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Comparing The Creationist & Hormesis Cults

The purpose of this page is to demonstrate the similarities between the creationist (anti-evolutionary biology) cult and the hormesis (anti-health physics) cult.  Of course, there are many versions of both of these.  For example, I could have chosen the radiation fear-mongering cult which exaggerates radiation risks and is also anti-health physics.  And creationism has its many different versions.


In evolutionary biology, it is the accumulation of mutations in sex cells which leads to the evolution of new species (speciation).

One of the potential causes of the mutations is radiation.  Most mutations are neutral, some damaging, and even less frequently, some beneficial. Over vast periods of times, and under different local environmental conditions, life evolves.

Here is a link to the Smithsonian Museum's evolution website.  The link shows a very small branch of the evolutionary bush related to humans. Creationists cannot accept that mutations accumulate over time leading to new species.  They believe living things were created in their present form.  Referring to that link, a creationist would see the upper most cluster as created humans, and the other clusters as different species of created apes.

If you ask a creationist for any physical evidence of a creator or mechanisms of creation, they come up empty handed.  Instead they spend their time trying to attack biology, because it threatens their ideology.  They can accept that radiation causes mutations, and living things can undergo what they call "microevolution" (ie, that a created ape species could evolve into two different species of ape).  But they can't accept taking that concept further in time...add a bunch of microevolutionary steps and the result is evolutionary biology.

Cancer is essentially the accumulation of mutations in cells of a person's body (versus within a population):

Due to the accumulation of mutations, the cell is able to evolve and out-compete its neighbors.  Its offspring thrive leading to the growth of a tumor and then metastasis which can kill the individual.  Hormesis cultists generally accept that cancer evolves over time due to DNA damage.  What they don't accept is that one photon or particle can cause genetic damage, even though we have physical evidence that they can.  Unlike the creationist, the hormesis cultist has convinced him/herself that microdamage (in the sense that one photon or particle can damage DNA) can't occur, only macrodamage (takes large numbers of photons or particles to damage DNA).

If you ask a hormesis cultist for evidence of this DNA damage threshold they come up empty handed (oh, they'll try to sell you nonsense). Instead they'll spend their time attacking health physics, because it threatens their ideology.

As can be seen, the science that threatens each of these two groups is very similar and their denial is very similar (though in opposite directions).  The behaviors engaged in by both groups in defense of their ideologies are also very similar.  The rest of the page will focus on how their behaviors play out in society.

Cult Behavior

Genie Scott of the National Center For Science Education does much the same as I'm doing here in comparing global warming denialism (anti-climatology) with creationism.  The patterns of behavior extend to all the anti-science cults (homeopathy, naturopathy, etc.).  It might be worthwhile to watch this first, because it shouldn't affect any pro- or anti- nuclear power sentiments you might have, and you'll see how broadly these behaviors extend:

In all cases science is a battlefield of ideas, and the consensus supports the best explanations of the facts.  Sometimes some people can't emotionally accept  that their view has been rejected.  Those people (in whatever discipline) tend to form groups (cults) to promote their view in contradiction of the science.  This usually evolves into something more insidious than just simple disagreements.  Since the evidence doesn't support their views, these folks remove themselves from the scientific arena and employ public relations tactics. (Sometimes there's also money or some other enhancing agent involved).

Genie mentions the movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" which I've posted before.  It highlights a bunch of creationists whose ideas have been rejected.  They play "victims of the establishment", which is what the hormesis cult does (the establishment being everyone who rejects them, like the NCRP, ICRP, EPA, NRC, NAS, the list keeps growing - a grand cabal!):

As Genie mentioned in the above clip, creationism morphed it's name over time for political and legal reasons.  The most modern name is Intelligent Design (as mentioned in the Expelled clip).  As the word "hormesis" has become an intellectual embarrassment, the International Hormesis Society changed its name to the International Dose-Response Society (IDRS) and the word is used much less frequently.

Of course, underpinning ID is the Bible (though it isn't mentioned publicly much).  The founder of hormesis, T.D. Luckey actually used homeopathy as the underpinning of hormesis.  Homeopathy is to medicine what astrology is to astronomy.  Of course this isn't mentioned publicly much, either.

The creationist version of the IDRS is the Discovery Institute.  Nice science-sounding name!  And of course both organizations have people with "credentials".  They'd love for you to fall for the logical fallacy of argument from authority.

Both cults have publications, meetings, videos, etc. which are public relations tactics to make them look scientifically legitimate. And they have convincing arguments targeted for a general layperson.  Otherwise, they wouldn't be sustainable.

Both creationism and hormesis (chemical) have roots going back to antiquity.  The modern ID movement seems to have arisen in the 1980's in response to a couple of books that were published.  Radiation hormesis seems to have arisen at about the same time in response to some books that were published.  In the intervening 30 years, we continue to wait for the "mounting evidence" which both cults are accumulating, but not producing.

At about 3:45 in the Genie Scott video, she mentions that global warming denialism takes several forms.  So does ID and hormesis.  In regards to hormesis, you have a small minority who say low dose radiation (LDR) is good for you, followed by LDR isn't bad for you, followed by LDR is bad for you, just not as bad as the science states.  In ID, there are some who will say the designer is god, some who will say it might be god, and some who will say that they're not saying it's god.  Typically folks morph their version depending on what they think will play well with audience they're addressing.

As Genie mentioned throughout the video, there is a lot of cherry-picking of data, and that occurs amongst the hormesis folks too.  There's also the filling of knowledge gaps that most laypeople have, with their favored cultish answer.  "You don't know how eyes evolved?  They didn't, they were designed!"  or "You don't know the cancer rates in a high natural radioactivity area?  There are no excess cancers, radiation is good for you!"

Here is something that might help convince you that you are being conned.  Here are some links from 2009 that tells us Darwinism is false or dead.  Well, if it's false or dead (as they've been saying for decades), why isn't anyone convinced in 2012?  Please give me the first 6 minutes here, and you'll hear Myron Pollycove tell us in 1997 that LNT is dead.  If LNT is dead why was Pollycove spouting the same nonsense at an ANS meeting in 2012?   It's a "Jesus is coming" but he never comes scenario!  They just keep repeating that something is dead and there is mounting evidence for their claim, but it never comes.  They'll be saying it 10 years from now.  In fact, as time goes on, they are shown to be more and more wrong, but they can't acknowledge it.  Instead they grow more insular:

A recent public relations stunt was pulled off by the IDRS's director, Edward Calabrese.  He "discovered" that Herman Muller, who did early health physics work, had intentionally lied and used that in an attempt to undermine the radiation dose response.  He doesn't know if Muller lied, was forgetful, thought about things differently than Calabrese imagines he did, etc.  But naturally Calabrese has to pick the one possibility that fits his agenda.  But even if he had lied, that doesn't change the independent thinking of thousands of scientists since the 1940's.  No one believes LNT because Muller did.  And even if Muller lied, it doesn't change modern day science.

Hmmm...where have we seen this sort of thing before?  Haeckel's embryos!  

And as a finale, here's a book on hormesis by a creationist (scroll down to "Biography")!

Can't get much more cultist than that!


  1. This post is ridiculous. Hormesis is not equal to homeopathy. The LNT model is being fuea propaganda. I guess this site is part of movimeinto pseudo skeptic (James Randi are you there?). The arguments of the anti defamatory hormesis and homeopathy are closely linked losanti: Are the same patterns of attack, ridicule and caricature.
    But the items that support homeopathy and hormesis are growing and being published in numerous scientific you check.
    Your comparison with creationism is that u ma ad-hominem attacks and straw man.

  2. Thanks for providing all of that evidence to support your claim.

    Oh didn't.

  3. You could at least comment why the papers supporting hormesis are wrong, instead of criticizing people. Bad premises, wrong statistical methods, fake data? I thought that in vitro evidence of hormesis was quite solid, but epidemiological results where contradictory.

    You say "these folks remove themselves from the scientific arena" so when the French Academy of Medicine says "Using LNT to estimate the carcinogenic effect at doses of less than 20 mSv is not justified in the light of current radiobiologic knowledge." Is it because they are anti-science? It seems to me that you are equating being wrong with being a crackpot.

    To draw an analogy, physicists searching for physics beyond the standard model are doing, but not crackpots who say they have proven Einstein wrong. So as long as researchers who study if the low dose model can be modified are more or less honest, isn't science progressing?

    Anyway, I'm just a senior undegrad in physics and really don't know anything about medicine.

  4. Hey jinawee:

    1. Honest, objective physicists acknowledge that Einstein's theories are the scientific consensus. They acknowledge that it is the burden of modern physicists to produce EVIDENCE to overturn the scientific consensus. New physical evidence would not entail attacking Einstein, his theories, or going backwards in time to resurrect old ideas which have been tossed aside. An Einstein-denier would be a physicist who manufactures propaganda to convince the general public that Einstein was wrong by using some of the bad approaches I've just described. Can you appreciate the difference between scientific progress and scientific obfuscation?

    2. In health physics, the scientific consensus is LNT. So, there's no problem in an honest, objective person doing research to modify the theory. Hormesis is not new, it has already been discounted many times. Yet, there are health physics-deniers (DeNiArs) who regurgitate the same old arguments that were discredited decades ago. There audience is primarily the general public since the experts have already heard it before. See the book/documentary, The Merchants of Doubt.