Do You Believe In Magic?

Do you believe in magic? If you are a member of Freethought Dayton, the answer is most likely “no.”  But a lot of people do believe in magical, mystical thinking.  In his recent book, Do You Believe in Magic: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine, Paul A. Offit, MD, examines the world of supplements, megavitamins, chelation therapy, and fear of vaccines.

Nutritional supplements are an unregulated, $34 billion per year industry.  While a few studies indicated some alternative therapies are beneficial, evidence is piling up that other herbal supplements and megadoses of certain vitamins may actually be harmful, not helpful, to your health.  Standardized medicine is certainly not immune to corrections, but when a drug is found to have deleterious effects, it can be pulled from the market due to federal regulations.  This process is much more difficult or impossible in an unregulated industry.

Vitamins and supplements are often touted as “natural,” which in common usage is interpreted as “beneficial and harmless.”  Dr. Offit relates a story of purchasing a bottle of “natural vitamin E”:

“On the back, it said “3333% of the RDA” (recommended daily allowance). That is 33 times the recommended daily allowance.  This one capsule was about maybe half the size of an almond. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E. You would have to eat 1650 almonds to get what was in that 1 capsule. How is that a natural thing to do?”


What do you think?  Are supplements safe and harmless, or should they be regulated?

Watch the interview or read the transcript on here.

Check out the book here.


FD Book Club – The Dragons of Eden

The FD book club selection for November is Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence by Carl Sagan. FD members will be meeting to discuss the book on 23 November.

Here’s a summary of the book from Wikipedia:

“The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence is a Pulitzer Prize winning 1977 book by Carl Sagan. In it, he combines the fields of anthropology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and computer science to give a perspective of how human intelligence evolved.
One of the main issues featured in the book is the search for a quantitative way of measuring intelligence. Sagan shows that the brain to body mass ratio is an extremely good indicator, with humans having the highest and dolphins second. It does break down, however, at the extremely small end of the scale. Smaller creatures (ants in particular) place disproportionally high on the list.
Other topics mentioned include the evolution of the brain (with emphasis on the function of the neocortex in humans), the evolutionary purpose of sleep and dreams, demonstration of sign language abilities by chimps and the purpose of mankind’s innate fears and myths. The title “The Dragons of Eden” refers to man’s early struggle for survival in the face of predators, and how fear of reptiles may have led to cultural beliefs and myths about dragons and snakes.”

In the book, Sagan asks this – “after we returned to the savannahs and abandoned the trees, did we long for those great graceful leaps and ecstatic moments of weightlessness in the shafts of sunlight of the forest roof?”

Book Club – Jerry Dewitt’s “Hope after Faith”

The Freethought Dayton Book club selection for October is “Hope after Faith” by Jerry Dewitt. We will meeting to discuss the book on 26 October.

Here’s a compelling quote from Jerry’s book:

“I began to see reality not as the enemy but as a partner in dealing with the struggles of being a modern Homo sapiens. A kind of virtuous cycle emerged from that summer; as my expectations grew more realistic, disappointments diminished and hope continued to grow. I was becoming a happier person; I was no longer expecting the creator universe to step in and change the rules.”

Many of us that have left our religious indoctrination behind have experienced the same type of thing that Jerry describes. Leaving religion can often make you a happier person.

What do you think? Post a comment and let us know…