Monthly Archives: January 2008

Montel Williams’ Show CANCELLED

OMG! I just had a skeptic-gasm.

No more free hour-long infomercial for Sylvia Browne’s bullsh*t. No more yearly “predictions” (and by that I mean post-dictions and guesses) aired to millions of unsuspecting people. No more flagrant promotion of garbage on broadcast television. No more of SV’s ugly mug and 30-year-in-the-making smoker’s voice with her nasty, rude, and completely insulting comments to those who are desperate enough to seek her help when they have found no solace elsewhere (as if they’d get it from her – people like her don’t give a sh*t about anybody, except how much they are willing to pay for something they’re selling). And do you know why? ‘Cause that enabling bastard, Montel Williams, is GONE!

Wheeeeee!!!!

Just let me enjoy this for a while without reminding me that she can still write her stupid books and milk people out of 700$/phonecall for a “reading”.

But I’m sure Sylvia saw this coming a mile away… Right? Am I right? [crickets]

PS…Funny how I had the immediate urge to email Robert Lancaster (Stop Sylvia) like I was telling him he’d won a million dollars. But, alas, people who aren’t in school all day got to it before me. :(

Breastfeeding

Being in health care, I hear a lot of talk about breastfeeding. Recently there was an issue at school with a mother who was attending a class with her baby in tow. Apparently (I was not in the class so I do not have a first-hand account) the other students in that same class complained to their prof about the presence of the baby in the class. Some students and I were discussing it while waiting for our own class (we were in the same room right after them) and this is what went down.

I sided with the students in the class, in that the classroom was not an appropriate place to take and breastfeed a baby. Of course this immediately got me a huge lecture on breastfeeding in public. This was a logical fallacy on the part of the person to whom I was speaking. I was not arguing the absurd position that any breastfeeding in public was “gross” and inappropriate. I was arguing the position that breastfeeding and the presence of a baby in the classroom, specifically, was inappropriate.

These are some of the comments that my opponent said (well, yelled) to me at the time:

1) Breastfeeding is a natural process and mother’s shouldn’t feel ashamed to do it or be forced to do it elsewhere. Agreed. However, a classroom is a special environment in which students are concentrating and trying to learn. Babies make noises (cooing, shuffling, playing with a toy to keep them quiet, crying, screaming, squirming, etc.) and breastfeeding makes noises (sucking sounds, macaroni noises, etc). This is distracting and not appropriate in a learning environment. The other students in the class are paying a lot of money to be there to learn and they have the right to a quiet learning environment.

2) The mother has the right to breastfeed her kid. Agreed. However, the mother does not have the right to disrupt a classroom and affect the learning of her classmates. We’re not talking about a mother out in public having dinner, or in the mall, or at work. We’re talking about a mother IN A CLASSROOM while the teacher is doing their thing, in a lecture hall, with other students. What if she wanted/needed to bring her baby to a test? Should that be allowed as well, because of her rights? What about the rights of rest of the class?

3) It’s people like you who make mothers feel ashamed of breastfeeding. I don’t agree. In my opinion, a mother feeding their kid is a necessary part of the kids life. It’s pretty simple – they don’t get fed, they die. Whether by bottle or by breast, kids need to be fed and that is often on a schedule. I wholeheartedly agree that mothers have the right to feed their babies, whether in public or not. Yes, I find the general treatment of breastfeeding mothers in our society rather appalling, BUT I do not extend that to a classroom, for reasons already discussed above.

4) Breastfeeding is hard, especially for a student. You’re just making life even harder for her. I don’t agree. MY opinion on breastfeeding in a classroom is having no effect on the “hardness” of her life. The policy of our school, particularly our department (health sciences) which is largely women, is making life hard for these women. By policy I mean the fact that there is no student daycare program established at our school for children under 4 months of age (and space is very limited for children under three – mothers have to apply for space, and it is not guaranteed, neither is a government subsidy). I do not feel that our school provides adequate support for new mothers trying to get an education. If there were more daycares (or at least guaranteed space in the established daycares), particularly for babies who require breastfeeding, that mothers could access quickly during their breaks and lunch hours, I think that would drastically improve the situation for mothers attending school.

Education is very important and I am not at all suggesting that new mothers should stay home because of the inconveniences associated with childcare and school. I am also not suggesting that student mothers be forced to pay for daycare because they can’t bring their babies to class or because there is no room in the school-run daycares. I am DEFINITELY NOT suggesting that all breastfeeding in any situation is “gross” and should be banned. I am suggesting that mothers need resources (such as free daycare, nursing stations, etc.) when they are pursuing an education to ensure that they are not forced to drop out or forced into a sticky financial situation. There must be a way that schools can appreciate the importance of childcare while preserving the integrity of the classroom.

100 Quotes from Christians

My fiance found a website with various “Christian” quotes on it, taken from blogs etc, and I thought I’d comment on some of the more common ones. Note that I’m not making fun of Christianity as a religion (or any other religion – we can’t just pick on the Christians), I’m making fun of these individuals as idiots. All emphasis mine.

“One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn’t possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it.

I know it’s a wild suggestion, but just hear me out. Um, how about the sun, genius? Scientists have known about the existence of the sun for a while now. It ‘s kinda hard to miss as it conspicuously blazes light energy down upon us EVERY SINGLE DAY EVER.

Gravity: Doesn’t exist. If items of mass had any impact of others, then mountains should have people orbiting them. Or the space shuttle in space should have the astronauts orbiting it. Of course, that’s just the tip of the gravity myth. Think about it. Scientists want us to believe that the sun has a gravitation pull strong enough to keep a planet like neptune or pluto in orbit, but then it’s not strong enough to keep the moon in orbit? Why is that? What I believe is going on here is this: These objects in space have yet to receive mans touch, and thus have no sin to weigh them down. This isn’t the case for earth, where we see the impact of transfered sin to material objects. The more sin, the heavier something is.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume this is a joke, because if it isn’t I’m sad for humanity. According to this logic then, the sun also has no mass (because it has not been touched by man and thus has no sin). That’s adorable. I like how the proportional gravitation of a mountain is supposed to supersede the proportional gravitation of the enormous land mass (Earth) on which it is attached. Yes, that makes all kinds of sense. Strangely though, I hear this often enough to bother to comment on it, because gravity is not in the bible.

“Most afflictions like this are caused by sins committed while still inside the womb. If she can repent for what she does god will embrace her and make her as human as you or me but if she chooses not to she’ll always be like this.”

Yes, I agree. I’ve had it with those dirty, sick, twisted people and their heinous….wait, did you say while inside the womb? So like, fetuses are committing these sins? Wow, you people are frigging harsh. I think there’s such a thing as setting standards a little too high. Ok, not so common, but just bizarre enough to comment on.

There are a lot of things I have concluded to be wrong, without studying them in-depth. Evolution is one of them. The fact that I don’t know that much about it does not bother me in the least.”

Wow. That’s a very special kind of stupid. So you feel you are able to judge me because….?

“The only thing I don’t like about them is they sell foreign language versions of the KJB [King James Bible]. I don’t think that’s right. We know the only true translation is the 1600’s version in English. It’s too risky for anybody to translate that into other languages. Mistakes can creep in… and that can lead to heresy. True Christians should only read English.”

You are so right! It’s a good thing that Jesus, and all those other prophets, and the guys who wrote the books and everything happened to speak English 2000 years ago in the Middle East. We really lucked out there. Otherwise, we’d have had to translate all those texts and who knows what might have happened then! I mean, just think. People might have mistaken “young girl” for “virgin” or something and boy would our faces have been red!

“If u have sex before marriage then in Gods eyes u are married to that person if a man rapes a woman in Gods eyes they are married it sucks for the girl but what can we do lol

Lol! We have vaginas! We have no rights! Wheeeeee! So lucky to be alive!

“I often debate with evolutionists because I believe that they are narrow mindedly and dogmatically accepting evolution without questioning it. I don’t really care how God did what He did. I know He did it.”

“several million years for a monkey to turn into a man. oh wait thats right. monkeys dont live several million years.”

These are 2 separate quotes. A lot of the time when people are aghast that I accept evolution, I find that they know little to nothing about evolution and what they do know they’ve heard from other members of the church (not exactly a fountain of non-biased information). Then they have it drilled into them that people who accept evolution are just as dogmatic as they are. Regardless, is “you’re as bad as I am” really a good argument? “You suck and I suck, therefore I don’t suck and you still suck”? That sentence makes no sense because the argument also makes no sense.

“I honestly don’t care about your rights. If it were up to me, all Atheists would be burnt at the stake and or cast into a river with weights tied to their ankles and or placed before the firing squad, etc etc etc.”

And then maybe we can set some black people’s houses on fire, beat up some gay guys, and genitally mutilate some women! Just another Tuesday in Crazyville. Do people not see how this is racist (in the broad sense of the term)? That is NOT ok.

“How can anyone beleive we evolved from monkeys heres a few questions for people who beleive that
1.If we did evolve from monkeys then how come babies arent born monkeys
2.Even Darwin said his theories were wrong before he died so why do you still believe them
3.do you really not believe the bible it says we were created in seven days not millions of years
4.how come we cant speak monkey”

1. Because we did not evolve from monkeys, we evolved from apes. So, babies, obviously, are born apes. Just kidding. I better not leave that joke there alone without comment. Babies aren’t born apes because they are human babies born from human parents. Apes are ape babies born from ape parents. Common ancestor babies are born from common ancestor parents and are neither ape or human – they are both. Apes and people are 2 different species off of the same evolutionary branch millions of years ago.
2. Ah, the famous deathbed recantation. No evidence to support this. Darwin believed his theory. Regardless, even if he did say “everything I said is garbage” from the rooftops, that does not change the truth. 150 years of supporting evidence says that evolution happened. Deal with it.
3. Yes.
4. Because we are not monkeys, genius.

“I mean, …Atheists have no value whatsoever as human beings (they’re not even human, but only inhuman animals)…[more ranting about funerals]…Every time an Atheist dies, the world is better off as a result of that dead Atheist being dead, & its damned God-forsaken soul burning in the fiery pits of Hades. :) Which begs another related question, do Atheists cry at funerals? If so, why? Since Atheists hate God, and they hate Family, and they hate Country, who are they crying for? It is true: The only good Atheist is a dead Atheist.

Thanks for the smiley face, it really makes me feel much less threatened and in fear for my life. I hear this all the time, that I hate God. How can I hate something that I don’t think exists? This logic flies right over the head of these people, because why else would I “make myself believe” that he doesn’t exist? I must be mad at him for some reason, right? Nope. By the way, thanks for saying I’m less than human as if you’re better than me. Yeah, you’re waaaay better than me, Mr/Mrs Bigotface.

I won’t comment on any more of these, but go read some of the other comments that are on that page. Particularly one by someone named “Meg” who posted on her MySpace about how she was trying to save a Wiccan girl. It’s very disturbing, but too long to reproduce here.

In all seriousness (done with the snarky sarcasm for now), I don’t think that all Christians and other religious people are like this, but I HAVE experienced some of these comments directed towards me. Particularly the comments about evolution misconceptions. But what concerns me most are the comments about atheists and Wiccans, etc.

It is not ok to publicly state that an atheist (or anyone else) deserves to die, be tortured, or whatever else because of what they chose to, or not to, believe. It is not ok to publicly discriminate against and harass people because we have not accepted Jesus Christ as our personal lord and saviour. It is not ok to make us fear for our lives because our charities, centers, homes, schools, or other organizations might be bombed or lit on fire. It’s discrimination, it’s bigotry, and it’s wrong.

And I will make fun of them for it until my throat is sore.

Britney and Dr. Phil

Yup, I’m going there. I’m about to weigh in on the whole Dr. Phil/Britney thing. Bear with me for a sec while I summarize for those who don’t know what went down with Britney leading up to this little get-together. For those of you who already know all about this skip down to past the line.

Britney Spears had an “episode” of some kind in her home, during which she locked herself and one of her sons in a bathroom when she was supposed to be giving them back to their father, Kevin Federline, as per their custody agreement. Several cop cars showed up, 2 ambulances, and the word on the street is that there was a chopper there as well. At the time I thought to myself “well I hope there’s no other crime going on in that city because all the cops are at Britney’s”. What was with the excessive response? Well, apparently at the time there was concern that she was hopped up on goof balls, “crazy” (hysterical), and had access to a gun. Yikes. She was taken to the hospital and put on watch.

Knowing nothing about Britney Spear’s personal life other than what’s reported in the media, I can’t really comment on her state of mind or the cause for her behaviour. Lots of other unqualified people have though, and here are the top 3:

1) She has undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
2) She’s hopped up on goof balls.
3) She has multiple personality disorder.
____________________________________________________________________

Now, back to the reason for my post: Dr Phil. Britney Spears was involuntarily admitted to the hospital and, while there, shortly after discharge, Dr. Phil entered her room without her prior knowledge, allegedly on the request of one of her parents, to talk to her about her situation. He then released a statement to the media about his visit and was alleged to have planned a show with Brit’s family and, hopefully (yeah right), Britney herself. That show was later canceled.

As someone with 2 degrees in psychology and neuroscience, I am personally offended by Dr. Phil’s existence. His show is a sick display of a well-to-do man taking advantage of people who are in a position to be easily taken advantage of. Having someone shout a bunch of “easy” answers to your problems, on TV, and then sell you diet pills is not what therapy is supposed to be about. It’s disgusting, what he is allowed to do simply because of his credentials.

Which brings me to the most important part of this whole story. Dr. Phil, apparently, is no longer a licensed psychologist. According to this article from TMZ, Dr. Phil retired his license in Texas in 2006. More importantly, he does not have a license to practice in California, where he went to speak to Britney.

“Well, he was acting on behalf of her parents, right, so it doesn’t matter if he has a license because he was speaking to her as a concerned friend.”
No, it is not alright. His statements imply that was speaking to her in his professional capacity as a psychologist (i.e., wanting to help her with her mental state). He was practicing without a license. That is not ok, period.

“But at least he wanted to do some good. Someone has to try to intervene with that girl before she gets herself killed!”
As I mentioned, Britney allegedly had no prior knowledge before his visit and, therefore, obviously didn’t give consent to see him. That is a gross violation of her rights. Not working at the hospital in which she was admitted, I can’t comment on their policies, but it seems odd to me that such a well-known visitor was able to get in to see such a well-known patient without raising some flags. Why was he able to see her without her consent, or even a courteous heads up? The hospital couldn’t even confirm or deny that she was there, because that itself is a violation of her privacy rights (even if it is well known by the media), so how did Dr. Phil get in there to see her? He is not Britney’s psychologist, which means that he was not consulted as part of her health care team to go speak with her. Thus, his speaking to her in this way is also a violation of her privacy, as no one outside of her health care team has any right to speak to her about (or have any knowledge) of the state of her condition.

“He was just trying to help. It’s not his fault that it turned out badly.”
That may be true. While his visit may have been about publicity, or at least partly, he also may have been genuinely concerned. Hindsight is 20/20, but did it seriously not occur to him that people would find out and it would blow up all over the place? He’s not stupid, so I doubt it. Did it not occur to him in his professional capacity that the resulting publicity might be further psychologically damaging to Britney in her condition? He’s not stupid, so I doubt it. The concerned part of him would have been much more responsible to contact a colleague in California and put them into contact with Britney’s parents for consultation with her health care team. This would have been a great and reasonably obvious way to actually help while avoiding the headline “Dr. Phil visits Brit!!”. Only arrogance (“only I can save her”), greed (“I want the credit for saving her”), stupidity, or a serious lack of judgement can make anyone behave so carelessly.

Conclusions:
1) Regardless of his intentions, Dr. Phil behaved in a way completely inappropriate to his profession and should be punished by his regulatory board (although, as he is no longer licensed, this may be complicated).
2) Dr. Phil is either completely unable to anticipate the consequences of his well-intentioned actions, is a greedy and arrogant prat who can’t pass up an opportunity for press, or something else entirely.
3) Dr. Phil should never again be able to use his name and fame to impose himself on anyone else’s medical situation no matter how concerned he may or may not be.

I will post more generally about Dr. Phil in later posts.