Everything Cures Cancer

This post originally appeared on The Latest.

It seems like every evidence-free treatment is marketed as curing cancer. You don’t need to think too hard about “Where’s the harm?” with this one.

If you believe everything people say, cancer is the most easily treatable disease on the planet. Whenever people are offering cures free from the burden of having to provide actual scientific proof, they’ll advertise their thing as curing cancer.

I’ve been gathering such claims and anecdotes for a while, when I happened to come across them, and the list just goes on and on. Many of these stories also reveal the danger of believing in unproven, ineffective treatments.

Actress Susan Strasberg praised psychic healer Nicolai Levashov for healing her cancer. Of course, later she died of cancer. A friend of hers thought it was all a miracle anyway. Levashov also advised the parents of thirteen-year-old brain cancer survivor Isabelle Prichard not to do anything about the new unidentified mass growing inside her skull, because he said it was new brain cells, not a new tumor. I haven’t found a follow-up on that, but I’m not too hopeful.

-Mari Lopez claimed her own cancer had been healed through veganism and prayer, and marketed the same methods to others… until she died of cancer. Of course, her fellow believer Liz Johnson was ready with the explanation that she only died because she’d started using conventional treatments and deviated from veganism in the end.

Steve Jobs died regretting that he’d tried to treat his cancer with alternative medicine for so long – his being a type of cancer that might have actually been curable in the early stages.

-Cancer was also one of the many, many things that Linus Pauling, genius double Noble prize winner turned true believer in vitamins against all evidence, claimed that vitamins can cure. Both he and his wife later died of cancer.

-Both rhinos and sharks are threatened by being hunted to make completely fake cancer cures out of their horns and cartilage.

Brittany Auerbach has over 100,000 followers on YouTube and sells (or sold) health services for a price. She also says, in so many words, that cancer is a good thing: it’s a warning that your body is too acidic, and all you need to do is get it more alkaline again. (To my understanding, this makes no sense whatsoever.)

-The list of things that are claimed by someone to cure cancer still goes on and on. Here are some more.

Cancer is one of the examples that shows that unscientific “alternative” treatments aren’t just harmless. It seems that it’s typically in their nature to claim an overall explanation of how the human health works. This might not be too harmful if you get imaginary relief from a harmless treatment, and that’s all you needed.

But when you claim to have a full theory of disease and the body–mind, how would you not also know how to cure cancer, or other serious diseases needing something more than a placebo?

And if you’re selling false hopes to the desperate with no accountability, how could you resist offering a treatment to cancer?

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All Sitting in a Big Room

This post originally appeared on The Latest.

Having your friends all on Facebook sometimes has a strange effect.

In a conversation, someone has pointed out to me that different people seem to use Facebook differently, and their expectations sometimes collide. So, I don’t expect everyone’s experiences will be like mine. But I’m probably not the only one to have noticed a certain strange effect.

Suppose you have an old friend. Suppose also you are not both on social media where you can easily keep in touch. And you haven’t talked or written to your friend in a while. You might feel like getting back in touch with them at some point.

Now suppose you and your friend are both on Facebook, where you could easily keep in touch. And you still haven’t talked or written to your friend in a while. But it’s not a problem. You could, you easily could. In fact, you “see” them several times per week or more. Because they’re active on Facebook.

Being on Facebook sometimes feels like sitting in a big room with all your friends seated around it. And ignoring most of them. Hey, maybe they’ll share something you like, so you “like” it. Maybe you’ll even start a short conversation. But that’s all.

I haven’t forgotten that different people do things differently. I’m pretty sure I used to be more active on Facebook, and I see people having more real conversations there. And, with some people, I still converse on Facebook messenger now and then.

So this isn’t any universal generalization. But it is something that can happen. I have all these old friends, and I don’t really have any contact with them because it’s so easy to have contact with them that I don’t actually get around to making the effort to have any real contact. They’re just a click away… and they stay behind that click.

This is especially pointed for me because I used to have a lot more of my social life online, even before Facebook. I used to be too shy to make many friends in person, and I stumbled upon a discussion board that happened to be stocked with great people and made friends. Now, most of us have moved to Facebook instead, and… I kind of have some contact with them. A little. Because now that I’m better at talking to people I actually meet, it comes much more naturally with them.

Well, things work in whatever way they work. For a change, this thing about Facebook isn’t some huge problem. All it takes is the will to actually make the effort. Facebook isn’t really making it impossible, just dangling the possibility in front of my nose.

Someday, when I’m less exhausted by millions of things in life, I’m going to make the effort to get really back in touch with old friends again.

 

Wealthy Affiliate – A thinking person’s scam?

wealthy-affiliateI’ve been planning to start a more popular blog and see if I could get more readership — maybe even revenue from advertising. (I don’t like that it’s advertisements, but that seems to be the way to get money from views, and earning money from writing would be a dream come true.) Recently, I came across a website called Wealthy Affiliate that’s supposed to help with that kind of thing. There’s a free membership, but I was never so naïve as to think you’re not supposed to upgrade to the paid version. Still, you can at least try it for free.

At first, it seemed that reviews of the website were all positive — and credible. But now I’ve looked into it more and don’t think I will want to try it. So I can’t do a proper review as someone who’s tried out the site. You’ll find a million reviews like that online if you look, like I did. I also don’t have a definite opinion as to whether it’s a “scam” or legit or something in between. What I want to tell you is to point out some… rather interesting things I noticed about those reviews.

After all, if it’s a website about marketing your website, it ought to be pretty good at marketing itself, right? So how much can you trust what you read about it?

If you’re here to read the kind of stuff I usually write, you can read this as an exercise in critical thinking.

Continue reading

World of Warcraft notes: Pira- er, Combat Rogue changes in Legion

WoW Combat to Pirate 4

Image source: Me.

Today, we’ll take a look at the revamped Combat Rogue, now being changed to Outlaw. Combat Rogues didn’t really have a clear theme before, so we took the opportunity to give them a much clearer one. Which is, uh, some kind of swordmaster or brawler we guess. We definitely weren’t thinking of some other cliché when we made this.

  • Outlaw rogues are the unscrupulous scoundrels of Azeroth. Operating outside the law, they bend the rules and distort the truth to get what they need, and also they like to sail the seven seas with their outlaw maties plundering treasure and going “arrr” a lot, but don’t read too much into that. The archetype has been inspired by such classic works as the outlaw-themed book Treasure Island and the more recent Outlaws of the Caribbean movies.
  • To further emphasize the “swordmaster” theme we’re going for here, we’re giving Outlaws the ability Pistol Shot. They still don’t use guns as weapons, mind you, but every swordmaster has to be ready to pull out a hidden blunderbuss, right?
  • One of the new talents is Cannonball Barrage, which causes an invisible ghost ship crewed by invisible ghost outlaws to fire cannonballs at your enemies. This also totally goes with the swordmaster… um… yeah, anyways.
  • We looked for more p- outlaw related concepts and found “parley“, so that’s an ability now too.
  • The ability Blade Flurry is renamed “Dead Man’s Chest” for no particular reason. Its function remains the same, though its icon is changed to a Jolly Roger.
  • Outlaw Rogues get a permanent buff that affects their speech in a way similar to drunkenness, except that instead of going “hic” occasionally, they randomly spout “ARRRRR”. The buff cannot be dispelled, ever.
  • After the pre-patch launches, every Outlaw Rogue will immediately begin a new obligatory questline where they have been shanghaied by the outlaws of Booty Bay and wake up on an outlaw ship. Your organs have also been harvested, so you get a permanent appearance change as you now have a peg leg, an eye patch, and a hook in place of a hand (you get a choice of left or right). During the questline, you’ll also gain a cool and unique new pet: a talkative parrot that follows you constantly and cannot be dismissed.

…Well, maybe not quite all of that, but that’s about how it feels.

(See here for more accurate information about the Outlaw Rogue if you like.)

“The Machine” and the big problem with the continuity of consciousness

Existential Comics is a webcomic about philosophy — mostly about parodying philosophers and philosophical ideas for inside joke laughs, sometimes making profound observations. Perhaps the most profound comic is the first one, “The Machine”. I recommend that you take a few minutes to read it right now. Either way, I’m going to use it to illustrate an important question that it brings up.

The comic begins with the invention of teleporters that can be used to flawlessly teleport even people. However, some people think being teleported means death, and not without reason.

Existential Comics The Machine 3-4

If the teleporter takes you from one place to another instantly, without your passing in between, then what it really does is in at least some sense to destroy the original you and create a new one in the next place. If you don’t think so, what do you say to the two examples of thought experiments at the end of the panel above? But then, doesn’t this mean that when you teleport, you die and a clone is created in your place, one that thinks it’s you but isn’t because you’re forever dead? Continue reading

Can free will solve the problem of evil?

I recently read a good post on the problem of evil by another blogger. There was one thing I disagreed about, however, and I thought it deserved a reply long enough to be its own article.

As for what the problem of evil (or theodicy) is, I’ll just quote the mentioned article:

One of the many variations of the problem goes as follows: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” This is often contributed to the philosopher Epicurus, summarized by the theologian Lactantius. However the actual authorship remains debated.

The point remains, if God is an omnipotent being, then how does evil exist without God himself being at least in some form evil?

Well, I would put it as “god must not be perfectly good” rather than “god must be evil” if evil exists, but never mind that now. What I’m actually taking issue with is the discussion of one alternative solution to the problem:

The second issue is that many people claim free will, or more simply any human action at all, creates this evil. This is a sort of pessimistic view, but still a valid one. It claims that as humans have the ability to choose their actions, the result of those actions create the very evil itself, not god. I always found this argument to be curious just based on the fact that it uses free will to justify both evil and God. The discussion of God and free will has had an odd history, and for many people the Doctrine of Predestination pops up in their heads, but nevertheless it is a valid argument. To me it seems in many ways the existence of free will negates the omnipotence of God, and therefore changes the entire essence of God for so many defending it.

The question that sorely needs answering now is: What is free will? What are the options for what it could logically be — and do those allow god to avoid the responsibility for human evil? Continue reading