Dr. Oz: America’s Quack (and now, “G-Spot” enthusiast)

Last night I was watching Piers Morgan (when I have the TV on it’s usually on CNN, regardless of what time it is) and in case you haven’t heard, it’s Guest Host Week. That means that some random dude whom I’ve never heard of was sitting in for Piers (whom I had never heard of before last year) and running the show. The first guest was that dude from the Today show, which I haven’t seen in at least 3 years, but that was more “with it” than I usually am with Piers’s guests (I usually have no idea who his guests are; the main reason I watch that show is so I can feel in tune with popular culture). After that torture, they brought in Dr. Oz for the coup de grâce.

Now I first became familiar with Dr. Oz last year when the James Randi Educational Foundation denounced him for featuring con-artist extraordinaire James Edward on his show. I did some research and found out he broke into stardom sometime around 2005 when Queen of the Deluded Gullible Douchettes, Oprah Winfrey, had him on as a guest. Apparently she thought he was great, which is usually a major warning sign for me. Usually, the likelihood that something is true is inversely proportional to how much Oprah seems to buy into it. I call this phenomenon the “O Factor.”

I did a little more digging and found out he’s a big supporter of integrative medicine. Us skeptics have a technical word for doctors like this: Quacks. I prefer to use the more scientifically accurate term, though: crazy, dangerous nutjob hucksters. Also, sometimes wannabe Messiahs or conspiracy theorists. Sometimes all of them at once (*cough* Deepak Chopra). I was quite puzzled to learn that Dr. Oz was sometimes referred to as “America’s Doctor.” I wonder if we can impeach him.

Anyway, last night Dr. Oz was explaining his latest quacky bit of advice: How to find the “G-Spot.” Strangely, he didn’t say anything I hadn’t heard before, but he also neglected to mention that if the “G-Spot” does exist, it only exists in a very small percentage of women (<20%). At the risk of sounding like one of those crazy conspiracy theorists I like to bash, I can see why belief in the G-Spot is so widespread. Since Victorian times, there has been this fear of clitoral stimulation, simply because it doesn’t seem to do anything useful in terms of procreation. Sex shouldn’t be about pleasure: it’s a reproductive act. On top of that, we live in a patriarchy, so the woman is inherently subservient to the man. This means the man’s pleasure should come first. For a dude, coitus is pretty damn pleasurable. Most women think it feels okay, too. However, most men are clueless egoists and don’t think of anyone but themselves (they’re conditioned to be that way), while women are told not to be too blunt about sex for fear of looking like a slut. The damage all this “G-Spot” talk does is as follows: It tells women that it is normal to be able to experience vaginal orgasms, which leads to the 70-80% of women who can’t feeling defective, like there’s something wrong with them. What’s normal about something the vast majority of the population in question will never experience?

So here’s the deal: You can try to find the G-Spot if you want, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t find some sort of magic pleasure button. Really, we should be teaching guys how to please a woman. So, ladies: Don’t be shy to take a guy by the hand and actually physically show him what pleases you. As a biological male-type, I have always found this most helpful. And guys, don’t be afraid to ask your ladies what turns them on. I know it can be kind of embarrassing, but your partner will have much more fun once you know how to push all her buttons.

Also, here’s a secret that a lot of men don’t seem to realize: You shouldn’t have to ask a woman if she had an orgasm, because most of the time you can feel it. When women cum, they usually experience a series of muscle contractions in the pelvis, vagina, and anus. Most of the time you should be able to feel it. Wikipedia says that not all women experience these contractions, but most of my partners have so I’m willing to bet the majority of women do (I’ve had a lot of partners; I used to try to fuck my way to manliness).

So, moral of the story: Dr. Oz is a nut, men need to think of their partners more. The end.

A woman’s personality is a direct function of her looks

So, for the past two days I’ve been seeing this promotional poll on Facebook:

Which do you think fits me?

So, as you can see, the question reads, “Which Chubby Stick name fits your personality best?” Chubby Stick is a lip balm made by Clinique, so obviously this poll is aimed at the lady-types. Anyway, the thing that’s got me pissed off is the last option, which also seems to be the most popular. I see no way in which it could be extrapolated onto a personality type. It’s obviously a reference to a woman’s figure, which has absolutely nothing to do with her personality. The fact that the female Facebookers are responding that this matches their personality kind of makes me sad. It’s like the misogynist brainwashing is so complete a woman can’t separate her dreams, likes, dislikes, intelligence, ambition, etc. from her figure.

Why do we have to be like this? I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty plenty of times of assuming things about a person just because of how they look, but still, it’s something I try to change about myself and I think the world would be better if more people fought it. Someone’s figure is completely out of their control, and last I knew there was no known link between a woman’s curvosity and her personality. It’s like saying my gorgeous, curly locks say something more about me than the fact that I have really good genes. Incredibly ridiculous.

Also, I’m kinda irked about trying to jam people into really vague personality types based on clever names. Something about that bothers me, but I’ve always been confused by the personality typing craze. Completely unscientific.

Some thoughts on sexual reorientation therapy

So in light of the recent introduction into the California Senate of a bill that would ban conversion therapy, CNN has been running a lot of stories on sexual reorientation therapy–also known as reparative therapy. I’m fairly surprised that they haven’t actually gone to anyone with the American Psychological Association, seeing as how they issued an official position on this topic three years ago. From the news release:

“At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex.”

–Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD

The conclusion of their investigation into the Ex-Gay Industry was that there is no scientific evidence that homosexuals can magically change their sexual orientation and that therapists and medical doctors should not make such claims. Seeing as how the APA is the authority on all issues psychological in this country, I feel like it’d be a good idea to listen to them and not some quack Christian “alternative” therapist. However, the quack team has a major player in their corner–a cabal of nutjob pseudoscientists known as the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homsexuality. Not only are these quacks incapable of evaluating scientific data, but their website is loaded with paranoid conspiracy theories. I think these guys are the ones who need therapy.

Anyway, the question I want answered is: How can people be this ignorant? Would people honestly disregard the opinion of the nation’s most reputable authority on human psychology just because some crackpot New Agers provide them with a few testimonials? Didn’t these people take 9th grade physical science? Testimonial evidence isn’t scientific evidence!

Honestly, I don’t think this bill goes far enough. If I had my way, I’d ban hypnotherapy, rebirthing therapy, alien abduction therapy, past life regression therapy, and that whole lot of New Age nonsense. Quack psychotherapies are nothing but a form of abuse, and these irrational crazies ought to be locked up. I don’t care if it’s a patient’s choice whom they see; however, people who “choose” to seek alternative psychotherapies are either not thinking clearly or not well-enough educated. The assholes who offer alternative and New Age psychotherapies are taking advantage of their clients’ ignorance, or else they themselves are so deluded that it is dangerous to let them practice psychotherapy. At the very least these pseudotherapists ought to be required seek informed consent and explain to their clients that there is absolutely no scientific basis for their nonsense.

I know, it sounds extreme, but abuse is one of my rage face buttons. All abuse everywhere ought to be put to an end. I applaud these pioneering lawmakers.

“We need a leader who is biblically based”

So the Reverend Ralph Martino just got done blabbing his word-flap on CNN about this big shitstorm with Obama alienating lots of black voters by showing that he has a heart. I sort of knew this was going to happen, because black folks in America are slightly more concerned with gender roles and norms than whitey. (Generally speaking; obviously, there are people who break the mold.) Anyway, when asked if he and Watch and Pray Ministries would still be supporting President Obama, he responded that they will be praying for them and went off on a tangent about how we need an über Christ-lover in the Oval Office. I think this is rather coincidental, because I just found out that I got an A+ on my paper about why atheists are qualified to hold public office. If I were clinically insane, I might think this was synchronicity at work.

Anyway, I won’t go into the fine details about why I’m opposed to deeply religious folks running things. If you want, you can read my full project, which is up on my Open Letter to American Atheists page. Really, it boils down to this: Christianity is a deficient belief system, and people who blindly follow its tenets are not going to have the problem-solving skills to run a country. It is perfectly possible to have a secular ethical system based on logic (again, read my paper or this post or the entry on Humanism at ReligiousTolerance.org). In fact, I think it is desirable to have an ethical system based on reason as opposed to faith. You see, the nice thing about basing things on reason is that you actually have reasons for them. Reasons which are objectively verifiable and don’t boil down to gut intuitions.

Also, I was shocked when Rev Martino said that his ministry prays for more than 32,000 minutes a week. What a waste of time. Prayer has never solved any problems. Active doing of things is what gets things done. That’s why it’s called “doing things.” Prayer doesn’t do anything other than shut down certain parts of your brain, causing you to mildly dissociate and think that things coming from your own mind are coming from supernatural fairy-being. Direct action is the way to effect change in the socio-political world.

SOrry, Christians, but you’ve had your millennium of dominance. Time to let the rational empiricists have a turn.

Can science disprove God?

It really irks me when theists claim that science can’t disprove God. To me, saying that is like saying that science can’t disprove the existence of unicorns. It demonstrates an ignorance for how scientific proof works.

The only way to prove that something isn’t true is to look for proof that it is true. Finding none, we can reasonably conclude that whatever we were trying to prove does not exist. This is what science has done for God. We have naturalistic explanations for everything that God was created to explain: creation of the universe, good and evil, the mind (“soul”), natural events such as earthquakes, etc. It’s simple logic: When you have two possible explanations, you go with the one which makes the least egregious assumptions. This is called Occham’s Razor. So what assumptions do each of these theses make?

The naturalistic thesis makes the assumption that our powers of observation, experience, and reason are reliable sources of knowledge. This is why the scientific method is known as “rational empiricism”: it combines the best elements of rationalism and empiricism. The theistic thesis, on the other hand, makes the opposite assumption: we can’t know anything based on reason and experience. Sure, the universe seems to be 14 billion years old and operating on laws which were formed naturalistically in the first few milliseconds of existence, but that’s all really a big hoax perpetuated by an all-good creator-god. Which of these assumptions is more egregious?

Furthermore, absence of absolute disproof does not qualify as proof. It’s called Russell’s teapot, yo. Read it.

What would qualify as absolute disproof, anyway? A note from God saying, “Sorry, dudes; don’t really exist”?

New page: Open Letter to American Atheists

So, I uploaded the final project from my writing class that I mentioned and created a page from part two of the project. It’s an open letter to American atheists, hopefully providing some advice on how to overcome anti-atheist prejudice in the political arena. View it here. The entire project should be available for download at the top there if you want to read it all; if the download doesn’t work, let me know.

Pseudonaturalism is the bane of my existence

Okay, so there’s this thing which has always bugged me since I was a young kajigger just getting into science and philosophy. It’s a philosophy that I call pseudonaturalism. It’s mostly used in conservative moral philosophies (moral naturalism) and liberal philosophies of science. It’s the theory that something which is “natural” is somehow superior/better than things which are “unnatural.” For instance, moral naturalists usually say that homosexuality is unnatural, therefore it is wrong. (I’ve never been able to ask a moral naturalist what they thought of rape, but I’d really like to hear it if any of those types are lurking out there.)

Anyway, my problem with this is how they define “natural.” For me, natural is the entire physical world. I think things which are natural are things which actually exist in the natural world (i.e., the universe) and which arise from the laws and processes of nature. I lump everything into two categories: “natural” and “supernatural.” The natural is the physical, empirically verifiable jazz what we deal with in our quotidian lives, and the supernatural is any nonsense that can’t be verified through naturalistic means. Such as crazy mutant killer GM food that gives our babies ADHD and makes them retarded.

You may say that my definition of “natural” is nonstandard (or unnatural, if you will). However, the reason I define it this way is because every other way of defining the term for technical use relies on arbitrarily drawing lines at some point or other with absolutely no rational basis. Take, for instance, the fear of GM food. Fear of GM food is based on scant rational scientific reasoning: the fear is that an allergenic protein will get spliced into a food product, which will then cause a reaction in some unwitting person who doesn’t realize that they are eating food laced with proteins from a substance they are allergic to. Granted, this fear is not unfounded; however, the GM industry has an absolutely sterling track record for self-regulation. The fearmongers like to whine that the FDA doesn’t have any explicit regulations for GM crops, but that’s just because none are necessary at this point: the industry does it on its own out of fear of the inevitable lawsuits which would arise if they didn’t. Why fix what ain’t broke? As for claims that GM food can cause ADHD and all sorts of other jazz (I’ve even heard cancer!), that’s just utter nonsense (i.e., “supernatural” mumbo jumbo). I also hear people bring in the pseudonaturalist argument here: we are “playing god,” which makes GM food wrong. To me, I don’t understand how this is playing god while giving an individual infected with HIV antiretrovirals isn’t. But then, there are people who think the pharmaceutical industry is evil because it’s all “unnatural.” For both of these distinct types of nutjob, I’ve come up with what I call the Banana Argument.

It may shock you to hear this, but every banana you have ever eaten in the past 50 years–every banana you’ve seen at the supermarket–has been genetically identical to every other banana you’ve encountered. The Cavendish banana, which is the Banana in Chief of the edible fruit world, is the product of direct human intervention. Wild bananas are so far removed from the Cavendish that you wouldn’t even recognize them. Somewhere around 10,000 years ago, humans in Asia decided to start “playing god” with different varietals of a wild fruit known to the modern scientific community as musa. Some of these fruits had sweet flesh but were riddled with massive seeds which were difficult to remove, while others had small seeds but bitter fruit. They figured out that they could splice and cross-polinate these plants to get mixes of traits of the parents in their offspring. This went on for thousands of years, and eventually the Cavendish was born in the 1960s in the wake of the extinction of the Big Mike (Gros Michel). However, the problem with the Cavendish–the problem with all modern bananas of the past few hundred years–is that it is completely sterile. This makes for great news for banana lovers, since it means you don’t have to pick out any seeds, but it also means that the only way to keep the species alive is to continually take cuttings of existing plants and growing them into new trees–new trees which are virtually genetically identical to the parent tree.

Now, are bananas natural or unnatural? Clearly, the pseudonaturalist would be forced to call them “unnatural” and swear them off as morally repellant/bad for your health. However, doesn’t this seem a bit counterintuitive? After all, bananas are one of the most nutritious foods around, and there are societies which use the leaves and skins of these plants for a wide variety of important doodads (paper, cloth, etc.). Should we really conclude that bananas are evil? If you’re a pseudonaturalist, it’s your only option. Pseudonaturalism makes arbitrary assumptions about what is and isn’t natural. Bananas are just the latest casualty of irrational thinking.

The funny thing is that genetic modification may be the only thing that can keep the banana from going extinct. Since bananas are all clones of each other, there is no genetic variance, which means they are incredibly susceptible to disease. One disease could wipe out the entire population. In fact, that’s how Cavendish became king: Big Mike, the previous banana sovereign, got wiped off the planet by a fungal infection which spread like wildfire through the identical plants. Cavendish was just waiting in the wings–designed with this fungus in mind–for Big Mike to sputter out. However, while Cavendish have been stuck in evolutionary stasis due to the fact that they reproduce through cloning, the killer fungus has been getting stronger. Now it’s mutated and Cavendish is no longer immune. Only this time there isn’t any back-up banana: once Cavendish is gone, it could be decades before bananas hit the shelves for human consumption once again. The only thing that can save bananaphiles now is good old genetic engineering. We need science to find us a protein what makes bananas rot-resistant, and we need it now. If we don’t, not only are we losing an excellent source of protein and nutrients, but whole economies could collapse, bringing down the global market. Genetic modification doesn’t seem so scary now, does it?

Okay, so I know it’s not the best argument. Here’s another one: arsenic is natural. So is mercury. Also, dying of cancer and men sleeping around with lots of ladies. On top of that, the vast majority of modern pharmaceuticals are derived from plants (the scientific discipline which studies plant-based drugs is known as pharmacognosy). Killing for reasons other than food (i.e., socio-political reasons such as war or punishment) is almost unheard of in the “natural” world. It’s perfectly natural to walk around completely naked, and it’s unnatural to shave or wear deodorant or brush our teeth. The point is, if you’re gonna start drawing the line between “natural” and “unnatural” and your basis for doing so isn’t something to do with natural laws, then you’re going to have to make some arbitrary decisions. It seems highly likely that these decisions would be difficult to defend. It’s just easier to do it my way.

Also, quit bitching and starting petitions trying to stop GM baby food. Sorry science likes to help the world. Next time we’ll leave our fates in the hands of a cruel, indifferent “natural” world in which we have only existed for a few milliseconds of geological time.