Ricocheting Between Hysteria and Delusion

January 2, 2013

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

Welcome to 2013! Let's all try not to screw it up. 

Slate comes down hard on Dr. Oz for peddling medical malarkey to a credulous public:

We can . . . arm ourselves with the knowledge that not all evidence is created equally, and celebrities—even famous doctors—are not credible sources of health information.

Best-selling sci-fi author Scott Sigler talks to Indre Viskontas on the latest Point of Inquiry, the best podcast in the history of the universe. 

Farai Chideya, at the Melissa Harris-Perry show's blog, highlights the Council for Secular Humanism among her sources for positive, ethical thinking in a pluralistic society. 

Ben Radford cautions folks to not get so angry about the BMI:

The BMI is not a “standard [of] health” (for men or women); it is a measure of adiposity (fatness). Though there is a strong positive correlation between excess weight and poor health, it is quite possible to be overweight (or even obese) and healthy. 

Heina at Skepchick disagrees with Ben:

To deny that BMI is used in the way that it actually is in society is to ignore reality in favor of a hypothetical universe where nothing signifies anything other than what is in its stated definition. There is such a thing as connotation above and beyond denotation. 

SciAm: There is probably no such thing as a "photographic memory." 

Rob Boston rounds up what he sees as the top church-state stories of 2012.  

John Shook spells out the affirmations of humanism to lay a foundation for 2013. 

The Greeks have had it with hucksters selling "nanobionic clothing." Simon Davis has the story at Skeptical Inquirer

Harriet Hall has a eureka moment on the subject of informed consent in medicine:

Patient autonomy is good, but shared decision-making is better. The goal of truly informed consent with no hint of bias or coercion is a worthy one, but it’s not enough. The doctor and patient should cooperate in a joint decision-making process that incorporates the doctor’s medical knowledge and the patient’s values and preferences.
New bill in South Dakota would broaden the opportunities for parents to opt their kids out of vaccines

Greta asks for help keeping her list of atheists of color up to date. 

Bridget R. Gaudette guest-posts at Friendly Atheist to profile my counterpart at SCA, Lauren Anderson Youngblood, in a new series of black atheists. 

Italian news agency ANSAmed talks to persecuted Egyptian atheist Alber Saber, convicted last month of blasphemy. 

Atheists will march with the Knights of Columbus and the Knights Templar in Fredricksburg to mark the drafting of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.  

Ed Brayton shakes his head at Uganda's president's "assurances" that the Kill-the-Gays bill will not kill gays, but is really about stopping the "promotion" of homosexuality:

So it’s perfectly okay to advocate murdering gay people, but it should be criminal to stand up for their right to exist. Welcome to barbarism. 

Foundation Beyond Belief releases its newest slate of charities

Quote of the Day

Yes, there are right-wing conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton faking her injury and medical condition. Kathleen Parker gets the QOTD:

The rush to character assassination seems to be our only bipartisan imperative and is a blight on our political system. In this brooding age of superstition and portent, every misspoken word is a lie, every human error a hanging offense. This is to suggest not that we be naive or credulous but that we seek some balance in our approach to discovery. At the moment, we seem to be ricocheting between hysteria and delusion.  

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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#1 leftover on Wednesday January 02, 2013 at 10:37am

Re: Harriet Hall’s eureka moment…

I haven’t read Ubel’s book. And I’m not that familiar with Harriet Hall. But reading reviews and Hall’s take on it, I can’t help but notice the word “cost” is never mentioned.

What Hall, and possibly Ubel, conveniently forget is that there is no such thing in American healthcare of “truly informed consent with no hint of bias or coercion.” The first consideration of most Americans, patients as well as doctors, regarding healthcare is MONEY. Coverage. Cost. Affordability. These factors create bias and coercion that effect every healthcare decision made by the vast majority of Americans.

Until we adopt a healthcare system that does not ration care based on economic class, like Single Payer…H.R. 676…most Americans can only dream of being wealthy enough to qualify for the privilege of “truly informed consent” in regards to their healthcare choices.

Everybody in…nobody out.

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