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ccrenshaw's Avatar Comment 1 by ccrenshaw

"He's a very entertaining guy, but he suffers from existential insecurity: everything has to be proven before he'll believe it."

How dare a scientist want to see scientific evidence before blindly believing in something? ridiculous!

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:29:00 UTC | #62792

Kingasaurus's Avatar Comment 3 by Kingasaurus

Dawkins also talks about alternative medicine relying on the placebo effect. If that were true - which I don't think it is - it still wouldn't make homeopathy invalid. Under the right circumstances, people get great results. I was in practice for 20 years, and I wasn't treating idiots.

What a load of hooey! If your "great results" are no better than a placebo, then there's no evidence that your "treatment" is doing anything. Can Dr. Woo demonstrate that his techniques work better than a placebo? He "thinks" they do? Show me the data, then. Don't just assert it.

The other nonsense is that he assumes that if his patients aren't "idiots", and they improve because of his techniques, then there's something concrete there.

No doctor in the known universe would EVER assert that the placebo effect only works on mentally inferior patients, and smart patients are too clever to benefit from the placebo effect. This guy can't actually be saying that with a straight face, can he?

Hoo boy.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:35:00 UTC | #62796

Holy Roller's Avatar Comment 2 by Holy Roller

Wahhheeyyy I got the first comment!!!:)

......oh shit!

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:35:00 UTC | #62795

Apate's Avatar Comment 4 by Apate

Holistic Guru (read Quack):
"...can be complemented by acupuncture to relieve pain..."
Surely this is a parody? No?
Well it would make much more sense if that were the case!

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:38:00 UTC | #62797

dawgdoc2000's Avatar Comment 5 by dawgdoc2000

"Over the past 20 or 30 years, it has been shown that certain medical conditions benefit from a combination of two approaches: chemotherapy, for instance, can be complemented by acupuncture to relieve pain or boost stamina"

Where is/are the citation(s) for the paper(s) with the evidence that supports this statement? Oh, wait, I just need to suspend disbelief and assume what he says is accurate. Some people will never get it will they?

And Dawkins is the one "stuck in the last century"???


Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:39:00 UTC | #62798

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 6 by Oromasdes1978

As far as I know water is a great cure for thirst, putting a mind bogglingly minute scintilla of gunk in it does not mean it cures all ills. I am sure Professor Dawkins is actually quite happy in being able to inform people of the stupidity that is "Alternative" medicine and good on him for doing it!


Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:40:00 UTC | #62799

tocqueville's Avatar Comment 7 by tocqueville

The barefoot doctor seems to believe we should follow the shoe or is it the sandal, or maybe the gorde? After having exhausted all the three go and see a proper doctor...

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:40:00 UTC | #62800

Apate's Avatar Comment 9 by Apate

dawgdoc2000: "And Dawkins is the one "stuck in the last century"???"

The Author is currently in the sixteenth!

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:43:00 UTC | #62802

bamafreethinker's Avatar Comment 8 by bamafreethinker

"Tell me again how sheep's bladder may be employed to prevent earthquakes."

We've been employing sheep's bladder thusly in Alabama and have had no more than a barely detectible tremor in decades - see it works! You can't prove it doesn't work, so you're a crusty ole stick-in-the-mud if you doubt that it works!

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:43:00 UTC | #62801

CambrianExplosion's Avatar Comment 10 by CambrianExplosion

Another person who fails to understand science. The whole point of homeopathy having no greater benefit than placebo is what allows it to be dismissed as quackery, or that its claims are true.

That people get a benefit from it - statistically the same as placebo - is not relevant in determining whether the principles behind it are correct.

It seems as though the author suggests that we sit back and believe, even in the face of evidence, that something is true in hopes that future experiments will vindicate our beliefs. That position is valid when there is no data, but the more data there is, the more preposterous the position.

That's really the whole point of The God Delusion and Dawkins' current work as I understand it. It's not that we can say definitively, but there are "shades of probability." And with every data point and study released on homeopathy, it looks probable that it's quackery. Get over it!

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:47:00 UTC | #62803

Dax's Avatar Comment 12 by Dax

Hmmm, for some reason I seem to be missing the argument Arendt is trying to put forth. Oh wait, he is not making an argument, but just says "you are wrong"? Now I get it.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:48:00 UTC | #62805

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 11 by Steve Zara

This barefoot doctor guy is a well known nutcase, who has been the subject of much ridicule in the past, and shamefully has a natitional newspaper column.

it still wouldn't make homeopathy invalid. Under the right circumstances, people get great results. I was in practice for 20 years, and I wasn't treating idiots.

The idiot is not the one being treated.

There was a fantastic comment about homeopathy by James Randi, which described the dilution some of the supposedly more 'potent' homoepathic medicines. It goes something like this: (apologies if the details are wrong)

"Take an amount of substance the size of a peanut. Dilute it in a volume of water the size of... the Solar System. Now repeat that process a billion times."

Randi also demonstrated the nonsense of homeopathy, when he asked someone to buy packet upon packet of a certain homeopathic medicine. This medicine supposedly had a maximum safe dose(!). In his demonstration Randi kept on opening packet after packet, and swallowing pill after pill after pill...

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:48:00 UTC | #62804

Dunc-uk's Avatar Comment 13 by Dunc-uk

"Complementary medicine" as a term is a clear case of clever marketting... when cast in this light, there seems nothing wrong with it. Why would we deny people things that they can take in addition to modern medicine, if they make them feel better?

The answer is simple... the misleading part of complimentary medicine is the "medicine". What these people are actually getting is "complimentary therapy". As Dawkins pointed out, patients are getting far more attention, time and the "personal touch" in complimentary therapy that modern medicine often denies them. This is a failure of the application of modern medicine that has far more to do with budgetary constraints, than actual medicine. There is nothing in the anecdotal evidence to legitimise the absurd claims by practitioners of "complimentary medicine".

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:55:00 UTC | #62806

oxytocin's Avatar Comment 14 by oxytocin

Holy mackeral. Where does one start with this drivel?

I think this guy just proved RD's concerns correct. He is making the most asinine of statements: "everything has to be proven before he'll believe it". Huh?! Isn't that self-evident? I'm stunned.

Unfortunately, the original article doesn't permit readers to post comments. I want to tear this author a new one. Verbally, of course.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 06:59:00 UTC | #62807

Theocrapcy's Avatar Comment 15 by Theocrapcy

You mean they allow this crap to be printed, and pay someone for it?

Utter piffle, the man reveals himself for a fool for the whole world to see in a few lines. Next.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:01:00 UTC | #62808

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 16 by Paula Kirby

[Dawkins]suffers from existential insecurity ...
Dawkins must be very unhappy in himself.

Ah, if only I'd spent the last 20 years selling diluted water to people who aren't idiots, I might have that kind of uncanny insight into people's innermost beings too.

Those of us who insist on evidence before we'll believe crazy claims are clearly just out of step with the 21st century. (Which, now I come to think of it, pretty much sums up Richard Dawkins' point too ...)

Richard, if you happen to be reading this, I'm so sorry to learn from this article of your inner turmoil and distress. But don't be alarmed (it's bad for your chakras): I'm sending you some cosmic healing, so you'll be as sane and balanced as Mr Russell before you know it. I'm sure you'll find that a reassuring prospect.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:04:00 UTC | #62809

oxytocin's Avatar Comment 17 by oxytocin

Northern Bright, I'm feeling a slight headache coming on...might you also send me some healing energy? I have no reason to doubt your powers.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:09:00 UTC | #62810

Theocrapcy's Avatar Comment 18 by Theocrapcy

I have some magnets for that existential strain.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:10:00 UTC | #62811

monoape's Avatar Comment 20 by monoape

Stephen Russell - "Dawkins seems to be stuck in the last century ... everything has to be proven before he'll believe it."

So people who lived in the 1900s were less likely to accept any outlandish claim that was made? Wasn't that partially the point of the program - that the masses now seem more likely to swallow 'new age' bunkum without questioning its validity?

As for the "everything has to be proven before he believes it", presumably that means Russell accepts some things without any evidence, but requires it for others. What an amazing talent he must have! An innate ability to determine fact from fiction ... give that man a Nobel Prize!

And that was just the opening paragraph. [sigh]

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:16:00 UTC | #62814

Alison's Avatar Comment 19 by Alison

Has anyone done a study to see if placebos are more effective if they cost more money?

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:16:00 UTC | #62813

Luthien's Avatar Comment 21 by Luthien

The barefoot doctor is just jealous because he doesn't have a full complement of Atlantean DNA ;-)

It's ridiculously nihilistic to think that if you can't prove something right now, it isn't valid. It's so self-limiting: Dawkins must be very unhappy in himself. We've progressed beyond that. Look at the miraculous realms being explored by quantum physicists. We have to suspend disbelief for a while, and see where they'll take us.

Sweet Zombie Jesus! Here we go again with the invocation of quantum physics. Do I need to reiterate that the "strangeness" of quantum physics is backed up by experimental evidence, whereas his "alternative" medicine isn't? Or perhaps he thinks no evidence is required because what he knows, he knows...

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:30:00 UTC | #62815

Yorker's Avatar Comment 22 by Yorker

Mr Arendt,

Others here have nicely highlighted your erroneous ways and simple-minded thinking, I have no need to expand; instead I shall sum up.

You sir, are a Woo-Woo Wanker of a variety all too common these days.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:50:00 UTC | #62816

oxytocin's Avatar Comment 23 by oxytocin

Alison, I don't know the exact answer to your question, but the research has demonstrated that people respond better to treatment, whether placebo or not, when they pay for it than when they do not.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:52:00 UTC | #62817

God of Eng's World's Avatar Comment 24 by God of Eng's World

Since Stephen Russell did not include some evidence of a study I thought I'd help him out and do it for him. Best I could find with a few minutes search. Seemed like the underdog needed a little bit of help.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:58:00 UTC | #62819

BicycleRepairMan's Avatar Comment 25 by BicycleRepairMan

it still wouldn't make homeopathy invalid. Under the right circumstances, people get great results. I was in practice for 20 years, and I wasn't treating idiots.

Well, if you think the placebo-effect is a result of the patient being an idiot, then you are the shallow, close-minded one here, not Dawkins. Homeopathic "medicine" is PURE WATER, it cant, in principle, have ANY effect other than placebo(and perhaps relieving some thirst.) If the water has "memory" then every bottle of homeopathic "medicine" would also "remember" that it once was dog-piss, hippo-womit, saltwater, beer, coca-cola , acid rain, bathwater for the a T-rex and a billion other things with probably limited positive effects on peoples health.

I'd perhaps speculate, that a patient recieving homeopathic medicine from a "doctor" who also believes in homeopathy, might have a BETTER placebo effect than one who gets sugar pills from a doctor who knows he is lying., it might be that patients who recieve placebo might, conciously or not, suspect the doctor of lying, because the doctor IS actually lying. When somebody gives you something, and they themselves GENUINELY THINKS it has some effect (as opposed to a placebo-administering doctor)then the placebo may be more effective Its sort-of like a double-blind test..

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 08:11:00 UTC | #62820

albacore's Avatar Comment 26 by albacore

Thanks for that link (#66203). I've been trying to remember what that series was called: "Alternative Medicine: The Evidence". Excellent series of programs that would bear repeating.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 08:18:00 UTC | #62821

elfinabout's Avatar Comment 27 by elfinabout

I think he demonstrates clearly the reason for his offence:

I was in practice for 20 years

I wasn't treating idiots.

Yes you were, Stephen - you were.


Wed, 29 Aug 2007 08:20:00 UTC | #62822

PASmith's Avatar Comment 28 by PASmith

Viz comic in the UK did a great parody of this "doctor" guy.
It was called "The Barefaced liar". :)

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 08:26:00 UTC | #62823

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 29 by pewkatchoo

That sounds more like a double-stupid test.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 09:48:00 UTC | #62825

Flagellant's Avatar Comment 30 by Flagellant

This article isn't very funny and it doesn't do much, does it? I mean, if one is trying to be funny about Dawkins, one can do much much better. For example, here is an article from today's 'Private Eye', a British satirical magazine:


(Silly music. Elderly donnish figure wearing casual clothes and expression of deep concern gazes earnestly into camera)

Professor Richard Dawkins (for it is he) : It is frightening to think that in the 21st century there are millions of people all over the world who believe that they can change the future by a simple act involving a birthday cake.

(Cut to shot of family group clustered around Marks & Spencer chocolate cake covered in lit candles. Woman blows out candles while the rest of her family shout "Go on, Mum - make a wish!" Close-up of woman with eyes closed, accompanied by sinister music. Cut to Dawkins, looking shocked and incredulous.)

Dawkins (interviewing woman) : Mrs Simpkins, can I ask you what you think you were doing just now?

Mrs Simpkins: Well, I just made a wish while I was blowing out the candles, like I always do.

Dawkins: And you really thought that what you were wishing for would in some mysterious way come true?

Mrs Simpkins: Well, you never know, do you?

Dawkins: But how could blowing out candles on a cake have any influence over a future event? Isn't that just the most crude, primitive, infantile, unscientific superstition?

Mrs Simpkins: Well, if you're going to be like that, you're not going to have any of my cake.

Dawkins: As a control test, tell me what it is you wished for?

Family: Don't tell him, Mum, or it won't come true.

Dawkins (to camera) : So obviously the followers of this cult are under a vow of silence not to divulge the object of the "wish", to prevent any analysis of the outcome of their pathetic ritual, thus exposing it as an empty and futile act of self-deception for insecure neurotics.

(Cut to men in white coats looking through microscopes at pieces of birthday cake)

Dawkins: For the last five years, a team of researchers from the University of New Dworkins has been analysing over 2,000 case histories of the Birthday Wish cult. The leader of the team, Professor Hiram Moonbat, gave me his findings.

Bearded Scientist: In examining 2,522 samples, we could find little or no correlation between the expression of the "wish" by the anniversarial celebrant and any ultimate wished-for event.

Dawkins: Well, that proves it, doesn't it? The whole thing is rubbish, isn't it? And it is deeply alarming that, in the 21st century, the dark forces of unreason should still have so many millions of people in their grip, still indulging in...

Professor Moonbat (in background): ... however, our researchers were somewhat hampered by the fact that no one would tell us what they had wished for, which rather invalidated...

Dawkins (intervening): So there we have it, Everyone in the world is mad except me, and very, very dangerous.

(Cut to shot of birthday cake exploding, destroying family home. Caption reads "Reconstruction ")

NEXT WEEK: Professor Dawkins looks at the bizarre practice of shooting fish in a barrel, concluding that it is deeply unscientific and boring to watch.
Now that's what I call both pointed and amusing. I hope that RD will be as amused, too.

Religion - an activity for consenting adults in private.

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 09:55:00 UTC | #62828