When Irrational Ideas Collide…

Crispian Jago, as he always does, offers this fantastic visual (click to enlarge):

I’ve never seen a more perfect Venn Diagram center.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/travis.myers.102977 Travis Myers

    Now that’s a Venn Diagram. Take note, Jessica Hagy :)

    • Drew M.

      Thank you for the laugh!

  • http://twitter.com/auldshaman Robert Klauka

    Where does Chopra fit on the diagram?

  • http://twitter.com/auldshaman Robert Klauka

    Where does Chopra fit on the diagram?

    • http://www.facebook.com/travis.myers.102977 Travis Myers

      I think he’d be in the same section as past life regression: the intersection of Paranormal Bullocks, Pseudoscientific Bullocks, and Quackery Bullocks.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Not sure I’d put him in paranormal. Definitely pseudoscientific and quackery. I can’t see the pic as I write this but if there isn’t a “global consciences” section there should be.

  • Donatello

    So the winner in the big bollocks brawl is Scientology? Sounds about right.

  • Claude

    Do I even want to know what “Ear Candles” are? How about “Cupping”?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I think “ear candles” is also known as ‘coning”. They stick a paper cone in your ear and burn it and it’s supposed to suck out all the wax and ‘toxins’. If you burn a cone on its own, you end up with pretty much the same amount of material.

      “Cupping” is where they light a fire in a glass cup to heat it up, then stick it to your skin. As it cools, the vacuum created makes it stick to you. Leaves large ugly welts.

      • Claude

        Oh! Thank you.

        How bizarre.

      • Blacksheep

        I tried that for a sinus infection based on someone recommending it to me, The practitioner showed me all of this nasty stuff on the inside of the cone that supposedly came from my ears. Sounded fishy so I asked if I could buy a few candles / cones. I tested it by burning it in my closed hand – same exact effect. The “stuff” in the cone is just melted wax.

      • Tyro

        Cupping equipment does have a legitimate use, though – it’s a not terribly uncommon practice among the kinky set, for fun ^_^

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Cupping has been around for thousands of years. The Chinese have the oldest records for it and amongst other things manipulate ‘chi’ along the ‘meridian lines’ of the patient. Mohammed talked about a version known as Hijama or ‘wet cupping’ where cuts are made to let out the blood drawn to the surface. It’s in a few ‘hadiths’, so it must be true. In Europe, cupping was seen as a way to restore balance to the four humours of the body.

      All of these are from back when doctors really, really didn’t know what they were doing. Now we have organisations like the British Cupping Society who seek to create standards for practitioners here at the nexus of Pseudoscientific and Quackery bollocks.

  • Drew M.

    Holy crap, that is amazing!

  • JohnnieCanuck

    When someone explains to me how Ouija boards are religious, I’m going to give Crispian Jago an A+ for this. There’s a lot of win here.

    Please tell me that somewhere right now, there are god-botherers huddled around a coffee table getting messages from above to sustain their faith, one letter at a time.

    • Blacksheep

      I was wondering the same thing – Christians, Jews, and I’m guessing Muslims hate ouija boards!

      • JohnnieCanuck

        Yup, something to do with suppressing the competition, methinks.

      • Sids

        Christians, Jews and Muslims don’t constitue the complete set of religions. Wiccans, Pagans (or at least the subsets thereof), etc are equally legitimate religions. Chanelling spirits fits in a bit better with them. That said, whichever side of the religion divide Ouija boards ended up on, I would think that saences would be in the same category.

        • The Other Weirdo

          And by legitimate you mean that the one person who knew it was all a scam is now safely dead? Technically, pretty much everything is a legitimate religion. We focus on Christianity, Judaism and Islam because here in the West they are the religions we’re most lilkely to encounter in large numbers. When the others start trying to pass laws against our will, we’ll star focusing on them, too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597605006 Mary Driftwood

    This would make a beautiful poster.

  • Joules

    Now hold on.

    I fell backwards off a swing when I was three and had chronic migraines thereafter. By the time I was 27 I had been on every prescription medication for migraines and most of them either didn’t work or no longer worked. I was finally given treximet which, at the time, was *the* most work medication. I was told if two didn’t work, to go to the emergency room. Treximet gave me terrible shoulder pain and I hated taking it.

    I went to a chiropractor for a month, three visits a week, migraines were gone. It’s not really pseudoscience when you think about it.

    I had a head injury. I fell backwards off a swing, landed on my head, f’ed up my neck and no one knew / would treat it. That was why I had the migraines. If you break your arm the first thing the ER doctor does is use traction to pull the bone into the anatomically create location then splint it so it grows that way. You later see an orthopedist for confirmation and long term treatment.

    If that bone is your spine you see a chiropractor. He gradually pulls it back into alignment.

    Granted, I don’t think chiropractors are the be-all, do-all, say-all they think they are (and I went to one that was a religious sociopath who thought God created the human body so we didn’t really get along) but it does have some merit and further research should be done on it to determine how beneficial it can be,

    My husband has degenerative disc disease and chiropractic care has enabled him to evade the eventual surgeries he’s going to need. It hasn’t “fixed” him but it’s alleviated his pain and enhanced his quality of life. Mind you, the surgeries won’t “fix” him either so much as alleviate his pain and cause him to lose the ability to lift more than 50lbs for the rest of his life.

    • Derrik Pates

      Unfortunately it seems there are two different categories of chiropractic – one that says that bone alignment issues can cause pain, and one that attributes almost all health problems to bone alignment. They’re easily conflated. I bruised my tailbone once as a kid, and a chiropractor helped me then, so I know that chiropractic can help – as long as the problem is actually something within their bailiwick. The latter category starts spinning off into the pseudoscientific sphere, though.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i’m sorry, but i find a few things in this diagram to be misplaced.

    what is wrong with detoxing? ask anyone who has abused a substance, it’s often the only way to restore complete health. cleansing your body of toxins is a scientific procedure and most physicians will endorse it for abusers of things like drugs or alcohol.

    i know several MD and DOs who practice acupuncture, with measurable results. and while not everyone may enjoy it, i have had personal results from aromatherapy. some scents can help the human body relax, that’s not a terribly controversial claim. i get annoyed when people put things like yoga on lists like these; it’s an ancient science and the only people who don’t think it works are those who haven’t seriously studied it.

    frankly, i find lists like these to be overtly political. anything that can be conflated with “hippy crunchy” must be bad or wrong. and racist; many of these techniques are part of traditional cultures that stem from practices outside of european culture. it’s frankly racist to assume that ancient sciences like those found in asian or native cultures are automatically bollocks, and there are many people alive today who would strenuously argue that some of these have helped them.

    i am an atheist. i am also a skeptic. and i understand that one of the foundational principles of science is that there is still a great deal it has yet to explain. it’s not scientifically rigorous to conflate mythical claims about invisible beings with traditional practices performed by skilled human beings, that are based on natural realities having to do with herbs, the manipulation of the body, or other tangible things that can be measured.

    • Tyro

      THANK you!

  • Tyro

    FWIW, chiropractic is used to describe 2 rather different things. The first IS bollocks – the concepts, dating back to a quack in the late 1800′s, that all disease originates in the spine, and that “subluxations” (a real medical term, but used improperly in this instance) can be corrected through manual manipulation of the spine in order to correct certain ailments. The chiropractors endorsing this theory are a vocal minority. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of conflation with other BS – many chiropractors are also naturopaths & endorse homeopathy, armoatherapy, etc.

    The other type of chiropractic is legit – manipulation of joints & vertebrae which are misaligned (often using X-rays for diagnostic purposes). It’s a pet peeve of mine that chiropractic is so often lumped in with things like reflexology & reiki – I have a rare connective tissue disorder (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome type III) & scoliosis, which makes regular chiropractic treatment a necessity. If I don’t get my joints & spine fixed at least monthly, I’m in agony. Chiropractic has been recommended to me by numerous physical therapists, pain specialists, and other allopathic medical professionals (practitioners of modern, mainstream Western medicine), and the symptom relief is very evident (you can actually see & feel where the bones are out if I need adjustment, and the difference in pain levels can be extreme).


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