Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Rhinos and tigers and bears. Oh my.

Posted in Science Based Medicine by Skepdude on March 27, 2009

This is a must read, a great entry from SBM.

No good deed goes unpunished.

The website whatstheharm.net is a depressing recitation of the harm that humans do to themselves and others from participating in various forms of nonsense in the attempt to do good. It my backfire, and instead pain and death result.

I would bet that most practitioners of medical woo are true believers. They do not intend to harm people, and believe they are doing good for their patients. Certainly the consumers of alternative therapies intend to have good benefits from their use of sCAM modalities. Most want to get better, and do not intend to hurt themselves or others.

Unfortunately, actions always have unintended consequences. Sometimes the harm is directly to the patient. Sometimes the harm in indirect, with collateral damage to people or the environment. My hospital system has an extensive recycling program to handle the huge amounts of waste generated by the need to insure that all manner of materials are sterile. Patients in isolation consume large amounts of paper and plastic to keep infection confined. My hospitals actively look for ways to decrease their environmental impact and carbon footprint and still deliver high quality medical care. Legacy Health System, where I work, is an award winning leader recycling medical waste, which is a lot more difficult to dispose of than the pop cans and paper bags in your house. Hopefully the trash in your house is not covered with pus, blood and other potentially hazardous medical waste. We try to be good global citizens.

I wonder if some branches of the alternative medical industrial complex are so environmentally conscious.

Natural products are at the greatest risk for being adversely affected by a demand for their use. If millions of people want a natural product that has limited supply, soon that product will be exhausted and the product extinct. Adverse effects from alternative therapies can come in many forms, and the alternative practice with the greatest adverse impact on the environment is probably traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). A billion or more people wanting a traditional herbal or animal product is going to have a detrimental effect on the herb or animal being consumed. There are numerous examples of the adverse effects on the environment from traditional Chinese medicine.

For years the Rhinoceros was hunted not for food or sport, but for the horn. There is a form of magical thinking that derives function from the structure of a natural product like a rhino horn. It looks like a penis. I guess. I must not have been paying close attention during in my urology rotation. Because it looks like a penis, it must have efficacy on impotence. So the rhino horn was ground up to treat impotence. For centuries it was the Enzyte of the world. But Rhino horn is more than an aphrodisiac. Although the rhino horn is no more than a fingernail with extra calcium and phosphorus, the horn has been used in Chinese medicine to treat damn near anything.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “SCIENCE BASED MEDICINE”

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Whoring for Islam European style

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 27, 2009

Or put it another way, spineless, cowardly body oks call to curb religious criticism.

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N.’s top human-rights body approved a proposal by Muslims nations Thursday urging passage of laws around the world to protect religion from criticism.

The proposal put forward by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic countries — with the backing of Belarus and Venezuela — had drawn strong criticism from free-speech campaigners and liberal democracies.

A simple majority of 23 members of the 47-nation Human Rights Council voted in favor of the resolution. Eleven nations, mostly Western, opposed the resolution, and 13 countries abstained.

The resolution urges states to provide “protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general.”

Which is all nice and dandy. After all we all are opposed to acts of hatred, discrimination and coercion. So I wonder what sort of defamation are they after to abolish anyway.

Muslim nations have argued that religions, in particular Islam, must be shielded from criticism in the media and other areas of public life. They cited cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as an example of unacceptable free speech.

“Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism,” the resolution said.

And if anyone ever claims this is not about stifling all criticism and free speech when religion is concerned needs to shut up. Just refresh my memory who was committing the violence and acts of hatred after the Muhammad cartoons were published? Why yes, the muslims were! So, let me get this right they want us to do away with our freedom of expression so that they don’t have to act violent in retribution. Talk about a logical pretzel. Talk about giving Islam a bad name. No wonder they want to hide as much of that as possible.

Opponents of the resolution included Canada, all European Union countries, Switzerland, Ukraine and Chile.

“It is individuals who have rights and not religions,” Canadian diplomat Terry Cormier said.

Absolutely right, even though from the point of view of the islamic countries this is about human rights, more specifically their right not to be offended or criticised, even when they want to incinerate and kill everyone else. The Right not to be Offended. Wow!

India, which normally votes along with the council’s majority of developing nations, abstained in protest at the fact that Islam was the only religion specifically named as deserving protection.

Of course why not. Why should Islam get special treatment? All delusions should be protected to the same extend from warranted criticism.

Esther Brimmer, Obama’s nominee for the job of Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizational Affairs, told a Senate hearing Tuesday that the council was a “major disappointment, diverted from its mission by states with some of the worst human rights records.”

Indeed Esther, indeed.