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Julia Galef, President, Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR)

Julia Galef, President, Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR)

Just Apply Rationality

This week on Skepticality, Derek spends some time talking with Julia Galef, the president of the Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR). Along with her impressive work heading up an entire think tank dedicated to rational thinking, she is the co-host of the popular podcast, Rationally Speaking, with Massimo Pigliucci. Find out more about how CFAR came to be, and how Julia and her group are aiming to spread critical thinking to the masses.




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About this week’s eSkeptic

Practitioners of an ancient Indian health care system claim to be able to treat cancer, epilepsy, schizophrenia, psoriasis, ulcers, asthma, malaria and many other diseases. They do this by balancing invisible vital forces that cannot be seen, touched, measured, or quantified in any way. In this week’s eSkeptic, Marc Carrier discusses some of the scientific literature on Ayurveda as well as the harm that can come from the use of alternative medicine therapies. (This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 16.2 in 2011.)

Marc Carrier is an ISA trained art appraiser and a member of IFAR (International Foundation for Arts Research), with a specialty in fraud investigation. He has come to an interest in pseudoscience through a study of the psychology of art fraud victims, their apparent desire “to be fooled”, an overwhelming need to “believe” in spite of the evidence. Carrier is a contributor to Science et Pseudo-science, the official publication of AFIS (Association française pour l’information scientifique, Paris), as well as publishing in various professional journals and consumer publications, including, Open Society, New Zealand, The Irish Humanist, Belfast UK; The Ottawa Citizen, Canada, The American Atheist, U.S., and The Skeptic U.K. edition. He is currently working on a novelized biography of the late Eric Hebborn, a master art forger murdered in Rome by persons unknown in 1996.

Ayurvedic Medicine
It’s been around for a thousand years,
but does it work?

by Marc Carrier

Imagine consulting a physician who chooses to cast aside more than two centuries of medical progress in favor of the “science” of ancient Greece and Rome. No modern diagnostic techniques (X-rays, MRIs, blood tests, CAT scans, etc.), no well-researched medications and therapies, this practitioner instead studies your “humors,” the life forces alleged to be at the core of human physiology in the pre-scientific age (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood), and ends up suggesting you consume a herbal concoction and chant a mantra to treat your ills. This is how Ayurvedic practitioners treat millions of patients worldwide.

illustration by Pat Linse

Illustration by Pat Linse

Revealed to the Hindu deity Brahma1, Ayurveda—which roughly translates as “life knowledge”—is an ancient vitalist system similar to the archaic European theory of humors,2 which was supplanted by evidence-based science in the 19th century. Thus, the three Ayurvedic vital forces3—or doshas—are (1) vata, the impulse working the nervous system; (2) pitta, bile for digestion and other metabolic processes; and (3) kapha, supplying nutrition to the arterial system. Each dosha is composed of one or two of the five basic elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. Ayurvedic medicine teaches that good health is achieved when these forces are in perfect balance. But the doshas are unrelated to any known physicochemical process. You cannot see them. You cannot touch them. They cannot be measured or quantified in any manner. They are essentially the product of a rich, albeit unscientific imagination.

Ayurvedic practitioners nonetheless claim to have therapies for treating cancer, epilepsy, schizophrenia, psoriasis, peptic ulcers, bronchial asthma, malaria and many other diseases.4 Indeed, nothing appears to be outside the realm of Ayurvedic care. Some Ayurvedic doctors also claim that in the absence of any clinical symptoms they can accurately diagnose diabetes, cancer, musculoskeletal disease and asthma simply by taking a patient’s pulse,5 but remain incapable of providing evidence of a valid physiological mechanism for this amazing capability.

Are Ayurvedic doctors truly initiated into an ancient knowledge system, unknown to evidence-based science? Did erudite Indian mystics stumble on curative wisdom overlooked by modern researchers? More importantly, does Ayurveda work?

Credible scientific research answers in the negative, on all counts. Ayurvedic documentation nonetheless carries endless lists of testimonials written by patients who swear by the ancient Indian health care system.6 But does this anecdotal evidence prove the value of Ayurvedic therapy? Many medical conditions are self-limiting and will clear up in time—an untreated common cold will last an average of seven days; but with treatment (say, an Ayurvedic mantra or an over-the-counter cough syrup), the same common cold will last about a week. And, as repeatedly demonstrated with other CAMs (complementary and alternative medicines), simple faith in a therapy can trigger an impressive but temporary placebo effect.7

Also, pain—an extremely subjective assessment, at best—can often come and go in predictable and measurable patterns: an acute attack will cause a sufferer to consult a practitioner—Ayurvedic or otherwise—and, as the pain enters a cycle of remission, the relief is often wrongly attributed to the therapy. This is a classic example of post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning, an erroneous inference of causality: After Ayurvedic therapy, therefore because of Ayurvedic therapy.8

Ayurvedic therapy is particularly thin on scientific verification, to say the least. A document prepared by the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (a branch of the National Institutes for Health) states, “most clinical trials of Ayurvedic approaches have been small, had problems with research designs, lacked appropriate control groups, or had other issues that affected how meaningful the results were.”9

Even Ayurvedic practitioners decry the lack of evidence for its effectiveness. In the Indian national magazine Frontline,10 Dr. M.S. Valiathan, described as a staunch advocate of Ayurveda, admits that “clinical studies that would satisfy the liberal criteria of WHO [World Health Organization] have been alarmingly few from India, in spite of patients crowding in Ayurvedic hospitals.”

There is, in fact, compelling evidence that Ayurveda does not work.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine tested the effectiveness of guggul lipid11—a mainstay of Ayurveda therapy—on lowering high cholesterol. They found that adults with high cholesterol showed no improvement. In fact, the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol) increased slightly in some people in the group taking guggul. In a similar fashion, the School of Dentistry of the University of California, San Francisco, conducted a clinical trial of curcuminoids in oral lichen planus,12 a chronic immunological disease. Curcuminoids are components of turmeric, a household spice in the ginger family often used in Ayurvedic therapies. An abstract of the study states, “The first interim analysis did not show a significant difference between the placebo and curcuminoids groups.” The results were so inadequate that “the study was ended early for futility.”

A further search of the scientific literature on Ayurveda reveals a trial on the effects of yoga on the sleep patterns of the elderly, concluding, “yoga practice improved different aspects of sleep in a geriatric population.” Much like fresh air and exercise, the beneficial effects of yoga and meditation have long been recognized13—but, despite a decorative coating of exotic Ayurvedic mumbo jumbo, these techniques provoke scientifically observable physiological responses. Other trials, notably one on Ayurvedic treatment of diabetes14 and a general study of Ayurveda as primary health care,15 are inconclusive and call simply for further research.

But if people choose to waste their money on ineffective therapies, what is the harm? Serious problems arise on many levels, several of them common to many CAMs.

First, health care consumers are often misled by uncritical media coverage showing so-called CAM “doctors” in white lab coats, sounding as if they know what they are talking about—which is seldom the case.16 There are few official criteria in the United States or Canada governing the competence or training of Ayurvedic “doctors.” In many jurisdictions, anyone can hang out a shingle and call him or herself an Ayurvedic practitioner.17 Thus the therapy might be harmless, but the therapist might well be dangerous. In a high-profile case,18 a California man diagnosed with leukemia by mainstream doctors put himself in the care of a high-profile Ayurvedic practitioner. After a course of traditional therapy—including herbal remedies and a mantra for “quantum sound treatment”—the Ayurvedic doctor took the patient’s pulse—that mighty Ayurvedic diagnostic tool—and declared him cured. The man died of leukemia shortly thereafter.

Trick or Treatment cover

An Excellent Guide
to Understanding
Alternative Medicine

An excellent guide to the confusions and contradictions of alternative medicine written with clarity, integrity and authority. What works? Who can you trust? What alternative cures have positive results?…

ORDER the book

The “herbal” remedies of Ayurvedic therapies and many other CAMs carry the connotation of harmless, natural purity. But these concoctions have been found to be both harmful and impure. Many natural products are unsafe, some are even deadly. In 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of sassafras oil19 in foods and drugs based on reports demonstrating a risk of permanent liver damage and cancer. More recently, Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands banned kava (a plant product used for relaxation) after studies showed a risk of severe liver toxicity.20 Canada, the United States and the UK followed with various levels of interdiction and control, although certain jurisdictions are reconsidering total prohibition.

But there’s worse.

In 2004, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that lead, mercury, and arsenic intoxication were associated with the use of Ayurvedic herbal medicines.21 In a Boston area study, one-fifth of all Ayurvedic herbal remedies produced in South Asia contained potentially harmful products, leading researchers to conclude that “users of Ayurvedic medicine may be at risk for heavy metal toxicity.” Most of the Ayurvedic community reacted predictably to this news, claiming that a few “rotten apples” had slipped under the radar with sub-par or denatured products. But how credible is this defense since mercury and lead have always figured prominently in Ayurvedic concoctions? Texts show that Ayurvedic practice flourished circa 520 BCE, with mercuric-sulphur compounds in common use as therapy.22

Little appears to have changed.

The Indian Express quotes Dr. Ajay Kumar,23 senior consultant and liver specialist at Delhi’s Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, saying, “We come across cases of metal toxicity where the underlying cause is longtime use of Ayurvedic medicines.”24

The same article also carries comments by Tara Dutt, joint secretary of AYUSH (the Indian Government’s Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) that are far from reassuring: “heavy metals are integral to some [Ayurvedic] formulations and have been used for centuries. There is no point of doing trials as they have been used safely and have mention in our ancient texts.”25

This assertion echoes the disturbing truism central to many CAMs: Ancient is synonymous with good, and a product or therapy used for centuries cannot be harmful.

The April, 1998, edition of The Lancet carries an article titled “Indian Herbal Remedies Come Under Attack” by Sanjay Kumar, in which he states, “Indian traditional medical systems, such as Ayurveda, have come under heavy criticism for irrational and outdated practices.” And he goes on to quote Vaidya Balendu Prakash, chair of the health ministry’s Central Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani Drugs technical advisory board: “The majority of Ayurvedic formulations available on the market are spurious, adulterated, or misbranded.”26

Adepts of Ayurvedic therapies, like proponents of other CAMs, dance a hesitation waltz between science and superstition, craving mainstream scientific status, and yet clinging to antiquated, ineffective and unprovable notions. Volumes of self-serving studies are published every year, most concluding glowing positive results for Ayurvedic nostrums. But credible randomized, placebo-controlled trials with clearly positive outcomes for Ayurveda therapies remain non-existent. That is not good news for a global herbal drug industry that reportedly generates $14.2 billion.

But profitability, like popularity and longevity, do not prove effectiveness.

Ayurvedic therapy and other CAMs ask health care consumers to accept claims—and sometimes quite outrageous ones at that—on little more than faith, which is anathema to evidence-based science. Introducing irrational, unquestioning conviction to health care can lead to personal tragedies, as the ill and misinformed confuse CAM therapists with primary care physicians. At best, this could result in serious diagnostic delays, making whatever minor benefits derived from Ayurvedic placebo or any other CAM therapy simply not worth it. END

  1. The Health Robbers, A Close Look at Quackery in America, Edited by Stephen Barrett MD and William T. Jarvis Ph.D., Consumer Health Library, p. 240.
  2. Wittendor ff, Alex (1994). Tyge Brahe. G.E.C. Gad. p45.
  9. Frontline Volume 23 Issue 07, April 8–21, 2006, Chennai (Madras), India
  10. Bausell, R. Barker. Snake Oil or Science?, Oxford University Press 2007, Chapter 10 A.
  11. A Simple Model of Placebo Learning With Self-Remitting Diseases, November 4, 2005, Daniel Carpenter, Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Department of Government, Harvard University.
  14. Guggulipid for the Treatment of Hypercholesterolemia: A Randomized Controlled Trial Philippe O. Szapary; Megan L. Wolfe; LeAnne T. Bloedon; et al.; JAMA. 2003;290(6):765–772 (doi:10.1001/jama.290.6.765).
  15. Influence of Yoga and Ayurveda on Self-rated Sleep In a Geriatric Population Manjunath N.K., Telles S., Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, India.
  17. Role of Selected Indian Plants In Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A Review. Saxena A., Vikram N.K., Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
  18. Utilization of Ayurveda In Health Care: an Approach for Prevention, Health Promotion, and Treatment of Disease. Part 2—Ayurveda In Primary Health Care. Sharma H., Chandola H.M., Singh G., Basisht G. The Ohio State University Center for Integrative Medicine.
  20. Oxford Handbook of Complementary Medicine. Oxford University Press 2008. Edzard Ernst, Max H. Pittler, Barbara Wider, Kate Brody, p. 200.
  22. Trick or Treatment, The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine, W.W. Norton 2008, Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst MD, p. 300.
  24. The Indian Express, New Delhi, India, May 29 2005.
  25. Op. Cit.
  26. The Lancet, Volume 351, Issue 9110, April 18, 1998.


  1. Bob Pease says:

    This is a good summary of a continuing problem … the acceptance of pseudoscience as gospel .

    Things haven’t changed much since the 1920’s common acceptance of Magickal thinking in soi-disant “Avant guard” intellectuals and religious followers.

    The Magickal thinking of the “Adler-Jung-Frued” gang is still gospel among the same folks except with a lot of reinforcement by Hindu ideology .

    I don’t believe in “QI”, especially not as a
    “Magical energy that flows through the chakras”

    “It’s not even funny anymore to me that Truebelievers
    define “Energy” as “A Magickal fluid that flows through the chakras”

    I guess I just have to put up with the gang of “Educated ” pseudo liberals
    who pigeonhole my type of ideology as “Close”(sic)-minded .

    The state of Education might just have something to do with the
    acceptance of pseudoscience as “TROOTH ”

    N.B. The spelling “Magickal” is intentional.

    Sic Transit

    Dr. Sidethink

    • Alf Giam says:

      Actually that is the problem. But conventional MDs, trained in universities, are not scientists, at all. The whole grounds of conventtioal medicine are possibly big fallacies. You may not believe in many thing or believe, but again that is not the important issue. What ever a person believe or not is not important. Philosophers and scientist (true ones, not doctors) should investigate historically and evolutionary the physical forces that make people believe. What is a belief itself? I recommend for this the book Entropy and Information by Paralternativecelsus, a MD, that criticizes all anthropomorphic drills, and, remarkably he also considers conventional medicine and evidence-base medicine into this group of pseudosiences.

  2. Mark Zima says:

    Some bad reporting is going on here with the Skeptics Society email newsletter.

    This article claims:
    ” In a similar fashion, the School of Dentistry of the University of California, San Francisco, conducted a clinical trial of curcuminoids in oral lichen planus, a chronic immunological disease. Curcuminoids are components of turmeric, a household spice in the ginger family often used in Ayurvedic therapies. An abstract of the study states, “The first interim analysis did not show a significant difference between the placebo and curcuminoids groups.” The results were so inadequate that “the study was ended early for futility.” [They give a footnote #12, but I could not follow to a reference that clearly referred to this clinical trial].

    I did a Pubmed database search and found two recent papers by the UCSF dental school on curcuminoids and its use in treating oral lichen planus:

    This one says in its title “curcuminoids are efficacious”:

    J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 May;66(5):752-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2011.04.022. Epub 2011 Sep 9.
    High-dose curcuminoids are efficacious in the reduction in symptoms and signs of oral lichen planus.
    Chainani-Wu N, Madden E, Lozada-Nur F, Silverman S Jr.
    Department of Orofacial Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of California, San Francisco

    This one reports as a conclusion:
    “A total of 22/37 (60%) of patients reported a reduction of symptoms with curcuminoids, 13/37 (35%) were unsure and 2/37 (5%) reported that it did not help in reduction of symptoms.”

    They mention that they had done a study that was ended in futility (as the eSkeptic article says) that was conducted back in 2003-2004. Obviously, they resumed studies and found better results. Note the articles I cite are dated 2012.

    Phytomedicine. 2012 Mar 15;19(5):418-23. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2011.11.005. Epub 2012 Feb 2.
    Use of curcuminoids in a cohort of patients with oral lichen planus, an autoimmune disease.
    Chainani-Wu N, Collins K, Silverman S Jr.
    Department of Orofacial Sciences, School of Dentistry, 521 Parnassus Ave, C646, Box 0658, University of California, San Francisco

    In the course of getting a masters degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology from UC Davis I was taught that folk-medicines have often been developed and adapted into modern medicines. It isn’t good skepticism to try to dismiss it all in some sweeping judgment.

    • Bob Pease says:

      I don’t think that the article was intended to address
      specifics in the depth that you would require.

      The logic used seems to be.

      Some folk remedies work for scientific reasons.
      Therefore Science should not reject other reasons explaining this behavior.

      My criticism of the article is that it offers no alternatives to the book’s obvious inadequacies in scope and timeliness.

      The main point still stands
      Pseudocience is (still) sidetracking the trust in science


      • Mark Zima says:

        Bob Pease wrote: “I don’t think that the article was intended to address
        specifics in the depth that you would require.”

        It isn’t lack of depth I’m criticizing, it is the gross misrepresentation of the current state of scientific investigation into the uses of curcuminoids that I’m criticizing. A skeptic society should take care not mislead people.

      • Mark Zima says:

        Bob Pease wrote: “The logic used seems to be.

        Some folk remedies work for scientific reasons.
        Therefore Science should not reject other reasons explaining this behavior.”

        Are you trying to attribute that “logic” to me? I see no basis for it.

        • Bad Boy Scientist says:

          Interesting side discussion. It looks like a simple misunderstanding between Bob & Mark. I see both points (well, I *think* I do – and I’m sure that I’m smart enough to know whether or not I am wrong ;)

          Bob seems to be saying that that error does not destroy the overall argument of the article that by its very nature Ayruvedic medicine is non-scientific and thus accepting it is an act of faith, not reason.

          Mark points out that one of the studies cited in the article doesn’t tell the whole story – a subsequent study found efficacious results – and points out that as skeptics we really must be careful to avoid such mistakes…

          This latter point is really important – when we go about correcting widespread misconceptions we *have* to get our facts straight. Just as we scrutinize the claims of others, looking for any mistake, the folks on the other side do that same to our claims. Like us, True Believers use reason & logic attack us – but unlike us they don’t always claim to be grounded in reason so factual & logical errors are not as damaging to their side as they are to our side.

          • Bob Pease says:

            I think that sums it up rather nicely.
            Although the maxim “He who asserts must prove” usually holds,
            skeptics have a duty to either disregard or discredit evidence which they believe to be fabricated , false or misinterpreted, or antecdotal. (unless there’s a Broncos game coming up!)

            the other point is well taken..
            A skeptic loses lotsa points by bogus refutations of putative evidence


            Linda Nuevage sez ” Astrology works for me , and so it is true and everybody should give it a fair go!,

            Skeptic sez ” that’s not a scientific position and besides Astrology believers are less healthy than Skeptics!!”

            Linda Nuevage sez : ” well.. that just shows how close(sic)-minded
            folks can be”

            Sic transit merrygoroundus

            Dr S

  3. Aint Behvan says:

    As a practitioner immersed in the scientific approach of westernized medicine, I find this article skewed and biased. I cannot in good conscious exempt the fact that there are Ayurveda practitioners that may with their belief systems do some harm, but I also am well informed that in our scientific approach and highly regulated and worse, corporation controlled westernized medical care from academia to production and dispersion of products as well as agents immersed in the process do as much harm or more. Herbal remedies work, and work naturally, and work with the body and have far less unwanted effects. No one remedy “cures” cancer and to that statement I take offence having personally and professionally lived through and with the dying of persons afflicted with this disease. Can Ayurveda cure cancer? Probably not; does western medicine? absolutely not! and the suffering that is caused in a belief that it will is brutal. Medicine has been among the living before we began to theorize about it in ancient Babylonia or Greece, and it still exists in the most primitive of peoples, who use their herbal remedies and knowledge of plants. In western medicine, we attempt to fool nature with synthetic substances which mimics the ways that plants act on the human body. Wake up!

    • Dixon Wragg says:

      Aint Behvan, I’m nearly as disgusted with “corporation controlled” medical care as you are, but your jaundiced view of science-based ‘westernized” medical care is belied by the ever-increasing average human lifespan and the improved treatments for many illnesses and injuries. Your statement that “herbal remedies work” is true in some cases and false in many others, but in any case doesn’t specifically address the efficacy or harmfulness of Ayurvedic medicine. Your statement that Western medicine doesn’t cure cancer is manifestly wrong in many cases; even if the cure is messy–i.e., burning or cutting out the cancer–that beats Ayurveda’s record of (in)efficacy. None of your rambling generalizations constitute any argument for the efficacy of Ayurveda.

      • Bob Pease says:

        Just a petit mot reprise of my own world.

        I think Science is a bad way to find any “trooth” but it’s a hellava lot better than

        Ayurvedic medicine requires a belief in stuff like “QI” which is
        Magick fluid that flows through Holy loci called “Chakras”

        I declare by my authority as Pope Bobby II of the Church of the Subgenius
        that Magick will bring down our civilization and destroy The direction towards cosmic “TROOTH” ( or towards some eschatology based on Science and Mathematics and Language,) will lead us toward.

        Dobie Gillis or Winston Churchill sez;
        “Ending a sentence with a preposition is an outrage up with which we must not put !”

        not on personal belief in Magick..

        Sorry if that offends a lot of people, but so what.??

        RJ Pease .

    • Thomas says:

      Western science cured my cancer. I utilize essential oils for a common cold – maybe they caused my cancer?

  4. Jerrold Cohen says:

    Ayurvedic medicine works. Traditional Chinese Medicine works. Anecdotal accounts are fine. They have validity. Try this one on for size: After years of treatments with standard western medicine for my paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, treatments taking minutes to hours to work, I searched and found my own herbal remedy. No, it’s not all in my head. When I get or even feel as if I might be getting, an attack of PSVT’s, I take a dropperful of my herbal solution, and before I can get the dropper back in the bottle my heart gives a thump, and it’s back to normal rhythm. Not normal pulse. The pulse is sitting in the 90s per minute. But after a half hour it settles back to my standard 70s. Or my Meniere’s. My doctor could not give me a good solution. Using a standard TCM herbal formula, it takes three days to get rid of all symptoms. I can do somersaults, stand on my hands, etc. And if I get one treatment of acupuncture by a competent acupuncturist, all symtoms are gone by the next day. I used to have to get up to a spinning ceiling for months at a time, but now it never happens. I know, I know, it’s all in my head. Baloney.

    • Bob Pease says:

      i worked for you and that’s good.
      (Cynical tone not intended nor should be inferred)

      So does Christian Science for Others.
      So Does the laying on of the Hands .
      I underwent a serious operation where I was given less that a fifty percent chance of living.
      There are those that would make a case that the reception of Extreme Unction
      was the thing that saved me, as reports were that i had a “Miraculous” remission of fatal haemorrhage (sp??) rate.
      For all I really know , that was the case , but i can’t spend that rest of my life Praising the Lord.
      We just don’t know…

      Lots of folks have tried different kinds of things
      Those for whom it did not work cannot give testimonials.

      I stand on my premise that Magickal thinking will bring down civilization
      regardless of many people whose lives are saved or enriched by it.

      For Dominionist religionists as well as Magickal thinkers , that’s what we need
      anyway so the World to came can happen on schedule.

      Pope Bobby II
      67th Clench of the Stark Fist of Removal
      Reformed Church of the Subgenius

    • Alf Giam says:

      Sometimes what seems to be unscientific, such as traditional medicine may be, it has deeply more scientific basis compared to that the media and bussines make as believe. Scientific theories exist in the form of algorithms that has to be unveiled by our minds algorithms, but, despite they are there, we may not notice until someone has the right algorithm. For instance, if Einstein did not have a series of insights making the theories of Relativity, possibly we were still in a Newtonian belief. The same applies to the Theory of Evolution, otherwise we will still believe in creation, beliving that llamas were put in the Andes by supernatural forces. Theories live, are there outside, waiting to be discovered, that is somebody developing the matching algorithm in his mind. In this sense, skeptical philosopher Paralternativecelsus, a MD, thinks that traditional medicine is likely based on the theory of Entropy, a function that is mesurable; instead, western or conventional medicine is just a gathering of ideas, like a cooking book, unsupported by any theory.

  5. awc says:

    Hey… I am a firm believer in the placebo.

  6. awc says:

    For me there have been far to many pixels wasted on this topic.

  7. Alf Giam says:

    The same critics to traditional medicine can be applied to conventional medicine. The latter is not based on true scientific theories, so all statistic evidences are very questionable. Conventional medicine lacks theories and depends on its own obsevations, which seem manipulated by doctors, insurances and trials. Perhaps, as proposed by philosopher Paralternativecelsus in his book Entropy and information, the whole evidence claim by conventional medicine is delusional, a well developed hoax made by conterfactuality of peer reviewers defending their own interests.

  8. Bob Pease says:

    “Perhaps, as proposed by philosopher Paralternativecelsus in his book Entropy and information, the whole evidence claim by conventional medicine is delusional, a well developed hoax made by conterfactuality of peer reviewers defending their own interests.”

    Perhaps, as proposed by the Church of the Subgenius , that the real meaning of life is that we surrender to our destiny of being food in preparation of the harvest by CTHULHU and his minions.
    Ya pays ya money and ya takes yer choice!

    Pope Bobby II
    (The Popester)

    • Alf Giam says:

      …and Christopher Colombus (real name: Cristobal Colon) “discovered” America (not USA) an October 12th. What a coincidence that we wrote the same date. I’ve just noticed it. Too much for just a coincidence. This absolutely proves that there is a superior being pulling the strings on our hands to write what has to be written. Or…perhaps is a quantum (pre) determinism. If neither, then we are in an alternative universe.

  9. Mark Zima says:

    If you plug in the word “curcuminoids” into the pubmed search engine you will find that there have been 212 medical papers on them published during the past 5 years. Just from this number of papers alone, one can hazard a reasonable guess that there must be some good reason medical scientists are so interested in them, and if you scan the titles of these papers that come up in the search you can see that there are indeed valuable characteristics being reported again and again and again in real medical research journals. Picking just one negative paper as a basis to imply that one can categorically dismiss the medical value of curcuminoids, while ignoring all the other papers with positive results, is a classic example of cherry-picking, and it disturbs me to see something like that here. I don’t doubt that there are likely many bad medical treatments associated with Ayurvedic medical practice, but good skepticism isn’t about being so committed to rejecting something that one even resorts to misrepresentation of evidence via cherry-picking.

  10. kelvin says:

    I’ve had this same experience . I use to see 4 demons all the time, I feel this numbing feeling over my body then i am held down Ive been choked before. Sometimes i see them when i open my eyes after the attack. I think they come while you’r sleeping because your mind is open.This has happened all my life and i always wondered why. I wasnt religious and trying to fight them on my own, at this time i was confuse and almost running mad. not until a friend of my Johnson pen told me about a prophet who helped him in the same problem too. i email the prophet and i told him my problem and i did what he asked of me,he teach me the understanding of this demons and how to fight them with your holy bible,

    wanna give prophet michael a big appreciation for bringing back peace and joy to me, if not for you i woundn’t have be able to give my testimony today….

    I have promise to link all human that’s undergoing this situation to prophet michael, because i know how it is hurt….

    [email protected]

    that’s the e-mail of the prophet, give him a try and share your testimony with alot of joy…

    Good Luck pals……..
    God bless you

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Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

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Wisdom of Harriet Hall

Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

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Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

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Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?

This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

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The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

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Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

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The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

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Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

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Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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The Yeti or Abominable Snowman

5 Cryptid Cards

Download and print 5 Cryptid Cards created by Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton. Creatures include: The Yeti, Griffin, Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and the Cadborosaurus.

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