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297: The Church of Biological Mysticism


KMO welcomes Joh Rappoport of NoMoreFakeNews to the C-Realm Podcast to discuss the institution of medicine as the religion of the modern age. Jon has spent 30 years as an investigative journalist, and his investigations have prompted him to ask questions which few journalists dare to ask. He challenges the methodology by which pathogens are identified as the causes of supposedly discrete diseases. The conversation turns to the slander of citizen journalists in Steven Soderberg’s film Contagion, and KMO concludes with a reading to the essay “Introducing the Cultural Psychopomp” by Bodhi Paul Chefurka.

Music by Dan Bull.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 21st, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
Ugh. I found this episode mostly dull and unpleasant. So much stupid (and dangerous) conspiracy-theory bullshit. The worst combination of aggravating blind pessimism and aggravating blind optimism.

To address one of the central examples: The H1N1/09 strain that broke out in 2009 wasn't a brand-new virus, discovered out of nothing. Similar strains of flu have been studied for decades. A similar strain caused the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed 50 million, so worries about a similar outbreak were not unreasonable. Efforts to change conditions in factory farming (which probably did contribute to the alarming mortality rate in the initial outbreak) to prevent such outbreaks were indeed stilted for political/economic reasons, but it's not true that those conditions were ignored either by mainstream publications (a very cursory search turns up The Guardian, Wired, Scientific American) or the CDC.

Your points about Contagion were right on, and there are plenty of unsettling things about that movie (as one Overthinking It commenter describes it, the movie is a love-letter to technocrats). Making that blogger character a knowing fraudster is just too over-the-top in the "authority is good" line. Early in the movie, there was a lot of ambiguity about that character (especially since the virus in the movie had a 75% survival rate). Would have been better to make that character someone confident in their ability of inference, someone confident that authority is letting people die for profit while a simple cure is within the easy reach of the discerning.

I did greatly enjoy the parts of this episode that were not the interview, and it might be interesting to hear you discuss Contagion with someone who is not a crazy person.
Feb. 21st, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you
L33t, your comments are the primary reason I'm still posting new episode notifications here to LJ. At present, listener feedback is spread over the Friends of the C-Realm on Facebook, Disqus on C-Realm.com, the C-Realm Forum on The Grow Report Forums and the C_Realm SubReddit. It would be handy if all of those fed into a central repository, but my preferred interface would still be LiveJournal.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:48 am (UTC)
I've seen a lot of examples of that sort of community fragmentation lately, and I'm not sure what the right balance is between having a central discussion forum and "being everywhere". Personally, I think LiveJournal (or any blog with a threaded comment system with reply notifications) is great for commenting on episodic content like a podcast.

Reddit also has a really great comment system, but I get the sense that a single show might be too narrow a topic for a good subreddit. (Still, I'm subscribed and hope it grows.)

The conversation on the Facebook group is great! I'm not a big fan of Facebook's comment system, though, and I'm often bad at responding to notifications about new conent on Facebook.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
Facebook is an enormous frustration for me. Everything about it is clunky and unwieldy, but everybody has an account.
Feb. 29th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
While I agree with you about some of Mr. Rappaport's commentary, I thought his observations about false narratives was dead-on. It would be a great help to all of us to know whether his "Deep Throat" propagandist was, well, a real person. Too many times have such people been created to lend credence.

I also have to disagree with him about the thrust of the H1N1 campaign, but for different reasons. The BBC radio show The Naked Scientist interviewed a Canberra virologist a few years ago. It turns out, based on forensic examination, that the current swine flu is most likely a lab creation.

The virologist was very careful in that interview not to suggest untoward motives such as a deliberate creation and release.

So while Rappaport's Deep Throat was supposedly led to believe that the campaign was a false one involving a fake disease, DT might very well have been played to cover a deeper game.

I just introduced yet another conspiracy theory, didn't I? How bitchy of me. ;-)
Mar. 2nd, 2012 05:53 pm (UTC)
Good link.

And don't worry. My point above was that I find "conspiracy theory bullshit" aggravating, not that any discussion involving conspiracy theories must be aggravating or bullshit.
vincent sahi
Feb. 27th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
To allow a person suggest that HIV is not the cause of AIDS without discussing any scientific data is very sad!

Vincent S
AIDS Researcher NYC
Feb. 27th, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
Hi Vincent,

HIV/AIDS is not what I'd intended to talk about with Jon Rapporport, and it's not a topic that I've read anything about since the mid 90's when Spin magazine ran a series of articles calling the HIV/AIDS link into question. When he brought it up, I didn't challenge him on it, and many people objected to that, but what they don't seem to appreciate is that if I did dig in my heels at that point, then the discussion would have stayed on that topic. Given that it wasn't something I was prepared to discuss from an informed standpoint, halting the conversation on that topic would have been a stupid thing for me to do.

At some point, I will do some reading on the topic and get SOMEBODY (though maybe not Jon Rappoport) on the program to talk about the subject.

There was a long and impassioned discussion thread resulting from this episode on the Friends of the C-Realm group on Facebook, and in that thread people started throwing around the phrase "AIDS denialism." That caught my attention, and I checked the Wikipedia entry on AIDS denialsim. As I say, this is not a topic I've kept up with in recent years, so I wasn't really in a position to evaluate the accuracy of the claims of the entry's authors, but I could see just from a linguistic perspective that the entry oozed with intellectual dishonesty. My curiosity was certainly piqued.
Feb. 29th, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
Hey, KMO,

I had not heard that Napolitano bit. Thanks for that. Sounds to me like he wanted to kiss his cushy job ¡Adios!
Mar. 1st, 2012 12:15 am (UTC)
I was wrong about that bit getting him fired. More the reverse. His show had already been cancelled, so he didn't have much to lose and could throw caution to the wind.
Mar. 1st, 2012 01:03 am (UTC)
Re: Actually...
That makes his parting remarks beautiful and ballsy. I have some respect for the old blowhard now.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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