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North Bay Skeptics

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  • Steve

    It is implied in this discussion that our current process for developing pharmaceuticals is consistent with the “scientific method”. But is it really? If the idea “scientific method” means anything, it must mean that test results as reproduced somewhere – validated. But is this the case when it comes to pharmaceutical testing? Does the FDA repeat all of the studies? I don't think so, Eric? Not only that, but the company that stands to profit from the results should not even be allowed to be one of the institutions testing it (let alone the only one). The only insult to science here is to say that this is science. If we create a law to change this it would be a law that effectively says, all pharmaceuticals must be tested in a way consistent with common scientific standards –which would mean at the very least that the company that stands to profit from the drug cannot be the institution that tests the drug.

    1 · December 19, 2013

    • Tor S.

      Exactly! That's what laws are all about—protection, fairness, ethics. As knowledge (consciousness) evolves, so do our laws to reflect our new-found understanding and values. We move forward by continually improving (ourselves and the system). Needs to be done in every sector, and yes, pressingly so for the pharmaceutical industry. Activism is part and parcel of a democracy, and should be applied wherever necessary. There would be little social justice if everyone just silently accepted the status quo. And so it happens—just pick which injustice riles you the most and go at 'em. I think in the long run we'll end up with a better big pharma. BUT—none of this is so in the land of woo: CAM will NEVER concede anything. Neither will religion or conspiracy theories, or, or, or all the batshit crazy beliefs holding back progress and virtue. Big pharma can and will change, not so homeopathy, naturopathy, etc., no matter what data is provided. And we all know that religion will never change.

      December 20, 2013

    • Richard K.

      I think it's quite fascinating how religion changes. Look at what Mormonism has gone through with major changes every decade or two, some absolute reversals. Remember that when the Romans retook Jerusalem, there weren't all that many Jews around to convert into Christians. So they revised the story so Pontius Pilate became much less objectionable since the most useful and plentiful potential converts were Romans.

      Indeed, one can observe evolutionary pressures exerting major effects depending on the changing social and political environments. They do very much change and form new species.

      December 20, 2013

  • Tor S.

    Sorry, hadn't a clue.

    December 20, 2013

  • Paul N.

    Thank you, Hollie -

    December 20, 2013

  • hollie

    Honestly folks this forum is not really set up for ongoing discussions; ever time you make a comment it sends an email to everyone. This is mostly a post board for meet up logistic issues. meeting issues. Anyway this conversation can be continued on Facebook ???? My in box is filling up . Not that I'm not interested in subject matter ,but this is not the right medium for such.

    1 · December 20, 2013

  • Eric David R.

    Well, I don't want to take credit for this. We kind of meandered onto a related topic. I don't think was really "about" me. I'm with you, Tor. There is a LOT of complete and utter bullshit presented uncritically and unquestioned in our popular media as "science" or "true", and ALL of it is worth combatting. To me, the fight about pharma industry issues is pressing because: 1. It seems more likely to be winnable, simply because there are people whose opinions are actually listened to on our side (like Ben Goldacre and other evidence-based medicine advocates) and 2. we can avoid being harmed by stupid Dipstick Chopra styled woo nonsense by simply not participating in it. It may be annoying, but it doesn't have to directly harm US. But the corruption of the processes of science for profit unavoidably affects everybody; we all go to the same doctors, who prescribe the same medications, based on the same information. There is no way to escape the effects of pharma misconduct, for anyone.

    1 · December 19, 2013

    • Tor S.

      In addition to Goldacre and Marsha Angell, and more, we have the watchdog and oversight agencies, FTC and FDA. Their whole reason for being is truth for consumers. I don't need to be a mini-FDA. There is no such entity protecting us from woo. While we may choose not to read a Deepak Chopra book, the world at large is being inundated and infiltrated by religion, CAM, unfounded claims about what is real. We must all pick our battles.

      1 · December 19, 2013

  • Steve

    Another thought, Tor. Science isn't automatically self-correcting. Since science is a human activity, nothing happens unless humans do it, including correcting something now deemed incorrect. It takes a human to think something is incorrect, and a human to push a change through the process to correct it. So, when Eric goes after big pharma for corrupting the “scientific method/process”, he is acting in the role of the self-correcting agent of science. He is doing what you praise about science!

    December 19, 2013

    • Tor S.

      Totally concur. One can't separate science from human activity. Let's include scientists with science. Kudos to Eric (I had no idea this was about Eric; there were a couple discussions going on) for fulfilling the scientific method.

      2 · December 19, 2013

  • Steve

    Tor, I appreciate your value for science and your enthusiasm to fight the woo fight. I want to fight that fight too. But I’m Irish and we Irish love to fight. The more fights the merrier. After fighting it out with Christians, I have plenty of left over energy to fight sociopolitical fights (at least on “paper”) like the role money plays in our way of life, how money talks louder than votes, etc. Think of it this way: Given your love of science, I would think this would really get you riled up: there is probably no better example of money spoiling the benefit of science and it’s reputation in society than in big pharma. We can't even really call it science it is stuffed so full of profit bias. Yes science with eventually separate the chaff from the wheat but with pharmaceuticals we don’t have to wait for that process to clean it up – we are taking those meds today. The system needs to change and it won’t if there is no push back from people like Eric!

    December 19, 2013

    • Tor S.

      At this point in my life, Steve, I'm just in a different headspace. First, I'm not "in love" with science. It's simply the best tool we have for establishing a reality-based existence. At 59, I've spent my whole life outside of this, and the mainstream, immersed in countless inaccurate beliefs, railing against every convention and entity (corporations, sectors, military, etc), and waking up one day to discover how my whole life has been spent in pursuit of falsity. For me, it is a healing breath of air to accept some of the ways of the world. But, we need KPFA and Eric to speak truth to power. And we need outspoken social justice advocates. Everyone fights their own fight. Every industry needs whistle-blowers. (Btw, if science has been spoiled for you by big pharma, then simply don't support them anymore. Stop taking vaccines and the medicines they produce to save your life, if that were necessary).

      1 · December 19, 2013

  • Tor S.

    I made a rather sardonic, tongue-in-cheek, "question" asking if I was perhaps at the wrong meeting—that it sounded like The Skeptical Conspiracy Theorists. Allow a couple thoughts. Of course, being skeptical knows no bounds. Since skepticism is a way of thinking (mindset) and approaching the world, there is an almost endless number of things to be skeptical about. We should call things the way we see them where and whenever. But, imo, we should focus our razor gaze, our ire, our critical thinking skills at entities that DON'T have self-correctings mechanisms. Science, medicine, pharmacology, etc., have in-built corrective structures, completely unlike, say, religion or CAM.
    Plus, these are are best friends, our allies in the relentless 'battle' for a reality-based world. The county is overloaded with rants against Big-Pharma, Big-Medicine, big this, big that. Why continue that vein, when there is so much juicy, bat-shit crazy stuff around? I mean, we're in the heart of woo.

    December 19, 2013

    • Gerry B.

      This is a bit of a balancing act because the large pharmaceutical companies get a lot flak from pretty much all directions including conspiracy theorists as well as many skeptics. The book mentioned, "Bad Pharma" was written by Ben Goldacre who is well known in the skeptic community. He's one of us. After the meeting, I put his book on my list. You can view a presentation Mr. Goldacre gave at TAM6 by going to http://www.randi.org/...­

      December 19, 2013

    • Steve

      When I saw the title of this lecture and knowing it was by the author of “Bad Pharma”, and given the discussion in this forum, I was sure that the point of this lecture, titled “On the squabbles around Homeopathy”, I was sure the whole point of this lecture was going to be, why, skeptics, are you paying all of this attention to homeopathy when we have what we have going on in our production of drugs. That is a much better place for our attention. That would have been perfect for this discussion. En todo caso, though it did not go that way, consider that point, the point that Tor raised, where is our attention better spent as skeptics?

      December 19, 2013

  • Eric David R.

    Tor, I can tell you why the profit-over-science stuff about "big pharma" bothers ME so much: because I expect better of them. I DON'T expect better of chiropractors, homeopaths, crystal healers, or practitioners of reiki. They don't even PRETEND to base what they do on anything logical, rational, or verifiable. For me, the subversion of what SHOULD be legitimate science applied to human health for the purpose of profit is much more personal - it's a betrayal by those on what I see as the inside of the circled wagons, people who are supposed to be on OUR team. The woomeisters are assumed to be outside the circle of those committed to truth over good feelings, to be more concerned with beliefs that make them happy than whether those beliefs make a lick of sense or have any verifiable connection to reality. But what pharma companies are doing is screwing up the best method for finding out REAL truths about human health - ON PURPOSE. That really, really pisses me off.

    December 19, 2013

  • Gerry B.

    Last night, a couple of people asked about my shirt, which I purchased through the website of one of my favorite podcasts - "The Thinking Atheist." There was also a brief discussion about Lawrence Krauss and his latest book, "A Universe From Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing." While we were meeting, The Thinking Atheist podcast had Dr. Krauss on as a guest. Have a listen at http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/podcast/a-universe-from-nothing-with-lawrence-krauss

    1 · December 18, 2013

    • Shelley T.

      Thanks for the info!

      December 19, 2013

    • Tor S.

      Thanks. It's always wonderful listening to what Lawrence has to say. Talk about inspiring!

      December 19, 2013

  • Richard K.

    Enthusiasm. Disagreement. No hitting. What's not to love?

    December 17, 2013

    • hollie

      Well, there was some table hitting due to extreme point making ( a version of extreme sports ? ), but we all survived. A flexible group .

      December 18, 2013

  • Gerry B.

    I enjoyed the venue and would like to meet there in the future. The conversation was a little more enthusiastic than I hoped for but all in all, I am grateful for the break.

    December 18, 2013

    • Tor S.

      Responding to Eric: At that point, I'd probably have to apologize for most things that come out of my mouth. It's almost like a continual regression. I'd be in a constant state of apology. Our words and manner are, inescapably, part and parcel of who we are. Sometimes the hardest part is accepting ourselves. Whether other people accept you for you is another matter.

      December 18, 2013

  • Nyla

    And I thought you were just home with the white elephants!

    December 18, 2013

  • Tor S.

    Will be there. Great job, Hollie, on such short notice!

    December 17, 2013

  • Gerry B.

    I'll be there.

    December 17, 2013

  • Shelley T.

    Sounds good to me. Thank you, Hollie, for setting it up!

    December 17, 2013

  • hollie

    So there is a few of us that want to meet; so i have reserved UPSTAIRS at Stout Brothers , its a little quieter than normal area & might be ok, for pre crazy holiday ruminations . See address at meet up site; you can check menu at their web site.

    December 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will see you there!

    December 17, 2013

  • hollie

    Well , does anyone want to meet at Stout Brothers , Downtown Santa Rosa on 4th st, upstairs if it is not booked, it is a "relatively" quiet place to meet ?

    December 17, 2013

    • Richard K.

      Count me in. I'd rather meet than not. Do we have a phone list? I guess we can put a sign up at 6 W 9 with directions to the actual site.

      December 17, 2013

    • Paul N.

      I'm not a fan of bars and breweries - hard to hear over the din of inebriation but have fun all - see you at some time to come -

      December 17, 2013

  • Tor S.

    Considerate of you, Dixon, to give us these details. I had already written the directions down you posted a ways back, but these are even more precise. Thanks.

    December 16, 2013

  • Gerry B.

    Not sure why this year is so much different but crawling through the season is about all I've been able to manage. The very idea of spending the evening with you all feels like a much needed hug.

    December 16, 2013

  • hollie

    Sorry, i have been preoccupied out of town at my mother 's memorial and haven't not been keeping up with social media. But come to review; no one else has jumped on the idea either so maybe the group is white elephant OD'd for the holidays... I'm just planning to have my body there; my mind might show up too.

    December 15, 2013

  • Nyla

    Well Dixon, unless you and I want to eat pot luck in the corner and unwrap our elephants quietly on the side we may have to shelve this idea for January!

    December 15, 2013

  • Nyla

    It may be a bit late, but . . . . does anyone want to turn this meeting into a Solstice Party and white elephant gift exchange? Potluck food, wrap a re-purposed gift in your best recycled paper, wear a red or green sweater, light a candle to overcome the darkness and celebrate the soon to return spring?

    December 12, 2013

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