Yesterday I whined about Oprah and Jenny McCarthy’s unholy union of evil and suggested that our only hope may be to convince our mothers not to watch, like at the end of Indiana Jones when all the Nazis melt. (SPOILER!)
It interests me to consider the ways that we might fight back against quackery, and whether or not it’s always worth fighting back.
Recently, the Huffington Post has exploded like an industrial factory that only produces gasoline and craziness. That’s right: an exploding crazy factory. There have been high-profile posts on anti-vaccination nonsense from Jim Carrey, homeopathy idiocy, and holy crap someone who actually believes in distant healing. Read a more thorough overview on the topic at Science Based Medicine, but just know that the Huffington Post used to be a popular lefty political blog with minor amounts of crazy, but has now reached full-blown crazy factory status. Speaking as a lefty who prefers not to see politics mix with crazy, this sucks.
So it is with some amount of relief (and yet a new kind of concern) that I see we have a man on the inside. Meet Jacob Dickerman, HuffPo blogger and actual skeptic.
Jacob has written a fine article addressing those bloodsuckers who are selling homeopathy to cure swine flu (which I posted about here last week), and remarkably that article is, at this moment, still available to the public. I’m a bit concerned, you see, since I learned from the afore-linked Science Based Medicine post that the HuffPo’s “Wellness Editor” is an actual homeopath. Awkward!
Of course, it’s not just the Wellness Editor who is anti-reality â€” Ariana Huffington herself is apparently quite the quacky one. An SGU listener recently wrote in with an interesting back story on the Huff, saying (in part):
For many years Ms. Huffington has been affiliated with a New Age spiritual group in Los Angeles called the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, MSIA. This church is a personality cult centered around a man named John-Roger, who claims to carry the mantle of the Mystical Traveler Consciousness. It is very similar to Eckanakar and many other late 20th century New Age groups. Many of J-R’s followers subscribe to usual litany of psuedo-scientific crap, including, but not limited to, chakras, auras, homeopathy and holistic medicine (including an inherent mistrust in Western medicine and vaccinations), feng shui, positive thinking, etc. Indeed, because J-R refuses to ingest pork, onions or garlic himself, many of his followers do the same.
Huffington denied and downplayed allegations that she was linked to the maybe-cult during her husband’s Senatorial campaign, but she sure looks awful chummy with J-R in pics, and this Gawker article describes how former HuffPo staffers claim she ordered them to go to MSIA meetings. Suspicious!
The physical and the rational [are] in a supposedly eternal and inexorable battle against the unseen and the spiritual. In fact, the barriers between these two dimensions — built by the narrow rationalism of the Enlightenment — are now being dismantled by modern science and a growing chorus of personal experiences.
With the big boss coming from a place like that, our chances of improving the Huffington Post with rationalism are slim. But hey, they make their money off your clicks, so we may want to encourage more skeptical posts like Jacob’s. Click the link, read the article, and maybe leave a comment letting Jacob and the HuffPo editors know what you think.