Sunday, April 24, 2011

Knowing when to listen

Anyone who have meet me can tell you that I'm not a quite person. I talk a lot, am opinionated, love to debate, and am probably slightly obnoxious in some peoples' opinion. People who know me better, can also tell you that I am generally a good conversationist, which is not the same.

Conversations are different from someone talking or from people debating. If someone just talks, the listeners are passive recipients. Debates on the other hand, are about convincing the other people involved about a given point. Conversations require something else - they require listening and thinking about what is being said, before responding. The listening and thinking part seems to be the hard part. Responding comes naturally.

So, what is the point of this post?

Well, the point is simply to point out that people in a position of privilege (e.g. me - a white, heterosexual man) need to learn to hold a conversation if they want to understand the challenges facing non-privileged people and/or to face their own privileges and the advantages they give.

When an organization, a group, or a conference wants to understand why there are so few participants from a given non-privileged group (women, ethnic minorities, LGBT people, physically challenged etc.), then they shouldn't have a debate within their own group, but instead try to seek out a conversation with people from said non-privileged group. During that conversation they should listen, and think, and ask for clarifications, and think some more. And then they should respond. Respond in a way that doesn't stop the conversation. Respond in a way that doesn't dismiss or diminish the challenges people from the non-privileged group face. Respond in a way which doesn't move the focus away from the subject. Respond in a way that demonstrates a genuine interest in understand, and in having a conversation.

If this is done, there can be a conversation. A conversation which will benefit all participants. A conversation which might lead to changes. A conversation which matters.

If you´re not interested in investing that effort into the conversation, then don't bother. Non-privileged people don't need to be told, again, by a privileged person that they are imagining things, too sensitive, or that they don't really have it as hard as the privileged person.


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Homeopaths are dangerous for your health

Let's be frank here - I have little love for pseudo-scientists and people promoting quackery of any type, but I reserve a special dislike for homeopaths.

Why you might ask?

Well, first of all, because of their ways of distorting scientific and medical research to support their ridiculous claims, even when their whole discipline flies against everything we know about science.

It's also because of their smugness, claiming that scientists (and science-literate people) are close-minded and unable to face the truth and/or in the pocket of "big pharma" (never mind the fact that homeopathy is a billion dollar business with practically no costs involved).

But mostly it's because of the danger they pose to the people they fool with their pseudo- and anti-scientific nonsense.

This danger comes not in the form of the so-called remedies they offer, but through convincing people that those remedies can cure things better than real medical remedies. Of course, homeopaths will claim that they are not saying that people shouldn't use those remedies, but that is bullshit. If you convince people that your remedy works better than normal remedies, without the side-effects that real medicine has, then obviously people will choose to use your remedies instead.

So, what set this rant off? Well, Edzard Ernst linked this page in a tweet. Warning: it takes you to natural news, which is a quack website of the worst order.

The title of the page is "Homeopathy may offer the best radiation treatment" - this is a dangerous claim, and hopefully no one who believes it will ever be in a position to make a decision based upon it.

As bad as the headline is, the content of the article might be even worse.

Homeopathy is a truly diverse and deeply effective natural health care system for every illness under the sun. Including radiation. How is this possible?

That's easy: it's not. One useful advice is that if someone make a claim that something can cure everything, don't believe them. It's simply not possible. Even anti-biotic, the life-safer with a wide range of uses, is useless against many things.

Homeopathic treatment doesn't treat the illness. It treats the person (or animal) with the illness. There is a subtle, but deeply important difference. And it means that the labeling of an illness is of little importance to homeopaths.

What exactly is the difference between treating an illness and a person? None of course. It's not like medicine makes the illness feel better, rather it either kills of the organisms responsible for the illness or it heps the body able to fight back.

So no, there is no difference, and to claim so, is bullshit.

But first it's important to realise that as we are all mortal, not every person can be curatively treated.

That's the only honest thing in the entire article.

Although much good can be done by experienced homeopathic home prescribing, protecting against radiation poisoning may not be one of them. This is much too serious.

"may not be one of them"? Radiation poisoning is the effect of exposure to ionizing radiation in too high doses - how the heck is sugar pills or water going to protect against that? The only protection is to avoid it (or to have some kind of barrier).

The best protection from this problem, which will probably be with us for many years,

Oh really - probably "for many years"? Yes, I'd think so - radiation exists in nature, and it's not like we humans haven't helped create more radioactive stuff.

is to ensure you improve on other areas of health care, such as

- a species specific, quality, natural diet
- a quality natural supplement, preferably a plant based superfood, which also has detoxing capabilities, such as blue-green algae, chlorella, spirulina
- exercise regularly
- if you are in the fast lane, slow down, perhaps learn to meditate
- make quality time for you (to smell the roses) or take up something you love to do, perhaps always wanted to do, but never had the time or money

Notice something about all these advices? None of them are any help in avoiding radiation poisoning. None. Some of them are quite sensible for avoiding stress and other lifestyle related disorders, but for radiation? You got to be kidding me.

With this healthy regime in place, the likelihood of suffering bad radiation poisoning will lessen, even in the worst affected areas.

No. You could probably argue that general health have an effect on how badly affected you will be, but in bad cases the poisoning will be fatal, no matter how healthy you are.

People who suffer from radiation sickness tend to have some symptoms which will be common to everyone (the early ones are nausea and vomiting, followed by headache and fever). Even these early signs are common to other illnesses, such as food poisoning and gastric flu.

These can then be followed by dizziness and weakness, symptoms that are still common to other less serious ailments. Finally you can experience blood in the vomit and stools, hair loss, chronic infections and poor healing capability.

All of these symptoms are only for milder radiation poisoning (with a fairly large survival chance). The more severe poisonings also includes things like purpura, cognitive impairment, and even ataxia.

These are all common radiation sickness symptoms that you can see in people who are receiving radiation treatment.

Except much worse of course, as people receiving chemotherapy are getting radiation under much more controlled circumstances, and in smaller doses than what trigger radiation poisoning.

The more uncommon symptoms, which will point to your most appropriate homeopathic medicine may include any of the following:

- an enormous fear of death which prevents you sleeping
- an aversion to being on your own
- a desire or aversion for a particular food or drink, including its temperature
- worsening of the complaints during a specific time of day or night
- an increased intolerance to variations in environmental temperature
- if the complaints are more one sided
- the nature of your nausea (constant or intermittent)
- the nature of your vomit (saliva, undigested food, frothy, black, bloody, etc)
- how you feel after vomiting (better, no improvement)
- along with many others.

None of these symptoms have anything to do with radiation poisoning. None.

I think I have found the source of the confusion - the author of the article is confusing radiation poisoning with anxiety. Since anxiety can often be helped with placebo treatments, homeopathy could probably help there. Radiation poisoning on the other hand, can't be treated by placebo.

Because of the complex nature of health and the seriousness of radiation sickness, the best treatment may come from an experienced and knowledgeable homeopath. S/he will base your treatment on a variety of your personal symptoms and traits. It is targeted for you specifically. Ten different people who suffer from radiation sickness are each likely to receive a different medicine.

Let me make this very clear: radiation poisoning is extremely rare, and usually only occur under circumstances where the risk is well known. If you somehow happen to be unlucky enough to somehow be at risk of radiation poisoning seek medical help immediately. Don't go to a homeopathy quack who offers platitudes about targeting you specifically - if you really are poisoned you a) won't be helped by placebo, b) won't have much time to get proper help. Yes, you can survive milder forms of radiative poisoning without medical intervention, but your survival chance will rise drastically if you get proper treatment.

Whether your radiation sickness comes from the environment or from a medical treatment, you can lessen it or perhaps cure it completely, with good homeopathic treatment.

No, you can't. You really can't. Claiming otherwise is lying, and it is dangerous to the health of others.

Labels: , , , ,