Monday, April 28, 2014

Earth Day Festival 2014: How was the Woo?

Last Sunday, April 26, I went down to my town's annual Earth Day Festival to check out everything that was there, just like I do every year.

Last year I was appalled by the amount of pseudoscience and alternative medicine woo mixed in with all of the legitimate booths and displays promoting legitimate environmental causes and advice [read about it here] to the point where they pretty much overshadowed what the Earth Day festival was suppose to be about.

The worst offender last year ofcourse was a booth promoting Anti-GMO conspiracy theories.

Fortunately that person wasn't back this year, but still there were people back again promoting the same woo, including the Astrology and Tarot Card reader from last year,

and the chiropractors from last year are back as well,

but I have some new ones for this year, starting with this one:

Now I admit at first glance this one wasn't that bad, even through it had nothing to do with environmentalism.

Creating art can help relax a person and cut down on stress. That's the good part about what's being presented there.

Then there's the woo.

They also promote past life regression and trauma healing, clearing of curses, negative spirits, and other stuff of the like, and how to protect yourself from such things, all while using nature and spiritual energy.

In other words instead of addressing any real things that can cause stress in a person's life, they're just claiming that it's supernatural forces, and use "techniques" they claim to get from Shamanism to "cleanse" a person of these supernatural forces.

The next offender of promoters of woo that I saw there was this booth:

Yes, the stuff that's used to make fake tattoos is also apparently used to heal. Of what, I don't know, and from what I have read from these websites that promote "Healing Henna" they're not sure either. It just sounds like your basic New Age woo mixed with alternative medicine.

While I don't know how Henna tattoos are suppose to heal you, I do know that Henna can cause allergic reactions, and has been banned by the FDA for use on the skin.

So it won't heal you of anything, but it might result in you going some where that can heal you (like the hospital).

Finally, there was this:

That's right. Reiki, that alternative medicine/New Age woo that people who practice it claim they can heal people using just their energy, or the energy from the universe, or another dimension, or from wherever. They do this by  moving their hands over your body without actually touching you and "willing" this energy into you.

Atleast it's nice to know I wouldn't have been charged for this person to do nothing to me.

Over all I have to say that this year's Earth Day festival wasn't as bad as last year's. The New Age Movement stuff and other things that had nothing to do with environmentalism wasn't as bad as it was last year, and much of it was confined to one side street, although there were a couple amongst the main section, and of course there were vendors there selling clothes and jewelry and what have you, but I didn't mind those that much either, as they didn't drown out the booths that were promoting environmental causes.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

5 Things I've noticed about... Breatharianism

Breatharianism is a New Age Movement belief that asserts that people don't need food inorder to live, and only need clean air and sun light.

Now there are a lot of things I have noticed about this belief (mainly the body count) but I have narrowed it down to five main things.

So here are five things I've noticed about Breatharianism:

5. It's a typical New Age Movement belief.

Breatharianism is a belief that is apart of, or atleast viewed to be apart of the New Age Movement, and like most beliefs in the New Age Movement it's mess-mass of several different beliefs all rolled into one.

Practitioners of Breatharianism believe it is possible to live off of prana (which is according to Hindu beliefs is a vital life force energy) and that the best source of this prana is from light and air, and with enough skill and knowledge they can somehow manipulate this prana to the point where they can live off of it forever and never need any food or water.

Another part about Breatharianism is the attainment of spiritual enlightenment, which apparently involves not eating. This sounds an awful lot like fasting, which is something that Abrahamic religions tend to do.

Basically Breatharianism is a combination of certain beliefs from Eastern and Western religions.

Also, like with many other New Age beliefs...

4. It's Pseudoscience.

While Breatharianism is primarily based from Eastern and Western religious beliefs, everything about it is pseudoscience.

Like all pseudosciences it's based off of a tiny scientific fact, and that fact is that we do need air and light inorder to live (well, not so much light, but we do need air) and that there is energy all around us... it's just not prana. This energy is either in the form photonic energy from light sources, or radio waves, or electromagnetic fields from electrical sources, or kinetic energy from air movement and the movement of the Earth.

Yes, there are many forms of energy that surrounds us. Prana is not one of them, and even if it was, it's very probable that we couldn't manipulate it with our minds.

The main claim about Breatharianism, as I stated before (and the one that doctors and scientists and people with common sense have a problem with) is that humans can live off of this prana and don't need to ever eat or drink again, which is impossible.

I suppose with these beliefs it seems that...

3. They make it sound like humans are actually plants.

Now I'm sure that no person alive that claims to practice Breatharianism will actually say that humans are pretty much like plants, but it does sound an awful lot like that's what they're trying to get at with their insistence that people only need air and sun light to live, which is something that plants need inorder to live.

While we do need air inorder to live, we don't actually need sun light inorder to live (although it is better for us in the long run to get some sun light). We do infact need water and nutrition (in the form of food) inorder to live, just like every other lifeform on this on this planet.

So many of you are probably wondering by now how exactly can these Breatharians live without water and food, if it is impossible for them to live without water and food? Well there's actually a couple of explanations for that, the first one being...

2. Those that try to go all the way tend to die.

With a belief that encourages people to do things that can kill them, such as not eating or drinking anything, eventually some people who try doing what the belief says you're suppose to do will end up dying. Breatharianism is no different.

Lots of people have tried Breatharianism, most of which give up in the end and start eating and drinking after they realize that they just can't do it, and this is either because the pains of hunger and thirst is getting to much for them, or they realize that what they are doing to themselves is killing them.

Unfortunately there are a few people who have tried to go all the way with living off of sun light and air and choose to ignore what their own body is trying to tell them. Unless someone intervenes and forces them to stop, what ultimately ends up happening is that they die.

Now some of you are probably wondering if Breatharianism is impossible, and that it will kill you if you really try to do it, then how come there are people out there that claim they can do it?

There's a very simple explanation for that. It's because...

1. Those who claim to be able to do it are lying.

Those that claim to practice Breatharianism and do it successfully have either been shown to be frauds, or are greatly suspected of lying, and have people help them cover up the fact that they eat and drink just like the rest of us.

Wiley Brooks, probably one of the most famous Breatharians there is, has been caught numerous times eating and drinking stuff. He also admits that he "occasionally" eats a Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese from McDonalds, and drinks a Diet Coke, although he claims this to add balance to one's self...

Jasmuheen, another famous Breatharian, actually agreed to take a challenge by the Australian television program 60 Minutes to test her claims that she can live off of air and light alone by allowing the television show to supervise her and make sure she didn't eat or drink anything. The test was stopped after those who were observing her realized that her health was declining and that if they didn't stop the experiment, she would die.

The fact remains is that no one can survive without food and water. Those who claim you can and that they can do it are either lying or deluded.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 People who predicted the end of the World... More than once.

With the recent Blood Moon there are several people going around that are "predicting" that the end of the world is near... again. Most notable of those predicting the end of the world is Pastor John Hagee.

This whole "end of the world" thing has once again got me thinking about all of the people who have made doomsday predictions, and more than once.

I decide to look around Wikipedia and have found quite a number of people who have made multiple doomsday predictions that didn't happen.

So here are ten people that made multiple end of the world predictions:

Harold Camping

If I'm going to start this list I might as well start it off with him.

Harold Camping, the now infamous evangelical preacher and founder of the Christian radio station Family Radio, used some mathematical equations, along with some calender dates and dates in the Bible, to predict when the Rapture was going to occur, and the eventual end of the world itself.

Most of you are probably thinking I'm referring to his failed 2011 end of the world predictions, which I am. I'm also referring to his failed end of the world prediction for 1995, and his three failed end of the world predictions in 1994.

One would think that someone whom had failed to predict the end of the world four times before that no one would listen to this guy's last end of the world prediction. But alas, not only did people listen, but they also spent millions of dollars on an advertisement campaign that basically told people they were about to die.

Pat Robertson

I'm sure most people in America know who Pat Robertson is. He's the host of The 700 Club, as well as the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Regent University, and is considered to be one of the most famous televangelists in the United States, if not the world.

He's also made a failed prediction about the end of the world... twice.

His first failed prediction was that the "Day of Judgement" would happen sometime in late 1982. He didn't give a specific day when it would happen, only that it was going to happen sometime around then.

For his second failed prediction he did give a specific date of when it the end of the world might happen, that date being April 29, 2007. Ofcourse for this prediction he didn't actually say that the end of the world would happen on that, only that it might happen.

Warren Jeffs

Leader of the notorious polygamist cult the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and convicted child molester, Warren Jeffs predicted, twice while in prison, that the world would end.

His first prediction for doomsday was for December 23, 2012. When that failed to occur he blamed his followers for that failure due to a "lack of faith" (because apparently you have to have a lot of faith inorder to make the apocalypse happen) and then moved his prediction to New Years Eve of that year.

I guess his followers still lacked enough faith to bring about the end of the world. Or maybe he just got the date wrong again?

Or maybe he's a obscene liar as well as a pedophile.

Herbert W. Armstrong

Herbert Armstrong was the founder of the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College. Throughout his lifetime he and and his advisers met with numerous leaders in various governments throughout the world, for which he described himself as an "ambassador without portfolio for world peace."

He also made four end of the world predictions, all of which clearly failed.

His first end of the world prediction was that the Rapture was suppose to occur in 1936, and that only followers of his church were going to be saved.

When that failed he revised he prediction that the end would happen sometime in 1943, and when that failed he revised it again for 1972, and when that failed he revised it again and said that the world would end in 1975.

Considering that fact that he failed to predict the end of the world four times, why anyone, more or less heads of state, would ever listen to this guy is beyond me.

Ronald Weinland

Founder of the Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God (damn that's a long name) a splinter sect of the Worldwide Church of God (what a surprise), and convicted tax evader Ronald Weinland predicted that Jesus Christ would come back and that the world would end on September 29, 2011... and May 27, 2012... and May 19, 2013.

You're not reading that wrong. Ronald Weinland, three years in a row predicted that the world would end, and each and every time he did... nothing happen.

No word yet from him on whether or not the world is suppose to end this year.

Yisrayl Hawkins

Born Bill Hawkins, founder of House of Yahweh, former member of the Worldwide Church of God (go figure) and convicted child molester Yisrayl Hawkins has made, much like his fellow former Worldwide Church of God member and convicted felon Ronald Weinland, several failed end of the world predictions.

The first end of the world prediction (which he made in 1999) was that the world was suppose to end sometime in the middle of 2002 via nuclear war.

When that failed he then "predicted" that the world would end on September 12, 2006 by nuclear war, then June 12, 2007 by nuclear war, and finally June 12, 2008 by nuclear war.

This pattern of failed predictions tells me two things about him: He's obsessed with nuclear war, and he's bad at making predictions.

Nazim Al-Haqqani

Turkish Cypriot Sufi Sheikh and leader of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani Order, Nazim Al-Haqqani, also known as Shaykh Nazim, is a well respected promoter of Sufi Islam, as well as a promoter of tolerance and peace.

He's also made multiple doomsday predictions.

His first failed prediction was that in 1980 Mahdi would appear and rid the world of evil. When that failed he predicted it would happen in 1988, which obviously also failed.

Finally he predicted that just before the year 2000 came around that the "Last Judgement" would occur and then, the end.

He might be a good guy, but he's bad at predicting when the world is suppose to end.

Charles Taze Russell

As known as Pastor Russell, Charles Russell is the founder of the Bible Student movement, which would later become those annoying door knocking on a Saturday Morning when you're trying to sleep in and refusing life saving blood transfusions people, the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Much like any other typical cult leader... I mean high profile religious leader, Charles Russell made a couple of end of the world predictions.

His first prediction was that Jesus would return in 1874, which according to Charles actually did happen, only that Jesus was invisible. He then predict that the world would end sometime in October 1914 (and before you say he probably thought the world was going to end due to the fact that World War I was going on, I should let you know that he made this prediction in 1892).

His second fail doomsday prediction was also his last, as he died in 1916, and couldn't continue making any more bogus predictions.

Despite of his death however the Jehovah's Witnesses decided to continue the tradition he start and made several more failed doomsday predictions (1918, 1920, 1941, and 1975).

Leland Jensen

Leland Jensen was the founder of Baha'is Under the Provisions of the Covenant, and also held a "doctorate" in natural medicine and chiropractics (I.E. fake medicine).

It's not that surprising to me that someone with that type of "education" would make a couple of end of the world predictions, which he did.

His first prediction was that the world would experience a nuclear holocaust, starting on April 29, 1980.

When that failed he then predicted that the world would be hit by Halley's Comet on April 29, 1987, after it was pulled into Earth's orbit on April 29, 1986.

Is it just me, or did he seem to be a little obsessed with April 29?

Edgar C. Whisenant

Sometimes smart people can believe in really strange things. Edgar C. Whisenant is a prime example of that.

Whisenant was a NASA engineer as well as a Bible student, which on it's surface doesn't sound that bad, but underneath apparently the combination creates a person that constantly believe that the Rapture is going to happen.

Whisenant made numerous end of the world predictions, the first one being sometime around September 11 to September 13, 1988, then October 3, 1988, then September 30, 1989, then 1993, then 1994, and so on and so on.

He made so many doomsday predictions that people stopped counting them and started to ignore him.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's been a bad month for Anti-vaccers

The Anti-vaccination movement has had a pretty bad past month, and I would feel sorry for them too if it wasn't for the fact that their propaganda (which is mainly based upon a long since dis-proven and fraudulent study by Mr. Andrew Wakefield that was published in 1998 in The Lancet, and formerly retracted in 2010) has scared parents into not getting their kids vaccinated, which has caused numerous deaths and unnecessary illnesses, as well as permanent injuries.

First is the news reports of multiple outbreaks of measles in several communities in the United States and Canada. Many of the people who have gotten infected are young children who were deliberately not vaccinate, the results of which have been directly attributed to causing these outbreaks.

Suffice to say there has been quiet a bit of backlash against the Anti-vaccination movement, which they rightfully have coming to them. Also, since these outbreaks first started making the news there have also been multiple articles published telling parents why they need to ignore the Anti-vaccination movement and vaccinate their children, which I feel is sort of sad because it shows we as a society have to publish numerous articles about why you need to vaccinate your children and make them immune to diseases that could kill them because some parents have been scared into not doing so.

Then there is ofcourse what happened to the cult... I mean group formerly known as the deceptively named Australian Vaccination Network, which is now known as the still kind of deceptively named Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network.

What happened to the group is that it finally changed it's name after it lost an appeal against the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading, which had ordered the group to change it's name in 2012 due to group's deceptive sounding name. Shortly after the group changed it's named, it also lost it's charity status. Now I admit I'm not sure what that means for such a group under Australian law, but here in the United States that would mean losing what ever tax exemptions that comes from having been recognized as a charity by the government.

Then there's what happened to Jenny McCarthy when she asked on Twitter what one looks for in a potential partner. Now for most talk show hosts/Playboy Playmates/D-list celebrities most people would have given some BS answer. In Jenny's case however most people were very honest. By honest I mean that a lot of people were telling her that they want someone whom vaccinates their children and accepts the science behind why you should (as well as calling her a kid killer).

Finally there's the situation that happened to Chili's Bar & Grill, which was going to give 10% of the money it made from all sales on April 7 to an autism awareness and support "charity". While on the surface this sounds like a great thing for Chili's to do, there was just one little problem with this: The "charity" they were planning to donate to wasn't a autism awareness and support group. It was a Anti-vaccination group called the National Autism Association.

Almost immediately after the announcing that Chili's was going to be donating 10% of it's sales to this group there was a huge public outcry over this, as well as threats of boycotts. Within a few days time the executives at Chili's reversed their decision to donated to the ANN. This decision was praised by people who accept science and have common sense, but was also scorned and ridiculed by stupid people who still think that vaccines are dangerous and cause autism, and that there is some kind of conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to cover it up. Suffice to say that some of the comments made on Chili's Facebook page is something that psychologists might want to study, but also shows the type of people that supports the Anti-vaccination movement.

So in the end it has been a bad month for the Anti-vaccination movement. They've had so much bad press and so many people are standing up to them, but I for one could not be happier about it!

Friday, April 4, 2014

10 reasons why AIDS Denialists and the Anti-Vaccination Movement are a lot alike

AIDS Denialism and the Anti-vaccination movement. Two groups that promote what many scientists and and doctors and skeptics alike consider to be the two most dangerous and deadly types of pseudoscience there is. In fact many skeptics have debated which one is more deadly!

Regardless of which one is more deadly, both of groups have an awful lot in common, and I've come up with about ten different things that both groups have in common:

They become very upset when someone questions their claims.

Anti-vaccers and (as I have learned in the past few weeks) AIDS denialists really do not like it when someone questions what they are claiming. It doesn't matter how nice you are to them, or how many facts you present to them, if you question their claims they will become very anger and start throwing around accusations and insults and start spamming people with a bunch of propaganda. This is of course annoying at best, and usually just something that gets them blocked on an internet site, but sometimes they take it to the next level and start doing the next thing on this list...

They use intimidation tactics.

AIDS Denialists and Anti-vaccers just seem to love to use intimidation tactics. Many times these intimidation tactics can be a benign type, like fear mongering and emotional appeal, which is used to sway people who might be on the edge of whether to believe them or not over to their side, or it can be an aggressive type, like death threats, or threats of lawsuits, or harassment, which is used in an attempt to frighten people away from questioning their claims, or to stop skeptics from debunking them.

They claim to do research.

Both AIDS Denialists and Anti-vaccers will often say that they have done their own research into the claims that they are making, and then through this so called research they will claim that they have come to a conclusion, and then proclaim that their conclusion is correct and that all others are incorrect. This is ofcourse if they're not simply claiming that the contradictory information isn't apart of some "big pharma" disinformation propaganda campaign to "slander" Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists. And that's another thing...

They think there is some kind of big pharma conspiracy.

Many Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists sincerely believe that not only what they believe is true, but they also believe that pharmaceutical companies also know "the truth" and that they're keeping this so called truth hidden from the public so that people will keep buying their products, products that Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists believe that no one actually needs and sincerely believes is dangerous.

The reasons why these two groups claim that the pharmaceutical companies are keeping this so called "information" hidden is because if people knew "the truth" (i.e. their truth) that they would no longer buy anything from these pharmaceutical companies and they would go out of business. That, or according to some Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists, vaccines and HIV medication is part some kind of NWO/Illuminati plot.

They have no problem censoring people.

Ever make a comment on an Anti-vaccer's or AIDS Denialist's page or comment section for a Youtube video, and said comment either criticizes what they are saying, or debunks what they're saying? Well then you probably know that not many people are going to see it because most administrators of such sites will usually remove such comments pretty quickly... and probably ban you. While this type of censorship is bad they do have every right to do it because they have every right to control the content that is on their webpages.

Some of these people will take the censorship of people who disagree with them to the next level and actually try to get entire webpages and videos from various social media websites removed, either by flagging a webpage or a group or a video as inappropriate or harassing, or even by sending out bogus DMCA takedown notices (which is illegal).

There's no science behind their claims.

While I have no doubt Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists sincerely believe in their claims, the fact is that there is no science based evidence behind either of these groups claims. In fact all of the claims made by both of these groups have been disproven by scientific research, which is why no legitimate scientist or doctor takes these two groups claims seriously and try to get other people not to listen to these groups.

They endorse alternative medicine.

Considering the fact that both Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialist believe in big pharma conspiracy theories it should not be surprising that people in both groups prefer to use and endorse alternative medicine.

Many of the biggest endorsers of the anti-vaccination movement and AIDS denialism are either homeopaths, or naturopaths, or are in some other type of pretend medical field.

Many of the sites that promote these two groups and their beliefs also sell alternative medical products.

They encourage stuff that has legal consequences.

Both groups tend to encourage their followers to do stuff that could lead to a person getting into legal trouble, such as getting sued, being imprisoned, or even having their children taken away.

For Anti-vaccers the legal consequences could result from falsifying vaccination records inorder to get their child in school, to getting sued by the parent of a child that got sick from their child due to a disease that was preventable through vaccination.

For AIDS Denialists, especially for ones that have HIV, the legal consequences could result in them being imprisoned if they have sex with someone and they don't disclose their HIV positive status with simply because they don't believe that HIV exist, or that it causes AIDS.

Their beliefs have lead to deaths.

It is an undeniable fact that the claims from both of these groups have lead to numerous deaths, all of which could have been prevented.

With the AIDS Denialists the deaths are of people with HIV infections who decided not to take any medication that would suppress HIV because they believe that HIV either doesn't exist, or it doesn't cause AIDS. Sometimes it's not just them that die, it's also their children if their children had contracted HIV from their mother while their mother was pregnant with them, and they refuse to let their children have any medication that would suppress HIV.

With Anti-vaccers the deaths come from either their children after they get infect by a vaccine preventable disease and just could not fight it off, or the deaths come from other children that their child infects that were not vaccinated because they were either to young, or couldn't get vaccinated for various medical reasons.

They both act like cults.

Both the Anti-vaccination movement and AIDS Denialists engage in behavior that some would describe as being very cultish like. For example:

They don't like people questioning them. They have enemies lists. They completely disregard what facts are brought before them. They can't stand being question. They put out articles that are blatantly false. They have no regard for rules or laws. And they try to destroy people that take them on.

Sounds like a lot like a cult, and I bet many people would agree with me too.