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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Bonus Podcast Interview with Dr. Robert Price

Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies,  Colemon Theological Seminary

Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies, Colemon Theological Seminary, Host of Point of Inquiry and a Research Fellow at CFI.

While the Drunken Skeptics podcast is on hiatus, Chris got to talk with Dr. Robert M Price (Point of Inquiry, The Bible Geek) about something he’s particularly passionate about – the music and lyrics of Rush.  Dr. Price was a co-author, with his wife Carol Selby Price, on a book called “Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush.”

Robert M. Price is Professor of Biblical Criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute as well as the editor of The Journal of Higher Criticism. His books include Beyond Born Again,  The Widow Traditions in Luke-Acts: A Feminist-Critical ScrutinyDeconstructing Jesus, and The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man. Forthcoming titles are The Crisis of Biblical Authority, Jesus Christ Superstar: A Redactional Study of a Modern Gospel,  The Da Vinci Controversy and The Amazing Colossal Apostle.

So if you’re a fan of Rush, or even if you’re not,  you’ll certainly enjoy this conversation.

An Evoloved Mutation Allows Hudson River Fish To Adapt To Pcbs

Contact: Lorinda Klein
lorindaann.klein@nyumc.org
212-404-3533
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine

A genetic mutation allows Hudson River fish to adapt to PCBs

Tagged Tomcod from the Hudson River

Researchers discovered a mutation in tomcod living in the Hudson River that enables the fish to survive in waters heavily contaminated with PCBs. Credit: Mark Mattson of Normandeau Associates, Inc.

NEW YORK, Feb. 17, 2011 – A research group led by a New York University School of Medicine scientist discovered a genetic variant that allows a fish in the Hudson River to live in waters heavily polluted by PCBs. In a study published in the February 18, 2011, online issue of Science, they report that a population of Hudson River fish apparently evolved rapidly in response to the toxic chemicals, which were first introduced in 1929, and were banned fifty years later. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications, especially as electrical insulators.

“We’ve found evolutionary change going on very quickly due to toxic exposure, and just one gene is responsible for it,” says Isaac Wirgin, a population geneticist, associate professor of environmental medicine at NYU School of Medicine, and the study’s lead investigator. “There are not many examples of this in the scientific literature.”

General Electric released approximately 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River from 1947 to 1976. The Atlantic tomcod, Microgadus tomcod, is a common bottom-feeding fish in the Hudson that is not usually eaten by humans. The fish, which typically reaches a length of 10 inches, had long been known to survive exposure to PCBs, and levels of the chemical in its liver are among the highest reported in nature. However, scientists did not understand the biological mechanism that allowed the tomcod to survive chemical exposures that kill most other fishes.

Dr. Wirgin and scientists at NOAA Fisheries Service in New Jersey and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts spent four years capturing tomcod from contaminated and relatively clean areas of the Hudson River during the winter months, when tomcod spawn in the river. The fish were screened for genetic variants in a gene encoding a protein known to regulate the toxic effects of PCBs, which is called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor2, or AHR2. This gene also is involved in mediating the effects of other halogenated hydrocarbon compounds, a group that includes PCBs.

Slight alterations—the deletion of only six base pairs in DNA of the AHR2 gene—appear to protect tomcod from PCBs, according to the study. Normally, when unaltered AHR2 binds to PCBs, it triggers a cascade of reactions that transmit the toxic effects of the compound. However, the study found that PCBs bind poorly to the variant AHRs, which apparently blunts the chemicals’ effects.

Tomcod from cleaner waters occasionally carried mutant AHR2, suggesting that these variants existed in minor proportions prior to PCB pollution, says Dr. Wirgin. After the chemical was released, tomcod carrying the mutation had an advantage over others in the population because PCBs otherwise lead to lethal heart defects in young fish. The study’s findings suggest that this advantage drove genetic changes in these fish over some fifty years. “We think of evolution as something that happens over thousands of generations,” says Dr. Wirgin. “But here it happened remarkably quickly.”

The study co-authors are: Nirmal K. Roy and Matthew Loftus, the NYU School of Medicine; R. Christopher Chambers, the NOAA Fisheries Service, Highland, New Jersey; and Diana G. Franks and Mark E. Hahn, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

About NYU School of Medicine:

NYU School of Medicine is one of the nation’s preeminent academic institutions dedicated to achieving world class medical educational excellence. For 170 years, NYU School of Medicine has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history and enrich the lives of countless people. An integral part of NYU Langone Medical Center, the School of Medicine at its core is committed to improving the human condition through medical education, scientific research and direct patient care. The School also maintains academic affiliations with area hospitals, including Bellevue Hospital, one of the nation’s finest municipal hospitals where its students, residents and faculty provide the clinical and emergency care to New York City’s diverse population, which enhances the scope and quality of their medical education and training. Additional information about the NYU School of Medicine is available at http://school.med.nyu.edu/.

An Evening With John W Loftus

Attention

An evening with John Loftus

Dan Hall member of Great Lakes Humanists Society is looking to drum up interest in a speaking engagement with John Loftus former Pentecostal Preacher now Atheist with an earned bachelor’s degree from Great Lakes Christian College, two master’s degrees from Lincoln Christian University, a Master’s of Theology degree with half of the hours in William Lane Craig’s classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and then spent a year and a half in a PhD program at Marquette University in Theology and Ethics.

His extended education has taken him in various classes as “Religious Epistemology” (with Stuart Hackett) “Christian Thought Systems,” “Analytic Philosophy” (with the late Paul Feinberg), “Religion and Science” (with Bill Craig focusing on the philosophy of science),” “Theism,” “Plantinga’s Thought” (yep, under Bill Craig in the year 1984),” “Calvin” (under the late Kenneth Kantzer known as the dean of evangelicalism, where we went through Calvin’s Institutes), “Philosophers of Religion: Descartes,” “The Concept of God,” “God as Creator/Redeemer,” “Making of the Contemporary Mind” (this class by James Strauss really enlightened me), “19th Century Theology,” “Seminar: Word of God,” “Philosophy of Language,” “Apologetics: Discovering the Christian Mind,” “Theology and Hermeneutics,” “20th Century Theology,” “Historiography of Theories of History,” “Advanced Introduction to the New Testament,” “Historiography of Physical Sciences,” “Major Philosophical Thinkers/Systems,” “Historiography of Theories of Mind,” “Philosophy of Knowledge,” (with Marc F. Greisbach who had been the President of the American Catholic Philosophical Association), “Atheism and Theism,” “Theological Ethics” (with Daniel McGuire), “Protestant Christian Ethics” (with Ron Feenstra, now the Director of Doctoral Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary) and a whole host of others that were biblical and practical for ministry and teaching in the apologetical field.

He has taught apologetics for Lincoln Christian University, Great Lakes Christian College, and philosophy, ethics and critical thinking classes for the College of Lake County, Kellogg Community College, and Trine University, all as an adjunct instructor, mostly while he as in the ministry for 14 years in Christian Churches in Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana as an Associate Minister, Minister and Senior minister. He was the President of the ministerial association in the small town where He still lives.

Please send me a Thumbs up at nodeities@comcast.net so we can get a good idea how many people are interested.

Blog

Debunking Christianity

Books

Why I became an Atheist

The Christian Delusion

The End of Christianity

Indian High Court Rules Astrology is a Science

Bombay high Court

The Bombay High Court is the High Court of India

EDIT: An Indian Astrologer website has linked to this post to attempt to justify themselves  through us. I have edited the post to to more accurately reflect that Astrology is not scientifically provable and in fact is not real. Also anyone that would charge fees for such a service I would consider to be committing fraud.

The Bombay High Court has ruled that Astrology is a science and that real scientists have to accept them as their colleagues.

The case was brought to the Court by Janhit Manch, a campaign group which sought a ruling against practitioners of “tantric” black magic and “fake” astrologers. They argued that what they do should be phohibited, citing India’s Drugs and Magical Remedies Act of 1954, which bans false claims in advertisements.

Janhit Manch is:

A leading judicial activist NGO of the country, founded by Bhagvanji Raiyani in 2002, has filed about 55 Public Interest Litigations in the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.

…doing [our] bit to salvage the deteriorating conditions of the country, work as watchdog agencies and catalysts between authorities and public.

The decision is based on an affidavit by Dr R Ramakrishna, a government deputy drug controller, who said: “The Act does not cover astrology and related sciences. Astrology is a trusted science and is being practised for over 4000 years.”

The entire basis of the ruling is that Astrology is a science and therefore not magical and does not fall under the Act’s jurisdiction. Which suggests that science does not have to be proven to work while magic does. This is just another step that India is taking backwards away from reason and intelligence.

Central Drugs Standard Control Organization Building

Central Drugs Standard Control Organization Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India

You can see a slide show of India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization here.

Update: DrJoe is an awesome contributor and has found the court case! The ruling has not been uploaded yet but you can find the case here: Reg. #PIL/3/2010

Update 2: The judgment has been uploaded. PIL14809030211

Homeopathic Quackery and Pharmacists

A few years ago when I began following skeptic blogs and podcasts, I learned about the existence of homeopathic remedies. Of note, two of the main doctrines of homeopathy include the law of similars and the law of infinitesimals. The law of similars is also known as ‘like cures like.’ Briefly, an individual’s symptoms may be relieved by administering homeopathic drugs which are known to cause in higher doses those same symptoms in healthy people. For example, homeopathic preparation of ipecac is indicated to relieve vomiting. Historically, healthy individuals would be given gradually increasing doses (non-homeopathic) of a substance to illicit any symptoms. Known as ‘provings,’ the symptoms were carefully documented and form the basis of the law of similars. (Sucks to be the guys who ‘proved’ mercury and lead.) The law of infinitesimal (also known as the doctrine of minimum dose) requires that homeopathic remedies be highly diluted prior to administration. Starting with the original powder or liquid, a homeopathic practitioner may dilute one part with 99 parts of solvent (either ethanol or water) to give a 1C (centidecimal) dilution. A 1 to 9 dilution is a 1X (decimal) dilution. Higher dilutions are achieved by taking one part of the prepared dilution and again diluting it with solvent. Therefore a homeopathic remedy labeled as 3X means that it underwent three 10-fold dilutions (equivalent to one part per 10^3). A 200C or 200CK indicates that it underwent 200 successive 100-fold dilutions (equivalent to one part per 10^400). Part of the dilution process involves vigorous shaking or banging of the bottle on a surface meant to transfer energy to the solution, a process called succussion. Interestingly, homeopathic remedies are suppose to become more potent the higher the dilution.

WARNING: Scientific jargon abound, but bear with me, as it will be over shortly.
Say you start with one liter of a 1 molar solution of sugar (6.022*10^23 molecules in a mole; molar means how many moles per liter). After a 1C dilution, you’d have a 0.01 molar solution (6.022*10^21 molecules per liter). At a 11C dilution, you’d have a 1*10^-22 molar solution (60 molecules per liter). At a 12C dilution, you’d have a 10^-24 molar solution (0.6 molecules per liter). [sound of tires screeching] Hang on; you can’t have a 0.6 molecule! There’s nothing left to dilute! There’s only solvent being diluted with even more solvent (ever try 190 proof alcohol?). Yet, homeopathic remedies are frequently found as 12C, 30C and even 200C preparations. These incredibly dilute solutions are often added dropwise to sugar pills for subsequent sale and administration to patients.

As a scientist, I deal with extremely dilute solutions every day. For example, a bacterium has a single molecule of DNA per cell. The volume of a bacterium like Escherichia coli is approximately 1×10^-15 liters (1 femtoliter) so a single DNA molecule is at a nanomolar concentration ( [1 molecule / 6.022*10^23 molecules per mole] / 1*10^-15 liters = 1.66*10^-9 molar or 1.66 nanomolar). Clearly, 1 molecule in a cell can be very important biologically but if you go below 1 molecule, there’s nothing. For the sake of argument, let’s say a single molecule makes it all the way through to the final dilution of a 30C preparation. A 100 mL volume has approximately 1000 drops. If one drop was added to each sugar pill, there would be only a 1 in 1000 chance that any of the sugar pills would have a single molecule of the original active ingredient. Further divide the pills for sale into bottles containing 50 pills; you now have only 1 in 20 bottles for sale having a single molecule of active ingredient. Sugar pills sprinkled with water or ethanol for sale must have an awesome profit margin (CVS figured this out, see picture below). Homeopaths  admittedly recognize the scientific conundrum and sidestep the issue entirely by proposing all sorts of nifty mechanisms involving water memory, nanoparticles, clathrates, or even silicates dissolved from the bottles used in the succussion process. Imagine silicate able to cure just about anything. You know what else has silicate (aka silicon dioxide)? Taco Bell’s seasoned ground beef. Mmmmm, homeopathic chalupas. j/k

Can you spot the CVS generic brand of Oscillococcinum? -Photo take 2/5/2011

In the 20th century, homeopathic  medicine waned in popularity steadily until the advent of the holistic health movement of the 1970′s and the “New Age” Movement of the 1980′s. Today, homeopathic remedies are being sold in the U.S. under the guise of ‘dietary supplements.’ Concerning to me is the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic remedies by pharmacists, especially those employed at major chains like Walgreens, CVS and Wal-Mart. Homeopathic remedies are often sold alongside with conventional medicines  (click on picture to enlarge). Without the knowledge of what homeopathy is, it’s likely that consumers assume homeopathic remedies sold at a pharmacy are no different than herbal or conventional medicines. Just three years ago, I thought the same way. Now I know better and you know who should know better too? Pharmacists.

It’s a fair assumption that pharmacists are highly educated professionals well versed in the scientific method and should appreciate the discoveries made from its application. Yet, for a pharmacist to stock, recommend and sell OTC products that have not been proven to be safe or effective through application of the scientific method is just mind bottling. “You know, when things are so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle?” (Blade of Glory, 2007) As professionals, pharmacists pride themselves as being honest, having integrity, and wanting to offer patients the best level of care. However, the sale of homeopathic remedies violates the inherent high ethics and morals of pharmacists because homeopathy is quackery, plain and simple.

Quackery (aka health fraud) is defined by the FDA as, “the deceptive promotion, advertisement, distribution or sale of articles, intended for human or animal use, which are represented as effective to diagnose, prevent, cure, treat or mitigate disease, or provide a beneficial effect on health, but which have not been scientifically proven safe and effective for such purposes.” Homeopathic remedies have very low regulatory standards besides labeling of packages with the mandatory disclaimer, “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” So in practice, a homeopathic product cannot be marketed with a specific claim, rather they are allowed non-specific/structural claims like, ‘boosts the immune system’ or ”shortens duration of flu-like symptoms.’ Of further concern is that dietary supplements like homeopathic remedies are explicitly exempt from being required to provide the FDA with documentation of their product’s safety and efficacy. It’s entirely up to the manufacturer to ensure their products are safe while at the same time they can manufacture as many sugar pills as they want and charge a premium for them. The FDA can do nothing unless consumers start complaining. Imagine if ‘Big Pharma’ was allowed to play by those rules. But I digress. Homeopathy clearly fits within the definition of health fraud, but still pharmacists are more than happy to sell these products.

11 Reasons Why Pharmacists Should Not Sell Homeopathic Remedies

  1. After 200 years, no conclusive scientific evidence exists for the effectiveness of homeopathic treatments (reviewed here, here, here, here, and here). A product that has been diluted so much that not a single molecule of the original active ingredient is present would require a highly implausible mechanism and break the laws of physics and chemistry as we know them.
  2. Homeopathic remedies are legally exempt from providing documentation to the FDA showing their products are safe. It’s solely up to the manufacturer to ensure safety. What could go wrong? Oh, right…You could lose your sense of smell, permanently. Or poison children.
  3. When pharmacists misuse their professional reputation to recommend products that are not known to be effective, patients may feel that they can forgo legitimate therapy.
  4. For added confusion, homeopathic ingredients are listed in Latin. For example, a popular product sold as a remedy of flu-like symptoms is Oscillococcinum. The ingredients are lists as Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum – 200 CK. Think about it. Pharmacists are selling products that they themselves have no clue as to what’s in the box. By the way, the Latin translation is roughly, ‘extract of heart and liver from a duck.’ Yum!
  5. The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) endorses homeopathic products through several means. Firstly, the APhA accepts money from homeopathic manufacturers for booth rentals at APhA conventions and advertisements in their journals. Secondly, the APhA publish book chapters and articles written by homeopaths, guaranteeing a favorable bias of the material taught. Therefore, the professionalism of the APhA has been compromised. Pharmacists must refuse to sell homeopathic products because doing so legitimizes the non-professional stance taken by the APhA and other organizations, and further degrades the status of  the pharmacy.
  6. Selling homeopathic products dishonors the professional relationship with the patient and yields a dishonest profit. This practice reduces pharmacists to the level of hucksters and predators who prey on their unsuspecting patients.
  7. Selling homeopathic products is, at best, legally questionable. Any product stocked by a pharmacy is subject to an ‘implied warranty’. This is to ensure that products sold are fit for a particular purpose. Recently, pharmacists in the UK were the subject of four year investigation for selling homeopathic anti-malaria remedies to travelers headed to Africa. The cases were unfortunately dropped but let that be a warning to pharmacists who think that they are doing nothing wrong.
  8. Selling homeopathic products violates the ‘oath of a pharmacist,’ in which US graduates vow to ‘. . . apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients.’ Selling unproved products clearly and unequivocally violates this vow as optimal outcomes cannot be achieved with expensive placebos.
  9. Pseudo-medical practitioners wish to displace legitimate medicine. By only selling products proved safe and effective, pharmacists hold the line against the encroachment of quackery on conventional medicine. Conversely, selling homeopathic products hastens the erosion of conventional medicine and lowers that pharmacist to quackery. Those pharmacists are essentially no better than some scientifically illiterate health food store clerks. Selling homeopathic products thus lowers esteem for the pharmacist, the pharmacy and the profession at large.
  10. Homeopathic products appeal to the greed and profit motive. Health food stores are making huge profits off the sale these worthless products and pharmacies want a slice of the pie. “If the guy down the street is making money, why can’t I?” The argument that profit justifies the sale of homeopathic medicines is the identical justification used by illicit drug dealers, pimps, and illegal arms dealers. Profitable quackery is still quackery.
  11. Selling homeopathic products betrays a lack of intellectual honesty and rigor in thinking. To know the scientific method, but to ignore its power and utility is perhaps even worse than to be scientifically illiterate. Selling quack products lowers respect for the pharmacy in the eyes of physicians and others who adhere to the principles of legitimate medicine.

Survey of pharmacists regarding OTC homeopathic remedies

As part of my own ongoing investigation on homeopathic remedies, I conducted a survey of pharmacists located within Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.  The survey was conducted February, 2011. A total of 7 pharmacists were surveyed from as many pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, Kroger, and K-Mart.

  • When did you receive your Pharm.D. degree?
    • Pharm.D.: Est. 2014, 2010, 2007, 2005, 2001; B.S.: 2006, 2001
  • Where did you receive your degree?
    • China (1), India (1), Nevada (1) , University of Michigan (4)
  • What is your definition of ‘evidence-based medicine’?
    • Provided some definition referring to evidence gained from clinical studies (5), Had never heard of ‘evidence-based medicine’ (2)
  • Rank the following in order of importance when selling an over-the-counter product: Safety, Evidence of efficacy, Patient preference
    • Safety::                                #1 (6), #2 (1), #3 (0)
    • Evidence of Efficacy*:: #1 (1), #2 (4), #3 (1)
    • Patient preference*::    #1 (0), #2 (1), #3 (5)
      *One pharmacist said many other factors should be considered
  • What is your definition of a homeopathic remedy?
    • “diluted ingredients” (2),”not chemicals” (1), “herbal/natural remedies” (3), “non-traditional” (1), and “medicine that works with the body” (1)
  • Have you ever sold a homeopathic remedy?
    • Yes (7), No (0)
  • Have you used a homeopathic remedy?
    • Yes (3), No (4)
  • In your opinion, should homeopathic remedies be sold by pharmacists?
    • Yes (5), No (1), Depends of the evidence (1)
  • Does the FDA mandate that homeopathic remedies be tested for safety and efficacy?
    • Yes (1), No (5), I don’t know (1)

If the store sold either Oscillococcinum or Zicam lozenges, two popular homeopathic remedies, the following questions were asked with the boxes in hand:

  • Can you tell me the ingredients of Oscillococcinum (Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum – 200 CK)?
    • I don’t know (4), Diluted liver (1)
  • On a box of Oscilloccinum, what does 200CK mean?
    • Correct answer (0), I don’t know (4), Dosage (1)
  • On a box of Zicam, what does 2X mean?
    • Correct answer (0), I don’t know (5), 2 times dosage (1), 2 parts per million (1)

Results and Conclusions

The survey was hampered by the severe weather this past week. As more pharmacists are surveyed, this blog post will be updated. A few conclusions can be drawn from my limited survey. When selling an OTC product, safety is by far the #1 concern, regardless of the evidence of efficacy. This assertion is supported by a 2007 survey of pharmacists in Ireland. Pharmacists overwhelmingly approve of the sale of homeopathic remedies. Yet, none of the pharmacists could  fully translate the Latin ingredients or assess the dosage labeled on the homeopathic products presented to them. The majority were aware that the FDA does not regulate the safety of efficacy of these products. Most pharmacists surveyed were trained locally at the University of Michigan, College of Pharmacy.  Interestingly, the only pharmacist, educated outside of the US and had never heard of ‘evidence-based medicine’, asserted that homeopathic remedies were “not chemicals” and should not be sold by pharmacists. Based on a discussion with a Pharm.D. candidate, only recently has the U. of M. curriculum begun teaching about alternative medicines including homeopathy; all the others were never educated in school about homeopathic remedies. The quality of the Pharm.D. curriculum at U. of  M. will likely be a follow-up blog post.

Conflicts of Interest: The author is a skeptic and smolders when presented with stupidity, ignorance and greed. He has not been paid or plied with alcohol to write this post.
Acknowledgments: Professor Pray has been a big help in providing inspiration and references for this post.

Est. 2014, 2010, 2007, 2005, 2001; B.S.: 2001, 2006;

The Thank Hitch Project

The Thank Hitchens Project

Record a video of yourself saying thank you to Hitchens for all his hard work over the years.

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens via Reason.com

We all know Christopher Hitchens. Most of use have at least one copy of his his books sitting on the book shelf right now. Looking dog eared and ragged, they’ve been  read and reread many times.

(via Wikipedia)

Christopher Eric Hitchens (born 13 April 1949) is an English-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The AtlanticVanity FairSlateWorld AffairsThe NationFree Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in September 2008. He is a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits and in 2005 he was voted the world’s fifth top public intellectual in a Prospect/Foreign Policy poll.

Identified as a champion of the “new atheism” movement, Hitchens describes himself as an anti-theist and believer in the philosophical values of the Enlightenment. Hitchens says that a person “could be an atheist and wish that belief in god were correct,” but that “An antitheist, a term I’m trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that there’s no evidence for such an assertion.” He argues that the concept of God or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization. He wrote at length on atheism and the nature of religion in his 2007 book God Is Not Great.

Though Hitchens retained his British citizenship, he became a United States citizen on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, on 13 April 2007, his 58th birthday. His latest book, Hitch-22: A Memoir, was published in June 2010.

In case you didn’t know, he’s dealing with a very rough disease right now. You see, Hitch has Esophageal Cancer. It is currently in Stage 4 and has metathesized to his lymph nodes.  He talks about it in his Vanity Fair column and in this interview with c-span.

So What Can We Do?

In his latest interview he states how he loves receiving correspondence. Well short of starting a letter writing campaign and since my handwriting is terrible, we decided to do the next best thing. Michigan Skeptics has started the Thank Hitch Project. The goal of this project is to send a thank you video. This video will be made up of clips of each and every one of us saying thank you for all he’s done.

How Can I Help?

We need video clips! A many as we can get! We need you to record a video of yourself or your group saying thanks to Hitch. You can say anything you want and long as it’s some type of thank you. Please try to keep the clips short as we will need to edit them together into one large video and long clips will just get cut down to save space for everyone.

Don’t say good bye or anything like that. This isn’t a memorial. He’s not dead.

Make it fun, make it sappy, sing a song. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it shows your appreciation to him.

If you don’t have a webcam capture application you can download WinAVI Video Capture for free from here.

Where Should I put this Clip I made?

First things first, DO NOT UPLOAD YOUR VIDEO TO YOUTUBE! Or to any other online video type of service. Once you upload to them you are handing the rights to show the video over to them. Which means we will not be able to use it without permission.

Point your browser to http://www.dropitto.me/MISkeptics

Enter the password thankhitch and you will be able to upload the video right to our Dropbox account.

How Else Can I Help?

We need you to get the word out! Send this page out via Facebook and Twitter. Use the #thankhitch hashtag so we can get this out to as many people as possible. We also need more video editors. If you are a top notch video engineer send me an email at apbourque@miskeptics dot org and we’ll get you involved.

Thank you all in advance. Remember this is for Hitch.

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