Monday, November 12, 2007

Read This - Now - Click The Link: THAT'S My Life

People think I spend a lot of time blogging, which is silly. I blog when I have the time. What I spend a lot of time doing online is reading. And not about cults and stuff. I write about what I find on that when maybe I come across something interesting, or when it references a thought I've had about it. But, usually, when I find a cult article, I'll just quickly bookmark it, hopefully, to put it somewhere appropriate later when I have the time. And then I go back to reading about bruxism or something.

But, if I want to, there is a lot of good writing on what I think of as cultish-thinking; just focusing on specific aspects of it, rarely completing the puzzle, or just admitting it, like, say, Panda Bear, M.D. (I'm not sure, but I think being from Greece might give him some insight that doctors and scientists, here, haven't grappled with yet. I think my trips to Europe did for me.) Still, having others parse the subject of cults - even if they don't call it that - has been of immense help to me; improving my knowledge on the "second-hand self-help" thing, and, especially, just for fullfilling my love for the written word.

For instance, just to show you how it goes, I'd been thinking about when I read Salon's very un-cultish description of this new TV show, "Aliens In America" (above) that features a Pakistani kid "perplexed by the immorality and shallowness" of the Americans around him while "truly, deeply confused at the sorts of ethical lapses that most American kids take for granted as the dog-eat-dog flavor of high school life", asking "How can he navigate this strange and confusing world that he's landed in?"

Now, funny as the show may be, I'm not really concerned about how Raja will "navigate this strange and confusing world that he's landed in" but how I - me, an American - live with the "ethical lapses" I've had to navigate - like what I'll call The Oprah Spirit - that I later found was perfectly captured by Steve Salerno (Author of SHAM) in "The Sociopath's Guide to the Universe. Part 2. :

The true genius of the new spirituality was that it gave each person license to be his own Pope, free to redefine right and wrong as expedient, free to blow off the very idea of conscience. And let’s face it, if you already know that your beliefs and behaviors are inconsistent with the demanding edicts of most formal religions...isn't it so much neater to just declare yourself "spiritual" and not have anyone to answer to?

Yea, isn't it?

In a related vein, there's an interesting discussion on Orac's blog about the history of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) surviving alongside real medicine, since (as Panda Bear noted) it can't survive on it's own. Orac titled it Selective Pressures and the Evolution of Alternative Medicine:

There actually is no "fossil record" of discontinued CAM methods and therapies. The reason is simple: CAM does not abandon its methods, regardless of evidence and, to a large degree, regardless of harm. Yes, individual treatment modalities may wax and wane in popularity, but they never go away completely. They never go extinct. Think about it a bit. Can you think of a single "alternative medicine" treatment modality that's ever been abandoned because it either doesn't work, is too harmful, or has been co-opted by conventional medicine. I can't. CAM is, in the words of James Randi, an "unsinkable rubber duck." It just won't disappear,...homeopathy, for example, has persisted 200 years despite no evidence for its efficacy. Aryuvedic medicine has persisted at least a couple of millennia, despite a similar lack of evidence. Ditto traditional Chinese medicine. Never mind that these systems were developed in a time when very little was known about how the body actually works and are infused with spiritual and religious beliefs. They are still used my many millions, if not billions, of people worldwide. They have left no "fossils." Of course, as in evolution in biology, this selection, applied over long periods of time, may ultimately eliminate such modalities, but if I were somehow able to call the Doctor to give me a ride in his TARDIS a couple of hundred years in the future, I bet that virtually all of these CAM modalities would still be in use.

Interesting stuff. The second half - where Orac discovers that CAM is a medical parasite (which sounds about right) - is even more so. But I've got to get out of here. Go read 'em yourself,...I'll get back to this when I've "got some time". I'm too busy not-checking-out jaw-dropping parasites like the one below. As someone once said, "The stupid - it burns!":