Mythic Mondays – Homeopathy

Homeopathy, lauded as a natural alternative to ‘Big Pharma’. Safe. Organic. Natural. Without out all those pesky side effects of medicines from pharmacies. A way to treat your symptoms without having to see a doctor and a way to stay in control of your own heath! It’s been around for over two centuries! Oh yeah, and not only does it not work it doesn’t do anything at all.

How does Homeopathy ‘work’? Well, you’re probably going to facepalm when I explain it.

Adherents of homeopathy believe that if a substance can cause the same symptoms of the disease in a healthy person, it will cure the sick person. Same cures same. It’s as simple as that. Suffering from vomiting? This Ipecac will cure you! Need to sleep? Caffeine, of course. Diabetes troubling you? Have some sugar. It’s all so simple! I don’t know why the medical field isn’t clambering over themselves to promote these ideas!

Only it’s more complicated than that. You see they ‘potentize’ the solution by diluting it and shaking it (or in their terms, using ‘succession’) in each direction 10 times. They use a lot of complicated nonsense terms to make what they’re doing sound more sciencey/magickey. This magical procedure makes the solution more powerful. And the more times you potentize a mixture the stronger it becomes. So, the more you dilute it, the stronger homeopaths believe the mixture becomes. Seriously. They will often continue to do this until there are no remaining molecules of the original poison that they were suggesting you drink. The end result? Water. With no measurable evidence of the original active ingredient.

This is the reason why there are no side effects to homeopathic solutions. There’s nothing in it but water. Literally. Apparently, they believe that water has a memory and that the vibrations of the original medicine is still there. Also magic. Woooooo……

“It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
Water has memory!
And while its memory of a long lost drop of onion juice is Infinite
It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!”

Tim Minchin, Storm

James Randi, ex-magician and current woo-science debunker, swallows two full bottles of homeopathic sleeping pills before each of his lectures. He does this despite the warning on the bottle to call the poison control center in case of overdose and the max dose being listed as 2 pills in 12 hours. He then speaks for over an hour about how foolish homeopathy is. He gives an excellent, and hilarious, explanation of homeopathy that I highly recommend watching.

Where’s the harm? It’s not hurting anybody, is it? You may ask. Well, yes. Yes, it is. People who have legitimate illnesses are being tricked into taking water as a cure-all. People who can’t afford it are being scammed into purchasing pricey vials of water or placebo pills that are not helping them. Years ago, when I was working in a nursing home, I recall one husband of a patient insisting that his wife be taken off her heart meds and put onto ‘Strauss Heart Drops’ because his naturopath told him it worked better than any pills. It was over $100.00 a bottle that this man on a limited income shelled out. Her doctor compromised and allowed her to have the solution, but insisted that she stay on her Digoxin. Smart woman, that doctor.

As an aside, here’s an interesting tidbit from the FAQ page of Strauss Heart Drops.

‘Question: What is the success rate with Strauss Heartdrops™?

Answer: In our opinion, heart conditions that are caused by clogged arteries are improved in 95 per cent of users.’

I need to let out a huge sigh before I go on, in order to limit my use of expletives. Ahem! Reduction of clogged arteries is measurable. It’s not a matter of opinion. That this company seems to think their opinion is an answer to a verifiable question should be a matter of concern. Or to put it in the succinct words of my brother : ‘You’re fired. That’s my opinion.’

This becomes an even greater concern because the companies that produce this sort of crap have pressured the government sufficiently that it is now possible to get a DIN number for homeopathic remedies. What does that mean? It means it’s classed in the same way that real drugs are. This gives it an appearance of credibility it wouldn’t otherwise have. A misleading appearance of validity. Remember when I said several paragraphs back that there was a homeopathic solution to diabetes? Yeah, I wasn’t joking. Homeopathic insulin is not just legal in Canada, it’s also approved by Health Canada. DIN-HM 80016480 I couldn’t give you a direct URL as each search is timed, but you can look it up yourself with that DIN number.

Have I caused your eye to twitch yet?

‘Through the Natural Health Products Directorate, Health Canada ensures that all Canadians have ready access to natural health products that are safe, effective and of high quality, while respecting freedom of choice and philosophical and cultural diversity.’
Health Canada

What the ever-loving-fuck has cultural diversity to do with whether or not something works? Ophelia Benson of the Butterflies and Wheels blog states : ‘Poison doesn’t become not poison in a different culture. A glass of water doesn’t become insulin because cultural diversity. If you’re certifying something as effective then you have to use the right – universal – standards.’ Amen, sister.

Does Not Compute!

But they aren’t doing that. And let’s focus on one word in that quote from Health Canada: effective. Health Canada ensures we have access to effective homeopathy. Effective homeopathy. I do believe that is an oxymoron. Also a lie. Brought to you by our government regulating body. These snake oil salesmen are the people you’re supposed to be protecting us from, you know. Way to let your credibility crash and burn guys.

Skeptic North examines some of the other ridiculous items that Health Canada has recently approved. It’s an excellent source for more information regarding the limitations and flaws in our national drug regulating body, Health Canada. Also if you want to curse out these homeopathy scam artists and shake your fist at a computer screen.

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Mythic Mondays – Legitimate Rape

You know, this is one post I never thought I’d have to write. The level of stupid involved in rape culture and the forced-birth movement is pretty bad, but this comment takes the cake.

Todd Akin, a United states congressman AND a member of the House Science and Technology Committee, stated this weekend that rape rarely causes pregnancy because:

“It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare, if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down, But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”

Apparently, according to Akin, a woman’s uterus knows the difference between rape and consensual sex, somehow, and magically destroys sperm that doesn’t have its paperwork in order. I want to meet the incompetent doctors that he said gave him this information.

Was it Galen of Pergamon? He taught that a woman could only conceive if she’d had an orgasm. He taught this is 150 CE, mind you. While he was ahead of his time in cutting edge anatomy…this was also almost 2,000 years ago. He also was a staunch supporter of blood letting, and of fixing ‘bad humours’, which has been thoroughly discredited by modern medicine. As has the idea that a woman needs to orgasm/consent in order to get pregnant.

Todd Akin, a man who has the power to legislate laws that limit a woman’s reproductive choice, while following advice from a 2,000 year old medical book. Not to mention the fact that this man is on the House Science and Technology Committee. Let that roll around in your head for awhile. I’m not even going to debunk this one, because if you believe that a woman’s uterus knows about consent and can decide whether it should get pregnant or not, then you are an idiot. Todd is an idiot.

The really scary thing? Todd is not an isolated case. There’s plenty of documented occurrences of Republican politicians stating this very thing. These are university educated men in positions of power. Jezebel has a recent timeline of some these incidences. Not to mention that this is one of the core beliefs of the anti-choice movement.

‘Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, on Sunday called Akin’s remarks “flat-out astonishing.”

“That kind of rhetoric re-traumatizes sexual assault victims …That kind of talk, I believe, is intended to shame women,” she told AP Radio.’
The Toronto Star

There’s also the not-so-subtle undercurrent of what he’s saying: Real rapes don’t get women pregnant. Most rapes are just made up by loose women who can’t keep their legs closed and regret it after the fact. So the estimated 32,000 women a year who get pregnant each year from rape? Lying sluts who are just trying to put an innocent man in prison. Stay classy, Todd.

There’s a petition to get Todd taken off the House Science and Technology Committee. ‘Someone who believes nonsense like this has no part overseeing science policy.’ Says the poster of the petition. Seeing as the man is still living in the dark ages, it might not be a bad idea.

Here’s some good posts on the subject of Legitimate Rape, Todd, and Rape apologists:

The myth that women can’t get pregnant from rape stems from basic assumptions anti-choicers make about women.

The Offical Guide to Legitimate Rape.

Akin’s eager apologists

What Todd Akin Said

Mythic Mondays – Reading in Dreams. Batman was wrong!

When I was in early highschool Batman the Animated Series was the shiznet. Everyone I know watched it. Mind you, I also lived in the boondocks and there was a limited selection of what we could watch. Three channels on a good day!

It was well written and very ‘adult’ for a kids show. I tended to take a lot of what they said at face value because of the way it was presented. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Here’s an example: You cannot read in a dream because it’s a function of the left side of the brain. Dreams are a function of the right. This is how Batman broke out of the ‘Inception’ Dream within a dream episode where the Mad Hatter creates a never ending dream world to keep him imprisoned. Apologies if the video below makes you go to Youtube to see it, it was the only copy I could find.

I believed this was true for years. I repeated it to others and helped spread this misinformation. Batman said so! When did Batman ever lie? Well, first of all he mixed up the two. The left side of the brain is the one that’s always been associated with logical tasks and the right side is the one associated with raw creativity. So there’s that.

Then there’s the fact that…I read in my dreams all the time. Signs, newspapers, books, whatever. They have all appeared in my dreams and reading them was no big deal. Ermahgerd! I’m a freak! Only, not really. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest reading in dreams is not at all uncommon.

Anyhoo, the truth is that we don’t really know where dreams come from. Not with any certainty. There hasn’t been very much serious research done on the subject. Researchers in Switzerland produced a paper in 2004 that suggested that they had found one possible location for the formation of dreams. This happened by chance when a 73 year old woman had a stroke affecting that area of her brain. Side effect of stroke: Her dreams stopped. REM sleep continued as usual, but her dreams were absent according to brain scans. REM sleep and dreams are connected, but they are not the same thing and they originate in different parts of the brain. This had the unexpected side effect of busting another popular myth : That humans will die if they can’t dream.

“How dreams are generated, and what purpose they might serve, are completely open questions at this point.”

Dr Claudio Bassetti, of the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland

During dreams, and the rest of the time too, brain activity isn’t localized on one side or the other. The brain just doesn’t work that way. The left side/right side explanation of brain activity has some basis in reality but is wildly over simplified. There are specialized areas of the brain, which work with other specialized areas of the brain and everything between hemispheres is interconnected through the corpus callosum. And hundreds of millions of nerve clusters. There’s a whole lot of communication going on between both sides of your brain. All the time.

“Sure, we have two hemispheres that operate fine independently and have different abilities, but they are massively interconnected and work together as a seamless whole (providing you have never had surgery to cut your corpus callosum).”

Dr Steven Novella, Academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine

We’re not dolphins. We don’t sleep with one side of the brain at a time. And the functions of our brain are not neatly segregated into conveniently coloured portions of the brain. The whole thing is a mess. A mess we haven’t completely figured out yet. But from what we do know, there’s no reason why one shouldn’t be able to read in one’s dreams.

Damn you, Bruce Wayne.