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Review: Should Faith Healing Parents Be Required To Seek Medical Treatment For Dying Kids?

Faith healing. It is a phenomenon that is, not only accepted, but a legal exemption from laws that would normally be applicable to the case of a sick child who died from lack of medical intervention. Erin Sonnenberg, a former coroner of 36 years, wouldn’t speak of specific cases, but did say:

“Just from general experience, the ones I know involving faith healing, had they been to a doctor, almost all of them could have been alive.”

Among the examples of conditions that caused these preventable deaths were appendicitis, spinal meningitis, or simple colds that developed into something more serious. He estimates that there are fewer than two cases a year on average of children who fall victim to this sort of easily preventable fate from faith “healing”. It may not be a huge number of cases, but there are a rather large number of people who embrace this very same dangerous anti-science philosophy.

One example of this is the Followers of Christ church. They’re a christian denomination based out of Oregon that will literally shun members who violate church doctrine–including those who seek medical care rather than help from the sky fairy. The reality of it is that children like fifteen-month old Ava Worthington and eighteen-month old Alayna Wyland have had to suffer the consequences of their parents lack of action.

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(18-month old Alayna Wyland)

When any parent fails to get their child critical medical treatment when needed, would we call that “religious freedom”, or would we call it “neglect”? Common sense would compel one to lean more towards the latter. However, many people apparently lack the common sense and critical thinking necessary to come to that sort of conclusion. When their child passes away due to their failure to intervene, they claim “religious freedom” in the courtroom; when in reality, they’re just refusing to take responsibility for their lack of taking action. Should parents who embrace the philosophy of faith healing be required to seek medical attention for sick children? My answer: OF COURSE THEY SHOULD!

 

Note from the author:

[This story really hits home to me. As someone who grew up in the bible belt, and have been unfortunate enough to become permanently ill, I can testify to having encountered plenty of people who either insisted that my illness was a result of sin, weak faith, or that it simply didn’t exist at all. I can’t even tell you how many times a large group of people lay hands and scream at the top of their lungs as they prayed over me with anointing oil, a bible held to my forehead, and all that nonsense. Nothing happened. I still persisted to get sicker (mainly due to parental neglect/abuse that had nothing to do with religion), and their prayers never worked. Not once. My hours of meditating in prayer, studying the scriptures, going to church, preaching the gospel, being actively involved in the ministry, and all that weren’t enough. Then when I begin to seek medical treatment, educate myself, and focus on what I can do to affect the situation; only then is when I began to make serious progress towards better health and quality of life. That is one factor that led to me becoming an atheist, which costed me the relationships with and support of the grand majority of religious folks that I had grown up with.]

 

I dedicate the song “Spiritual Healing” from the heavy metal legends, Death, to this very situation at our hands. These lyrics nail it:

Practice what you preach
Your loved one is now deceased
Knowledge is at our hands
Never to understand

 

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Review: Obama Announces Initiative To Cure Cancer

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Lemmy Kilmister. The fairly recent news behind the deaths of each of these legendary individuals were the shots heard around the world over the holiday season. They’ve now joined the long list of legends to be taken from us by the vicious monster we know by the name of “Cancer”. Carl Sagan, Bob Marley, Farrah Fawcett, Ronnie James Dio, Chuck Schuldiner, Alec Guinness, Babe Ruth,  and the list goes on and on. The thought of one day possibly not having to hear of cancer deaths in the news anymore; wouldn’t that be wonderful? Not only would that be one of the most revolutionary innovations in history, but I’m sure the great majority of us know someone who has died from or battled with cancer at some point or another. It’s about time we hold this menace accountable.

Our commander in chief, Barack Obama, recently announced in his final address to the state of the union that we have now solidified another step towards a cure by getting the government to participate in the fight; a “new national effort” to cure cancer. He stated that he has appointed Vice President, Joe Biden, as the leader of this mission. Kyle Kulinski made a remark on this segment of his show that, in my opinion, sums it up perfectly:

“This is only exactly what the government is for!”

YES! Of course there should be an initiative to put funding from our tax dollars towards curing a disease that has crippled us as a society for far too long now. We should treat this with the same passionate anger and public activism that drives a the trial of a serial killer or a war criminal; by demanding the death penalty as the only option.

 

***Note from the author:***

[This video clip is a segment from The Kyle Kulinski Show; which airs live on Blog Talk Radio and Secular Talk Radio on Mondays – Fridays at 4:00 – 5:30 pm eastern time. Check those out or subscribe to his YouTube Channel, Secular Talk.]

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Review: Petition Launched for Heavy Metal Element “Lemmium” Honoring Motorhead Frontman

Over the holidays, the heavy metal community lost one of the legends whom we hold in the highest regard; Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister of the band Motorhead. Lemmy was born on December 24, 1945, and passed away December 28, 2015 after receiving a diagnosis of terminal cancer in the brain and neck.

An individual by the name of John Wright of the United Kingdom has launched an effort to honor our fallen hero by creating a change.org petition to name one of the four newly synthesized chemical elements “Lemmium”, because “Lemmy was a force of nature and the very essence of heavy metal.” This petition now has more than 145,000 signatures.

According to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry [IUPAC], new elements “can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist”. Though Lemmy may not have technically been any of those things, you could deem him to have been a mad scientist of heavy metal music.

I personally think this is one of the coolest moves I have ever seen to honor a heavy metal musician. Lemmy is recognized as one of the last true rock n’ roll rebels, and he lived the sort of lifestyle he wrote and sang about up until the very end. If you think this petition is rad, I would encourage taking less than half a minute of your time to sign it, and share it around the internet.

 

 

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Review: What Are The Four New Elements On The Periodic Table?

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry [IUPAC] recently announced that we have four new chemical elements to add to the periodic table; elements with the atomic numbers 113, 115, 117, and 118. All of which have temporary working names and symbols, but none that are official. The addition of these four new elements means that the seventh row of the periodic table is now officially complete.

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Element 113 (temporary working name and symbol: ununtrium, Uut) was discovered by a team of researchers at the RIKEN research institution in Tokyo, Japan. This is significant because it is the first ever chemical element to be discovered in Asia. Elements 115, 117, and 118 (temporary working names and symbols: ununpentium, Uup; ununseptium, Uus; and ununoctium, Uuo) were made possible by a collaboration between the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

To most people, this discovery may not mean much. However, for the scientific community, this is huge. Chemical elements are the fundamental building blocks of nature. Most of these elements are a product of nature–born within the stars–but scientists have been striving to create new elements in the lab for a long time. According to a theory pioneered by nuclear chemist, Glen T. Seaborg, if we can pack the right number of protons and neutrons into a nucleus, we will reach a so-called “island of stability”. This discovery might have landed us somewhere in the vicinity of that.

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Review: How 3D Printing Prosthetic Hands Are Changing These Kids’ Lives

Welcome to the age where we can print out a customized prosthetic limb for a child. A hand that they can use to do things they couldn’t previously do due to an injury, birth defect, or something else within that realm. 3D printing is an exciting technology; and this video from National Geographic displays the reality of one of the many medical applications of this technology.

Conventional prosthetics can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars, and kids outgrow them quickly; however, e-NABLE is an organization that is doing wonderful things to aid this problem. Since 2013, they’ve apparently produced 1,000+ prosthetic hands for kids in need of them. They have approximately 5,400 contributing members and have a goal of providing prostheses to around 6,000 or so people over the next couple of years.

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I’m a big fan of what this organization is doing, and of the possibilities that this 3-D printing technology enables us to have. We are entering a new era in human history where we can customize prosthetic body parts at a much cheaper price than the traditional method.

Not only does this technology have many medical application, but it also has multiple other uses outside of the medical field. NASA, for one example, has used 3D printing to print out engine parts for rockets for a while, and they’re even making moves towards using an entire engine that has been printed from a 3D printer.

We are living in a golden age of science and technology. It is exciting to think of how we’ll see this technology evolve throughout our lifetimes and beyond. Some people often have a more pessimistic view of this technology, but it is impossible to dismiss the fact that amazing things can be done with technology when they are, in fact, being done.

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Review: How Childhood Trauma Can Make You A Sick Adult

Physician and Health Researcher, Dr. Vincent Felitti, discusses some of his team’s findings in the Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACE] study; one which contains precisely 17,337 participants. The results they found really shine light on the reality of the high prevalence of mental health problems in our population due to childhood trauma.

The reality of childhood trauma is that it can have some very negative potential results that have ripple effects into an individual’s adult life. Dr. Felitti and his team found a powerful connection between childhood trauma and the likelihood of attempting suicide, having eating disorders, using hardcore drugs, etc. The extent of the connection is pretty mind-blowing.

There are ten categories which Dr. Felitti mentions in this video that they focused their attention on for this study, as they were the most common in the obesity program he mentions:

  1. childhood sexual abuse
  2. heavy duty childhood physical abuse
  3. major emotional abuse (such as humiliation)
  4. two unnamed categories of neglect (#1)
  5. two unnamed categories of neglect (#2)
  6. growing up in a home where someone was mentally ill or even institutionalized
  7. growing up in a home without both biological parents
  8. growing up in a home where a member of the household was a substance abuser
  9. growing up witnessing the abuse of a loved one
  10. growing up where one of the parents is imprisoned

The study has shown that 1 in 11 participants have experienced 6 or more of these categories in their childhood. These individuals have shown to have up to a 4600% increase in chances to become a hardcore drug user, as well as a 3,100-5,000% increase in the possibility of attempting suicide than people who have experienced none of those categories. Felitti himself stated that these numbers were “difficult to accept”.

This is a very real issue that we have neglected to address, as a society, for too long. There is this stigma in our society attached to mental illness and talking about these sort of issues that concern mental health or past experiences; a stigma in which we must destroy immediately, so that we can make seeking help for these issues more available, more effective, and less taboo.

 

[This video was a product of a collaborative effort between Big Think and The Mental Health Channel.]

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Review: Silence of the Labs

An episode of CBC‘s the fifth estate shares some unfortunate details about the Canadian viewpoint of the war on science.  In the past few years, the Canadian federal government has cut funding to hundreds of research institutes and programs; dismissing more than 2,000 scientists and researchers from their jobs. Hindering the progress of important work done in fields that are vital to our continued existence on this planet.

These fields include the researching and managing of the following:

  • Smoke stack emissions
  • Oil spills
  • Climate change
  • Water quality
  • Food inspections

How does this act in the interest of the Canadian people? It certainly does no good for the scientific community when thousands of scientists lost their jobs; and their work remains unfinished and under-appreciated. Since we can firmly establish that we have serious environmental problems, they need to be addressed.

Since this documentary was made back in 2014, I’m unaware of any recent changes made that might be significant other than the recent federal elections. However, the loss of careers and the lack of scientific studies is still certainly valid regardless of minor detail. I’m an advocate for leaving the next generation more adequately prepared and educated. It only seems reasonable to have programs and systems in place to monitor and manage these problems to take preventative measures and to prepare for what lies ahead.

 

 

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Review: New Atheist Movement: Why Are Atheists So Hated?

 

As a bisexual atheist who originates from the Bible belt, I certainly understand the stigma attached to non-traditional Christian beliefs and values. The consequences of falling outside of that realm vary depending on location and association.

Just like Cara Santa Maria said in this video with Dave Rubin:

“You have to put yourself in the shoes of the religious to understand where this hatred comes from”

The fundamental beliefs of Christianity are that a family is a faithful heterosexual couple that only has children inside of marriage and practices abstinence until that point. Falling on the LGBTQ spectrum is an abomination (Leviticus 20:13), and an atheists are seen as corrupt according to Psalms.

“To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” –Psalm 14:1, KJV

I myself am a former Christian who has experience with different sects of the faith– e.g. Baptist, Catholic, and Pentecostal churches. Rejecting god to these people is, like Carla says, “the ultimate apostasy”. How dare you reject the all mighty-god is the attitude of many that I’ve encountered. Some will completely stop associating with you on the basis of that.

The reality of it is that we atheists are not eating babies for dinner, hissing at churches and Christians every opportunity we get to, and actively going out of our way to corrupt the youth of the world. There are many different breeds of atheism. Some are blue collar folks, while others are in white collar professions. Some are scientifically minded, while some are not. Some are loud like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, while others are quiet about it and prefer not to get on the topic of it. At the end of the day, we’re diverse human beings with our own cultures, values, opinions, and beliefs. They just so happen to not involve a god in the picture.

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Review: Ben Carson: Darwin’s Evolution Theory Was ‘Encouraged by the Adversary’

According to Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was “encouraged by the adversary”. The adversary, in the Christian context, is of course referring to the devil. Here is yet another example of the misrepresentation of science.

Carson mentions the fact that Isaac Newton was a believer in God. In the 1600’s, there weren’t many people who didn’t believe in God as there wasn’t necessarily an alternative to religion. Those that didn’t believe surely wouldn’t voice it either. He also lies about Albert Einstein being a believer in God. The reality is that he didn’t identify as an atheist, but also was quoted saying that “the idea of a personal god is a child-like one”.

He also refers to evolution as having become what is “scientifically, politically correct”, and claims that there are a lot of scientists who don’t believe in it. Wrong. Evolution is a consensus among the scientific community, and is especially important to fields of biology and medicine. Evolution by natural selection is something that is not only thoroughly observed in nature, but is consistent with the production of results. How can we prove it? Genetic engineering. Traditionally referred to as artificial selection. It follows the same basic principles as natural selection; however, the selection is according to the human will rather than mother nature’s. There may be some scientists who don’t believe in evolution, but they’re more than likely not employed in the fields of biology, medicine, paleontology, and many others that directly involve the concept of evolution.

I’m surely interested in seeing the evidence presented in this “Organ of Species” book he plans to write that would supposedly explain the human organs in a way that would debunk evolution. Good luck with that, because you’re going to need it Mr. Carson. Come up with a legitimate hypothesis and results that are both consistent and replicable, and then we’ll talk.

 

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Review: Fearing – The Amygdaloids

In honor of it being that Halloween/Samhain/Dias De Los Muertos time of the year, I found it appropriate to write about a song that discusses the scientific explanation of the emotion behind all things scary; fear. The song is “fearing” by a New York city band of scientists and educators, The Amygdaloids. This tune is from their 2010 album, Theory of My Mind.

One of my favorite lyrics featured in this song  simply explains the basics of what fear is:

“The fear response is the same in humans and other mammals; Muscles tense, heart beats fast, hormones flow. These responses help keep us alive when threats arise.”

I can also appreciate what this band does to raise awareness about the treatment of psychiatric conditions. The lyrics even state later in this song that “we need better treatment for fear” after briefly shining light on what current treatments are available. Which are only effective to an extent.

The name of the band comes from the term, Amygdaloid nucleus. Part of the limbic system, the amygdala is involved in emotional reactions, decision-making, and memory. It plays a key role in survival by triggering the state of fear when we encounter danger. So when you and your friends are out wetting your pants at a haunted house somewhere, now you know a little bit more about what goes on behind the scenes.

 

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