Thursday, December 17, 2009

Randi-gate Part II

And the skeptical community breathes a sigh of relief... sort of.

Not surprisingly it didn't take too long after the skeptical blogosphere went pyroclastic from Randi's "AGW Denial" - which I dealt with in my last post - for Randi to follow up with a response and clarification.

Okay... whew, Randi isn't a global warming denier.

I'm actually not terribly surprised by that.  I'm glad to know that the impression was a result of having whittled down his first draft to publishable size.  Certainly his original post does seem consistent with that explanation.


There are still issues associated with the original post.

For starters, its out there in the first place, and it came from one of the most important voices in skepticism.  The deniers - the pseudoskeptics - will be happy to quote the original out of context as it serves their purposes, never including any of the important clarifications of the second part.  That can't be undone.  Hopefully I'm wrong about that.  Hopefully the pseudoskeptics aren't that intellectually bankrupt; or aren't savvy enough to take advantage of the circumstance.  (Yeah, good luck on that.)  If they mention the follow up at all, I can pretty much guarantee that it'll be presented in terms of "Look what happened when he was brow-beaten by his peer-group" - a sentiment that only undermines us all.

In his follow-up Randi doesn't retract his final points of his original post - that we have more important things to concern ourselves with.  I cry bullshit.  I accept that it's not the sole concern of skepticism.  I will accept that there is at least one issue in our domain that is of comparable concern when you consider that our real purview is science-outreach (I am thinking of Anti-Vax, BTW.) and not doing the actual science.  But there is NOTHING more important than working towards getting a grasp of this issue in all it's complexities and getting the reality of the situation conveyed effectively to as many people as possible.  On this level I am still muttering "Oh for fuck's sake, Randi!"

Yesterday I was trying hard to see the silver-lining.  Trying to use the opportunity as a chance to demonstrate to myself at least that our skeptical idols are fallible and that the movement is - to it's strength - not in lock-step.  I still think that lesson is relevant an valuable, but I have to admit that today I'm not feeling so rosy.  I don't know that anything Randi could have said would have totally satisfied me.  I still think that his original post was a colossal blunder.

It is one thing for a foul-mouthed buffoon like myself, with an audience of about three and no reputation to speak of, to run-off half-cocked about something I don't know enough about... and for the record, I generally try to avoid that or at least qualify it when I do.  But for one of our luminaries to speak up on such an important issue - with such bad timing, what with Copenhagen being at the top of the news - it's disappointingly sloppy.  If Randi were known as a loose cannon it would be something all together different.  Let's face it, when Penn Gillette - who these days is even more visible than Randi - offers up a tepid "I'm just saying 'I do not know'" defense, we grumble and shrug, but it's in character, so we let it slide (a bit) and laugh it off with an "Oh that Libertarian Ideologue, Penn!  Whadda-guy!"  But Randi is not Penn.  I just can't help myself.  I still feel disappointed.  Indeed, at least before he responded there was still a Shrodinger's chance that I wouldn't be disappointed by his follow up, but now the cat is out of the hermetically sealed quantum box.  And clearly I am not alone.

So then, what do I walk away with this time?  I don't want it to be all 'bad taste in my mouth'...

Yesterday when commisserating with fellow SN bloggers I mentioned Dr. David Brin's notion of CITOKATE.  I even tried to find an appropriate way to show-horn it into yesterday's post, but it wouldn't have fit well.  I knew a better opportunity would arise - and at least on an introductory level, this is it.

Citokate is an acronym for "Criticism is the only known antidote to error."  It's a notion that I am surprised has yet to gain traction in skepticism.  Though admittedly it does have more political ramifications than skeptical/scientific ones as it is practically an inherent part of the proper scientific process.

I don't know that citokate is provable, but it certainly rings true upon any degree of reflection and evidence suggest that it is true.

Citokate, (though not by that term) is at the core of the scientific process of discovery. The practice of peer review is itself the pure embodiment of the notion. The essential self-correcting tenets of science – where shortcomings in a theory are shored up by future discovery without a dogmatic adherence to what has been written in the books... so long as the evidence is convincing.

Pardon if a political example/metaphor fits my intent best...

The most despotic regimes of the past – from Nero, through Hitler, Stalin, Pol-Pot and Hussein – made it a central policy of their tyranny that dissent would be crushed. Presumably they believed that having cracks in their own overarching vision showed weakness and must be eliminated. To suggest an avenue for improvement was an anathema to the leadership. This cocooning of intellect was intended to vouchsafe the dictatorship from political disintegration... and it may have actually worked in the short term. But there is a critical failure in the policy – What if there really are weaknesses in the structure of the society in question? Well, political problems are more likely to compound than dissipate. Eventually the practice of "LA! LA! LA! I'm not listening to you!" allows minor issues to fester into poisonous ones, and poisonous ones to become fatal. Note that all of the examples (and admittedly specifically selected for their adherence to the needs of example) mentioned above eventually fell – all as symptoms of their own failed policy.

In some cases the Tyrant at the forefront of the regime in question would themselves never even hear the criticism – let alone ignore it. The 'yes men' of the inner circle would be accustomed to not defy their glorious leader and themselves would head off (sometimes literally) any suggestion of opposition. The leader wouldn't even get the chance to consider the value of the criticism. Any 'public' appearance would be closely controlled so that only the faithful would be in attendance – not simply for security. The media would be visciously limited – anything resembling a press conference would be peopled strictly by those 'on-side' who would ask only prepared questions. Sounds kind of hauntingly familiar doesn't it? I speak not of Randi (I shall get back to that before I am done here.), but of a recent (though not current) presidential administration - or the current Provincial leadership here at home in British Columbia.  Consider it a cautionary tale.

The benefits of listening to criticism carefully are almost self-evident. A devil's advocate policy will help fine tune decisions and discoveries both in advance and as they are put in practice, making the results more reliable and open to improvement in areas where they fail. 

Clearly Randi listened when we shouted.  He heard the plaintif cry and acted.  He asked for more learned help - significantly from Phil Plait as is evident from his post - and took a step towards ammending the perception of his position.  He is taking the right path for a skeptic of his calibre - any calibre, really.

There is much left to say on this, but this post is getting absurdly long.  I'm going to finish up by quoting Dr. Plait, who has finally spoken up on the matter.  I recommend reading his post.  He is saying much of what I have, but in more succinct fashion - and from closer to the eye of the storm.
Part of being a skeptic — and it’s a big part — is admitting when you’re wrong.
And finally, there is a really good takeaway point from this: when it comes to reality, no one and no thing is sacrosanct. If something is wrong, it gets called out. That’s what skepticism is all about. If Randi makes a mistake, he gets called on it. If scientists do, or the Pope does, or anyone, then it is up to all of us to speak up. And I think that how we do it is just as important as the content of our claims.
I'm going to try to take that to heart in the most postive of ways.  'Cause how I've been feeling is close to an intellectual equivalent of inconsolable.  I'm not alone.  Watching the Twitter responses to this over the past few days you would think that;

"There is no joy in Skepti-ville— the mighty Randi has struck out."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Randi Boner

The Skeptisphere is buzzing.

[Pharyngula] [Island of Doubt] [The skepTick]
[Greg Laden]

James Randi spoke up yesterday about global warming, and not many skeptics think good things of his position.

First let me be clear about my position on Anthroprogenic Global Warming (AGW):  I am not a climate scientist.  I DO NOT KNOW.

Now if Randi had taken that simple tack, I wouldn't be writing this.  Instead his position can largely be summed up as "There is a lot of controversy and there are more important things to worry about."

On account of that sentiment people are implying that he is senile and/or a AGW denier.  Maybe he is.  Maybe he isn't.

Now I need to rewind to my AGW position...  As I said, I do not know.  I am not a scientist and the evidence both for and against is extremely complex.  There IS a lot of controversy.  I really have no way of reliably determining for myself whether human-kind is adding to the Global Warming trends - or even if those tends truly exist.  I don't have the knowledge or know how, and neither do the vast majority of people on the planet - Randi included.

So, if we don't know, what do we do?

It's an irresponsible choice to take the "well, if I can't tell, then it doesn't matter" option.

For myself, I've made an effort over an extended period of time (read: years) to make a mental list of the voices that I trust to distill the information and percolate it down to me in various forms.  I've selected this informal list my gradually assessing who consisently speaks with sound logic and whose positions consisntly correlate with either verifiable reality or, at the least, with the past positions (prior plausibility essentially) of other people who I have gradually learned I can rely upon.

This isn't a matter of realying to an appeal to authority, it's a matter of assessing concensus of authorities.

Randi is one of these authorities, and on this matter he is not falling in line with the others.  That is why I have come to rely upon multiple authorities and not one divine proctor of all knowledge.  Randi knows his stuff when it comes to charlatans.  But – forgive the broken record – he is not a climate scientist.

Most of the sources that I trust acknowledge AGW – or at least GW – and thus I have generally speaking come down on the side of being an advocate of efforts to reduce the effect mankind is exerting upon the environment. Yes. I have doubts. Yes, I fight constantly with the seemingly innate desire to consume. But even if I were ultimately a denier I would have to acknowledge that doing nothing is a negligent fools bet.

If I am wrong and humanity has no effect upon the climate, then what has been lost? In the grand scheme of things, very little. Everyone’s quality of life would be reduced by what is ultimately a small amount (recall we used to call caves ‘home’) – with the greatest individual impacts falling upon the most successful capitalists (those who have the most head-room to lose).

If I am right, and we do nothing, the possible most extreme cost is the extinction of humanity and many many many other living species. That is your life, the lives of everyone you know, their pets, most of the living things they feed upon, the wild animals that they watch on Discovery channel specials and the descendants of every single one of those people and things forever and ever and ever. It’s considerably more than a metric fuck-ton.

So... if there is the least chance that we can affect or ameliorate climate change by tempering our actions we must do so. Not “should if it’s convenient” – we must.

It’s not really a matter of whether the logic of the science appears to be right or not – there are too many existing confounding factors that makes the issue too inscruitable to the average joe. “Average Joe” (or Jane) is who almost all of us are. We can only really act wisely upon the best gamble.

Randi is not applying logic to what would be the best gamble. Perhaps that’s got something to do with his advanced age or his lack of descendants, but the reasons aren’t really relevant. The fact remains that he has put his foot in it.

We shouldn’t expect that Randi is going to be imperfect. We shouldn’t expect him to uphold every one of our own individual values. He may be our collective hero and one of our greatest spokesman – but relying upon him alone for direction is nothing but an appeal to authority.

Perhaps in a way this is a good thing for skepticism. There are those in the world who will snidely point at our luminaries and accuse the rank and file of group-think. But here is a chance to show that we do not fall in line behind Randi – or by extension Dawkins or Shermer or Plait or Nickell. We do not follow anyone. We have great respect for those who have demonstrated their ability to filter the bullshit in the world with consistency, but we have no blind fealty to them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Say What?!??!?

Language is possibly our most amazing invention. To my understanding we had invented it long before we could be called sapient. Language can be beautiful and poetic or direct and specific. How language is used in skepticism has recently come to the fore of my mind.

On the first hand, in creating documents with other skeptics I have found that my style – which is admittedly more creative than technical – is often not the best choice. My default to emotion is very hard to marry with precision.

On the second hand over at Skeptic North we have recently seen one of our regular commenters become an annoying (to speak lightly) pedant, taking us to task over the minute nuances of word choices. Care to guess how I feel about this? While grousing about this specific commenter is not my purpose in this post, his philosophical position is totally relevant. Consider his argument:

There are a number of "skeptical" blogs in the world that are increasingly lazy about language, accuracy in word definition, correct word usage, rigourous grammar, and so forth. Some blogs even practice a form of Humpty Dumptyism -- inventing portmanteaus and claiming provenance and/or other legitimacy, or inventing a new or colloquial definition claiming universality.
If one wanted to help the skeptical movement lose credibility, such dictional errancy and laziness is a very good place to start.
Language, and words, are my speciallty. As such, I have always hoped for extra careful dictional accuracy from those who place themselves in positions of authority, especially when wearing the mantle of skeptical inerrancy and bearing the logos of the skeptical movement.
I find it hard not to point out that in MS Word, cutting and pasting his comment has resulted in a plethora of red squiggly lines – oh irony. I'd hate to see how it would appear if "Language, and words, [weren't his] speciallty."

But to my real point, I do appreciate that his essential argument is not wrong. But that sure as hell doesn't make it right. Yes, muddy language can cause an unfortunate malleability of position and/or point on the part of the reader. But it is 1) not a certainty that misunderstanding is the inevitable case; 2) not always a person's primary intention to be precise; 3) does not take into account the variability of intended audience; and 4) does not allow for the spectrum of voices that represent the quilt of humanity that make up the skeptical community.

More than anything else though, scientifically precise language is tepid and uninteresting to the layman.

Skepticism's primary goal – arguably it's only goal – is outreach. While many scientists are skeptics, not all skeptics are scientists – or doctors or IT professionals or even magicians. We cannot expect that talking to borderline skeptics in the language of any of these subsets is going to be a way of communicating effectively to these people. Worse than speaking in jargon or in concepts that go above their heads (though that all contributes) speaking in language that is too careful, stripped of unearned superlatives, laden with caveats and qualifiers; we fall deep into the danger of BORING THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF PEOPLE. ...and we can't afford to do that.

A bored audience is a lost audience – almost always permanently. And that is nothing if not a goliath fail. Skepticism only grows when we engage the people who either don't realize they are skeptics (and I suspect that the big wave of new skepticism fuelled by web 2.0 that everyone has talked about for the past two years or so is reaching its saturation point – the legions of closet skeptics are more out than not by now) or we need to reach the people who are almost skeptics and capture their imaginations by speaking to truths that they ultimately find evident in ways that entertain and interest them to explore further.

I do appreciate that there is a place for precision in science. It is a requirement that on any given subject that there be very precise scientific literature out there. But, I emphasize, we skeptics though we have scientists amongst us, are not scientists. We must not pretend to be what we are not (this applies to the other major subsets of skeptics outlined above as well as all the miscellany) and we must remember that our main goal must be to open the minds of the world as a whole to critical thinking. It is our job to instil a sense of wonder in real science; but we must leave the scientific journaling to the scientific journals and the audiences that turn to them (which does include many of us) for the hardcore science and details.

That does mean we risk openings for assumption and misinterpretation, this is true and inevitable. But the audiences we win over in our outreach efforts should not be won over by the facts, they should be won over by the philosophy – the process – of skepticism. And in so doing they will eventually, if not all at once, also embrace the values of not accepting surface interpretations and the desire to dig deeper – at which point they will turn to the appropriate science literature... just like we do.

We don't need to talk down to people in the process. I don't run away from my big vocabulary, or the sometimes too florid flourish I've developed from years of writing for theatre; I don't even think that the commenter mentioned above should shy from his penchant for specificity (though aiming his pedantry at others' writing is beyond tiresome) – to censor our styles in our own presentation would be to insult our audiences. We simply need to think of how we express ourselves as a natural conversation – whatever that means to you personally, not as a skeptic, not as a scientist (real or pretend) but as a citizen of your community. Talk to them. Don't lecture them. Engage them and inspire them. Do not push them away. Do not, whatever you do, bore them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ooooh! Oooh! Look at the Crazy!

A couple of Skeptical Friends discovered a particularly egregious blog post by my favourite homeopath - Sonya McLeod...

One friend send a response that did not get past her moderation, so a few others went on asking questions instead - and were eventually outed.

I'm reprinting the totally fucking bananas comment thread that followed, just in case she decides to delete it all.  I haven't changed a single character, except for shortening the line of dashes that got transferred in my cut and paste & a friendly redacting request which should be obvious by the series of 'X'-es...

I shant say more - sometimes the crazy just doesn't need further comment....

EDIT: Okay, it's 12 hours later and there is good reason to comment further.  Judging by my blog stat tracking I am virtually positive that Ms. McLeod has found this post.  I won't bore you with the specific forensic details that lead me to that conclusion, but I am confident to say "Hi Sonya."
As predicted she has deleted almost all of her comment thread, which really is just a cowardly exhibition of her inability to deal with reason... but I don't think that should be a surprise to anyone who has followed any of my other coverage of her postings.
And on top of it all she has added a pretty ridiculous ad hoc comment policy to that post.  See comment #5 to this post to see the details on that.
Now back to your regularly scheduled post...

20 Responses to “H1N1 Vaccine Miscarriages: Exclusive Interview with Connie Adams and More Reports Worldwide”
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1 Mandy
December 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm
I was 5 weeks pregnant when I got the H1N1 vaccine. I received the shot on a Thursday and was very sore and achy on Friday. I miscarried my baby on Sunday, just 3 days after receiving the shot. This was my first pregnancy and I thought I was doing the best thing for myself and my baby by getting the shot. My doctor didn’t warn me against waiting until I was further along nor was I aware of any warnings by the government. (Columbus, Ohio, USA)

2 littlemountainhomeopathy
December 8, 2009 at 10:03 am
As with all my posts, personal attacks, sexist remarks and homeophobic attacks (as well as homophobic lol) will be deleted.

3 Grace
December 8, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Miscarriages happen without taking this shot, so I was wondering if you knew how many happen after taking the vaccine vs not taking it at all. Any idea where we could find that info?


4 littlemountainhomeopathy
December 8, 2009 at 12:57 pm
Hello Grace. Thanks for your comment. You bring up a good point, but it is very hard if not impossible to find the info you seek. The reason for this is that the mainstream press does not report these miscarriages even though they are happening. Also doctors are telling women that their miscarriages are not from the vaccine, even though the miscarriages coincide with taking the vaccine. The women believe the doctors and don’t report the miscarriage as a side effect of the vaccine.

5 Grace
December 8, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Thanks for the quick reply!

I’m not sure what you mean about the press though… in your article you listed some news sources that were reporting them, so they are being reported, aren’t they?

Anyhow what I’m wondering is this: You said that there were 9 reported cases in europe – is that more than we would expect given the number of miscarriages that happen anyways for unrelated reasons? Like if 10% of pregnancies end in miscarriage (I don’t know if that’s the right number) then won’t 10% of pregnant women who get the shot have a miscarriage even if the vaccine is harmless?

Thanks again!

6 littlemountainhomeopathy
December 8, 2009 at 2:17 pm
Hello Grace. Yes, a few are being reported in Europe, but even in Europe there are miscarriages from the H1N1 vaccine happening that are not being reported. In North America, the mainstream press has not reported them even though it is happening (e.g. Connie and the 7-8 who contacted her, I’m sure there are more). If we knew the true number of miscarriages then it would be possible to analyze the data, but since we don’t, it’s impossible. Doctors refuse to believe that the H1N1 vaccine is causing the miscarriage, so proper investigation isn’t even being done (e.g. autopsy). Even when investigations are done (e.g. in Europe) I believe that the conclusions are biased because if it were proven that the vaccine caused the damage then the government (taxpayers) would have to pay for those damages.

7 Jesse
December 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm

You said “If we knew the true number of miscarriages then it would be possible to analyze the data, but since we don’t, it’s impossible.”

If it’s impossible to analyze with the available data, then how do you come to the conclusion that H1N1 vaccines are causing more miscarriages than would occur without the vaccine (or, as Grace suggests, with a harmless vaccine)? If you don’t know the base rate of miscarriages, then it’s impossible to tell if the vaccine is causing them, isn’t it?

8 littlemountainhomeopathy
December 8, 2009 at 3:11 pm
Hello Jesse. This is exactly why these miscarriages aren’t being investigated. If they were investigated, we would be able to conclude something. Now we are just forced to guess. I believe that the toxic ingredients in the vaccines are causing miscarriages. We don’t know for sure, but I’m putting forth the evidence that I have in this post.

9 Jesse
December 8, 2009 at 3:18 pm
But the guess seems like a random shot in the dark. Presumably, they also drove to the clinic to get the vaccine. Does that mean that driving causes miscarriages? If you aren’t comparing the miscarriage rate to anything, then how can you make a conclusion?

10 littlemountainhomeopathy
December 8, 2009 at 3:21 pm
In Connie and Zahra’s case, you can make the conclusion based on the fact that they felt ill after the vaccine and before getting the vaccine everything was going fine in their pregnancies. The vaccines are also very toxic which I have talked about in other posts. When you inject toxins into a pregnant woman the toxins will affect the fetus negatively, sometimes resulting in miscarriage. If the baby is carried to term perhaps it will result in birth defects, I’m sure we’ll be hearing about that in a few months.

11 Jesse
December 8, 2009 at 3:26 pm
Aren’t there lots of pregnant women who have gotten the vaccine with no miscarriage, and no negative effects on the fetus at all? Couldn’t you use that fact to make the opposite argument?

I think what Grace was saying is that you have to compare the miscarriage rate in the vaccine group to the rate in the non-vaccine group before you can make the conclusion that the vaccine is relevant. That’s why controlled trials are important in medicine. Without the controls, do you think it is a bit irresponsible to make conclusions and recommendations?

12 littlemountainhomeopathy
December 8, 2009 at 3:33 pm
We have no idea what the long term effects of the H1N1 vaccine will be on a fetus. There are no long-term clinical trials that have been done on the H1N1 vaccine. Therefore we have no idea about the long term effects it will have on anybody – adult, child, or fetus. Those pregnant women who got the H1N1 vaccine may feel that they did not suffer any side effects, but we cannot say what the long-term effects will be.

The irresponsible thing is to promote this vaccine to pregnant women and children yet there have been so adequate trials performed on the effect of the H1N1 vaccine on women and children. Plus the ingredients are toxic to a fetus, they are listed in this post: Update: Swine Flu Vaccine Without Adjuvant is Unsafe

13 Jesse
December 8, 2009 at 3:34 pm
Here’s another question: if it turned out that a woman had a miscarriage shortly after a homeopathic treatment, would you say that the homeopathy likely caused it? Wouldn’t you want to make sure it wasn’t just a coincidence first? If so, then aren’t you obligated to do the same in this case?

14 littlemountainhomeopathy
December 8, 2009 at 3:36 pm
That can’t happen, because unlike vaccines and pharmaceuticals, homeopathic medicines are completely safe and non toxic.

15 Dominique
December 8, 2009 at 3:53 pm
Hi there. I don’t think you answered Jesse’s question. Lets say it did happen. Would you draw the same conclusion? Or would you first think to yourself “Maybe something else caused it?” or “Maybe it was some accident?”.

I only ask because many many scientists and doctors have said “That can’t happen, because the N1H1 vaccines are completely safe and non toxic.” You’re saying they are not, but you’re not giving us a reason to believe you over believing them.


16 Jesse
December 8, 2009 at 3:58 pm
Also, I think you misunderstood me. A certain number of women get miscarriages normally, right? Either from something they’ve done, or just because it happens once in a while. So no matter what group you look at – including women who have gone to a homeopath – a base percentage can be expected to miscarry. I’m not saying the homeopathy would have caused it, but it could happen as a coincidence. Without carefully comparing the vaccine group to a control group, there’s no way to know if these miscarriages are just a coincidence.

If you are saying that vaccines are toxic, so of course they cause miscarriages, then OK, but that’s an assertion you’re making that isn’t based at all on the cases you cited in your post. Those cases have an emotional impact, but if it turns out that they were just coincidental, then don’t you think it’s a a bit of a manipulation? Would that be dishonest?

17 Grace
December 8, 2009 at 4:01 pm
Thanks again for the response.

Sorry, I thought since you were sounding the alarm about this problem that you must have some info on the rates of miscarriages with the vaccine vs the rates without. You say that the miscarriages are ‘from’ the vaccine, but all we know is that they’re happening afterwards. Without information about how many are happening vs how many to expect, how do you know the vaccine is increasing the number of miscarriages?

8-9 women out of the millions who have been given the flu shot in the US seems well within the expected amount… If every pregnant woman were to take a homeopathic remedy you would expect some percentage of them to have a miscarriage afterwards – the same number as would have if they had taken plain water instead, right? Of course it wouldn’t be fair to blame homeopathy for those miscarriages, so I’m not sure how the situation with the flu shot is any different than that… can you clarify?

Sorry for all the questions, thank you for your patience.

18 littlemountainhomeopathy
December 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm
Hello Grace, Dominique and Jesse
The H1N1 vaccine is toxic. Toxicity harms a fetus. Here is evidence of H1N1 vaccine toxicity, taken from my past blog posts:

from “Update: Swine Flu Vaccine Without Adjuvant is Unsafe”

Neomycin is an antibiotic that can cause damage to the kidneys and/or nerves. Side effects are decreased urination, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, feeling of fullness in the ears, dizziness, numbness, skin tingling, muscle twitching, or seizures which may be signs of kidney or nerve damage. Neomycin is in pregnancy category D which means it may be harmful to an unborn baby.

Polymyxin B Sulfate is also an antibiotic. It can cause serious side effects, including kidney failure. Other side effects include irritability, weakness, drowsiness, numbness in the arms or legs, or blurred vision. The safety of Polymyxin B Sulfate has not been established for use during pregnancy.

Beta-Propiolactone is a disinfectant. The CDC labels beta-propiolactone as a potential human carcinogen. In rats, acute oral administration or intraperitoneal injection of beta-propiolactone caused muscular spasms, respiratory difficulty, convulsions, and death. Acute intravenous injection caused kidney tubule and liver damage. Subcutaneous injection of beta-propiolactone in rats and mice produced cancer at the sites of administration. Single intraperitoneal injections in suckling mice produced lymphatic tumors and liver cancer. A study in 1984 in the Journal of Neurological Sciences showed that some neurological complications in young adults was caused by antirabies vaccines containing beta-propiolactone.

From “Swine flu vaccine ingredients are not safe for pregnant women and children”

Doctors, pharmacists, and the mainstream press assure us that thimerosal is not harmful but one recent study begs to differ. A study done by UBC professor Dr. Chris Shaw published in the June 2009 edition of Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry found that thimerosal is toxic to the cells of an unborn fetus. Pregnant women are told not to eat tuna because it contains high levels of mercury, yet it is perfectly acceptable to inject mercury directly into a pregnant woman?! The US and Canadian governments assure us that thimerosal is not harmful, yet they have systematically removed thimerosal from every single childhood vaccine except for the (swine) flu vaccine. Russia, Denmark, Austria, Japan, Great Britain, and all the Scandinavian countries have banned thimerosal from being used in any of their vaccines.

19 littlemountainhomeopathy
December 8, 2009 at 9:48 pm
It has just come to my attention that Grace is actually XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX; “she” is a man. XXXXXXXXXX and Jesse are both members of a group called the “skeptics society.” The skeptics have a political agenda: they are anti-environmental and oppose all restrictions on business, especially biotechnology. They are avid supporters of Big Pharma. They are also men, and I believe that they have are addressing me and belittling this blog post in a sexist manner. Instead of listening to what me and these women have to say, they belittle our experiences and tell us that we are wrong. Well I have one thing to tell you: our experience is more real and true than any of your sexism and put-downs.
To read more about the political agenda behind the skeptics society go to:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Coping with Copenhagen

Climate change has been for some time one of skepticism's biggest internal controversies. Many notable skeptics have fallen on the side of the deniers. Michael Shermer, Penn Gillette and (I think - though I don't believe he ever clearly stated his position, I ammerely going with the impression I got reading between the lines of early SGU episodes.) Perry DeAngelis. Shermer has publically changed his position; Gillette offered an agruably tepid mea culpa at TAM7 - backing away from previous statements; and who knows what Perry's position would be today if he were alive. (If someone who actually knew Perry wishes to disabuse me of this notion, I am happy to make note for the record.) We seem to be coming to a consensus amongst ourselves that is in line witht he consensus that has come into focus in the scientific community (no real surprise there). I am baffled at how it could have taken us so long to come around. This is about all that makes this a specifically skeptical, much less, asshole-skeptical post. I wanted to make a point of talking about this important subject today, even though I have another post ready in the wings.

Today is the first day of the Copenhagen Conference. Anyone with interest in climate change has been looking ahead to this day with excitement and apprehension. Some argue that this is our last chance for change - that is definitely the extreme end of the hype, but that doesn't mean it isn't the truth. I simply do not know.

I expect that as early as when the conference is over and I can't imagine it will take more than a year from now there will be a trumpet of "we did not do enough - Copenhagen was a failure" sentiments.

Personally I think we must do something. We can't afford not to do something, but I also doubt that mankind will do anything until things get dire. Some people believe that by the time it is dire we will have passed a tipping point and that all will be doomed. I only hope that that will be wrong. No doubt the earth will carry on without us, and I am absolutely in the camp of thinking that implying otherwise, as many do, is extreme arrogance. I think it would be preferable if we can manage to save our species.

We don't seem to be hard wired to pay attention to anything short of an immediate and extreme undeniable threat. If the 'end' is not extreme, we collectively just won't heed it. If it is to take catastrophe for us to wake up it may be best if it happens sooner than later. I for one am not scared of the inevitability of oil 'drying up.' Indeed I don't think it can happen (realistically) soon enough. We are a clever bunch o' monkeys (yeah, yeah - see my next post) and I have no doubt that we will find ways of adjusting how civilization carries on without oil that don't impact terribly on our quality of life. Certainly the specifics will change, and in the process there will be upheaval, but in the long run we will be fine. But the sooner catastrophe strikes, the better the lesson will be learned.

At the same time I feel conflicting desires - I'm only human - hoping that we can find ways, perhaps through the fruits of Copenhagen, to ameliorate the extremity of the shift. It is going to be an interesting journey, and assuming a typical lifetime I may get to see a good chunk of the worst I suspect.

We aren't particularly good at weighing cost/benefit as people. Our tendency towards mis-using the practically instinctual heuristics we have evolved coupled with a built-in desire for what is best for us RIGHT NOW over what is best for us overall is a recipe for disaster. It may be better that we prepare our coping mechanisms to gird against the inevitability rather than fight against it.