Posts

Wielding the Lasso of Truth with Dr. Jen Gunter

In this episode Cory, Rene, Lisa, Dan, and Dave talked to Dr. Jen Gunter about topics related to health, pseudoscience, and misinformation. It was a great chat and Dr. Gunter was an awesome guest.

Here are some links to her stuff

https://drjengunter.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/DrJenGunter

 

Here are some of the the references she recommended

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/

https://www.aap.org/en-us/Pages/Default.aspx

https://www.acog.org/

https://sogc.org/

Here’s a link to the goat testicle guy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_R._Brinkley

 

For anything else you can contact us at mail@brainstormblog.net

You can follow the show on twitter @brainstormpod, check out the facebook page at facebook.com/brainstormpodcast, or join our discussion group, search for The Brainstorm Podcast Discussion Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/Brainstormpodcastfriends.

You can sign up for our newsletter at https://www.brainstormblog.net/newsletter

Or you can follow me on twitter @hardcoreskeptic

Thanks to our financial supporters, Kayla, Janet, Kim, Stephanie, Zach, The Utah Outcasts(x2), Will, Aaron, Darryl, Destin sucks, BobbGlenn, Destin Doesn’t Suck That Much, Magnus, Several Species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave, Positively Skeptical, Rob,The Podunk Polymath, The Flying Spaghetti Monster (Sauce Be Upon Him), Freethinker215, and Larry. If you want to join them and help the show grow then you can do that at www.patreon.com/brainstormpodcast or you can do a one time donation at www.paypal.me/brainstormpodcast

Remember to check out aloststateofmind.com and www.voidpod.com

For more show notes check out our website www.brainstormblog.net and follow the show on Spreaker for notifications whenever a new episode is up or we go live.https://www.spreaker.com/user/brainstormpodcast

And join our Discord chat for live chat during the show https://discord.gg/7ZJCcKP

Check out our new store online for some Brainstorm gear. It’s at https://www.teepublic.com/stores/brainstorm-podcast-gear?ref_id=5797

We’ve teamed up with Reason Revolution too. You can find that at www.reasonrevolution.org

Remember to give us a rating, a thumbs up or a fav on your podcatcher of choice, join our facebook group, like our page, follow us on twitter, share the show and spread the word. 

Seriously, share the show. It means a lot and helps the show grow. 

Thanks for listening and remember, the truth matters

Ghost Sex Is Just Another Name For Masturbation

In this episode of Shift To Reason Radio, Cory, Rene, Sarah, and Dave talk about Halal soup, ghost sex, alien probes, animal vaccines for anthrax, the science of pot in your bloodstream, and yet another incel who murdered people.

Links for stories

WTF!?

Rene’s Story  https://www.facebook.com/woodbine777/posts/10160845178880063

Woo Report

Dave’s Story – https://nypost.com/2018/10/30/woman-who-had-sex-with-20-ghosts-is-now-engaged-to-a-spirit

Cory’s Story – https://ktla.com/2018/11/05/mystery-object-that-sped-past-earth-last-year-could-be-probe-sent-by-aliens-harvard-researchers-say/

Sarah’s Story – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/i-hunted-ghosts-regina-centennial-mall-1.4883017

Science

Sarah’s Story – https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/vaccine-protects-animals-against-anthrax-plague

Daves’s Story – https://mic.com/articles/168783/how-long-does-marijuana-stay-in-your-system-how-thc-blood-tests-work-and-what-you-should-know

New segment on Hatred and Violence

Cory’s Story – https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/11/03/florida-man-who-killed-two-women-yoga-studio-spoke-incel-hero-elliot-rodger-online-video

 

For anything else you can contact us at mail@brainstormblog.net

You can follow the show on twitter @brainstormpod, check out the facebook page at facebook.com/brainstormpodcast, or join our discussion group, search for The Brainstorm Podcast Discussion Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/Brainstormpodcastfriends.

You can sign up for our newsletter at https://www.brainstormblog.net/newsletter

Or you can follow me on twitter @hardcoreskeptic

Thanks to our financial supporters, Kayla, Janet, Kim, Stephanie, Zach, The Utah Outcasts(x2), Will, Aaron, Darryl, Destin sucks, BobbGlenn, Destin Doesn’t Suck That Much, Magnus, Several Species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave, Positively Skeptical, Rob,The Podunk Polymath, The Flying Spaghetti Monster (Sauce Be Upon Him), Freethinker215, and Larry. If you want to join them and help the show grow then you can do that at www.patreon.com/brainstormpodcast

Remember to check out aloststateofmind.com and www.voidpod.com

For more show notes check out our website www.brainstormblog.net and follow the show on Spreaker for notifications whenever a new episode is up or we go live.https://www.spreaker.com/user/brainstormpodcast

And join our Discord chat for live chat during the show https://discord.gg/7ZJCcKP

Check out our new store online for some Brainstorm gear. It’s at https://www.teepublic.com/stores/brainstorm-podcast-gear?ref_id=5797

We’ve teamed up with Reason Revolution too. You can find that at www.reasonrevolution.org

Remember to give us a rating, a thumbs up or a fav on your podcatcher of choice, join our facebook group, like our page, follow us on twitter, share the show and spread the word. 

Seriously, share the show. It means a lot and helps the show grow. 

Thanks for listening and remember, the truth matters

Point of Inquiry with Kavin Senapathy

In this episode of the Skeptic Studio Cory, Sarah, Rene, and Dave talk to Kavin Senapathy. Kavin is very well known in skeptical circles for her blogs and her book The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House. Kavin and the crew talk about the state of skepticism and some recent events that make it seem like some parts of the skeptic movement are a little out of touch.

Here are some links for her stuff

https://scimoms.com/

https://twitter.com/ksenapathy

https://www.facebook.com/Ksenapathy/

https://www.facebook.com/pointofinquiry/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kavinsenapathy/#1805a5d73782

https://amzn.to/2yUzP6a

https://www.facebook.com/ScienceMomsDoc/

 

For anything else you can contact us at mail@brainstormblog.net

You can follow the show on twitter @brainstormpod, check out the facebook page at facebook.com/brainstormpodcast, or join our discussion group, search for The Brainstorm Podcast Discussion Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/Brainstormpodcastfriends

Or you can follow me on twitter @hardcoreskeptic

Thanks to our financial supporters, Kayla, Janet, Kim, Stephanie, Zach, The Utah Outcasts(x2), Will, Aaron, Darryl, Destin sucks, BobbGlenn, Destin Doesn’t Suck That Much, Magnus, Several Species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave, Positively Skeptical, Rob,The Podunk Polymath, The Flying Spaghetti Monster (Sauce Be Upon Him), Freethinker215, and Larry. If you want to join them and help the show grow then you can do that at www.patreon.com/brainstormpodcast

Remember to check out aloststateofmind.com and www.voidpod.com

For more show notes check out our website www.brainstormblog.net and follow the show on Spreaker for notifications whenever a new episode is up or we go live.https://www.spreaker.com/user/brainstormpodcast

And join our Discord chat for live chat during the show https://discord.gg/7ZJCcKP

Check out our new store online for some Brainstorm gear. It’s at https://www.teepublic.com/stores/brainstorm-podcast-gear?ref_id=5797

Remember to give us a rating, a thumbs up or a fav on your podcatcher of choice, join our facebook group, like our page, follow us on twitter, share the show and spread the word. 

Seriously, share the show. It means a lot and helps the show grow. 

Thanks for listening and remember, the truth matters

Episode #026: Biology, Women, and Religions (feat. Dr. Abby Hafer)

#026: Biology, Women, and Religions (feat. Dr. Abby Hafer)

My guest on this episode is Dr. Abby Hafer. She holds a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University and teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College. She is the author of the 2015 book The Not-So-Intelligent Designer—Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not.

Together, we discuss the evolutionary origins of sex and women’s reproductive systems and how these demonstrate the reality of biological evolution and conclusively falsify the notion of an intelligent designer. We discuss religion as a human invention that was developed as a solution to what Abby calls the “Problem of Being Male.” We also discuss the phenomenon in nature of spontaneous abortions, and Abby crunches the numbers to show that, if the Abrahamic God really does exist, he would be the world’s busiest abortionist. We talk about the ways in which women’s ability to bear children has been hijacked by authoritarian, fundamentalist religion, using the Quiverfull movement as the best contemporary example, and we conclude by talking about why a morality that excludes any appeal to the supernatural is far superior to any god-based morality.

Doubter of the Week: Hypatia of Alexandria (c. 370 – 415 CE), mathematician, astronomer, pagan philosopher and teacher, and the last curator of the famous Library of Alexandria in Egypt, tragically murdered by a mob of Christian zealots.

Links

American Humanist Association: Dr. Abby Hafer profile: americanhumanist.org/what-we-do/spe…au/abby-hafer/

Abby Hafer’s book: www.amazon.com/Not-So-Intelligen…ent/dp/1620329417

Check out Abby Hafer’s chapter in Karen L. Garst, ed., Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith―and for Freedom: www.amazon.com/Women-v-Religion-…and/dp/1634311701

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt.

Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, Chris Watson, and Kim Bojkovsky for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/TheNatheist.

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The audio used in the Edward Gibbon quote is courtesy of LibriVox.org, a provider of free audiobooks read by volunteers of books that exist in the public domain: librivox.org/history-of-the-dec…-by-edward-gibbon/.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

Check out our website: reasonrevolution.org.

Give us a like on Facebook: www.facebook.com/reasonrevolution.

Website_ EPISODE 19_ EMPATHY, ENGINEERING, AND FEMINISM

#019: Empathy, Feminism, and Mechanical Engineering (feat. Sarah Nicholson) | A Leap of Doubt

In this episode, we tackle the issue of sexism in STEM education, both in the past and in the present, and the important yet seemingly counter-intuitive roles emotional intelligence and empathy play in the way scientists, technologists, and engineers design and build for people. My guest for this episode is Sarah Nicholson, who has recently graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in thermodynamics and fluid dynamics. She is also a freelance graphic designer and activist who writes and speaks about feminism, environmentalism, and emotional intelligence. Fun fact: Sarah is also the one who designed the image graphic and logo for this podcast.

In our discussion, Sarah describes the research project she has undertaken to develop an evidence-based method for how engineers might go about including scientifically valid biological differences between men and women in their designs in a way that is non-sexist. And how should engineering students and educators go about identifying those different capabilities and needs in the first place?

Links:

Sarah Nicholson’s website: http://sarahnicholson.co/

Sarah Nicholson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahnicholsons

Paula J. Caplan, et al., “Gender Differences in Human Cognition” (Oxford University Press, 1997; Oxford Scholarship Online, 2012), https://tinyurl.com/y9fuu86h.

Angela Saini, “Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story” (Beacon Press, 2017), https://tinyurl.com/y9a6fr79

 

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at www.facebook.com/groups/aleapofdoubt.

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: http://www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt. Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, Chris Watson, and Kim Bojkovsky for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist.

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license.  The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

Website_ EPISODE 16_ CHRIS SHELTON, EX-SCIENTOLOGIST

#016: Chris Shelton, Ex-Scientologist (Part II) | A Leap of Doubt

This is the second part of my interview with ex-Scientologist Chris Shelton, who for 27 years was a devout believer in and staff member of the Church of Scientology. Founded by science-fiction pulp writer L. Ron Hubbard in the mid-twentieth century, this enigmatic and powerful cult belief system has consumed and destroyed the lives of countless number of gullible people who have been drawn in by Scientology’s promises of peak mental health and mastery over life.

Chris left Scientology behind him for good in 2013 and has been an outspoken critic of Scientology and an anti-cult activist ever since. In Part II, Chris and I continue discussing the inception in L Ron Hubbard’s unpublished works, especially the manuscript known as “Excalibur,” of what would eventually grow into the Church of Scientology. We also talk about why Scientologists believe they are saving the world and the cosmological beliefs Scientology espouses at the highest levels of membership, including of course the story of Xenu the Galactic Overlord. We touch on how we should go about defining a destructive cult, whether Scientology can accurately be called a religion, and finally address the question of what it will take for Scientology to finally takes it place in the graveyard of past spiritual movements.

 

Links:

Chris Shelton’s website: http://mncriticalthinking.com/

The Sensibly Speaking Podcast: http://sensiblyspeaking.com/

Chris Shelton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sheltondesigner

Chris Shelton’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF326xyA0QHI7Z5xAwKQDJg

Chris Shelton’s book: https://tinyurl.com/ya5zxlaj

 

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at www.facebook.com/groups/aleapofdoubt.

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: http://www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt. Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, and Chris Watson for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist.

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license.

Website_ EPISODE 14_ CULTURAL NARRATIVES, POLITICAL TRIBES, AND HUMANITY'S DEATH STAR

#014: Cultural Narratives, Political Tribes, & Humanity’s Death Star (feat. Dr. Valerie Tarico) | A Leap of Doubt

My guest for this episode is Dr. Valerie Tarico, a psychologist, writer, and social commentator who tackles religious fundamentalism, gender roles, reproductive empowerment, and the intersection of these three. She joins me on this episode to discuss the power of political mythmaking and cultural storytelling and try to understand the confusing and often frustrating dynamics that we’re currently witnessing in much progressive discourse (or in some cases, debacles).

Dr. Tarico has identified three main narratives that dominate the cultural and political marketplace of ideas. We talk about what these stories are, and the ways in which humans relate and receive these narratives to and from our fellow tribe members in order to effect desired social change. We also discuss what progressives might do differently moving forward to take control of our cultural evolution and effect desired social change in positive directions that challenge old ways of thought and action that threaten our continued existence. Can the Enlightenment liberal vision be reconciled with the post-structuralist and postmodern liberal visions, and if so, how? How do we go about mending the rifts in the secular humanist community and move forward to make real change? And what the hell do Black Panther and Wonder Woman have to do with “sophisticated” theologians?

My appearance on Minnesota Atheists Talk Radio Show: https://player.fm/series/atheists-talk-radio-show/ep-455-religious-apocalypse-in-cinema

This week’s shout-outs:
Jerb the Humanist (https://tinyurl.com/ydc9rrl6)
The Podunk Polymath Podcast (https://tinyurl.com/yc7voypf)

 

Links:

Dr. Valerie Tarico’s website: https://valerietarico.com/

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/ValerieTarico

Valerie Tarico’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/TrustingDoubt

Valerie Tarico, “Political Narrative I: This Simple Idea is the Reactor at the Heart of Humanity’s Death Star,” March 14, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ydz86m5b.

Valerie Tarico, “Political Narrative II: Why Some Progressives Are Tearing Each Other Apart,” March 30, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y9um2gy3

Amy Chua, “Revenge of the Tribes: How the American Empire Could Fall,” Big Think, February 28, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LZ71c9VVn0.

 

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at facebook.com/groups/aleapofdoubt

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: http://www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt. Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, and Chris Watson for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist.

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license.

Alcoholics Anonymous: the Science, Law, and Secular Alternatives by Patrick Hinsel

Alcoholics Anonymous: the Science, Law, and Secular Alternatives

“12-Step recovery programs do more harm than good.”

This statement, though it can be passionately argued for or against, with emotional resolve and with anger, cannot even come close to being discredited by evidence. That is because good evidence regarding the efficacy of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous eludes us. Most estimates place it at approximately a 10% success rate, or equivalent to cold turkey.  In his recent book, The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry, Lance Dodes, MD, a retired psychiatry professor from Harvard Medical School, measured AA’s retention rates along with studies on sobriety and rates of active involvement (attending meetings regularly and working the program) among AA members. Based on this research, he put AA’s actual success rate closer to 5-8 percent. By definition, AA is anonymous, so honest and reliable statistics are difficult to come by. But insurance companies pay for the 12-Steps. The medical community endorses AA, NA, and the 12-Steps.  Governments sanction AA and NA. Therefore AA is ubiquitous, to the exclusion of more reasonable alternatives.

Untold numbers of people find AA off-putting because of the religious aspect. Yet, AA enjoys a monopoly in the recovery community. Secular alternatives are not available all day, everyday, at multiple locations in every city and town in America like 12-Step meetings are. Secular meetings, even in large cities, may only meet once a week, if at all. So the overtly religious 12-Steps, unacceptable to so many, preclude countless individuals from getting the help they seek and need. They suffer for it, and their families suffer too. When we hear about a celebrity relapsing or a rock star overdosing, why should the assumption be that they failed to work their 12-Step program? It is more likely the 12-Step program failed them.

To be clear, AA is religious.

The courts say so, at least.[1] And then there is the fact that most meetings are held at Christian churches. Meetings begin and end with a Christian prayer, usually the Serenity Prayer or the Lord’s Prayer. And seven of the 12-Steps deal with God, Higher Power, Prayer, and Spiritual Awakening. Only five do not:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

These Steps are read at the beginning of every meeting, along with statements like, “There is One who has All power, that One is God. May you find Him now!” and, “Probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism…God could and would if He were sought.”[2]

The courts have returned their verdict as well. Between 1996 and 2007, five high-level US courts (three federal circuit courts and two state supreme courts) each ruled on this issue. AA is religious and therefore the State cannot force people to go. Because the cases involved the Establishment Clause, they reached the highest level of judiciary scrutiny, only one level below the US Supreme Court.

While AA and its members may deny that it is grounded in religion, these high court rulings clearly explain that when newcomers are told that they should accept the existence of God as a requirement for continued sobriety, and tell them to seek their God through prayer, confess all wrongdoings to Him, and ask Him for removal of shortcomings, and then expect the newcomer to recite the Lord’s Prayer at the end of meetings, the fellowship is indeed practicing “religion.”

Separation of Church and State

Bill W. and Dr. Bob are the Patriarchs of AA, dating back to the program’s Judeo-Christian roots in the 1930s. With other AA members, they were able to influence medical decision makers well into the 1950s and 60s and made presentations to Congress and Medical Societies that had clout at the time. Physiologist E. M. Jellinek collaborated with early AA member Marty Mann, and published the results of a survey mailed to 1,600 AA members. Only 158 were returned. Jellinek and Mann culled 45 that had been improperly completed and another 15 filled out by women, whose responses were so unlike the men’s that they risked confounding the results. From this small sample (98 men) Jellinek drew sweeping conclusions, and his “medical literature” became AA gospel, leading to the medical community’s eventual acceptance of the 12-Steps as the Gold Standard method of treating addiction.[3] With Medicine’s blessing, government and insurance companies began paying for 12-Step based treatment, opening the door for religion and removing the wall between church and state.

“You’re in terrible shape, you need to get yourself to an AA meeting”.

AA manipulates people when they are at their most vulnerable, desperately seeking guidance. Even agnostics and atheists go to AA looking for help in early recovery, because they cannot find any alternatives to the 12-Steps in their area. Some manage to get sober in spite of God, not because of Him. Criminals, including pedophiles and sex offenders, anonymously mix into the groups. Fragile newcomers are easy prey. The manipulation even extends to a “13th Step”, in which male AA members with some clean-time in the program will befriend a female newcomer, ostensibly to offer guidance and support. But in reality the goal is to sexually exploit, or “13th Step”, the female newcomer.[4]

Secular Alternatives to AA and 12-Step Programs

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If this is true, why would repeated returns to the 12-Steps be the solution to repeated relapses? It stands to reason that people have better treatment outcomes when they’re offered choices and not coerced to accept one thing or another. In a 2012 report on addiction treatment in the U.S. by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia, researchers concluded: “Evidence clearly demonstrates that a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment typically is a recipe for failure.” In her book Inside Rehab, Anne M. Fletcher illustrates a science based perspective on recovery and takes a thorough look at the state of affairs of addiction treatment in the US. To be fair, she acknowledges 12-Steps can be helpful for those who willingly pursue it. But other options do exist. Unfortunately, most in the recovery community are unaware or unfamiliar with secular options due to the glaring eclipse that is the 12-Steps.

Refuge Recovery is a mindfulness based recovery program designed by Noah Levine in California. This program is becoming more popular across the US. It emphasizes meditation and Buddhist philosophy, practicing compassion and empathy in the day to day lives of members. In-person group meetings create a social community and support network. Like the other secular groups listed here, Refuge Recovery welcomes people looking to address all spectrums of addiction, including alcohol, food, sex, opioids, meth, and process addictions. There is no mention of any God or Gods as a part of Refuge Recovery. It also has a robust online community.

LifeRing Secular Recovery is an abstinence-based, worldwide network of individuals seeking to live in recovery from addiction to alcohol or to other non-medically indicated drugs.

SMART recovery is science based, and it is probably the largest 12-Step alternative today, world wide. It teaches self-help and common sense with a goal of empowerment.  Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) techniques are used to achieve positive, lasting changes in the lives of its members.

SMART Recovery evolves as scientific knowledge of addiction evolves. It welcomes change when there is an improvement. By contrast, The Big Book of AA was written in the1930s and the AA community adamantly resists changing or adapting it. The Big Book’s chapter “To Wives” reflects an overtly sexist worldview that is increasingly considered unacceptable in modern times. Chapter 4, the “Chapter to the Agnostic” is not an argument of persuasion, it is an arrogant line in the sand, “There either is a God, or there isn’t”  (the implied answer is that there is, just one).  SMART Recovery has wider popularity in Europe than in America right now. Also, an interesting difference in Europe is AA meetings traditionally do not say the Lord’s prayer, and the religious aspects are toned down in AA meetings compared to the USA.

SMART meetings are for all addictions and are facilitated by a moderator experienced with cognitive behavioral techniques and who has significant clean time. In-person meetings can be hard to find in most American cities. For the techniques involved, on-line and chat based meetings are not usually ideal.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a nonprofit network of autonomous, non-professional local groups, dedicated solely to helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety from alcohol and drug addiction, food addiction and more.

Women for Sobriety A non-profit organization of women, for women, dedicated to helping women discover a happy New Life in recovery from Substance Use Disorders. It encourages emotional and spiritual growth and is endorsed by the American Humanist Association as a secular or religious-neutral option for recovery. WFS has certified moderators and chat leaders leading mutual support groups online and in person, as well as phone volunteers available for one-on-one support. Any woman seeking an abstinent New Life is welcome to join WFS.

Agnostic AA is a website for agnostics, atheists, and freethinkers who are involved with AA but desire a non-religious, safe place to engage in fellowship. It is a great location to find recovery literature, materials, and books that are secular in nature.

Pharmacotherapy is an underutilized, evidence-based option to treat addiction. Experienced  physicians, trained in addiction medicine, help alcohol dependent patients with prescriptions like Topamax (topiramate) and Antabuse (disulfiram). Naltrexone (vivitrol) has shown efficacy in the treatment of opioid maintenance of sobriety, as well as alcohol long term sobriety. A wide spectrum of treatment options exist, depending on the individual and the substance(s) to which they are addicted. The difficulty is finding physicians who are able to handle this, and getting the treatment covered. The American Medical Association recently estimated that out of nearly 1 million doctors in the United States, only 582 identified themselves as addiction specialists.

Therapy.  Counsellors experienced in the treatment of addiction offer hope to those with the means to access this type of care. Unfortunately, in many instances, insurance does not cover mental health treatment like this, or patients find the cost beyond their means. The Secular Therapy Project arose to help secular individuals having a hard time matching with a counsellor in a faith based world. Many offer sessions via confidential Skype-type arrangements with special software. See SecularTherapy.org as an example.

All of these secular groups will help you if you are interested in starting a new group in your area. The costs of attending these groups are the same as the cost of AA:  free or donation only.

The Dalai Lama says, to paraphrase, “Listen to what I say, and keep what you want. If something I say is helpful, great. If something I say doesn’t fit with your experience, disregard it.” The secular recovery programs listed above are all in keeping with this line of reasoning. They don’t require faith. AA has a motto, “Take what you want, and leave the rest.” Many people in AA do modify their program to their personalities and it works for them. But AA and the Big Book’s statements about God are unequivocal. Some nonbelievers may be able to overlook this for a while and get sober. Countless others are not comfortable with this. They cannot square the fabrication of a “God” in which they don’t believe with a “program of rigorous honesty,” so they either never attend AA, or they cut their losses. They end up aborting the misadventure of AA, and go on suffering while they search for that elusive secular alternative.

Progress 

Just in the past couple of years, the American Board of Family Medicine began making changes to its board exam questions, phrasing them to better reflect secular options in recovery. Instead of the answer being simply “AA,” a broader option was given, to the effect of “a recovery meeting,” or “an AA or secular recovery meeting.”  The label “Person in long term recovery from alcohol” is emerging to replace “Alcoholic.”  It’s slow progress, beginning in academic medicine. Physicians practicing in the real world lag behind. Insurance and politicians will eventually begin to follow. It is a step in the right direction.

But still, religion permeates. Can you imagine a world in which a doctor says,“You have a primary brain disorder. It’s called Parkinson’s. You need to get on your knees and pray to God. That’ll be $200.” We wouldn’t accept this for Parkinson’s. Why on Earth do we accept this for the most common primary brain disorder, addiction?[5]

No doubt there is benefit to be found in group solidarity, working through a common struggle. It is hard to dispute the upside of support from like-minded individuals who have been through similar circumstances and can offer general advice and guidance. It is comforting to have a place to go where others believe the same as you do and want the best for you. It is helpful to have an old, well established book to refer to in times of doubt. It is reassuring to hear familiar sayings and chants at every gathering. What does this sound like? It sounds like a church. It reflects a religion because that’s what it is. And like religion, it is comforting and reassuring for its adherents. But that does not mean its faith claims are true, and it doesn’t make the claims of AA/12-Steps superior “efficacy” true either. In the words of the late Stephen Hawking, “It is not necessary to invoke God.” He was speaking on other things, but the words ring true in addiction treatment as well. Bringing God into it just complicates things and slows progress. Bill W. was right about one thing, though, when he said, “We are engaged upon a life-and-death errand.” The recovery community deserves better than faith healing.

 


 

[1] See Griffin v. Coughlin (1996); Kerr v. Farrey (1996); Arnold & Evans v. Tennessee Board of Paroles (1997); Warner v. Orange County Dept. of Probation (1999); and Inouye v. Kemna (2007).

[2] https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-10_howitworks.pdf

[3] http://www.a-1associates.com/aa/testimony.htm

[4] http://www.the13thstepfilm.com

[5] https://www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction

Website_ EPISODE 8_ SCIENCE-BASED POLITICS

#008: Science-Based Politics (And a Better Way to Elect Presidents) | A Leap of Doubt

What could possibly explain the astonishing phenomenon of a candidate as inexperienced and manifestly unqualified as Donald Trump sweeping first the Republican nomination and then the general election? Joining me on this episode to muse on this question is John C. Wathey, an author and computational biologist whose research interests include protein folding, evolutionary algorithms, and the biological forces behind religion. He joins me on this episode to discuss the death of the Republican Party, what went wrong and what’s not working in our current political systems (including his own perspective as an expert on algorithms about what possibilities exist for electoral college reform), the problems inherent in the primaries system, and ways to create a better system that upholds democracy and utilizes science as a way of solving problems.

Relevant Links:

Interview with John Wathey on my other podcast Trolling with Logichttp://www.trollingwithlogic.com/3179-2/

John Wathey’s website: http://www.watheyresearch.com/

John C. Wathey, “What Should Replace the Republican Party” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-c-wathey/what-should-replace-the-r_b_12177930.html

John C. Wathey, “There’s a Better Way to Elect Presidents,” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/theres-a-better-way-to-el_b_12594066.html

John C. Wathey, “It’s Time to Ditch the Primaries,” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/its-time-to-ditch-the-primaries_us_5a00f975e4b05c841816656e

Clare Malone, “The End of a Republican Party,” http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-end-of-a-republican-party/

Danny Kleinman, “Imagine There’s … a Democratic Voting System,” http://www.swangames.com/main/Duckling/Bridge_and_Voting/bridge_and_voting.html

 

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at https://www.facebook.com/groups/alopdiscussion/

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt. Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, and Torsten Pihl for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license.

Website_ EPISODE 6_ HOMEOPATHIC JESUS PARTICLES

#006: Homeopathic Jesus Particles, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Science | A Leap of Doubt

In this episode, I am joined by Natalie Newell and Chad Hayes, MD, hosts of the new Parenthetical Science Podcast, to discuss the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle fear-based marketing techniques used by the alternative medicine and organic-only lobby movement in the various food and healthcare products they want to sell to gullible and vulnerable people.

Our discussion covered Zooey Deschanel’s recent series of woo-based food videos, Gwyneth Paltrow’s kinky pseudoscience that advises putting things in every orifice to cure whatever ails you, the “clean food” craze capitalized on by brands such as Panera Bread, why Triscuit snack crackers do not in fact grow naturally in Midwest wheat fields (despite what its advertising slogans might tell you), the B-horror-movie-grade anti-GMO propaganda of Stonyfield’s organic yogurt advertising and how it backfired beautifully on them, the craziness that is homeopathy, whether Tide Pods are GMO- and gluten-free, and more. The central theme of the discussion that ties it all together is the question: What can consumers do to equip themselves to recognize pseudoscience in advertising?

Natalie Newell is the director and producer of the Science Momsdocumentary, holds a Master of Education degree, and for a decade worked in the field of Montessori education. She now spends her time raising two children, traveling around screening her documentary, and pursuing interests in the areas of science communication and secular activism.

Chad Hayes has a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and currently practices as a general pediatrician in Charleston. According to his website, he takes “a science-based, skeptical approach to medicine” and is “passionate about science communication and helping parents make well-informed decisions about their children’s health.” He authors a blog called Demystifying Pediatrics.

Relevant Links:

Natalie Newell on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ncnewell

Chad Hayes on Twitter: https://twitter.com/chadhayesmd

Parenthetical Science Podcast on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ParSciPod

Parenthetical Science website: https://www.parentheticalscience.com/

Science Moms documentary: http://www.sciencemomsdoc.com/ and http://www.scimoms.com/

Chad Hayes’ “Demystifying Pediatrics” blog: http://www.chadhayesmd.com/blog/

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at https://www.facebook.com/groups/alopdiscussion/

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt. Thanks to Jeff Prebeg and Jeanne Ikerd for being my first two patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. Audio edited by Callie Wright of The Gaytheist Manifesto podcast and Answer Media LLC.

Portfolio Items