Sunday, December 28, 2008

Awesome Poetry

Hat tip to PZ for showing me this:

Storm sure repeats a lot of doggerel. This Tim Minchin guy did a wonderful job, but I feel like typing up some of my thoughts on Storm's thought-stopping cliches:

"Knowledge is merely opinion."

Last I checked, opinion was stuff that you couldn't prove or disprove. Science may not get up to mathematics in certainty, but we can gather a lot of evidence and get extremely high confidence values.

"But the human body is a mystery..."

And getting less and less so, thanks to continual medical advances.

"Science just falls into a hole when it tries to explain the soul."

And it's been steadily filling the holes these woos call souls. Just like any anti-materialist screed, gaps are used to fill a petty need. (Great, now I'm doing it.)

"Pharmaceutical companies are the enemy..."

Far less than the alties. Real medicine has to go through a battery of tests before it's accepted and marketed. That's how it should be. Yes, they've got a profit motive to encourage them to cut corners, but that's why the FDA and similar organizations exist to police them. Alties are just complaining about their competition and generally turn to rants against the FDA because they want deregulation so they can sell anything without worrying about consumer protection measures.

"...They promote drug dependency..."

This is something I find really odd coming from an altie. I've often run into woos who try to convince me that I'm really sick, bombarded with vague toxins, dangerous electric fields from powerlines, miasmas, that I'm dehydrated from not drinking 8 glasses of pure water, or that I'm malnourished because I cook my food. So they try to get me to buy their juices, pills, and waves of their hands. And they want me to get regular sessions.

"...At the cost of natural remedies."

Someone doesn't know their medical history. Many medicines are derived from natural sources. Pharmaceutical companies just refine them to get rid of unnecessary (or even dangerous) other ingredients.

"...They're immoral and driven by greed..."

More reason to maintain consumer protection groups and not give in to altie propaganda. You know, I wonder just how big the profit margin on sCAM typically is. Probably much larger, especially for stuff like homeopathy.

"Why take drugs when herbs can solve it?"

If an herb can solve it, that pretty much makes it a drug. And many drugs are just the concentrated active ingredient of some herbs.

"Why do chemicals when homeopathic solvents can resolve it?"

Homeopathy is absolutely pure bunk.

"Shakespeare said it first: There are more things in Heaven and earth than exist in your philosophy."

Of course there are. Science is about finding them. When we find something new, our philosophy is designed to expand. We've been dreaming up and finding stuff for a long time. Unfortunately for the woos, they never dreamt of any of it at any time. All they have is bald assertion that it's something else.

"Science is just how we're trained to look at reality..."

Said by someone obviously not trained in science. Most people aren't. Besides, even if everyone got trained in scientific thought, what's wrong with that? Science is an inherently expansive, adaptive way of thought. Woo is reactionary.

"...It doesn't explain love or spirituality..."

Someone doesn't pay much attention to the world.

"How does science explain psychics..."

Trickery, confirmation bias, various other observation fallacies. Turns out there's always a simpler explanation than psychic powers. Which haven't contributed anything to our knowledge of the universe.


Same set as psychics.

"the afterlife"

What afterlife? Evidence, please.

"or the power of prayer"

Prayer doesn't work.

"But you're just closed-minded, I think your FAITH in science and tests is just as blind as faith of any fundamentalist."

Projection, thy name is woo. Science is designed to accomodate change and expansion. Anything can be challenged.

So, that's the last we hear of Storm in the thing. One of my favorite bits from Tim as a metaphor for this bizarre craving for the supernatural:
To gild refined gold,
To paint the lily,
To throw perfume on the violet,
Is just fucking silly.


Don said...

Every time something Tim Minchin has done shows up, I like him more. I wonder if he's ever going to tour in the US in the future.

Anonymous said...

About the over medication bit, I gotta say I know a number of people who are into the "natural remedy" stuff (I have a sneaky suspicion that if someone was to do a census on this state, one might find a strong corrolation between those "of faith" and those using nonsense medicine).

I have to say I find it hilarious when someone like a relative gives a rant about people taking way too much medication these days, and then I notice an entire kitchen counter covered end to end with bottles of "suppliments" like vitamins and homeopathic mixes. I'm not exxagerating. They take way more "medicine" than I've ever seen anyone on legit medicine take. They just get told they need "this and this and this" and never once get any warnings about how one might cause some bad results when combined with another, because natural remedies "have no side effects". I fear one of these days one of my relatives is going to overdose on B-12 or something.