Andreas Moritz can’t fool them all

Over at FTSOS’ sister blog Without Apology, Paula B. has posted an excellent response to Andreas Moritz’s bullshit and lies.

I was first intrigued by Moritz’s AMAZING LIVER CLEANSE book until I started looking at some of the incredibly broad claims he made, one of which really caught my attention. He claims that “Over 2/3 of the world’s population is vegan and has no access to animal protein. It [presumably this 'vegan population'] shows no signs of such degenerative illnesses as heat disease, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, etc.” p77

It caught my attention because my well-meaning but occasionally gullible fiance decided that this book was law and that he meant to change his lifestyle accordingly, and become vegan, because he felt so great while on the “cleanse.” Well, I didn’t feel great, myself, because I was lethargic and was craving protein and fat and felt like sleeping for a week–so this broad claim that 2/3 of the world’s population (roughly 4.5 billion, based on the 6,827,100,000 estimate of total world population of the US Census, June 4, 2010) is vegan hit me like a ton of bricks–SURELY I would have heard that before, having so many vegan friends, if that were the case. Thinking about the world’s cuisine, most countries have meat recipes–how could this possibly be true? Well, researching online gave me the impression that the world population of vegetarians (not even vegan) was closer to 2.5-5%, NOT 67%, so I started questioning what other “facts” were in this book that just a month before, we were so in awe of, since it sounded so scientific (we’re both kind of gullible when it comes to pseudoscience). I found lots of other “liver flush” recipes, and people raving about them, but also found they were saying the stones “melted” and were “squishy” which seemed to contradict what Wikipedia said about gallstones, and might instead be saponified olive oil from the cleanse when exposed to the bile salts. So I got very suspicious, and was wary, because, as I said, I was doing this “cleanse” too, and suddenly it didn’t seem like such a great idea. But (maybe to say “I told you so! to my fiance) I did anyway, though I did NOT take the last dose of epsom salts, because I was tired of being hungry and going to the toilet every 5 minutes–enough is enough! I know that people claim to gain wonderful benefit from it, and supposedly Moritz himself does it twice a year even though no “stones” come out. Me and my fiance didnt’ notice a lot of “stones” (pseudoliths?), either, though, but that might have more to do with how our bodies deal with 120ml of olive oil. We’ve both decided, however, that we can do without it for the future, and I’m so looking forward to eating ice cream again, despite Mr. Moritz’s dietary guidelines.

Furthermore, I wanted to add that the danger of unsubstantiated disinformation–if such there is–is that people often read things without considering their source, then remember the (dis)information, not remembering where they heard/read about it, making it harder to trace where certain ideas came from, and therefore examine them. I guess this is a lot of what “conditioning” is about, come to think about it. But just reading that one sentence (sited in my previous post) caused me to doubt this whole book that I’d mostly read, and had already internalized, to some extent, which astonishes me–who would have thought that “open-minded” somehow became “gullible,” but I think the connection certainly exists. Therefore, a lot of disinformation can be spread to people without a “bullshit meter,” making us vulnerable unless we doubt everything. It broke my trust in the author, that’s for sure.

Crazy how all those facts get in the way of Moritz and his shenanigans.

Oscar the bionic cat

As much as I rag on my local paper, I was really happy they reprinted this story about Oscar the bionic cat.

A cat that had its back feet severed by a combine harvester has been given two prosthetic limbs in a pioneering operation by a UK vet.

The new feet are custom-made implants that “peg” the ankle to the foot. They are bioengineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin.

The rest of the story is worth reading, but this is what everyone really wants to see.

More creationist canards

In my post on the continued dishonesty of the LePage campaign I skipped over a few creationist canards from LePage’s creationist supporters. (As he is an ardent creationist, believing it is okay to tell children that dinosaurs and people walked the Earth together, he has many creationist supporters.) Here’s one of the most common from Christopher Bowker. (Scroll down to the question from Matt Ellis – I cannot link directly to the wall post in question.)

I have a BA in Zoology from the Univeristy of Maine. I am also an evangelical christian, believe me when I say you can believe God created the world, and species can evolve from other species, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. I say be tolerant of each other, this scientific theory take a bit of assumption or faith, as much as believing the biblical account. Learn as much as you can and make your own judgement. People who believe in the Genesis account aren’t forcing their beliefs on anyone. Keep an open mind!

He starts out okay – people can believe God created the world while also accepting the fact of evolution. Unfortunately, he quickly takes a wrong turn. The two are mutually exclusive as a matter of philosophical compatibility. One is an ancient sheepherder’s myth while the other is established science. Bowker may as well say it isn’t mutually exclusive to believe in gravity while also believing the Earth rests on the backs of turtles.

What is actually true is that plenty of people can believe two distinct, conflicting ideas. Everyone does it. In fact, as with Bowker, Christians who accept any science whatsoever are constantly doing it. But that isn’t an important point in the whole compatibility debate insofar as the question of whether these things are true or not is concerned. I know, I know. Then why do Christians constantly point out all the scientific authorities who manage to hold biblical and scientific beliefs? It’s because they’re bad at argumentation. No, really. It’s that simple.

Yes, people can hold two beliefs. No, this does not mean they are not in conflict. Internal harmonization of the world does not equate to external harmonization.

The dishonesty of the LePage campaign

Paul LePage has been running a pretty shoddy campaign so far. Take his Facebook fan page, for instance. It has this disclaimer.

Paul LePage, Maine’s Next Governor is a fan page.

It was created by volunteer supporters of Paul LePage’s candidacy for Governor of Maine. For that reason, we cannot get into answering policy questions that get posted here.

Therefore, our rule on this page is to NOT respond to policy questions, but rather refer people to Paul LePage’s contact form on his official campaign website.

We do encourage discussion and debate by other fans, but ask that you refrain from vulgarity or other language that could be deemed offensive or demeaning to others. The page admins reserve the right to delete such posts, or posts that are unrelated to the content of this page (SPAM).

Thank you for your understanding on this issue.

Fans of Paul LePage, Maine’s Next Governor

As I’ve documented already, I’ve asked on creationist Paul LePage’s page why he wants to teach creationism in public schools. I originally blame him or his people for deleting my question and preventing me from posting any further. But according to this, these are just some random schmucks running a fan page, right? Oh, hang on.

Want to be a part of the success? Come join our team and help spread the message!

Simply drop us a line at any of the methods below:

* Paul’s campaign Twitter Page.
* Paul’s campaign Facebook Page.
* Call us at (207) 877-7616
* Email paul@lepage2010.com
* US Mail:
Committee To Elect Paul Lepage, Governor
c/o Rick Swanson Treasurer
P.O. Box 1788
Waterville, ME 04903

Guess where that link to “Paul’s campaign Facebook Page” links. Can you guess? That’s right – directly to the page that claims to have no affiliation with the actual campaign. (Here’s a screen shot in case they edit and deny all this.)

This is all just a big excuse to not be held responsible for anything. The LePage campaign wants to run an unofficial fan page so he doesn’t have to actually answer anything. Fortunately, my calls for people to continue asking LePage why he supports creationism has spilled over to Eliot Culter’s page.

Regina Karapetyan: So Mr. Cutler, I was going to vote for Paul LePage… But, I asked a simple question on his facebook page about his beliefs on whether creationism should be taught in public schools… well my post was deleted and I was removed from the fan page. I don’t believe that my question was rude or disrespectful in any way, I simply would have liked to know his view on the subject if the man is to be voted into office. I think the question should have been answered and left on the page but instead was deleted. So Eliot Cutler, what is your view of creationism being taught in public schools?

Regina happened to miss my question to Cutler earlier where he responded that he does not support teaching garbage to children. But something did come from this because an administrator from LePage’s officially unofficial fan page was lurking.

Aaron Prill: Regina that is not true. I am co-admin of Paul LePage’s facebook page and we don’t delete questions, and we definitely don’t remove people from the pag (it’s not even possible on pages). Paul LePage’s vision is a fiscal one for Maine to save our state from generational debt. He will bring fiscal responsibility and welfare reform to a state that needs both. Social issues like the one you mention are not even on the radar.

Lies, lies, and lies. After receiving a thorough shellacking, Aaron Prill eventually apologized.

Regina- let me first apologize for saying you weren’t being truthful. You are right on the ability to Remove people. I didn’t notice the “X” next to people’s names that does allow them to be removed. I am in fact the creator of that page. I said co-admin just so it was clear I wasn’t the only admin. I am following up with the other co-admins now to find out what happened in your case.

Our rule on that page is to NOT respond to policy questions, but rather refer people to Paul LePage’s contact page on his website. This is because that page is a fan supported page created by a supporter (me) back in February, it is not run directly by the campaign… nor is it a place to discuss policy questions.

So, in short, what the admin should have done is explain the above policy to you and refer you to the campaign website. If we got into debates on every issue, then that wouldn’t be a “fan” page now would it? Other fans are allowed to respond to people when they ask questions like yours, but the admins typically don’t.

Again- I’m sorry you (or anyone) was removed, and you are welcome back anytime…

I’ve since sent a private message to Aaron telling him that I was also banned from the page. I really hope he does fix the LePage campaign’s unofficial officially unofficial official error because someone has been answering policy questions over there ever since one of my reader’s asked why LePage supports teaching creationism.

He just thinks knowledge is a good thing, the more knowledge you have, the better off you are. And he has alread said that school curriculum should be decided on the local level, local school boards should be deciding what they want taught in their schools.

Why, Michael, you say, that is but one random fan! Yes, yes, it is. Well, sort of. It’s hard to say she’s random when her name is Lauren LePage. I’ve been unable to confirm any details, but it appears this is Paul LePage’s daughter. And lo, she is answering policy questions without being deleted. Hell, my question was deleted within 4 hours. And that wasn’t even a violation of the officially unofficial official unofficially official fan page policy.

Oh. And Eliot Cutler responds on his fan page routinely. It isn’t a violation to state a candidate’s policy positions – especially when that candidate lists the fan page as his own.

Thanks to Dave for much of the information here.

Alone on the Appalachian Trail

PZ has his Sunday Sacrilege post up today. It’s all about this idea of God as a father figure that brings us closer to the Universe, that makes us feel important.

Beyond just the family and tribe, though, this vision has been extended to the entire universe. There is a great Patriarch in the Sky, who is our leader and guide, responsible for making the grand strategic decisions about where our tribe will go, and is also watchfully making sure the unity of the tribe is not disrupted by wayward ideas from nonconformists. He has a central concern that we all share, that our people should thrive, and even if he is stern at times, it is because he cares so much that we succeed. And of course, he knows each one of us personally, just as the leader of tribe or clan in our pastoral days would have, and he can give us an approving stroke or a damning angry smiting, depending on whether we help or hinder the work of getting the flocks to the summer pasturage.

But scientists and atheists (I would be more specific and say anti-theists) shatter that faux relationship.

It (said shattering) makes that whole business of breaking the news about Santa Claus look like small potatoes. Reality is harsh, man.

But it is reality. We’ve done the paternity tests, we’ve traced back the genealogy, we’re doing all kinds of in-depth testing of the human species. We are apes and the descendants of apes, who were the descendants of rat-like primates, who were children of reptiles, who were the spawn of amphibians, who were the terrestrial progeny of fish, who came from worms, who were assembled from single-celled microorganisms, who were the products of chemistry. Your daddy was a film of chemical slime on a Hadean rock, and he didn’t care about you — he was only obeying the laws of thermodynamics.

This is true and only certain stances will deny it: the anti-science stance, the ignorance stance, the religion stance. And those often all go come as a single package deal.

But there’s good news – and it’s from someone that actually exists.

But here’s the wonderful revelation. If you’re a well-adjusted person, once you’ve discarded the unhealthy fictitious relationship with a phantasm, you can look around and notice all those other people who are likewise alone, and you’ll realize that we’re all alone together. And that means you aren’t alone at all — you’re among friends. That’s the next step in human progress, is getting away from the notion of minions living under a trail boss, and onwards to working as a cooperative community, with no gods and no masters, only autonomous agents free to think and act.

PZ wasn’t making any reference to hiking trails, much less the Appalachian Trail (AT), but just the word “trail” in the context of being alone triggered a whole slew of thoughts for me.

I was fortunate enough to hike the 100 Mile Wilderness last summer and I quickly came to discover an entirely new culture out on the trail. My poor knees only suffered for 8-9 days (while being partially supported by an infected ankle wound), but it was the toughest physical thing I’ve ever done in my life. Let me start with a description of the trail.

The 100 Mile Wilderness is considered the toughest part of the entire 2,174 mile AT. It runs from Abol Bridge just outside Baxter State Park (where the Northern Terminus of the trail is located on Katahdin) to the hiking town of Monson, all within Maine. It’s recommended that hikers bring 10 days worth of food as well as the rest of their supplies. This makes for a pretty heavy load, even for thru-hikers (those doing the whole trail from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin, or vice versa). My own pack came in around 45lbs.

I started and finished with two friends. I’m not sure if I could have done it alone. We started at Abol (where some kind gentleman smashed my window and stole my CD’s – because CD’s were worth so much in 2009) and ended at Monson. The rationale for going north-to-south was that the northern end is less mountainous than the southern end and it would an easier start since our packs would be heaviest in the beginning. It didn’t really matter. It was still horribly difficult, horribly painful.

While I was with friends, I only recall my own world on a lot the trail. There’s a lot of silent suffering. And that’s part of the pull of the AT, I think, part of its charm. But at the end of the day, no one is really alone. Hikers will gather at campsites, most of them with lean-to’s. And that’s where the culture of the hiker is solidified.

Everyone out on the trail understands through what everyone else is going. Everyone knows that particularly sharp joint pain. Everyone knows how distant a shower feels, how far away the idea of clean clothes really is. It’s its own culture.

I specifically recall one arduous, torturous day. It was already raining before we even woke up. We had forded rivers with our regular hiking boots on because it would be too painful to try and take them off to put on sandals. And really, we didn’t think we could get any more wet. We were wrong, but it was too late when we found that out. But we trudged on, probably near 15 miles. There was a lot of yelling and screaming, too. It wasn’t ever directed at each other – you need each other – but it was there. It was boiled pain and frustration come to the surface. But it had to end. We saw the sign – “150 feet to lean-to”. Such relief. Until, after spending all my time since walking in that river trying to keep my feet dry, I managed to slip into the swampy, flooded waters at the bottom of a hill. It just sort of just right, though. Now I was angry, frustrated, and in a way, alone.

My world was one of huge discomfort at that moment and it wasn’t anyone else’s. That is, until we climbed that final 150 feet. The lean-to was nearly filled. Five hikers had seemingly used every hanging nail available (so mice don’t get into everything). All their gear was spread out, just as they were, already in bed long before the sun had set. They didn’t look like they wanted to move. Sure, we had our tents, but no one wants to set those up at the end of a day like this, and in the rain. And then that one special thought, maybe the most important one on the trail, crossed all of their minds: There’s always room for one more.

It was only a six person lean-to, but we managed to squeeze in six men. And that’s the culture of the AT in a nutshell. Those 5 hikers saw the look on our faces when we came upon a filled lean-to at the end of the day. They knew our pain. They weren’t about to cast us aside. We weren’t alone.

I think a good life experience for everyone capable is to hike either the AT or some other significant trail system. It’s entirely different from the coldness one might find in Time’s Square, or even Portland, Maine. Of course, it isn’t free from that coldness – families will do simple overnight hikes, taking entire lean-to’s from the thru-hikers, offering them no relief in their 5-7 month journey. (I don’t know how the thru-hikers do it.) But for among those who are on the trail for any length of time, there’s a joining warmth.

The Appalachian Trail is an isolating beast, but those who discover it are ever alone.

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