Tag Archives: Opposing Views

Cryptography: Unbroken Codes

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

While cryptography has progressed by leaps and bounds, some codes still haven’t been broken. Tune in to learn more about some of history’s strangest unbroken codes, from the Voynich manuscript to the Tama Shud case and more.

The Stuff of Nightmares

James Van Praagh and the Afterlife

by Ingrid Hansen Smythe via skeptic.com

There are a number of different methods of exposing an individual as a liar and a charlatan. One way is to engage the person directly in their self-professed area of expertise and then judge their performance. You might employ an alleged brain surgeon, for example, and pay that person to perform brain surgery on you—and if the surgeon uses a cork screw and salad tongs, and the operation turns into something akin to an autopsy or a dinner party at the Todd’s (Sweeney, that is), you’ve got fairly good evidence against the so-called expert. Alternatively, you could spare yourself the agony of direct engagement and read the published papers of the brain surgeon in question. If the papers are full of contradictions, wild inaccuracies and obvious fictions—if the surgeon believes that the hippocampus is an actual college, for example, or that olfactory bulbs are planted in the spring, or the ventral horn is a member of the brass section—again you have solid evidence that the brain surgeon hasn’t a clue and is not actually all that interested in the contents of your skull but, rather, in the contents of your wallet.

In his brilliant exposé of James Van Praagh, author Miklos Jako uses the first method and actually pays the renowned medium $700 for a reading. (Watch the reading with Jako’s editorial.) In tallying up the hits (12) and misses (64), Jako calculates a success rate of 16 percent. This is remarkably low, even for a cold reading, and Jako might have gotten a higher success rate had he engaged Bubbles the chimp. Worse yet, Jako actually feeds Van Praagh a lie about his father being involved in a drunk driving accident, and Van Praagh falls for it hook, line, and sinker. “He keeps going on about how he was very sorry it hurt you,” says Van Praagh. “He knows he embarrassed you on several occasions. He’s ashamed of that. He’s ashamed. He’s sorry, he’s ashamed of that. And please don’t think of him that way.” Jako’s outrage is palpable at this point, and it’s tough for him to remain composed. “My father never embarrassed me,” he says firmly. “Never.” Based on the evidence, Jako goes on to add his dead-on-the-mark assessment of the great psychic. “James Van Praagh,” he says, “you’re full of shit.” This sums things up nicely, I think.

You’d imagine that this masterful unveiling would settle the matter once and for all—but no. The critic can always assert that the old brain tumour was acting up again and that Van Praagh was simply “off” on that particular day, or that he was subconsciously stifled by Jako’s Kryptonite-like skepticism, or that an alleged error was just a silly misunderstanding, or that the spirits were being deliberately impish and uncooperative. None of this is Van Praagh’s fault. Thus, even when a medium is wrong more often than right, support continues or even increases.1

Unlike Miklos Jako then, my approach is to use the second method, examining the writings of Mr. Van Praagh in detail to see if I can detect anything that confirms Jako’s assessment. I’ll be analyzing his book Growing Up in Heaven, Van Praagh’s singular study of the afterlife as it relates, specifically, to the deaths of children. In it, Van Praagh shares his actual conversations with dead children, his interactions with the grieving parents, his philosophical intuitions, and his revealed insights into the afterlife for those of us dying to know what really goes on behind the veil.2

Before proceeding with the specifics, allow me to briefly sum up Van Praagh’s metaphysical position. Each of us is an eternal soul that reincarnates on the earth, and on other planets and in other dimensions, in order to learn all the lessons a soul’s got to know. These lessons are, predictably, things like patience and humility, and not things like how to make napalm or take the temperature of a cat. The ultimate lesson is that “we are all love created by Love,”3 and once we’ve figured out what the hell that could possibly mean, we achieve enlightenment.

MORE – – –

9 Reasons why people use Alternative Medicine

By via The Soap Box

Why do some people continue to use alternative medicine?

Despite all the information there is about alternative medicine and how not only does it not work, but that infact it can even be harmful, people still use it and believe that it really does work.

So why is it that people still use alternative medicine? Well, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve come up with quite a few reasons why:

Desperation

alternative-medicine-for-dummiesScience based medicine is an incredible thing and can cure many diseases and fix a lot of things that can go wrong with the human body, but unfortunately it can’t cure every disease, or fix everything that goes wrong with our bodies (not yet atleast). So when science based medicine can’t fix or cure what ever is wrong with us (or atleast not doing so in a way that is fast enough for us) some people, even rational people, might become desperate enough to use alternative medicine.

This sort of situation especially happens when someone has a terminal disease and they are told by their doctor that there is nothing they can do to cure what ever it is that is killing them. Some people will not accept this and will seek out anything that is claimed to be able to cure them (even if all the evidence says otherwise).

They think it’s cheaper

Because alternative medicine isn’t manufactured by the pharmaceutical companies (who are for profit businesses) it is assumed by some people that alternative medicine must be cheaper than science based medicine because they believe that the people who are manufacturing these alternative medical products are not doing it for a profit, plus when a person is told about a product that is suppose to be cheaper and work better than the conventional product, people tend to buy the supposedly cheaper product.

Now if you seriously believe that alternative medicine is cheaper than science based medicine, and that people who make these alternative medical products are not doing so for a profit, then I know a Nigerian prince that wants to give you $15,000,000.

A friend told them it works

alternative cam6_250pxProbably the best form of advertising there is is word of mouth. You don’t do have to pay for anything, and people tend to trust the opinion of a friend or family member over a creative ad in a newspaper or a TV commercial. Same thing holds true with alternative medicine.

Lets say you’ve been sick for a while and you have been taking some medicine for what ever has been ailing you, but so far it has had little to no affect. You tell a friend or a family member about your health issues and they might recommend that you take some herbs, or to go see this “doctor” that they recommend (who turns out to be an alternative medicine practitioner and not a real doctor) because they claim that it helped them, or it helped someone they know. Because you trust the person whom is recommending this “doctor” or this product, you might be more willing to see this “doctor” or try this product than you would if some stranger had told you.

Science based medicine can be harsh

Science based medicine (or modern medicine, or real medicine as some people like to call it) is a great thing. It has cured a lot of stuff, and has extended our average life expectancy by years, but it can also be pretty harsh at times as well. Because of this some people might either choose to stop using a science based medical treatment because they feel that it has become to harsh on them and that they believe that it might kill them if they continue to use, and so they decided to use alternative medicine instead because they believe it will help them without any side effects, or they might already know (or atleast believe) that the medical treatment that they’ve been recommend that they do could or will be harsh on them, and they decide to forgo it and use alternative medicine instead.

MORE – – –

5 Things I’ve noticed about… Alternative Medicine

by via The Soap Box

alternative-medicine-for-dummies_150pxAlternative Medicine.

It’s a multi-billion dollar scam industry that millions of people around the world use the products and services of year after year.

Many people who use alternative medicine will say it works, while many, many others will say otherwise.

Now there are a lot of things that I have notice about alternative medicine, but I have narrowed it down to five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about alternative medicine:

5. It has a lot to do about nothing.

Alternative medicine products and services basically comes in two different forms: does nothing and uses nothing.

homeopathic-remedy-lol_200pxMost alternative medicine just doesn’t work at all (such as homeopathy), and the few that actually does do something, the effects are minor and no where near as effective as real medicine, and could even be harmful if done improperly.

Then there are some that not only does nothing, but uses nothing as well. Reiki healing is a prime example of this as practitioners of Reiki healing practitioners claim that they use “energy” from some unknown source to “heal” people. Sometimes they will use crystals to harness this power. Sometimes they’ll just use their hands. Regardless of how they “harness” this energy, they all do the same thing: nothing.

4. It works off of anecdotal evidence

anecdotal evidence_300pxSome of the best “evidence” that practitioners of alternative medicine have about how effect the products and services they offer works is anecdotal evidence. In fact it’s not just best evidence they can give, it’s also often the only evidence they can ever give (besides the stuff they make up) mainly because scientific experimentation and testing have proven that their products and services are useless.

Most practitioners of alternative medicine will tell you that their products and services does make people feel better, what they often don’t tell you is how long it took to fix or cure whatever was ailing those who used their products or services, or whether they were using real medicine and medical services along with the alternative medicine, or how many people it didn’t work for and ended up having to go and get real medicine and medical services when the alternative medicine failed to cure any thing but perhaps a heavy wallet. And that’s another thing about alternative medicine…

3. It gets expensive.

Some alternative medicine is cheap (or at least it seems that way) but a lot of it is either over priced and even cost to much for some to use (which can be a good thing in a way, because the expense forces that person to go get real medicine). Even for people with health insurance it can still get expensive because most health insurance companies will not pay for alternative medicine, so a person who wants to use alternative medicine will have to pay for it out of pocket.

Even for the alternative medicine that isn’t expensive, and can still get expensive because . . .

MORE . . .

Psychics and Alternative Medicine Practitioners: Who is worse?

Via The Soap Box

alternative-medicine-for-dummiesPsychics, and alternative medicine practitioners. Two different groups of people who peddle BS pseudoscience that wastes gullible peoples money. But which one is worse?

Now many people would say that alternative medicine practitioners are worse, because not only are they peddling something and taking peoples’ money for products and services that do not work, they’re also physically harming people as well, and even risking peoples lives by not only selling them products and services that makes them think they can forgo real medicine and medical services that could help them and even save their lives for the alternative stuff, but also selling them products and services that really can cause harm, and possibly even kill you.

So it sounds like a no brainer, right? Alternative medicine practitioners are selling you products and services that could harm you and possibly kill you, while psychics are just taking your money. Except… many alternative medicine practitioners might not know what they are doing is harmful, because some do seriously believe that alternative medicine does work (this is mostly due to anecdotal evidence).

People claiming to be psychics on the other hand are different, because while many alternative medicine practitioners might not know what they’re doing is fraud, psychics on the other hand almost always know what they’re doing is fraud.

psychic_scam_362px_250pxPsychic powers simply do not exist. Every person who has ever been tested for psychic powers under controlled scientific testing conditions have always failed to prove that they have psychic powers, and the really famous so called psychics have never gone and had their alleged powers proven under controlled scientific testing conditions, so it is very safe to say that psychic powers don’t exist, and that anyone who is claiming to be a psychic is most likely lying (although it is also possible that they may be self-deluded and have actually convinced themselves they are psychic, or they’re just mentally ill) and therefore if they do take any money from you for their services, are knowingly committing fraud.

Besides committing fraud, psychics also . . .

. . . MORE . . .

Five Stupid Things About Alternative Medicine

It’s time for alternative medicine to take its medicine! (See what I did there?)

(I’m sorry.)

via Five Stupid Things About Alternative Medicine – YouTube.

Scientology – The Truth

via Scientology – The Truth – YouTube

Turns out this Scientology thing isn’t just a load of harebrained bulls**t after all.

WARNING: SALTY LANGUAGE

As an added bonues, here is the leaked Scientology video that established Tom Cruise as some kind of loon:

Science VS Scientology [infographic]

via relativelyinteresting.com

Ah, Scientology, the pseudo-religion/cult built on a premise straight out of science fiction. It’s mind boggling to think that Scientology has as large a following as it does, and even more upsetting that celebrities continue to endorse its ideals.

This infographic, courtesy of Visual.ly gives the low-down on Scientology – from it’s strange beginnings through to its ongoing legal battles.

science-vs-scientology-infographic

Image Source: http://visual.ly/things-you-dont-know-about-scientology

The Three Categories of Alternative Medicine

Via The Soap Box

alternative_759_400pxAlternative medicine is a really big business, and is practiced around the world (in some places more than others).

In some place in the world it might be practiced because the people there either can’t afford modern medicine, or more likely they either just can’t get access to modern medicine, or they feel they have no need for modern medicine because they have been taught that their local folk medicine works. In other places in the world it could be just simply that they don’t trust pharmaceutical companies.

So back at the subject at hand, alternative medicine can be basically categorized into three different types:

Ineffective

While many people might say that no forms of alternative medicine work, there are in fact a few that do work to some extent, they just don’t do to the extent that many of the practitioners of that alternative medicine claims, and that there are more effective (and sometimes cheaper) conventional medical practices that can be done.

Examples of this would be acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, and even vitamin supplements can be categorized into this group, and that is if these things done correctly, otherwise some of these things could be not effective at all, or even dangerous.

It should also be noted that this is the smallest category for alternative medicines as most alternative medical practices are like the next two categories.

Non-effective

This is the largest of the three alternative medicine categories as simply put, almost all alternative medical practices just do not work at all, and is mainly based off of anecdotal evidence, rather than real, scientific evidence.

MORE . . .

5 Things I’ve noticed about… The New Age Movement

via The Soap Box

I’ve made some observations about people in the New Age Movement, and that there are certain things that tend to be a common trend amongst New Agers.

Here are five things that I’ve noticed about the New Age Movement:

5. They love energy.

Poder-de-la-mente_250px_200pxNew Agers tend to believe that energy (in one form or another) is all around them, and that somehow they can somehow control this energy, and that they can somehow convert it and use it for their own personal means (such as healing, or some type of food source), or that they can use it to gain knowledge, rather than gaining knowledge the old fashion way, by reading.

Some New Agers even believe that you don’t even need food, that all you need is to absorb sun light, or breathing clean air.

It should noted that last one is very dangerous and has resulted in the deaths of several people.

4. They’re obsessed with crystals.

NEW AGE_200pxMost New Agers seriously believe that crystals are more then just pretty objects that make for nice coffee table or mantle decorations. Apparently they believe that crystals can be used for dowsing (which has not been proven to work), healing, and warding off negative energy, which apparently a small crystal being in your pocket, or hanging around your neck, is suppose to protect your entire body from all sides from negative energy that’s suppose to be bombarding you from everywhere…

3. They believe they don’t have to do much to alter their lives.

Apparently New Agers believe that if you just do a few good things, or if you rearrange the furniture in your house in a certain way, or you carry around some good luck charms, or if you put some plants in your house, or even if you have just positive thoughts, that you can dramatically alter your life for the better, rather than actually working hard and putting some real effort into changing their lives, which has been proven to be much more effective.

MORE . . . .

Is-The-New-Age-Movement-An-Illuminati-Conspiracy-645x300

Why Do People turn to Alternative Medicine?

2011_quackery
via Science-Based Medicine

Any sociological question is likely going to have a complex answer with many variables that are not easy to tease apart. We should therefore resist the temptation to make simplistic statements about X being the cause of Y. We can still, however, identify correlations that will at least inform our thinking. Sometimes correlations can be triangulated to fairly reliable conclusions.

When the data is complex and difficult to interpret, however, evidence tends to be overwhelmed by narrative. The recent Sandy Hook tragedy is an excellent example. No one knows exactly why the shooter did what he did, so it is easy to insert your own preferred narrative as the explanation.

miracle-hat_300pxAnother example is the phenomenon of so-called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Why has it been increasing in popularity (and is it, really?). Is it slick marketing, relaxed regulations, scientific illiteracy, a gullible media,  or the failures of mainstream medicine? You can probably guess I think it’s all of these things to some degree. The most common narrative I hear by far, however, is the latter – if people are turning to CAM it must be because mainstream medicine has failed them. This version of reality is often promoted by CAM marketing.

The evidence that we have, however, simply does not support this narrative. Studies show that satisfaction with mainstream medicine is not an important factor in deciding to use CAM, that CAM users are generally satisfied with their mainstream care, and they use CAM because it aligns with their philosophy, and they simply want to expand their options.

None of this is to imply that mainstream medicine has no problems or failings – it does. We should, however, be working toward keeping and improving what works and fixing what doesn’t, not discarding science and reason to embrace fantasy as an alternative. This is often the false choice presented by CAM proponents, and is analogous to creationists pointing out alleged weaknesses in the theory of evolution as an argument for creationism as an alternative.

MORE . . .

Cults: The Mind Enslaved

by Jeanette Pryor via PJ Lifestyle

Jason Beghe is an actor, a Brooklyn tough-guy known for his starring role in the gritty G.I. Jane. In 2008, after fifteen years as a Scientology poster boy, Beghe left the cult and released an interview (embedded below) chronicling his descent into and exodus from L. Ron Hubbard’s bizarre universe.

Beghe’s recruitment, life as a celebrity spokesman and ultimate rejection of the cult are riveting, particularly for someone like myself who spent nearly thirty years in a cultic religious organization. I was stunned because, even though the doctrines and practices of our respective organizations were so different, I identified perfectly with the mental processes Beghe described. I also believed in a completely irrational worldview and ignored blatant contradictions.

Experts believe people join and remain in cults for similar motives regardless of variations in cult lifestyles and teaching. Harder to find in scholarly research is an explanation of how or why people in wildly differing cults exhibit such similar mental and emotional symptoms.

Keep Reading: PJ Lifestyle » Cults: The Mind Enslaved.

“10 of the World’s Most Infamous Cults”

Most people have their own vague idea of what constitutes a cult. But “cult” is one of those slippery, nebulous terms that are difficult to define. Strict definitions tend to be either too wide or too narrow. To complicate matters, what one considers a cult is often a matter of opinion. But, as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about another ill-defined topic, people tend to think that they know it when they see it.

Sidestepping the controversy, sociologists don’t like to use the pejorative term “cult.” Instead, they like to talk about new religious movements (NRMs), which can be more widely defined. NRMs hold beliefs that are far outside of the mainstream. They are often characterized by making strict demands on the lifestyle of their members, such as giving up possessions, professions and contact with family to live in a commune with other members. Many have charismatic, authoritarian leaders whose followers believe have special prophetic powers. These leaders often prophesize about an imminent apocalypse.

Keep Reading: HowStuffWorks “10 of the World’s Most Infamous Cults”.

Astrology: More like Religion Than Science

By Sharon Hill
July 25, 2012

I’ve discussed here and here how practitioners of paranormal piffle wish to look scientific. They fail under actual scientific scrutiny but, we have to admit, they are pretty effective at bamboozling the public with a sciencey show.

I came across a news story in Business Insider about an astrologer who was doing mighty well for herself. In times of uncertainty, society tends to turn to anything that will give them a sense of control. Astrologic and psychic advisors seem to fill that role for some people, even professional businesspeople. This astrologer, who thinks quite highly of her craft, had these things to say:

“What I do is scientific. Astrology involves careful methods learned over years and years of training and experience.”

“There are so many things we don’t understand in the world. What if 200 years ago someone had said that these metal barrels in the sky would get us around the world in a few hours? Or that we’d inject ourselves with mold to treat illnesses? People are so skeptical.”

And then I laughed.

Few examples of pseudoscience are more perfect than astrology, which has been studied A LOT, and whose practitioners still cannot demonstrate a root in reality.

Keep Reading: CSI | Astrology: More like Religion Than Science.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 931 other followers

%d bloggers like this: