All posts by Daniel Bennett

Growing up as a child I was never really exposed to religion per se, I would be technically considered a third generation atheist. My childhood home in Los Angeles afforded me a great opportunity to observe the cultural complexities others have and how their different religious idolism effected their day to day lives. To me, I see religion as something that people use as a coping mechanism to better understand a world they cannot seem to grasp; a metaphorical crutch on reality. I am often bewildered by what others tell me about their beliefs and how contradictory they can be to contemporary scientific understanding. People are sometimes shocked when I tell them that I myself am an atheist and sometimes they're even confused by this notion. "But you seem like such a nice person", "How could you have served in the military and been an atheist? ", "How can you be so moralistic and not believe in god?" These are the some of the typical questions I get when talking to people when the subject comes up. I have had plenty of people who become almost instantly hostile towards me after they learn that I am a 'non-believer', even when I have been very polite and non-confrontational. I have even had people I had once considered to be my friends stop communicating with me upon learning that I don't aspire to some higher power. When I look at how people use their religion in order to influence and control others I am disheartened by this in many ways. It's wielded like a weapon to channel their hate and discriminatory views into society. To me and many others, some of the things they do in the name of their god are as indelible as the sins they detest so greatly, a great many of people suffer and die due to this. I care about people because life is the most precious commodity in the universe. We have but this one chance to live and isn't that reason enough to care for one another? That is my experience.

Dan’s Rant on Fad Dieting

There’s a woman here that is one of our clients that happens to be a vegan…how do I know she’s a vegan? She won’t stop fucking talking about it and it’s purported moral and health benefits.

It pains me to hear nonsensical ideology and woo presented as facts from what’s really just a lifestyle choice (and more power to you if it makes you happy). We get it, you’re a vegan and a business woman who’s income allows you to eat fad food and enjoy an eccentric diet that gives you a smug sense of self- gratification and moral superiority in your quest for who’s the healthiest person in the room. In all honesty, I see it as a form of middle aged image insecurity.

Guess what, your genetics already has your count down timer set and there’s only so much you can do to extend it, “welcome to the lottery.” So while you stuff you face with chickpeas, kale chips, gluten free bread, and wash it down with fluoride free alkaline water from Japan; I’m going to enjoy my burger and fries, with a coke because guess what lady, you only live once; enjoy it and for fucks sakes smell the flowers every once in a while. You’ll be happier and who knows, you might even live a little longer in doing so.

The problem with E.T.

It’s statistically possible (and likely even in our own solar system) for there to be life on other planets, even intelligent life for that matter. But because our universe is so vast, the likelihood of our species making any contact with another intelligent alien species is extremely remote… I’m just being realistic.

The next closest star Alpha Centauri takes 4 years for its light to reach us, this would make space travel very difficult for the long distances it would take to make physical contact. And even if they had the technology to visit, what would compel such a highly advanced alien race to seek us out?

Here’s the problem with our simplistic view on aliens in the universe. Typically pop culture displays them as being only about a few hundred years more advanced than we are. The reality is the universe is vastly old, 13.4 billion years and counting. It would not be entirely improbable that a potential visiting alien species would be millions of years more advanced than us.

A species that was theoretically 5 million years more advanced than us would be unfathomably ahead in technology and we wouldn’t even comprehend the advancements that they were making. There would be technology we would have no idea would be even possible. As for those ancient aliens conspiracy theories, it is laugh worthy to think that a highly advanced alien species would visit this planet and not leave a massive technological imprint on our species in the process; that is if they did decide to help us out.

It’s safe to assume that any reasonable person has at one time or another gazed up at the night sky and dreamed of what or  who was out there just waiting to be discovered. Afterall, it would be fantastic to finally answer the question “are we alone in the universe?” Optimistically most likely we aren’t, but chances are we will never meet. Even if they did visit us, would we even know it or be worth their time?

AAPN on Chiropractic

“Chiropractic is a freak offshoot from osteopathy. Disease, say the chiropractors, is due to pressure on the spinal nerves; ergo it can be cured by “adjusting” the spinal column. It is the sheerest quackery, and those who profess to teach it make their appeal to the cupidity of the ignorant. Its practice is in no sense a profession but a trade – and a trade that is potent for great harm. It is carried on almost exclusively by those of no education, ignorant of anatomy, ignorant even of the fundamental sciences on which the treatment of disease depends.”
Journal of the American Medical Association, 1913

Chiropractic is considered to be one of the most accepted forms of quackery practiced in alternative medicine and, unfortunately, ACTUAL medicine as well. It is responsible for major injuries like arterial tearing/strokes, major nerve damage, fractures, infections due to poor sanitation practices, haphazard and poor regulatory practices, poor or incorrect medical advice, and every year is associated with preventable death and serious bodily harm.

The history of chiropractic began in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer of Iowa performed an apparent neck adjustment on a partially deaf janitor, Harvey Lillard. Mr. Palmer claimed that this subtle neck adjustment completely restored Mr. Lillard’s hearing; although this makes absolutely zero anatomical sense as the nerves for your hearing do not intersect your neck. This experience led Palmer to open a school of chiropractic two years later. Rev. Samel Weed later coined the word “chiropractic” from Greek roots.

Similar to the idea of chi practice where they believe in energy flow disruptions causing the root of all illness, “vertebral subluxation” is the misalignment of the spinal column which leads to body dysfunction, disease, and interferes with the bodies “innate intelligence”. Granted many chiropractic care providers choose to ignore the origins and bases for chiropractic, the problem is there are major inconsistencies with care provided by Chiropractic clinicians.

Chiropractors are not medical doctors or medical professionals and have a very short schooling period that varies from school to school depending on that particular institution’s ideology and curricula. A United States Department of Education staff analysis found that the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) was not in compliance with 44 of the criteria for accrediting agencies outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations. This included failure to comply with regulations governing conflicts of interest, record keeping, processing of student complaints and the adequacy of its site review of accredited chiropractic colleges. The schooling they do receive has shown to be suspect and contrary to accepted scientific facts and evidence. A survey of a 1999–2000 cross-section of students of CMCC reported that fourth-year students opposed vaccination more strongly than first-year’s, with 29.4% of fourth-year’s opposing vaccination. So when it comes to being a “healthcare provider” this is extremely contradictory and dangerous.

Chiropractic Care and Placebo have historically scored about the exact same but there has been an egregious lack in clinical trials and studies. The research on chiropractic has been far from rigorous unsurprisingly. One of the problems is that studies of spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) can’t be double blinded, and it is very difficult to even do single blinding. So most studies resort to non-manipulation control groups like “usual care” or “wait list” or “pain medication.” Those studies are practically guaranteed to lead to false positive conclusions: they make SMT look more effective than it would look if you could provide a control that patients couldn’t distinguish from real SMT. This has been one of the ways Chiropractic has been able to get away with their claims consistently without having to provide burden of proof and efficacy. Chiropractic usually goes hand-in-hand with naturopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbalism, holistic care, and other unfounded alternative medicine practices.
Therefore Chiropractic is not a recognized form of Medical Science and is not based upon empirical evidence but on anecdotal testimony.

One of the best ways to see this is by using what is known as Hill’s criteria. Sir Austin Bradford Hill established contemporary epidemiology as strength (strength of association), consistency, specificity, temporality (temporal sequence), dose response, experi-
mental evidence, biological plausibility, coherence, and
analogy. They form the fundamental prerequisites and assessment criteria of the cause-effect relationship. In reguards to Chiropratic, Hill’s criteria are the most commonly used epidemiologic model for suggesting a causal link for any diagnostic or treatment approach. There is a significant lack of evidence in the literature to fulfill Hill’s criteria of causation with regards to the chiropractic subluxation. No supportive evidence is found for the chiropractic subluxation being associated with any disease process or of creating suboptimal health conditions requiring intervention. Regardless of popular appeal this leaves the subluxation construct in the realm of unsupported speculation. This lack of supportive evidence suggests the subluxation construct has no valid clinical applicability.

Sources:

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/chirostroke.html

Coroner’s Jury Concludes That Neck Manipulation Killed Canadian Woman.

Did chiropractic neck manipulation kill Katie May?

http://www.chirobase.org/15News/lewis.html

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X08009511?via%3Dihub

Dept. of Education to Council on Chiropractic Education: “Straighten Up!”

An epidemiological examination of the subluxation construct using Hill’s criteria of causation, 2009

https://chiromt.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/1746-1340-17-13?site=chiromt.biomedcentral.com

A Credible Placebo Control for Chiropractic Research

There Is No Conclusive Evidence That Cannabinoids Actually Cure Cancer

 

 

On the subject of cannabis:

Many healthcare providers can agree that cannabis can alleviate some symptoms associated with cancer, like pain and nausea, as well as the side effects associated with the various kinds of cancer treatments available. But there is no conclusive evidence that it targets any one of the thousands of different and unique types of cancer systemic to the human population. Cancer isn’t just a simple disease: it has multiple causes and multiple ways of causing death and bodily harm. The drugs that can treat these various cancers can be extremely diverse, and one drug that will work with one particular type of cancer won’t work with another. In addition to the many varieties of cancers, each person has unique genetic characteristics which must be taken into account when designing a treatment plan.

The study people like to cite is this one:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171598/

When you look at the actual facts, cannabis isn’t a miracle cure. The conclusion in the paper states that the  study was inconclusive and needed more research. The paper makes no mention of cancer cell destruction, either. It does talk about slowing down metastasizing factors, but not actually killing cancer cells themselves. It even acknowledged that in some cases cannaboids enhanced tumor growth:
“Furthermore, endocannabinoids- AEA and 2-AG are broken down into secondary metabolites like prostaglandin (PGE2) and epoxyeicosatetraenoic acid (EE) which enhance tumor growth and metastasis in diverse cancer types.”

Even if it was shown to have an effect on receptor sites or outright kills pancreatic cancer cells for example, without damaging the surrounding tissue, that’s still just 1 cancer out of many other varieties with multiple variables. With that being said another study even showed that cannabinoids actually had carcinogenic factors that increased the risk of pancreatic as well as other cancers for that matter:

http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/64/6/1943.short

“In contrast, Grand and Gandhi recently presented a case study of acute pancreatitis induced by cannabis smoking, indicating that cannabinoids may be a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.”


Above are test results that presents a potential link to cancer from cannabinoids. See the above citation for further information.                                 

Thinking a plant or a single chemical can cure cancer is ridiculous and shows a fundamental lack in understanding medical science. Cannabis has become the new herbalism that quacks and charlatans are using pushing without any evidence to back up their claims.

So in, conclusion, there are specific cancers that cannabinoids may have an effect on reducing metastasis in cancer cells but in others it enhances tumor growth. The current state of the research does not support cannabis as a miracle cancer cure, or even a particularly effective cancer treatment.

A typical method utilized by alternative medicine and quacks are using the plea to emotion to bolster their position rather than using empirical evidence.

Can’t we just agree that it’s simply fun to enjoy without all the nonsense attached to it?

Whooping In Washington

KitsapPeninsulaAreaMap02
In Washington state, here in the United States, pertussis (whooping cough) caused nearly 200 campers to be sent home early after whooping cough prompted the YMCA of Greater Seattle to close the overnight camp on the Kitsap Peninsula. This is yet another dangerous example of the rejection of vaccine uptake. The rise of misinformation and alternative medicine has been increasing and the rejection of science-based modern medicine has been gaining momentum. As we know, vaccines work by stimulating our immune system to produce antibodies (substances produced by the body to fight disease) without actually infecting us with the disease. They trigger the immune system to produce its own antibodies, as though the body has been infected with a disease. There have been many factors leading to this decline: a lot of this has to do with celebrities endorsing fallacious claims; Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, for example. All this was due to a former British Gastroenterologist named Andrew Wakfield and his fraudulent study published in the Lancet articles.

The best way to prevent pertussis (whooping cough) is to get vaccinated. There are vaccines for babies, children, preteens, teens, and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster vaccine for preteens, teens, and adults is called Tdap. Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease. Initial symptoms are usually similar to those of the common cold with a runny nose, fever, and mild cough, followed by weeks of severe coughing fits. After a fit of coughing, a high-pitched whoop sound or gasp may occur as the person breathes in, and may last for 10 or more weeks, hence the phrase “100-day cough”. A person may cough so hard that they vomit, break ribs, or become very tired from the effort. Children less than one year old may have little or no cough and instead have periods where they do not breathe. Infection in newborns is particularly severe.

Pertussis is fatal in an estimated 1.6% of hospitalized US infants under one year of age. First-year infants are also more likely to develop complications, such as: pneumonia (20%), encephalopathy (0.3%), seizures (1%), failure to thrive, and death (1%) perhaps due to the ability of the bacterium to suppress the immune system. Pertussis can cause severe paroxysm-induced cerebral hypoxia, and 50% of infants admitted to hospital suffer apneas. Reported fatalities from pertussis in infants increased substantially from 1990 to 2010. There is no excuse for these kind of vaccine preventable diseases.

Sources:

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/state/washington/article93698202.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pertussis

https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/

Enough With The 9/11 Conspiracy Theories!

 

Some facts and figures for conspiracy theorists

 

•1 Inertia is a bitch, a fully loaded jumbo jet slammed into a tower at high speed dead center and at an angle; so the structural stability of the building was already compromised.

hqdefault

•2 The steel doesn’t have to melt, although jet fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt steel, the higher the heat the higher the plasticity of the metal; thus increasing structural instability.

twin-towers

•3 There was plenty of structure above the point of impact that was still being supported, which equals a lot of weight above the point of impact.

maxresdefault

•4 Time, with all these factors at play, the longer the fire burned, the more the structure became unstable.

•5 The perfect storm: with everything that happened to the tower, the tower catastrophically failed and the weight of the structure being supported above the impact site came down. The collapsing building acted like a zipper which is why the buildings fell in the fashion they did.

WTC-041

•6 The reason windows were blowing out below the collapsing building was due to differential pressure from air compression.

weststreet.jet.b


So no, this is easily explained by science…

Any questions? If not, class is dismissed…

#infowars #truthers #AlexJones #ConspiracyTheories #ItsAConspiracy

Atheism is not an Institution

When religion and those that align themselves with a particular one like the RCC that commits atrocities against people that should be protected. Those names and people that have done these horrific crimes are protected instead. Then we get the apologists sticking up for this behavior. Don’t waste the hot air on those of us that don’t agree with your religion instead look within and start asking questions yourself and why the victims of abuse have been met with resistance.
Atheism is not a religion nor does it follow a doctrine and it isn’t a political movement. Non-belief in a deity is what separates atheism from theism period. I don’t have a Dawkins shrine at my house (contrary to belief)…and I actually disagree with a couple minute things….but the differences in my disagreement can do be based on individual views……These men don’t speak for me, they aren’t my appointed leaders. I don’t look for their guidance in my everyday life.
Do I agree with them on a debate about rational thought, evolution, biology and secularism? Sure, but not because of who they are and what they promise me, but because I agree with their non-belief.
The very reason I am an atheist is because I am an individual thinker in my non-belief. I am skeptic. I do right by society because I have to live in THIS society.
Misogyny, homophobia, GM, and other mistreatment of those that don’t subscribe to their stupidity is something every believer should be asking themselves today. “Why would I belong to a group that commits these horrific acts?” And “Why am I, as a believer, not doing everything I can to stop these crimes yesterday?”

Reason;
The believer would have to ask themselves some hard questions and that might rock their world. As a citizen of the world but more specifically of the USA, I’m concerned that a very vocal group wants to take away the right to choose to have a legal procedure done, that is of no business to anyone except my doctor and myself. They want to take away human rights to those people that are different in skin color, gender or sexual orientation.
I believe these communities need equal rights NOW not when people feel “more comfortable” about the idea.
The false equivalence that I’m oppressing religion by speaking truth about their practices is ridiculous. Especially when thousands of years worth of death, violence and mutilation have occurred and been encouraged by religions. Should we address these issues as a group? YES of course, that however doesn’t make one a believer in a religion but a protector of the human experience.

religious-fanatic

Religion is an institution. Atheism is NOT.

– Gelliebeans

How Racism and Sexism Still Persists in the Atheist Community

racism

 

How Racism and Sexism Still Persists in the Atheist Community

In my time being active in the atheist community, I have noticed that there has been a sort of subset of radical thinking. Racism and sexism have really been on the rise in the atheist community, and it’s showing up often in social media.

Talking as an administrator on the general AAPN Facebook page (commonly referred to as “the main page”) where my gender was unknown to the person, has shown me how people will talk differently when they make gender assumptions. When we shared a Facebook post about this topic, we were swarmed with comments and as I was pitching my 2 cents with the other admins, I had noticed a strange thing happen. As I said, when an administrator on the main page speaks, it just shows as AAPN speaking, well when I was criticizing some people for having a sexist attitude, it seemed that they assumed that I was a woman speaking to them, which I thought was an odd assumption since there are no details on who exactly was speaking.

What was even more interesting was how some of those folks started referring to me as “sweetie” or “babe”, at that point after they started calling me pet names, I finally confronted them about it and that they were talking to a male the entire time, suddenly the pet names stopped.

We have also had messages to the main page from self professed atheists wanting to know our opinions on race and intelligence, and which race we thought as being superior. This is an absolutely terrible train of thought to be in as to somehow view yourself as superior to your fellow man. Every culture, has something great to offer the world when religious beliefs are cast aside.

We atheists need to strive to be the example in the world, and sadly we are failing at that. Lately my mantra has been “atheism =/= rationalism, it’s just a step in the right direction”; and sadly that’s been holding true. I have seen first hand how atheists that are woman and/or minorities are treated very disrespectfully and the only thing they did was stick up for themselves. Sexism and racism is a real thing that is happening in our community and it’s time we step up to it and not tolerate it anymore.

Using Genetics to Disprove Biblical Stories

In genetics we can look at genetic diversity in everyone and everything and find common genetic traits which would indicate a significant reduction in a given population. This is done by finding and identifying genetic traits that only a small breeding population would have in common and would be subsequently carried down through subsequent generations. If the story of Genesis and Noah were true, we would see genetic bottlenecks showing a breeding population of a very limited number and we would be able to identify roughly when it happened; but this is not the case at all.

wrong

If you don’t know what a genetic bottleneck is, it is a sharp reduction in the size of a population due to environmental events (such as earthquakes, floods, fires, disease, or droughts) or human activities (such as genocide). Such events can reduce the variation in the gene pool of a population; thereafter, a smaller population with a correspondingly smaller genetic diversity, remains to pass on genes to future generations of offspring through sexual reproduction. Genetic diversity remains lower, only slowly increasing with time as random mutations occur. In consequence of such population size reductions and the loss of genetic variation, the robustness of the population is reduced and its ability to survive environmental changes can be reduced.

Our last genetic bottle neck is estimated to have occurred over 100,000 years ago and even then there were still thousands of genetic variances belonging to a few thousand individual ancestors.  In 2000, a Molecular Biology and Evolution paper suggested a transplanting model or a ‘long bottleneck’ to account for the limited genetic variation, rather than a catastrophic environmental change. This would be consistent with suggestions that in sub-Saharan Africa numbers could have dropped at times as low as 2,000, for perhaps as long as 100,000 years, before numbers began to expand again in the late stone age.

worldpopulat

 Now with that being said, we would see this same genetic bottleneck in every animal on earth happening at the exact same times if the bible was accurate, and yet there is zero evidence to support these ridiculous conclusion. What is so frustrating to scientists is that creationists think that the only evidence for evolution is fossils and educated conclusions. This is entirely incorrect since evolution is also written in your genes and thus not only debunks the story of Noah, but the Genesis story as well. This is yet another reason why we know evolution is a fact and that the bible is not factual by any scientific standard.

-AAPN

References:

http://news.discovery.com/human/genetics/human-diversity-bottlenecks.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_bottleneck

Hawks J, Hunley K, Lee SH, Wolpoff M (January 2000). “Population bottlenecks and Pleistocene human evolution”. Molecular Biology and Evolution 17 (1): 2–22. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a026233. PMID 10666702.

The Divine Plan Fallacy

A Quick Dose of Harsh Reality  

I can’t stand it when people try to assert to me their god has “a plan for me”…
If God has a plan for you, me and every other poor smuck in the world to include the world itself, did god plan to have the twin towers destroyed in such a horrific manner? If the Jews are supposedly “gods chosen people” and god is all knowing with a divine plan, did god plan Hitler and the Holocaust?

Christian apologists claim god gave us free will but in the next breath claim god always has a plan. When things don’t exactly pan out the way they wanted it to, they attribute it to god working in mysterious ways, or it was not part of god’s plan (as if they somehow knew).

So would this loving god that works in mysterious ways have a reason to plan the horrific events like the Boxing day tsunami in the south pacific? Why would this be considered as just or good when such unmerited human suffering is created? Why would god let countless children die of starvation in Africa, especially since he is claimed to have loved us so much and values the lives of the innocent so dearly?

People attribute god as being whatever it is they imagine it to be, after all, it makes perfect sense that god is exactly as the believer imagined it to be; that’s the key word here, imagined…
So why find fault in something that is claimed to be perfect, especially when things go badly it can be claimed as god working in mysterious ways or that of being man’s free will… Even though there’s a divine plan and god supposedly made a plan for us…

See the conflict here?
Divine Plan Fallacy