It’s been a long time since I’ve encountered Glenn Sabin. You might remember him, though. He runs a consulting firm, FON Therapeutics, which is dedicated to the promotion of “integrative” health, or, as I like to put it, the “integration of pseudoscience and quackery with science-based medicine. What I remember most about Sabin is how he once proclaimed that “integrative medicine” was a brand, not a specialty. Unfortunately, he was correct in his assessment. Basically, he declared, “CAM [complementary and alternative medicine] is dead. The evolution of evidence-based, personalized integrative medicine, and its implementation in clinic, lives on.” The reason CAM was being killed by its advocates was, of course, because the term CAM contains the word “alternative” in it, and that was a barrier to mainstream acceptance. It didn’t bother Sabin one whit that there’s a lot of unscientific and unproven quackery in the CAM that has mostly become integrative medicine:
It’s true that not all stress reduction techniques, say, Reiki, boast a solid evidence base. But many clinicians who offer services like Reiki do so because they’ve observed it helping many of their patients to relax, thus lessening their need for certain medications. They rationalize that since the intervention is not potentially harmful and their patient is more relaxed and reporting beneficial value, then what difference does it really make if we don’t yet know exactly how it works?
To him, “integrative” health and medicine were the future, mainly because the connotation is much more favorable. To paraphrase how I put it at the time, no longer were CAM practitioners content to have their favorite quackery be “complementary” to real medicine. After all, “complementary” implied a subsidiary position. Medicine was the cake, and their nostrums were just the icing, and that wasn’t anywhere good enough. Those promoting CAM craved respect. They wanted to be co-equals with physicians and science- and evidence-based medicine. The term “integrative medicine” served their purpose perfectly. No longer were their treatments merely “complementary” to real medicine. Oh, no. Now they were “integrating” their treatments with those of science- and evidence-based medicine! The implication, the very, very, very intentional implication, was that alternative medicine was co-equal to science- and evidence-based medicine, an equal partner in the “integrating.”
Unfortunately, that brand has spread and metastasized far beyond what anyone could have imagined even just 10 years ago. Such were my thoughts when I received an e-mail from FON Therapeutics (whose e-mail list I’m still on) touting an e-book by Glenn Sabin and Taylor Walsh entitled The Rise of Integrative Health and Medicine: 1963 to the Present. My curiosity was piqued, given the source, which is about as pro-CAM, pro-”integrative” medicine as you can possibly get outside of John Weeks. I wanted to see what, exactly, Mr. Sabin viewed as the most important milestones in the acceptance of integrative medicine have been over the last 53 years. And what do you know? John Weeks even makes an appearance in the introduction.
Unfortunately, to download the e-book, you have to provide your name and e-mail address, and then FON Therapeutics sends you a link. I understand if many of you might be reluctant to do that (although if you’re really interested there are so many free e-mail services that it’s easy to make a throwaway account just for this purpose). So I took the bullet so that you don’t have to.
First, a word from our sponsor…
The first thing I noted upon reading this e-book was a big ad right after the copyright and publisher page for XYMOGEN supplements, in particular its “ePedigree Verified” (ePV) system designed to ensure only “registered” practitioners were selling its products over the Internet, bragging on its website:
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Ah, yes. No discounts.
Enter John Weeks
So this is the nature of the sponsor of this e-book. What does our good old buddy John Weeks have to say? To be honest, I didn’t expect to be discussing anything related to Mr. Weeks again so soon, particularly after he accused Steve Novella, Edzard Ernst, Michael Vagg, and I of “polarization-based medicine” and compared us to Donald Trump, not once but twice. The first time around, Weeks, a well-known activist in favor of “integrating” pseudoscience into medicine in the form of “integrative medicine” who has featured in this blog from time to time, was incensed at our criticism of a shoddily executed systematic review of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or “integrative medicine” approaches to pain from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) which was roundly criticized by Dr. Novella, Dr. Vagg, Professor Ernst, and myself. Basically, Mr. Weeks abused his position as the newly-hired editor of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM) in order to attack critics of the NCCIH review in near-apocalyptic terms, while trying to paint himself as the voice of “moderation.”
The second time around, he did it again, this time on what I like to half-jokingly refer to as the “wretched hive of scum and quackery,” The Huffington Post, he attacked Juliana LeMieux of the American Council for Science and Health and us again for having criticized a commentary article in JAMA by Jennifer Abbasi entitled “As Opioid Epidemic Rages, Complementary Health Approaches to Pain Gain Traction” that basically accepted the NCCIH review at face value. LeMieux referred to JAMA as the “journal of medical atrocities,” which actually makes me look a bit tame by comparison. (I might have to up my game.) Now, regular readers know that I’m not exactly a big fan of the ACSH. I view it as too sympathetic to industry interests, particularly pesticide manufacturers as evidenced by its repetition of typical anti-environmentalist smears against Rachel Carson and remarks by its founder dismissing concerns about potentially toxic chemicals, especially pesticides, as “chemophobia,” which she characterized as an “emotional, psychiatric problem.” However, as much as I tended to distrust ACSH, I do have to admit that it’s gotten somewhat less blatant in supporting corporate interests since Hank Campbell took over, which is perhaps why it irritates me a lot less than before. This time around, Dr. LeMieux and I are pretty much in agreement.
Mr. Weeks begins by asking:
At what point can an emergent movement look back and claim a history? And what is that history if, over the course of the time chronicled, separate strands have knit together into a whole that was unimagined at the outset? Do the lineages of each become the shared ancestry of what is emerging?
These questions face anyone who chooses to look back on the evolution of what many of us now call the “movement for integrative health and medicine.” What’s in? What’s out? What stories will rise to frequent retelling in this melded family history? Which will be hushed up or edited down?
The first of the 120 notable achievements in this timeline from Glenn Sabin and Taylor Walsh begins, appropriately, in the ’60s. East met West. Back to nature. Whole foods. Rise of the feminine. Whole systems. That one herb that made us think about the power of others. Environmentalism. Globalism. Social justice.
I can’t help but guess that one thing that will be hushed up and edited down (that has been hushed up and edited down since the dawn of integrating quackery into medicine) is, in fact, the rank pseudoscience inherent in so many CAM—excuse me, integrative medicine—modalities: reiki, acupuncture, the rest of traditional Chinese medicine, reflexology, naturopathy, homeopathy, applied kinesiology, high dose vitamin C for cancer, and many many more. On the other hand, I can’t help but agree that part of the impetus for what is now “integrative medicine” probably does lie back in the 1960s, although I would quibble and say that it really should go back to the late 1940s and early 1950s when, in the wake of World War II, Chairman Mao Zedong found himself unable to provide science-based medicine for his people. So he instead retconned the history of the many strains of Chinese folk medicine to create something called “traditional Chinese medicine” (TCM) and proceeded to show people like Weeks and Sabin the way in terms of “integrating” TCM with “Western” medicine. Indeed, I’ll repost some Chinese party slogans about TCM that Dr. Kimball Atwood wrote about years ago about TCM and Mao’s role in promoting it to the West:
1945-50: ‘The Co-operation of Chinese and Western Medicines’
1950-58: ‘The Unification of Chinese and Western Medicines’
1950-53: ‘Chinese Medicine studies Western Medicine’
1954-58: ‘Western Medicine studies Chinese Medicine’
1958 on: ‘The Integration of Chinese and Western Medicines’
Sounds eerily prescient now, doesn’t it? I’d argue that the last 25 years have been the fulfilment of the last two slogans. No wonder Weeks and Sabin don’t go 10 or 15 years further back in time. This is exactly the sort of thing that’s been hushed up and edited down by proponents of integrative medicine.
Oh, and Chairman Mao didn’t believe in TCM. He preferred “Western” medicine.
Weeks goes on to note that in the 1970s, things started to percolate more. There were the births of societies for “holistic” doctors and nurses. There was the first new naturopathy school in decades. Other events in the late 1970s included the first herb industry association and a national organization for acupuncturists. Weeks notes:
In Washington, DC, during a 1979 congressional briefing, the internationally honored futurist, Clement Bezold, PhD—who 20 years later would become a player in the integrative care movement—had his finger on the pulse. He told the assembled elected officials and their staff that there was a trend taking shape. He called it “alternative medicine.”
In reality, “alternative medicine” is a newer term than most think. It really didn’t gain credence until the 1970s. Before that, what was to become known as alternative medicine was routinely referred to as folk medicine (if the person writing was charitable) or quackery or health fraud (more commonly). I like to remind people of a commentary published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Clark Glymour and Douglas Stalker, “Engineers, cranks, physicians, magicians,” in which “holistic medicine” (which appeared to be used interchangeably with “alternative medicine”) was dismissed as a “pabulum of common sense and nonsense offered by cranks, quacks, and failed pedants who share an attachment to magic and an animosity toward reason” and concluding that it “does no good to join forces with cranks and quacks, magicians and madmen.”
Unfortunately, Weeks is not entirely wrong (although his presentation is very biased) when he notes:
We can, with confidence, now point to distinct eras. Work in silos, following the emergence from the stew. Fifteen years later, the shock to regular medicine and other mainstream stakeholders from a 1993 publication out of Harvard showing widespread patient use and billions spent. The quick synthesis in the invention of “integrative medicine.” Then, just after the century turned, the birth of multiple collaborations and consortia to power up the new potential. Inclusion in a series of Institute of Medicine reports. Key provisions—including a call for “non-discrimination”— in the Affordable Care Act. Barriers between disciplines lowering.
Now with this maturation, we see a potential convergence for these carriers of whole system, patient-centered, conservative care. They increasingly come together with the medical industry’s efforts to form delivery and payment methods that focus on what former Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Donald Berwick, MD, MPH learned from integrative care leaders to call “salutogenesis” or “creating health.”
Yes, as I’ve described many times, riding on a change in the use of language coupled with a different viewpoint, the brand that is “integrative medicine” has become quite a powerful one, leading to what I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine,” where academic medical centers embrace and study quackery that they would have dismissed even a couple of decades ago.
So what are these milestones? They fall into several categories, of which I can only focus on a handful. First, of course, there is the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), formerly the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and, before that, the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM).
Infiltrating the NIH: A major milestone in integrating quackery with medicine
A list of 120 “milestones” is just too long (even for me) to want to devote the verbiage to discussing all of them. After all, the e-book is 92 pages long. So, naturally, I’m going to gravitate towards the examples that interest me, either because of their significance, because of the difference between how Sabin views them and skeptic view them, or both. I won’t necessarily discuss them in chronological order, either, although Sabin does present them as a timeline, complete with years and in some cases dates. Not surprisingly, several of these milestones have to do with the NCCIH, a center devoted to studying pseudoscience mixed with plausible lifestyle interventions that almost nobody wanted, at least nobody in the scientific community. However, Senator Tom Harkin did, which is why I start with #23 Congress Establishes the Office of Alternative Medicine, which occurred in 1992. Here’s how Sabin describes it:
With the leadership of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Congress established the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) in 1991 (Title 404E Section 601 of the Public Health Service Act), to serve as a coordinating center within the Office of Director (OD) at NIH. Its mandate: “facilitate the evaluation of alternative medical treatment modalities” through coordinated research and other initiatives with NIH’s institutes and centers. OAM’s primary mission, in its first six years, was to emphasize rigorous scientific evaluation of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments, develop an infrastructure to coordinate and conduct research, and to provide information to the public.
And, later in 1992, 24. “Chantilly Report:” First NIH-Organized Workshops on Complementary and Alternative Medicine:
In 1992, the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) conducted two workshops in Chantilly, Va. to develop a baseline of information on CAM use in the United States. The meetings examined six fields of alternative medicine and addressed issues of research infrastructure, research, and methodologies. The resulting “Chantilly Report” or “Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons”—was released in 1995. It is significant because it was the result of the first NIH sanctioned meetings held to discuss the field of complementary and alternative medicine as a whole.
These initial OAM meetings on CAM are described in the 2002 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), “Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States.”
And then, in 1998, there was 36. Congress Creates The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM):
Through an informal coalition of integrative health and CAM leaders inside and outside of government, six years after establishing the Office of Alternative Medicine, the US Congress elevated that office to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). At that time, the NIH director said the new NCCAM: “…will provide greater autonomy to initiate research projects at a time when the public is increasingly interested in CAM therapies.” A 16–member outside advisory council was also created (50% of its members were to be from the CAM professions, but that ratio has not been achieved since the founding of the council). Also see 2015 entry 118. “NCCAM becomes the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)”
I can’t help but note my take on #118, in which NCCAM became NCCIH. As for the rest, this history, of course, ignores the background and context, which has been discussed here many times before. Basically, the OAM ran into trouble almost immediately when its first director, Joseph M. Jacobs, ran afoul of Sen. Harkin by insisting on rigorous scientific methodology to study alternative medicine. To get an idea of what Jacobs was up against, consider that in 1995 Harkin wrote not just one, but two, commentaries, “The Third Approach” and “A Journal and a Journey.” In these two articles, Harkin basically advocated studying what has been “called ‘left-out medicine,’ therapies that show promise but that have not yet been accepted into the mainstream of modern medicine.” and explicitly stated that “mainstreaming alternative practices that work is our next step.” Unfortunately, Sen. Harkin had a bit of a problem with the way medical science actually goes about determining whether a health practice—any health practice—works, and railed against what he characterized as the “unbendable rules of randomized clinical trials.” Citing his use of bee pollen to treat his allergies, he went on to assert, “It is not necessary for the scientific community to understand the process before the American public can benefit from these therapies.”
Ultimately Jacobs resigned under pressure from Harkin, who repeatedly sided with the quacks. It also didn’t help that Jacobs complained about various “Harkinites” on the advisory panel who represented cancer scams such as Laetrile and Tijuana cancer clinics. That Jacobs became tired of fighting and finally resigned is especially noteworthy given that Jacobs himself had been picked to run OAM precisely because of his openness to the idea that there were gems to be found in the muck of alternative therapies. Meddling by Harkin was a theme that kept repeating itself. Later, in 1998 after the then-NIH director had tried to impose more scientific rigor on the OAM, Harkin sponsored legislation to elevate the OAM to a full center, and thus was the NCCAM born. Not coincidentally, the NIH director has much less control over full centers than over offices. Interference by Sen. Harkin whenever the NIH director or NCCIH director tries to enforce more rigorous science has been a recurring theme, right up until Sen. Harkin retired a couple of years ago.
The legitimization of quackery through NCCIH and others
Another area that these “milestones” quite frequently represent are steps on the way towards legitimizing quackery. For example, guess what the number one milestone is, dating back to 1963? It’s 1. Chiropractic Care Attains Insurance Coverage:
Delaware enacted the first state mandate for chiropractic benefits in 1963, followed by 19 states in the 1970s, and 24 in the 1980s. The American Chiropractic Association estimates that by 2015, some 87% of all insured American workers have chiropractic coverage. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands officially recognize chiropractic as a health care profession, with services available under state workers’ compensation laws. Chiropractic care is available at armed forces and veterans’ medical facilities. Certain services are covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
To be honest, it’s hard to argue with the inclusion of the first state mandate to cover chiropractic as a major milestone towards the legitimization of unscientific medicine. Chiropractic, despite its seeming respectability these days, is based on prescientific vitalism and anatomic abnormalities (“subluxations”) that no one has ever been able to demonstrate in the form chiropractors claim. As I like to say, chiropractors are really incompetent physical therapists with delusions of grandeur. If there ever were a “success” story for the integration of quackery with medicine and the legitimization of pseudoscience, the acceptance of chiropractic in all 50 states is one. It’s a model that naturopaths are now currently trying to emulate.
On a related note, Sabin also views what happened in Washington in 1994 in Washington as even more important, 31. Washington State Enacts “Every Category of Provider” Statute:
In 1995 the Washington legislature passed the Alternative Provider Statute (Every Category of Provider law), becoming the first state to require insurers to include in their coverage plans: licensed practitioners of naturopathic medicine, massage therapy (soft-tissue manipulation), acupuncture and Oriental medicine, chiropractic, direct-entry (homebirth) midwives, and other licensed specialists.
The law, which was successfully defended against insurer attack by then Washington State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn, JD, required that insurers “permit every category of health care provider to provide health services or care for conditions included in the basic health plan.” It did not apply to Medicare, Medicaid, state-subsidized Basic Health Plans, or to self-funded plans. The state has since supplied a treasure trove of data on real world integration.
Great, going, Washington!
Not surprisingly, there are a number of steps listed here that have to do with the legitimization of “integrative medicine,” including: the US recognizing the chiropractic education accrediting agency (#2, 1974); the founding of the American Holistic Medical Association (#6, 1978); the founding of Cancer Treatment Centers of American (#16, 1988), about which I can’t help but note that we’ve written about how devoted to integrating quackery CTCA is; the founding of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine by Andrew Weil (#29, 1994); the formation of the Bravewell Collaborative (52, 2002); and many more.
Over the years, I’ve discussed more examples than I care to note of the corruption of education by the infiltration of pseudoscience into the medical curriculum, both at the undergraduate and graduate medical education levels. Not surprisingly, Sabin agrees that these are important milestones, although, unlike myself, he thinks these milestones are a good thing. For instance, Sabin lists: the first NCCAM grant for education in CAM (#40, 1999); military training for medics in the use of battlefield acupuncture (#107, 2014), something I’ve written about many times; a meeting at Georgetown University to advance integrative health care (#48, 2001), with Georgetown later fully embracing the “integration” of CAM education into its curriculum and becoming a bastion of quackademic medicine; the funding by NCCAM of integrative medicine in preventative medicine residencies (#95, 2012); and, of course many more. Oddly enough, Sabin didn’t seem to think that board certification in holistic medicine or the formation of the first integrative medicine residencies were that big a deal. Whatever.
The bottom line is that this list is a depressing litany of just how far integrative medicine has come in becoming normalized (to use a common phrase these days) or mainstreamed.
At the end of the list, Sabin and Walsh remark:
What was utterly outside of regular practice is increasingly explored in conventional medical delivery. The calls of the integrative care community for “health care”, rather than the limited reactivity of “sick care”, are increasingly intoned in the pages of American Hospital Association publications. Calls from the integrative and functional medicine movement for a system that focuses on salutogenesis and health creation are percolating in hospital board rooms.
These struggles of the medical industry to become value-based are prying open hearts, minds, and budgets to new contributions.
The answers are not clear, or easy. What will the next milestones be? What is ahead in this new era of convergence? Most important, how will you or your organization fit into this emerging paradigm?
Well, I don’t plan on “fitting” into this emerging paradigm. However, I can’t help but note how this last passage shows how blatantly integrative medicine co-opts terms and strategies that do not require the embrace of quackery to achieve, such as “wellness” and “health care” rather than “sick care,” in addition to value-based health care. Regarding the latter, I can’t help but note that treatments not based in science and not demonstrated to be effective by science can never be of high value, at least not economically, which is the value that Sabin is trying to co-opt. As for “wellness” and “health care,” one doesn’t have to embrace acupuncture, TCM, homeopathy, naturopathy, functional medicine, or any other unscientific version of medicine in order to promote these as goals. Yet that is exactly what integrative medicine advocates like Sabin, Walsh, and Weeks try to argue.
Amusingly, right after this argument, there is another ad for XYMOGEN supplements, followed by another ad for the XYMOGEN Exclusive Series Healing the New Epidemics. The two speakers, who have been appearing throughout the country as part of this series, include Richard Horowitz, who is speaking about a nonexistent disease widely treated by quacks, “Solving the Mystery of Chronic Lyme Disease and Associated Tick-Borne Co-Infections,” and Kenneth Bock, who is also speaking on a questionable disease that dubiously blamed for autism, “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: PANDAS/PANS and the “4A” Disorders (Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies).”
This is the sort of other medicine that is being “integrated” with science-based medicine. It probably wasn’t intended as such, but I found the inclusion of that ad right after the last passage of Sabin and Walsh’s book to be more appropriate than they will ever realize.
56 replies on “The long strange road to normalizing the “integration” of quackery with medicine”
This is the first I have heard of these workshops, but it’s an odd choice of venue for a scientific conference: it’s neither a resort area nor a location convenient for the conference organizers. Chantilly is where Washington Dulles International Airport is located, and at the time there was nothing else of interest in the area. The jokes about the whole thing being a “fly-by-night” operation write themselves.
The parallels between the CAM movement and the recent election, in terms of average peoples ability to apply reason, are stunning. The reliance on magical thinking, while very human, is cultivated by a slavish worship of religions freedom itself instead of brought in line by careful and rigorous training in critical thinking. Funny though, how most people, when actually sick or actually wanting food free of bacterial contamination for example, turn to the pointy heads among us.
” the parallels between the CAM movement and the recent election… are stunning”
Oh so true.
Unfortunately, I’ve been tuning into mainstream media which is examining the rise of ‘fake news’- something I know quite well. I’ve felt awfully helpless as I observed the rise of political/ economic ( crappy) news alongside straight out woo at sites like NaturalNews and prn.fm since 2008 or so. As Orac has shown, some anti-vaxxers roll the same way.
I hate to say it but can you imagine that this situation will improve ( in the US at least) since the Trumpster’s beliefs about education include focusing on ways to integrate private ( religious/ other) and public ( state sponsored) options?
I see the future and I don’t like it at all.
Mainstream media need to cast the beam out of their own eye. They have been responsible over the last several decades for disseminating a lot of news that somebody willing to commit a small act of journalism would have easily found was fake. The run-up to the Iraq war in 2003 is probably the most notorious example, but it played no small part in the outcome of the recent election, and a sizable chunk of the blame for the mainstreaming of alt-med lies with credulous media people not pushing back against some of the more obviously ridiculous claims of these gurus, or worse, embracing these claims as a path to personal enrichment (yeah, I’m talking to you, Dr. Oz, and you, Sharyl Atkisson).
Facebook may have exacerbated the trend toward fake news, but they didn’t start it.
Should I feel guilty? I designed the logo for FON Therapeutics?
@ chamel, #5: You tell me? Here’s their pitch:
“Positioning integrative health organizations for long term growth while advancing evidence-based integrative medicine as the standard of care.
FON’s a leading integrative health and medicine business development and strategy consulting firm. FON specializes in custom solutions for developing patient volume, programs and product sales. Our practical business models are driven by innovative marketing, clear messaging and customer engagement via branded storytelling.
What’s behind our company name?
Diagnosed with “incurable” leukemia in 1991, FON’s founder, Glenn Sabin achieved complete pathological remission without conventional treatment. His extraordinary case is documented through the Harvard medical system. After his first remarkable clinical response in 2003, Glenn asked “So, am I a freak of nature?” His oncologist—a Harvard dean—replied, “No, you’re a ‘Force of Nature’ ”. Thus, FON was born.
We all have a story … what’s yours? How can we help you achieve your business goals?”
Meanwhile, another case of a mother whose child needlessly died because of her disbelief in conventional medicine has gone to trial in Canada.
Three hexagons? Only if you didn’t charge them six ways to Sunday.
re Lighthorse #7
doug left a note on the Lovett case in the “A Rare Win…” thread, and i looked into it and just reported what i found in a comment on that thread. I hadn’t seen the new story Lighthorse linked. In brief, what info I could gather raised the possibility Ryan Lovet’s death had less to do with Tamara Lovett’s beliefs in ‘natural medicine’ and more with good old all purpose semi-psychopathic child neglect. The ‘dandelion wine for meningitis’ headline is clearly an attempt to link the Lovett trial to the Ezekiel Stephan case, and posit ‘belief in natural cures’ as the underlying culprit. Neither the dandelion wine nor the meningitis had been mentioned in earlier reports. However, that boy and mom were “living in ‘squalor’ in a ‘dark and dirty apartment’,” suggests there might be more to it than that…
If you designed the Xymogen logog, though, you will surely rot in hell.
^ Three hexagons? Hmmm… 6-6-6. Either you snuck in some subtext there, or cleverly stayed mum and went along with the client’s Freudian slip. Props on that, one way or the other. 😉
# Eric Lund:
All too true, my brother.
UNFORTUNATELY, we beggars can’t really be choosers. There is actually journalism out there if you claw and scratch at the dirt and dig yourself. And look over several sources including foreign ones.
HOWEVER the alt media loons frequently use examples like the Iraq War Prelude to justify ( and sell) their own dreck.
“You cannot trust the Times because… and WE told you”
and of course, they would be correct if they insist that the MSM often stoops to soap opera-esque stories if they themselves weren’t doing the same on a regular basis.
I heard a NYT editor lament that he constantly had to state that the Donald tweets falsehood but then he wondered if he might EVEN THEN be helping DT’s programming because the true believers will react to the Times’s call saying, ” it’s the MSM, what would you expect?”
You can’t win.
But at least he has to print the truth as he knows it or
we’re all really [email protected]
which causes me to wonder myself….
if we constantly call out the woo-meisters / alt media honchos might we in some way be enabling them by endearing them to their readers/ listeners/ watchers:
” See ! Orac and his minions are working against us
SO we must be dangerously truth-y”
We can’t win.
all of which leads me to re-state that esteemed and ancient family motto of clan Walter as guidance in reading news
*Something is better than nothing*
( at least not all of it is crap)
OTOH, there is a Russian saying: “There is no truth in the news, and no news in the truth.” The saying refers to the names of Russia’s two major newspapers, Pravda (“Truth”) and Izvestia (“News”).
I do have trusted sources. But the major US media outlets are not among them, as all of them have squandered that trust. Occasionally they will have some good stuff. But the signal to noise level is dreadfully low. The New York Times publishes Paul Krugman, who (being an economist) is informative about economic matters; however, David “Applebee’s Salad Bar” Brooks and Thomas “Apocryphal Conversations with Cab Drivers” Friedman still have jobs there. The Washington Post published the good work of David Fahrenthold on Trump’s “charitable” foundation, but they publish large amounts of dreck as well. I don’t watch cable news: I am sympathetic to the “Kill Your TV Set” crowd, and the only reason I haven’t done so myself is I never bought one in the first place.
I get my world news from BBC, my US political news from Talking Points Memo, and other news from various blogs including this one. All of it online. These sources still mostly have my trust (though I found that during the election season BBC’s US-based analysts were far too invested in inside-the-Beltway “conventional wisdom” for a non-US source). I am reasonably sure that, if Donald Trump or Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell were to announce tomorrow that the Earth was flat, these news sources would push back on that claim, rather than reporting “Opinions Differ Regarding Shape of Earth” as the US MSM would likely do.
Tom Friedman was in my high school graduating class. He was Mr. Journalism, editing the school newspaper and IIRC the yearbook too. I sat next to him in a couple classes and he signed my yearbook. He was NOWHERE near the smartest kid in the room in our (public) high school. But he came off as a fairly easy going, decent guy. He has gone steadily downhill since then. Just so you know, our hometown also gave the world The Coen Brothers, Al Franken, singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman, and the guy who invented Roller Blades.
Well, YEAH! Especially with whack-a-troll being a favorite pastime here. There’s nothing new here, and it doesn’t have anything to do with truthiness. Partisan politics never seeks to prove itself truthful. That’s just assumed. It’s all about the contest, ‘winning’. Trump is just more naked about the complete instrumentality of his rhetoric, but that’s been the GOP road since Nixon, driven way up by Lee Atwater, and perfected by Rush Limbaught (and his clones) and Karl Rove.
* That Orac and his ‘establishment’ minions are working against us proves we are dangerous to the system which proves just how righteous we are in addition to being right, and so scummy are their attempts to crush our rebel spirits that nothing we might write or do here cannot be justified!!’
This, too, is not anything new, and is only on the upswing lately. And we probably will be seriously f***ed before it gets rolled back. But what is true is not “We can’t win.” It’s just that we can’t pitch shutouts. Or, to go with war metaphor, we can’t avoid disheartening defeats and casualties. But while we can’t avoid losing, that doesn’t mean we are doomed to never winning either, in the small things or in the long campaign.
Every little gain in a ‘progressive’ direction has only been won at great cost. I’ll cite just one exemplar: the Haymarket martyrs who who executed for advocating the eight hour work day. When I need a reality-check-based-resolve, I just re-run Harlan County USA in my mind.
Joe Hill’s last words said it best: “Don’t mourn. Organize!”
If you kill your TV set, you can’t watch Mr. Robot.
You need to watch Mr. Robot.
chamel: Eh, did you charge a lot? Go for it, everyone’s got to eat. On the other hand you can always consider the “Death Star Plumber” scene from Clerks.
sadmar @16: I’m trying but I just can’t. The violence (eps 1-3) is so very off-putting I just can’t enjoy the brain/computer bits. Maybe someone’s done a cut that excludes the rape-y, beat the homeless guy bits. (Does it stop with those bits? Because then I would try to watch it.)
Mr. Robot continues to have it’s moments of physical violence, but it’s definitely secondary to the thematics and in service of them. I don’t want to be spoilery, so I’ll just urge you to stay with it tat least through the first big reveal, which comes in episode 9. There is some disturbing violence against women by the bad guys. And Eliot will continue to get beat up from time to time all the way through to the end of season 2. Hints: 1) We see most things from Eliot’s perspective, and Eliot is not a reliable narrator. He’s not exactly right in the head. Everything we see is not real in the objective physical sense. 2. There’s a lot Eliot doesn’t know about Eliot, so a lot we don’t know too.. He’s got mental blocks to parts of his memory. In the parts he can’t remember, he’s not so helpless, and he doesn’t get beat up.
It’s a darn good show, but more importantly it’s the most substantive thing that has ever been on television. Ever.
JP, I feel your pain. I tuned briefly into the second episode and noped away. I might get back into it when I feel more masochistic. (Rape scenes killed a lot of shows for me, not because of personal experience but just knowing that rape really doesn’t matter to the narrators and that the audience is fine with that sort of thing.) Personally I’d recommend the Expanse. Fair bit of violence, but most of it takes place off screen or in a vaporizing flash. The season finale is two hours long
Sadmar: It’s just that we can’t pitch shutouts. Or, to go with war metaphor, we can’t avoid disheartening defeats and casualties. But while we can’t avoid losing, that doesn’t mean we are doomed to never winning either, in the small things or in the long campaign.
Why bother? The US doesn’t want progress and it never did. Most of our fellow citizens would cheerfully run over a bald eagle. People want to be violent, Naziesque assaulting scum who never see a spot of green or have health insurance. Maybe we should just LET everything go to hell.
And I’d like to remind everyone that the US wasn’t founded on a dream of liberty or any other bull-caca like that. It was founded so the Puritans could go be their sanctimonious witch-stoning selves without interference.
While I’m relieved to see you commenting again PGP, I’m a little disappointed that you’re still holding on to a toxic viewpoint.
Ah, but you’re forgetting about the other folks who came to these shores, like the Dutch, who were mainly interested in personal freedoms and unfettered trade. New York seems never to have forgotten.
@ Eric Lund
In France, the situation is very similar to that in the former Soviet Union. But what I need the most is truth, not news. My best trusted source (except in my scientific domain) is wikipedia.
Well, the Puritans didn’t found America, And it’s dubious that they actually believed in witches.
So Salem was a prefigurative Trumpistan, but the rest of New England knew it was a cancer. Same as it ever was.
No, the founders weren’t particularly Christian lot, as Paine, Franklin and Jefferson were basically Deists. Ah, the good old days.
While I wouldn’t recommend Mr. Robot for PGP, you might find it interesting (violence notwithstanding — the protagonist has, uhh, some mental health issues folks like us can identify with. There’s also a bitter female character (Darlene) that might remind you of PGP:
BTW, did you get the short email I sent you about cooking?
I didn’t. That could be explained if you sent it to my umich email, which I haven’t checked in simply ages. It’s a daunting task, but you’ve given me a reason to do it.
(I get a lot of departmental email to that account, which depresses me.)
In general, I’m much more likely to see things that are sent to the sdf address.
sadmar, JF: Where do you guy get your ideas of me? I’m not toxic or bitter, I’m realistic. You two seem to be full of unwarranted optimism. I actually expected Trump to win, not that I support him, but because people are awful. Given the choice between a good action and a bad action, they’ll always chose the bad. That said, it was still a nasty shock to go to sleep in the US and wake up in South Africa under the Afrikanner government.
JP: No, I knew about the Dutch. (And of course New York never forgot. It was New Amsterdam for a long while.) But New England had more of a hand in shaping the direction of the US than New York did.
One of the reasons I follow MSM is that people like Krugman and Fahrenthold ( amongst others) show up.
Fortunately I am good at signal detection.
( Signal: dreck = 1:5? I’m being optimistic I think.)
HOWEVER because of my recent secondary job, I find myself in front of a television more times than not.
re my views for the future-
I am guarded but not entirely pessimistic.
Let’s be honest: we ARE rather elite-y, interested in reality ( unless otherwise noted) and trying to contribute to ‘progress’ in some manner
BUT really, really is that what the average person is up to?
I don’t think so. People get their news from social media. They don’t read newspapers/ news sites.
BUT it is HIGHLY** possible that Trump & Company ( in both senses of the term) will serve up such a flaming
sh!tstorm buffet of bad business and bad governing ideas that people WILL pay attention. Already there is some mindboggling stuff about how poorly his company was run ( esp the legal aspects of charity and tax) illustrating that he may not know how to pick the right experts to do their jobs ( also that personal physician GI fellow). Lots of sloppy stuff.
Yes, but you’re imagining that his supporters even believe news from outlets other than Breitbart, etc. The kind of dreck they read uses flat out false statistics, maps, etc. Stuff that is absolutely contrary to reality. Breitbart will have no problem repeating the Bigly Lie that Donald Trump is the Glorious Leader and crime is down, jobs are up up up, those nasty scary illegals are being deported at record rates, etc., and the Trumpite rubes will have no problem swallowing it. These people don’t live in the real world anymore.
You’re right about *parts* of the US not wanting progress BUT they’re not everyone. Even if they were the majority
( say, 60%) there would still be millions of others.
When Trump won, people publicly marched *en masse* against him. Of course, these were highly selective populations ( guess). Cities, universities, blue zones.
Progress is slow. Government is designed in a way that makes it hard to change things. HOWEVER beliefs change people in other ways. Trumpism is actually war against massive social and attitudinal changes that have taken place since 1990/ 2000. The country is becoming less ‘white’; diverse lifestyles are common; people live and work differently than they did before; there is less economic stability.
This is frightening to large groups of people who seek out emotional relief in nostalgic backward glances towards a society that probably never existed.
The aggression against PC and modernity ( read how Jake and Mike Adams have responded to the great victory) may in fact reflect their fears more than grandiose posturing
( although they do that as well).
( I may have lost my reply to JP/ sorry if this is double)
You’re right but eventually do you think that their love will outweigh the fact that what he promises is most likely impossible?
I understand that during the campaign he made 78 promises ( recently expanded to 250).
Eventually they will ( mostly ) wise up.
I think that Trump could fail to build a wall, and the Trump/Breitbart machine could just start shouting (bigly) “We built the wall! We built the wall! No more Mexican rapists coming over the border!” and his followers would swallow it hook, line, and sinker.
The disconnect from reality is really that bad.
From your comments here. You’ve endorsed collective punishment, said vicious things about other women, and made sweeping generalised assumptions about various groups including bronies. While I’m not a brony, I thought you were very rude about them.
sadmar @24: I once found a book (probably someone’s thesis) that suggested that the Salem witch trials were partly caused by rye ergot poisoning (the starting material for LSD).
Arguments against included that rye smut turns bread made with it red, which would have been reported, and that by then people knew about the rye ergot and that it should be avoided.
Oops. It was the umich address. I have the sdf address. I’ll resend. it’s no biggie.
The reference to Darlene on Mr. Robot isn’t an insult. She would also describe herself as a realist, though she might admit that, yes, reality has made her bitter. Bitter might even be a bit mild, as she is, shall we say, a take-no-prisoners bad-ass. And she’s one of the ‘good guys’, to the extent Mr. Robot has good guys, which isn’t much, as one of the major themes is the psychic damage caused by institutionalized injustice. Darlene is out for revenge against the corporation (named, appropriately ‘Evil Corp’) responsible for a toxic spill that caused her father’s death, leaving her at the mercy of her abusive and neglectful mother. However, her response to being ‘on the losing side of the war, with a gun to her head’ is to raise a middle finger and fight (or, rather, hack) back. Big time.
No problem, I found it. I really needed to go through my umich email anyway. Nothing scary there.
PGP @19 and 20:
As The Guide to Getting It On says: America was founded with a gun in one hand and a bible in the other.
Second: I’m not going to completely disagree with you, but I will say that there are plenty of Americans who have been (and are) all about progress. That’s why we have child labor laws and endangered species laws and public schools and all kinds of stuff. It’s just a relentless tug of war (or maybe tug-of-spiderweb) between the forces that would pass the Clean Water Act and those that would frack everything in sight.
The future is a drunkard’s walk from the present.
JF: While I’m not a brony, I thought you were very rude about them.
Trust me, I’m not nearly as rude about them as half of the internet is.
DW; I pretty much second what JP said, and I should also note that Trump is pretty much the male id incarnate. It’d take a lot for his supporters to abandon him. I mean seriously, we had actual freaking Nazis in Washington DC celebrating his win and everyone’s trying to cover that up, including Trump.
Justatech: I’m not going to completely disagree with you, but I will say that there are plenty of Americans who have been (and are) all about progress.
Unfortunately, most of the progressives from the 1960s are dead, dying, or discredited, and the ones from my generation are hamstrung on peripheral issues. Maaaybe by the time I hit my 50s we might be able to undo all the damage that this election and the failure of the 1960s and 70s caused..but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Which peripheral issues?
PGP @38: What about gay rights? That’s something that has made huge progress in the past 10-20 years (more than it made from the 60’s through the 80’s).
Or the environment? That movement didn’t fall asleep in the 70’s. I mean, for crying out loud, environmentalism was the whole point of a successful 90’s kid’s cartoon. No advertiser would have bothered with Captain Planet if no adults cared any more.
I think that the forms of progressive action are very different today than they were in the 60’s and 70’s, but I don’t think that they are any less passionate, invested or dedicated, and I hope that they will be just as (if not more) effective.
JP: Stuff like safe spaces, censorship, and weird new gender terms. Safe spaces just don’t work in real life, and they’re part of the problems that you get when one gender is sold on emotions for centuries and nudged away from intellectual pursuits.
I mean, I could get behind the idea of a relaxation room at colleges, but clumping up in huggy groups just seems so alien to me.
As far as gender goes, that’s mostly a personal bugaboo. Agender, bigender and etc. are just awful, clunky terms, and pronouns like xie are painful to spell, worse to pronounce, and my English just can’t keep up.
Then there are the trigger warnings. I can see in some cases where giving a heads-up would be okay, (like, say, a bunch of fifteen-year-olds who have to plow through Huckleberry Finn) but by the time people are adults, they ought to be able to deal with the world.
I know that seems odd, given what I just said about Mr. Robot, but that’s entertainment, not coursework.If I had to watch it for a course or was paid to watch it, then I’d HAVE to grit my teeth and get through it. Same with Game of Thrones.
Justatech: Gay rights is kind of an anomalous movement. I think they only managed to get so far because the ’90s were so prosperous that people could afford to be a little more generous and accommodating and there were other groups the non-generous could target. Once that ball got rolling it was pretty hard to stop, especially since the survivors and youngsters of the ’80s spent a lot of time scraping up cash and throwing it into the movement.
I think by now it’s clear that the price for gay rights will probably be paid by women, Hispanics, and African Americans. There are only so many people who can have rights, after all.
As far as the environment goes, the ’90s were a vastly different time from now. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups did fairly well during that time, but now they have no access to power and no effective leadership.
Also, some groups insist on diluting the movement, which is another problem. I don’t really believe that monotheism and environmentalism can mix, for example. At best, you’d get some half-assed fundraising, but eventually the group would fall apart.
Most of the movements I’ve seen are too hamstrung, fractured and individualistic to have any real effect. The atheist movement for example, has pretty much fallen apart. The boneheads and loudmouths are still there, as are the goobers on Youtube, but they’re not going to be very effective at recruiting. Especially since atheists are so very unfriendly to women and minorities.
Then there was Occupy which did a big lot of squat.
BLM has gotten a fair bit of attention, but it’s hard to say whether it will be effective. None of the Trump protests have had any effect, and I’m very sure the arrests will be starting soon.
Btw, anyone seen the news. Sarah Palin is being considered for the head of the VA. Way to make Veteran’s Affairs even worse. Palin couldn’t run a daycare.
“Safe spaces” were not a thing when/where I went to college, but I understand they’re all the rage with undergrads these days. I don’t fully understand what they’re supposed to be, but if “safe space” means a space where people can expect not to be subject to bigotry or harassment for whatever reason, then I think the whole country should be a safe space. Sadly, it clearly is not.
I don’t really see why pronouns are a big deal. You find out what somebody’s preferred pronouns are and you suck it up and use them. I’ve never met anybody who used “xie,” but I have met a couple of people who preferred “they/them/their.” It’s weird at first, but you get used to it.
One of my best friend’s dad transitioned (in retirement) and it was hard at first to get used to “she” and “Jean” instead of “he” and “Eric,” but it’s clearly extremely important to her, and I got used to it pretty quick.
More troubling is the high rate of murder of trans women in particular, and yes, using the bathroom can be a life or death matter in some cases.
Again, not a thing we had when I was in school, but I’ve had it explained to me that it’s easier for people to deal with content if they know what’s going to be coming at them, and they can prepare themselves if it’s going to be triggering. Like rape scenes for rape victims, etc. It’s not an excuse to skip out on required content for classes.
These are really all pretty simple issues, as far as I’m concerned. I can’t see why people can’t just deal with them and also give a sh!t about economic issues, abortion rights, same-sex marriage, racism, etc. I and most of my friends do just that.
^ Re: pronouns: I was a very scrawny teenager (believe it or not) and had a military haircut (my style) and was often enough called “it” in a derogatory manner where I was growing up. Suffice it to say that I did not like it at all.
JP: Well, I agree pronouns shouldn’t be a big deal, but running around explaining them eats time. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll call people whatever they want to be called- that’s the only respectful thing to do.
As far as trigger warnings go, your explanation makes sense, but that doesn’t seem to be how they play out in practice.
Still not sold on safe spaces. You can’t really expect people to not be terrible.
Historically, groups have always gained rights at the expense of other groups. African Americans got the legal right to vote at the expense of women’s suffrage. Women got the right to vote at the expense of immigrants, and the revocation of the African American vote.
LGB people got the right to marry at the expense of the T movement and I expect more backlash and more people to lose rights as the decade grinds on. Note that Trump said gay marriage was settled and abortion law wasn’t. I expect gay people will do fine as long as Thiel has money to throw at Trump. Pity there aren’t any pro-choice men around with enough money and creep credential to buy Trump’s time. That’s just how things work.
I expect people not to be terrible around me. I recently went on a relatively polite trade at the local tavern against a guy who referred to somebody as a nigger. He left in a huff. With any luck, he won’t be back. (The owners were glad I said something, just by the by.)
I dunno, Jeannie and Jorjan are in a very happy same-sex marriage now.
This seems redundant.
He left in a huff.
If I were inventing an Uber-style outsourced-transport app, I would so call it “Huff”.
Works better with the “Minute and a” prepended, IMHO.
Speaking of Safe Spaces…
Is that because: “If you can’t get a taxi, you can leave in a huff.”? If you can’t answer that this minute, maybe you’ll reply in a minute and a huff.
PGP’s response caused me to speculate:
What would it take for a Trumpian to give up?
First of all I think that there are several species of Trumpians –
some may be in it PURELY for financial reasons ( e.g. an Obama voter/ moderate who hasn’t recovered from the financial crisis yet and is afraid; a yuppie who despises his ideas but likes the tax cut; someone hoping to get a position at State, etc)
whilst others are in it for love –
perhaps these are the people who would ( paraphrase) ” stick with him even if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue”.
( the Hardcore- which may include racists,
N-zis, Islamaphobes, homophobes, misogynists, Supply Siders etc.)
He seems to be putting Washington insiders and Wall Street Goldman folks into his cabinet BIGLY. That should make some uncomfortable.
But like PGP, I think that we’re in for a crappy time for at least a few years.
Unfortunately, a few Bernie supporters at one point WANTED him to win so that the ‘revolution’ would come sooner.
Somehow I strongly doubt that that turn of events will transpire.
As I’ve mentioned previously, people who live in Blue areas/ not the Heartland might be like those clever Japanese who – in the midst of Hipsterville- have created their own sanctuary/ shopping mall alongside the river with ( what else? they’re Japanese, they know how to do this correctly) great views of the city scape.
has anyone been watching the mishigas new reality show he’s now broadcasting a/k/a the Selection Process?
It’s rather hilarious.
[…] its ascent,” and still more recently he wrote an ebook listing what he considered to be the 125 milestones in the development of integrative medicine. Through it all, if there’s one unerring talking point that proponents of integrative […]
[…] That the Cleveland Clinic has become one of the leading institutions, if not the leading institution, in embracing quackademic medicine is now indisputable. Indeed, 2017 greeted me with a reminder of just how low the Clinic has gone when the director of its Wellness Institute published a blatantly antivaccine article for a local publication, which led to a firestorm of publicity in the medical blogosphere, social media, and conventional media to the point where the Cleveland Clinic’s CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove had to respond. Dr. Cosgrove was—shall we say?—not particularly convincing. Indeed, even as he voiced support for vaccines (good), he was clearly in denial that all the pseudoscience and quackery that the Cleveland Clinic has embraced under his leadership facilitated antivaccine views because so much of it included practitioners and belief systems that tend to be antivaccine. As I like to point out in response every time Cosgrove’s becomes all righteously indignant about the criticism the Cleveland Clinic receives for its embrace of pseudoscience and his being shocked—shocked!—that there are antivaccine beliefs in a physician in a leadership position in his Wellness Institute, he hired Dr. Mark Hyman to set up a “functional medicine” (FM) clinic at the the Clinic, the same Dr. Hyman who co-authored with vaccine safety activist antivaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. an antivaccine propaganda book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak: Mercury Toxicity in Vaccines and the Political, Regulatory, and Media Failures That Continue to Threaten Public Health, a book full of antivaccine fear mongering of the mercury militia variety. I also note every time Dr. Cosgrove gets his knickers in a bunch over this that Hyman and Kennedy published that book the very same year that Cosgrove hired Hyman. Not only that, but RFK Jr. and Hyman appeared on The Dr. Oz Show to promote the book a mere week and a half before the Cleveland Clinic announced Hyman’s hiring. So it was with some interest that I came across an article praising the Cleveland Clinic’s embrace of pseudoscience as “disruptive innovation.” Yes, it was co-authored by an old “friend” of the blog, Glenn Sabin. We’ve met Sabin multiple times before, most recently earlier this year when I became aware of a book he published about integrative medicine’s latest rebranding of itself. Years before that, he had bragged that integrative medicine is brand, not a specialty, and this was one of the few areas where I actually agreed with Sabin, just not in the way that he meant it. For instance, he liked how “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) had been “rebranded as “integrative medicine.” He also thinks integrative medicine is a good thing, whereas I view it—and quite rightfully so, I might add—as “integrating” quackery with real medicine, at least where integrative medicine doesn’t rebrand science-based health interventions like diet and exercise as somehow being “alternative” or “integrative.” So enamored of integrative medicine is Sabin that he also recently wrote a short book on what he considers to be the 125 most important milestones along the path to the acceptance of “integrative medicine,” or, as I refer to them, milestones on the way to normalizing quackery. […]