Bonus Afternoon Lazy Post of Links

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Stuff you should read that I don’t have time to write more about . . . .

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52 Responses to “Bonus Afternoon Lazy Post of Links”

  1. #1 |  M | 

    “At what point do claims like those made by homeopathy become fraud?”

    Right at the beginning. Homeopathic remedies should be required to be sold apart from real drugs and the warning should say “The efficacy of this product has never been proven.” instead of that vague inoffensive lawerly warning. They should also be forbidden from mixing that crap with vitamins like Zicam does which makes it actually do something, but also lets them sell you really expensive vitamins packaged and marketed as drugs.

    (I’m still super pissed two years later that I didn’t realize Zicam was homeopathic and bought it because every indication in their commercials and packaging says it’s a drug which really does something more than plain vitamin C. Everything except one microscopic “Homeopathic Remedy” label on the overpriced box)

  2. #2 |  Mike T | 

    In Mises’ defense, he spoke well of Mussolini in 1927. At that point, Mussolini had been in office for barely 2 years. That’s like calling someone an apologist for Soviet democide for speaking well of Lenin in his inaugural year.

  3. #3 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    From Roderick Long’s response to Lind:
    “In other words, libertarians don’t oppose democracy (in the conventional sense) because they hanker after autocracy; they oppose democracy because it is too much like autocracy.”

    This is an excellent summary of the libertarian view of democracy by Long. HT to my increasingly vocal ideological breatheren on the libertarian Left. Long demolishes Lind’s amateurish babble quite easily. Actually, Lind made Naomi Klein look like a scholar.

  4. #4 |  Hugh Akston | 

    “Good question for libertarian discussion. At what point do claims like those made by homeopathy become fraud?”

    Right about the same point as religious claims about immortality in the afterlife.

  5. #5 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “At the police station, D’Attilio says that the sergeant who did the booking asked him if he had planned to blow up the fair, telling him that pro-life people ‘are known for that kind of thing’.”

    Nice. Well police are becoming widely known for brutalizing people who try to record them and tazing peope who are passively resisting, or not resisting at all. Shall we start proactively rounding up, detaining and searching anyone with a badge and uniform because they “are known” for outrageous displays of violence and subsequent cover-ups?

    Man, I guess the police have gotten tired of fucking with left-wing activists so they are going after the social conservatives now. Interesting. Perhaps law and order social conservatives will take note of this incident next time they cheer the police for stomping on hippies at a demonstration.

  6. #6 |  CTD | 

    At what point do claims like those made by homeopathy become fraud?

    Never. Because you have to be a mouth-breathing idiot to believe in homeopathy. And mouth-breathing idiots are going to be relieved of their money by somebody, with absolute certainty. So why bother trying to stop it?

  7. #7 |  tde | 

    “I don’t doubt that Buffet earnestly supports these programs and is sincere in his political beliefs, anyway. But free market people who get involved in politics and policy certainly don’t get the same benefit of the doubt”
    Buffet is not a “free market person”?

  8. #8 |  MH | 

    “Homeopathic remedies should be required to be sold apart from real drugs and the warning should say “The efficacy of this product has never been proven.”

    The people considering homeopathic remedies do not know what the word ‘efficacy’ means.

    “NOT WORK? NOT SUE!”

  9. #9 |  Danny | 

    There are counter-examples to the examples used in the Lind article, but no refutations of Lind’s examples.

    Lind’s examples of Libertarians who supported dictators and racists are factually accurate as a historical matter.

    The conlcusions Lind draws from those accurate historical facts may be questioned, especially in light of counter-examples, but the facts remain a matter of record.

    Nothing about Lind’s piece is “beneath response.” You may disagree with his ultimate conclusions, but the underlying facts he presents should be dealt with.

  10. #10 |  Ken | 

    If you tell just one person in the entire human population that homeopathy is bullshit, shouldn’t the population as a whole retain the knowledge?

  11. #11 |  Kristen | 

    Buffet is not a “free market person”?

    No.

  12. #12 |  Elliot | 

    And, another good rebuttal of Lind’s hit piece from the Ludwig von Mises blog.

  13. #13 |  Elliot | 

    Warren Meyer endorses California’s babysitter break law, and much more. As a business owner in several states, Meyer wants voters to feel the impact of the laws which control businesses.

  14. #14 |  Matthew | 

    Should fraud even be a crime? Does it constitute coercion? I can’t see how. Is lying, in general, a crime? Of course not. So with regard to fraud, shouldn’t people make financial and business decisions based upon the level of risk they assume in taking someone’s word? Should fraud be a crime? I’m not certain.

    To the specific question, homeopathy should never be considered fraud. People genuinely believe, without coercion, that it works. Should a majority disbelief in something make advocacy for that thing fraud? What does that do to religion? What does that do to market economics (right now)? What does that do to the principles of liberty? What does that do to the presumption of innocence?

  15. #15 |  omar | 

    If you tell just one person in the entire human population that homeopathy is bullshit, shouldn’t the population as a whole retain the knowledge?

    10x more effective to just think it, say nothing, and die.

    Homeopathy is the sad result of underdeveloped critical thinking skills. I’m on the fence about if it should be banned. But I’m all for public shaming of the snake-oil salesmen.

  16. #16 |  Radley Balko | 

    Lind’s examples of Libertarians who supported dictators and racists are factually accurate as a historical matter.

    Not entirely. Hayek may have adopted an unfortunate ends-justifies-the-means attitude toward Pinochet, but Friedman’s involvement has been wildly exaggerated by his critics. Lind is also wrong about Chile’s economic history, and he selectively quotes from Mises. It’s absolutely true that some people who call themselves libertarians, who were libertarians, and who have been influential to subsequent libertarians, were on the wrong side of history. That’s true of any political philosophy. To extrapolate from that the broad statement that libertarians are apologists for autocracy is asinine. And Lind’s assertions about modern libertarianism — that we don’t give a damn about police abuse, or military abuses, or civil rights abuses, or gay rights — is complete and utter ignorance.

  17. #17 |  Sandhillpam | 

    Homeopathy is not total BS – although I question the effectiveness of most homeopathic remedies, I have found effective relief with a couple of the products I’ve tried. Yes – I AM aware of the dilution factors involved. Perhaps the dilution should be explained on the packaging, but consumers should be trusted to make their own decisions about what works for them. At worst homeopathics can do no harm, which is more than can be said for many conventional drugs!

  18. #18 |  CC | 

    #1 (“M”):
    Zicam is not homeopathic. Yes, I know what the box says. As far as I know, they just write homeopathic on the label to get around FDA testing requirements. One clue that it’s not homeopathic is that it actually has a non-microscopic amount of the active ingredient.

  19. #19 |  Danny | 

    I see an eerie, and ugly, symmetry between Right Wing apologists for Pinochet and Left-Wing apologists for Castro.

  20. #20 |  Dwight Brown | 

    “At worst homeopathics can do no harm, which is more than can be said for many conventional drugs!”

    Oh. Really?

  21. #21 |  omar | 

    I have found effective relief with a couple of the products I’ve tried.

    The placebo effect is the only proven relief ever recorded for a purely homeopathic remedy. And not for a lack of studies either. You were experiencing expensive placebo.

  22. #22 |  Leah | 

    #10 Ken – Complete thread win there. Awesome.

  23. #23 |  boomshanka | 

    Interesting that Carney believes Buffett is anticipating another government bailout of BoA. I’m inclined to believe that Buffett’s $5 billion investment *was* the bailout, in response to plummeting stock prices and perhaps a run on deposits as the perception of BoA as a “zombie” bank began to spread. But yeah, I’m sure he made a shrewd deal in the process.

  24. #24 |  Mattocracy | 

    Proving fraud works best with contracts. If I’m a doctor and a patient signs an agreement stating that he is going to use my professional advise to treat his ailments, it would be fraud when I prescribe Mattocracy’s Lung-Cance Cure-All pills instead of giving him chemo. Especially if I knew my pills were bunk. It becomes much more difficult with consumers who buy things freely. You might as well put diet pills in the same realm as homeopathy in that case. The slope gets slippery very quick.

  25. #25 |  buzz | 

    ““Good question for libertarian discussion. At what point do claims like those made by homeopathy become fraud?”

    Right about the same point as religious claims about immortality in the afterlife.”

    First assertion is provable.
    Second is not. As would be the claim that there is no immortality or afterlife.

  26. #26 |  Eyewitness | 

    OK, homeopathy is bunk, but the penis enhancers work, right?

  27. #27 |  random_guy | 

    Fraud is one of those things that is never enforced fairly. Look at televangelism, you have these people making claims like “send me, my church a thousand dollars tonight and God will return it to you tenfold” and they never get shut down for that alone, they only ever get nailed on tax evasion.

    I think Homeopathy should be just as legal as anything else. I really don’t think there should be any preventative law enforcement in that regard, as it builds up a false sense of security. My mother has bought tons of herbal supplements that do nothing, and was pissed off that they were allowed to sell it when I told her it was BS. When I asked why should we buy stuff she never heard of, she said she believed the claims on the bottle. I had to explain that herbal supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA and can claim pretty much anything. She assumed someone was out there was keeping these businesses honest, just like a lot of people assume about any number of other businesses.

    Combine the natural inadequacies of regulation with peoples irrational expectations of that regulation, and you get a market full of gullible consumers waiting to be exploited by some new fad. The government doesn’t, and really can’t, protect anyone from fraud. You just have to settle for being able to sue the bastards after the fact.

  28. #28 |  BSK | 

    “California bill, among other things, would mandate breaks for babysitters.”

    BUT WHO WILL WATCH TEH CHIL’RUN!

    (CAN’T BELIEVE no one made that joke yet…)

  29. #29 |  BSK | 

    “Should fraud even be a crime? Does it constitute coercion? I can’t see how. Is lying, in general, a crime? Of course not. So with regard to fraud, shouldn’t people make financial and business decisions based upon the level of risk they assume in taking someone’s word? Should fraud be a crime? I’m not certain.”

    As far as I’m concerned, it is a breach of contract. If you make a claim, either verbally or on the label of your product, that you know, for a fact, is untrue, you have violated the terms of the contract you enter into every time you sell the product.

  30. #30 |  Jim Wetzel | 

    Mr. O’Hooligan (#5): I don’t think there’s any evidence that the police have gotten tired of fucking with left-wing activists. And, speaking as a multiple-times Operation Rescue arrestee from the late 1980s, I can tell you that the police’s interest in “social conservatives” is nothing new, either. This left-right business is entirely misleading, but highly convenient for the gummint/corporatist class whose stooges the police are, were, and always have been. In the immortal words of … all right, I can’t remember who, maybe NWA: “Fuck tha police.”

  31. #31 |  JOR | 

    The really funny thing is that there really are some forms of libertarianism that are, on a very basic and radical level, friendly towards autocracy. But actually critiquing them takes work (if for no other reason that, as a fringe-of-a-fringe-of-a-fringe, they’re very obscure); it’s so much easier to stick with the standard gliberal talking points.

  32. #32 |  Pinandpuller | 

    I’m waiting for Placebo OTC to come out.

    And babysitters, hell. Lemonade Stand Guy-go take lunch!

  33. #33 |  New York Cynic | 

    #5 Man, I guess the police have gotten tired of fucking with left-wing activists so they are going after the social conservatives now. Interesting. Perhaps law and order social conservatives will take note of this incident next time they cheer the police for stomping on hippies at a demonstration.

    Dont count on it, Theocons rationalize when one of their own gets beaten by police by either calling the government thug in question a PC liberal infiltrator or saying that their brother deserved it. Conservatives love government thugs beating on citizens at least they have the spine (kind of) to admit unlike the left who side step the matter.

  34. #34 |  Slade the Leveller | 

    Enjoyed the Buffet piece. Not so much the litany of ad hominem attacks in the comments. It is a hoot to read right wing commentary sometimes.

    Free marketers who get in politics and policy seem to have a mysterious ability to make prescient and profitable investments soon thereafter. Perhaps that’s why they don’t get the benefit of the doubt.

  35. #35 |  Fascist Nation | 

    Homeopathy is a hideous bitch fraud. The more you dilute something the stronger it gets. But it sells. And a fool and his money should not be interfered with by any government.

  36. #36 |  Nash | 

    Regarding the homeopathic discussion..
    I think Mitchell and Webb nailed it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0

  37. #37 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Homeopathic remedies should be required to be sold apart from real drugs and the warning should say “The efficacy of this product has never been proven.”

    I feel the same way about Democrat Jobs Bills and Republican Wars.

  38. #38 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Lind’s examples of Libertarians who supported dictators and racists are factually accurate as a historical matter.

    A couple Libertarians “may” have supported a few dictators and racists, but renounced that support almost immediately after more facts emerged = HUGE reason why Libertarians are crazy.

    Virtually all of the millions of non-libertarian politicians STRONGLY supporting all dictators and racists = not a big deal.

    Doesn’t seem fair, but I’m crazy. I can only imagine how Libertarian support for Mubarak would’ve been the final nail in the Libertarian coffin. But for Reps/Dems, it is just ignored. Don’t like Mubarak as an example? I got a few hundred more.

  39. #39 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    First paragraph should be blockquote-ed.

  40. #40 |  2nd of 3 | 

    As long as homeopathic “remedies” are clearly labelled (right now many really aren’t) and seperated from actual medicine, I don’t care if they’re sold to morons or not. This is the same position I held on the ice cream lady a few posts back, and I’m sticking to it.

  41. #41 |  A Critic | 

    Homeopathy is foolishness, not fraud. The products are sold as homeopathic remedies. When Quietude is sold as Quaalude – that will be fraud.

  42. #42 |  Shoot, Another Guest Post by Ryan Paul | Man Are We Screwed | 

    [...] am also very excited libertarians are getting some discussion in the news, though some others are not. If some libertarians are more authoritarian and you don’t like it, you can always [...]

  43. #43 |  albatross | 

    Boyd: Yep. For that matter, there are prominent Democrats and Republicans on record saying nice things about Gadaffi, back before his defeat and death became a political objective of the administration. And on and on.

    This is a standard part of politics: when someone on my team supports a tinpot dictator in some nasty corner of the world, that’s realpolitic. When someone on another team supports a tinpot dictator, that’s proof of their essential evil. (In the same way, exactly the same comments from someone on my team and your team are evidence of a little verbal carelessness, and a deep and unrepentant racism, respectively.). This pattern of thought is one reason why politicians can so often get away with selling out their alleged ideals and voting base, without having all their voters stay home or vote third party in the next election.

    To really see this, look at the partisan rhetoric surrounding the war on terror, which has been pretty consistent between the Bush and Obama administrations. It’s not hard to find Republican mouthpieces attacking Obama for being soft on terror for continuing exactly the same policies as Bush had–one example is the decision to try the underpants bomber in civilian court, just as the shoe bomber was tried in civilian court. Similarly, it’s easy to find Democratic mouthpieces who slammed the Bush administration for stuff that simply doesn’t bother them, now that it’s done by the Obama administration–one example of that is the extensive use of state secrets doctrine to keep details of our illegal torture and domestic spying programs from coming out in court.

    And there are many,many other examples. This is basically how politics works.

  44. #44 |  Juice | 

    Sandhillpam | August 31st, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Homeopathy is not total BS.

    Yes it is.

  45. #45 |  bbartlog | 

    The theory of homeopathy is bullshit. However, there are homeopathic remedies that are not so dilute as to be nothing-but-sugar. For example, I have used something called Hyland’s Teething Gel on a teething infant. It is ‘homeopathic’, but in fact despite being fairly dilute it contains enough tropane alkaloids to be an effective topical anesthetic. There are other examples. Remember that while homeopathy has this theory, it’s also an amalgam of folk remedies and herbalism, so not everything sold under the label is infinitely dilute (though maybe 90-95% of the remedies are).
    I also have a soft spot for homeopathy because I’m fairly sure that up until oh, 1940 or so, you would have been better off going to a homeopath than a regular doctor. The homeopath would after all be very likely to obey Hippocrate’s admonition: first, do no harm. In the mid-19th century, when homeopaths were administering water as medicine, mainstream medicine (at least as represented by the AMA of that time) was regularly prescribing mercury as a cure-all.
    Even today, there are some conditions where this logic holds. Doctors can’t do anything for the common cold, but they will still often prescribe you antibiotics just because doing nothing (often the right choice) is an unpopular action, especially if you’re charging someone money. The homeopath solves the dilemma by pretending to do something while doing nothing.

  46. #46 |  Tybo | 

    Regarding homeopathic medicines, I think there’s definitely too much error on the side of non-interference. For example, products can be labeled as ‘homeopathic’ when they’re not at all, just to get around FDA regulation. Take, for example, Zicam – there were clinically relevant amounts of zinc, and exposure to said zinc was actually responsible for anosmia in some cases.

  47. #47 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #30 Jim Wetzel: “This left-right business is entirely misleading, but highly convenient for the gummint/corporatist class whose stooges the police are, were, and always have been.

    I don’t think that’s entirely correct, Mr. Wetzel. I have known many more church-going “pro-life” cops in my day than I have radical socialist cops. And as much as I disagree with the behavior of the police in this case, I think it is fairly obvious that anti-abortion groups, as a whole, HAVE been quicker to endorse violence than most (non-Stalinist) leftist groups. Disagree? Then as a member of Operation Rescue in the 1980′s, maybe you can address why that organization has been trying to distance itself from Randall Terry and “re-brand” itself (From OperationRescue.org: “Mr. Terry has said, among other things, that he believes the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller “has the potential to propel us more quickly to our goal. Operation Rescue repudiates this statement as being completely false and out of touch with the reality of the situation. Operation Rescue has strongly denounced Tiller’s killing. Randall Terry is not affiliated with Operation Rescue and does not speak for this organization in any way.”).

    But, like I say, the arrest in this case was utter BS. The way to engage anti-abortion people is to make them think, though that is sometimes a tremendous challenge, since they don’t take to kindly to science and reason. My wife attempted this during an abortion protest near our apartment. She simply walked up to the protesters and dropped a coat hanger in front of them. A simple but provacative act, which I totally supported. Most of them didn’t react, and the one lady that spoke to her did not seem to understand the significance of the hanger. Oh well. You may find my wife’s actions offensive, but she didn’t call for the police (the protesters were on a sidewalk and excercising their 1st amendment rights, after all) and she opted for debate over force. I think you and I can agree that that is a good thing.

  48. #48 |  albatross | 

    Helmut:

    Isn’t it great how the people on your side of the issue are, you know, so much smarter and better people than the ones on the other side? Why, that phenomenon is amazingly widespread–people on both sides of every issue notice exactly the same thing. it must be some kind of weird relativity thing, like having the speed of light measured exactly the same by all observers.

  49. #49 |  JOR | 

    “The way to engage anti-abortion people is to make them think, though that is sometimes a tremendous challenge, since they don’t take to kindly to science and reason.”

    I don’t think the problem is that they don’t grasp “science and reason”. The problem (assuming the “problem” is with them and not their opponents) is that they endorse moral beliefs and values that “pro-choicers” do not. Of course it’s very common for people to wave off substantive disagreements of this sort as neutral methodological errors, whether by appealing off-topic to the stupidities and/or evils of Religion and Faith-Heads or Moral Relativism or Postmodernism or whatever. Perhaps people do this because it portrays one’s opponents as inherently stupid or depraved, rather than mistaken; or perhaps it’s satisfying because it portrays ones’ self as especially enlightened; then again, perhaps it’s simply something people do out of intellectual laziness. It is a clear error nonetheless.

    For example, your wife dropping that coat hanger in front of them as if it proves some kind of point – I guess the idea is to call to mind that women would get abortions even if they were illegal. But this is actually a spectacularly bad argument given the point of disagreement (and yes, I think it’s just as bad when it’s used against abstinence-based sex ed or drug legalization). People, after all, commit murder and robbery and rape even though these things are illegal; few people (besides some utilitarians and pacifists, perhaps) would argue that this is a good reason to legalize them. Maybe the idea is to make a point about how illegal abortions tend to be more hazardous, but again, this misses the whole point of disagreement – after all, illegal robberies are far more dangerous for robbers (and perhaps even for victims) than legalized robberies, but that’s not a good reason to legalize robbery (except maybe for some utilitarians).

  50. #50 |  JOR | 

    “drug legalization” above should be “drug prohibition”.

  51. #51 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #48 Albatross: “Isn’t it great how the people on your side of the issue are, you know, so much smarter and better people than the ones on the other side?”

    I never said that so drop the faux populism. Pro-lifers also tend to have a martyr complex, which you may share. I simply stated that “pro-lifers” tend not to appreciate science and reason. Indeed many of them seem to be afraid of both concepts. Or they think their religious beliefs ARE scientific without justification. If you refer to a zygote as a “baby,” that is simply not very scientific, but people are entitled to their opinions. Find your strawman elsewhere please. Have a nice labor day!

  52. #52 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #49 JOR:
    Thank you for engaging in debate instead of “Mr Smarty pants” whining like Albatross. However, you lost me when you said: “People, after all, commit murder and robbery and rape even though these things are illegal; few people (besides some utilitarians and pacifists, perhaps) would argue that this is a good reason to legalize them.” It sounds like you are compaing the termination of a pregnancy to murder or robbery. That is where we must part ways, at least on this topic.

    You go on to state: “Maybe the idea is to make a point about how illegal abortions tend to be more hazardous, but again, this misses the whole point of disagreement – after all, illegal robberies are far more dangerous for robbers (and perhaps even for victims) than legalized robberies, but that’s not a good reason to legalize robbery (except maybe for some utilitarians).” Well, yes, that was my wife’s point, and I believe it was a valid one. That IS the way it was before abortion became illegal. It was a bit like alcohol prohibition and drug prohibition, in fact. People asked for a service (whether you like that service or not), which had to be provided by the black market. The black market is not known for good “quality assurance” standards, so an illegal abortion was much more dangerous than the legal kind. So when you made the statement about legalizing robbery, it sounded like when people opposed to drug legalization say,”oh yeah, well maybe we should just legalize murder.” Or at least that is what it sounded like to me. You are comparing apples and oranges.

    On this topic, I tend to agree with Bill Clinton (which doesn’t happen much). Abortion should remain “safe, legal and rare” in the U.S.. It is unfortunate when women get into a position where they feel that they have to make that choice, but it should be their choice to make.

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