Dec 9, 2011
Up to the knees in woo
Today I have some background on woo, because it seems many people need it, and it explains quite a lot, indirectly.
1. What is woo?
To start at the beginning, here is a definitory description of woo from the rationalwiki.org. I quote most from the lemma, that may make some patients (or advocates) from some ME-forums think a little better (yes, I am an optimist, sometimes), because it is instructive and clear, for which reason I also kept the links:
I'd say all of the above applies to the XMRV-story as it has unfolded, but then I know some science and philosophy (thereof) and have never been particularly credulous.
In any case, as with religion: Most True Believers can see that the religions and the woo they don't themselves share are evidently nonsense mostly based on ignorance, stupidity and wishful thinking, and kept going socially because there simply is in virtually any community a democratic majority of the non-gifted and non-informed, who keep their delusions practised and followed by groupthinking and following leaders, and indeed also by persecuting whoever does not seem to respect the fashionable woo of the group.
Most good folks just can't see their own pet woo beliefs for what they are, often because their own woo caters to their own self-image, illusions and concerns, including health and understanding, and they may have spend a lot of time and money on it, which makes it much harder for them to admit they have been had.
So let me give some examples of woo that most people should be able to recognize or see through.
2. Examples of woo
My examples will relate to ME/CFS or at least with the types of woo people who have ME/CFS - or think they do - may meet with.
There is the woo of Phil Parker and his Lying ProcessTM, that I wrote about last year several times:
As the third example shows, there is no clear boundary between psychiatry and woo, and indeed it is by far the most rational to look upon psychiatrists as woo masters, who just pretend to be medical scientists, which they can do because they have a degree in basic medicine, during which degree course they probably nearly all found out that the practice of a pseudoscience like psychiatry is far less demanding while also far better paid than most jobs for real medical scientists.
Indeed, here is a doctor who feeds from both camps, who presently is engaged in abusing children to find out scientifically - in a highly profitable postmodern way, but all with the proud support of an English Ethics Committee that couldn't see an ethics or a science if it spits them in the face - to find out whether abusing children (not: sexually, or so I suppose, but physically, morally, and financially) is harmful for children:
But there are very many more examples of woo, and indeed Cort Johnson, the owner of the Phoenix Rising forums, seems to have spend decades of his life in states of woo:
In the last item I have my own fun with his woo prose, since when he produced no more of it (where I could see it, to be sure), but as someone who seems to have spend many years with or around est, which may be described as woo for the upper classes, since it is a bit more refined or sophisticated than the proles woo that aims at the masses.
Then it is again Cort Johnson who also supports woo for the masses: It was by way of Phoenix Rising that I got first enlightened about Abraham and the Hickses, who lived very well off Abraham (no less 40 spiritual intelligences speaking through the Hickses):
You find more about the Hickses in my explanation of Cort's Whee-Whee and by way of the last link, and may learn that John Hicks, who claimed to be able to heal any disease, perished of cancer November 18 last, surely a day a few patients with ME might see as meaningful: Hardly a Wise Healer Cort admires dies, or the same day a Wise Scientist got arrested - surely proof that Abraham must have seen to it:
Criticisms aka 'critiques' (*) of woo
There also have been many criticisms of woo, including those by Epicurus, Lucretius and Lucian, while in this day and age, prominent critics of it are or were
Then again, a person may be interested in woo because one has been flimflammed or because one is interested in the study of human stupidity (a study sometimes known as morosophia, with Erasmus of Rotterdam as one of its holy men: See In Praise Of Folly) or because one has friends or family who are admirers or followers of woo.
One good resource of many things woo is here:
where you also find clear lessons on how to become a wooer:
From the same source, here is a link to a site and a book which clearly instructs you how to become very rich with woo:
The last link is just a bit from a whole book, and indeed the bit starts with the question "Do you sincerely want to be rich?", and proceeds through a distinction between charlatans and confidence tricksters, that also may be helpful to patients with ME/CFS.
If you want to be rich, and lack a conscience, this surely is one of the most promising and easiest way to become very rich quite fast. (Here is one example: Peter Popoff, the Wessely of faith-healing, just as Simon Wessely must be the Popoff of psychiatric healing).
4. What to do about woo?
The safest advice about woo is one of the following basic recipes: (1) sit back and enjoy - people are stupid, and it's a free show (2) as with anger: leave the room, and do something else, until you cooled down - there are very many more interesting and useful subjects.
This will cover most cases for most persons. The problems come especially (1) when one is ill with a rare disease and comes to depend - to a much too large extent - on the average rationality and honesty of either medical doctors or patients, when one is forced to learn that neither group has much of either article, on average, which makes it very much more difficult to get helpful treatments or indeed to have rational discussions with or advice from such folks, or (2) when one lives in a country one cannot escape that is ruled by a woo religious or political system of bullshit.
The advice remains the same: Enjoy it as you would Monty Python, or avoid it as you would all forms of insane religion, but it is true one's life may become a lot more difficult because of the woo most in one's own position or in a position to help one believe, practice, endorse, admire or tolerate and demand respect for.
And it may help to get some background on the bringers of woo:
already mentioned above, has a lot of relevant information, as does the also already mentioned
This last item may seem somewhat or rather political, according to some, but it is a useful antidote to much nonsense, and more or less the same applies to the following item, in which you may find quite a few U.S. celebs, including Mrs Hicks (under March 2011), whose ideas are so much admired by Cort Johnson:
For more help and more fun see my
As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):
Short descriptions of the above:
1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
7. A space-
and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.
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