Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Prayer in Health Care

November 5, 2009

[This was sent to my representatives in Congress.  There’s a form letter saying more or less the same thing here that I recommend people fill out.  To read more about this, check out Steven Novella’s excellent Neurologica Blog.]

Amid all the crazy health care debates, there’s one campaign that seems to have flown under the radar.  That is the campaign to have the health care bill allow payment for prayers that one gets better.  The campaign is organized by Christian Scientists, who, as part of their faith, do not believe in medicine.  They say that medicine is a human attempt to “play God” and that God alone should have the power to heal the sick.  Rather than going to the doctor, when a Christian Scientist gets sick, he or she goes to a religious official to heal them through the power of prayer.  Of course, these officials charge for their services, so the argument is that if health care covers doctor visits in which medicine is administered, it ought to also cover religious visits in which prayer is administered.

While I am in favor of religious freedom, I demand that whatever the health care bill be limited only to science-based medicine.  Paying taxes to go towards faith-based or unscientific quackery will not be accepted by those who have the ability to think critically.  A faith-based health care bill also goes against the First Amendment separating church from state.  To allow prayer to be covered by the bill also opens the doors to other forms of quackery to be funded by the government such as homeopathy.  Of course, it goes without saying that since prayer actually doesn’t work to cure people of their ailments, people will get sicker and die eventually if they go to a prayer specialist rather than to a medical specialist.  The government ought not to support this.


To the Huffington Post

September 30, 2009
To whom it may concern:
I subscribe to several RSS feeds on the Huffington Post.  I appreciate the idea of a forum in which enlightened people can publish their views so that they can be debated and forwarded around the Internet.  I also run a blog that aspires to this ideal, although my blog is nowhere near as popular as the Huffington Post.
I do not agree with all of the commentators on the Huffington Post, but I am tolerant of almost all of them, and in some cases, their blog entries challenge my own beliefs.  However, I cannot respect the Huffington Post’s recent acceptance of Dana Ullman as a contributer.  Mr. Ullman is a homeopath, meaning he has a career in marketing homeopathy and homeopathic remedies for ailments.  Homeopathy is a pseudo-scientific mode of quackery that has absolutely no medicinal value.  Time and time again homeopathic remedies have been proven to work no better than placebo. 
I am also disturbed by the Huffington Post’s continued publication of blog entries that lobby against flu vaccination.  As every scientifically literate knows, the flu vaccine is more important this season due to the H1N1 flu.  There is no reason to worry that the vaccine is unsafe.  On a related note, hysterical blog entries against the MMR vaccine for children are unwelcome and dangerous.  The claims that the MMR vaccine causes autism in young children have been debunked for years.  A steady stream of studies published since these claims became popular Internet and talk show fodder confirm this reality.
I encourage the Huffington Post to publish all political, social, and medical opinions, but I must protest the publication of outright quackery.  To me, and to many of your readers, publishing blogs of homeopaths and anti-vaccination ideologues are akin to publishing blogs of Holocaust deniers and flat earth theorists.  In order for the Huffington Post to stay relevant, it must resist publishing the complete nonsense.
Los Angeles, CA