Skepticism, Religion Archive

Monday, February 6, 2006

Exorcism, Homeopathy and Alternative Medicine

This is an excerpt from another entry on this blog. The original entry was so long that I wasn't sure people would read the whole thing, so I've decided to pull out the best parts into their own entries.

Yet again, watching T.V. with my wife, we saw a show on the National Geographic Channel, Is It Real? (which is turning out to be one of my favorite shows, by the way). This particular episode dealt with exorcisms. Actually, at the time of writing this, if you go to National Geographic's Video Archive, and do a search on "exorcism," you can find a short clip from the episode. And really, I don't know exactly how many people are buying into this, but from the video clips you could see on the show, there were some pretty big crowds at the services of one particular exorcist, Bob Larson.

While I was watching this man perform his exorcisms, I was struck by one thing, before they ever even introduced the skeptics (so I don't think I was being biased by their views), and that was how much the whole thing looked like stage hypnosis. There was the preacher, up at the front of a big crowd, with his "patient" there with him, and he kept talking to "the demons" possessing these people. I mean, the susceptibility of the human mind to the power of suggestion is a lot greater than most of us would like to believe. And it's not necessarily stupid people (Nobel laureate Richard Feynman discusses being hypnotized by a stage magician in one of his books), it's just that certain people have a disposition towards being hypnotized. So, I told my wife that's what was going on, and lo and behold, a few minutes later when National Geographic showed the experts, that's exactly what they thought was going on.

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Monday, February 6, 2006

Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About

This is an excerpt from another entry on this blog. The original entry was so long that I wasn't sure people would read the whole thing, so I've decided to pull out the best parts into their own entries.

I was watching TV one night with my wife, and I can't remember what channel or show it was that we were watching, but at the time, some book called Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau was the second best selling book in America, followed behind Harry Potter. Since I first saw that, while channel surfing I've seen Kevin Trudeau numerous times either being interviewed legitimately about his book, or more often on an infomercial in a staged interview trying to sell his book. Apparently, he's doing rather well. when I first checked the New York Times Best-Seller Lists this past August, the book was at the number one spot for hardcover advice. When I checked again at the end of October, 2005, the book was still at that spot. And really, it just amazes me how he can do so well.

Continue reading "Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About" »

Monday, February 6, 2006

Scary Religious E-mail

This is an excerpt from another entry on this blog. The original entry was so long that I wasn't sure people would read the whole thing, so I've decided to pull out the best parts into their own entries.

The other day, I received a religious e-mail that was pretty disturbing. Basically, it links separation of church and state with the September 11th terrorist attacks, then goes on to say that the world's going to Hell in handbasket because of our Godless ways. I think it's scary the type of mindset it takes to write that type of e-mail, believe it, or forward it on to people.

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Monday, February 6, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website November 2nd, 2005. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

To start off, let me say that when this soap box entry was written, it wasn't completely up to date with current events. I began writing this in August, before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. But, like it says on my homepage, my website's just a hobby, so with my focus being on other things, it's taken me a little while to write this entry. I've even put this essay aside to complete two other pages on this site that were more important to get done quickly (Guatemala 2005 Photos and Homosexual Marriage Soapbox Entry). So, there are many things I've seen since I started writing this essay that would go right along with the topic, especially remarks I've seen related to Hurricane Katrina. However, in the interest of actually completing this essay and getting it posted on my website, I'm not going to write about them. In fact, I'm even going to drop one of the original topics I was going to discuss, Justice Sunday II, just because it's taking me so long to write this.

2 November 2005

Okay, I don't want to beat a dead horse. I know I've gone over the subject of evolution several times. So, I'm going to try to stear clear of that in this essay. (Maybe I'll start a new section on my site, Evolution Rants, so I can just write away about it to my heart's content, and not have it interfere with the rest of this site.) Anyway, I've been doing a lot of reading over the past couple months on evolution, creationism, science, religion, etc., probably devoting more time to it than I should. And so it's making me notice these things more in daily life. And now I think that the whole evolution vs. creationism debate is just the symptom of a larger problem in this country. I'll just throw out a few examples here in the opening paragraph, and then discuss them later on. First, just the other day, I got an e-mail, the same one from two different people (though one guy sent it to me just to get a rise out of me, but it still shows that it's making the rounds), that correllated the September 11th terrorist attacks with taking prayer out of school and the moral decline of our country. Second, and I don't remember exactly where I saw this, but at the time, some book called Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau was the second best selling book in America, followed behind Harry Potter. Actually, as I began writing this in August 2005, and again when I checked in October 2005, it's at the number one spot for Hardcover Advice on the New York Times bestseller list. And finally, I was watching the National Geographic Channel the other night, and on their new series, Is It True (which is a very good series, by the way), they did a special on excorcisms, and showed all the people that are buying into it.

All of these examples, as well as my previous rants on evolution, show a society that's increasingly abandoning science and embracing the mystical. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a Christian myself (though my views would probably get me branded as a heretic in most circles), so I believe that there's more to the universe than just what science can tell us. And some home medical remedies do work. But I think that for the most part, scientists, doctors, and other technical people know what they're doing and what they're talking about, supernatural explanations are usually the wrong explanations, given the choice between homeopathy and modern medicine - I'd take modern medicine any day, and that some of the religious views in this country right now, to put it frankly, just plain scare me.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Legalizing Homosexual Marriage, Part II

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website October 26th, 2005. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

26 October 2005

On November 8th, among other things, Texans will vote on Proposition 2, "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Now, I know I've written about the issue of homosexual marriage before (2004-04-02 Soapbox Entry, but in light of the upcoming vote, and considering that I live in Texas, I thought it would be worthwhile to visit the issue on my website again (actually, this current essay began its life as an e-mail written in response to a chain mail that I received about Proposition 2). I won't try to cover all of the points in that original essay - no sense in repeating everything here since I've already written most of it down, once. However, there will still be some repetition, because I feel that the additional time to think has allowed me to reword some of the points in a better manner. This essay will also contain a few new points I've thought up since that original soapbox entry.

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