Those Damn Commie Skeptics

January 18th, 2011
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Homeopathy is not exactly the kind of thing that one tends to associate with things like logic, accuracy or sanity, but this statement from a new homeopathy page really took my breath away. The site is like most homeopathy sites: a lot of claims about how the “skeptic” movement is corrupt and run by big evil corporations and how homeopathy is good medicine and supported by volumes of evidence.

Via “Extraordinary Medicine”

The skeptical movement is an offshoot of the Communist Party. (Really: see the top two links below.) Its top organizers were hired by pharmaceutical company and medical industry representatives to recruit malcontents in bars to spread hate propaganda against non-conventional medical systems. One of the first such skeptic groups referred to itself as “Skeptics in the Pubâ€. Not surprisingly, their rants against Homeopathy sound like the drunken cacophony of soccer hooligans.

A “who’s who†tour would not be complete if we neglected to mention Sense about Science. This group features a prominent spokesperson who is an advertising “consultant†to pharmaceutical and oil companies. It’s been scrubbed from their website as of this writing, but they get large donations from Big Pharma.

It’s impossible not to encounter ties to the prevailing medical industry among any of the individuals or groups who currently identify themselves with the skeptic moniker. The mainstream media, which depend on advertising revenues from pharmaceutical companies and are always in search of a scandal are often co-opted by business interests that have little regard for the welfare of the average individual.


Sir, I am not and have never been associated with the Communist Party!

Seriously, I’m not a communist. Not that I feel the need to defend myself against such a ridiculous allegation, but I’m just not. I’m a member of multiple skeptic organizations, but I’m not a communist.

Most skeptics I know are also not communists. In fact, skeptics come from just about all political persuasions. There are certainly many libertarian skeptics, and many who would be considered to be social progressives, modern fiscal conservatives or something else. There are some who are legitimately supporters of socialism, and a few who are unabashedly pro-communism. I have not met any self-described skeptics who are supporters to hardcore, rigidly-enforced Marxism, but I can’t say that they don’t exist.

Whatever the case, the notion that the skeptic movement is at all related to communism is preposterous.

But there’s something even stupider here, which you may have caught. In the same breath as claiming skepticism is rooted in communism, the idiot who wrote this then turns around and accuses those involved of being shills for the big corporations of the pharmaceutical and oil industries. Does this guy even know what “communism” means? Communists are by definition opposed to large corporate entities and are against capital-driven markets. Many socialist and communist groups use the profits and power of large corporations as an argument in favor of the socialist state.

Also, Skeptics in the Pub is not one of the first skeptic organizations, nor is it really one of the largest or most influential. Actually, it’s not even its own single organization, but rather it’s an offshoot of the UK Skeptics. Skeptics in the Pub organizes meetings in pubs and bars which are intentionally informal and primarily social events. The intention is partially to expand the skeptic movement into less traditional venues, but also just to hang out for fun. In other words, it’s a kind of social club where skeptics can meet for a pint.

As for “Sense About Science” (which incidentally is an excellent resource for media-related science information), yes some of the contributors do have ties to big companies like pharmaceutical companies. So what? Who the hell do you think employs medical scientists?

This is a similar argument to the classic “health physicists and radiation safety technicians are employed by the nuclear industry.” Well, yeah, who the hell else would need their services?


This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 8:27 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, History, Just LAME, Not Even Wrong, Politics, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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76 Responses to “Those Damn Commie Skeptics”

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  1. 51
    Mr. Blue Says:

    Regarding Troberg’s comment #33:

    The problem with Communism is that the Individual is supposed to put their interest below that of the Collective. And people just don’t want to do that.

    Let’s look at the proposed Post-Scarcity society. People will want to stand out. First, you have thing that can’t be duplicated- artistic talent for example. People can use this talent to differentiate themselves, and to be rewarded.

    Second, being able to make near perfect copies of original objects has not made those object less valuable. In fact, it tends to increase the value of the real object. I can buy an almost indistinguishable copy of Eric Clapton’s main guitar. However, if Eric was to sell “Blackie”, it would not sell for the same price as the “Eric Clapton Signature Strat”. It would be worth much, much, much more.

    Skill would still have value. Sure, you can replicate all the parts of a ‘65 Mustang. Now put them all together. Most people can’t. Some can… sorta. A few can do it well. Those people have value, and because their time is limited… well, now we’re back to Capitalism.


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  2. 52
    drbuzz0 Says:

            To Those Interested said:

    Chris says
    “How does the quote in message 34 tally with the pro big phama idea that supposedly everyone here supports?

    It appears to be you making the claims about what views the people here hold and then you manage to post a quote which utterly refutes your argument. Save us the time i guess.”

    Don’t you get it?

    He admits right out the truth about the big pharma compaies, but he also is always saying how they’re the only real kind of medicine and how all alternative medicine should be banned so we should worship the great and wonderful pharma companies.

    He has been caught in a lie, or actually been caught in the fact that he once told the truth and that has shown the real colors.

    He is taling both sides and they are obviously not both true. It is the smoking gun. He admits to the world how the big pharma companies are.

    He probably never thought it would come back but now can’t be told he does not know the real side of it.

    For the record: I’m not opposed to big pharmasuitical companies but I also don’t think that everything they do is always 100% commendable and does not need to be addressed.

    Overall, they’re perfectly legitimate companies and part of a legitimate industry that makes a valuable product. Big pharmaceutical companies produce products which have therapeutic value and which are safe or at least, have a good margin of safety when used properly. Their products save untold numbers of lives.

    Given that these companies invest vast amounts of capital and take on substantial risks in the development of these drugs, they have every right to profit from developing good medical products.

    I do, however, take issue with some of this business practices. I also think there are areas of the regulatory code that need to be revised. It’s not like the drug companies are the only ones who play fast and loose with intellectual property law either. That’s one area that most industrial countries really need to overhaul.


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  3. 53
    soylent Says:

            Mr. Blue said:

    The problem with Communism is that the Individual is supposed to put their interest below that of the Collective. And people just don’t want to do that.

    Communism is one giant tragedy of the commons. You get the full enjoyment of everything you take from the common pool of resources. But what you contribute is such an infinitesimal fraction of the total that you effectively get nothing back for working harder and contributing as much as you can.

    Communism has other problems. Without competition for resources you don’t get proper price signals. With price signals a number of hard problems become easy. Should you use a skilled labourer or an unskilled labourer and a piece of capital equipment? If the price of aluminium rises, this signals smelters to produce more, which slightly raises the price of electricity and signals the need for more power generation etc. all the way down the line. How to allocate silver to the most valuable uses(the highest bidders!). Without prices there’s no semi-automatic way to figure this stuff out.


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  4. 54
    Matthew Says:

            soylent said:

    Communism has other problems. Without competition for resources you don’t get proper price signals. With price signals a number of hard problems become easy. Should you use a skilled labourer or an unskilled labourer and a piece of capital equipment? If the price of aluminium rises, this signals smelters to produce more, which slightly raises the price of electricity and signals the need for more power generation etc. all the way down the line. How to allocate silver to the most valuable uses(the highest bidders!). Without prices there’s no semi-automatic way to figure this stuff out.

    And, of course, central planning can be a point failure source since, as you illustrate, the usual feedback mechanisms are not present.


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  5. 55
    To Those Interested Says:

    You are all so hopeless. At least I put out there the info about the dirty secerets and dishonorable beliefs of your beloved savior blog writer and pharmacy/war/vaccine/killing advocate.

    Perhaps someone rational will stop by and this will show them where the chips really fall.

    Depleted uranium is the legacy you will have to live with when it comes back to roost. You think it’s all fun and games because its in someone else’s property but we all breathe the same air and that dust is now released and you will breathe it too when the trade winds bring it back home.

    And what about Al Queda? We make them hate us even more by throwing depleted uranium at them but even worse what have we given them? We know a dirty bomb is the biggest threat and would make 9/11 seem like a day in the park, and so we work so hard to keep them from getting the weapons to do so. Then you have given it to them. Just because you want to make money you need to find a place for nuclear garbage so you make it into bombs and then throw it all over iraq or afganistan or who knows where else. They will now just need to pick up some of our left over depleted uranium and then bring it back to us to use again as dirty bombs. Will you be laughing when new york and london are left poisoned for five billion years?


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  6. 56
    Troberg Says:

    The copyright lobby is already trying to legislate against technology (or have you never heard of Digital Restrictions Management).

    I know. Check the name of the party leader of the Swedish Pirate Party. That’s my sister.

    Such principles can only apply to intellectual goods. Granted, things like software and information are important but there will always be a need for physical products. You can’t eat binary code.

    Agreed, but with modern production methods advancing, it’s only a matter of time before we reach a point where we can produce more than we can consume. Also, any system that is designed around most people working 8 hours a day is bound to fail before that.

    Even in terms of non-tangible goods, any society based on the concept that all persons will always act in a manner that benefits the greater good even at their own expense is destine to fail.

    Well, in the scenario I described, those are no longer opposites. There would no longer be a need to sacrifice your own interest in favour of the greater good, both can be achieved.

    If one can get all that one wants, money is no longer a motivation. At that point, other motivations, such as doing good, can prevail.

    I don’t know how far away such production technology is, it could be 50 years, it could be 200, but it will come.


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  7. 57
    Anon Says:

            To Those Interested said:

    You are all so hopeless.

    Why, for not automatically agreeing with everything you said?

            To Those Interested said:

    And what about Al Queda?

    On borrowed time.

    They aren’t exactly very well liked in the Muslim world (something about most of their victims being Muslims) which would make it hard for them to actually do anything.

            To Those Interested said:

    We know a dirty bomb is the biggest threat and would make 9/11 seem like a day in the park, and so we work so hard to keep them from getting the weapons to do so.

    Actually so called dirty bombs aren’t really worth worrying about.


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  8. 58
    Finrod Says:

            To Those Interested said:

    Depleted uranium is the legacy you will have to live with when it comes back to roost. You think it’s all fun and games because its in someone else’s property but we all breathe the same air and that dust is now released and you will breathe it too when the trade winds bring it back home.

    Absolutely hopeless! But There was never much of a prospect you’d be led to understanding anyway.

    Did you bother to try to answer for yourself any of the questions I asked upthread? If you had, you may have inched toward some realisations. Perhaps you did, as your petulant response reeks of overcompensation for that black horror which afflicts the True Believer when the belief starts crumbling.

    I know it is an unpleasant prospect, but the fact is your path to liberation leads squarely through that terrible door. There is no other way, and remaining where you are will not save you from the awful sensation. The knowledge is now there, and at some fundamental level it’s eating you up. You have to face it, or remain in that purgatory until you do.


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  9. 59
    Mr. Blue Says:

    To Captain Obvious,

    You may want to consider that your comments are, frankly, just a tired rehash of the typical stale arguments offered up by other, better trolls. Your searing expose of the good Doctor is something all of us read back when he posted it. That we don’t look or act like that neat little strawman ideal you have of the typical “pharmacy/war/vaccine/killing advocate”, as you put it.

    We actually know where he stands on this stuff. You are telling us things we already know.


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  10. 60
    soylent Says:

            To Those Interested said:

    Depleted uranium is the legacy you will have to live with when it comes back to roost.

    I no more intend to vacuum blown up tanks with my nose any more than I intend to eat chips of lead paint or suck on broken mercury thermometers.

            To Those Interested said:

    They will now just need to pick up some of our left over depleted uranium and then bring it back to us to use again as dirty bombs.

    Dirty bombs don’t work to begin with. There has been extensive experimentation with them by governments; the expected casualties from dispersing old medical sources and other highly radioactive materials is much less than is expected to be killed from the blast itself.

    The only way dirty bombs can be said to work is that they scare misinformed idiots(your post is a case in point).

            To Those Interested said:

    Will you be laughing when new york and london are left poisoned for five billion years?

    Rate of decay is inversely proportional to activity. With a 5 billion year half-life uranium is barely radioactive to begin with. If you disperse something that’s barely radioactive(never mind the fact that it’s dfficult to disperse a dense ceramic unless you manage to grind it into sub-micron particles and somehow prevent them from clumping) the result is something barely measurable.

    As if that wasn’t ridiculous enough already. Uranium is predominantly an alpha emitter, which is of no concern outside of the body.

    And as if that wasn’t ridiculous enough; there’s nothing magical about uranium that makes it stick around for 5 billion years. The half-life of lead, mercury and cadmium is infinite; they stay toxic forever. If you were to disperse a fine powdered compount of cadmium in a city, it would pretty soon be washed down into drain. What little remains would be paved over when the road surface was refurbished. Soluble compounds, the ones that are the most dangerous, which is true for both uranium and cadmium, are even more likely to be washed away.

    And as I said before. If you’re worrying about the radiation hazzard of uranium you are straining out gnats; it is predominately a chemical hazzard.


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  11. 61
    soylent Says:

    Errata: Rate of decay is of course identical to the activity; mentally replace either of them with half-life or lifetime for that sentence to make any sense.


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  12. 62
    George Carty Says:

            Finrod said:

    Did you bother to try to answer for yourself any of the questions I asked upthread? If you had, you may have inched toward some realisations. Perhaps you did, as your petulant response reeks of overcompensation for that black horror which afflicts the True Believer when the belief starts crumbling.

    I think in some ways it’s like trying to get a member of a street gang to turn their back on the gang — this is extremely difficult because of the guilt he feels for all the violent acts he did in the gang’s name. (That’s the reason why gangs have initiations.)


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  13. 63
    Calli Arcale Says:

            To Those Interested said:

    And what about Al Queda? We make them hate us even more by throwing depleted uranium at them but even worse what have we given them? We know a dirty bomb is the biggest threat and would make 9/11 seem like a day in the park, and so we work so hard to keep them from getting the weapons to do so.

    Then you have given it to them. Just because you want to make money you need to find a place for nuclear garbage so you make it into bombs and then throw it all over iraq or afganistan or who knows where else.

    They will now just need to pick up some of our left over depleted uranium and then bring it back to us to use again as dirty bombs.

    Will you be laughing when new york and london are left poisoned for five billion years?

    Do you know how useful depleted uranium is in making a dirty bomb?

    Obviously not, or you wouldn’t be worrieda bout it. Hint: there’s a reason it’s called *depleted* uranium. It’s barely radioactive. They’d be as well off making their bomb out of lead. Now, you *can* make plutonium out of depleted uranium, but it’s not a simple process that can be done in the caves of Tora Bora. The equipment is highly specialized and rather conspicuous. (More so than the centrifuges used to extract enriched uranium.)

    I am very interested in this topic, To Those Interested. However, I don’t think you actually are. I think you are completely lacking in curiosity about it, because you’re not even bothering to read the things people say in response to you.


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  14. 64
    DV82XL Says:

            Calli Arcale said:

    D Now, you *can* make plutonium out of depleted uranium, but it’s not a simple process that can be done in the caves of Tora Bora. The equipment is highly specialized and rather conspicuous. (More so than the centrifuges used to extract enriched uranium.)

    The equipment your are referring to is a breeder reactor. This is the only way that Pu an be made of U238 (DU) Are you sure that you are not confusing this with spent fuel, which does contain PU isotopes?


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  15. 65
    Calli Arcale Says:

    No, a breeder reactor is exactly what I had in mind. Making something useful for a nuclear weapon out of depleted uranium is very expensive and very conspicuous. I know I’m saying stuff you already know, but for the benefit of To Those Interested (even though he’s clearly not really interested), it’s why there was so much fuss about North Korea and Iran building nuclear reactors. It’s not something some random suicide bomber is going to do with a few bits of DU shrapnel pulled off of a bombed tank.


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  16. 66
    drbuzz0 Says:

    In terms of making plutonium, actually obtaining the uranium to breed into plutonium is the easy part. Uranium is fairly common and even if you can’t find anyone to sell it to you, most regions of the world have some minable uranium. If worst comes to worst, you could extract it from phosphate minerals or even sea water.

    This is a piece of cake compared to the other challenges of turning uranium into plutonium. First the reactor, with all its engineering challenges, cooling, proper moderation etc. It does not stop there though, after irradiating uranium it has to go through a process of dissolving and selective solvent separation, which is made even more complex by the radioactivity, necessitating cooling of the fluids and special handling.

    Once you have your plutonium you’re not even ready to build a weapon. The plutonium is separated out as a mixture of plutonium compounds (nitrates and such) and these then need to go through further refining and smelting. I am told that this has been done primarily by electroplating and the finally special metallurgy steps. The plutonium needs to be made into plutonium metal, but metallic plutonium has some problematic physical properties. Thus a final step of alloying the plutonium with a secret combination of other metals to produce the final product. As I understand it, most bomb cores are made of about 98-99% pure plutonium with the addition of gallium and some other metals to achieve acceptable physical qualities.

    Once you have accomplished all these highly difficult tasks you then have material for a plutonium bomb. Next comes designing and building the bomb – also, not nearly as easy as some might think.


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  17. 67
    Calli Arcale Says:

    Of course, he’s talking about a dirty bomb, not a true nuclear weapon. His hypothetical terrorist wouldn’t need a plutonium bomb core, because his bomb is a conventional explosive intended to spread radioactive material around — for which, of course, depleted uranium is useless. He’d be better off going antiquing and buying some old glow-in-the-dark alarm clocks for the radium paint.

    Heh. Now I’m picturing a stereotypical terrorist appearing on Antiques Roadshow, asking whether or not the clock he’s found has actual radium, which he just bought from a kindly old lady who also managed to upsell a crocheted tea cozy at the same time. :-P


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  18. 68
    PsihoKekec Says:

    It looks to me that this troll is actualy someone who pretends to be a stupid anti sceptic activist. His ramblings encompas wide range of topics that our beloved doctor (after House and Martin that is) writes about and it seems like he made his arguments intentionaly the way they can be extremly easily picked appart.
    Honestly guys, which one of you is doing it?


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  19. 69
    Finrod Says:

            PsihoKekec said:

    Honestly guys, which one of you is doing it?

    Yeah, yeah, it’s me.


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  20. 70
    Anon Says:

            Finrod said:

    Yeah, yeah, it’s me.

    Is it really?


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  21. 71
    Finrod Says:

            Anon said:

    Is it really?

    I can only currently imagine one circumstance where you could ever be completely sure either way.


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  22. 72
    Anon Says:

            Finrod said:

    I can only currently imagine one circumstance where you could ever be completely sure either way.

    Wouldn’t that require either for me to be you or to be To Those Interested?

    Neither of which is the case.


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  23. 73
    Finrod Says:

            Anon said:

    Wouldn’t that require either for me to be you or to be To Those Interested?

    Neither of which is the case.

    It would require you to be the one who posted in the name of To Those Interested.


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  24. 74
    Anon Says:

            Finrod said:

    It would require you to be the one who posted in the name of To Those Interested.

    I’ll take that as meaning that you weren’t the one who posted that and that To Those Interested might actually be sincere (if deluded).


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  25. 75
    Finrod Says:

            Anon said:

    I’ll take that as meaning that you weren’t the one who posted that and that To Those Interested might actually be sincere (if deluded).

    That would just be an assumption on your part.


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  26. 76
    jason k Says:

    All around good read even if there were some uninteresting posts.

    It is nice to see that there are other people out there like me who don’t see the world in pure dichotomy.

    Disheartening that there are others who only see it that way.


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