Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Maher on The View

Here's Bill Maher on The View, promoting his new movie Religulous.

Here's Part I:

And Part II:

At the end of Part II, Sherri Shepherd asks Maher if he's asked god what he thinks. Maher asks her if god has talked back to her, and she says yes, and he suggests that she should be put in a mental institution.

I was actually surprised the discussion was as civil as it was. But Maher gets extra points for irony for talking about how religious people "build a wall" in their heads, partitioning off religious beliefs while using rationality in every other aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, Bill has a wall of his own. He holds some severely wack-shit views about food, health, and medicine. He denies the germ theory of disease. On his show last week, he made a joke about poison milk from China and equated it with regular milk here, saying our milk is already poison. Nobody laughed, of course, but the implication was that pasteurized milk which comes from cows that have been given hormones to increase milk production is going to kill you.

Tear down that wall, Bill. Tear down that wall.

I'll probably watch his movie, but it's not being released wide, so of course it's not showing in Lafayette. So I'll have to wait for video.


Rob said...

Maher is an idiot or mentally ill himself. You decide. He is a sad little man that takes himself way too seriously as do his regular fans. He is an entertainer, nothing more, nothing less.

Kenny Wyland said...

Yes, Maher says some crazy stuff, but don't entirely write off what he says about health. I've been looking into the germ theory on disease lately... and there is something to it. I know, I know, it sounds completely fucking ridiculous. Everyone knows that germs cause disease, right?

Based on a discussion with a medical anthropologist, much of what we understand as disease and cure has actually been a good ad campaign by the AMA. For example, the Polio Vaccine saved us from the scourge of Polio! Yay Biomedicine! Except that if you go back and look at the historical data, Polio started disappearing about 5 years before the Vaccine was ever created. The belief is that general improvements in Public Health (clean water, basic personal hygiene) was the true cure.

A modern example of medical theatre is HIV and AIDS. This obviously isn't germ theory, it's virology, but it's another example of common medical misunderstandings. We spend millions (billions?) of dollars each year researching a cure for HIV/AIDS, however there is no proof that HIV actually causes AIDS nor is there any proof that AIDS is even contagious. HIV has never been isolated in a lab according to any standard practices in virology. AIDS really seems to be a non-contagious problem of multiple attacks against the immune system at the same time over long periods causing the body's immune system to be stressed beyond capacity.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is another modern example of biomedicine not really knowing what it's doing, but general environmental factors affecting Public Health being the true solution. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disease where the body decides that the body is an enemy and attacks the joints as if they were invaders. We don't really know what causes it (and there isn't a convenient and shadowy virus to pin it on) and we don't know how to solve it. Doctors have been trying to use the current AIDS approach of using a cocktail of different medications to fix the problem. However, the disease seems to be going away on its own. The numbers of new cases are simply dropping off each year and no one knows why.

My personal gut feeling on it is that as living conditions improve, as more and more people are living better lives they are getting healthier. Rheumatoid Arthritis attacks the joints primarily in the hands. If you aren't having to perform manual labor every day in cold and damp conditions, you aren't as likely to develop such a disease. Perhaps the modern automatic dishwasher is the truest cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

I don't think milk is going to kill anyone and I don't think that Maher actually thinks that either. He's saying that milk isn't healthy for us and I agree with him. The number of reports of "lactose intolerance" grows every year, but that's not because we're rejecting it after so many hundreds or thousands of years, it's because we're starting to notice the connection between dairy and its effects on our digestion. They are minor changes which is why it has taken us so long. Dairy is not something our system is truly designed to break down and absorb.

Eastern Medicine considers cow's milk to be ... well, not bad, but let's say ungood. It's considered a serious burden on the digestive system, producing phlegm and often causing intestinal troubles.

Yes, Maher has a wall. So do you. So do I... but don't disregard all of his statements on health just because he states them in an extreme fashion. Much of it has merit. Public Health and Sanitation is THE biggest factor in good health.