Category Archives: Critical Thinking

We Are All Made of Stars

After reading my last blog post, one of my best & dearest friends asked me what I thought about the law of attraction and whether that fit into my philosophy.

Here is my answer.

I do believe that thinking positive thoughts, and taking positive actions (having good energy) affects us as individuals, as well as the people around us. However, I don’t believe that the universe is at all aware of us.

Earth is a tiny mote of dust in a vast universe and we are but tiny specks. We have the power to make decisions that have a positive outcome on our lives, but we cannot control the cosmos. 

We have a connection with the universe in the sense that we are an amazing (but minute) part of it; indeed, the ingredients that make up our bodies are the same ingredients that make up the cosmos. Just as we were born and will one day die, the universe was also born, and will one day die. We are a part of it all. As Carl Sagan said “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

Likewise, I don’t believe that the universe is at all aware of our thoughts and our actions. I don’t believe that the universe can control the relatively insignificant aspects of our lives…however, I believe that we, as human beings can and do. 

I do not feel bad that the universe is not conscious of my presence. It is enough for me to know that we are a part of the universe and are the lucky ones who actually beat the odds and were born.

We are insignificant compared to the cosmos as a whole, but are significant to those whom we surround ourselves with. The relationships we have with others and the way we treat our fellow humans is most important, I believe. 

That’s what I think.

NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-Earthrise

What I Have Learnt

NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-EarthriseBeing a good person does not depend on whether I believe in a day of judgment.

It is never a crime to question. The real crime is to never question.

I would much rather know the truth, however inconvenient, than to be fed lies to make me feel better.

I take comfort in the general indifference of the universe. When bad things happen, I know that it’s not personal.

 

Osmosis Schmosmosis

I just received an email with a deal from one of those Groupon-type companies. It offered a massage, a back exfoliation–and an ionic spa session. I had no idea what an ionic spa session was a couple of hours ago.

I decided to check out the spa’s website to get a feel for the location. (I prefer not to link to them, but you can google their name: Clinique La Source de la Santé.)

I first noticed that the spa was actually marketed as a health centre. I also found a page describing the ionic spa session that had been mentioned in the deal.

Now, what I’m about to tell you is nothing to laugh at, because people spend loads of hard-earned cash on this service and believe that it works. But when I read about this treatment, I could not stop laughing. The claims being made were utterly ridiculous.

So this is the treatment: you put your feet into a foot bath for thirty minutes. But not for the purpose of simply relaxing, or having your pods massaged with jets of warm water, which would feel great anyway after a long day on your feet.

This is how the treatment is explained (the grammar and spelling is all theirs):

Essentially, the IonicSpa functions as a magnet that helps your body to detoxify by attracting toxins! Toxic particles exit the body through skin pores buy osmosis to where they are neutralized and trapped in a charged bath of water! The IonicSpa is care for the immune system; it is revolutionary way to re-balance, reenergize & detoxify the body; treatment sessions re-stabilizes cells of the body so that normal physiological functions run at optimal levels, particularly the uptake of necessary nutrients & the elimination of unwanted waste products.

In addition, this foot bath is supposed to help you lose weight, relieve your seasonal allergies, give you more energy and increase oxygen levels in your body, reduce inflammation, take away your insomnia, reduce stress, restore the immune system and remove heavy metals from your body.

I love that last claim. Gee, what was I doing taking painful deferoxamine injections for 16 years in order to remove excess iron from my blood? All I needed was an ionic foot bath!

Their website also has absurd pictures of people’s feet in these ionic baths, with the water changing colours according to which part of the body the toxins were supposedly coming from (the liver, gallbladder and so on). The toxins were allegedly leaving the person’s body through the dilated pores of the person’s feet! One of the pictures showed coppery coloured water with reddish brown sludge-like particles in it. Pretty gross.

Ionic_bath

Because it is just too hilarious not to share, here’s a guide explaining which parts of the body are being detoxified according to the colour and texture of the water at the end of the treatment. This information is derived directly from the website.

COLOR OR PARTICLES MATERIAL OR AREA OF THE BODY BEING DETOCIFIED
Black Detoxifying from liver
Black Flecks Heavy metals especially Iron
Brown Detoxifying from liver, cellular debris and tobacco
Dark Green Detoxifying from gallbladder
Orange Detoxifying from joints
Red Flecks Blood clot material
White Cheese – Like Particles Most likely yeast
White Foam Detoxifying from Lymphatic system
Yellow – Green Detoxifying from kidneys, bladder, urinary tract and female/prostate area
Oily Surface Fatty, lactic, oxalic and uric acids

So how often are you supposed to come in for a treatment to ensure the very best results? This health centre strongly recommends two to three sessions per week for four weeks to start. At a cost of $40 per thirty-minute session, that amounts to… a whopping $480. For. Absolutely. Nothing.

I did some research into the truth about how these foot baths actually produce colour. Livestrong.com quoted Dr. Stephen Barrett of Device Watch, who says that the colour of the foot bath water changes because of “a common chemical reaction, caused by the iron oxide — more commonly known as rust — that occurs when the electrodes in the water break down.” Dr. Barrett also notes that the water would change colour “even if a foot was absent”.

To see an ionic foot bath in action, I dug up a couple of YouTube videos in which experiments were done to see how these foot baths produce such gunky textures and colours. I also found a training video that is probably packaged with one of these ionic foot bath products.

It seems that after these treatments, the people using them believe that they have been cleansed, and that their bodies are now pure. But, as the Voice of Young Science says: “Your gut, your liver and kidneys, your lymphatic system and your skin are more than capable of dealing with everyday toxins.”

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I know of a contraption that you can acquire for less than the price of two of these treatments. You can even pick one up from your friendly neighbourhood Canadian Tire. I, myself, have had one for years! I can guarantee that it will massage your feet and make you feel relaxed and blissfully rejuvenated.

And as an added bonus, your feet won’t be sitting in a broth of rust and sludge.

Voilà!
Foot bath

Are you more alkaline or acidic?

I cannot count the number of times that someone has said to me that something is good because it is natural. Yet, in order for plants and animals to survive, they have to create all sorts of poisons. Every part of a tomato plant is poison except for the fruit. Ginseng is a natural medicine, but can be a blood thinner if taken in too large a dose. Exposure to high levels of ammonia can kill you.

People also tend to believe that naturopathy is a good thing. Well, it sounds nice.

I was recently invited to hear a naturopath speak and decided to take the time to look into this naturopath’s offerings more carefully. Out of curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism, I decided to check out her website and see what services she offered.

This naturopath offered a pH evaluation that evaluated levels of acidity or alkalinity in the body. The website warned that diseases and “imbalances” occurred when the body was in “too much of an Acidic state”. I searched the web for similar pH evaluation services, and found another naturopathy website that claimed that “balancing the pH is a major step toward well-being and greater health.”

They claim that an alkalizing diet will prevent fatigue, slow the ageing process, help you lose weight, increase your bone strength, be more energetic, and even prevent cancer. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I looked at some more naturopathy websites and found claims that you can control the acidity and alkaline levels in your body by buying and using their products, whether it be alkaline water purifiers, alkalizing face and body cleansers, alkalizing supplements, or alkaline pH booster drops.

But is it true? Do we really need to worry about how acidic our bodies are? Can we really prevent cancer and lose weight by using products to increase the alkalinity of our bodies? I did some research.

Gabe Mirkin, M.D., who is an expert on health, nutrition, and sports medicine, says:

“Anyone who tells you that certain foods or supplements make your stomach or blood acidic does not understand nutrition. You should not believe that it matters whether foods are acidic or alkaline, because no foods change the acidity of anything in your body except your urine. Your stomach is so acidic that no food can change its acidity. Citrus fruits, vinegar, and vitamins such as ascorbic acid or folic acid do not change the acidity of your stomach or your bloodstream. An entire bottle of calcium pills or antacids would not change the acidity of your stomach for more than a few minutes.”

Robert T. Carroll, Ph.D., who wrote Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed, echoes this sentiment:

“The first clue that (an acidic) diet would be worthless as a cancer treatment is the general principle it advocates: dietary modification can change the acidity of the blood. It’s not true that the acidity of the body can be changed significantly by diet. Whatever food you eat passes through your stomach, which is highly acidic (pH between 1.5 and 3.5), making it an ideal environment for pepsin, the main digestive enzyme, to break down food. Stomach acid pH levels can be affected by the quantity of food you eat, infection, and stress. Eating foods designated acidic or alkaline is irrelevant to affecting pH in the stomach.”

Busted.

It’s easy to want to believe in a miracle, that any ailment we suffer can be healed easily without painful and cumbersome treatment, and that nature can cure anything. Over my lifetime, I’ve received over 531 transfusions. I had to give myself painful injections with an iron chelator from the age of five to the age of twenty-one, and be attached to an infusion pump overnight five to six nights a week.

Would I ever decide to end my blood transfusions and chelation therapy and rely on alternative medicine for a cure? Hell, no. After all, as my beloved Tim Minchin says:

“Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine.”