Monday, June 8, 2009

Other types of pseudoscience

One of the many, many bad things about creationism is that, as a type of pseudoscience, it basically lets people think that they can pick-and-choose which things that science tells us they can believe.

There’s a recent article in Newsweek magazine that discusses how Oprah Winfrey is promoting pseudoscientific medical practices on a routine basis. I don’t watch the Oprah show but apparently people like Jenny McCarthy are frequent visitors. McCarthy is a strong adequate of the idea that vaccinations cause autism. There is literally NO scientific evidence to support that view despite numerous studies that have been performed. The rates of autism have increased over time and the rate that people are vaccinated has also increased. But that’s just a coincidence. No one has found a cause-and-effect relationship. The probable cause for the increase in rates of autism is that the definition of “autism” has changed and become more general. My daughter has a good friend who has a “mild case” of autism. I’ve noticed that she doesn’t make eye contact as easily as most people, but other than that I don’t notice any differences from any other person. I would bet that if she had been born a few years earlier than she was no one would have thought to call her autistic, mild or otherwise.

The problem is that McCarthy has convinced many parents to avoid vaccinations. Because of that measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases are increasing in frequency, even to the point of causing the deaths of children. Of course some people can’t be vaccinated for legitimate reasons – such as the fact that they are allergic to the medication. The increase in the number of unvaccinated people has put such innocents at risk.

Another visitor to the Oprah show is Dr. Christiane Northrup, an ob/gyn who:

“…stresses alternative therapies and unseen connections between the soul and the body that she believes conventional doctors overlook, but that she can see. She has written about how she has used Tarot cards to help diagnose her own illnesses. (On her Web site, she sells her own "Women's Wisdom Healing Cards."

Yup. You read that right. The doctor uses Tarot cards as medical diagnostic tools. (Don't mind me. I'll just back slowly out of the room.)

The web site has an article that is very critical of Oprah’s guests. It adds this comment:

"I think that if you are someone who is willing to believe that vaccines cause autism or that when you get sick it is just your soul talking to you that you'll be more likely to believe that the Earth is 6000 years old or that humans appeared on the planet in their present form. These views are caustic to the political discourse in this country and should be eradicated.

I agree completely.

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