It’s Probably Quantum …

Our friend Scott Bailey found this, which set him off on a rant about New Age hucksters:

Oh dear …

Your pet may appear healthy but a vast majority of “healthy looking” pets are actually infected with parasites and other infections that do not manifest themselves until they overwhelm the pet and the pet finally appears “sick”. Sometimes, by then, it is too late and euthanasia is recommended to end your beloved pet’s suffering. Often your vet bill becomes so high because the medical problem is in an advanced state of disease before it is discovered.

PANIC!!

Your pet deserves so much better. QuantumVET™ Tricorder Plus is a quantum software program that is uploaded directly to your pet’s brain to run a set of diagnostics and then select the physiologic directives that program your pet’s brain to remove the causes of your pet’s illness, if any illness exists. Running these programs every 5 days on an ongoing basis provides your pet protection against 99% of all disease.

That’s right, the program is uploaded right to your pet’s little doggy (or kitty) brain.

This is such unbelievable BS. At least with snake oil you at least get some oil out of the deal. It’s enough to make you wish that someone had copyrighted the word “quantum”.

  • Michael

    How can you be skeptical? It has a 100% money back guarantee!

  • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

    What saddens me is that there are people smart enough to operate a computer who would still fall for this. How do you get out of school in an industrialised country without being able to tell that cell phones can’t upload software into a dog’s brain? And if you can’t understand that, why are you allowed to vote?

    • trj

      Sure, conventional science will tell you that you can’t use your cell phone to upload software to a brain. But we’re talking quantum software here.

      • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

        If I leave my dog alone and don’t want it to chew up the carpet, should I upload a quantum of solace?

        • trj

          Better not, that was a crap movie.

  • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/ Scott Bailey

    He called me “friend”… *tears welling*

    Seriously though, this sort of shit drives me absolutely crazy. The ignorance that has to exist–strike that: the willful ignorance that has to exist–so that shitbags can prey on it, is depressing in the 21st century.

    • kessy_athena

      I’d be surprised if there were more then a few hundred humans on the entire planet who would respond to that. Out of a population of, what is it now? 7 billion? The numbers aren’t really that bad if you think about it.

      • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com Scott Bailey

        Deepak Chopra was in my town a few months ago and sold out. Oprah has her own network. Horoscopes are still printed in papers. People still spend exorbitant amounts of money on homeopathy and applied kiniesiology. The Secret and other new age textbooks of stupidity sell many, many copies. Scientology still exists!

        There are a lot; an incredible amount; of very stupid people waiting to be separated from their money so that they can believe a beautiful lie. It’s depressing.

        • kessy_athena

          It looks to me like you’re stitching together a bunch of unrelated stuff to make a strawman. Who the heck is Deepak Chopra anyway, and why do you guys keep going on about him? I assure you he’s never come up in any discussions in any pagan circles I’ve been a part of. What does he have to do with this con in any case?

          Oprah Winfrey is an entertainer and a philanthropist, and nothing more. To my knowledge, she self identifies as a Christian, not any sort of New Ager. And again, what does she have to do with anything? Oh, and it might possibly be relevant when judging her impact on society to recall that she’s generally credited as being one of the people who had a big role in helping LGBT folks out of the closet and into the mainstream of society.

          Horoscopes are indeed printed in newspapers, and so are comic strips. Your point?

          I’ll take your word on homeopathy and kinesiology – I know little about the former and had never heard of the later before now. Since you seem to be quite interested in those subjects, I assume you’ve studied them extensively and can judge the merits of each of the particular products and techniques individually based on all available evidence. I’m sure you’d never do something like judge an entire field purely on the basis of an important figure in its history from a century or two or ago writing something that turns out in hindsight to sound rather silly. And in any event, do you suppose people spend more on those two things or on vitamins and supplements of dubious value? Or gimmicky exercise programs and equipment? Or how about “scientifically proven” hair loss treatments?

          I only know the Secret by reputation, but my impression is that it’s little more then positive thinking in a glitzy package. And how exactly do you define, “new age textbooks of stupidity”? Which books are you talking about? I assume you have actual titles in mind? That you know something about what they actually say? I’m sure you wouldn’t do something like glance askance at a section of shelves at Borders, notice a hippy looking person browsing them and automatically conclude that they all must be “textbooks of stupidity” without even bothering to see what they’re actually about.

          Scientology is an organized con game that systematically preys on people’s insecurities and emotional vulnerabilities, just like the Mafia or casinos or various other shady organizations.

          People do indeed do stupid things all the time. Guess what? So do you and I. Do you own any gold as an investment? I’m telling you now, sell it or you’re going to lose your shirt – the price of gold is in a massive speculative bubble and the gods help us all when it bursts. We all are vulnerable to being told what we want to hear. We all make decisions based on making ourselves feel better rather then the objective merits of the particular situation. We all buy things without really thinking through and researching what they are. It’s part of being human.

          It might be comforting to think there’s a bunch of stupid “sheeple” or whatever out there, being preyed on by a big group of evil woo pedlars, but it’s really not true. People are people, including you and me. There are always folks out there ready to make a shady buck, and for the most part they couldn’t care less what the particular con is. This is all a part of being human, and it’s not really all that bad of a thing.

          • Sunny Day

            Wait what? You say you don’t know much about some of the subjects but its still enough to say hes making a straw man. Weird.

            • kessy_athena

              I think it’s important to acknowledge the limits of my knowledge. And I don’t have to be an expert on every subject mentioned to point out things that indicate a straw man. Such as trying to link together things that are unrelated, or exaggerating the importance of a single extreme example to try to portray it as being representative of a broader group or school of thought.

            • Sunny Day

              Nobody expects you to be an expert but if someone brings up a bunch of subjects in a Dennis Miller-esque rant its probably a good bet to not assume they are all unrelated. Maybe look them up, and check for the obvious tie ins brought up in Scotts 2nd paragraph.

              It’s what I did when I watched the Dennis Miller Show.

          • Michael

            Oprah Winfrey, like Deepak Chopra (though not to the same extent), promotes a wide assortment of unproven “treatments” as if they were effective.

            I’m sure you’d never do something like judge an entire field purely on the basis of an important figure in its history from a century or two or ago writing something that turns out in hindsight to sound rather silly.

            It doesn’t matter what people said at any point, it matters what is actually happening. Homeopathic “remedies,” for instance, contain only water. You can whine about prejudice all you want, but when it comes down to it you have to call a spade a spade. Homeopathy and kinesiology are hoaxes just like this QuantumVet.

            And in any event, do you suppose people spend more on those two things or on vitamins and supplements of dubious value? Or gimmicky exercise programs and equipment? Or how about “scientifically proven” hair loss treatments?

            I don’t know. These are both examples of misleading or straight-up false advertising. Why are you trying to draw a distinction here?

            Do you own any gold as an investment? I’m telling you now, sell it or you’re going to lose your shirt

            Well if you say so. I sure will take important investment advice from a stranger defending The Secret online.

            It might be comforting to think there’s a bunch of stupid “sheeple” or whatever out there, being preyed on by a big group of evil woo pedlars, but it’s really not true.

            So are you saying there does not exist massive stupidity? When it comes down to it, people who sell this shit are conmen exploiting the gullible. That’s all there is to it.

          • Nox

            I’m pretty sure Scott Bailey was not saying Oprah is actually affiliated with scientology. The things he listed there are multiple examples of things that have been massively successful by promising impossible things to ignorant people.

            Willful ignorance is the biggest danger facing humanity. Yeah maybe this dog vet cell phone app will only appeal to a vanishingly small minority. But the willful ignorance it attempts to exploit is what got George W. Bush reelected and what causes many parents to still entrust their children to catholic priests.

            You won’t hear a lot about Chopra in pagan circles. And in atheist circles his name is largely used as shorthand for things like this (or the general idea that you can make any idea into science by adding the word quantum). But his books have sold over twenty million copies and the flagrant lies within them have caused real harm to many people.

            • kessy_athena

              @Micheal:

              Well, if you don’t agree with me about gold, fair enough. But I ask you, when was the last time you heard people saying that commodity X only ever goes up in value? And what happened then? Just saying, you heard it here first. ;)

              But by the same token, I hope you don’t mind if I don’t just take your word on it when it comes to homeopathy. Now don’t get me wrong, you could well be right. I just don’t care enough about it to do the research to find out what’s really going on. If for some reason it became relevant to me, I would do the research, but until then… In any event, even if all of homeopathy consists of nothing but selling water, so what? Placebos are a perfectly legitimate medical treatment – we just haven’t figured out an ethical and effective way to consistently use them in mainstream medicine.

              When it comes to dubious vitamins and exercise programs and such, my point is that there *isn’t* a distinction. I don’t hear anyone going on about how the Muscle Blaster 9000X is going to be the doom of Western Civilization. When you get right down to it, most of the stuff we’ve been talking about in this thread would best be objectively described as entertainment, and I think you’re taking it entirely too seriously.

              Of course massive stupidity exists. But it doesn’t exist concentrated in a subset of the population who’ve been taken in by the evil woo peddlers. It exists in all of us, including you and me. We’re all idiots on subjects we don’t know much about. And most of the time it doesn’t matter. Sure people waste money on stuff like this. People also waste money on voting on American Idol or on any number of other things. So what? Like I said, this is mostly just entertainment.

              @Nox:

              Not all forms of willful ignorance are equal. For example, I’m willfully ignorant of the details of christian theology. I just don’t care for the most part. And why should I? We’re all willfully ignorant about all sorts of things – things that don’t seem particularly relevant to us and don’t really interest us. I’ll be pretty surprised if you aren’t willfully ignorant of what an athame is, and really, why should you know or care?

              Willful ignorance runs the gamut from being actually a healthy exercise in setting priorities to someone missing out on something they might benefit from to being a bit of laziness and a personal failing to being potentially deadly. It all depends on what you’re talking about. It’s not all one monolithic problem.

              Personally, I think the 2004 election had more to do with emotion then ignorance, and also a lot to do with Senator Kerry’s deficiencies as a candidate, but that’s another discussion. The variety of willful ignorance that most worries me right now is the apparently woeful lack of knowledge by the American voters of the basics of economics. I’m pretty shocked that one of the two main political parties can seriously push policies that anyone who passed high school US history *should* know are based on crackpot ideas that were utterly discredited 80 years ago. I’m sorry, but Oprah’s reading list just doesn’t seem to be even remotely in the same league to me.

              And I still think you’re turning Chopra into a bit of a strawman by grossly exaggerating his importance – sort of like how conservatives go on about George Soros or liberals demonize the Koch brothers.

            • Michael

              Well, if you don’t agree with me about gold, fair enough.

              Well obviously the value of gold will fall at some point, but that’s the nature of commodities, they rise and fall. It’s easy to point out bubbles after the fact, but harder when you’re in one. The current buzz is that GLD won’t fall until 2014, but there’s no fucking way people can know that. There are too many sociopolitical factors affecting its price, which is mainly based on currency speculation and Indian jewelry demand.

              But by the same token, I hope you don’t mind if I don’t just take your word on it when it comes to homeopathy.

              I don’t expect you to believe what I say for no reason, but it’s a bit annoying to hear “I won’t take your word for it but I also won’t look it up, because I don’t care.” At any rate, there is nothing to debate here. Even homeopaths agree that their treatments are just water, but they claim the water has some “memory” of the trace ingredient they put in the first batch before serial dilution.

              Placebos are a perfectly legitimate medical treatment – we just haven’t figured out an ethical and effective way to consistently use them in mainstream medicine.

              Two things. First of all, that’s bullshit; the “placebo effect” has more to do with confirmation and reporting bias than physiological effect. Second of all, if we don’t yet have an ethical or effective way to use it consistently, that doesn’t mean we should settle for the unethical and ineffective ways that currently exist.

              I don’t hear anyone going on about how the Muscle Blaster 9000X is going to be the doom of Western Civilization. When you get right down to it, most of the stuff we’ve been talking about in this thread would best be objectively described as entertainment, and I think you’re taking it entirely too seriously.

              Do you have anything to back up this idle speculation? No, 6 bajillion % DV vitamin C pills aren’t “the doom of Western Civilization” any more than this claptrap is, but that doesn’t fucking excuse it. Hitler wasn’t “the doom of Western Civilization” either. Do you want to set your standards any lower?

              You seem to be saying that because this is widespread and mostly just harmful to the wallet, not the body, that we shouldn’t worry about it. But that would mean ignoring blatant scams as well as ignoring the point Nox just made about what this type of thinking means in the larger scale.

              Of course massive stupidity exists. But it doesn’t exist concentrated in a subset of the population who’ve been taken in by the evil woo peddlers.

              I’m interested in your definition of “massive stupidity” here. Certainly not everyone can have a low IQ, for instance. But anyway it isn’t specifically stupidity here that is the main point of concern, but gullibility. The combination of the two is quite potent.

              And no, it is not a rare combination, but nor is it universal. That’s the whole fucking point of skepticism. Ultimately this comes down to Sunny and Nox and I saying that people should be skeptical, and you saying “lol why bother?”

              Sure people waste money on stuff like this. People also waste money on voting on American Idol or on any number of other things. So what? Like I said, this is mostly just entertainment.

              The website certainly makes no indication it is for entertainment. Nowhere on the product does it say it’s not a real treatment but just a toy (as law would require). And the doggie cancer cure isn’t cheap. I’m really not sure why you’re defending QuantumVet.

              But talking about “this” more generally, it is absolutely not fair to chalk it up as “entertainment. YOU don’t even think so. You are happy enough to consider the possibility that homeopathy really is effective, but then if you decide it doesn’t work, you’ll claim it was never intended to really work in the first place? Shame on you. I guess you’re part of the crowd that needs a little more skepticism in their lives.

            • kessy_athena

              @Michael – You’re right, I did put that in a really annoying way, my bad. I was trying to say that I just don’t see homeopathy as being anything of any real importance. My basic argument is that you guys may well be right about a lot of these individual issues – I don’t know. But the overall argument you’re building with them is still wrong regardless. It’s the structure that’s the fatal flaw, not the components. I simply don’t buy the notion that this means much of anything at all in the larger scale. Can you actually substantiate some sort of link between things like homeopathy and larger scale issues that are demonstratively harmful to society?

              Incidentally, are you seriously saying that you don’t think the placebo effect is real? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone argue that before.

              You need to keep these things in perspective. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that homeopathy consists entirely of companies fraudulently selling tap water as some sort of medication. Just how much are you willing to spend to stop that? Mass education campaigns are expensive, and I’m dubious one would have any real impact. Government action would be even more expensive and would raise civil liberties and government over reach issues. You’d have to run a political campaign even to get the issue on the docket, you’d have to lobby for action on the issue, and generally go through the effort it takes to get legislative or judicial action. Then there’s the cost of the government trying to enforce any new rules. If the government can and should go after homeopathic remedy companies for selling tapwater, then how about bottled water companies? And then there’s the question of the unintended consequences of government intervention – think of Prohibition. Is all of this worth it considering the level of harm being done?

              People do all sorts of shitty things all the time. You have to prioritize trying to deal with them, and you have to try to find courses of action that are both appropriate and proportional to the problem in question, and that are likely to have the sort of outcome you want.

              Newspaper horoscopes are absolutely entertainment. So’s Oprah. So’s the Secret. Do you really think that you should be telling people what sort of entertainment they can and cannot enjoy?

              Yes, I’m happy to consider the possibility that homeopathy might be effective. I’m not in the habit of deciding that something I know very little about can’t possibly be effective. Are you? Would taking that sort of attitude be properly described as skepticism, or as active disbelief? And is active disbelief based solely on ideology and not on evidence any different from any other sort of dogma? I would make a judgement about homeopathy *only* after I’ve read up on it, both the theory *and* the practice, both the views of the supporters *and* detractors. I’m not going to pre-judge the issue based on the personalities involved. It could turn out that homeopathy is completely legit and you’re completely wrong. Or it could turn out that homeopathy is far, far worse then you’ve portrayed it, and you’re still completely wrong. I don’t know.

              And what in the world made you think I’m in any way defending Quantum Vet? I’ve said, repeatedly, that it’s an obvious scam. Assuming it’s not a joke.

              Personally, I think that IQ tests are completely bogus, and the idea behind them is deeply flawed. Different people have different talents and predispositions – trying to turn that into a ranking of how “good” people are is utter BS IMO. But that’s another discussion. My view is that the vast majority of humans are all capable of mastering the vast majority of concepts and skills if they put in enough effort to learn them. Almost no one is good at everything, and almost no one has the time to master every subject. And there’s no reason to. Saying that there are gullible or stupid people and then there are smart or skeptical people is nonsense. We’re all gullible and stupid in areas outside our expertise, and we’re all smart and skeptical in areas within our expertise.

            • Bill

              “Can you actually substantiate some sort of link between things like homeopathy and larger scale issues that are demonstratively harmful to society?”

              Americans spend about $34 billion annually on homeopathic remedies.
              http://www.nbcnews.com/id/32219873/ Since these “medicines” don’t work, presumably that money could be better spent in ways that actually improve lives.

              But maybe you and I have a different definition of “demonstrably harmful.”

            • kessy_athena

              Yes, Bill, we do indeed have different definitions of “demonstrably harmful.” If I were to try to list all the ways that people waste money that could be better spent in ways that actually improve lives, I’m pretty sure I’d break the Patheos server. Are you freaking out over people wasting money going to see Twilight? Are you decrying the evils of taking extra vitamin C capsules? How about going on a Carnival cruise? Does that meet your standard for allowing people to spend their money on what they want? You think that spending money on homeopathics is a waste of money? Fine, I think that spending money on McMansions is a waste of money. I don’t get to impose my tastes on other people, and neither do you.

            • kessy_athena

              Oh, yeah, one more thing, Bill. What I do consider demonstrably harmful to society is someone thinking that they can and should try to dictate to people how they should live their lives. On the one hand we have people peddling what is, at worst, a bunch of harmless placebos. On the other hand we have people thinking they’re justified in setting themselves up as Big Brother because they don’t like how people are spending their money. Which do you think is more demonstrably harmful?

            • Michael

              We don’t go after Twilight, because that’s an actual movie containing real scenes that people really experience. If people were wasting their money watching a blank screen, obviously that would be different. The fact that you can’t understand this distinction says a lot about your ability to analyze pseudoscience.

              Anyway, the complaint isn’t over what customers choose to spend money on, it’s what peddlers claim that isn’t true. Homeopathy is the supreme example of false advertising, which–by the way–is illegal. Vitamin C is not an example of false advertising, assuming it really does contain the stated amount of vitamin C. Some people do need a lot of C, or may take less than a full capsule, and it is not certain that high doses do not have any beneficial effect. At any rate, it is an essential vitamin, whether or not they put in “too much.” But homeopaths don’t put in any active ingredient at all, which makes it a scam.

              This “just leave scams be” bullshit is not going to fly here. People DO have the freedom to buy what they want (within certain bounds). But they do NOT have the freedom to lie about their product. It’s as simple as that.

            • Bill

              “Are you freaking out over people wasting money going to see Twilight? Are you decrying the evils of taking extra vitamin C capsules? How about going on a Carnival cruise?”

              I’m not “freaking out” about anything. Merely pointing out that there is an actual harm to this. People wasting money on these “remedies” – and it’s a lot of money – could be spending it in menaingful ways that improve their lives. Even if those things are recreational. Like seeing a movie of taking a vacation.

              Each of these listed items actually do improve people’s lives in some way. Enjoying a movie – even a bad movie – is a perfectly acceptable form of recreation. As is taking a cruise. Vitamin C has actual medical benefit. I’d much rather have someone plop down $10 to see crappy vampire movie, than to be duped in to spending that money on homeopathic remedies.

              If your best argument is something like “well these people get a placebo effect from taking diluted water so that improves their lives too,” you’re on pretty shakey ground.

              But beyond that, these decisions have actual impact on the quality of our lives as well. Increases in insurance premiums. Increases in legal actions etc… Overall we are not better for this woo being so prevelant.

            • Bill

              “Oh, yeah, one more thing, Bill. What I do consider demonstrably harmful to society is someone thinking that they can and should try to dictate to people how they should live their lives. On the one hand we have people peddling what is, at worst, a bunch of harmless placebos. On the other hand we have people thinking they’re justified in setting themselves up as Big Brother because they don’t like how people are spending their money. Which do you think is more demonstrably harmful?”

              Please point out where I said people shouldn’t be allowed to buy homeopathic remedies? Please tell me where I said I should get to dictate how people live their lives?

              While I would like some stricter regulations on the potential harmful effects of some homeopathic remedies (not all are merely palcebos yet are not regulated like other drugs), I certainly don’t favor banning them. People should get to make their own decisions about what they put in their bodies.

              But that’s not the same as saying there are no harmful effects from those decisions. Nor does it mean I shouldn’t discourage their use through persuasion and discussion.

              For instance, I think that many recreational drugs should be legal. People should be allowed to make their own decisions about using them. But that doesn’t mean I think taking drugs is a good choice. In fact, it many cases it may be an exceptionally bad one.

              Please don’t imply positions I haven’t taken.

          • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/ Scott Bailey

            From your ignorant reply it is fairly clear that you know little to nothing about the extent of new age lies (see Nox below), and even worse have little to no idea what an actual straw man argument is. I am embarrassed for you after reading your reply.

          • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/ Scott Bailey

            Kessy,

            From your ignorant reply it is fairly clear that you know little to nothing about the extent of new age lies and even worse have little to no idea what an actual straw man argument is. If you are so intellectually stunted that you perceive a person who has sold 20 million books, and another who has her own network as “Strawmen” then you are really too ignorant (as in too young, and no knowledge) to have a real conversation with. I am embarrassed for you after reading your reply.

            • Sunny Day

              Scott, now you’ve done it. I’ll be retiring to the air raid shelter to wait this one out if any of you want to join me you’re welcome to it. Just remember to keep your mitts off of my freaking beans.

              http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/1999/12/29

            • kessy_athena

              LOL, don’t worry, Sunny, I’ll personally make sure the bombers heading to your area are loaded with crates of beans, not bombs. ;)

              @Scott – it seems equally clear to me that you have no idea what “New Age” actually means and are only using it as a slur against anything you don’t like, whether they have anything at all to do with each other or not.

              A straw man is a misrepresentation of an opponent’s position designed to discredit that position. For example, taking an extreme and or marginal figure and trying to portray them as representing a wide group or movement. What you’re doing with Chopra is a prime example. And incidentally, lifetime sales of 20 million for someone who’s written 70 books really isn’t all that impressive. For example, that’s about the same as the sales of just Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy (not counting the 400+ other books he wrote). Rowling’s Harry Potter series has total sales of around 450 million.

              Taking the ad in the OP and saying, “Look! See how evil New Ageism is?” is a bit like taking a Nigerian email scam and saying, “Look! See how evil governments are?”

            • Sunny Day

              “And incidentally, lifetime sales of 20 million for someone who’s written 70 books really isn’t all that impressive. ”

              Still that’s more than the 0.00000005% of the worlds population than you initially made it out to be.

            • kessy_athena

              Sunny, you’re referring to when I said that I’d be surprised if there were more then a few hundred people who’d respond to that ad? That’s that and this is this. Chopra’s books and this ad are unrelated.

              Incidentally, I was just reading Chopra’s Wikipedia article. I gotta say, he taught medicine at Tufts, Harvard, and Boston University, he’s the former Chief of Staff at the New England Memorial Hospital, and his Chopra Center for Wellbeing has been granted continuing education credits for some of its programs by the AMA and UC San Diego School of Medicine… he really doesn’t sound like the child eating ogre you guys have been making him out to be. I’m not at all clear what everyone’s problem with him is. That he doesn’t understand Quantum Mechanics and misuses its terminology? Hate to break it to you, but *nobody* understands QM, and the only correct way to talk about it is in the language of differential equations. That he takes traditional Indian medicine seriously? Think about it – do you really want to get up there and say that any sort of medicine that wasn’t invented by Europeans must obviously be complete nonsense? That he emphasizes the mind body connection? Hate to break it to you, but the mind body connection is very real and trying to deny it is pretty much in flat earth territory at this point.

            • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/ Scott Bailey

              I don’t mind people being willfully ignorant of certain things, but the arrogance of someone who is willfully ignorant of something (I don’t know Deepak Chopra), but is still so full of themselves that they want to tell you what your opinion should be concerning him. It is just incredible ignorance. And then to tell me what I think the word “New Age” means… wow, arrogant and a mind reader!

              Tell you what. Go to the book store, go in the New Age section, and we’ll see who has created a strawman. Or continue in your ignorance–I don’t care either way–but don’t try to inform me of what New”Age” is from your ridiculous position of ignorance.

              Are you going to instruct me on theology next without ever reading theology? Maybe you can read my mind again, and tell me what I think about it because I wrote one sentence and then you know everything about me.

            • kessy_athena

              @Scott –

              I’m not telling you what you should think of Deepak Chopra, or homeopathy, or any of the many many things in the world I don’t know enough about to form a firm opinion of myself. I’m telling you that I think you’re taking a bunch of unrelated stuff and trying to make some grand pattern out of it that as far as I can see just isn’t there.

              And you’re taking entirely the wrong approach to trying to understand what “New Age” means. It’s not about books, it’s about people. If you want to learn what it is, go and actually talk to the people involved. And really listen to them, don’t just say, “Oh, they’re using language that sounds silly to me, therefore they must be complete idiots and couldn’t possibly have anything worthwhile to say.”

              @Michael –

              No, it’s not a case of you saying that people should be skeptical and me saying, “Lol, why bother?” I’m saying, “Guys, you’re doing it wrong.” Skepticism is not saying, “Everyone should believe X and disbelieve Y.” Skepticism is not deciding that something is stupid and wrong before learning anything substantive about it based on not liking the people associated with it, or based on it using language that rubs you the wrong way. Skepticism is approaching each new thing saying, “Well, I don’t really know anything about this, so let’s start by seeing what’s here.”

              One brief aside. When it comes to judging something based on not liking the sort of language being used, it seems to me that an awful lot of the conflicts we have in this society really come down to people not speaking the same language. For example, my opinion is that most of the left right fighting over racism and related issues in the US comes down to the simple fact that liberals and conservatives use the word “racism” to mean very different but connected things.

            • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/ Scott Bailey

              Kessy,

              For you to say “really listen to them” in this conversation is the height of hypocrisy, as you have demonstrated an incredible inflexibility, and lack of ability to listen to anyone. Except Wikipedia. Well played.

              Anyways, I am wondering where your magic powers come from? In the last comment I made I asked you to stop pretending to read my mind. Undeterred you plowed forward and now you know my experiences as well apparently. What is it like to have such magic?

              Of course, you don’t have magic, you’re just incredibly arrogant. And you’re probably so arrogant you don’t realize how frustrating it is to try and communicate with someone like you: I know more about you, and what you’re thinking, and your experiences from a couple of blog comments. Do you realize how ugly of a personality trait that is? Even though knowing nothing about Chopra or other subjects haven’t stopped you from discussing them, and even though you have demonstrated an incredible lack to listen, I will briefly lay out my experiences with the “people.” (“It’s not about books, it’s about people.” -seriously? I’m really shaking my head here. You may want to read about the development of this spiritualism because it is certainly rooted in a variety of texts.)

              “It’s about people…”) I am surrounded by people who practice this sort of “spirituality.” Almost my entire wife’s nuclear and extended family attend a New Age church here in my town [http://www.centreforspirit.com/]. My wife’s mother is a certified practitioner at the center, which means she took a bunch of course in self-certified woo and can now guide other people. Her latest business venture–failed–was undertaken because she truly believed she could set her intentions and the universe would make it successful (that’s from The Secret. You’ve probably never read it or heard of it, but you “know” that no one believes it.)

              My sister-in-law is getting married on April 26 because according to her astrological and numerological charts it is her luckiest day. She dumped he last boyfriend based on a horoscope book (more extensive than the ones in the paper), and I kid you not, when they took their last vacation, her boyfriend went to the center and did a “weather treatment.” They payed money, and did whatever new age magic ritual they do, so that they could control weather patterns. (that’s some serious ignorance).

              Last year at Thanksgiving my father-in-law tried to convince me for an hour based on some book he was reading, how powerful the mind is, and that he could light a candle with his mind if he wanted to. My points as to the nature of combustion and testability were quickly swept aside.

              My aunt cuts onions in half and spreads them around their house whenever someone is sick, because they are “bacteria magnets.”

              My in-laws (4 of them, two step) recently payed hundreds of dollars to go see Deepak at a concert. My step-mom calls him a “great man” and because of the woo he peddles in his books about science only dealing with symptoms, but his new age woo actually quantum healing, they now go to healing sessions on Wed night where they use whatever gnostic magic to heal themselves. This despite my father-in-law only being alive because of a triple bypass a few years ago, but his wife is convinced Dr.s are evil.

              My mother-in-law, the practitioner, has sat on her ass eating and drinking too much for the last five years. She is now pre-diabetic because she has put on 100 pounds. But she sits around and meditates that she is beautiful and recently told me the reason she is sick is because she has negative attitudes and that makes her sick at a cellular level, not her dietary habits or sedentary lifestyle.

              I could go on; from family gatherings, to summer bbq’s, to the “fourth” my father-in-law invites for golf. Over and over I am surrounded by those who actively practice this childish philosophy. I also encounter it at my work (I don’t need to tell you what I do, you already know, and know more about it than me, and can fix all of the problems in my field in five easy paragraphs!). That’s what’s so annoying about your arrogance: I’m glad Deepak hasn’t come up in pagan circles. Unfortunately, him, Beckwith, Byrne, et al., come up in serious conversations around me all of the time: not by pagans, but by actual new age people. And I have found that they have received many, many ideas from the books they are reading. Because you don’t have a context for something or understand it, it doesn’t logically follow that people take this philosophy very, very seriously.

            • Sunny Day

              “… don’t know enough about to form a firm opinion of myself. I’m telling you that I think you’re taking a bunch of unrelated stuff and trying to make some grand pattern out of it that as far as I can see just isn’t there.”

              Dafuq? From a position of ignoarance you’ve decided that everyone else doesn’t know what their talking about.

              “Skepticism is not deciding that something is stupid and wrong before learning anything substantive about it based on not liking the people associated with it, or based on it using language that rubs you the wrong way. Skepticism is approaching each new thing saying, “Well, I don’t really know anything about this, so let’s start by seeing what’s here.”

              Dafuq? x2
              How is it that you have not just done this exact thing?

            • kessy_athena

              Scott, I’m left wondering if you’re mad at me or if you’re mad at your family. Whatever else is going on here, it seems pretty clear you’ve got some domestic issues. I’ve always found my therapist to be helpful with these sorts of things. Having an objective, non judgmental person to talk things out with has helped me keep things in perspective.

              Sunny, I just… Okay, when you were in school, did you ever have a teacher deduct points on a math problem, and when you asked why, since you got the right answer, the teacher told you that you lost points because you didn’t show your work? The point is not so much getting the right answer in this particular instance, the point is learning *how* to find the right answer. Maybe Chopra is completely insane, maybe he’s not. Maybe he’s a con artist. Maybe he’s both sane and honest and just happens to disagree with you. In the big picture, what difference does it make? What matters isn’t making sure you have the right view of Chopra, it’s learning how to objectively assess these things. Skepticism is not a destination, it’s a process.

              How much do you know about thermite reactions? Do you actually need to know anything about them to know that whether what the 911 Truthers say about “superthermite” is even remotely within the realm of possibility or not, the overall thesis that the attacks were conducted by a conspiracy within the US government is, shall we say, problematic? To make an effective argument, you need both good facts to build it with, and a good logical plan to put the facts together in a good structure. A failure in either will doom the argument. If your plans are messed up, it doesn’t matter if your building materials are good or bad. society is not dividing into stupid people and smart people, or into gullible people and skeptical people. There’s not some woo supervillian plotting in a secret mountain headquarters. That’s the grand pattern that isn’t there, and in that context it doesn’t matter how crazy or not Chopra is.

            • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/ Scott Bailey

              Someone please show me the woo “super-villain argument…”?

              *sigh*

              A good example of moving the goal-posts. Kessy argues that ignorance is a good example of an airtight argument of a strawman. Someone (Nox) demonstrates she’s wrong. Move the goal-posts. Kessy thinks she can read someone’s mind. They demonstrate she can’t. Move the goal posts. Kessy argues she’s knows someone’s experiences. They demonstrate she can’t. Instead of answering the challenge? Kessy suggests counseling. (move the goal-posts) It’s like talking science with a YEC.

              The first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging. Nox demonstrated a long time ago, briefly and succinctly, why your argument was ignorant and contextless. Instead of continuing to argue from a position of ignorance you should perhaps listen to people who have the experience and training to know what they are talking about.

              But unfortunately: ignorance, arrogance, and inflexibility go hand-in-hand.

            • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/ Scott Bailey

              And Kessy, if you are not an incredibly self-involved douche-bag, this is how you ask questions:

              “Who the heck is Deepak Chopra anyway, and why do you guys keep going on about him? I assure you he’s never come up in any discussions in any pagan circles I’ve been a part of. What does he have to do with this con in any case?”

              You stop there.

              You. Stop. There.

              You don’t know any further context. You have no idea what the wider context of the situation is. And you wait for persons like Nox to answer, and THEN you take that information into context before speaking… unless you are incredibly intellectually arrogant, and you don’t want little niggling things like “information” to inform your opinion.

            • kessy_athena

              You know, Scott, if you’d stop being furious at the Forces of Stupidity for a minute, you might realize that I really do listen to what people say and do my best to respond as well as I can. No, I’m not perfect, and yes I make mistakes, but I do what I can. I don’t know (and never claimed to know) what you’ve gone through or why you dislike Chopra so much, but it has nothing to do with me, and I think you know that. I also don’t know or claim to know what’s happened between you and your family, but from where I’m sitting it sounds like there’s a lot of hurt and anger there. Now maybe I’m wrong – I’ve never claimed to be able to read your mind, and I’m not claiming that now. But that’s how it sounds to me. and when I come across someone who sounds hurt and angry, I want to help. That’s why I suggested therapy, and that’s the only reason why. You said you have problems with your family, and you made them sound fairly serious. When you have serious problems with your family, it’s best to seek the help of the appropriate medical professional – a therapist.

              “Someone please show me the woo “super-villain argument…”?”
              Okay, if you insist. Yes, “woo super villain” is hyperbolic, but it’s hyperbole with a point.

              Scott Bailey: “Deepak Chopra was in my town a few months ago and sold out. Oprah has her own network. Horoscopes are still printed in papers. People still spend exorbitant amounts of money on homeopathy and applied kiniesiology. The Secret and other new age textbooks of stupidity sell many, many copies. Scientology still exists!

              There are a lot; an incredible amount; of very stupid people waiting to be separated from their money so that they can believe a beautiful lie. It’s depressing.”

              Nox: “I’m pretty sure Scott Bailey was not saying Oprah is actually affiliated with scientology. The things he listed there are multiple examples of things that have been massively successful by promising impossible things to ignorant people.

              Willful ignorance is the biggest danger facing humanity. Yeah maybe this dog vet cell phone app will only appeal to a vanishingly small minority. But the willful ignorance it attempts to exploit is what got George W. Bush reelected and what causes many parents to still entrust their children to catholic priests.”

              Michael: “I’m interested in your definition of “massive stupidity” here. Certainly not everyone can have a low IQ, for instance. But anyway it isn’t specifically stupidity here that is the main point of concern, but gullibility. The combination of the two is quite potent.

              And no, it is not a rare combination, but nor is it universal. That’s the whole fucking point of skepticism. Ultimately this comes down to Sunny and Nox and I saying that people should be skeptical, and you saying “lol why bother?””

              In other words, the ad in the OP, Chopra, Winfrey, Scientology, and all the rest are part of a larger pattern of stupidity (or gullibility, or willful ignorance, or something along those lines) in society where you have large numbers of stupid, gullible, or ignorant people being manipulated by con artists in a way that is having serious negative large scale effects beyond the immediate issue of whatever particular instance you’re talking about. If I’m mischaracterizing any of the arguments as they were presented at the time, please point that out to me.

              I argued in reply that there isn’t an us and them division between smart people and stupid people, that we’re all stupid and gullible some of the time, and we all make mistakes and believe things we shouldn’t, and we all make decisions and purchase things based on fulfilling emotional needs and not rational decision making. I argued that these sorts of things are not really any different from buying a Muscle Blaster 9000X or paying those exorbitant phone charges to vote on American Idol. In short, there is no grand pattern, no conspiracy of woo, just people being people. Thus, the woo super villain crack.

              I have never claimed to be able to read anyone’s mind or know what their experiences are, and am frankly puzzled why you’d claim I did. If I sounded like I did, that certainly wasn’t my intention. Not automatically adopting your position is not being arrogant and inflexible. The conversation moving to a different tangent is not moving the goal posts. Disagreeing with your arguments is not failing to listen. I can and do change my opinions if people give me good reason to do so. Scott, your posts have come across to me as sounding like mostly just pure emotion. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not a persuasive argument.

              And I would have stopped at “Who the heck is Deepak Chopra?” if the conversation had only been about him. It wasn’t – Chopra was one of a laundry list of topics you listed, so naturally I proceeded to respond to the other things on that list. I didn’t know the wider context? You’re right – I didn’t and I still don’t, beyond the rather general information that it has something to do with friction with your family. Because you haven’t told me. I’m sorry that you have these things to deal with in rl, but you can’t expect me to take things into account that you haven’t told me about.

            • Michael

              Kessy, is your argument that we should not complain about scams because we might fall for them? Or that we are only allowed to criticize people we are smarter than?

              I’m really not getting your point here.

            • http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/ Scott Bailey

              Kessy, it’s very simple whether you intended to or not: when you assumed what I was thinking, you in a way thought you knew my thoughts (I demonstrated that above). When you assumed I had never sat down and “listened” to a new age person you assumed you knew my experiences (I demonstrated that above). Now, you are assuming, quite incorrectly once again, that I am very hurt because my wife’s family are ignorant and gullible–apparently you can’t stop making incorrect assumptions about me!

              Read my comment again. The clues that I don’t need counseling are a) I never say anything about being angry with them; b) one of the conversations took place at a Thanksgiving dinner in which we were hanging out; and c) the part about me playing golf with my father-in-law. I still hang out with these people on a regular basis because I love my wife, and they are still decent people even though they ‘believe’ some incredibly stupid stuff. After my sister in-law-gets married next April on her “lucky” astrological date–which for the record I think is incredibly stupid, ignorant, and naive–we are going to Mexico for two weeks with her and her new husband.

              I can disagree with people, and not need counseling. You commented that you are in counseling, and if you automatically think disagreeing with people assumes counseling: I can see why you’re in counseling.

              I also like the part where you are allowed to be hyperbolic in an argument–but at the beginning of this particular disagreement–I’m not allowed to associate topics that have exaggerated claims at their core based on metaphysical or reality-ignorant speculations. And it’s a “strawman” because you know nothing about those topics or how they could be associated! Yep, definitely, like discussing science with a YEC’er.

              Finally, Nox has already explained why that laundry list of topics were associated, which significantly calls into question your assertion that you “really do listen.”

            • Sunny Day
  • Artor

    Is it because this is directed at animals that they aren’t getting sued to hell & back for making unfounded medical claims?

    • kessy_athena

      I would imagine that like most cons of this sort they use a shell game approach to hide the real identity of those behind it – front companies, phony mailing addresses, that sort of thing. If you went through the trouble of tracking them down, they’d probably turn out to be in Nigeria or Ukraine or some place like that. They’re playing a numbers game – it costs them very little to spam the internet to get a handful of bites, while tracking them down would take more time and effort then it’s really worth. Not to mention their website is almost certainly an attack site that will give you a nice little souvenir.

      My only real question is, what in the world does this have to do with New Agers?

  • http://Disqus Obliged_Cornball

    And I thought quantum woo-pushers were frustrating…now I read this.

  • kenneth

    I’m just pissed I didn’t think of it first!

  • Dutchhobbit

    I call poe

    • Sunny Day

      Well Bonsai Kitten was a joke site and an obvious one at that, but this site actually has a set up where you can send them actual money as opposed to the quantum kind.

      • Jabster

        Wasn’t that also true of the we’ll look after your pets when the rapture happens website?

  • Robster

    We have to remember that there’s many gullible people out there, people who it seems will believe anything including silly nonsense like this little offering. People buy the baby jesus/mo/allah etc nonsense too so there is a market for stuff like this. You’ve got to laugh!

  • http://yaburrow.googlepages.com yvonne

    I just want to point out (in response to the discussion thread above) that Pagan and New Age are not the same thing. I once wrote an article trying to make the distinction but it was so ranty that I decided not to publish it. Maybe one day I will try to write another one.

    I am appalled by this Quantum Vet thing. But I wonder how many people would really fall for it? Yes, there are other forms of pseudo-science and hokum offered widely, and yes people fall for them, but surely this is so stupid that even people who subscribe to other things that are a bit dubious aren’t going to fall for this. There is, after all, a spectrum of irrationality.

  • http://yaburrow.googlepages.com yvonne

    It’s also quite amusing that the phone in the picture appears to be an old Nokia, which isn’t even 3G and therefore couldn’t run any apps anyway.

    The dog is quite cute, though.


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