Category Archives: Medicine

Pseudoscience and science – bullshit vs. rational thought

Don’t miss this article, Pseudoscience and science – bullshit vs. rational thought.

The blogger Skeptical Raptor gives his many (and now also my few) readers a brilliant lesson about how to spot, identify and unveil woo-ish & pseudoscientific (usually on wishful thinking based) research.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the article. describing and dissecating the “pseudoscientific research method” in detail, and thereby demonstrating to you what to look for and focus on.

Skeptical Raptor writes,

To identify pseudoscience, there are six reliable clues that shout out “pseudoscience.” Almost always, you can find all six in any pseudoscientific claim.

  1. Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims.  Essentially, pseudoscience makes “scientific claims” that are vague and variable, rather than the precise scientific claims made with statistical analysis, usually a hallmark of the specificity associated with scientific research. Moreover, pseudoscience uses complex, implausible assumptions with their claims.
  2. Extreme reliance on confirmation rather than refutation. Pseudoscience relies upon assertions that do not allow the logical possibility that they can be shown to be false by observation or physical experiment–falsifiability. Pseudoscience also asserts claims of predictability when it has not been shown to be predictive; “scientific” claims that do not confer any predictive power are considered at best “conjectures”, or at worst “pseudoscience”.
  3. Lack of openness to testing by other experts. Pseudoscience researchers evade peer review before publicizing results, occasionally using press conferences to share their ideas. These pseudoscientists will claim that their ideas contradict the scientific consensus, so they must avoid the peer review process because that process is biased towards the established paradigms and consensus. They will also claim that their results cannot arrive from the scientific method. Thus, they get to avoid the feedback of informed colleagues.They will also appeal to the need for secrecy or proprietary knowledge when an independent review of data or methodology is requested. Of course, many agencies and institutions that fund real science research require authors to share data so it may be evaluated independently.
  4. Absence of progress. Pseudoscience usually fails to progress towards providing or even searching for additional evidence of its claims. Astrology is an example of a pseudoscientific concept that has not changed in 2000 years. Real science is constantly adding data through scientific progress.
  5. Personalization of issues. Pseudoscience is often composed of closely tied social groups, and usually includes an authoritarian personality, suppression of dissent, and groupthink. This social construct can enhance the adoption of beliefs that have no rational basis. In an attempt to confirm their beliefs, the group tends to identify their critics as enemies.Pseudoscience also make false assertions or claims of a conspiracy on the part of the scientific community to suppress results that support the pseudoscience. Finally, they attack the motives or character of anyone who questions the claims, the argumentum ad hominem.As an example, the anti-vaccine crowd has invented numerous claims about Dr. Paul Offit, one of the great researchers in vaccines, just to attack him personally. They’ve done the same with Bill Gates.
  6. Use of misleading language. They try to create scientific-sounding terms to add weight to claims and persuade non-experts to believe statements that may be false or meaningless; for example, a long-standing hoax refers to water by the rarely used formal name “dihydrogen monoxide” and describes it as the main constituent in most poisonous solutions to show how easily the general public can be misled. More often, pseudoscientists use established technical terms in idiosyncratic ways, thereby demonstrating unfamiliarity with mainstream work in the discipline.

And here’s another tip to my readers: Please visit Skeptical Raptor’s blog and use the excellent search function that is available there. Skeptical Raptor is a very prolific and clever blogger! A brave warrior not afraid of fighting pseudoscientific magical and (pseudo)religious woo-bullshit thinking (for instance the crazy antivax movement; you know the morons telling their neighbors that if God according to His special plan of creation has decided that your little girl or boy must die at an early age, then you shouldn’t try to stop the fulfilment of this divine plan by vaccinating your child against contagious and dangerous, life threatening diseases, because that would be seen as blasphemy and insubordination by Almighty God – and who wants to make God pissed off?).

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Filed under Blogs I follow, Cognitive flaws, Medicine, Science, Science vs. pseudoscience, Woo

Emergent Cognition | Collage: The emergence of fractals

Emergent Cognition Project

Fractals are a visual metaphor for emergent processes. They demonstrate how the iterations of a pattern and the pattern of iterations can define new patterns at a greater scale, yet these new patterns only exist as phenomena emerging from the original pattern at a lesser scale.


ERIC WEISSTEIN (WOLFRAM: MATHWORLD) | FRACTALS

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/images/eps-gif/Fractal1_1000.gif Weisstein, Eric W. “Fractal.” From MathWorld–A Wolfram Web Resource. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Fractal.html

A fractal is an object or quantity that displays self-similarity, in a somewhat technical sense, on all scales. The object need not exhibit exactly the same structure at all scales, but the same “type” of structures must appear on all scales.

Reference
Eric Weisstein (Wolfram: MathWorld) | Fractals


WIKIPEDIA | FRACTAL

A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. If the replication is exactly the same at every scale, it is called a self-similar pattern…Fractals can…

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Filed under Atheism, Brain, Consciousness, Evolution, Genetics, Medicine, Mind, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Religion, Science, Theological bullshit, Woo

Dr. Sam Parnia’s AWARE-study at last being published. As I said before…

At last the long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of NDEs as evidence of a surviving soul has been published; see: http://www.resuscitationjournal.com/article/S0300-9572(14)00739-4/fulltext + http://awareofaware.co/2014/10/07/as-i-said-before/ .

Here are two other links to blog articles where the findings of this study are discussed: 1) http://awareofaware.co/2014/10/07/breaking-news-the-aware-study-is-finally-published/ . And 2) http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/10/life-after-death-this-is-what-people-experience-as-the-brain-shuts-down.php .

In my opinion the results from this AWARE-study must be considered disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

Dr. Parnia lists three symptoms of clinical death: 1) Lasting cardiac arrest; 2) No breathing (= the lungs have stopped functioning); and 3) Brain death (= a non-functioning brain, i.e. no detectable electrical activity in the brain).

I’m prone to think that Dr. Parnia is wrong in (t)his definition of clinical death. The premise #3 should – is bound to? – be reconsidered and redefined soon. See for example this article: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1000360/ and this one: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-23672150 and this one: http://io9.com/a-new-scientific-explanation-for-near-death-experiences-1110395345 .

In the final paragraph of this blog that I’m now reblogging the blogger admits that “we are still waiting for hard evidence for the existence of the soul through a verified OBE/NDE”.

In my own words that’s like saying that this AWARE-study by Dr. Sam Parnia et al. more looks like a fiasco.

AwareofAware

So, I have now had a chance to review the entire paper that has been published in Resuscitation, and I hate to say it, but I told you so.

In a previous post I pointed out that it is common practice for key results to be released at conferences, and subsequent publications in journals to be a rehash of these results but with far more detail, and discussion, and that is precisely what has happened with this first full publication from the AWARE study (I say first, as I suspect that there will be more in years to come, especially given the recent sizeable grant given to the team by the Templeton foundation). This data has been presented in summary form in Dr Parnia’s book and at the American Heart Association last year.

Basically there were two NDEs which had visual or auditory recall…in other words, they saw or…

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Filed under Brain, Consciousness, Hallucinations, Medicine, Neuroscience, Religion, Science

Mandrakes and Dove Blood: Biblical Health Care Anyone?

How to cure illness and diseases according to the Bible. Prayers seem to be a panacea, i.e. a cure for nearly all ills. But what about saliva, dove blood or mandrakes? Why have those therapies become outmoded? Don’t people believe in the Bible any more?

ValerieTarico.com

Mandrake root for fertilityDespite a defeat in District Court this week, the Catholic Bishops and their conservative Protestant allies are forging ahead with lawsuits against Obamacare. Their goal? To ensure that American health options are dictated by religion rather than medical science. With an infallible pope and an inerrant Bible as guides, they are convinced that they know what God wants.

Obviously, not all Christians agree. If they did, contraceptive use in this country would be somewhat below that of Nigeria. It wouldn’t matter whether coverage was included in health plans at Christian hospitals and universities because nobody except the occasional misplaced heathen would use it. The contraceptive mandate is a problem for the patriarchy only because most Christians have their own deeply personal understanding of God’s will and they want to live in accord with that understanding. In other words, the contraceptive mandate is an issue for the Bishops and their allies…

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