I was listening to Real Time with Bill Maher today (EP 119th – I’m behind) and the curtain that has barely been hiding what a loon Maher is, finally dropped, revealing Bill in all his madness.
He railed on about(and I do quote):
“All [animal based] foods are all steroids and human growth hormone – thats why people are so sick.”
“All prescription drugs – everything in the pharmacy – is poison”
He then goes on to rant against doctors, modern medicine, and tap water, finally claiming that once he got religion (meaning he became an organic, granola, green, vegan) he now would never get the flu.
It is a shame, that a guy who has seen through so much of political and religious dogma has fallen into a dogma all his own.
Bill, the science you were railing against? That has empirical proof. Mountains of data on just what it is and is not. Stringent and voluminous efficacy trials to show what works and just how well. What you are talking about…thats just fantasy and as you say it really is just another religion based on dogma and authority with virtually no factual content. And, you have become the authority figure, the pope, the Tom Cruise, of your little cult.
Please, I urge you to move to any third world area; drink the not chlorinated water and eat all those organic (grown in shit) veggies to your hearts content. I wonder will the disease or the starvation get you first? Either way, unless you are completely bonkers I bet it is not long before you beg for modern medical intervention.
P.S. The salient bits of the show the three minutes about half way through the video above. P.J. O’Rourke looks like he wants to crawl off the stage.
Archive for February, 2008
I was listening to Real Time with Bill Maher today (EP 119th – I’m behind) and the curtain that has barely been hiding what a loon Maher is, finally dropped, revealing Bill in all his madness.
On the Skepticality Forum, Sculptingman, is giving an outstanding lesson in why even the most stalwart skeptic is susceptible to irrational thinking and to employing logical fallacy in the defense of their position.
Sculptingman, is on record, often as being quite hateful of and absolutely opposed to all people involved in any field either psychiatric or psycho-therapeutic in nature.
In this most resent case he has taken a Yahoo News account of a study published in a possibly questionable “open source” journal. The study itself is a meta-analysis (the weakest and most easily manipulated form of study) regarding SSRI’s drugs and depression. The meta-analysis is of a small group of previous studies all conducted long before the drug type was approved for use,.
The study on the efficacy of SSRI’s to treat depression shows:
“Drug–placebo differences in antidepressant efficacy increase as a function of baseline severity, but are relatively small even for severely depressed patients. The relationship between initial severity and antidepressant efficacy is attributable to decreased responsiveness to placebo among very severely depressed patients, rather than to increased responsiveness to medication.”
What this means is that the average efficacy of the drug improved over placebo the more severe the depression was. Further the study suggest that the lower forms of depression were not significantly higher than placebo, meaning the efficacy of the drugs for mild depression may be in some doubt.
That is all fine and it is science as far as it goes, though I am not so sure it is all that significant given the size and type of study, and the potential for the data to be out-of-date. But certainly it could warrant a more detailed look into the efficacy of SSRI type drugs, something I agree are too often prescribed in clinical settings.
However, Sculpting man immediately goes off the farm with his very first sentence: “More evidence in that shows, yet again… that psychiatric "theories" of how to treat mental illness are mistaken, made up, and centered around inventing illnesses to match the drugs, rather than actual test results…” As if he is saying there was no such thing as depression before the invention of SSRI’s. Sheesh!
The evidence shows nothing of the sort and his Post Hoc rationalization along with his straw man attack on Psychiatry is laughable – or would be if it were from someone who didn’t know better. His further diatribe is just plain silly, making claims about both the study and psychiatry that just do not bear up under any scrutiny of reality (like that the drugs only work on severely depressed or that depression is ergo normal, or that psychiatry as a unified group believes all depression is the result of childhood trauma, and claiming that as the principal theory of all modern mental health).
Fact of the matter is most of these SSRI drugs are prescribed by MD’s in clinical settings not Psychiatrists and certainly not Psychotherapists. Further, demonstrating that a drug is less effective than previously assumed in no way can be used to show that a particular full field of medicine is therefore bunk. That is called poisoning the well.
He goes on in several posts with faulty reasoning and more than a dollop of anecdote and significant straw manning of the fields of mental health as well.
Really kind of sad, and more than a bit unbalanced if you ask me. I wonder, since he apparently hates and fears the whole field of mental health so much, who can he go to for help?
But more to the point, where it not for a few good skeptics remaining on that board (Oz Mike & Strummer) I would have to insist that they change the name to something more applicable…I don’t suppose Gullibility or Credulicality are appealing to them.
For reference a meta analysis is a statistical study of other studies, not a proper study of its own. Without going into detail the basics of the study are that a statistician (or group) tries to cobble together related studies and connect statistical dots from the common points of the different actual studies. It is fraught with potential for error and bias and generally is only used as a guiding tool in epidemiology or medical research, not as a format for attaining true data.
Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary John Tsang, today announced future tax cuts and rebates after the government suffered a 115.6 Billion Dollar Surplus (I know, I know, thats only 15 Billion US). I say suffered because , kind of like Richard Pryor in Brewster’s Millions, it must just kill them to have unspent free money on their hands.
Hey! Asshole! Give it all back, with interest! It is not yours, it never was. Basically you overcharged us and now you are dangling a carrot while you sit on a pile of prime steak bought at our expense.
For reference 115,600,000,000 is about 10% of our 2006 GDP. So they over charged (remember this is surplus – the left over after the bill was paid) the people of Hong Kong 10% of the value of all the goods and services Hong Kong created. A percentage that large should easily qualify as usury.
The thing that really gets me is that because of the announced (and said) dangled carrot, the market rallied. Sheesh, those people should know this old trick.
I really have to wonder what people would do if Visa started charging them $1,500 every month on their credit card, then at the end of the year said: “Oops, sorry, we overcharged you $18,000 last year so this year we will reduce your arbitrary pre payment by $500 per month.”
ETA: Some figures in the news today.
The tax surplus will be spent in the following ways:
$ 7.8 Billion will be placed in the retirement funds of 1.3 million lowest wage workers.
$ 47.5 Billion will be given to the Electric Company to subsidize 2.4 million households.
$ About 2 Billion will be given as a one off tax rebate, this mixed between all tax payers, corporate as well as salaries tax. No clear mention of the exact math on this.
$ Apparently (again muddled math) 18 Billion in assorted one off fee breaks (business registrations and the like).
$ And the remaining 40 billion or so to be set aside for later use.
In light of this more complete information regarding the governments plans, I must apologize for the blatant ignorance of my first paragraph. Apparently they have found a way to spend it all.
According to the news, Pakistan, a country of 163 million, sixth most peopled country in the world, has decided to block YouTube because is it offensive to Islam.
This mere paragraph brings up so many questions:
1. If the whole country doesn’t want to see YouTube, why do they need to block it?
2. If not the whole country then how did they decide? It took them months on end to organize a predicted presidential election, but they manage to tally a vote about YouTube in just moments?
3. Does Muhammad have a broadband connection? If he is in heaven on a dial-up, how will he know he has been offended?
4. Doesn’t allah have better things to do, (like feeding the many starving Pakistani) than to worry about what a few internet geeks post on YouTube?
5. How do we know something is offensive to god…because some human tells us so?
6. How do we know what god thinks is sacred…because some human tells us what god thinks?
7. Are not all Muslims irreverent and blasphemous to all jews and christians all the time?
It all seems pretty shaky to me. Look, Pakistan, If something is against your belief, don’t participate, but religious tolerance is not forcing the obedient participation of those not in your belief. Thats called aggression. If the world has to respect Islam, then Islam has to respect all the rest of the world equally. That means live and let live ergo let people who want to watch YouTube watch it.If yours is the right god,more room for you in heaven. And for the record, it is the worst form of weaselitude to put punish someone because you claim that person has sinned against your god, unless you can produce god to testify on its own behalf.
On this and all similar things I side with Tom Robbins who penned: “I believe in nothing, everything is sacred. I believe in everything, nothing is sacred”.
Of course Robbins also penned “If it is committed in the name of God or country, there is no crime so heinous that the public will not forgive it.” I hope he is wrong about that, but I suspect not.
So, are you all puffed up on the beauty, tranquility and peace of Mother Nature? Get yourself a fish tank and you can prove Rousseu’s statement: “nature is a brutish condition without law or morality;” in the comfort of your own home.
I’m not a fish guy, but Henry has been for some time now. In our old flat we had a small tank, and to be honest because of its position and size I hardly ever noticed it, and never took note of what went on in there. I guess in the back of my mind I occasionally wondered why he had to keep buying new fish. Now, we have a gargantuan 120 liter beast of a tank, as a centerpiece between our living room and dining room, which can not be avoided and demands frequent attention.
Henry keeps a large and colorful selection of fresh water tropical fish and let me tell, they are beautiful in their ferocity and zeal. They harass, bite, chase down, and kill each other all the time. Then they have regular impromptu feasts on the carcasses of their fallen kin. Mind you, these are not particular “fighting fish” just run of the mill fresh water tank fish and we feed them copious amounts of krill and flake food.
So the next granola, or pious prat, rattling on about the beauty and peace of nature or gods creation – I’m giving them a fish tank for their birthday.
So Edison returned to Hong Kong and gave a press brief (above).
To me he doesn’t deserve hostility or disapproval, but only apathy. I couldn’t care less about him or the girls. All willing adults. I am much more interested in the societal BS that has been demonstrated.
It seems many suggest that he did this *to* the girls, but I thought that line of “dominant male” BS fell out of fashion in the 60’s. Are HK women not free individuals capable of free choice and therefore also equally responsible for the choices they make?
But WTF Edison come on, are you really allowing (instructing) your attorneys to go after the many people who download publicly available copies of your pics, under Hong Kong’s rather harsh piracy laws? You really want your net using fans to face possible incarceration because they downloaded your pics? Pics that were made public by your own mistakes?
As someone who values my own freedom, and has often related to the classically liberal philosophy (libertarian); I often find a particularly common argument used against the core assumption of the philosophy to be equal parts straw man fallacy against libertarian thought and a false unstated major premise in support of the alternative (some form of communitarian arrangement).
The straw man fallacy is that the individualism espoused by libertarian philosophy is selfish and eschews cooperative relationships or responsibility. They often deride the quote from Adam Smith (arguably the father of the libertarian school of thought): “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest”, citing it as a selfish and cynical statement, but that is not the case.
To refute the straw man we need look no further than several key concepts put fourth in the handful of sentences immediately preceding that quote (from The Wealth of Nations):
“ [man] stands at all times in need of the co-operation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons”.
“Man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only.”
“Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of.”
Smith, and libertarian philosophy, prizes cooperation, second only to the fundamental unit of humanity, the individual. And indeed, these two concepts are so tightly bound together that the one cannot be, without the other.
The second part of the argument is the unstated major premises: that individual humans by their very nature have no motivation or necessity to cooperate. This is a bit circular as they also assert that because of our need for cooperation we must have government, therefore they admit in their own solution that we have motivation and need for cooperation.
They assume (and assert without stating the premise) the worst of humans; that they will not cooperate without being forced to do so. They seem to assert that cooperation can be coerced. It cannot, unless we call slavery cooperation.
Finally, somehow in this maneuvering they come to the position that a group of selected individuals, acting in concert (government) can both control the pettiness of all the individuals in the community and force cooperation. They also assume without reason that the same group (government) will be wise enough to know the detailed needs and abilities of each individual and thus collect and distribute to each individual as it is needed and fair.
The last part is magical thinking if you ask me.
I am among the many unemployed at present. I have some home projects I am working on and I am fishing for consulting work as well…but job searching at my age and experience, I can reasonably expect to be a long, drawn out process, with a lot of dead ends. Ahhh well, as Tom Robbins once said (or something like it): we all need to work, but none of us needs a job.
I have had some thought to doing another restaurant, but…I’m not sure I can pull together the finances. In this day a mom and pop type shop is far too likely to fail to risk any significant capital on. Sad to say, and I hope that will rebound in the future; but the big corporations are too prolific, makes it very tough to be independent.
To do my own thing again now, I would have to get up capital to do a larger restaurant group, and that in prime districts. No more fishing on the fringe waters. The prime districts (and the corporate groups) have drawn almost all the fish into their waters.
Of course a multi unit group takes a pretty large up front cash commitment – certainly far outside of my own economic capacity. I need a sugar daddy – my husband is many wonderful things, but financially powerful, he is not.
I have been fairly successful at riding the raging river of life through its twist, turns, and rapids. I’m used to the tumult, and have become quite good at finding a workable course through the chaos. But once in a while the river of life turns into a mist covered lake. The water is calm, but the depth and current is very hard to discern. It is at these times, in this quiescence, that I am most out of my element.
I guess the part that really raises my ire in the Edison Chen sex scandal is that someone was held against their will, for 10 days because they chose to email pictures of consenting adults having sex, to other consenting adults, whom they knew.
One of the things about Libertarian Philosophy that I find very compelling, is the idea that both victimless and consensual crimes should, under no circumstances, result in incarceration.
If you ask me laws regarding habeas corpus, should require the presentation of two bodies, the accused and the injured. Call it habeas corpi. If the state can not show real and provable harm to real individual victim(s) it should have no business detaining anyone.
Just think of the alleged crimes that can land you in jail, most of them based on outdated laws with deeply religious roots and stemming from a time before the idea of equality was heard of; not just equality of race or sex, but from a time when inequality based on class was customary.
Here’s a lazy list of the most common such crimes: Adultery, Bigamy, Prostitution, Incest, Homosexuality, Pornography, Blasphemy, Apostasy, Ticket Scalping, Flag Desecration, Suicide, Euthanasia, Gambling, Drug Use, Black and Grey market shopping, Sedition, Jay Walking, Base or Bunjee Jumping, Bypassing the regional codes on a dvd player, Modifying a video game chip to play games not sold in your market, Removing the tag from the mattress – I made the last one up, but…
And if you want to know how close and personal this actually is to me…until 1991, the consensual love my partner and I have expressed for one another over the past 10 years, was a crime that could and did net people LIFE in prison. That’s right, just 17 years ago homosexual acts between consenting adults was a crime punishable by life in prison, here in Asia’s world city.
Well, Hong Kong law on digital media, Internet distribution, and indecency has fallen down the rabbit-hole. Last night the police dropped all charges from the last person remaining in custody from the Edison Chen sex scandal. The reason for the release was that The Obscene Articles Tribunal has determined the photos were merely indecent, but not obscene.
I am confused because according to my OED:
not conforming with generally accepted standards of behavior or propriety; obscene : the film was grossly indecent.
While the OED thesaurus along with, other online references place indecent as synonymous with obscene, in the case of the OED as the first synonym, along with the exact phrase indecent photograph!
1 indecent photographs obscene, dirty, filthy, rude, coarse, naughty, vulgar, gross, crude, lewd, salacious, improper, smutty, off-color; pornographic, offensive, prurient, sordid, scatological; ribald, risqué, racy; informal porn, porno, X-rated, XXX, raunchy, blue; euphemistic adult.
It seems I am not alone; According to the news the Hong Kong police also consulted with several people (including some members of said tribunal) who equally don’t understand why the photographs are indecent but not obscene.
I’m glad the gentleman in question was set free, from what I can see he is at best guilty of a civil count of copying the pictures when the computer was in for repair…no doubt some form of minor business type offense.
I vote not indecent, not obscene, just another (of many) picture of two animals rutting in the wild. Yahoo!
But, Hong Kong, you are allegedly Asia’s world city. As such you may want to avoid the appearance that you are making it all up as you go along. This is no way to opiate the masses.
Now, kiddies lets all learn a valuable lesson from Uncle Edison: Before you send your electronic device in for repair or maintenance, you might want to make sure it has been properly cleansed.
One excellent reference on the case as it has unfolded is Wikipedia