I have donated gallons of plasma since I learned that my blood type is AB+, and that my blood type is harmful to the vast majority of people.  I strongly encourage people to donate blood and plasma if they are physically able to do so.  Years ago, when I decided to be a blood donor, my local blood donation center tested my blood, and told me that I should donate plasma instead of blood.

Plasma donation takes longer than blood donation, because the donor’s blood is put into a machine about the height of a refrigerator that uses a centrifuge to extract the plasma.  The donor’s red blood cells are returned to the donor’s body along with a saline solution to substitute for the plasma extracted, which comes to nearly a liter (depending on the donor’s weight).  If you donate plasma, you will be cold because the saline solution is at room temperature.  However, the donation centers are typically generous with food and blankets to return donors to normal.

While researching my blood type, I came across the following webpage for the LifeShare Blood Center: http://www.lifeshare.org/facts/bloodtypes.htm.  The page is listed as “Blood Facts/Blood Types”.  The webpage accurately displays facts about blood types in its charts, showing which blood types are best for donors and recipients.  However, at the bottom of the page is a section titled “Does Your Blood Type Reveal Your Personality?”  It is followed by a ridiculous claim that “a Japanese institute that does research on blood types” has found that people’s blood types determine personalities like a medieval doctor determined patients’ health by their humors.

When I read this, I immediately thought of Bob Steiner’s statement that astrology is bigotry: http://www.quackwatch.com/04ConsumerEducation/challenges.html.  Steiner, whom I have had the pleasure to meet, is correct that astrology is bigotry because it causes people to be prejudiced towards others on the basis of non-scientific claims based on random, unimportant facts about conditions under which we are born.

People who determine the personality traits of another person based on their blood type are committing the same prejudice of people who determine similar traits based on another person’s astrological sign or skin color.  Randi once told me that El Al airlines spent years refusing to hire Scorpios, and that is also bigotry.  Therefore, LifeShare is, unwittingly but insidiously promoting prejudice while attempting to attract donors to save lives.

Lifeshare is grotesquely irresponsible to present this pseudoscientific babble to potential donors.  Not only does it promote bigotry and pseudoscience, but it is also likely that potential blood or plasma donors will go to their webpage, find this offensive nonsense, and decide that this dribble turns them off from the very idea of being blood donors.  This proves that “harmless” pseudoscientific claims about astrology and personalities based on blood types can be a matter of life and death.  Pseudoscience is never harmless.

 

Ian Morris is a graduate student in history, and a long-time student and friend of Randi.