Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Screen Door Swings

One should be weary of what they ask for as the screen door of justice, karma, and irony can sometimes swing both ways. Ever since biology, medicine, geology and our basic understanding of the world's progress through time has expanded through natural changes and processes there has been those who feel compelled rebel against this logic and force their own on others. This has gone so far as confusing one of the basic tenants of the United States, the separation of church and state. The founding father were weary of this problem and where it might lead. Even today, these boundaries are over stepped where religious ideology poses a serious risk to the education of many.

The basic idea here is that changes to offspring are naturally occurring and DNA is complex stuff. It has plenty of opportunity to change a bit here or bit there. Therefore, any change which proves to be of a benefit by providing some sort of tactical advantage where that particular offspring gets a chance of surviving long enough to reproduce. This new defect or mutation can be passed on to it's own offspring. If the mutation is in anyway advantageous, it may out compete those without the mutation. This process takes a lot of time and does not happen instantly. It is a gradual process and we will not see sudden changes. This process is called natural selection because nature will select those with an advantage over those without. This process is very well understood and the basis for many other sciences, including medicine.

But now the tables are turned. It is ironic and only fair that that if religion is allowed to pervade the essence of science, why cannot the law of man pervade religion? Especially if the religion institution is flawed. In Texas the idea is to teach that all theories have flaws, so let's inject some religion to offer a competing viewpoint. In Connecticut, St. John's Roman Catholic church was needing a little help with financial self restraint because the former pastor stole more than $1 million dollars. As result, the membrane between the separation of church and state is getting thinner. Thousands of Roman Catholics are crying foul. They fail to understand that once we break the membrane of separation, things or ideas can bring change and sometimes not as you expected. Maybe the next time you hear about someone shrugging off the idea requiring both a religious and scientific idea in the classroom, you might wonder where it could stop. I think it is ironic. The question is, was irony designed into us or did we inherit it? We may not know, but then again, if it cannot be answered science requires it to remain a mystery. In Chemistry, when the periodic table of elements was first written in 1869 by Dmitri Mendeleev, holes were intentionally left in it as certain elements could had not yet been discovered or created. They were predicted to exist and over time, we filled in that table. That is science.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

McCarthyism Strikes Again

I have always been fascinated by those in entertainment industry who become so enamored with themselves they start to believe their own nonsense. Often, because of nothing more than celebrity experience, this somehow provides credibility and translates to expertise far beyond what their claimed profession would suggest. Consider Jenny McCarthy.

You may heard her suggestions and attempts link vaccinations to autism. Her belief and statements which would lend you believe that there is evidence linking vaccinations to autism. Never mind that the diagnosis rate for autism has increased despite the absence of "horrible ingredients" contained within them. She does not stop to ask questions publicly such as are we better at diagnosing autism or is there something else contributing to this situation? She found her demon. To make sensational claims without any particular facts or data to support such ideas is irresponsible and can cause real harm to society. Children have died in the US needlessly because of misplaced fear in parents to measles outbreaks. A virus which kills 1 child every 27 hours world wide. Should a child contract measles, the chance of death is 1 in 1000.

She found the cure though for her son. Eating right, nutritional supplements, and behavior therapy discovered or rather uncovered by doing her own research because she was all alone until someone finally found the issue. She does not leave any room or possibility for other causes. Her mind is set. She believes she can even diagnose autism. When asked about Jett Travolta, Jenny says:

“I have no idea if Jett had autism,” she clarified. “I didn’t see, you know, enough footage, or ever meet Jett to give a diagnosis of my own.”

That is a pretty strong statement. But Jenny does something quite amazing still. She manages to say something completely at odds with what she should believe. Either she did not do enough research or she is selective about results. Quite possibly, she would make a good doctor or behavior therapist, but she is not one. Based upon her own experiences, frustrations, and trials she found something that works her son. But what does her son require that any other child does not? I cannot help but think had not the nutritional and behavioral 'cures' been in place prior to a diagnosis, would there have been a need for one?

But let's consider that she is saying that mercury based thimerosal is the second deadliest nerve toxin known to mankind. Guess what the first one is? It is completely natural. It's Botulism.

Fans of irony listen up!

I think plastic surgery is fun if it makes you feel good. I'm all for looking better, so I plan on doing whatever I want when the time comes. I love Botox, I absolutely love it. I get it minimally, so I can still move my face. But I really do think it's a savior.

So folks, according to Jenny the non existence of the second most deadliest nerve toxin in vaccinations causes autism and use of the first most toxic substance is fun. How does one reconcile this? Is it possible? One would think celebrities would learn from each other, but somehow they become impervious. It would be one thing if she kept her beliefs to herself, but she does not. It just goes to my point that celebrity does not give you any special insight. In fact, it may do just the opposite and provide insulation from reality.


1) She looks good.
2) She is famous.
3) She must know what she is talking about.
4) She did the research.
5) Other research and data is invalid.
6) The experts were wrong until she found the one who agreed with her.

When people cling to a conspiracy theory, they have no choice but to interpret all data which is unsupportive of their theory as suspect. At the same time, any anecdotal evidence, such as swelling of brain from an allergic reaction is intentionally misinterpreted and used to mislead.

Unfortunately, it will require holding such celebrity responsible for the direction they provide as it is unreasonable to expect a sense of responsibility or contemplative thought to arise. The consequences of overcoming ignorance may be painful lesson for many and increase our health risks. Sadly, all based on personal belief being provided a platform without the requirements or challenges of scrutiny. Her tactics though, are quite intellectually dishonest. Maybe even criminal. After all, you cannot yell fire in a crowded movie theartre if this is not a fire.

Maybe we need to hold celebrity to little bit higher standard than we do if they cannot themselves, or at least hold them accountable.