Bill Maher is an irrational douchebag

PZ Myers gives some love to Bill Maher for this appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien:

Best line: “You can’t be a rational person six days a week…and on one day of the week, go to a building, and think you’re drinking the blood of a two thousand year old space god.”

Which is nice and all. But lets take a look at what Maher said two nights earlier on the Late Show with David Letterman:

Maher: You know, I do love health as an issue. This is what I read about when I have time off.

Letterman: Are you interested in medical journals and that sort of thing?

Maher: Not western medicine, I think we’re being poisoned…I would love for you to investigate the possibility that your health issues might have arisen from the fact that you’re being poisoned by America.

Just to be clear here, Maher’s not talking about pollution here, he’s talking about pharmaceutical drugs. He’s a well known proponent of alternative medicine, and as Skeptico and Orac point out in the comments to PZ’s post, he denies the germ theory of disease, thinks vaccinations are poison and ineffectual, and is a proud supporter of PETA. That’s not exactly the resume one would expect from a rational, pro-science person.

It’s infuriating when a prominent rationalist like PZ approvingly cites Maher’s atheism or his takedown of the Troofers as a gain for rational thought in this country, because it’s abundantly clear that Maher himself isn’t a critical thinker. Sure some of the ends of his thought process align with the reality-based community, but the process itself is still tainted by magical thinking and outright lunacy.

Maher rightly views the evidence-free assertions of Christian supernaturalism as bullshit, yet amazingly can’t bring this skepticism to bear on non-Christian supernaturalism. This is because his views arise from mindless contrarianism, not critical examination of the evidence. He’s an atheist because everyone else is Christian, not because the evidence of a deity is lacking. Similarly, he’s an altie because most people use scientific medicine, not because he’s actually looked into the scientific validity of what he’s saying.

Since the “skeptic as mere contrarian” is a stereotype rationalists have been fighting for a while, it’s a shame that leading freethinkers continue to promulgate it by praising Bill Maher.

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12 comments so far

  1. [...] behavior.  And so when Bill Maher criticizes the Eucharist as being obviously insane, but then has totally wacko beliefs on alternative medicine and health, I’m not particularly impressed with his secularism or his [...]

  2. Disillusioned Again « Rambling On on

    [...] I suppose if I’m still willing to see Religulous after hearing Bill Maher blathering like he’s deranged (thanks Postman!), surely I can keep a book that I already have, and read a comic strip that [...]

  3. yvonne browning on

    For God so loved the world, this includes the soul of Bill Maher, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but, have everlasting life. This is an unconditional love, regardless of what you say to Him or misguided lies about His death on Calvary to redeem us, He will always accept us, just as we are. We will never deserve it or can we do anything to earn it, it is free, just for the taking and accepting. God loves the unbeliever and the sinner, it is the sin He condemns. Bill, I pray that you will seek more knowledge before condemning the true way and light. I don’t believe anyone who is mentally responsible, can look around them and deny the existence of a loving, living God. Bill, I am more compassionate to the miserable person you are, than angry for you misguided, distorted mode of thinking which you CLAIM is yours. I believe it is a publicity stunt, gotten out of hand and you saw, since you obviously didn’t succeed in the career you chose, you saw you got attention and you did. But, Bill, it is not what you hoped it would be, so you have become bitter. God bless you, I am praying for you. You would make a great evangelist for Jesus

  4. Sage on

    If you are referring to the Eucharist, then you are correct in saying evidence-free. However, if you are speaking of other supernatural elements (the existence of a Creator at ALL, for example), then your argument falters.
    Evolutionists are hardly strict naturalists or empiricists. The Big Bang was not observed in a lab. Nor was any extra-special evolutionary development. So if you claim that ALL knowledge is known empirically , you are a hypocrite. If you don’t, then you validate the Christian point.

  5. a bellew on

    Supernatural? There isn’t such a thing. Once something is positively tested then it becomes part of the “materialistic paradigm”. The use of the word implies a profound ignorance and a basic misunderstanding of science. The difference between pseudoscience and science is the ability to make predictions that are testable. The “christian point” is not only untestable but invalided scientifically. Empirical is not definite, just well supported,and allows for modifications.

  6. babyfacemagee on

    You’re mistaken about Bill Maher. First off…he is not against the ‘germ theory of medicine’ as you state. He actually has come out on his show and explicitly denied this. He also believes in the theory of inoculation…and supports it in SOME cases. You’re missing his point entirely. You might be naive but the reality is that pharmaceutical companies are interested at the end of the day in one thing and one thing only. Profit. These are for profit companies whose mission it is to make the most money possible. I have an MBA from an ivy league institution and it is well known that many of the pharmaceuticals that these companies put out are not neccessary for many, many people. Does this mean that they don’t make some good drugs? Of course they do. But they also make some junk. There is no disputing that pharmaceutical companies advertise many drugs for ailments they readily know that are best treated in other ways. Drugs should usually be the LAST course of action…not the first. There are reports that 98% of people that take antidepressant drugs for instance shouldn’t be taking them. They are VASTLY overused for every day mundane stress and defeats that a person should not be using drugs to deal with. There are also enormous long-term side effects that are unreported in the mass media because let’s face it…to who’s advantage is it to report it? Pharmaceutical companies only make money if you TAKE the drug. They LOSE money if you don’t. It’s only common sense that they overstate the positives and downplay the negatives. Any moron can understand that.

    Have you ever heard of Vioxx? What about Thalidomide? Did you know statin drugs can cause fogginess and memory loss in people…yet patients aren’t being told this.

    Did you know that antidepressants can cause apathy, loss of memory and suicidal ideation in people that never had those problems before taking the drugs?

    Did you know that the FDA gets 50% of their operating budget FROM pharma companies and that FDA panel members are given lucrative consulting jobs AFTER they leave the fda..’if’ they approve the right drugs for the pharma companies?

    There is a lot of data out there that shows correlation between vaccines and a host of developmental problems in children. If you look at meta-studies…studies of studies…it’s amazing that the studies that are paid for by the pharma companies always seem to have the ‘best’ results. But when you look at ‘independent’ studies…those not funded by the pharma companies…that’s where you start to see problems being reported in the drugs. Do you really think that is an accident?

    I had a conversation with two pharma researchers for Amgen in california a few months back. They both were very open and honest about the fact that the company routinely had them throw out negative test data and continue to ‘retest’ until they got the results that the marketing people wanted. Then only the ‘good’ results were sent to the fda to support the drug. Do you really think that’s good science?

    Recently…just this past week there was an interesting metastudy that was done about cell phone safetly. What a surprise…the studies that were paid for by the cell phone manufacturers…repeatedly came out safer than the independent studies.

    Test bias is VERY easy to put into a study. Pharma companies and corporate american KNOW THIS AND USE THIS.

    If you think that everything a pharma company says is ‘the truth’ and ‘always right’ then you’re simply either an idiot or very naive.

    One last point. These days doctors and pharmacists aren’t even aware of how much they are being manipulated by the drug companies. From the day they go to med school…their text books are written and subsidized by the pharma companies…their teachers get their grants from the pharma companies….when they graduate their vacations and conferences are paid for by pharma companies.

    The PDR and DSM manuals they use to diagnose are also paid for or subsidized by pharma companies. In other words…all the info is coming from the same course. That is NOT wise, fair or unbiased.

    Western medicine is known to focus far too much energy on the SYMPTOM and NOT the CAUSE. Why? It is a lot more profitable to get someone hooked on antidepressants for life (and yes, they are addictive despite the advertising)…and make thousands and thousands of dollars off of them….than to teach people to fix the problems in their lives and improve the atmosphere in which they work and live…which will solve 98% of people’s ‘depression’ or anxiety without pills.

    neuroplasticity and neurogenesis prove this…yet you’ll never hear a pharma company tell you this. Why? Because it doesn’t make money for them of course.

    Don’t dismiss Bill Maher just because you’re closed minded. He never said he didn’t think there were some great inventions and uses for western medicine. But a lot of western medicine is designed around the profit motive whether you’re aware of it or not. I grew up in a family of doctors and pharmacists…everyone from my grandfather, father and brother to uncle and most of their friends. Instead of eating healthy and exercising…in their old age most of them are popping 20 pills a day for this condition and that…instead of simply taking care of themselves in the first place. MUCH of that is un-necessary. It is simply the ‘western medicine’…controlled by the pharma companies….way.

    • taylor510 on

      I don’t really agree with Maher’s political views, but I DEFINITELY agree with your views on big pharma. Well done and good points. It’s about time somebody came out and said this with ACTUALLY KNOWING THE FACTS to all the naysayers out there. Maher is an atheist but oh well, it’s his soul, not mine. God bless him anyways. I have been the team leader at Whole Foods Market in the supplement department and it is literally sickening that so many natural supplements that are not “fda approved” because YOU CAN’T PATENT AN HERB OR ROOT don’t get fda approval. Did you know that in Germany there is an injectable form of Milk Thistle that REVERSES acute hepatic (liver) failure? But here in the states we can’t use it as a drug because IT GROWS EVERYWHERE!! Damn the fda and the pharmaceutical companies. But as you said, I will not discount many drugs that have been developed that have saved countless lives, but it seems like recently, well, need I say more than this? WHAT THE HELL IS RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME???? Thank you. -Taylor-

  7. Al on

    any comment that is longer than a paragraph equals crazy…

  8. Angela on

    Soberish, I love this one! I found it when I googled, “Bill Maher is an irrational douchebag”, which is what I was busy calling him this evening.

  9. Stevia : on

    oh i love alternative medicines, they are usually effective but with lesser bad side effects compared to conventional medicatio “

  10. Kevin on

    Calling Bill Maher a “douchebag” is an insult to douchebag’s everywhere. You want to know the real reason Bill Maher comes across as atheist and continues to trash Christianity and such? Money. News, such as a celebrity talking trash about a major religion, sells… and he knows this. He’s just creating drama to boost sales of his books and shows… and the country is buying into it like good little puppets. He won’t regret it until some hardcore religious nut goes overboard and assassinates him, but then it will be too late for him to repent won’t it?

  11. 747-400 on

    If my thesaurus is up-to-date “contrarian” is a polite euphemism for “self-obsorbed Marxist Duouchebag”


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