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How To Not Be Fooled – Part #4 – GM, Organic, Natural Food and Alternative Medicine

12 August 2009 No Comment
How To Not Be Fooled – Part #4 – GM, Organic, Natural Food and Alternative Medicine

Probably the biggest advantage Foolery has is Stealth.  If you’re taking something on face-value without questioning it, just because it “sounds right” chances are you’re being fooled.  Unfortunately the best example of this is in relation to health-care.

The “Complimentary and Alternative Medicine” or CAM movement is big business. It seems the “in-thing” to shun western medicine as being primarily driven by “big pharma”. Big pharma is a conspiracy which holds that there are cures for things like Cancer or Neuro-degenerative diseases like Parkinsons which are being withheld by the evil pharmaceutical companies in order to turn a profit.

So what’s Alternative Medicine? Alternative Medicine is medicine which does not fall under the FDA regulations for drug testing. The legal definition of a drug is “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease”.  The FDA mandates that anything claiming to be a drug pass rigourous double-blind clinical trials and be proven to be effective, better than placebo whilst also causing no harm. As you can imagine it takes a LONG time and costs a LOT of money to go through this testing.

Enter CAM. CAM side-steps this troublesome process by simply putting statements on the bottle that say things like “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”. Genius.

Now you’ve got all the ingredients of a good bit of foolery:

  • a) The demand: People are sick, desperate and they need cures. Health-care is expensive.
  • b) The opportunity: Just put some fine-print on the bottle and you’re good to go.
  • c) The conspiracy: Propagate a rumour about the Evil Big Pharma.

A+B+C = The True Believer.  No one ever stops to ask if the stuff actually works and clinical trials seem like a silly nuisance.

You might be surprised to learn what kinds of things fall into the bucket of CAM, here’s a short list: accupuncture, anything chinese, anything holistic, Naturopathy,  Urine therapy, Magnetotherapy, Faith Healing, Fasting, Quigong, Calorie Restriction and on and on…

(ok, ok, I wasn’t surprised by “Urine Therapy”)

The Wiki4CAM states it with incredible irony/ignorance “Wiki4CAM has been started to provide the Complementary and Alternative Medicine community its own space, where it can build its knowledge base without any undue skeptical diversions. ”

Of course, no one needs skeptical diversions? Why bother ourselves “unduly” with the burden of efficacy? Unfortunately this does have a serious side and has often proven deadly.

  • In 2007 a PA boy dies from Chelation Therapy whilst being treated for Autism LINK]
  • 40 year old Jacqueline Henson and mother of 5 died after consuming too much water [LINK]
  • Just 9 days ago 11 year old Madeline Neumann died from diabetes. Her parents refused to get her medical attention and instead tried to “pray” her diabetes away [LINK]. Disgusting.

As one doctor said, “do you know what they call Alternatative Medicine that works? …”Medicine!”

I suppose the lure of these treatments is that they are “Natural” and how could anything natural be bad for you? Well quite easily for example Deadly Nightshade is natural or Arsenic is naturally occuring, both will kill you quite naturally.

This is all part and parcel of the move towards Organic food because non-organic food has chemicals and chemicals are bad. This is pure nonsense but let’s dig in. The basic premise in this case is flawed: Chemicals are not bad. Might I remind you that you’re breathing chemicals right now! Yes, Oxygen is a chemical, Nitrogen is a chemical, both essential to life which is based in our case on…Carbon! Oh no, another chemical!

Somehow there’s a feeling that food grown without chemicals (pesticide or fertiliser) is better than food grown with chemicals. Not true. In fact a study was just published which states

“Organically grown food is no more nutritious than conventionally grown food when it comes to the amount of certain important nutrients”. [LINK]

Organic food is smaller due to less fertiliser being used, there are more losses from pests, takes more land to cultivate (the yield per square foot is less), tastes the same and costs MORE.  Penn and Teller claimed recently that if all the world grew organic food, there’d only be enough to feed 4 billion people. 3 billion would have to go hungry. Nice.

Finally there’s Genetic Modification. Folks don’t like genetic modification because it sounds creepy. Genetic Modification is a process whereby the genetic material of foods is modified to enhance it in specific ways. Examples are strawberries that can survive frost, potatoes that absorb less fat when fried or apples that can fight blight.

The jury’s still out on this one but if you think about it humans have been genetically modifying food through selective breeding and agriculture for thousands of years.  For example, some evidence suggests the modern day “domesticated” carrot started out life a thousand years ago in Afghanistan as a small purple-yellow root.  Most flowers are products of genetic modification, same thing with domestic cats and dogs.

Is GM food safe? I don’t know but let’s base decisions off the evidence.

P.S. The image this time is of Donald Duck, a long time proponent of Quackery.

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