Scientific Literacy

Here is a recent article in Seed, written by Thomas W. Martin, entitled, Scientific Literacy and the Habit of Discourse. Excerpt:

Science eventually yields impressive answers because it compels smart people to incessantly try to disprove the ideas generated by other smart people.

Can we make this required reading?

Mr. Martin hits upon another issue I have a real pet peeve about:

In the present cultural climate, altering one’s beliefs in response to anything (facts included) is considered a sign of weakness.

Political races especially have illustrated this perfectly. It’s a side effect of not having any popularly accepted standard of truth. People would prefer to deny reality itself in order to ‘feel-good’ or, in the political arena, appeal to some sub-group of people.

Rush Limbaugh and Homeopathy

It’s painful to admit it, but I am a former ditto-head. Yes, I used to tune in everyday to the Rush Limbaugh show, and even called in once. But all that’s in the past now, as I’ve come to a more enlightened view of the world. It also helped that I’ve had run-ins with other members of the Limbaugh family, Limbaugh’s nephew who drew this wonderful picture of/for me. But this post isn’t about that. I happened to tune in a while back (on accident), and I just happened to hear a commercial I was very familiar with from those old days. I had a somewhat different reaction this time around though.

What was the commercial? Zicam Homeopathic Medicine (pdf). To add insult to injury, this was mere moments after hearing Rush call himself ‘the voice of reason.’ How disgusting. Rush Limbaugh has said some pretty outrageous things in his time, most recently with his comments about ‘phony troops,’ so this doesn’t even rank that high, but it is, never-the-less, a perfect example of just how convoluted conservative / christian thinking can be.

I wonder if he even knows what homeopathy is?

There are a few twists to this story, though. According to the PDF linked above, studies demonstrating the efficacy of the treatment have been published in peer-reviewed journals, and according to this post I discovered from a few years ago, it seems the homeopathic label may just be a marketing ploy.

What the hell?

But the situation is even more muddled a few paragraphs further down in the pdf, where it says:

Zinc gluconate is recognized as a homeopathic drug because it has known “homeopathic provings” and/or known effects which mimic the symptoms, syndromes or conditions associated with the common cold, which it is administered to treat.

So, Zicam is homeopathic? It’s homeopathic and has demonstrated it’s efficacy? Someone call James Randi.

Really, what the hell is going on here?

The James Randi Education Foundation Forums provides a little insight.

  1. It seems that Zicam has been sued and lost when someone lost their sense of smell.
  2. It’s homeopathic because it’s active ingredients causes the symptoms they’re trying to cure.
  3. It’s dosage is much larger than normal homeopathic ‘medicine.’
  4. Zicam seems to be trying to do an end-around the FDA in order to bypass the scrutiny needed to bring their ‘medicine’ to market in a non-homeopathic way.

The bottom line. Zicam seems to be some really messed up ‘medicine.’

Looking at all that, is it really that surprising that Rush Limbaugh personally endorses the product? It’s a match made in heaven.