Skepchick Quickies 7.30

  • Radovan Karadzic’s New Age adventure – “How did a Serbian war criminal hide from the world as a bioenergy-channeling, alternative-medicine-peddling, bearded and, well, nutty guru?”
  • Arm-swinging riddle is solved – “Biomedical researchers on Wednesday said they could explain why we swing our arms when we walk, a practice that has long piqued scientific curiosity.” From Infinite Monkey.
  • It’s not actually a tumor – Shona Holmes is the woman who was on a commercial, “telling the story of how she couldn’t get treatment in Canada for a brain tumor, so she fled to the United States for treatment and went nearly bankrupt in the process.”  Except, she didn’t have a tumor and did have appointments scheduled with Canadian doctors.
  • Greta Christina has a great couple of posts on fat-positivism, feminism, skepticism, and weight loss.  Part one and Part two.


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Thanks for posting the link to Some Canadian Skeptic’s article, and thanks for Some Canadian Skeptic for bringing it up. The lies that have been strewn around concerning the Canadian health care system have been a pet peeve of mine the last few days, and I’m glad someone was able to point out the flaws in at least one incident. Sorry if I rant a bit, but…

    Two of my friends are alive today because of the Canadian health care system. They were involved in a motor vehicle accident about a month ago. Luckily, all four passengers survived and are recovering. They received the best quality care you can receive anywhere in the world for their injuries. And they left the hospital with medicine, bandages, slings, and professional advice instead bills and crippling debt. They are alive today in no small part because of the top quality medical care provided by the Canadian health care system, and the professional treatment at the hands of the doctors and nurses in no less than 3 different hospitals province wide.

    I’ve spent hours in emergency waiting rooms. I’ve had to book appointments with my family doctor months in advance. Just last February, I had to call in sick for work because I spent the night in the ER with my wife after she slipped on ice. We waited in the ER for 7 hours to see a doctor. Yes, I complained. Yes, I listened to the people waiting with me complaining. But when I saw a trauma or a heart attack victim come in, and knew that I’d be waiting longer so that a life could be saved, I didn’t say a word. Because I knew that they would receive the best care available, and wouldn’t be turned away because it wasn’t covered by their HMO. And when we finally did see a doctor, we received the best care he could provide, and didn’t pay a cent.

    Our system isn’t perfect. There are problems that need to be fixed. But the Canadian health care system does not deserve the lies and ridicule being dealt by bureaucrats more interested in scoring a political victory than helping people receive the medical care they desperately need.

  2. Loved Greta Christina’s article. Common sense. Down to earth. No woo. Weight loss is simple, but not easy. What I liked best about this article, although she couldn’t help but include the phrase “weight loss” was she was approaching it from a health angle. In her particular case her knee. But I’ve noticed more and more research indicating that extra calories contribute to a variety of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer as well as decreased longevity in general (at least in mice and primates.) Before anyone jumps up and down on me I very carefully said “extra calories”. The studies I read were not talking about body mass only calorie intake and exercise.

  3. I grew up in Canada and pretty much took their healthcare system for granted. When I moved to the US, I was surprised at the difficulties involved in getting anything done. Paperwork, pre-existing conditions, copays, cobra, etc. After a while, I got used to it and came to think of it as the norm.

    A few years later, I was visiting my family in Canada and my son got sick while we were there. I was worried about how this was going to be covered. As it turned out, we went to his grandparents’ GP (on a Saturday, even), got a diagnosis and a prescription. The whole thing start to finish took a couple hours, including picking up the prescription. No money changed hands, no paperwork, nothing. It was all handled using his grandparents’ health card. It felt surreal.

    I don’t know if the US could ever get to the point where we had that sort of healthcare system but it wouldn’t hurt to try.

  4. Re: Some Canadian Skeptic’s post: It really infuriates me that organizations like the RNC and Fox News can present these outright lies as fact, and nothing can be done about it. Blogs show them to be lies. Jon Stewart shows them to be lies. A little bit of Internet investigation shows them to be lies. But then nothing ever is done about it.

    I guess I would hope the FCC or some other group could say, “Hey, that’s is simply not true – now pay for the air time for a retraction”.

    Obviously, that would be difficult to implement, and a nightmare to keep bias out (what if a Right Wing appointed FCC only went after liberal claims?).

    If they can fine stations for boobs and swear words, why can’t the fine stations for lies or misleading stories/commercials? I don’t know the answer, but I hate the way it is run now.

    Re: Greta’s Post: very well thought out and presented.

  5. I am a large man.

    I understand that being my weight is at least partially my own fault.

    I don’t understand why that means it’s okay for people to ostracize and discriminate against fat people.

    Being overweight can be unhealthy, but like anything else there are degrees to it. Unfortunately we’ve put it to our society that being even slightly overweight is disgusting and you obviously are a pig glutton and ugly as fuck if you aren’t your ideal weight.

  6. I linked to the SCS’s healthcare artcle today… and also to Jon Stewart who is just awesome in so many ways.

    Sadly Greta Christina’s site is blocked at work.

    And I agree with Kimbo… that arm thing isn’t new or news!

  7. @autobahn: “Being overweight can be unhealthy”

    Also, people assume that fat/overweight always equals unhealthy, while skinny always equals healthy, and that’s just not the case.

  8. Granted, I’m no evolutionary scientist, but arm swinging has really perplexed them for this long? This article just points out what everyone already knows: “swinging the arms simply makes it easier to walk.”

  9. @DataJack: Thanks! What really got me was how this part of the world isn’t some random corner that hasn’t been discussed on ever newscast for the past fifteen years… I mean, come on!

    It was fun to write 

  10. @autobahn:

    I understand that being my weight is at least partially my own fault.

    In your case, that may certainly be true, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. It’s very easy to gain weight without binging on pizza and chocolate. For someone to gain 20 pounds over 10 years, they only need about 20 extra calories per day. That means eating one and a half extra bananas per week. There’s so much more to it than just willpower and junk food.

  11. I wonder how many patients in the U.S. have gone bankrupt treating legitimate brain tumors, and how many Americans have died because they had no access. Even if the Holmes story hadn’t been a complete lie, it would only make Canada about the same as the U.S., not worse.

  12. It must really annoy the RNC that Candians go on living happy and productive lives. I mean, how can they be good natured, respected in the world, and content when their entire way of life is WRONG?

  13. @SkepLit: Unfortunately, that sort of detail never crosses their minds. And if it did, they would say that the Canadians only live the way they do because the USA saved the day in WW1, WW2, the Cold War… etc. Therefore, Canada, Europe, and Japan are just freeloaders on an American funded welfare system. Or at least, that’s how I think the line of reasoning goes. Never mind the fact that it’s all a load of BS, and history is vastly more complicated than that…. BS never stopped the RNC before, it won’t stop them now.

    Damn, thinking like a Republican makes me feel dirty inside…

  14. Thanks once again to the Skepchicks for linking to my blog. This particular issue has got a lot of us Canadians worked up. How worked up?

    Well, to give you an idea, a few years ago, the CBC ran a huge poll and television mini-series, asking Canadians to name theGreatest Canadian. Over several months, people commented on people like Wayne Gretzsky, David Suzuki, Sir John A Macdonald and Pierre Trudeau and others. But you know who we voted for? Tommy Douglas. The Father of Canadian Healthcare. This man fought and fought against bitter, powerful forces, and gave us all the healthcare system that we LOVE!

    So yeah….we take this kind of shit pretty seriously.

    @DataJack: Well, not that this hold any weight in the United States, but the Ontario Government is suing Mrs. Holmes. I don’t know how effective a tactic this is, as I’m sure that her supporters will see this as an attempt at silencing. When really, it’s an attempt to get the truth out there. We’ll see what the courts say.

    @catgirl: I’ve been trying for the last hour or so to find the actual study, but to no avail, so please forgive me for drawing (poorly) from memory. Of the numbers of bankruptcies declared in the United States, something like 60-65% of them are done so because of healthcare bills. The study was independently done, and it took years to be able to get off the ground, because a LOT of powerful people didn’t want them looking into it. After the housing market crashed, the team looked into why people are defaulting and loosing their homes in the first place, and the answer was overwhelming: healthcare costs. This is not to suggest that the housing market (and in turn, the entire economy) collapsed because of the American Health Care costs alone, but rather to say that Health Care costs were the largest contributing factor…not just by a plurality, but by a majority. Many economists have said that the reason why Canada has not been hit as hard as the U.S. has in the depression (let’s be perfectly clear here: this is a depression, NOT a recession) is preciesley because Canadian citizens are not burdened with the enormous costs that their American neighbours are being crushed under. This is the system that Holmes, Fox, and the RNC are fighting so dirty for to protect.

    In one month, I’ll be moving to an apartment that is less than 30 minutes from the American/Canadian border @ Niagara Falls. If anyone wants free healthcare, let’s totally have a loveless, sham-marriage…I’ll hook you up!

  15. @Some Canadian Skeptic:

    In one month, I’ll be moving to an apartment that is less than 30 minutes from the American/Canadian border @ Niagara Falls. If anyone wants free healthcare, let’s totally have a loveless, sham-marriage…I’ll hook you up!

    Be careful what you offer…

  16. I took a great course in Health Care Econ up here in the great white – the Prof started with a great question: How much would you pay for a new Honda Civic. We all wrote down a price. Next question: How much would you pay for a kidney if you needed it to live?

    And right there you have the fundamental reason privately insured health care can never work – infinite demand is too much of a carrot for organizations that are founded on the basis of profit. I will never understand how the same people who will argue for hours on “smaller government” and less bureaucracy support a system that has so many levels of pointless processes just so private insurers can get their money.

    Some Canadian Skeptic raises a great point about Tommy Douglas – it is even more amazing that despite enormous pressure from private insurers and the former US government, and the fact we have a Bush wannabe as PM right now – our Universal Healthcare has survived. It is still under great pressure though and we must keep up the good fight. Beware any conversation on “two tiered” healthcare as that is leak that could cause the dam to break.

    I hope that Obama is able to pull this off – not only because then my friends south of the border would enjoy the same access to healthcare the rest of the modern world enjoys, but another failure there will be used as leverage here.

  17. Oh, and btw already married so I cannot offer the service as my country mate for those close to Victoria, BC

  18. @Some Canadian Skeptic:

    Yeah, lack of health care was one of the three big factors in this recession, the others being skyrocketing gas prices and the housing bubble. My point is, even if things did suck with universal health care, it would still suck worse than how much things suck already. I’m surprised any American even cares about the Holmes story, since so many Americans have already gone bankrupt because of actual tumors or other life-threatening diseases. I guess when it happens, it’s considered a good thing somehow.

  19. @Some Canadian Skeptic:

    Wahhhhhhhh–I wanna be a Canuck! I admit it–I idealize Canada. I applied for jobs in Canada when I was in the midst of my last job search. My partner’s mother was Canadian, so I have Canadian in-laws. Several years ago he could have easily applied for dual citizenship–just fill out some paperwork– but did he? No, no he did not. Then the rules were changed. Fuckityfuckfuck.

    *sigh* Canada–the land of civility.

    Oh, and I love the fat/feminism posts–thanks.

  20. Jack Layton has been going to the plate for the health care system lately. He published an article today.

    Does anyone else think Hufflepuff from Harry Potter whenever they hear of something from the Huffington Post? Or is that just me.

    Anyway, obviously, Tommy Douglas is one of Jack Layton’s predecessors as leader of the federal NDP, and Layton is probably motivated in part by the opportunity to capitalize on one of Douglas’ greatest and most celebrated victories. So full disclosure there. But Layton is also pretty much spot on with his analysis.

  21. @Peregrine: Thanks for that link. I hate pretty much 80% of what that damn site cobbles together, but when they’re on, they’re on like Donkey Kong!

    I’m still a little torn on Layton, always have been. But he is very erudite, and makes a great case here. Good on him!

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