Respectful Insolence

I didn’t get back home until late last night; unfortunately there was no time to do a segment of Your Friday Dose of Woo that was up to my standards. Fortunately, there’s something that I’ve been holding in reserve for just such an occasion that fits right in. Long-timers may remember that, near the very beginning of my blog, I did a post entitled What is an altie? It was basically a Jeff Foxworthy-like listing of “You just might be an altie if…” statements that, I think, had a good point. For those of you not familiar with the term “altie,” it was coined about three or four years ago on the Usenet newsgroup misc.health.alternative to describe a certain hardcore variety of alternative medicine aficianado who is utterly immune to evidence or reason. Alties are often militant and always highly suspicious of eeeviiilll “allopathic” medicine and doctors.Part and parcel of being an altie is an anti-intellectual and antiscientific attitude that does not allow a little thing like evidence to sway one from one’s belief in the power of alternative medicine. The original series of “You just might be an altie if” items appeared on misc.health.alternative back in the mists of time (around three or four years ago), and I appropriated the concept and expanded the list with some entries of my own within a month of starting my old blog.

I promised to update it every year (actually, every few months), and, wouldn’t you know it, it’s been more than a year since the 2006 edition. An update is long overdue. And what better place to do an update to this infamous series of posts than here in the series that is dedicated to giving you your only the finest woo? No? Well, consider this: Who is responsible for producing the woo that I deconstruct here every week? Alties, of course, which is where the appropriateness of posting this update comes in! Wouldn’t you like to understand them better? Of course you would. So, here, without ado is the brand new, spiffy, updated, encyclopedic, complete “You might be an altie if…” for 2007:

YOU JUST MIGHT BE AN ALTIE IF…

  1. If you believe that doctors, scientists, and the pharmaceutical companies conspire to suppress your favorite “alternative medicine” modality, you just might be an altie.
  2. If you like to claim that science is a religion, you might be an altie (or at the very least a creationist).
  3. If you accept without questioning vague and/or poorly documented anecdotes and testimonials as sufficient evidence for you that an “alternative” therapy can produce remarkable results “curing” cancer, heart disease, autism, Alzheimers, heart disease, etc., but routinely brutally nitpick and then dismiss well-designed randomized, double-blinded Phase III clinical studies for conventional medicine, you just might be an altie.
  4. If you believe that liver “flushes” actually cause gallstones to be “flushed” from your gallbladder and remove “toxins” from your liver, you just might be an altie. (Actually, if you believe that liver “flushes” do anything except give you exceptionally stinky diarrhea, you are almost certainly an altie.)
  5. If you believe that dichloroacetate is not cancer chemotherapy because it is a “compound” or because it is not a product of big pharma, there’s only an outside chance that you’re not an altie.
  6. If you believe that coffee enemas and megadoses of carrot juice can cure cancer, you just might be an altie.)
  7. If you make claims for a product or therapy like, “strengthens the immune system,” “restores balance,” “detoxifies the liver,” “cleanses the colon,” or “cleanses the blood,” you may be an altie.
  8. If you are impressed by such claims when made by others, you just might be an altie.
  9. If you do most of your “scientific” research on websites that exist to sell “alternative health” products, you might be an altie.
  10. If you believe that a chiropractor can manipulate your spine without touching you and cure your back pain, you are probably an altie.
  11. If you carefully avoid any criticism of any “alternative medicine” practitioner, product, or theory, regardless of how mind-numbingly obviously unscientific (homeopathy, for example), illogical, internally inconsistent, or fraudulent it may be, you might be an altie.
  12. If you think it’s perfectly acceptable, nay, laudable, for shady Internet entrepreneurs to launch a website that claims to be about “education” but in reality exists to sell a cancer treatment that has only shrunk tumors in animals and has yet to be tested against cancer in humans (and lie by claiming that it’s being sold to treat pets), you’re not only an altie, but you’re an idiot.
  13. If you accept or agree with every vilification of medicine and science as The Truth, regardless of the source or of how obviously irrational, without basis, or unjustified the vilification is, you might just be an altie.
  14. If you are utterly convinced that autism is a “misdiagnosis” for mercury poisoning, despite the fact that epidemiological and basic scientific studies do not support this hypothesis, that the number of new autism cases in the U.S. has not shown a sign of falling since thimerosal was removed from vaccines three years ago (ditto Denmark, where thimerosal was removed in the early 1990’s), and that autism does not share the symptomotology of mercury poisoning, you just might be an altie.
  15. If you believe that changing the bond angle of water can cure cancer (or that a simple distillation and electrochemical apparatus actually can change the bond angle of water), you just might be an altie.
  16. If you believe that Hulda Clark is being unjustly “persecuted” by “conventional medicine” and/or “the government” because she is a “threat,” you are very likely an altie.
  17. If you believe that Hulda Clark has ever cured anybody of cancer or AIDS in her life and that her clinic is a place of hope, you just might be an altie.
  18. If you believe that a liver fluke can cause all the diverse kinds of cancer out there and that “zapping” that fluke can cure all cancer and AIDS, you just might be an altie.
  19. If you absolutely, positively cannot ever admit that a conventional therapy, any conventional medical therapy, can cure a disease, any disease, you may well be an altie.
  20. If you believe that vaccines “don’t work,” that they “hurt the immune system,” or that they are a major cause autism or other chronic diseases, you just might be an altie.
  21. If you routinely use Whale.to or Cure Zone as sources for medical information, you just might be an altie.
  22. If you regularly post to the message boards on Cure Zone and haven’t been banned, you’re certainly an altie.
  23. If you think misc.health.alternative should be a sunny little support group where true believers in alternative healthcare share testimonials and gleefully trash science and medicine without comment from skeptics (in other words, if you want it to be like Cure Zone), you may be an altie.
  24. If you underwent conventional therapy for cancer and then underwent alternative medicine treatment but attribute your survival and present cancer-free condition to the alternative medicine and not the conventional therapy, you just might be an altie.
  25. If you think it’s OK for misc.health.alternative (or any other such newsgroup) to be awash in advertising for snake oil quackery and other spam, you may be an altie.
  26. If you frequently use the term “allopathic medicine” to refer to accepted evidence-based medicine (particularly if you either turn your nose up or sneer as you say it), you just might be an altie.
  27. If you believe the trace of a dog’s milk molecule diluted 30C times has more healing power than 875 mg of amoxicillin, you might be an altie.
  28. Speaking of amoxicillin, if you can believe that a coroner’s autopsy report that showed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, signs of chronic illness, and HIV encephalitis is more indicative of the cause of death being due to an acute allergic reaction to amoxicillin rather than to AIDS-related complications, you just might be an altie.
  29. If you consider someone “doctor” because they have a diploma-mill ND, you might be an altie.
  30. If you believe that alternative medicine practitioners are far more caring for their patients and far more moral (and therefore, by implication, less corruptible by money) than conventional doctors, you just might be an altie.
  31. If you believe it’s perfectly logical that some alt-med clinic tucked away in a remote corner of some South American country (or on the outskirts of Tijuana) has been able to achieve amazing cure rates for many usually highly fatal cancers for years, all without publishing any data and without attracting the attention of any Western medical or science institutions or media whatsoever, then you must be an altie.
  32. If seeing a company charge exhorbitant prices for herbs or other alternative medicine treatments doesn’t bother you in the least but you castigate pharmaceutical companies (which spend hundreds of millions of dollars and many years to get each new drug developed, tested, and approved) for price-gouging, you are very likely an altie.
  33. If you dismiss every well-designed randomized clinical study that fails to show a benefit for an alternative medicine or therapy over a placebo control as either not proving that the therapy is ineffective or as having been manipulated by nefarious forces (conventional medicine, the pharmaceutical companies, the government, etc.) to produce a negative result, you may well be an altie.
  34. If you call your backyard herb garden “the pharmacy”, you might be an altie.
  35. If you think skeptics are close-minded and paranoid with no possible exception and they’re all out to get you, you might be an altie.
  36. If you can go on and on for hours about how many people die from medical errors but become confused and defensive when someone mentions the victims of alternative medicine, you might be an altie.
  37. If you get sicker and sicker while taking echinacea but tell everyone you’re feeling better, you might be an altie.
  38. If you say your healer “is too busy people making people healthy” to conduct evidence-based trials but have never met a single person helped by them, you might be an altie.
  39. If you excuse your healer and other alternative medicine practitioners from conducting evidence-based clinical trials of their treatments on the grounds that there is no money to support well-designed clinical trials testing alternative medicine even though the yearly budget for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is over $120 million, you just might be an altie.
  40. If you believe that there really are herbal cures for diabetes and cancer, but the government forbids their sale because pharmaceutical companies need to make money from their “expensive drugs that don’t work,” there’s a good chance that you’re an altie.
  41. If you’ve read Kevin Trudeau’s Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About and consider it to be truthful and chock full of useful medical information that you can’t wait to try out, you are without a doubt an altie.
  42. If you’ve actually forked out $499 for a lifetime membership to Kevin Trudeau’s website and consider it money well spent, you are without a doubt an altie. (And an easy mark, as well. Are you interested in some investments in land in Florida that I could hook you up with?)
  43. If you believe that chelation is a valid treatment for autism, Alzheimer’s disease, coronary artery disease, or any medical condition other than heavy metal poisoning properly documented with appropriate symptoms and laboratory tests, you are well on the way to being an altie; that is, if you’re not one already.
  44. If you think that vaccines do far more harm than good, you’re probably an altie.
  45. If you believe that the Mohammed Al-Bayati is a credible authority on pathology and does good science, you just might be an altie.
  46. If you think that HIV can be cured with herbal supplements that “boost the immune system,” you’re an altie.
  47. If you can look at a study that doesn’t mention alternative medicine and that actually points out that its results should cast doubt on claims of “miracle cures,” and still conclude that the study shows that alternative medicine can cure “incurable” cancers, you’re definitely an altie.
  48. If you speak of the AMA as if it were a government regulatory agency, you just might be an altie.
  49. If you believe that a “healthy” person’s shit literally doesn’t stink, you’re definitely an altie (I suspect the reason chlorophyll has a reputation as a “detoxifier” is that it’s actually an effective stool deodorizer).
  50. If you assert that dosage, mean dosage and standard deviation of dosage are all “pharm concepts” that aren’t relevant to your favorite remedy, you’re probably an altie.
  51. If you talk about the pH of the “body,” you’re either an altie or have access to a very large blender.
  52. If you’re standing at the blackboard writing,”HIV does not exist. HIV is harmless and does not cause AIDS. HIV is a genetically engineered bioweapon,” you’re the AltieBart.
  53. If your definition of “acceptable risk” is, “What the hell, let’s give it shot, what have we got to lose”? You might be an altie. (Apply this one to DaveScot.)
  54. If you “think” recommended dosages are for sissies, and that median ED/LD’s are best determined by experimentation on your child…you might be an altie.
  55. If you think shifting burden of proof onto someone who doesn’t have access to medical information on an unverifiable, unblinded, uncontrolled anecdote is the height of debate, you might be an altie.
  56. If you think someone pointing out your failed efforts to shift the burden of proof is “evasion,” you might be an altie.
  57. You might be an altie if you view cherry picking quotes from the abstracts available on pubmed to be the main duty description in your role as soldier in the war against vaccinations.
  58. You might be an altie if you cite a contentious review as gospel and declare victory over your imagined enemy (99.99% of the world) in the process.
  59. If you think that your kid is getting better when you dose him with something recommended by a “Defeat Autism Now!” doctor or Rashid Buttar because the kid grows pale, vomits, breaks out in a rash, loses hair, skin starts peeling and he has a serious change of fecal color or has a seizure and/or a high fever, you are probably John Best or one of his altie antivax buddies from the altie autism boards and the quacks just love you to bits.
  60. If you are like John Best and you refuse to see that your buddies are a quacks and liars who are ripping off parents, then you just mightbe delusional.
  61. If you write about Herxheimer reactions in autistic kids but you can’t spell “Herxheimer” you are probably Rashid (coffee enemas are our friends) Buttar.
  62. If you think you can put a paste of bloodroot on your skin that will eat a big hole through your flesh and that what is happening is really that cancer is being pulled out of your body and that the accompanying pain is necessary and better than what allopathic medicine would offer you, you are likely an altie.
  63. If you are saving up for your own Ondamed ™ device, you might be an altie.
  64. If you’ve ever grown/brewed your own jar/crock of “Kombucha tea”, yup, you’re an altie.
  65. If reading the words “quackwatch.org” makes you break out in a cold sweat, you might be an altie.
  66. If you think moxabustion, high colonics and ear candling are really fun things to do, you’re probably an altie.
  67. If you named your child Mugwort, pretty good chance that you’re an altie.
  68. If you think natural is synonymous with good then you’re probably an altie.
  69. If you tell me not to touch my apple because it’s covered in pesticide while you’re eating a Big Mac, you may be an altie.
  70. If you buy your kids cokes while protesting against water fluridation, you may be an altie.
  71. If your grandmother never talks about the two children she lost as infants and you hear other family members and your friends talking about how dangerous immunization is and so you become concerned for the health of your children, you may be human.
  72. You might be an altie if even with overwhelming evidence that you might be wrong, you absolutely refuse to admit any error in your thinking.
  73. If you believe the soil depletion theory and stock up on megadoses of vitamins, you might be an Altie.
  74. If you believe that removing your amalgams will help your illness, you might be an Altie.
  75. If you believe that a clinic on a dirt road in Mexico can cure your cancer, you might be an Altie.
  76. If you believe that a Naturopath has more medical knowledge than a Medical Doctor, you might be an Altie.
  77. If you try every protocol found on the Internet to eliminate mercury/parasites/allergies, you might be an Altie.
  78. If you think medicine is organized, you ARE an altie.
  79. If your replies to skeptics start with “lol” there’s a preety good chance that you are an altie.
  80. If you try bazillions of cures until symptoms go away, then declare the last one to be a cure, you might be an altie.
  81. If you think researching a possible cure is a waste of time because you have to cure people right now with your shot in the dark, you might be an altie. (This one’s definitely DaveScot.)
  82. If you like to talk about some anonymous guy’s finances before you talk about a critical medical issue in a blog entry about that very critical medical issue, you might be an altie.
  83. If you think financial motivations alter the laws of thermodynamics, you might be an altie.
  84. If you complain about the chlorine in Splenda while putting salt on your dinner, you might be an altie.
  85. If you complain about Coca-Cola’s acidity while drinking a glass of orange juice, you might be an altie.
  86. If you believe the plural of anecdote is data you are probably an altie
  87. If you believe alternative and complementary therapies cannot adequately be studied using randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trials because they miss the essence of the therapy, as was recently suggested in an article in the BMJ, you are almost certainly an altie.
  88. If you have a conspiracy theory that requires the non-existence of doctors who are both compassionate and require double-blind control studies to make decisions, then you might be an altie.
  89. If you prefer to use the term “babies” to describe all children under the age of 10, there’s an outside chance you’re an altie.
  90. If your arguments tend to degenerate to comments about “baby poisoners” while never once considering the concept of “infant mortality rate”, the massive reduction in infant mortality in industrialized societies in the last 150 years, or what that means in the grand scheme of human happiness, you’re almost certainly an altie.
  91. If you’ve ever screamed “won’t somebody please think of the children?!”, you might be an altie.
  92. If you refuse to believe that any disease or condition could possibly cure itself or regress to a mean, that all improvements in health are driven by outside influences, while simultaneously describing the body’s own miraculous healing powers, you are an altie.
  93. If you don’t know that many diseases are caused by the immune system, under the term “autoimmune disorders”, and that “boosting” or “energizing” one’s immune system is the key to health and longevity, you might be on the path to being an altie.
  94. If you respond to skeptics by pointing out how Semmelweis was ridiculed for his ideas, you are probably an altie.
  95. f you don’t know the difference (or know that there is a difference) between ethylmercury and methylmercury, yet still claim you know that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism, you might be an altie.
  96. f you attribute the sudden, radical decline in polio incidence that occurred when the Salk vaccine was introduced to the fact that “polio rates were already declining anyway” … you may be an altie.
  97. If you believe that…
    — A worsening of symptoms proves your alt.therapy is “cleaning out the toxins”
    — An improvement in symptoms proves your alt.therapy has cured you
    — Unchanged symptoms prove your alt.therapy has “halted the progression of disease”… you may just be an altie.
  98. If you insist that “the flu shot gave you the flu,” and your evidence is that you got a “stomach flu” 3 months after getting the shot… you may be an altie.
  99. If you can utter or hear the words “psychic surgery” with a straight face… you could just possibly be an altie.
  100. If you believe that any efficacious treatment for anything ever could, or should, be 100% safe for everybody… you must be an altie.
  101. Corollary: If you believe that a drug/vaccine that saves 1,000,000 lives and kills 5 people is no better than rat poison… I’m afraid you might be an altie.
  102. If you believe that this makes logical sense:
    — My child did not get the pertussis vaccine.
    — Yet my child did not get pertussis.
    — Therefore, the pertussis vaccine is useless…
    … well, it looks like you might be an altie.
  103. (Corollary: If you react violently when someone suggests your children stay healthy because of the herd immunity bestowed by all those kids who did get the vaccines… you might be an altie.)
  104. If you refuse treatment for depression that is an understandable side-effect of your chronic, painful illness because you think receiving such treatment would mean admitting your illness is “all in your head” and you wouldn’t then be able to access further treatment for the disease itself, you might be an altie.
  105. If you believe your overweight or obesity is caused by “toxins” and take great pains to remove these toxins from your diet and home, while neglecting to look at whether you may simply need to eat less or get more exercise (or indeed check for underlying medical conditions like hypothyroidism), you might be an altie.
  106. If being seen to be right about your chosen theory or treatment is more important to you than recovering as much of your health as possible, you might be an altie.
  107. If you use the term “allopathic” without irony when referring to evidence based medicine.. you’re an altie!
  108. If you believe pro biotic yogurt cures measles.. you’re an altie.
  109. If you spout anti vax propaganda while relying on herd immunity to protect your(unvaccinated) children.. you’re an altie , and a selfish hippocrate to boot.
  110. If you believe polio was not wiped out by vaccination, and that FDR in fact had EPV .. you’re an altie ( and probably posting on whale.to)
  111. If you believe chiro works.. you’re an altie.
  112. If your response to any criticism of your pet woo woo is- “allopathic medicine and evil big pharma kill 100,000 people a year”… you guessed it , there is absolutely no doubt that you are an altie.
  113. If you believe measles is harmless… altie
  114. If you believe enemas cure anything other than constipation… altie
  115. If you use the words- energy, vibrations and quantum when discussing vitamins/crystals/homeopathy etc.. altie through and through.
  116. If you believe carl sagan and james randi are members of the illuminati…. altie!
  117. You know you’re an altie when you are horrified that they are serving cookies and sweets in the chemo room because you know for certain that sugar feeds cancer…..and then you rant and rave about the wonders of juicing, that your off to drink a huge glass of beet juice (as if cancer can differentiate the types of sugar you are feeding it)
  118. If you think the bald assertion of the possible existence of completely unspecified logical fallacies is devastating to your opponent, you might be an altie.
  119. If you think that ridicule designed to highlight your logical fallacies is inherently immoral and fallacious, you might be an altie.
  120. If you think that skeptics should hold a straight face when dealing with your silliness, AND that they should be more emotional when they do keep a straight face, you might be an altie.
  121. If you think your “putting babies on spikes” treatment is legitimate because a handful of kids had an allergy to something in the widespread, successful evidence-based treatment/prevention, you might be an altie.
  122. If you think hydrogen, hydrogen ions, hydroxide ions, oxygen, ozone, water, and hydrogen peroxide are all the same and can be labelled the same because they all contain H’s or O’s, you might be an altie.
  123. Finally, if you are deeply offended by the above list, you just might be an altie!

Thanks to all who contributed to the list. I know that its sheer size makes it difficult, but please, feel free to post more “You just might be an altie” items in the comments! Come on, folks, don’t you like a challenge? Don’t let me down. Get me more “You just might be an altie…” items. Give them to me in the comments! Let’s see how many “You might be an altie” items we can come up with!

Maybe next time it won’t take me more than a year to post a new and updated iteration of “What is an altie?/You might just be an altie if.” I hope to have at least two times the number of items by the time the 2008 edition rolls around, as we’ve more than doubled the number since last year. Let’s get this thing growing exponentially, at least for a while.

Finally, apologies to Rich Shewmaker, who originated the list.

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 2, 2007

    If you think that the Law of Attraction really is a law or The Secret actually works, you might be an altie.

  2. #2 tim gueguen
    March 2, 2007

    “Dog’s milk?” Do I really wanna know how they get ahold of that?

  3. #3 Andrew Dodds
    March 2, 2007

    If you think that ancient people using nothing but herbs, witch-doctoring and an outdoor lifestyle lived long, disease-free lives, you might be an altie.

    If you refuse to believe that the chinese are turning away from TCM towards medicine that actually works, yup, Altie right there..

  4. #4 G Barnett
    March 2, 2007

    “Putting babies on spikes??”

    I’m not sure if I even want an explanation of that one….

  5. #5 josh
    March 2, 2007

    If you think nicotine can be represented as a sine wave and that changing the frequency (they mean phase) to a cosine wave and resonating it into your body will stop you smoking…you are most definitely an altie
    http://www.newwaysclinic.com/

  6. #6 TheBrummell
    March 2, 2007

    If you think that use of an herbal by “the ancients” or any other long-dead group of people constitutes evidence of effectiveness, you might be an altie.

    If you think the iron in blood makes it responsive to magnetic fields, you might be an altie.

    If you think human blood and seawater have exactly the same concentration of salt, you might be an altie.

    If you claim that placebo-controlled trials are an improper method of testing your claims, because they never show effectiveness for your claims, you might be an altie.

  7. #7 Bill Ahearn
    March 2, 2007

    As to #14, don’t forget that this is also the case in Canada. As documented in Pediatrics (118#1) by Fombonne et al. (2006):

    Pervasive developmental disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: prevalence and links with immunizations.
    BACKGROUND: The prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders has increased in recent years. Links with the measles component of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and the cumulative exposure to thimerosal through other vaccines have been postulated. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this work was to estimate the pervasive developmental disorder prevalence in Montreal, Canada, in cohorts born from 1987 to 1998 and evaluate the relationship of trends in pervasive developmental disorder rates with: (1) changes in cumulative exposure to ethylmercury (thimerosal) occurring through modifications in the immunization schedule of young children and (2) trends in measles-mumps-rubella vaccination use rates and the introduction of a 2-measles-mumps-rubella dosing schedule during the study period. METHODS: We surveyed 27749 children born from 1987 to 1998 attending 55 schools from the largest Anglophone school board. Children with pervasive developmental disorders were identified by a special needs team. The cumulative exposure by age 2 years to thimerosal was calculated for 1987-1998 birth cohorts. Ethylmercury exposure ranged from medium (100-125 microg) from 1987 to 1991 to high (200-225 microg) from 1992 to 1995 to nil from 1996 onwards when thimerosal was entirely discontinued. Measles-mumps-rubella coverage for each birth cohort was estimated through surveys of vaccination rates. The immunization schedule included a measles-mumps-rubella single dose at 12 months of age up to 1995, and a second measles-mumps-rubella dose at 18 months of age was added on after 1996. RESULTS: We found 180 children (82.8% males) with a pervasive developmental disorder diagnosis who attended the surveyed schools, yielding a prevalence for pervasive developmental disorder of 64.9 per 10000. The prevalence for specific pervasive developmental disorder subtypes were, for autistic disorder: 21.6 of 10000; for pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified: 32.8 of 10000; and for Asperger syndrome: 10.1 of 10000. A statistically significant linear increase in pervasive developmental disorder prevalence was noted during the study period. The prevalence of pervasive developmental disorder in thimerosal-free birth cohorts was significantly higher than that in thimerosal-exposed cohorts (82.7 of 10000 vs 59.5 of 10000). Using logistic regression models of the prevalence data, we found no significant effect of thimerosal exposure used either as a continuous or a categorical variable. Thus, thimerosal exposure was unrelated to the increasing trend in pervasive developmental disorder prevalence. These results were robust when additional analyses were performed to address possible limitations because of the ecological nature of the data and to evaluate potential effects of misclassification on exposure or diagnosis. Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination coverage averaged 93% during the study interval with a statistically significant decreasing trend from 96.1% in the older birth cohorts (1988-89) to approximately 92.4% in younger birth cohorts (1996-1998). Thus, pervasive developmental disorder rates significantly increased when measles-mumps-rubella vaccination uptake rates significantly decreased. In addition, pervasive developmental disorder prevalence increased at the same rate before and after the introduction in 1996 of the second measles-mumps-rubella dose, suggesting no increased risk of pervasive developmental disorder associated with a 2-measles-mumps-rubella dosing schedule before age 2 years. Results held true when additional analyses were performed to test for the potential effects of misclassification on exposure or diagnostic status. Thus, no relationship was found between pervasive developmental disorder rates and 1- or 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella immunization schedule. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of pervasive developmental disorder in Montreal was high, increasing in recent birth cohorts as found in most countries. Factors accounting for the increase include a broadening of diagnostic concepts and criteria, increased awareness and, therefore, better identification of children with pervasive developmental disorders in communities and epidemiologic surveys, and improved access to services. The findings ruled out an association between pervasive developmental disorder and either high levels of ethylmercury exposure comparable with those experienced in the United States in the 1990s or 1- or 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations.

  8. #8 Inquisitive Raven
    March 2, 2007

    If you think skeptics are close-minded and paranoid with no possible exception and they’re all out to get you, you might be an altie.

    … AND you’re paranoid.

    On the sugar vs. beet juice thing, I get the impression that your typical altie doesn’t know that sugars other than sucrose exist, or that anything with a name ending in “ose” is probably a sugar. Sometimes you can get the concept that fructose is a sugar beaten into an altie’s head, but I had an argument once with a colon cleanse pusher about the subject, and he clearly did not comprehend this point, nor did he understand that honey is mostly fructose.

  9. #9 Bronze Dog
    March 2, 2007

    I’m not sure if I even want an explanation of that one….

    From an Eddie Izzard act: He was doing a joke comparison between Capitalism and Communism, IIRC, with “putting babies on spikes” as a hypothetical enterprise.

  10. #10 Left_Wing_Fox
    March 2, 2007

    If you talk about the pH of the “body,” you’re either an altie or have access to a very large blender.

    Bwahahaha!!

    Actually, I just bought a bed, and I’m really surprised just how many mattresses say things like “doctor approved Chiropractic®”. Given the general disdain for Chiropractics amongst MDs, I’d be interested to hear some thoughts on what that’s all about.

  11. #11 Cain
    March 2, 2007

    If you think that HIV can be cured with herbal supplements that “boost the immune system,” you’re an altie.

    Or the President of Gambia.

  12. #12 Gadgeezer
    March 2, 2007

    If you believe that 1 in 2 aboriginal children died after vaccination unless they received IV vitamin C…

    If you believe that Shaken Baby Syndrome is a mis-diagnosis for vaccine injury that involves sub-clinical scurvy…

    If you believe that any viral infection, including measles and hepatitis, could be dramatically ‘cured’ by administering Vitamin C intravenously in big doses–provided that treatment was commenced early enough and continued for long enough…

    I could never have imagined that the above claims were out there until I saw posts that mentioned them (albeit to say that they are nonsense on stilts).

    http://drfleablog.blogspot.com/2007/02/more-notes-from-lunatic-fringe.html

    http://breathspakids.blogspot.com/2007/02/vaccination-v-faith-in-vitamins_25.html

    http://drfleablog.blogspot.com/2007/02/scurvy-not-just-disease.html

  13. #13 Kristjan Wager
    March 2, 2007

    If you think that HIV can be cured with herbal supplements that “boost the immune system,” you’re an altie.

    Or the President of Gambia.

    A high ranking altie is still an altie.

  14. #14 blf
    March 2, 2007

    If you think you are the President of Gambia, resign and get help. Now! (Think of the children!)

  15. #15 Willis
    March 2, 2007

    I think there is a lot more to the dichloroacetate story than woo. I posted this on Pharyngula blog as well. I have linked to the papers I mention at the bottom of my post. I had to pay for the full articles so these links will only get you the abstracts (unless you have some kind of institutional access).

    It has apparently been known since the 1930s that among the unusual traits of cancer cells is their reliance on glycolysis for energy production even in the presence of adequate oxygen. This is anomalous because glycolysis is much less efficient per glucose molecule than oxidative phosphorylation (which I refer to as respiration or mitochondrial respiration the rest of the way). Glycolysis takes place in the cytoplasm. Respiration takes place in the mitochondria of the cell. Both processes use glucose as an energy source, but glycolysis can take place without oxygen. Mitochondrial respiration further breaks down the end products of glycolysis to produce approximately 14 times more energy. The papers discuss all of this in more detail. The advent of widespread use of PET scans has apparently confirmed that all (or almost all) cancer cells rely on glycolysis for their energy production. The important point here is that reliance on glycolysis now appears to be a fundamental feature of cancer cells.

    Other scientists have found links between reliance on glycolysis and apoptosis resistance. Specifically, Pelicano, et al. discuss a link between mitochondrial respiration defects and what is called the Akt survival pathway. This paper is from the December 18, 2006 edition of The Journal of Cell Biology. I am not a scientist, but my understanding is that the Akt pathway ends up interfering with the action of proteins called caspases which are basically the triggers for apoptosis. So there is evidence that mitochondrial respiration defects and activation of the Akt survival pathway are linked. Put another way, cells relying on glycolysis for their energy production are not going (or are at least less likely) to kill themselves on schedule as normal cells would. At the end of the Pelicano paper, the authors speculate that the Akt pathway might be related to the decreased drug sensitivity associated with the Warburg effect. I have taken the Pelicano paper as offering support for the hypothesis that the reliance on glycolysis and the lack of apoptosis in cancer cells are intrinsically linked (apparently via abnormal mitochondria).

    Michelakis, et al. and Fantin, et al. report results that appear to me to tend to confirm the link between apoptosis resistance and glycolysis suggested in the Pelicano paper. The paper by Fantin, et al. comes from the June 2006 issue of Cancer Cell. The Michelakis, et al. paper is from the January 2007 issue of Cancer Cell. The Michelakis Cancer Cell article and the Fantin Cancer Cell article test therapies that attack two different parts of the glycolysis pathway. Both report that interruption of the glycolysis pathway induced mitochondrial respiration and apoptosis in cancer cells, resulting in large effects on human tumors implanted in mice.

    Michelakis, et al. go on to link all of this to a suppressed potassium channel in the mitochondria of cancer cells and demonstrate that the channel can be normalized, leading the cancer cell mitochondria to engage in respiration and ultimately leading to apoptosis. This is the biggest news of all because it indicates a more fundamental understanding of what cancer is (and I believe suggests a complete reworking of the current theories of carcinogenesis may be in order). At bottom the Michelakis paper is not a story of a wonder drug but is instead about this more fundamental explanation of the cancer cell. The thing that leads me to believe that these results will be replicated in humans (and I think this does include the DCA part of it) is the fact that Michelakis and Fantin have taken two different approaches to attacking glycolysis and report similar esults. It seems to me that if you establish a link between apoptosis resistance and reliance on glycolysis for energy, and then demonstrate that disrupting the glycolysis pathway (using two different methods) forces cancer cells into mitochondrial respiration and thereby also into apoptosis, that is big news. The usual warning about murine models not translating to people are certainly relevant here, but the fact that this approach has not been tried before makes me think they could be less relevant than with other drugs. This is especially so in light of the fact that dichloroacetate is already used in humans to treat conditions involving congenital mitochondrial defects and lactic acidosis. Lactate, of course, being the ultimate waste product created by glycolysis. I don’t see why this will not work in people, the mechanism is so well-characterized down to the level of the cancer cell mitochondria, is supported by two other lines of evidence (Fantin interrupting glycolysis and Pelicano on activation of the Akt survival pathway), and we know dichloroacetate has the effect of turning pyruvate into acetyl coA in normal human cells because that is how it reduces production of lactic acid (actually it inhibits PDK which inhibits PDH; by inhibiting PDK you have more PDH and PDH actually converts pyruvate into acetyl coA).

    http://www.jcb.org/cgi/content/abstract/175/6/913

    http://www.cancercell.org/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS1535610806003722

    http://www.cancercell.org/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS1535610806001450

  16. #16 fusilier
    March 2, 2007

    If your response to:

    “1) how did it come about we eliminated smallpox?
    2) how did it come about that we almost eliminated polio?”

    is:

    “Since you like needles so much, what do you think about stainless steel for sewing needles?”

    then you just might be an altie.

    <><><><><>
    I swear on the Polyethylene Pedipalps and Selenium Setae of the Great Spider Herself that I did receive such a response.

    fusilier
    James 2:24

  17. #17 Orac
    March 2, 2007

    I think there is a lot more to the dichloroacetate story than woo.

    As do I. You apparently have not read any of my numerous posts on DCA. (The link contains links to every post that I’ve done on the topic thus far).

    What is woo is selling DCA as a cancer cure “for pets” when the “entrepreneurs” involved know damned well that desperate patients are buying it to use themselves. What is woo (and downright unethical and dangerous) is selling a drug of unknown purity/composition (we have no way of knowing whether what these guys are selling is really DCA of pharmaceutical grade) to desperate patients when the drug has not yet been tested against any cancer in humans to see if it has any efficacy. (Remember, long is the list of drugs that shrank tumors in animals but failed to do so when tested in humans.) Also, even if it is effective against some human tumors, we have no way of knowing what dose will be needed. My guess is that it will probably be higher than what’s needed for congenital lactic acidosis and that that higher dose will mean more adverse reactions.

    So, no, DCA itself is not woo, but it’s generated a cottage industry of woo, in which it is touted as a “cure” for all cancers (it almost certainly is not, although it may be a decent treatment); where alties claim that it is “not chemotherapy” (it is), and it’s OK to market an unproven drug to dying and desperate patients.

    Go and read some of my posts in the link above before making such comments. You clearly have no idea what I think of DCA.

  18. #18 Thony C.
    March 2, 2007

    I ran out of steam at #64! I’ll come back and read the rest tomorrow.

  19. #19 qalmlea
    March 2, 2007

    How about a correction/clarification?

    “If you don’t know that many diseases are caused by the immune system, under the term “autoimmune disorders”, and that “boosting” or “energizing” one’s immune system is the key to health and longevity, you might be on the path to being an altie.”

    Shouldn’t that be: “and BELIEVE that “boosting” or “energizing”?

  20. #20 Sastra
    March 2, 2007

    If you are unconcerned with the possibility that your preferred form of therapy might be a placebo effect because “the placebo effect” is simply another way of referencing the powerful mind-body connection, which is capable of altering or even creating material reality through intentional energy itself …

    then you might be an altie.

  21. #21 Hans
    March 2, 2007

    What’s up with 55?

    55. You might be an altie.

  22. #22 HCN
    March 2, 2007

    Hans said “What’s up with 55?

    55. You might be an altie.”

    It looks like an inadvertant paragraph break. It goes with this statement, and should read:

    54. If you “think” recommended dosages are for sissies, and that median ED/LD’s are best determined by experimentation on your child…
    You might be an altie.

    ……………………………..

    Which brings in the problem with using the bulleted format. The numbers show up in Firefox, but only as dots in Internet Explorer (which is why it made sense to me).

  23. #23 Infophile
    March 2, 2007

    If you think that basing medical treatments on evidence is “Dangerously Normative,” you might be an altie. (Can’t believe no one caught this one this year.)

    If you’ve ever said “Why are you so obsessed with the facts/reality/evidence?” you might be an altie.

    If replacing every instance of “Quantum,” “Quantum Mechanics,” and variants in your statements with “Magic” causes them to make more sense, you might be altie.

    If you don’t know the difference between Schroedinger’s Equation and Schroedinger’s Cat, you might be an altie. (Does The Secret count as alternative?)

    If you’ve ever began a post with “I’m/I was a skeptic too, but…” you might be an altie.

    If you believe that when Carl Sagan was giving his example of the invisible dragon in his garage that he was trying to illustrate that the dragon does exist, but science can’t detect it, so science is faulty, you might be an altie.

  24. #24 Stephen
    March 2, 2007

    Which brings in the problem with using the bulleted format. The numbers show up in Firefox, but only as dots in Internet Explorer (which is why it made sense to me).

    There are as many bugs in IE as alties in the known universe, but I’ve not met that one before. They show up as numbers in my copy of IE 6, anyway.

  25. #25 James
    March 2, 2007

    If you treat the Prince of Wales as an authority on medicine, or for that matter anything but perhaps the British military and British history, you may be an altie.

  26. #26 Betsy
    March 2, 2007

    Here’s one–an altie of our acquaintence told us quite seriously that the reason snake oil has a bad reputation is that people used to sell FAKE SNAKE OIL, which made people not believe in the curative powers of REAL SNAKE OIL. Up until that time we thought we had a chance–after that forget it. Education does not matter–this man is a college professor. (Thank Goodness–of Music!)

  27. #27 Eamon Knight
    March 2, 2007

    If you say that Evidence-Based Medicine is a “micro-fascism” then you might be an altie, and you’re definitely a pomo idiot.

  28. #28 Ahistoricality
    March 2, 2007

    My favorite was #81: If you try bazillions of cures until symptoms go away, then declare the last one to be a cure, you might be an altie.

    There’s not a lot I can add to this, though….

  29. #29 HCN
    March 2, 2007

    Stephen said “There are as many bugs in IE as alties in the known universe, but I’ve not met that one before. They show up as numbers in my copy of IE 6, anyway.”

    I’m using IE 7… I go to Firefox with no cookies allowed sometimes (but it is so annoyingly s..l..o..w! and I don’t even have much in the way of plugins). I think I want to go back to Netscape of about six years ago.

  30. #30 Willis
    March 2, 2007

    I know that I don’t think you’re a shill, more of a useful idiot. Read the papers and then we will engage in what passes for discussion on your site.

  31. #31 Drekab
    March 2, 2007

    Willis says: “I know that I don’t think you’re a shill, more of a useful idiot. Read the papers and then we will engage in what passes for discussion on your site.”

    Wow, never seen that before. Someone comes trolling, gets conditionally agreed with, but doesn’t bother reading the reply and keeps on arguing. Maybe I just don’t blog enough.

  32. #32 Orac
    March 2, 2007

    Willis,

    I already read those papers. I blogged about the Cancer Cell paper by Michelakis over a month ago. It was listed in the link to which I referred you.

    As for “useful idiot,” that would be a good description of people like you. I”ve seen your kind before many times, wandering into the comments of a post out of the blue, citing papers left and right, as if I were unaware of them or hadn’t read them or as if I didn’t know what caspases, apoptosis, the Akt pathway are (for example). Dude, I used a dominant negative Akt construct expressed in an adenoviral vector in one of my papers, and I have one paper describing regulation of the NF-kappaB pathway by my favorite gene, with more in the drafting stage as we speak.

    But let’s take a look at DCA a bit. Have you ever actually read the Michelakis paper in detail, for example? (Just reading the abstract doesn’t count.) Did you actually look in detail at the graphs for the tumors in the Michelakis paper? I have. Look at, for example, check out Figure 8A, particularly the protocol a panel (A549 cells, small tumor sizes). In the group of rats treated with DCA for “prevention” (in other words, right from the beginning shortly after tumor cells were injected), there was significant tumor growth delay compared to controls, but the tumors still developed and still grew. “Growth delay” means that they just grew at a considerably slower rate (their growth is “delayed” not stopped or reversed). The tumors in the DCA group ended up being a little less than half the size of the tumors in the control group. In the “reversal” group, where established tumors were treated, if you look at the graphs, you’ll see that there was only modest initial tumor “shrinkage” compared to placebo followed by a marked leveling off, leading to the tumors in the treatment group at the end being around 70% smaller than the untreated controls (because the controls kept growing rapidly, ending up around 110-120 mm in diameter, compared to 70 mm or so for the DCA group. (Look at the picture.) However, if you look for actual tumor shrinkage, there really wasn’t that much. What happened, was that tumors decreased in size slightly initially, and then their growth curves more or less leveled off (tumor growth delay). It’s only when compared to the untreated controls that the treated tumors appear to have “shrunk” a lot. (Oddly enough, these guys could have made their graphs look more impressive if they had measured tumor volume instead of just tumor diameter. After all, volume changes by the cube of the diameter. It’s a much better way to measure xenograft growth, in my book.) In protocol b, the results are somewhat better, but the shrinkage was still not that spectacular. In one experiment, the DCA-treated tumor was 53 mm3 while the untreated control was 343 mm3. This is all good and promising, and I’d be very happy if my treatments in the experiments I’m about to do on breast cancer xenografts showed similar results, but it’s incorrect to report, as the media did, dramatic tumor “shrinkage,” as there really wasn’t that much shrinkage; it was more because the controls grew than because the treated tumors shrank that the difference in volumes/weights ended up being impressive at the end.

    You’ll note that the authors of the study never actually state that the “tumors shrank.” They simply say that the treated tumors were smaller than the controls and by how much, which is the appropriate way to report such work.

    I could show you some great mouse tumor work from Folkman’s lab for endostatin, where the tumors didn’t just demonstrate a growth delay but actually shrank away to nothing (well, almost nothing, a mere ball of cells), but, alas, endostatin didn’t work very well in humans. It had very modest effects against human cancers. The same may be true for DCA, or it may not. I certainly hope that it works in humans, but the odds are pretty good that it won’t.

    Finally, no all tumor cells exhibit the Warburg effect. As I have pointed out before, it’s only around 60-70% of human tumors that do. Consequently, the claim that DCA will treat all cancers is a load of bollocks.

  33. #33 Orac
    March 2, 2007

    Wow, never seen that before. Someone comes trolling, gets conditionally agreed with, but doesn’t bother reading the reply and keeps on arguing. Maybe I just don’t blog enough.

    Oh, it’s pretty common, and a pretty reliable sign that the guy is either (1) a troll or (2) someone who thinks he knows way more about science than he actually does.

  34. #34 HCN
    March 2, 2007

    Orac said “Oh, it’s pretty common, and a pretty reliable sign that the guy is either (1) a troll or (2) someone who thinks he knows way more about science than he actually does.”

    One of those guys wandered into Skeptico’s blog on the “Law of Attraction”. He started to spout “quantum theory” stuff which was found to be cut and pasted from easily Googled websites. What was especially amusing was him trying to squirm out of the “We only use 10% of our brain” myth that he thought was fact:
    http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2007/02/law_of_attracti.html

    Anyway, while on the same vein… If you believe that someone has declared a “Law”, whether it be the “Law of Attraction” from “The Secret”, or Hahnemann’s Law of Similars to be actual fact without really understanding what is meant by “scientific law” or even requesting proof then you might be an altie!

  35. #35 ebohlman
    March 2, 2007

    If you talk about the pH of the “body,” you’re either an altie or have access to a very large blender.

    Bwahahaha!!

    I can take credit for that one (49 through 52 are all mine).

  36. #36 Michael Suttkus, II
    March 2, 2007

    If you have ever bought a product that advertised itself as “chemical free”, you might be an altie. (Exceptions made if you are actually buying the one known chemical free product: A perfect vaccuum.)

    If you oppose food irradiation because you don’t want your strawberries to glow in the dark, you might be an altie (and you certainly don’t understand radiation).

    If you’ve ever bought a bracelet because it was “ionic”.

    If you think the magnetism from powerlines is killing you, but magnets in your insoles could save you, you’re almost certainly an altie.

    If you worry about your cell phone causing brain cancer, but still smoke, you might be an altie.

    If you turn off your cell phone at the gas station to keep it from exploding, but don’t put out your cigarette, you might be an altie. (I’ve seen people do this.)

  37. #37 Martín Pereyra
    March 2, 2007

    If you think condoms are useless against the transmission of AIDS because of the latex pores, you might be an altie… and almost certainly you’re a fundamentalist Catholic.

    If the pseudomedicine of your choice relies heavily on (supposed) flaws within the standard, scientifically accepted explanation, but has virtually no positive evidence supporting it, you might be an altie.

    If you use out-of-date research papers in support of your favorite alternative medicine, you might be an altie.

    If you believe that promotion of sexual abstinence among teens actually works, you could be an altie, but it’s almost sure that you are a Republican.

    If you wave the credentials of a woo as a proof for some claim, but when someone points out the lack of qualification of the woo in the field being discussed you say arguments matter, and not credentials, you’re an altie and maybe a bigot and a moron.

    Or if you consider the criticism towards the woo’s credentials as ad hominem, you are an altie.

    ===

    What a good list! Congratulations to Orac and all the people involved!

    May I have your authorization for translating this list into Spanish and publish it in my blog? With the respective credits and references, of course. And if that authorization could extend to further updates, I would thank you a lot.

  38. #38 Orac
    March 3, 2007

    Entry #55 has been fixed. Of course, that means that the numbering of entry after that has changed, but oh, well…

    Martin,

    By all means you have my permission to translate this list into Spanish. I’ll even post a plug for the Spanish version if you like.

  39. #39 Graculus
    March 3, 2007

    “Dog’s milk?” Do I really wanna know how they get ahold of that?

    “Next time, *you* milk the Rottweiler”

  40. #40 Echo Doc
    March 3, 2007

    You might be an Altie if . .

    You know what a vortex is.

    You’ve ever stood on a vortex naked. Wearing crystals. Chanting.

    You’ve ever said “I went to a conference on healing in Sedona.”

    You think that putting a clean IV in you in the hospital so you can proven receive life-saving medication is evil, but putting a potentially dirty IV in you so you can receive disproved chelation in an unregulated Altie clinic is wonderful.

    You think EDTA is evil when a food preservative but is beautiful when mainlined in an IV.

    You want your cardiologist to re-cath you to prove the chelation therapy dissolved your coronary blockages. (Been there. Done that – repeatedly. Never saw a case where it made even 10% difference.)

    You’ve ever approach families of kids with Down Syndrome in the grocery store to inform them that vitamins and swimming with dolphins cures mental retardation.

    Good list Orac! Regards – Echo Doc

  41. #41 Adam Cuerden
    March 3, 2007

    121 and 117 have your/you’re errors, 116 is miscapitalised.

    More to the point:
    If you can read more than ten to twenty strips of “The Chelation Kid” ( http://www.webcomicsnation.com/taillefer/chelation_kid/series.php?view=single&ID=42538 ) without needing to go lie down for a bit, you are surely an altie.

  42. #42 Rev, BigDumbChimp
    March 3, 2007

    Willis, that stinging sensation you’re feeling right now will go away in a little while. However, the big red hand print may stick around a little longer.

  43. #43 Orac
    March 3, 2007

    Adam,

    Give me a break. I cut and pasted a lot of these…

    I’ll try to fix errors as I find them or they’re pointed out to me.

  44. #44 Graculus
    March 3, 2007

    Which brings in the problem with using the bulleted format. The numbers show up in Firefox, but only as dots in Internet Explorer

    The #s showed up just fine in my install of IE.

  45. #45 dzd
    March 3, 2007

    If you think the only doctor you ever need to see is a nutritionist, then you’re definitely an altie.

  46. #46 HCN
    March 3, 2007

    Graculus said “The #s showed up just fine in my install of IE.”

    May I say: ;p … I think I am now going to blame my computer’s manufacturer. Except at least my laptop has the fewest problems of any of the 7 computers in this house, even though it is the one of the oldest.

  47. #47 anonimouse
    March 3, 2007

    “The Chelation Kid”…ugh. Never has so much scientific misinformation met up with so much completely unfunny anti-medical rhetoric. I swear the comic strip is a joint production by marketing savant Sallie Bernard and exorcist Jeff Bradstreet.

  48. #48 Adam Cuerden
    March 3, 2007

    Aye, I figured you had, but figured you’d want to know about typos to fix them.

  49. #49 nigromontanus
    March 3, 2007

    Sir, you are my personal hero of the hour.
    You had my blood pressure up at insane marks, -for I spent one and a half year of my lifetime with a woman, who has to be called a true altie (though I personally find this term not striking enough for the incredible narrow-mindedness of these so-called “alties”)by EVERY point of your list, and I was painfully reminded of that time.
    Also, that one with the pH and the blender….I can’t remember such a good (and healthy) laugh for quite a time.

    In return, I have this one for you (and I do hope, you didn’t list it already and I overlooked it):

    “If you think that freeze-dried and pulverised shark fins help against terminal leukaemia, you definitely are an altie!”

  50. #50 Porlock Junior
    March 4, 2007

    If you take ORAC very very seriously as a key to health, you may well be an altie.

    Hey, I didn’t say “Orac”! Pay attention.

    I suppose the Respectfully Insolent one has mentioned this many times over the years, and I’ve just managed to miss them all, but I was taken aback when I hit the Google blogsearch with “orac” and got

    http://botanicchoice.blogspot.com/2007/01/do-you-know-your-orac-values.html
    and found that ‘ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity.”‘

  51. #51 anonymous
    March 4, 2007

    A man sought advice from a site
    That didn’t get anything right
    It was full of opinion
    From the Altie dominion
    And led him away from the light

    Good science, they told him with glee
    Shouldn’t matter for those who can see
    The truth that is hidden
    By doctor opinion –
    A conspiracy sold for a fee

    Take shark fin for cancer they said
    ‘Cause sharks don’t get tumors – we’ve read
    So the man took the potion
    Convinced by the notion
    His oncologist had been misled

    As the cancer spread further a field
    He continued the Altie appeal
    And tried natural cures
    With all its allures
    But decided to morphine he’d yield

    Then sooner or later he died
    “The medicine did it,” they cried!
    And they pointed their fingers
    At the evil right wingers
    And continued to feel justified

  52. #52 Sonya
    March 5, 2007

    Question for you (and please direct me to the post if you’ve already address this concern before). I’ve enjoyed reading what you have to say about DCA, your explanations of the actual research, and pointing out just how far the Alties are going with their conspiracy theories and unscrupulous sales of the stuff. But is it really “altie mentality” to think that if an effective, less toxic than current chemotherapies, non-patentable cancer treatment was discovered, it would not be pursued by Big Pharma? They are obligated to pursue profits, as corporations. (I suppose they could patent a delivery system of whatever it was, or something.)

  53. #53 Michael Suttkus, II
    March 6, 2007

    There are companies in this world who make unholy profits selling water. I can’t imagine a less patentable substance. The quack community makes huge profits selling unpatentable materials. Why should “big pharma” be unable to do the same? I can understand that they might *wish* they could patent it, but I can’t imagine for a second that it would stop them. “Big Pharma” still makes asprin, decades after it’s formula became public domain. So do numerous “small pharma” companies.

    If the chemical actually works, SOMEONE will figure out how to make a profit out of it.

    (When does Big Pharma start paying me for my unwavering support of the conspiracy? Do I need to submit a bill?)

  54. #54 Sonya
    March 7, 2007

    The quack community makes huge profits selling unpatentable materials. Why should “big pharma” be unable to do the same?

    Because Big Pharma pursues patentable new substances (even if they don’t do anything new) to make up for the costs of R&D and Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. You don’t need costly clinical trials or FDA submissions to sell water or vitamins.

  55. #55 Sonya
    March 7, 2007

    “Big Pharma” still makes asprin, decades after it’s formula became public domain.

    Of course they do. They also still make all the ulcer meds as OTC heartburn meds now. They also still make everything that *used* to be patented for those who prefer brand-names. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about pursuing the development of new drugs. Please name a drug that was developed in the past 20 years by a US pharmaceutical company despite not being patentable and I will shut up, I promise. More than that, I will be grateful to know its possible.

    I also resent the implication that I am a conspiracy theorist. Your quip about getting paid for supporting the conspiracy is amusing — some of the biggest conspiracy theories I’ve ever heard of regarding pharmaceutical companies come straight from people who used to work for them.

  56. #56 Rob
    March 7, 2007

    Sonya, I think you may be missing the point. While I’m not a huge fan of big pharma, they exist to patent drugs and make a profit. If a drug is unpatentable, then why aren’t other companies besides pharma getting the studies done? I’ve worked on grant apps to NIH and the DOD for such ridiculously asinine therapies as Reike and Therapeutic Touch (and they were accepted). Why isn’t GNC or some other company that deals with unpatentable “medications” working on these grants? Or why aren’t they simply paying for the studies themselves? A good round figure for a clinical trial is ~50M. GNC had 2004 revenues of 1.4B dollars, you’re telling me that they wouldn’t spend 50 million on a CURE FOR CANCER? Come on, they’d be lighting their cigars with original Renaissance paintings while riding in a diamond-plated Learjet!

    As a side note, think we could amend #111 to read: “If you think chiro works for ear infections, colds, liver problems or anything that isn’t back pain, you might be an altie.” I love ripping on the alties as much as anybody, but let’s be sure to follow the science. I think it’s really unfortunate that chiros have brought about their own downfall by not heaping the shame upon those who make idiotic claims about its benefits, all at the expense of those who might be helped by it. I may get some snark from this, but before you give me the scarlet A, just try yours, mine, and Orac’s bestest buddy, good ol’ Pubmed. Oh, and while you’re there, give Reike a search. You won’t find much that says it works, but reading how people are banging their heads against the wall trying to prove it does it immensely entertaining. P.S. Yet another great post Orac, keep the delicious sarcasm coming, and we’ll keep coming back!

  57. #57 Sonya
    March 7, 2007

    Would *you* trust a clinical trial executed by GNC? Whatever my suspicions of Big Pharma, they know what they are doing. Also, you’d still need a prescription for DCA, it would still be tightly regulated by the FDA. “Unpatentable” doesn’t mean “over the counter” or “supplement.”

  58. #58 Laser Potato
    March 28, 2007

    “If you think condoms are useless against the transmission of AIDS because of the latex pores, you might be an altie… and almost certainly you’re a fundamentalist Catholic.”
    Or Jack Chick.

  59. #59 Diana
    April 12, 2007

    I’m pretty late on this, but thank you. I have one:

    You might be an altie if you are participating in one of the 3 45-minute-long “initial demonstration sessions of the Alexander Technique” that for some reason my company is hosting in our breakroom right now. I came to this site to take a mental shower.

    Also:
    “89. If you prefer to use the term “babies” to describe all children under the age of 10, there’s an outside chance you’re an altie”…. or you are from the South. Here in Georgia, anyone under 17 is a “baby.” (Unless they’ve committed a crime, in which case their attorney is the only one still trying that angle.)

    So now I know what an “altie” is. I wonder what you would call someone that works at the CDC but swears by ear-candling and Wicca? Because I haven’t been able to figure that one out.

    Thanks again.

  60. #60 Medtech
    April 15, 2007

    Great list!

    and painfully familiar…I am a medical laboratory technologist who tries to inform my compatriots and as a result I have experianced the animosity and stupidity of many alties all those years.

    I could add:

    If you think that an alternative method is backed by science if a university deparment that has nothing to do with medicine (and therefore does not have the nessesery credentials to evaluate any kind of therapeutic method),offers courses in that alternative method,well you might be an altie…

    May I translate your list in Greek and post it on a forum?

  61. #61 Scholar
    May 1, 2007

    You might be a Nisbet if your name is Mooney.

  62. #62 Lepht
    June 5, 2007

    You might be an altie if you relentlessly harass your offspring for taking medication you assume isn’t necessary, and then when they get worse after abandoning it at your request, your reaction is to send them long-distance Reiki…

    You might be an altie if your response to my production of several Pubmed studies of homoeopathic remedies which quite clearly show them not to work is to cross your arms and say, “Homoeopathy works.” And if you do this again after I show you the tape of Randi swallowing a whole bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills, you are with 0.999 certainty an altie. And if you do this AGAIN after I repeat said swallowing stunt in front of you, you are irredeemably altie – and don’t deserve a place in higher education.

    You might be an altie if you can’t stand me taking pills in front of you, but you’re perfectly happy to agree with the lady selling “angel stones” because there’s no reason not to. You are an altie if you equate her fluffy ideas with scientific hypotheses, and especially if you tell me she has more “positive energy” than me, and that is why she is well and I am not.

    And lastly, if you think unprovable notions are “good enough”, that I disagree with you because all skeptics are assholes who take pleasure in ruining the faith of good people like you, and evidence is just the obsession of nasty people like me, you are an altie. Irreconcilably.

  63. #63 Maga
    August 3, 2007

    Sorry I’m late, but I have only recently read the list. Brilliant job! You don’t mind if I make a few suggestions for the next one, do you?

    You may be an altie if…
    * you like to rely on the “wisdom” of the ancients to heal illness while ignoring the fact that life spans were shorter then.
    * you think there’s some difference between natural compounds and synthetic compounds, even if they are exactly the same compound.
    * your treatment of choice involves a deity/unspecified higher power.
    * you think water has a “memory” of more than a few picoseconds.
    * you believe it’s possible to live a chemical free lifestyle without involving a total vacuum.
    * you believe that stars/planets actually care about your illnesses (or anything else, for that matter).
    * your remedy is
    * you focus mainly on the large intestine, regardless of what symptoms you are experiencing and where. (Or… you believe that every disease springs from one single organ in the body.)
    * you underestimate the ability of the large intestine to keep itself clean and unobstructed in healthy people. (Peristalsis? Never heared of it…)
    * you believe that oxygen can be absorbed into the bloodstream through routes other than the lungs.
    * you complain about BigPharma being money grabbing and corrupt for selling medicines that “don’t work”, yet have no problem selling a bottle of sugar pills containing animal blood that has been diluted into non existance for high prices.
    * you are afraid of all forms of EM radiation, yet you have no problems with it when using light therapy.
    * your homeopathic remedy is quite literally the dog’s b******s. (Sorry about the swearing, but I’ve been looking around their website and some of their remedies are quite… wacky.)

    If you need any more, I’d be glad to give some. I’ve got loads more up my sleeve. ;)

  64. #64 Vjatcheslav
    August 8, 2007

    “If you don’t understand this list, you might be an altie (or just plain stupid, but what’s the difference?).”

    Anything else: there are some typo’s: two or three times f instead of if, and worse, hippocrate, which should be hypocritical.

    But these little problems aren’t that important. Great list, and great blog.

  65. #66 Lilorfnannie
    June 10, 2008

    …If you think your condition can be cured by adjusting your “energies” (homeopathy, reiki, chinese herbal medicine, some aspects of chiropractic, etc etc etc)…you are an altie.

    I’m not an “altie” (used to be somewhat of one, not any more) but I got saddled with #67. My (ex-hippie) parents gave me the middle name of Senna- which is a LAXATIVE HERB! It sounds prettier than “mugwort” but I don’t know which I’d rather have- the laxative herb, or “mugwort”?!?

  66. #67 HCN
    June 11, 2008

    If you spam a website with poin
    tless websites trying to drum up business, you are an altie!

    I knew I recognized her, and here she is:
    http://forums.randi.org/search.php?searchid=1504995 … she even has her own thread asking for answers to specific questions.

    But she just could not break her spamming habit… She kind of got herself banned:
    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?p=3540850#post3540850

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.