I’d been to a skeptics meeting earlier this week and wound up bolting from it somewhere in the middle of a discussion over how people learn they have multiple sclerosis. I’m enough of a hypochondriac as it is without questioning every weird pain or twinge and thinking the worst.
The reason we were talking about that is because Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s Premier, has okay’d the use of new money to fund research into a treatment for MS that has many doctors skeptical. The treatment is called liberation therapy and involves angioplasty and the jugular vein. Anecdotal evidence provided by some who’ve had this done swear it’s fixed their MS.
Liberation therapy has been hotly debated among MS patients since Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni published results of a recent study that posits MS as a vascular disorder caused by vein blockages that lead to a buildup of iron in the brain rather than an autoimmune disease.
By opening constricted veins, he reportedly improved the condition of 65 patients.
But, it turns out that only 55% or so of MS sufferers have this vein problem. What’s more, up to 22% of people without MS might also have this vein problem. Therefore, the veins probably aren’t the problem.
It also isn’t clear how many people Zamboni would have rejected in order to get his 65 patients to play with.
Is this a new explanation for the cause of MS?
Is angioplasty of the jugular veins a potential new treatment ?
Many experts are sceptical.
They say at this stage there is no proof of a causal link between blood flow and MS.
There is uncertainty about the level of pressure needed in the blood vessels in the brain for red cells containing iron to cross the blood brain barrier.
The MS society says there have been no clinical trials of the procedure and much more work is needed.
“We need more investigation – more scientific research into cause and effect,” Gianfranco acknowledges.
Early results out of studies done in Sweden and Germany seem to indicate this is a whole pile of hooey, regardless. Although, I’m sure they use more scientific terminology than I do.
Now I move to Christopher Hitchens and his current predicament, using the handy “leading the witness” headline of this article: Will Christopher Hitchens Go Straight To Hell?
The article winds up being a lot kinder than the headline would suggest, actually.
This truth is that we are fundamentally weak, needy and anxious creatures who desperately need a god to soothe us.
This may sound like weakness to the atheist or even to an agnostic. Certainly many agnostics, such as Sigmund Freud, can die bravely and in pain without succumbing to religious inclinations, which to a Freudian would be characterized as projection or hallucination.
But a genuinely religious person understands that human weakness is not a form of moral depravity. It is, rather, an insight into his or her moral condition.
Human beings are not at their best when they deny their own fragility. The human condition alone is not a self-sufficient one, according to the religious.
What’s more, religious souls can open up to the world rather than simply becoming the fanatics portrayed in Hitchens’ polemic, God Is Not Great.
And yet, this author chose that particular headline, highlighting the fact that fanatics like those portrayed in Hitchen’s book will likely celebrate his demise and want hell to be a part of his future. Why do that? I suppose it’s because more people would click the link than if there was some generic title lacking all the doom and gloom.
I don’t need a god to soothe me. Friends and family can do a good enough job of that should I need it. I’m also wondering about that weakness as insight into moral condition thing. Weakness isn’t evidence of depravity, but bad morals still lead to illness and punishment via disease? What’s actually being said there? I’m somewhat confused.
He’s in for a hard enough time and people still want worse for him. I just don’t get that mentality. You don’t have to agree with a person to have sympathy for him, do you?