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Monday, June 11, 2012

Outrageous Conspiracy Theory

I love it when someone leaves a firebomb in a public park.  Yeah, someone blew up a tree in the park about a block from the house.  What a sight to wake up to.  I personally think people that are going to do shit like that should test them in their own house first, provided there isn't anyone else living there.  Safety first.  I mean really, who the hell does crap like that?  Especially where kids and people normally congregate.  Yeah it's been a fun week, especially the part where I got smashed around by horses at work.

Anyway, the main point of this posting is an interesting theory I heard from someone at work.  Keep in mind, part of my job involves dealing with animals that could be carrying diseases ranging from ringworm to parvo to rabies.  We try to remind people not to touch the animals to lessen the risk of transmission.  Anyway, as I was going through my spiel with a couple, the guy looks at me and asks, completely out of the blue, "are you smart?  What do you know about the zombie attacks?"  For those that don't know, in Miami Florida, one naked man attacked another naked man and was biting his face off.  The police ended up having to use lethal force in order to stop him.  The news outlets touted it as a zombie attack, and with the C.D.C.'s "zombie preparedness kits", it caused some people to think that the zombie apocalypse had final happened, so naturally, some people at work started to ask me a lot of questions, including wanting to know how big my house was.  I seem to be on everyones zombie survival team.  First off, the zombie kit recommended by the C.D.C. is a basic emergency kit for any kind of disaster,be it a tornado, flood, earthquake, Bieber movie, you name it.  Secondly, the attack was by someone who had apparently had a psychotic breakdown, though the drug known as bath salts were initially blamed for his actions.  Back to the main story, when I informed him of what I knew at the time, being that he wasn't really a zombie (which actually seemed to disappoint both the guy and the girl), and that bath salts were being blamed, the guy looked at me and said "Did you know that there is only 1 chemical difference between bath salts and the H1.... the flu thing."  I looked at him as I felt the aneurysm coming on and asked him "Do you mean H1N1,?"  He basically said yeah, that's it.  At this point, my super power, impromptu skeptic education, kicked in.  Kinda like the Hulk, only with glasses and a tweed blazer, rather Sagan-like.  What I told him was that H1N1 is a flu virus, which is an infectious agent, not manufactured, and naturally occurring.  And yes, I know that viruses can be modified in a lab, but I left that out of the conversation due to time constraints and the steadily increasing noise levels.  I also told him that Bath salts are similar to meth or cocaine, meaning that they are made in a lab, or someones kitchen.  Also they are believed to cause "zombie-like symptoms" in the people that use them.  The girl that was with him had a look on her face that made me think "My work here is done"  ,but all my hopes were dashed when the guy informed me that it was a government conspiracy to create zombie super soldiers.  I think I said "Wha????" but I was so dumb struck I just kinda stared at him.  I got my bearings and said I don't think the government wants a bunch of uncontrollable, flesh eating killing machines.  He looked a little saddened and walked off.  I have debated people on the black helicopters, men in black, ghosts, aliens, cryptids (which is a personal favorite of mine),  ancient astronauts, Bear Grylls, vaccines, acupuncture, homeopathy, and holistic medicine.  Granted, I don't always earn points with them, but rarely am I taken aback as much as I was on this.  I think the girl was on the fence to begin with, but the guy unfortunately was fully in the other camp, right behind the latrines.  And, as skeptics, we have to realize that these are the people that we will never reach.  they will use every logical fallacy to maintain their beliefs, and this guy used quite a few.  I do however pride myself on the fact that I didn't just go completely skeptical commando on him and end up looking like an arrogant fool.

A side note on these bath salts.  You can actually buy this crap in mini-marts and convenience stores.  The manufacturers have found that if they slap a "Not suited for human consumption" label on the package, then it's legal to sell them.  According to the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) " these products often contain various amphetamine-like chemicals, such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone. These drugs are typically administered orally, by inhalation, or by injection, with the worst outcomes apparently associated with snorting or intravenous administration. Mephedrone is of particular concern because, according to the United Kingdom experience, it presents a high risk for overdose. These chemicals act in the brain like stimulant drugs (indeed they are sometimes touted as cocaine substitutes); thus they present a high abuse and addiction liability. Consistent with this notion, these products have been reported to trigger intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users, and clinical reports from other countries appear to corroborate their addictiveness. They can also confer a high risk for other medical adverse effects. Some of these may be linked to the fact that, beyond their known psychoactive ingredients, the contents of "bath salts" are largely unknown, which makes the practice of abusing them, by any route, that much more dangerous."  Basically, this crap is dangerous and the makers know it.  Some of the names it's sold under are :"Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," "Red Dove," "Blue Silk," "Zoom," "Bloom," "Cloud Nine," "Ocean Snow," "Lunar Wave," "Vanilla Sky," "White Lightning," "Scarface," and "Hurricane Charlie." .

Another item that came up, and one of the main reasons that this post is a day later than I had hoped, is a friend of  mine had her dog attacked by a pack of coyotes.  Nothing paranormal about the canines, no glowing eyes, special abilities, just an attack on a domestic dog.  A big dog, granted, but normal behavior in pack of hungry animals.  No, it was something she said about her vet.  I was looking at pictures of injuries (I couldn't look at the actual injuries on the dog as it really doesn't like anyone but its owner) and she was telling me about the vet she took it to.  She said on top of the stitches and flushing of the injuries, the dog got acupuncture and homeopathic medicine.  I have known her for years, and I know that she is deeply religious,and a bit of a hippy, but I was unaware of the fact that she bought into the whole alternative medicine rigmarole.  She asked me if I knew about holistic and homeopathic medicine, (the dog owner and I had talked several times about homeopathy and holistic medicine in the past)  and I said I was familiar with the concept behind it, and I knew the vet that she was using. (I had had a run-in with this individual a few years ago at work, and it made for a rather stressful environment.)  I made no mention of efficacy trials or any testing on alt med.  She just nodded her head and asked if the vet was any good.  I had to admit, she is good, up to the alternative "treatments".  Sutures, spay and neutering, diagnostics, yeah, she's good, but I can not in good conscience give her any more credit than that.  The dog was in good health (the injuries were fairly minor), and both the owner and the dog seemed to be in good spirits, so I let the matter be.  I know that it seems hypocritical, but you have to know where to draw the lines.  If she (the owner) was suffering from cancer and was going to an alt med professional as her only source of treatment, yes, I would probably try to convince either her or her family to at least try conventional western medicine as well.

There were other items that came up, but I haven't decided whether to discuss them here or not, due to the person that said them.  I have to wonder if they found this blog and learned who writes it and wants to see what I have to say, even though I'm not really known for keeping my opinions to my self in the real world, or if they actually believe it.  On some of it, I lean towards the latter, especially when prefaced with "I have a pet theory" which makes me want to look at them and go "Do you mean hypothesis?"  Anyway, I am actually taking some vacation time this week, partly for medical reasons and partly for my own sanity.  That and on Sunday, I will have been married for 12 years to one of the loveliest, smartest, sweetest women on the planet.  And I'm not just saying that because she reads this and knows where I sleep.  Until next time, be good, and keep an open mind.

The Skeptical Okie

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