Monday, April 11, 2011

Things That Don't Work (And Things That Do)

P.J. O'ROURKE - Irish Setter Dad:
The Ivy League is supposed to be good for success. Barack Obama went to an Ivy League school, not that he’s doing very well in his career at the moment. Let’s check on the most successful people in America. Sarah Palin went to the University of Idaho. Warren Buffet went to Nebraska. John Boehner went to Xavier. Glenn Beck didn’t go to college at all. And I’m not sure whether Justin Bieber’s mother even finished high school. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates did go to Harvard but — doubtless this is somewhere on the “never allowed to do” list — they dropped out.

My kids fit the success profile.
Self-Help Industry - From Sweatlodges to Landmark to Yoga:
I am a few hundred yards from the spot where three people died in October 2009. They were on a "spiritual warrior retreat" led by James Arthur Ray, a man with improbably white teeth who claimed he had been initiated into 12 shamanic orders. He had been a guest on Oprah and was featured in the best-selling DVD The Secret, and the nearly $10,000 weeklong course was his platinum self-help offering. On the last day of the retreat — the final chance to "play full on" — he harangued his pupils into staying in an overcrowded, overheated sweat lodge even after some of them had passed out and one had fallen into the glowing rocks in the center. The 55 participants, already weakened from a 36-hour "vision quest" with neither food nor water, suffered terribly in the sweat lodge, but the vast majority stayed. "You're not going to die," Ray told them. "You might think you are, but you're not going to die." He was only partly right. In the end, 18 were hospitalized, and three died from heatstroke or organ failure. Ray's manslaughter trial is due to begin March 1.

It is easy to judge — not only Ray's hubris but also the strange submission of those who elected to stay in the sweat lodge. Why would people want change so badly that they would overrule the violent protests of their bodies and wait for death? They seem like the most extreme disciples of a very mainstream American faith: an unofficial religion of personal transformation. The inner voyages of its adherents fuel a $10.53 billion self-improvement business spanning books, DVDs, courses, life coaching and retreats. They've turned an ancient meditative practice — yoga — into a $6 billion growth industry. They are swelling the ranks of the Landmark Forum, one of the country's largest personal-development workshops, which collects about $75 million a year training up to 200,000 students around the world.

These seekers are, to put it mildly, not my tribe.
I hear you. Not mine either.
Health warning - Organic food could make you fat:
It is the preferred fare of millions of health-conscious Britons. But eating organic food could make you fat, experts have warned.

A study has shown that people tend to assume that organic foods - particularly snacks - contain fewer calories that their conventionally-produced counterparts, so buy and eat more.

For those for whom buying organic is a treat, this is unlikely to have any major consequences. But people who decide to ‘go organic’, could soon find themselves piling on the pounds.
Well, at least then, their bodies will be in proportion with their heads,...

India - Should ayurveda doctors be allowed to practise allopathy?:
Would you rush to an ayurvedic, unani or homeopathic doctor in case of a heart attack? The chances are you would prefer an allopathic doctor.
Yeah, you might want to try that,...jeez.

The Northern Iowan - Alternative medicine is not medicine:
You may have heard about a branch of "medicine" available to people who want to get away from all of those icky unnatural substances that greedy pharmaceutical corporations put into medicines designed to produce drug dependency with no real benefit. It's for those who want to return to a more natural, alternative way of living.

Of course, all of the above is complete nonsense. As comedian and musician Tim Minchin wryly quipped in the middle of a beat poem called "Storm," "by definition alternative medicine has either not been proved to work, or has been proved not to work. Do you know what they call alternative medicine that's been proved to work? Medicine."

Alternative medicine, like homeopathy, vitamins and minerals, herb-based therapies, crystal healing, faith healing and most "eastern medicine," is usually based on historical or cultural practices – time-tested traditions that people have long known to be effective, even though conventional medicine hasn't gotten around to scientifically verifying, bottling and commoditizing it yet.

Alternative medicine claims are all based on anecdotes – stories about their success that are usually either wholly fabricated or confuse correlation with causation. In either case, alternative medicine is fundamentally unscientific. It's not evidence-based and shouldn't even be called medicine. The term "alternative medicine" presupposes that it's a legitimate alternative to real medicine, when it's clearly not. If you want to sell people vitamins and herbs, that's fine, but don't call it medicine, and don't tell people that it works.
You're wasting your breath - they can't help themselves - makes 'em feel important.
Life Beyond Blue - Faith and the Inner City:
The failure of the blue social model to solve the problems of the underclass in America’s inner cities was one of the great tragedies of the last thirty years. Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent; tens of millions of lives remained blighted, and a culture of violence, degradation and despair has taken hold among some of our society’s most vulnerable and needy people. Generations of children are growing up in gangs; our scarce financial resources are being consumed by a grotesquely overbuilt prison system; whole segments of our population are unable to cope with even the simplest demands of modern life.”
Thanks, Democrats!

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