretty clear as things carry on that this person wasn't drawn to alternative "medicine" (read : quackery) because he really found them believable on their own terms, but because he was so staunchly opposed to real medicine that anything that was different was inherently better.

This conversation was taking place on an online forum for a site that is ostensibly about video games (one for which I was formerly a contributing editor for their press outlet back when I was still working in the games industry), but like many forums, they have sections dedicated to "off-topic" or "general" discussion, and topics like politics, current events, "new cool stuff" was always going around.  While I'm no longer super-active with this forum or the site that owns it, I still appear now and then.  This one started with a guy who was posting a lot of anti-medicine nonsense shortly after Steve Jobs died...  I ignored it for a while, and the thread carried on, but after a few posts in, it also started including some anti-vaccine and all the vaccines-cause-autism bullcrap that rested on the outlandish idea that a former Playboy bunny knows more about human biochemistry than all medical doctors in the world combined.
I start with some of the original poster's content (the bits to which I was actually responding), and color-code my responses in yellow.  Quotes from prior posts are in italics.
I can't begin to understand why people in this country are so duped as to believe what Big Pharma tells you about vaccines.  We know that autism is a rising epidemic, and the only thing that has moved in with it is vaccines.  We are seeing more cancer now than ever, and the only thing that matches it is all the new drugs on the market.  The sheeple swallow everything the liars and the government that pays them wants them to.  If even one of them learned the facys, theyd know that you're being pumped full of poison.  30 years ago, there was nothing like the problems we have today, and the only change since then is more drugs, more vaccines, more chemicals.  End result?  More autism, more cancer, more super-bugs.

Just watch any one of those evil ads for the latest penis drug and you see a laundry list of side effectsx.  They know its poison and they even trot it out proudly like a badge of honor that iotll kill you. At least its killing you softly, right?  Why don't we hear about it with homeopathic or chinese medicine or ayurvedic?  Because they actually give a flying fuck about their patients instead of their bottom line!  Just follow the money and you'll know who the evil ones are.  Follow the money and you'll see why they put all those chemicals in us.
At first it isn't clear that he actually bought into all the alternative practices he mentioned because he's merely referencing them as a comparison point.  So here are my replies with quotes in italics.
> We know that autism is a rising epidemic, and the only thing that has moved in with
> it is vaccines.
No, it's really not a rising epidemic.  What have increased are 3 things -- 1 is that dozens of different disparate disorders are now all under the umbrella term "autism spectrum disorder", which has made autism itself a much broader term than it used to be.  2 is that the rate of diagnosis has gone up because the extreme broadening of the term means that more people can be perceived to be autistic.  3 is that we've become so over-sensitized to the issue, and that coupled with the broadness of the term that covers such a wide array of disorders means that the rate of misdiagnosis continues to go up.  The actual rate of incidence hasn't.

I mean, people blamed thimerosal because it was mercury-based -- seriously... do people think that any element maintains all its properties when it's in a compound?  If that was true, water would be explosively flammable.  And even otherwise, the amount of mercury you get from all your childhood vaccines put together is less than 1/9th the amount you get from a single serving of tuna...  but I don't see anyone claiming that tuna causes autism.  And of course, they ignore the fact that the elimination of thimerosal from childhood vaccines did not cause a drop in the rate of diagnosis.

> We are seeing more cancer now than ever, and the only thing that matches it is all
> the new drugs on the market.
Even if that was true, have you ever heard that correlation doesn't equal causation?  Did it ever occur to you that if new drug creation was correlated with cancer, that it was the latter causing the former?  That aside, I find it rather silly that you seem to think that this is the one and only thing that has changed in concert in all this time.  You gave the figure of 30 years ago, and are you seriously claiming that there has been that little advance in science in the last 30 years?  You don't suppose, by any chance, that rather than more cancer, we're simply better at finding it than before?  Moreover, we're getting better at treating it than ever before.  More people are getting it caught early, treated early and properly, and getting it all out of their system.

This might raise a few eyebrows for digging up a grave, but I'll say this flatly -- if not for a belief in alternative woo-woo pseudoscience and an utterly irrational fear of real science-based medicine, there's a 90% chance that Steve Jobs would still be alive today.  And that 90% figure isn't arbitrary, btw.  He had a neuroendocrine tumor of his pancreas, which is so slow-moving that surgery alone without chemo or radiation actually has an average 90% prognosis.  He was so terrified of surgery that he went through some cuckoo quack doctor's "natural therapy" diet plan or something of the sort, giving the tumor time to metastasize to other organs before he finally buckled and sought real medical care.  By then, of course, it was too late.  You ever wonder why a guy who had pancreatic cancer needed a _liver_ transplant?  Because he did something incredibly stupid in regards to his own health.

> Just watch any one of those evil ads for the latest penis drug and you see a laundry
> list of side effectsx. They know its poison and they even trot it out proudly like a badge
> of honor that iotll kill you.
I have to admit that seeing them called "penis drugs" was a bit amusing. :-)

They're telling you it has side effects because they've bothered to check what sort of effects it has.  The thing about side effects is that there is no such thing as a substance you can consume by any means that does not have side effects.  There never will be.  It's an artifact of evolution that pretty much every single aspect of our biochemistry is multifunctional.  Almost no hormone, neurotransmitter, organ, or substance that moves through your bloodstream serves only one purpose.  Side effects happen because the drugs deal with their problems by affecting the functional component in question, but because these components serve other functions, affecting those functions is expected, and how that presents is what we call "side effects."

> Why don't we hear about it with homeopathic or chinese medicine or ayurvedic?
In the case of homeopathic, acupuncture, reiki healing and a few others, at least, it's no surprise that there are no side effects.  These don't have any side effects because they don't have any specific effects of any kind.  They're all placebos, and while the placebo effect is a real thing, it is also, by definition, non-specific effects, meaning that the effect can't be directly tied to the treatment.

Other aspects of Chinese medicine and most all of Ayurveda do have side effects in the general sense, but the reason you don't hear about them is because no practitioner ever bothered to find out what they are.  To begin with, both of these systems are rooted in the use of home remedies that have been taken as true and then collected and formally tied together under a set of unifying concepts that have no basis in reality.  But I guarantee you that not one of them will ever have a clue about the actual underlying biochemistry of their remedies because it's simply not something that comes into consideration for these types of so-called "medicine."

Real medical doctors and researchers do know this stuff and regularly test it, and likewise, that's why they know the side effects. Try and show me the ayurved who can actually explain the physical phenomena that make up a kapha-pitta dosha.  What exactly IS it in the first place?  Show me even one example of a homeopath who subjects their treatments to a double-blind trial and actually collect data on the effects including side effects.

> Just follow the money and you'll know who the evil ones are.  Follow the money and
> you'll see why they put all those chemicals in us.
Are you suggesting that there isn't big money in homeopathy or chiropractic?  Sure, the number of practitioners is many times smaller, but there are still billions of dollars in that industry.  There are plenty of things you can say about the practices of the pharmaceutical and medical industries, especially with regards to cost control and skyrocketing insurance costs, but that is not the same as saying that the end product is necessarily evil.  There are plenty of valid ethical concerns to raise about the industry as a whole, but you can't necessarily connect that with the product itself.  There are laws in place to protect us from getting something truly dangerous, although there are others that kind of make things worse (patent laws in particular).  Alternative practices have nothing of the sort...  and it's not because they've stacked the odds in their favor, but because they're not considered medicine.  And rightfully so.
That, as you might expect yielded some response.  I have a bit of a reputation on this particular board as a sort of oracle of all knowledge, but I'm really just a guy who is reasonably educated in science, and for those of us who are literate in science, seeing someone spread misinformation about it is like fingernails on a chalkboard.  But the relevant response is really from the delusional moron who had issue with what I said.
> No, it's really not a rising epidemic.
Yes it is.  What you're spewing is just the lies that big pharma and the politicians want you to believe.  Want more Kool-Aid?

> do people think that any element maintains all its properties when it's in a compound?
> If that was true, water would be explosively flammable.
It may not be the case for water, but there's a lot of proof that metals still keep their properties when in a compound.  Look at iron in the blood and how it responds to magnet therapy.  look at the copper in our skin and how it enables the body to conduct electricity.

> but I don't see anyone claiming that tuna causes autism.
When doctors start injecting tuna directly into the bloofstream, then they just might.

> And of course, they ignore the fact that the elimination of thimerosal from childhood 
> vaccines did not cause a drop in the rate of diagnosis.
Which is more likely?  That the autism epidemic kept growing in spite of the removal of mercury?  Or that the industry LIED about removing the mercury and actually increased it?

> Even if that was true, have you ever heard that correlation doesn't equal causation?
That's just something people say when they don't want to believe in the correlation.  All correlations happen for a reason.  People just made up this rule that correlation doesn't equal causation in order to evade the FACT that it really does, and they don't want to have to explain themselves.

> This might raise a few eyebrows for digging up a grave, but I'll say this flatly --
> if not for a belief in alternative woo-woo pseudoscience and an utterly irrational fear
> of real science-based medicine, there's a 90% chance that Steve Jobs would still be
> alive today.
Wow.  The guy died just 6 days ago and you're dancing on his grave.  Way to stay classy.
Oh, and nice of you to create a false dichotomy between traditional and alternative medicine by calling one "science-based" as if the other isn't.

> The thing about side effects is that there is no such thing as a substance you can 
> consume by any means that does not have side effects.  There never will be.
BULLSHIT.  Can you tell me about the side effects of water?  What about the side effects of blood?
No?  Then FUCK YOU.

> In the case of homeopathic, acupuncture, reiki healing and a few others, at least, it's 
> no surprise that there are no side effects.  These don't have any side effects because 
> they don't have any specific effects of any kind.  They're all placebos, and while the 
> placebo effect is a real thing, it is also, by definition, non-specific effects, meaning
> that the effect can't be directly tied to the treatment.
So says the medical establishment dicks you've been sucking on.  They don't have side effects because they're not pumping you full of chemicals and actually treating the person.  Thats what makes them the rigt thing.  They actually work and what you call "real" medicine just profits from making people sicker and sicker.

> Other aspects of Chinese medicine and most all of Ayurveda do have side effects in
> the general sense, but the reason you don't hear about them is because no practitioner
> ever bothered to find out what they are.
Neither do normal doctors.  Thgey just read the literature on the drugs the HMO tells them to push.  Besides, why would anyone try to find out about something that doesn't exist?  Of course no ayurvedic doctor never searches for side effects because THEY KNOW IT WON'T HAVE ANY IN THE FIRST PLACE!

> But I guarantee you that not one of them will ever have a clue about the actual 
> underlying biochemistry of their remedies because it's simply not something that comes
> into consideration for these types of so-called "medicine."
Maybe it's because they all know there's more to people than biochemistry?  Can you show me the drug that balances the frequencies of our nervous system?  How about dropping the heat component or tightness?  Where is the soul in mainstream medicine?  It's not there because they think CHEMICALS do everything.

> Try and show me the ayurved who can actually explain the physical phenomena that 
> make up a kapha-pitta dosha.  What exactly IS it in the first place?
There is such a thing as the non-physical too, you know.  If it was so easy to explain metaphysical concepts, we'd all be doctors.  The energies involved here are different from the plain chemical energy that the medical establishment pretends is all there is.  At the very least they're more open-minded about the non-physical compared to your kinds of doctors.

> There are plenty of valid ethical concerns to raise about the industry as a whole
Well at least you acknowledge that much.

> but you can't necessarily connect that with the product itself.
Right, because there's no way an EVIL industry would ever try to sell us something EVIL.
At first reading of it, it's a little unclear what he does and does not buy into, but it is at least clear that the entirety of his problem is not that he actually prefers alternative woo-woo pseudoscience, but that he has an unwarrantable fear and distrust of real medicine, and he runs away from Big Pharma and leaps into the arms of Big Placebo.

We go on...
> It may not be the case for water, but there's a lot of proof that metals
> still keep their properties when in a compound.  Look at iron in
> the blood and how it responds to magnet therapy.  look at the copper
> in our skin and how it enables the body to conduct electricity.

Yeah, about iron and magnets -- that doesn't work at all.  It never has -- seriously, have you ever tried just taking a magnet to a blood sample?  It will never respond in any way because the iron in hemoglobin is not magnetic in any way.  You don't just have to look to medical doctors -- 100% of chemists will tell you that compounds don't really share properties with their constituent elements.

Likewise, copper isn't actually in your skin per se, but it is a trace element that catalyzes certain protein production related to skin health (e.g. collagen), and it is not involved in the conductivity of your body.  That has a lot more to do with the electrolytes in your bodily fluids than anything.

> When doctors start injecting tuna directly into the bloofstream, then they
> just might.

Are you suggesting that getting into your blood by injection is fundamentally different than if the same amount of the same substance gets in by ingestion?  Or are you suggesting that it is the fact that doctors do it that makes it a problem?  Based on your responses so far, I'm thinking it's actually the latter.

> Which is more likely?  That the autism epidemic kept growing in spite of the
> removal of mercury?  Or that the industry LIED about removing the mercury and
> actually increased it?

Really?  So the idea that an entire industry is involved in a cover-up and conspiring to hide their actual activities, and that the media, the government, independent scientists, non-profit research groups, and universities are all part of this massive conspiracy to keep it hidden... is MORE PLAUSIBLE to you than the notion that you might actually be wrong about something?  That alone is the extreme polar opposite of a scientific and rational attitude, and you have the incalculable hypocrisy to suggest that any other living thing on this Earth is closed-minded?  Is your name Alex Jones, by any chance?

> People just made up this rule that correlation doesn't equal causation in
> order to evade the FACT that it really does, and they don't want to have to
> explain themselves.
Wow.  That's not a response I was expecting.  Most people try to divert over to claims that the link has actually been proven when in reality, there is no correlation to begin with let alone causation...  but you're the first person I've seen who actually claims that correlation DOES equal causation.  By that logic, Internet Explorer usage causes murder in the U.S.
New rule : You will never be allowed to have a say in any matter until you take a semester of statistics.

> Can you tell me about the side effects of water?
Excessive quantities of water causes a dilution of the electrolyte levels which means that the nervous system and brain loses conductivity to transmit signals...  end result, your brain can shut down entirely because it just can't operate -- can't tell your muscles to move, can't tell your heart to beat, etc.  If you think this sounds impossible, just check out the story about the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" radio contest in which a woman did in fact die of water poisoning.

> What about the side effects of blood?
I'm a bit puzzled that you included that in response to something I said about substances you "consume"...  you consume blood?  That is...  troubling.  But I would add that mismatched blood has its problems, but high quantities of blood also means higher blood pressure as the volume of your blood vessels is finite.

> They actually work and what you call "real" medicine just profits from
> making people sicker and sicker.

Acupuncture, homeopathy, reiki healing -- they don't work any better than placebos do.  This is because they ARE placebos.  All of them have been thoroughly shown without so much as a single isolated exception to show equal effects to "fake" versions of themselves or in the case of homeopathy, being given the wrong homeopathic tincture.  That is why they only ever have non-specific effects, and you can't call them anything other than placebos.  Real medicine is real because its function is based exclusively on things that actually exist, and depend on processes that have been verified and they are tested and shown in double-blind trials to beat placebos.  Any developer of any drug can not only tell you that it works, but exactly why and how it works, and even show you the mechanisms involved.  There will never be an example of that for any alt-med bullcrap.

Secondary, simple logic can show exactly why making people sicker does not serve the interests of the medical establishment you so fear.  Sicker people die sooner.  Even assuming that they are exercising predatory business practices, how much money can you milk off of someone if you kill them off quickly?  Wouldn't it make more sense to manage someone's health to the point of keeping them reasonably healthy, but still dependent on your drugs and regular care in order to get as much money as you can for the longest amount of time?  Same reasoning is why your concerns about the money made by vaccines proves them to be evil...  Yes, there's money in it, but you only get a handful of vaccines over your entire life; as opposed to being on a lifetime of drugs for managing diabetes or high blood pressure and so on.  Hence why vaccines don't count for a large percentage of overall pharmaceutical industry revenues.

> Besides, why would anyone try to find out about something that doesn't exist?
Irony meter reads over 9000...

> Of course no ayurvedic doctor never searches for side effects because
> THEY KNOW IT WON'T HAVE ANY IN THE FIRST PLACE!

With that statement alone, you have proven beyond all room for question that at the very least your attitude is entirely unscientific.  Real science has no sacred cows.  You never go into it with the position that things are already certain;  Every endeavour begins with the question of "what would be true if I was wrong?", or alternatively "what absolutely *has* to be true if I'm right?" (i.e. if it wasn't true, I'm wrong), both of which serve as methods of disproof.  Show me the time anywhere in this thread that you were even willing to consider ways in which your position might be disproven or discussing what it might take to change your mind.

> Can you show me the drug that balances the frequencies of our nervous system?
> How about dropping the heat component or tightness?  Where is the soul in
> mainstream medicine?

What the hell are those things?  Frequencies of the nervous system?  A frequency is a rate of oscillation...  what on Earth is it about your nervous system that is oscillating?  How are they even measured to begin with?  And what do you actually mean by balancing those frequencies?  Does that mean you want the entire frequency spectrum to be equal across the range... so the nervous system should oscillate with white noise all the time or something?  And then this heat component and tightness component...  what the hell is that?  Heat where?  Tightness of what?  Do you even have a single clue what it is that you're talking about?  If you can't even define your terms, how can you possibly say they're even there in the first place?

> There is such a thing as the non-physical too, you know.
I'd love to know how you purport to demonstrate this.  Furthermore, you've been including a variety of woo concepts that that connect some of these "non-physical" forces to real-world physical health.  That implies that there has to be some way to detect, measure, and affect them that exists in the physical world, else they're entirely useless even if they did exist.

Supposing that you're not an expert yourself and merely a believer, it is at least possible to ask these questions of people who are experts.  If you ask a real doctor who does have expertise in a particular field about the details of some drug's function or the nature of some condition, they can give you verifiable facts and actual structures and chemical reactions, all of which are demonstrable.  The worst answer they can possibly give is "we don't completely understand it yet", which is at least honest.  Can you say the same for any of the charlatans you hoist on a pedestal?

> The energies involved here are different from the plain chemical energy
> that the medical establishment pretends is all there is.

Based on the way you've been talking about it, I have to wonder if you even understand what energy is or how it operates.  It almost sounds like you're picturing some sort of Dragonball Z type of world where energy can be manipulated and transmitted by force of will.  So I have to ask...  what do you think energy is?

> At the very least they're more open-minded about the non-physical
> compared to your kinds of doctors.

Being open-minded doesn't mean you fully accept ideas different from what you already have, but that you're willing to consider them.  The gap between considering and accepting is why no science-based discipline actually accepts this non-physical energy and balancing frequencies nonsense.  All of them fail the filter of intellectual rigor.

> Right, because there's no way an EVIL industry would ever try
> to sell us something EVIL.

*sigh~~~*
By that logic, we shouldn't use Windows, OSX, iOS, Android, Symbian, or Linux.  Companies connected to every one of those platforms have each done something evil.  Nearly 100% of the food available in this country can be traced back to some "evil" corporation.  Should we all stop eating?  This utterly black and white view of good and evil is exactly why you are so far wrong.  One can kill a man one day and save a hundred lives on another day, but according to you, whoever did this is pure evil.  A company has to operate on multiple facets at once, and a flaw in one facet does not necessarily carry by association to every other. 
Well, there was a reply, but in between that reply from the original poster, there was also a lot of appreciation from other members on the board, and an array of responses saying that I'd "logic-pwned" the delusional idiot who more or less stood alone in his inane ramblings.  That, and there were a few where others responded to him as well, but mostly echoing what I said.  I mention this because those other posts are briefly referenced in the response.  Not that there's really much of a response.
FUCK YOU ALL, YOU FUCKING COCKSUCKERS!!!!!  ALL OF YOU SPEND ALL YOUR DAYS SUCKING [The Grumpy Anti-theist]'S DICK WHILE HE KISSES THE COLLECTIVE ASSES OF CONGRESS AND BIG PHARMA.

Like youre so psychic you get to decide what I do what I think what I eel.  I know what I know and all your so-called "studies", which are conveniently funded by pharmaceuticals and traditional medical schools and stuff can't possibly change that.  The only reason the medical industry even exists is to manage the population and keep it under control.  THATS WHY THEY FUCKIING PUMP YOU WITH CHEMICALS AND POISONS ALL THE TIME!  I'll take a fucking cup of tea over anything that came out of a lab.  Who knows what they're up to?  SCIENCE MY FOOT!  It's money power and control.  That's all its ever been about.

FUCK YOUR FUCKING "WHAT IF IM WRONG" BULLSHIT!!  IM NOT WRONG BECAUSE ALL FACTS PROVE IT.  DO YOUR FUCKING RESEARCH INSTEAD OF SWALLOWING ALL THE PHONY SCIENCE THEY FEED YOU.  IT IS SO FUCKING OBVIOUS IF YOU JUST BOTHER TO LEARN THE FUCKING FACTS!  This is supposed to be an open forum, and all you motherfuckers have shown is that there's nothing open about it.  You've all done nothing but play up the status quo and rip on people who actually did the job of exposing the truth.  But obviously you don't want to hear it.  Congratulations on dying in maximal sickness and being used like cattle in your orwellian utopia.  FUCK YOU ALL.  FUCK YOU ESPECIALLY MR SCIENCEY BULLSHITTER.  LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU MEET STEVE JOBS IN THE HEREAFTER AND HE TELLS YOU HOW HE WAS SLOWLY MURDERERD ON THE OPERATING TABLE, YOU SHIT-EATING FUCKER.

Yep...  it didn't take long for that conversation to devolve.  All caps really proves the point.  Then again, I used it once, too, but I am generally quite lazy in forum posts to do things like annotation and markup.  Thinking back to the Ken Ham - Bill Nye debate, everybody remembers that the dead giveaway moment that deconstructed everything Ham could ever have to offer was the moment where he said he would never change his mind for any reason while Nye gave serious examples that would overturn scientific knowledge.  While this guy didn't say it quite as openly and unapologetically as Ham did, he ultimately let out that he has the same shortcoming in his thinking, and that is where you know this guy has no capacity to be on the right track.

Of course, belting out a rousing refrain of "FUCK"s over and over again doesn't help your case either.