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Direct download: Immunisation_when_science_isnt_enough.mp3
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Wed, 7 September 2011
Debunking the scam of homeopathic immunisation.
Direct download: Homeopathic_immunisation_and_homeopathy_debunked.flv
Category:General -- posted at: 7:23am EST
Sat, 30 May 2009
The "pharmacy diet" scam is simply out of control here in Australia. However, I first wish to remind readers of the basic reason those we pay for sound advice also leap to deceive us via such tacky plays on fear, guilt, anxiety. Greed. Money. Profit. If you happen to reside in the fine Southern continent of Australia you can witness a strange manifestation of consumer exploitation in every neighbourhood pharmacy.
This open letter to The Pharmacists of Australia from Australian Skeptics helps clarify what is simple, unadulterated consumer exploitation. At best it is [or rather was, given Aussie pharmacists well proven double standards] an unexpected qualification of legitimacy by mere association with medical science that in part motivated the drafting of such a letter.
Items advocating clearly dangerous and/or useless, 'new age', natural [so are lightening strikes], homeopathic, aromatherapeutic, magnetic stimulation, crystal energetic, pyramid power, detoxification remedies, ear candles, similar products or even practices claiming to enhance/maintain/repair/develop or augment in some way or another such vaguely described, yet "essential" bodily, mental or spiritual functions abound within Australian pharmacies. And they abound right next to recognised and proven treatments.
Indeed the placing of demonstrably non efficacious preparations, alongside products with genuine, documented validity deserves scorn in and of itself. The intuitive feeling of trust that accompanies the consumer associating product X with the decades of reliability of product Y in its familiar and comfortable packaging, is a powerful motivator. Minimal thinking and maximal "satisfaction". You may well have doubted the flushing of "negative energies" through unwilling sphincters as "essential care for the holistic You!" - if not actually impossible - until you saw the Betadine antiseptic ointment nearby.
Legitimacy by association? Isn't that a bit ambitious? Perhaps. Yet we know that human beings seeking advice or treatment trust - and decide to act upon - advice given by a person wearing a white coat. Correct for other variables and results frequently follow that white coat. We learn to expect valuable advice and respond accordingly.
At worst it is a coldly calculated grab for consumer dollars involving products the pharmacist him/herself mocks and derides because of the junk science involved. I have a friend who manages a pharmacy with the slogan: "Passion, People, Price" - or words to that effect. "I'm a skeptic too", he announced as I outlined the scam surrounding the Anti-snor "acupressure" ring. But, he went on snorting derisively, that it's not up to him to advise on "sympathy spending" [I think he meant 'retail therapy'] managing to admit in one breath that his "natural" products were junk but he was still kindly helping customers by allowing the subconscious human need to waste money.
He has a valid point: we can spend our money where we wish. Besides, franchise product choice is not his decision, nor is dissuading customers from spending likely to be a positive career move. Indeed the decision to limit or remove alternative junk from pharmacies won't come from ranks of staff. It will likely arise at a senior level when industry image matters more than profit. Then a "phasing out" period will follow accompanied by consumer information designed to paint the all-knowing pharmacist as a health professional without peer. Why? At some point the ipso facto professional image of the community pharmacy will begin to erode. Poor competition ensures we remain ignorant of varied approaches, and Pharmacy Guild tactics are ruthless if not brutal when it comes to holding onto their monopoly.
Remember the feverish drive by the Pharmacy Guild against supermarkets stocking pharmaceuticals? Seven out of ten items sold in supermarkets are cigarettes, lied one poster in my local pharmacy. Would you trust your health advice to sellers of dangerous products? Therein lies the irony. The angle chosen by pharmacists was concern for your health. We now know without a percentile point of doubt this too was a scam. Supermarkets are examined for price, cleanliness, product quality, claims on packaging, petrol docket value, plastic bag use and so on. Frequently these topics dominate TV, radio and print media. Pharmacists suffer no such intrusion and this is to our disadvantage.
Still, I value my pharmacist interlocutors advice, enjoy his critical wit and might label his greatest crime as not suffering fools gladly. Dastardly deeds for their own sake is not what I'm arguing. Intentionally harming, placing others at risk or promoting junk science as an end in itself is not the aim of pharmacists. Indeed it is the association between clinical skill and unproven remedies that concerns those of us who advocate understanding evidence over accepting claims. Recently, our morning chat was interrupted. He rolled his eyes dramatically because a scooter driving elderly lady required a bottle of cough syrup located near the dispensary. As said friend had decided Swine Flu was "a media rort" at best, Mrs. Scooter was lucky to be served at all. But I had to grin inwardly. The poor lady couldn't move without mowing down ranks of tacky, flimsy shelving. And what was on this shelving? Jelly beans, novelty desk clocks, gym socks, ear candles, antisnor rings, vitamins, vitamins, vitamins and ample detox kits. Bizarre. To think our pharmacies - aside from our hotels - are the final bastions of legal pre-toxing and now stand under assault from "healthy" scams that could harm you as easily as the Class A drugs kept in the dispensary safe.
In this episode Firesnake examines what appear to be quite useless diet plans, on offer at major pharmacy chains. Of particular note is the pushing of poorly monitored and expensive dietary supplements onto children, the lack of training or skill required by staff and incredibly, the arrogant response by Tony Ferguson - a rogue Pharmacist only too well known for his "independent" money making scams over the years. Tony runs "Weightloss and Wellness Centres". He also pushes his programmes from Terry White Chemists.
Tony Ferguson seized the opportunity. Guessing that media outlets are as fed up - no pun intended - as the rest of us with self styled gurus, Ferguson used his own web site to "reply" then within weeks launched a new TV advertising campaign bursting with positive "testimonials".
600,000 People Can't be Wrong but Choice Magazine can't get it right with weight loss investigation!
"One of Australia's leading consumer comparison magazines, Choice Magazine, has got it wrong! "says weight loss authority and pharmacist Tony Ferguson.
Renowned for helping Australians make accurate and informed decisions, Choice have unfortunately made a mistake with their review of the weight loss industry including Australia's pharmacy supported weight loss leader , the Tony Ferguson Weightloss Program. In addition the magazine did not review the entire program , only half of it despite being invited to do so.
Ferguson explains that: "They also ignored the psychological aspects of weight loss in their review. The leading authorities in treating obesity around the world acknowledge that being overweight is much more than a product of eating too much and exercising too little. That is an outdated method of losing weight which has failed Australians for almost two generations now."
Ferguson is using old evasion tricks here. Firstly, he introduces variables that have nothing to do with the aims of diet programs, thus pleads unfair. Next he uses some Peacock terminology - "The leading authorities in treating obesity around the world...", basically sound like they agree with Tony although it's irrelevant and conveniently unreferenced.
You may read Tonys full reply here. Keep in mind the panel of experts assembled by Choice described Fergusons latest scam and Ultra Lite as "disgraceful and irresponsible". Given these physiologically brutal approaches aim to maximise ketosis [see below] and no warning is forthcoming one must agree.
Choice also looked at Meal replacements, standard of replacement, consultant training and ongoing training, claims surrounding weight loss and client suitability - eg; one does not have to be overweight or an adult in programmes other than Dr. Tims Success. This certainly raises serious questions over body image and possible self abuse with such low levels of supervision. Considering the pressure on teens and even children today to conform to the perfect body type, Fergusons plea of "psychological aspects" sounds like a cruel game of mockery. To think a perfectly healthy teen can be supplementing healthy eating with "replacement shakes" on advice from a barely trained part-time consultant is at best careless opportunism on the part of these programmes.
The Choice report looks closely at nutritional value, the upsell of diet pills, flaxseed oil, fiber supplements, vitamins, minerals an so on. In the case of Betty Baxter fiber was so low, constipation is likely. Xndo slap you in the face with $1.60 per drink [called a serve] which is much the same as buying any other commercial drink.
There is ample advice within the Choice report. The decision to appoint independent nutritionists is welcomed and it appears pharmacy diets fail us in almost every manner possible. In fact the highly predictable findings of cheap and tacky equipment and dusty storage areas or corners labelled "consultancy areas", fits nicely with the dollar focus of Australian Pharmacists in general.
Choice also explain the concept of ketosis, which is the default side effect of starving yourself of proper nutrients. We award Tony Ferguson a CPDCT - Clear and Present Danger to Critical Thought score of 7.0 out of 10. Well done Tony.
Some organs of your body, such as the brain and red blood cells, need glucose for energy, and if you don’t eat enough carbohydrates to supply them, your body will break down protein – from your muscles if you’re not eating enough protein – as an energy source for these organs.
What are the benefits? Quick initial weight loss (mainly due to fluid loss) may increase your motivation. Some people claim the fluid loss also reduces feelings of bloating. Ketosis can also help make you feel less hungry.
And the downsides? Some undesirable side-effects are mild dehydration, poor athletic performance, nausea, bad breath, risk of blood pressure problems, an increased risk of osteoporosis and muscle and blood vessel damage. It may also make concentrating on mental tasks more difficult.
These programs are of obvious financial benefit to the pharmacies, and a constant stream of short-term clients will shift a lot of product off the shelves. Will you lose weight? If you follow them closely, yes. Will the pharmacy setting provide you with your own highly skilled weight-loss advisor? Our experts think not.
Considering the inadequate training of consultants, little ability to tailor programs and deal with individual circumstances and habits, as well as the lack of close, qualified supervision, CHOICE does not recommend these programs. The current regulations and voluntary codes of practice covering weight-loss programs are insufficient. CHOICE wants to see a national accreditation system, including minimum standards for training, covering all programs, consultants and leaders who counsel people on losing weight.
It's with genuine effort I find myself holding back from simply abusing the window dressing that is the "pharmacy industry" here in Australia. The truth is, it would do little good and one cannot excuse legislators or ignore the hopeless policies bound in red tape. Presently, Pharmacy Guild members worship at the alter of the dollar and whilst able to promote sound health and science, have clearly chosen to promote a culture of "lock-n-load" profiteering that suits existing Guild restrictions on proprietorship numbers.
There's a huge, growing, aging, drug dependent market out there. Australias pharmacists long ago decided to limit premises to the precious few who play by the rules and rule by the pay. Woo-woo, junk science and reckless dieting by dollar may well be here to stay.
So, how can we limit or prevent junk science and 'new age' rubbish from basking in the integrity of white coated pharmacists? Get medications into supermarkets as fast as is sensibly possible. Faced with competition pharmacists will have fewer choices than placing marketing above medication efficacy hence consumer health.
All relevant articles are here.
Mon, 26 May 2008
Religion and money go hand in hand. Far from "spartan" conditions, or "vows of poverty" being implemented, we see palatial splendor. Firesnake looks at just why Australia seems to have an out of control monster, promising falsehoods and threatening eternal torment, funded by unwilling Australians. Indeed, we need only touch on a few - so called - "Christian" cons which are the tip of the iceberg.
In God's Business - BRW June 29-July 5, 2006 - Adele Ferguson spells out the extent of religious tax exemptions. In doing so, she also exposes how opaque this self-righteous business really is. The pointy bit is this. Religious groups receive exemptions on income tax, GST, FBT, payroll tax [non-commercial], stamp duty [all property transfers], rates and land tax. Nor do religious groups pay capital gains tax from asset sales, tax on commercial businesses or observe any Banking Act rules where they would apply. As Ferguson puts it, "better still" once exemptions are granted specific to financial services. "There is no sunset clause or review by APRA of it's operations".
Excluding donations, congregation and collection income, credit card machines or income from over 200 charities and additional business, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, Uniting, Salvation Army, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist and the Pentecostal churches produced a miraculous revenue of $23.3 billion in 2005. The Catholic Church reaped a whopping 40.3%. Pentecostalism is growing faster than any religion in Australia, generating $263 million in 2004.
Pentecostalism claims around faith healing and supernaturalism are of significant concern. It represents the pinnacle of con artistry, non critical thought and unguarded conformity. It's cost to the community is beyond significant. Hillsong are the largest earner in this fastest growing religion. Hillsong Emerge is the benevolent "arm" of Hillsong Church, once illegally using funds intended for Indigenous communities, for it's own benefit.
Remember the disturbing link between Hillsong, Mercy Ministries, Gloria Jeans coffee shops, and medieval superstition? Sheer theft of money from vulnerable and disturbed Aussie girls who were then subject to exorcisms, bible classes and glossolalian ranting to cast out the demons that made them "evil" initially. The Age reported on this appalling abuse at the time.
However, we don't need to be demon exorcising, bible quoting devotees to coerce ill people for no reason other than vague superstition. As Ferguson noted, "Hospitals run by the Catholic Church, for example, will not conduct vasectomies, tubal ligation or abortions, although they are routine in other public hospitals". Max Wallace from ANU says: “People in many parts of Australia are discriminated against by not having an alternative hospital provider.” [Page. 44] Sisters of Charity simply refuse to reveal revenue. And on the pattern goes.
Of interest is that an April 23rd shin dig put on as a "gee thanks" by Cardinal Pell for former PM John Howard, included CEO of World Youth Day, Roy Wakelin-King on the 'confidential' guest list. Held at Pell's Pad - Cathedral House - in St Mary's Cathedral precinct in College Street, it was rumoured Kevin Rudd would drop in "for a chat". Pell who lunges forward with "Be Not Afraid" as his motto is the man who smoothed things over for a resolution to this silly business of the Roman Catholic Church paying for self indulgence.
To satisfy the Jockeys Club for any manner of potential deficits from Pious partying at Randwick, Pell scooped $42 million from Howard. For the gig itself our Chief Magician appointee from Castle Vaticanus scored another $35 million. Remember this is his buddy who handed him $4 million for a Sydney campus at Notre Dame Uni. On the eve of the 2004 election. Leaked to Sunday papers, read just before the pews fill.
The really strange thing is even when we know the ultimate terminus of where this train takes us, we fail to do the responsible thing. Category 12 funding is available via the Education Department Funding Scheme for "the poorest schools in the lowest-income communities in the country", according to one of the scheme's architect's Jim McMorrow. "They were meant to be very, very poor, with very, very low income, and largish average class sizes," he said, according to Fairfax papers.
Despite the sect itself boasting of being "in the upper levels of the socio-economic group", The Exclusive Brethren's already notably wealthy schools continue to receive the "special" funding. A Brethren spokeswoman claims the payments were initiated under the Keating government.
Of significant concern is the decision by the Rudd government to hand over $50 million in coming years. This is despite the schools failing to meet criteria noted above. Below are schools funded via Category 12 Special needs over 2001 - 04.
The Age continued;
Education Department documents also reveal that the Exclusive Brethren regarded former prime minister John Howard as their most influential supporter and ally of last resort. In 2000, the sect's elders asked Mr Howard for special assistance on school funding because of his "sympathetic support in the past and the contact with you over the years".
Federal school funding documents show that the Brethren's multi-campus NSW school, Meadowbank, and the South Australian school, Melrose Park, were funded at the same rate as "special schools", giving them the same per-student funding as Nyangatjatjara College, in the Northern Territory, the Giant Steps school for autistic students and schools for the hearing-impaired.
The Brethren's MET school in Meadowbank does not meet the criteria for category 12 funding: it is in suburban Sydney, has small class sizes, and is financially supported by a community that boasts it has no poverty. The sect's Victorian school, Glenvale, which has campuses at Glenroy, Lilydale and Melton, receives a lower rate of funding. [Source]
Other more benign disparities include the YMCA securing Recreation Centre contracts, not due to service quality, but due to tax breaks. With the above financial favour, the YMCA simply undercut non religious commercial entities, involved in the bidding for tendered contracts.
In true religio-centric character the YMCA is one of a very few organisations to ignore qualifications and experience staff bring to public health and recreation needs. Pay, for example, is in the lowest income bracket for staff who have a fitness hobby certificate and those with science degrees and years of clinical experience.
When we pay for "extra" services it's a mere marketing strategy we respond to. Ditto referrals from physiotherapists to community recreation centres. We have no idea if the individual provider at the YMCA is a professionally trained therapist or someone earning a few part time dollars. An identical national uniform serves to depersonalise the individual and add weight to the "team loyalty" con.
Occasionally, this blinds the staff themselves. Many become convinced such poor income is "a necessary part of the job", focusing on free use of facilities and "community contribution" as their noble career path. Coerced philanthropy, perhaps?
Join and we must pay by monthly or fortnightly direct debit. Stop attending and we alone must stop the debiting. In most cases it's the attrition of members that finances the centres. Fee paying members who don't attend always outnumber those who do. But that's fine as it is the accepted model in the health and fitness industry. Guilt and well meaning plans to "get fit" will ensure we do not cancel paying until long after we've stopped attending. And there's always the disincentive to stop paying in the huge joining fee we're continually reminded about.
In fact, the YMCA go after profit like a struggling business. In an age of diseases related to lack of exercise, one may wonder why this Christian group is not feeling too charitable - despite massive financial help.
A global organisation, the YMCA to probably afford to run our centres at no loss, as a favour to a sports keen nation. But such financial realities apply to all religious affiliates - great and small. It's always been about the money. Nothing but the money. Staff, clients and the Great Aussie Fair Go are used or abused to advantage in keeping ahead, as it were.
For a mere fraction of the above, religions in Australia, Pell, Baptists, Brethren Elders, Cults, Catholics, business savvy Seventh Day Adventists, "Drug Free" Scientologists/Evangelists, Harley riding con artists, Christian City, Teen Challenge, greed focused magic working Pentecostals - and more - have much to smile about. This of course, is only topped by the rise of fundamentalism in all it's lethal malignant glory.
And still, we keep on paying...
All articles touched on and other posts are here.
Thu, 17 April 2008
On December 10th, 2006, globally recognised Humanist, Science buff, authour of at least ten books and captivating speaker, Robyn Williams introduced another excellent episode of Ockham's Razor for ABC's Radio National. Entitled "Apocalpse Now" the subject material was presented by Dr. John Reid, a Melbourne based neuroscientist.
'What can be done with fewer assumptions is done in vain with more,' he said. That is, in explaining any phenomenon, we should use no more explanatory concepts than are absolutely necessary. Well, for both broadcasting and for science, simplicity should never be despised. Our program, named after William, consists of a short introduction followed by a scripted talk. Just that, week after week. This program allows thoughtful people to have their say without pesky interviewers interrupting, or someone of opposite views turning the exercise into a joust. There are times when a speaker needs a clear run, some proper control, and this is what Ockham's Razor provides.
More so, it is often the speakers role or intention to lay out hard evidence, proposed solutions and respected findings or predictions they have not made. At most a few sentences of reflection may be included. Hence it is with something close to disbelief I find at Creation Ministries International an article, viciously and slanderously "critiquing" the episode published on Janurary 26th, 2007. Written by Aussie Creationist, Christian Fundamentalist and enemy of reason Bill Muehlenberg, fallaciously attacking Williams, Reid and exploiting the style of presentation to claim insouciant nonchalance on Williams part. The title, Melbourne Atheist - chillingly consistent aplication of evolution gives away it's intention to bolster the theistic position that evolution is a malignant force. One that both hides the truth about "creation" and applies genocidal ideologies fit for extreme Stalinists, Nazi's to anyone who asks the hard questions and finds evidence to challenge the worth of "Mans dominion over all the Earth".
"Reid is convinced that planet earth is grossly overpopulated, and unless we take some radical steps, like culling the human race, we are all doomed. I kid you not."
Yet Bill claims "Reids talk is essentially a claim for the extermination of much of humanity". From here he moves quickly to inventing that Reid is alluding to a Nazi plan to exterminate Christians and asks if Reid will "pull the macine gun trigger", "flick the switch on the poison gas." In fact he carefully cherry picks pieces of the actual transcript to create the illusion of a different argument, and dresses it in weasel wording: "culling", "extermination", "Stalinist", "socialist", "coercive". Remember, not one iota of a suggestion human beings should so much as be touched can be found in Reid's piece.
"... will he pop a suicide pill, or take a more 'humanitarian' view, and try to take as many with him, as in a suicide bombing?", Muelenberg rants when Reid notes the redistribution of wealth would effect the affluent most and that Australia has a large ecological footprint. Does Muehlenberg understand that of course, those with more wealth will experience a greater change because of those living in abject poverty? Hard to tell, but "it all sounds good to me" he writes, before launching into textbook Wedge Strategy deception with "after all, we are no different to animals or slugs, or microbes, according to the accepted Darwinian wisdom. So, I guess there is no problem in treating human beings as a disease to be eradicated".
In other words, it seems: ‘let’s tell our young people that there’s no Creator, we’ve just evolved, and evolution is much more wonderful than if we’d been created’. Never mind the millions of years of death and suffering, as well as false starts and extinction, that evolution (and indeed any long-age view) entails. [Source]
The overpopulation orators ignore the simple calculation that all the people in the world could fit into an area the size of England, with more than 20 square metres each. Also, a real population expert, Nicholas Eberstadt, in an article ‘Doom and Demography’ (Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2006), pointed out that the population growth of the last century was caused mainly by reduction of mortality, especially in infancy.
Contrary to the doom-mongers’ diatribes, the real problem today is not over-population but a ‘birth-dearth’. The world’s total fertility rate has declined to 2.9 children per woman, its lowest level ever. This is down from 4.2 in 1985. Bear in mind that 2.1 is necessary for a stable replacement rate. There are now around 80 countries—representing 40 per cent of the world’s population—with fertility rates below replacement level. For example, Russia, Germany and Italy now fill more coffins than cradles. Italy’s fertility rate is an amazing 1.24. In Australia the rate is 1.8.
Our global footprint is worldwide.
Meanwhile, people like the Federal Treasurer promote population increase. Sorry, Mr Costello, your 'One for the wife, one for the husband, and one for Australia', will have to be changed to 'None for the planet'!
My plea is that we should face reality and begin to discuss the unspeakable. Humanity must undergo a mind-shift. If you must have a God, at least recognise he/she/it did not give humanity licence to trash the planet, whatever the Bible may tell you.
Indeed, humanity has been all too compliant with the Biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.
The precepts of the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam represent the quintessential perversion of the human mind. They must be abandoned and the notion of the sanctity of human life must be subjugated to the greater sanctity of all life on Earth.
Bill Muehlenberg concludes:
Right now these men mainly propagate their ugly belief systems in the public arena. Pray that they do not take control of the political processes, or we may see their Brave New World forced on us all a lot sooner than expected.
As Dr. John Reid correctly notes;
Human beings are self-deluder's. We can convince ourselves, in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary, that black is white and heat can flow from a cooler to a hotter body. It is this power of self-delusion that leads us to believe that somehow we will find a way to fix the problem of our unsustainable consumption of the Earth's resources.
Or as Stephen Hawking noted in January 2007:
"Humankind must Understand The science that rules our life. Otherwise how can we meet the future if we don't know our options?"
Firesnake awards a Clear and Present Danger To Critical Thought to Bill, with a brilliant entry score of 9.2/10 for: