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Norm just in case, your Stormtrooper link jumps to the end of the video (#t=143).

RE: the Maher thing. That actually I think was the worst I've seen from him. I'd never seen Maher advocate for alt-meds like that before, so clearly and so vehemently. He always ranted against real medicine, but I thought at least he might think acupuncture and such is a crock.

Yeah, but acupuncture is not his suggestion. His only example is using a Holistic approach, a vague term that could run anywhere between mainstream and crazyville.

His criticism of American cancer treatment is just silly and ignorant of real advancements although I think he in part means that the search for a cure has gone nowhere because we study treatments rather then causes.

I find myself wanting to disagree by Orac's arguments about Bill Maher. Orac always seems to accuse Bill of going farther then he actually goes. Bill Says some things that could imply a deeper obsession with alternative crapola but he doesn't come right out and say it. Meanwhile Orac writes rants that involve plenty of cursing, dramatic punctuation, and frequently quotes that are 5 years old.

I guess this is where I stand on some of Maher's more frequent assretions on health and medicine.

He says: We get sick because we eat unhealthily, don't exercise, and are exposed to a long list of chemicals.

Add radiation, the inevitable human frailties, and the masses of people being a breading ground for viruses and bacteria and I agree. I think the natural state of affairs does not lead to humans being sick nearly as often as we do.

He says: That good diet and reducing chemical and drug intake can lead to a stronger immune system.

I tend to agree. I only take drugs when absolutely needed and try to eat fruits and vegetables during cold seasons, drink a little extra oj.

He thinks: our profit based healthcare system only promotes and researches profitable treatments. Mainly drugs.

Not completely true, because some of the vitamin industry avoids research because they are more profitable while folks don't know how poorly they work. That said, I think there is not nearly enough research into the causes of our cancer epidemic or the impact of diet on a wide variety of ailments.

Does he go to far? yes. His statements about vaccines are very truly wrong.

Is he an ego maniacal TV star that looks to his vegetarian organic diet to make him the immortal superman that he feels like he should be? Yes.

But lets not make him out to be Jenny McCartney and the crazed people that need to cure their kids of Autism even if they have to use magic. He is a non scientist that doesn't trust scientists employed by corporations and wants the connection between eating and health to be his secret cure for death.

I like Bill because he says the right things about religion and lately has been hitting the nail on the head about politics. We are always asking how seemingly rational people can be religious like somehow reason and emotional thinking can't exist in the same head. Well, the mix exists in all of us. If we all disavowed everyone with an irrational belief we aren't exactly going to be effective movement builders.

All that said, I expect someone to now post a video of Bill that makes me say, "oh shit, I stand corrected. Bill is a total idiot."

While it's true that exercise and eating properly are important to overall health and in fact the government has for many years made just that argument. And it is also true that the Pharmaceticuls have their problems It is doesn't get Bill off the hook. As Orac pointed out he has a long history of getting most of it wrong when it comes to medicine. Has he changed those early views? I see no evidence that he has, in fact as the video highlighted he continues to spew mostly bullshit. Our loyalty should be to the truth, not to Bill Maher because he agrees with us on some issues. Citing Bill Maher as an ally puts us in an awkward position. His views on subjects we agree with are too easily attacked albeit unfairly by citing his anti-science medicine bias. His hypocrisy while also beside the point, is an issue where he is easily attacked. How can he say he lives a healthy life-style and smoke marijuana. Give credit where it is due, but don't let his bullshit views slide. With friends like these . . .

You are right, of course. He has a history of ignorant comments on the subject.

We should be careful though, to make a clear distinction between science and industry. I believe science seeks truth, but industry seeks profit and we shouldn't allow industry to speak for science.

How can he say he lives a healthy life-style and smoke marijuana.

Interestingly he comments on that very fact in one of the clips in Orac's articles. To paraphrase, he says he puts some poisons in his body and he does so knowing they can make him sick and then pointed out to some panel member that they should feel the same way about processed food laced with chemicals.

in fact as the video highlighted he continues to spew mostly bullshit.

If what he meant in the video was that a govt system could allow medicine to take a more holistic approach and research more unprofitable treatment ideas (like diet) and whet he meant by his cancer remark was that medicine hasn't gotten closer to knowing the causes of cancer or how the immune system can sometimes drive it into remission, was he wrong?

He could also have meant that he wants to see acupuncture be funded care and that we should take herbs and untested medicines to treat cancer. In which case he is off the deep end.

I find it interesting for as much as he talks about so many topics that this issue seems to only be addressed in passing and without a great deal of clarity on what he means to say.

and what he meant by his cancer remark was that medicine hasn't gotten closer to knowing the causes of cancer or how the immune system can sometimes drive it into remission, was he wrong?


I am grasping at straws. I know I have read about some of the immune system enhancing treatments of cancer. He is just wrong on that count.

Wow, that was painful listening to Bill. I work in clinical trials, for an oncology clinic. We are mainly doing stage III for immunizations. Our progress in the cancer field has led us to singling out the causative gene and then eradicating it. If that is not progress then I don't know what is, and those people he mentions, how they we told they were going to die and then survived with alternative medicine. They are the exception to the rule. Unfortunately telling people to stop chemo is not illegal enough, we lose patients to it, literally.

How contrarian do I need to be to stir the pot around here?

The alternative medicine debate has lots of wrong answers and not very many right answers. Yes, many (most?) alternative treatments are bogus, but some deserve investigation. Yes, many (most?) pharmaceutical companies are motivated only by profit, and therefore evil. The only real answer is to completely remove the profit motive & then separate the wheat from the chaff. I think you will find that most people on the alternative medicine side of the debate would favor that approach, while most people on the pro-establishment side would disagree. In this revealing article, Molly Ivins discusses just one glaring conflict of interest that epitomizes the pharmaceutical industry: "Do you know who originally sponsored Breast Cancer Awareness Month — who approved every promo kit, pamphlet, news release, poster, radio spot, print ad and video?" she asks, "Imperial Chemical Industries, a $14 billion-a-year multinational maker of pesticides, plastics, pharmaceuticals and paper — organochlorines are a specialty. Just one of its subsidiaries has been held responsible for a third of the toxic chemicals dumped into the St. Lawrence River. Another subsidiary (since "demerged" into its own company) was named in a 1990 lawsuit by the federal government and accused of dumping DDT and PCBs into the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors. (...) The Breast Cancer Awareness story actually gets worse. According to Hightower, Imperial Chemical was the sole financial sponsor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month from the event's inception, but in 1993, one of ICI's corporate daughters called Zeneca Group split off, taking with it the pharmaceutical and agrichemical divisions, as well as the Breast Cancer Awareness Month program.

Zeneca remains a key funder of Awareness Month and retains complete control of its message. Zeneca's pharmaceutical arm is also the maker of Nolvadex, the leading drug used in breast-cancer treatment.

Think about that for a minute: First, they make money from the organochlorines that some say are linked to breast cancer; then they urge us all to go out and get mammograms to detect the cancer; then they make money trying to cure it. This is an entirely novel kind of vertical monopoly."

The question is though, how in the world does the corruption of Big Pharma affect the "alternative" treatments' (a.k.a. non-scientific medicine) efficacy?

It doesn't AT ALL.

That's the logical hole Maher and so many others fall into. That Big Pharma is corrupt doesn't mean that alt-meds are the answer to anything.

That Bush's government was corrupt and even arguably benefited from 9/11 doesn't mean that any wacky "alternative theory" is any more valid.

"how in the world does the corruption of Big Pharma affect the 'alternative' treatments..." By ignoring "alternative" treatments that work. Like this one. The thing not mentioned in that article, though, is that the exact same discovery had been made by the NIH way, way back in 1974. How many other similar discoveries have been subverted or obscured because they threaten profits or some ridiculous political agenda?

How is that alt-med? That's clearly a scientific study, and if that alternet story is true, it was scientific medicine that was harmed by Big Pharma. You'll see the same scientists/doctors that are anti-alt-med, decry that kind of corruption as well.

The problem is that alt-med kooks like homeopaths, acupuncturists like to claim that stuff like this makes their claims more credible. Herbalists are more dangerous since what they work with can have an effect, but they generally haven't been studied scientifically.

Well, maybe we're having a semantic argument; I place marijuana squarely in the alternative medicine category, despite (or because of) the hitherto concealed scientific evidence of its efficacy in treating a wide range of maladies. It makes me wonder what other scientifically tested herbal/natural/"alternative" remedies are being witheld. But I guess the main thrust of my complaint is that whenever an ex-standup comedian-turned-talkshow host says something stupid (or even valid) about "alternative medicine," the knives come out, but when Merck, Imperial Chemical, et. al., poison & even kill hundreds, it barely elicits a peep. It's reminiscent of the ACORN outrage. Even if the worst version of the ACORN story is 100% true, it still doesn't come close to what Blackwater, DynCorp, Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel, etc. have done. I admit I don't read Orac very often...only when Norm or PZ Meyers link to one of his anti-Maher rants, to be honest. Maybe he spends lots of time attacking Big Pharma, but from my perspective, the balance of criticism is tilted way too far in the anti-alternative medicine direction. After all, which camp is doing the most damage?

I agree, Bigpharma lumps the unprofitable with the ineffective. Lets not forget their are scientists that deny global warming. They are paid to be dishonest by energy and auto corps. There is some of the same in medicine.

It isn't an excuse to endorse pure cookery but reason not to always trust that we have a fair arbiter in our healthcare system. In fact, the idea that cookery sneaks into the dialog so often is evidence of the problem.


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