The Internet: Home of the Quack

So some news article shows that you have a lot of harmless and beneficial microbes living on and in you. Educated people already knew that (there’s been a book called Life on Man out for years).

Some Internet dwellers, however, think that any headline they read there means that this is the New Thing and announce the old news to the world while drawing reckless and dumb conclusions like “Germ theory delusions collapse as new science reveals healthy people carry 10,000 different germ strains at all times

Then we are informed of pseudo-knowledge like this:

The human body is essentially a “germ” factory, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. A new study published as a series of reports in the journals Nature and Public Library of Science (PLoS) debunks the widely believed germ theory, or the belief that all germs are “bad,”

Um. Only an idiot believes all germs are bad. And that’s not what ‘germ theory’ means. Germ theory means that many diseases are caused by microbes and not evil spirits or bad humours or comets, which is, you know, true.

The article then continues:

In essence, this cohort of field experts uncovered something that many of them had never before considered, mainly that not all bacteria is detrimental.

There is something deep in the bone of the semi-educated that feels the need to believe that the expert is a fool. So the semi-educated invents the absolutely mind-numbing falsehood that “experts” have “never before considered” that not all bacteria are detrimental. It’s like a child lecturing his mother in the most condescending tone on the new that Santa is not real.

Or an atheist announcing to a Catholic that Catholics have done bad things, usually with some sort of lofty, “I hate to break it to you” or “You apparently are not aware that…” Yeah. Living in the US keeps you completely shielded from critical remarks about the Catholic faith and comfortably ignorant inside a bubble of downy soft pro-Catholic agitprop 24/7. The people who are swooping into Leah Libresco’s comboxes to announce to her the news that the Catholic Church is absolutely and totally worthless and its entire 2000 year intellectual and spiritual tradition has not one redeeming feature anywhere remind me of nothing so much as the people at the website above, who manage to pass from “not everything about western medical practice is unquestionable” to “GERM THEORY IS A HOAX!” and “IS MODERN MEDICINE FOUNDED ON ERROR?

In the same way, a surprising number of combox atheists take seriously the proposition that Jesus Never Existed and similar quack theories that even quacks like Bart Ehrman roll their eyes at. And it’s all done in that same tone of lofty superiority that renders the stupid impenetrable to the blandishments of common sense. One’s mouth opens and closes and no words come out because you don’t even know where to start. It’s like the proposition that Julius Caesar’s existence was a huge hoax or that Shakespeare was really somebody else of the same name. Never does the wisdom of “Do not cast your pearls before swine” suddenly stand out in such sharp relief than when I encounter such smug folly as the Jesus Never Existed stupidity. How Leah endures it I simply don’t know, but I’m impressed that she can.

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    • ivan_the_mad

      Uhh … I’m really confused here.

      • Deathknyte

        It looks like an idiot trying to be funny.

        In other words, it is another barely-literate leftists with an ax to grind with religion because they need something to make fun of so they do not have to look at the unhappy wreck they have made of themselves.

        • ivan_the_mad

          Ah, I see. They wanted to exhibit their distinct lack of class and prove false the idea that they have a monopoly on reason. Mission accomplished.

        • Mark Shea

          Why “leftist”? It was linked to by a conservative Catholic on my Facebook who has decided The Conspiracy of the Godless includes medicine.

          • ivan_the_mad

            PAULETTA A.SMITH’S comment?

            • Sal

              I though that was real and put her on my prayer list.

              • Linebyline

                Needs to be there even more because it’s not.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    There’s a kind of tension for me, working on an ambulance day after day and actually being opposed to Western Medicine. I’ll grant you that Pasteur et al. have done a good job of demonstrating that certain facts interrelate. Pasteur was an amazing man. But he did not demonstrate man’s dis-ease is caused, in any case, by microorganisms. Certain actions of certain micro organisms can cause certain reactions in body tissue, called physical symptoms. But the patient’s dis-ease is something greater, and its something WM almost always ignores.

    I console myself that emergency medicine is different because I am not supposed to care abou tmy patient, as a patient, but as a series of systems to keep working, or in good condition until function can be restored. I grab you, we spend up to an hour or two together, I am gone. I can’t have the relationships my Granny did, or that those Doctors should. It’s not my job.

    But I have 15yrs of education left to fulfill my calling in medicine. I pray the intervening years on the job won’t make me more like doctors and less like granny.

    • Liam

      FF/EMT here, do you glove up and wash your hands after a run? I contracted MRSA a couple years ago and western medicine saved my bacon. Also, I understand the temptation to treat patients like systems, especially when you have an high volume (my station’s aid car is on track for 6700 runs this year). I did that for a while and I found myself getting really angry. Once I realized nights on shift were becoming near occasions for sin, I began saying a rosary towards the end of each shift for all the patients I’d seen. It helped tremendously.

      • freddy

        Liam, that is beautiful advice. I have a son who just graduated high school and wants to take paramedic training. I’d like to think of him seeing people as people in spite of the stress and mechanism of the work.

        Thinking about it, maybe that’s what Mr. Garrett means as well by “tension.” That the paramedic has to treat and control symptoms; leaving little time for more human interaction. A rosary would be a wonderful way to make that connection, do some more good, and de-stress.

        God bless you both and all who take on the burden of emergency care!

        • Liam

          Best of luck to your son. Paramedic training is a grind.

          • freddy

            Thank you! He has to work a while first to afford the classes. It doesn’t look like something you want to do while working!

            • Liam

              In my county, it’s 1500 hours of training. Students are sponsored by their employers, usually fire departments. More than a few marriages have broken because of the high intensity. I really admire our medics, but I’m content as an EMT.

  • Oh, you haven’t met either stupid or crazy until you meet the Jesus people on YouTube. Somehow those who like to watch videos more than they like to read turn out to be rather less literate than most. (Who knew??!!)

    Case in point is the fellow who commented on one of my Pope John Paul I videos, challenging me about the Gospels. According to him, they were all completely incredible and worthless as historical testimony. I tried to answer this, at which he switched to an anti-Catholic diatribe in which he asserted that Peter was certainly NOT the first head of the Church, rather, it was Jesus’ own brother James, some of the major evidence for this claim being – the Gospels! Well, I was trying to deal with this when he announced, “Remind me next time to give you all of my evidence that Jesus never existed!” It was then that I threw in the towel.

    So there you have it. “There is no God like Jesus and James is his prophet.” Or something.

    I too admire Leah for how she is taking all this. I don’t think I could handle it.

    • Ted Seeber

      In his favor- despite him being an obvious Gnostic- there is *some evidence* that James served as head of the very first diocese of Jerusalem while Peter and Paul were galavanting around the empire spreading the faith; in the Acts of the Apostles it is on his authority, not Peter’s, that the first ecumenical council is called.

      But that seems to have ended by the end of the council, when Peter’s vision about how to incorporate the gentiles into the church, is what the council actually implemented. James may have called the council and presided over it, but in modern terms, it was PETER who wrote the encyclicals.

      • Mark Shea

        The first ecumenical council was at Nicaea in 325. The council described in Acts 15 was a local synod and James was the presiding bishop since he was the head of the Church in Jerusalem.

        • Mark is correct, of course. My point was that according to my interlocutor, James was supposedly the head of the WHOLE Church, as were his successors, all of whom, incidentally, were related in some way to Jesus by blood, at least for the first century or so. A regular “Jesus dynasty.”

          The truthful part is that the relatives of Jesus were indeed successors to James as bishop of Jerusalem – and the line continued later after the destruction of Jerusalem, when they were in exile. Some of the early Jewish Christians adhered to this “dynasty” even after the establishment of a new “Roman” diocese in restored Jerusalem. One aspect of the tragic split between Jewish and Gentile Christians. Many of the former, known as the Ebionites, did adopt Gnostic ideas. So that may have been where this guy was coming from.

        • Ted Seeber

          Thank you for the correction. I always wondered why the Council of Jerusalem wasn’t listed as the first council.

  • OK, so technically I guess we learn most about James in Acts, but he thought Acts unreliable too. No idea at all how he felt about the Epistle of James.

  • James H, London

    This particular set of crazy just won’t b*gger off!

    Bill Maher is big on this – you know, the bloke who won the first ever Richard Dawkins Award for the Advancement of Science.

  • Amy P.

    What’s it I’ve heard said? “Not everyone on the Internet is crazy, but all the crazies are on the Internet.” A good motto to remember when surfing online…

    • Joe Cool

      Another saying: “If idiots could fly, the Internet would be an airport.”

  • Noah D

    I’m just going to go have some yogurt.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Wrote the cauldron 😉

  • john

    Anything that happened before Woodstock and the Summer of Love is to be regarded with distain and contempt as the work of backward knuckleddragging misogonistic racist white christian males bent on total world domination so we do not have to study or learn about anything from that time. We can now create the narrative of what we want them to have known, thought or believed and when we find something that proves what we attribute to them as being incorrect we can feel superior to them. Because we are obviously more evolved than they were. This is true of science, technology, medicine, art, literature, education, history, philosophy, economics, morality, ethics and of course, religion. Man it is good to be alive now when we are finally moving forward as a species.

  • Spirit Daily links to this site frequently. That says all you need to know. 😉

  • David J. White

    I am classicist. It strikes me that the evidence for the historical existence of Jesus is at least as good as the evidence for the existence of Socrates or Alexander the Great, let alone many lesser-known historical figures, yet no one seriously questions their existence.


    Children out of school,
    A free and happy mood,
    Crowds fill up the highway,
    A pilgrim multitude

    Daylight spreads before them
    A city at the end
    As if to see the blessed
    Beckoning to friends

    What fantasy by night,
    What phantasm to dread?
    Now upon the roadway
    Where once the traffic sped

    Multitudes that journey
    Along a straight highway,
    Nothing to oppose them,
    Nothing to dismay

    Crowds upon the highway
    Traveling on foot
    Old and young together
    Saunter as they would

    But overhead the shadows
    Spread enormous length,
    Presences above them
    Hideous in strength

    Stop a while to rest here
    Before you carry on,
    A shelter will receive you
    Rest until the dawn

    June 19, 2012

  • >Spirit Daily links to this site frequently.

    I like Spirit Daily.

    • My point was Spirit Daily links to quacks and cranks all the time. If quacks post something in line with, say, “the 1990 prophecy”, voila! It’s up in no time!

      They have a post up by Natural News today, in fact. Don’t use antacids, it says. Suck on a lemon wedge instead. Ooooooooooooooooooooookay. Isn’t that bad for, say, your TOOTH ENAMEL?

      • Michael Brown always urges discernment. I’ve found much on that site that has moved me and helped me, sometimes profoundly. But my religious faith is very emotional and experiential.

  • Many atheists and other anti-Catholics think that the Vatican is an absolute dictatorship that rules the Church and all its Catholics with cords of steel.

    The Vatican wishes.

    • ivan_the_mad

      “The Vatican wishes.” I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t.

      • Ted Seeber

        Actually, Cardinal Levada said the same thing recently, when he pinned the ENTIRE LCWR controversy onto a single nun who wrote a book promoting same sex marriage and tried to market it in Ireland- apparently that was the last straw, in 2006, to cause the CDF to start investigating 30 years worth of complaints.

        And he still doesn’t think the Vatican will win this particular battle, though he’s praying for it. He had a meeting with the leadership of the LCWR which he labeled as essentially non-productive.

        So I guess the moral of the story is- dissent all you want- the Vatican probably won’t take notice unless you try to do so in a culture radically different from your own, and even then, the fear of the Inquisitor is long gone, as are the rack and thumbscrews.

      • You’re in insider?

        • That was addressed to Ivan the Shizik.

          • ivan_the_mad

            I might ask you the same ridiculous question.

            The same Church that expounds subsidiarity and practices the same wishes that it could exercise centralized, iron-fisted control? Give me a break. Now if by “[t]he Vatican wishes”, you mean “some in the Vatican wish”, well, who cares?

            • Ted Seeber

              Which is also pretty much what Cardinal Levada said- that while it would be nice if the CDF could *actually* protect the faith from people teaching in error, under subsidiarity (and few things exemplify subsidiarity in the Church more than communities of religious) the most that the CDF can do is suggest changes and publish their disapproval of groups and excommunication of individuals. No blind albino monk squads will be sent out to kill dissenters…..

  • A Philosopher

    In fairness, the comments on Leah’s blog have been on the whole pretty civilized (which, of course, isn’t the same as non-confrontational). Keep in mind that since atheism is, as it were, culturally “thin”, it has few hot-button issues, and conversion, which is one of the few that it does have, is for that all the hotter. For a Catholic equivalent, imagine Mark announcing that he’s coming out in favor of female ordination, or against the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo mass.

    • Chris M

      an Atheist Heretic?

      • A Philosopher

        Basically, yes. Heretics are always harder to deal with calmly than heathens.

        • Chris M

          There’s a sort of irony there I think we can all appreciate.

    • Ted Seeber

      Actually, I think it is more like Mark announcing that he’s been a secret transvestite for years, and is having the sex change operation and going through the Leacue of Catholic WomenPriests Seminary.

      At least for those who failed to understand why her blog was called “Unequally Yoked” in the first place- Once I figured that out, I knew she was on the same journey as my wife.

  • “Um. Only an idiot believes all germs are bad. And that’s not what ‘germ theory’ means. Germ theory means that many diseases are caused by microbes and not evil spirits or bad humours or comets, which is, you know, true.”
    Au, contraire!

  • SouthCoast

    “…not all bacteria is detrimental”. A bacterium is. Bacteria are. Now, I feel better: the fingernails is no longer on the blackboard.

    • Joe Cool

      “fingernails is…”

      I see what you did there!

      • ivan_the_mad

        All your memebase are belong to us.

  • Ted Seeber

    Something that has been bothering me all day about this post- This isn’t news and it isn’t limited to the Internet. I realize Fidonet is long gone for most people (I haven’t logged into a Fidonet board since 1992) but the same Quakery existed back then. I suspect it existed before computers, but computers made it more visible.

  • Coffee enemas are still cool, right? Right?

  • Noe

    I am sorry to say after more than a decade among Orthodox Jews, I know it to be stock-and-trade conversation (when it comes up), even among “mostly-educated” Orthodox professionals with decent liberal arts backgrounds and high regard for academic knowledge and standards (not just the “Ultra”-Orthodox IOW), that they “are not convinced that ‘JC’ even existed”. They will be quite sincere that having (at best) read the New Testament in English, but more likely a few webpages – and maybe some anti-missionary material – is enough research. “Mythic Jesus” may have little standing in academia, (and granted their identity-related reasons for them tolerating fringe ideas like the ahistoricity of Jesus), but this is one example I know from experience that it remains a popular perspective in many academia-formed minds, not just trolls online. I have frequented a synagogue with a throughly-educated Orthodox rabbi [“Dr.”] with multiple university professorships in religious studies, who repeatedly from the pulpit buttresses congregants suspicions with the fact that “no contemporary sources” account the life of Christ and that the earliest NT manuscripts post-date his proposed death by a century – even though he knows full-well the ways those facts may not matter for Christian truth-claims. I have been tempted to point out that no contemporary sources exist for ANY personage from the Torah – let alone Moses – and the earliest manuscripts of any portion of the Torah are centuries after Sinai (though I might be wrong about Bilaam, and there are silver amulets with the Priestly Blessing, but I think they’re post-Exilic). It loses hands down to the value of the NT material.
    Oddly enough, “Ultra”-Orthodox Jews are actually more likely to believe he existed – because the great number of them value the Talmud as a rarely-challenged source of history, ethics and to some degree even science. Several passages therein are connected to Jesus – but few Jewish historians actually value them as related to him at all;

  • fats

    Having received ( justifiably) D’s in any math class after plane geometry, im sure that Leah , and her journey, will in some strange Math inspired event, will cause my brain to explode as Turing tests me. Calah, most likely will, at the same time , cause phantom pregnancy symptoms while reading about God and the Eucharist, and Mark’s dry wit and impatience with dunderheads will ( and has) cause my neck to twist into unnatural positions. Could someone call me a paramedic ?Preferably a one that appreciates the value of a (mostly) sterile environment! I sure hope the hospital has internet, cause i cant survive without my daily blog fixes that keeps me pointed toward Him :>)

  • pol

    Say what you will about “quacks”, but Bart Ehrman is NOT, in my view a “quack”. I read his books and find them well researched even if I don’t agree with his conclusions. Likwise, I have emailed him for information, taking care to identify myself upfront as Catholic and he has been nothing if not helpful and kind. Indeed, he has directed me to the writings of early Church Fathers and where to find them.