Tag Archives: doctors

Prayer saved Gabriel Gifford…according to Fox Viewers

21 Jan

A new poll conducted by Fox “news” found that 8 in 10 Americans (aka conservatives who take Fox Polls) believe that god saved Gabriel Gifford’s life. Meanwhile another poll conducted by Reality News found that 8 in 10 people who responded to the Fox “news” poll are morons.

We can all let out a collective groan because here we go again. Just as with the Chilean mine collapse, or the plane crash on the Hudson river, people always find a way to praise their invisibly sky daddy and never blame him. That is just how the game is rigged. There is no possible scenario where they will blame god. Period.

Did gay intern Daniel Hernandez, who held his hands tight on Gifford’s head to control the bleeding and to keep her brains from oozing out, save Gifford’s life? What about the person who jumped the gunman to keep him from shooting more people? What about the emergency responders who rushed to the scene? What about the expert surgeons who spent years studying the advances of science and who spent hours fighting to keep Gifford alive?

Nope. God did it…. but do you know what that means if you want to be logically consistent? It means god had a nine year old girl gunned down… And if you’re not going to admit that then you have to admit you don’t give a fuck about reality, logical coherence, or will ever admit your god did something disgusting.

Atheist doctors more likely to kill you

3 Sep

Here is a lovely little bit of spin from The Guardian:

“Doctors who are atheist or agnostic are twice as likely to take decisions that might shorten the life of somebody who is terminally ill as doctors who are deeply religious – and doctors with strong religious convictions are less likely even to discuss such decisions with the patient, according to Professor Clive Seale, from the centre for health sciences at Barts and the London school of medicine and dentistry.”

The Guardian has taken a study that puts religious doctors in a bad light, and twisted it to make atheist doctors look like they’re going to kill you. The not so subtle message they’re trying to send is “Atheists don’t care about human life because they are less moral than religious doctors, and thus they have fewer qualms about killing you.” What the original study highlighted was the fact that religious doctors are more likely to try and prolong a person’s suffering, regardless of the patient’s wishes. “doctors with strong religious convictions are less likely even to discuss such decisions with the patient…”, whereas an atheist doctor is twice as likely to be open an honest with the patient while understanding that at some point you’re not prolonging life as much as you’re prolonging dying.  Way to go Guardian, way to go….

Personally, I’d refuse to see a doctor who held strong religious convictions. I don’t want somebody who thinks their patients will go to heaven if they mess up. More importantly I want a doctor who makes judgments based on the evidence presented to him, not on faith. I also don’t want a doctor deceiving me on all the possible treatment options because they happen to have religious convictions against some of them. I think it’s really ironic that religious doctors would fight so hard to prolong a person’s death. What are they afraid of? According to them the person will be going to a place of eternal happiness. Why delay them? (The fact is, death really scares religious people. That’s why they’ve invented this comforting delusion that when they die, they don’t really die.) The whole thing really makes me wonder about how they value life. It seems to me they value life in the sense that life is anything “alive”, and I use alive very loosely.

A perfect example is the Terri Schiavo case.

Back in 1990 Terri collapsed in her home from cardiac arrest and suffered severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. Doctors examined her and declared her a vegetable. They tried for two years to bring her back, despite her vegetable status, but nothing worked. He grieving husband finally had to make the decision to pull the plug and let his wife go. Terri’s parents, however, didn’t want to let go. They prolonged the battle another 13 years. When a Florida judge finally said enough is enough, and ordered the plug pulled, the pro-“life” movement swung into action along with the rest of conservative America.

Thankfully the pro-“life” side lost and Terri was let go; the 15 year long nightmare ended. After Terri’s death doctors preformed an autopsy and confirmed that Terri had been a vegetable all along. There is a big difference between being “alive” and “living”. An unconscious organism is technically alive, yes, but it is not living. To the pro-“lifers”, the bar for living is set so low, that anything alive needs to be protected. If they want to keep comatose people going and prevent women from aborting a mass of cells in her womb, then by their standards they should decry the use of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. They should see farmers harvesting their crops as genocidal maniacs. Seriously, if we’re going to set the bar for “life” this low, you might as well be consistent.

Faith healing

14 Jul

An old college acquaintance of mine recently announced that a friend of hers had been cured of cancer for the fifth time. While I wholeheartedly agree that this is wonderful and amazing news, I disagree that it was her friend’s faith in Jesus that cured her.

Now I do not have all the facts about the event, but this is what I can gather from my friend’s facebook note:

  • The woman in question has had cancer four times in the past
  • The cancer she just recovered from was somehow different from her previous cancers
  • The doctors and the woman in question disagreed on how to treat the cancer
  • The woman decided to try praying for a cure
  • Four hours after being declared “healed” by fellow religious members, the doctors reported her cancer had stopped growing

The note does not mention what type of cancer she had, what her previous cancers had been, whether the cancer was malignant or benign, and what time the tests were done that told the doctors the cancer had stopped growing.

Firstly, the note only mentions that the cancer stopped growing. While this is great, it is not the same thing as “healed”. “Healed” would be if the cancer was gone entirely. Secondly, it would be nice to know what time the tests were conducted, and how long it took for the results to come back. If, for example, the tests were done at 10 am, she was declared “healed” at 12, and the results came back at 4 pm, the cancer had stopped growing at least 2 hours before the “healing” took place.

Thirdly, did the woman in question attribute her four previous recoveries to faith healing? If so, why does she keep getting cancer? One would assume it only takes god once to get the job done. Also, is it possible that her previous experiences with cancer left her body better prepared to fight a new cancer?

I would also like to know how this fifth cancer was different. Was it weaker than her previous four cancers or stronger? Is this rare cancer usually fatal or does it have a history of getting better on its own?

Most importantly, can the doctors explain why she got better? (The note makes no mention of this) Let’s assume that the doctors can’t explain why the cancer stopped growing. The fact that it can’t be explained in no way supports the claim that supernatural powers are at work. The unexplained is just that, unexplained. To claim that because you can’t explain something, supernatural powers are at work is actually a contradiction. You are saying “I can’t explain something, therefore I can explain it.”

When you label and event supernatural simply because it has no explanation that is obvious to you, you’ll inevitably misinterpret evidence, make invalid causal connections, and eliminate whole realms of alternative explanations before it is even clear what explanations might be appropriate.

It is important to note that similar claims of faith healing have been made by adherents of a variety of different mutually exclusive religions throughout history. The fact that the patient’s cancer stopped growing is no more evidence that Jesus healed her than an ancient Egyptian’s claim that Ra healed him.

When judging the effectiveness of something, it is important to record the “misses” as much as the “hits.” Well meaning people often make the mistake of only paying attention to the data that supports their preconceived notions.

According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that 1,479,350 men and women (766,130 men and 713,220 women) will be diagnosed with and 562,340 men and women will die of cancer of all sites in 2009.

According to the Barna Group, which has been measuring the size of the evangelical public since 1994, 38% of the US population describes themselves as “evangelical christians”.

For the sake of the argument, if we overlay the 38% over the 1,479,350 we come out with 562,153. That is roughly the number of evangelical christians who will get cancer.  Of that 562,153, around 213,689 will die. That’s approximately a 40% failure rate.

In 2006 the Templeton Foundation, a religious organization that aims to affirm faith through science, published the report of a decade long experiment aimed at studying the effectiveness of prayer when it comes to healing the sick. Unfortunately for the Templeton Foundation, the study found that prayers had no effect. In fact, just the opposite:

“patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.”

One last thing to consider. The note my friend published did not mention the age of the woman in question. I’m assuming she is around the same age of my friend, and thus over 18. “Faith healing” can have a very dark side, especially if the person undergoing the “healing” is of an age where they cannot make rational adult decisions about their health.

“Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty” (CHILD) is a children’s advocacy group that monitors the religious based medical neglect and abuse of children in the United States.

For the years 1975-1995, CHILD documented 172 instances of children in the U.S. dying from treatable illnesses after their parents rejected standard medical care and relied solely on religion. CHILD’s president, Rita Swan, says the actual number is far higher.

The courts have consistently ruled that parents do not have a constitutional right to harm children. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects religious freedom, but does not confer a right to abuse or neglect children. The leading case is Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944), in which the U. S. Supreme Court ruled, “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or child to communicable disease, or the latter to ill health or death. . . . Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves.”

Nevertheless, state and federal governments have created many religious exemptions allowing parents to withhold some medical care from children, almost entirely because of Christian Science lobbying.