Monday, January 28, 2008

Call for Doggerel

I've been stuck in a little bit of writer's block in regards to skepticism, lately. Would be nice to have some ideas for Doggerel in the pipe.

Also, for you medical types, I was thinking about offering a chance to do some guest Doggerel entries. I've been thinking of doing "mercury" and "toxins" for quite a while. Lot of anti-vax woos out there who broaden the former beyond all meaning, and general alties who almost never get specific about the latter. It'd be helpful if I had someone with more expertise and knowledge at their fingertips to do those entries. It'll save me a little time on research.


Bing said...

You'll like this. How about the dodgy phrase "some aren't so sure, as in:

Tom Foss said...

"Toxins" and "poisons" are silly in part because people don't understand that the danger's more in the dosage than the substance. As far as I know, there's no such thing that is toxic in any dosage, just as most things can become toxic at large enough doses.

Anonymous said...

'Toxins' and 'poisons' are not silly, the simplistic reaction of the people is silly. There are substances that can do damage in any amount -- consider what a single prion can potentially do.

There are also issues of accumulation and delayed effects. Even if at times it's not practical to tie particular damage to particular exposure doesn't mean that there wasn't any damage.

One can go on. But for most people 'toxin' means a drop of it makes you turn green and fall over immediately, or something else similarly cinematic.

-- GM

Tom Foss said...

consider what a single prion can potentially do.

I have a hard time considering a prion a "toxin" in the same way that I have a hard time considering viruses to be "toxins." I realize that prions are considerably simpler, but (last I heard) they fall into that weird gray area between "life" and "non-life."

There are also issues of accumulation and delayed effects.

Agreed...don't see where I would have said anything contrary to that.

Anonymous said...

Viruses are a bit too complex and involved, IMO, to be considered toxins. They need functional cell machinery. Prions, on the other hand, can act in vitro, in purified cell fractions that don't have any functioning machinery. They're catalysts from hell.

-- GM

Anonymous said...

Here's an annoying one.

"Well that's just what I believe."

What's annoying is that it's what they say after you've challenged them on every little point of some thing in a debate and this is said basically as their way of saying "I have no rational arguments so I'm just going to stop the argument right here".

Here's another one. "Do you expect me to go study every single book and report out there before I decide anything? I don't have that kind of time." That one's annoying to me because it suggests that learning about the world around you is a "hastle" to a lot of people and they don't see why they "should have to" go through all that annoying learning. They just want to live their life, not learn about it.

Anonymous said...

What about "godless"? I've heard almost every scientific concept called that as some sort of refutation because they didn't totally agree with a particular religion's magical book. On the other hand, "holy" could also work, as some other things are supposedl off-limits because they are endorsed by said holy book.

Laser Potato said...

"Alarmist" is one you should tackle. When very real and OBSERVABLE environmental issues are brought up, they're dismissed as "alarmist", but the very same people are fond of inventing sitations to justify thier actions that are as likely as an earthworm becoming an Oxford graduate.

Anonymous said...

In the earthworm's defense, it did just come across a power suit from space. Granted the suit was meant for a biped but the worm seems to be able to use it rather well.

Scott said...

I've been reading for just about a year and haven't commented yet so I hope this isn't coming off as ignorant.

Have you dealt with something that I have come to call "The Moral Superiority of the Victim"? It's where someone uses their personal (and negative) experiences to dismiss an argument. It starts with an appeal to pity (I'm a victim of X) to set up an appeal to authority (which makes me an expert on X) and ends with an ad hominem (because you are not a vicitm/expert, your unqualified to speak on the subject).

Bronze Dog said...

Some good suggestions here.

For the most recent: Good one, Scott. Kind of related to "What did [Woo] ever do to you?", since they're apparently asking for evidence of the skeptic's victimhood, as if that meant anything.

Tom Foss said...

GM: Again, I'm no expert on prions, but it still seems like they're more "infectious" than "toxic." At this point, I think the problem with "toxin" is that it's a pretty ill-defined term.

Scott: I suppose it could be like "You don't know what it's like!" It's related to "try it yourself" and "what has [woo] ever done to you," as BD mentioned, but I think it's different enough to warrant its own entry. It shows up with the "I/someone I know was hurt by medical malpractice" or "I had a really incompetent doctor" stories to support woo-treatments, and there's a little of it in the "bad leader/bad person I know was an atheist" claims.

Anonymous said...

"My opinion" ?

As in "I'm entitled to my opinion!" despite having the facts explained to them about how wrong they are..

A recent example that someone has used in an arguement - The fact remains I am entitled to an opinion like anybody else and I'm sticking to it.

Ritalin is a stimulant and therefore cannot have a calming effect.
It's insanity to think otherwise.

Scott said...

Thanks for the suggestions, BD and Tom. I went back to reread and found that #55: "You haven't walked in my shoes" pretty much nails it.

Don said...

How about "expanding awareness" or "expanding consciousness" or "raising consciousness" (when its used by woos with no clear definition rather than by Richard Dawkins who means something real and useful).

Maybe just "consciousness" itself.

Tom Foss said...

If you've managed to go this long without somehow doing "consciousness," then I absolutely second it as a next submission. Somehow, it finds its way into most sorts of woo, from newage to quantum nonsense to various stripes of Christianity.

I agree with "expanding consciousness" or even just "expanding," as applied to "worldview" and "mind" as well.