Respectful Insolence

What is it about celebrity models and credulity towards woo?

Very early in the history of this blog, we first encountered Suzanne Somers, someone who underwent lumpectomy and radiation therapy for breast cancer, as well as radiation, but eschewed chemotherapy for “alternative” medicine. Guess to what she attributed her survival? Then she got into bioidentical hormones, even though it’s generally a bad idea to pump yourself full of huge doses of estrogen far beyond anything ever used for hormone replacement therapy if you’re a breast cancer survivor. (Her luck in not having induced a recurrence of her breast cancer so far is amazing.) But even that wasn’t enough. Most recently she’s been peddling a dubious stem cell service and trying to make hay by offering to help Christina Applegate, who recently underwent a double mastectomy to treat her breast cancer and as a preventative measure because she possesses BRCA1 mutation that puts her at an incredibly high risk for breast cancer in the other breast.

Then there’s the bête noire of this blog, former Playboy Playmate of the Year turned game show hostess turned gross-out comedienne turned purveyor of “Indigo Child” woo, all before, along with her boy toy Jim Carrey, she turned into the celebrity face of the antivaccine movement, Jenny McCarthy. Of her, the less said right now the better. My disgust with her might kill the lighthearted buzz for which I strive on Your Friday Dose of Woo, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Of course, it’s not all bad. There is, for example, Amanda Peet, who has come out strongly for vaccines and science-based medicine. (Why can’t all models–heck, all celebrities–be more like Amanda Peet, at least when it comes to science and medicine?) So maybe it’s just confirmation bias or residual sexism in myself that I had hoped I had rid myself of that leads me to wonder if there’s something about having been a model and a tendency towards woo.

And then Carol Alt had to come along. Move over, Jenny and Suzanne, there’s a new model woo-meister in town, and she’s looking to out do you both with her vegan raw food woo after having been totally convinced by–you guessed it!–an anecdote:

He goes, “My girlfriend is 22 years old and they wanted to do a radical hysterectomy on her. She was full of cancer. I took her to this doctor. Everybody was saying [we were] crazy. We went against every doctor, but I’m telling you, he will make you look at food like you’ve never looked at food before. He will change your life! You will not be able to eat with friends and watch what they put in their mouth, because you will know they are poisoning themselves. In six months, he cured my girlfriend of cancer. She just got a negative biopsy.”

But is that all there is to this anecdote? Of course not! It never is. There has to be more, and, annoyingly, there is:

He put her on a raw diet, juiced her, did high colonics, clean outs. Put her on his herbs, enzymes and supplements. Just basically taught her how to re-build her body, which at 22 she could do really easily because she was 22! She had a lot of reserves and she was able to do that. At that point I just thought, “If that [doctor] could do that with that girl with cancer, could you imagine what he could do for me with all the stupid little aging things that are making me crazy?” I don’t want to be like everybody else. I want to be happy. I see all my friends on Prozac and Zoloft and all this kind of stuff. I don’t want that for my life. I don’t want to be on all these OTCs (over the counter medications). I just thought, “What the heck?”

“What the heck?” Personally, I look for a lot more evidence before I make a radical change in my diet and start shooting coffee enemas up my butt. But not Carol Alt. Apparently a hearty “What the heck?” is enough for her to get into Starbutts, as I like to say. Of course, you’ll note that this is a third-hand anecdote with no information to allow us to make even an educated speculation about whether or not Alt’s friends diet did anything at all for her “cancer.” Heck, we don’t even know if she had cancer at all. At age 22, ovarian cancer would be very unusual, as would uterine cancer, both of which tend to be cancers of middle-aged women or older. Cervical cancer would also be unusual at that age, although less so. Hold on! I know! How much do you want to bet that her friend in fact had fibroids, which, when large and painful enough, are sometimes treated with hysterectomy, even in a young woman. Alternatively, maybe she had cervical cancer which was cured by the cone biopsy used to diagnose it, much as breast cancer can be cured by lumpectomy without radiation and chemotherapy, which are, as I like to put it, the “icing on the cake, that decreases the risk of recurrence. It’s possible that she may have had microscopic residual disease after her cone biopsy, prompting a recommendation for a hysterectomy, but my guess is that this story is probably pretty fishy. In any case, Alt’s anecdote is useless. It tells us absolutely nothing because there is no information to make a guess at plausibility.

But no good descent into woo is complete without her own anecdote, and Alt has one. You see, back in 1999 or 2000 she was diagnosed with cervical or uterine cancer (I can’t tell which, one story says both). I couldn’t find what operation she had, but my guess is that she probably either had a generous cone that destroyed her cervical competence or a hysterectomy, either of which would have led her to be unable to bear children, as described as the reason for her divorce. But, guess what? Surprise, surprise! Alt attributes her surviving cervical cancer to her raw food diet and showed up yesterday on the Howard Stern Show to claim just that:

Supermodel Carol Alt (in the past Fred has disputed this classification, however, in light of her recent triumph over cancer, Fred said he was giving her a pass) stopped by to promote her new Playboy pictorial – her first nude shoot ever. Howard asked how Carol reconciled her shoot with her newfound Christianity, so she explained that she wasn’t a fanatic: “I just read my Bible in the morning.” Carol also said she was capable of miracles herself – she cured herself of cancer with a raw food diet. Howard doubted her story, and eventually Carol admitted: “The only thing I did was [buy] a little time with progesterone.”

You know, when Howard Stern gets you seemingly to admit that your story is a load of crap, you’re in trouble. I also have another question: What is it with all these woo-meisters first turning to woo after they find Jesus? One miracle is as good as any other to believe in–when you’re a credulous soul with no critical thinking abilities prone to magical thinking. I suppose that lecherous males should be grateful that her finding Jesus apparently hasn’t stopped her from getting naked for Playboy. But if you really want to see a hunk o’ hunk o’ burnin’ stupid, take a gander at Carol’s blog, where “Dr.” Alt (degree courtesy of Google University) explains the scientific basis of her raw food diet:

I am thinking that:

  • if cooked food is heated to high temps. (In this case, anything over 115 degrees F is considered “high”)
  • if the heat kills most of the enzymes(I supposed this means some of the hardy ones survive?)
  • if the heat also denatures some or most of the vitamins and minerals-meaning that vitamins and minerals are changed fundamentally in their chemical makeup so that they are less able to be absorbed by the body;
  • and if the heating of food effects the PH of the food- changing it from alkaline to acid;

If all this is happening to our food when we cook it, then does eating this food affect our aging process?

Let’s begin here

So, if in fact, when we add heat to anything we change the molecular structure, then by law of the universe, when we heat food we change its molecular structure, too

For example, in chemistry, you know if you boil water, that its molecular structure changes from a liquid to a gas (water to steam).

That is a chemical change.

So, a heated fat and a heated protein then is not the same as a raw fat in that when you heat them, you change its molecular structure, too-just as it happened with the water.

So, you have a food, perhaps a protein-which is an amino acid and you heat that protein. The heat does ‘its thing’ and changes the molecular structure of that protein.

Now you don’t really have an amino acid any more do you? I mean, how can you? If the structure of an amino acid is specific, then to change that structure is to change that amino acid.

Ok, that established, we now have this non-amino acid that WAS an amino acid before it was cooked going into your system.

The body looks at it and says: what is this? I have enzymes for an amino acid, but this is not an amino acid. What do I do?

The body decides then to break down the non-amino acid into its component parts, looks at it, then recognizes bits and pieces, puts those pieces together again as an amino acid, storing in the process the bits and pieces it cannot use.

Then when it recognizes the re-built amino acid, the body then makes another set of enzymes to break down the amino acid that it just re-built. Once, finally broken down into its component parts a second time, it can now be used to re-build and maintain the tissue and organs in the body or to make new enzymes.

Phew! A lot of work for the body-that creates stress and stress is more acid (see my last blog about the effects of acid on the body)

Any biochemists (heck, anyone who’s ever taken an entry level biochemistry class) reading this are probably in acute pain right now from a massive wave of neuronal apoptosis induced by blithering waves of stupid emanating from the passage above. (I know I overuse the whole “apoptosing neuron” bit, but hopefully the colorful language of this particular use of the metaphor will make up for its repetition; like many bloggers, I sometimes can’t resist overusing a good bit that I thought of.) In any case, I apologize and feel your pain. The above is so dumb on so many levels that I have a hard time knowing where to start to apply the not-so-Respectful Insolence that this mass of scientific ignorance cries out for. Suffice it to say that proteins are made up of amino acids, all arranged in a chain. That chain of amino acids is twisted around itself to form all sorts of secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structures, which can be globular, sheets, helices, usually a combination of the bove, and a number of other forms necessary for function. The heat used for cooking can indeed denature many proteins, partially untwisting them and destroying their higher level structure, but usually it’s not enough to break the proteins down to their component amino acids. Indeed, if it were, meat would just dissolve when cooked, the myosin and collagen in it reduced to amino acids, which are small and soluble molecules. But it’s even more stupid than that. At temperatures usually used to cook, amino acids are not broken down. They remain amino acids.

But it’s still even more stupid than that.

The whole bit about enzymes defies science and reason. The body can break down amino acids, but the whole bit about amino acids “altered” by cooking is pure chemical ignorance, especially when combined with the whole bit about the body having to make multiple sets of enzymes to break the “altered” amino acid down to its component parts and then reconstitute it and how eating cooked foods leads to more “acid” which leads to aging and disease.

Ack! I can’t take it anymore. From all this “science-y”-sounding nonsense along with the only semi-reasonable points raw foodists ever make, namely that cooking can destroy some vitamins, Alt then concludes that eating raw foods is inherently better and makes an amazing analogy:

heat=cooked food=denatured, acidic food= making lots of enzymes=pulling vitamins and minerals from body to make enzymes=degenerating body= aging/disease

Yet people insist on eating cooked foods because they like them or just because they are in the habit of eating them.

Well smoking is a habit, too. I would not want to do it! It is bad

And in order to have a healthy life, one must decide to have a healthy life and then do it- quit smoking.

The same with breaking the habit of cooked foods; one must decide what is more important:

Eating cooked foods or have a healthy life.

‘Staying young” for as along as you possibly can or eating cooked foods?

In my book, there is no choice! Be healthy stay young and eat fab. Raw Foods!

That’s right. Eating cooked foods is like smoking! Unbelievable.

But where did Alt get all these dubiously bizarre ideas about biochemistry? If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you might think she got these ideas from über-quack Robert O. Young, whose obsession with acidity as the cause of cancer and all disease is legendary. You’d be wrong in this instance. Apparently, it’s two dubious practitioners, one known to me, one not. The first is Dr. Timothy Brantley. The other?

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, he of the “Gonzalez protocol” for pancreatic cancer:

They’re giving you an opinion, as I am giving you an opinion. But I am basing my opinion on a doctor’s research, and the research that’s in books. There was a man… Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez [who] put his name in my book. This guy researched the world over. He spent two or three years traveling the world and he went to every remote place. He went to Alaska and saw them eating fat; he went to The Amazon and saw them eating only grains and no animals at all; he went to the valleys of Switzerland; He went to Africa. Every diet was different. But the people there had been adapted to that diet since the very beginning. So how I found out what to eat for me is I actually went to Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez and had him do a hair test on me. He told me I’m a moderate vegetarian, which means, and here’s the difference, if I don’t have fish I don’t feel good. If I have too much meat, it’s too acid for me. My boyfriend, he can’t survive without meat. He gets literally pale and sick without meat. So I’m sitting here looking at different people and I’m saying, “What’s good for one is not good for another.” We are not one blanket, one person in this entire world. We’re trying to homogenize the world today. But we’re not. Everybody comes from a different stock. You can’t take an Eskimo, and they did this… the Eskimos came down and they started eating the western diet, and they’re now full of cancer and everything. You’ve gotta understand where cancer is coming from. Cancer is an acid reaction. We’re cooking food. That’s acid.

Holy confusing correlation with causation, Batman! (Not to mention an argument from misplaced authority!) No, cancer is not an “acid reaction.” True, the interiors of cancers are often more acidic than the surrounding tissues because they not infrequently outgrow their blood supply, leading them to run out of oxygen and nutrients and start producing lactic acid. Somtimes, tumors so far outgrow their blood supply that the cells in the center die. In any case, Dr. Gonzalez is famous for having taken Max Gerson’s quackery and running with it to the point that he almost made it respectable, a quackery involving–you guessed it–lots of raw vegetables, raw meat extracts, plus frequent coffee enemas. I still can’t believe that Gonzalez somehow got the NCI to fund a clinical trial for his pancreatic cancer therapy, although it’s easy to believe that the results of the trial were never published, almost certainly because the study was a huge bust, with the Gonzalez regimen-treated patients likely doing worse. We’ll never know for sure, although it’s a good bet that if the Gonzalez regimen had been superior to conventional therapy, he’d have published and trumpeted it as vindication.

But Dr. Gonzalez is Carol Alt’s health guru. He even wrote the foreword to both of her books. That should tell you as much about her books as Dr. Jay Gordon’s writing the foreword to Jenny McCarthy’s books. I guess Gonzalez is the inspiration for these bits:

Carol confessed that she owed a lot of her remission to coffee enemas, so Howard walked her through the process: “You would insert this tube into your anus…how deep would you go?” Carol said, “As far as it took. Robin how far would you say?” Robin admitted that she inserted the tube pretty far. Howard had a million questions: did Carol enema while nude or in heels? Did she use lube? Carol said she used coconut oil: “I make love to my enema bag…I think the whole body is a fun zone. Nothing is off limits.”

Except, apparently, science, reason, and intelligence. In any case, that’s way, way, way more information than I needed or wanted.

Did I mention that that was more information than I cared to know?

Jenny McCarthy had better watch her back. Carol Alt’s clearly gunning for her position of ex-model woo-in-chief.

Comments

  1. #1 Diane
    December 5, 2008

    That was painful on so many levels. She writes like a fifth grader.

  2. #2 Interrobang
    December 5, 2008

    Wow, I’m not even a biochemist and I could feel those ole neurons just apoptosing away from her confusion of state changes with molecular changes. As an ex of mine would opine, “T.S.T.L.,” or Too Stupid To Live.

    On the other hand, being female really has nothing to do with it — for every Jenny McCarthy and Carol Alt, there’s a Jim Carrey and a Tom Cruise…credulous airheads come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and chromosomal arrangements.

  3. #3 Lab Rat
    December 5, 2008

    I am not even a proper biochemist yet (unfortunatly) but my brain was still reeling from the inherent *wrongness* of the incorrect blabble. Just everything about it, from the very first thing they said about water was just … WRONG.

    ouch. :(

  4. #4 Tracy W
    December 5, 2008

    If it does take your body so much more energy to digest cooked food, we should expect to see raw food fans gain weight from all that extra energy they are now taking in.

    Sort of a reverse “celery-takes-more-calories-to-digest-than-it-contains” effect.

  5. #5 The man they call Jayne
    December 5, 2008
    Carol confessed that she owed a lot of her remission to coffee enemas, so Howard walked her through the process: “You would insert this tube into your anus…how deep would you go?” Carol said, “As far as it took. Robin how far would you say?” Robin admitted that she inserted the tube pretty far. Howard had a million questions: did Carol enema while nude or in heels? Did she use lube? Carol said she used coconut oil: “I make love to my enema bag…I think the whole body is a fun zone. Nothing is off limits.”

    (Snip)

    Did I mention that that was more information than I cared to know?

    “I could stand to hear a little more.”

  6. #6 Despard
    December 5, 2008

    My physics brain is hurting. Even this eimple bit at the beginning:

    For example, in chemistry, you know if you boil water, that its molecular structure changes from a liquid to a gas (water to steam).

    That is a chemical change.

    is completely wrong! It’s not a chemical change… it’s a *phase* change. It’s still H2O, but in vapour rather than liquid form.

    For fuck’s sake. Basic chemistry, anyone?

  7. #7 Dawn
    December 5, 2008

    Orac – I have to stop reading YFDoW at work! The part about the amino acids made me laugh so loudly my coworkers wanted to see what I was reading.

  8. #8 Dangerous Bacon
    December 5, 2008

    “Howard asked how Carol reconciled her (Playboy) shoot with her newfound Christianity, so she explained that she wasn’t a fanatic”

    This reminds me of a story in the book “Ball Four’ where a baseball groupie asks a player if he is married and he says “Yeah, but I’m not a fanatic about it.”

    I once knew a person who was just full of woo, but she had a brain clean-out and is fine now.

  9. #9 DonZilla
    December 5, 2008

    Oh yes, my raw foodie friend had Carol Alt speak at one of her events last summer in beautiful downtown Royersford, PA. It was quite an event! And Carol was a big celebrity to attract to Royersford. Wow.

    I should mention my friend’s also a Christian fundie, and follows her raw foodism (Is that a word? Foodism?) with the same blind faith.

    Everyone wants simplistic, comforting, magical solutions to the big scary randomness of life. There’s more than one path to woo . . . oops, I meant enlightenment.

    Meanwhile, Orac’s discovered Carol Alt. This is going to be a fun ride! :)

  10. #10 Ben
    December 5, 2008

    My favorite part:

    For example, in chemistry, you know if you boil water, that its molecular structure changes from a liquid to a gas (water to steam).

    That is a chemical change.

    Forget undergrad biochem, she needs to take an elementary school-level chemistry class again.

  11. #11 D. C. Sessions
    December 5, 2008

    You can add evolution denialism to the rawists’ indictment, as follows:

    If raw foods are so much healthier than cooked foods, and if vegan diets are so much healthier than diets with animal products, then out of all the societies in human history [1] where are the successful vegan/rawist ones? Being healthier (not to mention less resource-intensive) would surely give them advantages over their neighbors, so …

    I note that this is another application of evolutionary theory to contemporary medicine. Here’s a coupon for Starbutts [2], Dr. Egnor!

    [1] Many with a serious shortage of animals, fuel, or both
    [2] Neologism of the week. Good work, Doc!

  12. #12 Orac
    December 5, 2008

    Meanwhile, Orac’s discovered Carol Alt. This is going to be a fun ride! :)

    In actuality, I can’t believe I had never heard of Carol Alt’s raw foodism nonsense before…

  13. #13 Kemist
    December 5, 2008

    At age 22, ovarian cancer would be very unusual, as would uterine cancer, both of which tend to be cancers of middle-aged women or older.

    Except cancerous germ cell ovarian tumors (about 5% of ovarian cancers); those hit yougner women, with a median of about 30. I know because my best friend got it. But yeah, they are rare. And they almost never give any sign until they start obstructing vessels or compressing organs, at which point surgery becomes an emergency. In other words – you have no time whatsoever to think about woo diets if you are to survive.

  14. #14 JThompson
    December 5, 2008

    Any biochemists (heck, anyone who’s ever taken an entry level biochemistry class) reading this are probably in acute pain right now from a massive wave of neuronal apoptosis induced by blithering waves of stupid emanating from the passage above.

    I didn’t feel pain, but my head swam and the room spun a bit. Good job, Carol. You’ve managed stupid powerful enough to almost make me pass out.
    If nothing else, it shouldn’t be long before her enema experimentation gets around to quicksilver or nux vomica and we’ll be rid of her.

  15. #15 Kemist
    December 5, 2008

    Oh, and I just love raw food diets.

    At some point, some raw-foodies start to pass their “living” food, how shall we say, “unchanged” straight to the toilet. With the result that they become greenish-tinged, emaciated and without any stamina whatsover to do anything else than sit and stare. There’s a reason we cook food.

    I can understand vegetarians, and I love vegetarian food. I can even believe some people can be quite healthy, if they are careful, on a vegan diet. I wouldn’t adopt a vegan diet because they tend to be protein-poor and I don’t fare well on carbohydrate-rich diets (I have post-prandial hypoglycemia). But raw-food diets are a stupid thing to get into. Especially if you have cancer.

  16. #16 Orac
    December 5, 2008

    Except cancerous germ cell ovarian tumors (about 5% of ovarian cancers); those hit yougner women, with a median of about 30. I know because my best friend got it. But yeah, they are rare.

    Good point. Maybe I got hung up on cervical cancer because it’s much more common.

  17. #17 TaraMobley
    December 5, 2008

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for finally discovering and writing about the raw foodism nonsense. The moment I heard about it, several years ago, I thought it sounded like pseudoscientific nonsense. I hope you write more on it. It really is quite insane.

  18. #18 Kemist
    December 5, 2008

    I am thinking that:

    * if cooked food is heated to high temps. (In this case, anything over 115 degrees F is considered “high”)
    * if the heat kills most of the enzymes(I supposed this means some of the hardy ones survive?)
    * if the heat also denatures some or most of the vitamins and minerals-meaning that vitamins and minerals are changed fundamentally in their chemical makeup so that they are less able to be absorbed by the body;
    * and if the heating of food effects the PH of the food- changing it from alkaline to acid; …

    OMFG ! It think my brain tried to induce a stroke to avoid processing that.

    And how can anyone call that crap “thinking” ?

    … Now you don’t really have an amino acid any more do you? I mean, how can you? If the structure of an amino acid is specific, then to change that structure is to change that amino acid.

    aarghhh… splutter… [/drooling]

    First protein, then amino acid, like the two are interchangeable.

    What does this moron think digestion does ? Happily lets any protein go by intact ?

    Ok, that established, we now have this non-amino acid that WAS an amino acid before it was cooked going into your system.

    What in hell is a “non-amino-acid” ? Anything that’s not an amino-acid ? If yes, she’ll find that there’s not much that passes for healthy in her definition…

    The body looks at it and says: what is this? I have enzymes for an amino acid, but this is not an amino acid. What do I do?

    The body looks at it [Ms. Alt’s brains] and says: what is this ? I normally receive orders from a brain, but this is not a brain. Looks more like… I… don’t… know. A black hole of stupid ? What do I do ?

  19. #19 Pieter B
    December 5, 2008

    I’d want the teller of the anecdote to prove that he had a 22 y/of girlfriend. Let’s start at the beginning here. And yes, “Starbutts” is the neologism of the week. I am so stealing that.

  20. #20 Emp
    December 5, 2008

    As a lowly sophomore biochemistry student, I was appalled by the pseudoscientific nonsense spewed forth by Ms. Alt and company. At first, I thought it was funny, but laughter quickly turned to disheartenment when I realized that people might actually believe this tripe.

    Someone commented that she writes like a fifth-grader. Personally, I think I would give fifth-graders a bit more credit.

  21. #21 automandc
    December 5, 2008

    If she doesn’t believe in cooking/boiling, how does she get the coffee that she puts in her magical enema bag? Or is boiling coffee (which, BTW, is very acidic) a “good” chemical change? And how the *heck* did someone who writes that badly get not one, but *two* book contracts?

  22. #22 Ahistoricality
    December 5, 2008

    I ran across a phrase the other day which seems to fit: nomen est omen, or “the name tells the future”. How could someone named “alt” not fall into woo?

    [I know, I know: selection bias, anecdotal, lack of explicable mechanism, unfair to all the science-minded “Alt” family members in the world. Still had to be said.]

  23. #23 jj
    December 5, 2008

    “For example, in chemistry, you know if you boil water, that its molecular structure changes from a liquid to a gas (water to steam).

    That is a chemical change.”

    I think shows how dumb this is more than anything else. Chemical change????? WTF, don’t you mean a physical change (or more specifically a state change)? It’s still H20. This person needs to return to high school chemistry. Ice H20, water H20 (ok, H0-,H30+ and H20) , Steam H20…

  24. #24 Sigivald
    December 5, 2008

    So, if in fact, when we add heat to anything we change the molecular structure, then by law of the universe, when we heat food we change its molecular structure, too

    For example, in chemistry, you know if you boil water, that its molecular structure changes from a liquid to a gas (water to steam).

    You know, I only took one semester of chemistry in college, and I know this is stupidly false.

    (JJ beat me on the water thing, so I won’t repeat it.)

    Merely “heating” food does not change its molecular structure; sufficient heat for sufficient time can denature molecules, but adding a tiny bit of heat below the denaturing range for the molecules involved? No molecular change.

    Automan: Cold water extraction, maybe?

  25. #25 Rogue Epidemiologist
    December 5, 2008

    The stoopid is strong in this one. So much wrong with her blog entry…

  26. #26 Garrett
    December 5, 2008

    At least Alexei Yashin is still eating meat and lots of it. If he switched to the raw vegetables diet he’d be an even softer hockey player than he already is.

  27. #27 J. J. Ramsey
    December 5, 2008

    “So, if in fact, when we add heat to anything we change the molecular structure, then by law of the universe …”

    Ok, did anyone else read this and think of the silly line (one of many) in Space Mutiny about “the Law of the Universe, the Law of the Galaxy”?

    ,,, crickets …

    I’ll get my coat.

  28. #28 Elaine
    December 5, 2008

    “I make love to my enema bag…”

    Does Eneman know about this? I think he’s single, too?

  29. #29 LL
    December 5, 2008

    This is chemistry FAIL…

  30. #30 Kemist
    December 5, 2008

    And yes, “Starbutts” is the neologism of the week. I am so stealing that.

    Actually, no, it isn’t new. I first saw it there.

  31. #31 Orac
    December 5, 2008

    I never claimed “Starbutts” was something I coined. It’s been around a while, and those of us who discuss the ridiculousness of coffee enemas as a treatment for anything use it often.

  32. #32 LL
    December 5, 2008

    Biochem final is due in a week, fortunately protein and A.A. is not involved so I think I’m spared from that fail…

  33. #33 Kemist
    December 5, 2008

    If she doesn’t believe in cooking/boiling, how does she get the coffee that she puts in her magical enema bag?

    Supercritical CO2 ! ;) That’s a cool extraction method. Fast, doesn’t degrade fragile products. Not exactly environmentally friendly, though.

  34. #34 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 5, 2008

    n actuality, I can’t believe I had never heard of Carol Alt’s raw foodism nonsense before…

    hehehe

    Glad you ..um … enjoyed? it.

    Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez

    Dr. Nick?

    HI EVERYBODY!

  35. #35 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 5, 2008

    The other thing about the sering of meats and fish. She says she still does this and it is ok to eat sered meats.

    I’m no doctor or scientist but I was a chef at a very high end restaurant in Jackson Hole for many years.

    Sering like she is talking about takes more than 106° F to accomplish a sere on the outside without cooking the inside.

    So even that part of her nonsense is … well nonsense.

  36. #36 HCN
    December 5, 2008

    Orac said “I never claimed “Starbutts” was something I coined.”

    I believe it was coined by Dr. Hall (of http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?page_id=225 ) here:
    http://www.geocities.com/healthbase/coffee_enemas_hall.html

  37. #37 Dangerous Bacon
    December 5, 2008

    Regarding the earlier statement by a poster that coffee is very acidic, that’s a bit of an overstatement. While coffee is on the acidic side, it is less so than some other common beverages (i.e. tomato juice). And it’s been found that oral cavity pH is minimally affected by drinking coffee:

    http://iadr.confex.com/iadr/2008Toronto/techprogram/abstract_108066.htm

    The effect on systemic pH of drinking coffee is nonexistent, unless you’re one of those wackadoodles who think that body pH gyrates wildly depending on whatever you happen to be eating or drinking at the moment.

    I don’t know if any intrepid scientists have measured rectal pH after administration of coffee enemas, but if Orac would like to undertake this project I’ll be happy to assist (with data compilation and editing, that is).

    No discussion of coffee enema foolishness would be complete without a mention of the Crown Prince (literally) of Coffee Enemas – Britain’s Prince Charles. The man is chock full o’woo.

  38. #38 Evinfuilt
    December 5, 2008

    Thank you, thank you, thank you oh so much for this. Made my day. Of course my brain shut down half way through the stupid, but I’m very happy you went deep into this woo full of uncooked sh..

  39. #39 ebohlman
    December 5, 2008

    Everyone wants simplistic, comforting, magical solutions to the big scary randomness of life.

    I think DonZilla pretty much answered Orac’s opening question about why celebrities, such as models, tend to be so credulous. The success of a celebrity’s career, particularly a celebrity like a model where talent isn’t particularly important, is subject to a much more random set of influences than most people’s careers. Public taste is extremely fickle. Someone in that position is going to have a strong desire to believe they’re in control of their fate and is likely to turn to beliefs that offer the illusion of control.

    It’s also quite likely, of course, that celebrities aren’t that much more credulous than ordinary people; they just have better opportunities to promote their credulity and more people who stand to financially benefit from their credulity.

  40. #40 notedscholar
    December 5, 2008

    Hmm. Yes, this kind of New Age thinking can definitely go too far.

    I think the last thing we need is medical advice from the likes of Summers. Some celebrities, like Cruise and others, have some good ideas, and I mean some. But most of them are flukey.

    NS

  41. #41 Metro
    December 5, 2008

    @: Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM:

    I’m not sure about anything else, but teh stupid is definitely searing throughout.

    Dammit! I have next-to-no scientific training, but I am developing brain lesions reading this stuff. What bubble does this woman live in?

    Of course, we are talking about a Bible-bashing porn star (or “nude model” at least, I guess “porn star” means more than it used to). So why this is such a surprise I don’t know … If you can believe fifteen contradictory things ere brekky …

  42. #42 Marilyn Mann
    December 5, 2008

    I am still waiting for you to blog on the Paleo (aka Cave Man) Diet, pursuant to which all our modern ills are cured by eating as much like hunter-gatherers as possible. NTTATWWT.

  43. #43 synapse
    December 5, 2008

    “If she doesn’t believe in cooking/boiling, how does she get the coffee that she puts in her magical enema bag?”

    There is raw food restaurant in my neighborhood, one of a chain, and it is actually quite good, if you ignore their ridiculous health claims and “be happy” philosophy. (All their dishes are named something like “I am beautiful” or “I am cherished.”) The menu claims that they make “coffee” by infusing the grounds in cold water for 24 hours.

    My understanding is that making raw food is, oddly enough, very time and labor intensive. They grind nuts to make “flours,” milks, “cheeses,” butters, and ice creams. They dehydrate spinach leaves to make “tortillas.” Things have to sit around for a long time marinating or infusing. It makes for very interesting food, but I don’t see how someone could eat only this kind of food and still have time for anything else.

  44. #44 D. C. Sessions
    December 5, 2008

    The menu claims that they make “coffee” by infusing the grounds in cold water for 24 hours.

    Well, I can see how they might be able to extract some caffeine from the beans but who in Hell would want to drink green coffee berry extract? All of the flavor comes from the roasting.

  45. #45 Cath the Canberra Cook
    December 5, 2008

    DC Sessions, good spot on the coffee. But damn, I was going to say that. You bastard.

    I’d really love to see more nutritionism fads & fallacies discussed. Thanks, Orac.

  46. #46 D. C. Sessions
    December 5, 2008

    DC Sessions, You bastard.

    (/me Bows)

    Madam, I remain your obedient servant.

  47. #47 wackyvorlon
    December 5, 2008

    Quick point about the latin nomen est omen, “the name tells the future” is a little a loose of a translation. I’d be more inclined to translate it “the name is a harbinger”.

  48. #48 wackyvorlon
    December 5, 2008

    One more point: Am I the only one surprised to see a mainstream model talk about klismaphilia so openly?

  49. #49 mandydax
    December 5, 2008

    Oh, wow, I almost gave myself nosebleed and black eyes from the facepalming and headdesking. I think I was smarter in third grade than this wackaloon is now. If “teh stoopid, it burnz!” is a weapon, then Carol Alt should be classified as a friggin’ WMD.

    I was having my text-to-speech read this to me here at work, and occasionally I would hear a summary that sounded like a straw-man on your part, and I’d look up and see that you were quoting her. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think she’s actually outdoing the stereotype of the stupid model. *throws hands up in frustration* If I were Lewis Black, there’d be chunks of me all over this cubicle because my head would have exploded. She needs to go away, now.

  50. #50 tim gueguen
    December 6, 2008

    It would be really interesting to know how many of the people who claim to have been miraculously cured by altmed nonsense were actually sick in the first place. There must be some percentage who were told “there’s nothing (conventional) medicine can do for you” because they weren’t sick in the first place but continued to think they were despite their doctor’s indication to the contrary.

  51. #51 Blind Squirrel FCD
    December 6, 2008

    And it’s been found that oral cavity pH is minimally affected by drinking coffee:

    My understanding is that coffee can lower the ph of the mouth enough to prevent a significant amount of nicotine from being absorbed from nicotine gum.

  52. #52 DLC
    December 6, 2008

    Right… now that I’ve had a few hours to cool down from the attack of the burnin’ stupid.
    Is there really anything I can say about this woman that hasn’t been said?
    She’s nuts — Check.
    She’s got the brains of an uncooked walnut — check.
    Her understanding of chemistry is about as strong as my understanding of the eating habits of the natives of Aldeberan IV — check.
    There’s a higher chance of us detecting life on Aldeberan IV than there is of her being right on anything – check.

    Looks like we’ve got it surrounded.

  53. #53 blf
    December 6, 2008

    I think you’re being extremely unfair to walnuts, cooked or uncooked. I’ve known some very intelligent, articulate, interesting walnuts. Just last night I had a fascinating conversation with one contrasting Homer’s Odyssey to the version in pTerry’s FaustEric. Unfortunately, they don’t allow pens and paper in my padded room, so I can’t recall many of the details.

  54. #54 makeinu
    December 6, 2008

    ” “For example, in chemistry, you know if you boil water, that its molecular structure changes from a liquid to a gas (water to steam).

    That is a chemical change.”

    I think shows how dumb this is more than anything else. Chemical change????? WTF, don’t you mean a physical change (or more specifically a state change)? It’s still H20. This person needs to return to high school chemistry. Ice H20, water H20 (ok, H0-,H30+ and H20) , Steam H20… ”

    No, this does:

    “If you eat only cooked food and there isn’t enough vitamins and minerals to make the enzymes the body needs to digest all the cooked food you eat, then the body will pull vitamins and minerals from the most available source-bones for calcium and teeth, copper from skin and veins (elasticity) vitamin E from cologne (wrinkles) and the list goes on and on because we need a lot of different vitamins and minerals to maintain the body and we need a lot of different vitamins and minerals to build enzymes.” (emphasis mine)

    If this fahrbot drannit has cologne in her body, it’s no wonder she’s so stupid! It’s probably what has taken the place of her brain!

  55. #55 Militant Agnostic
    December 6, 2008

    She has one valid point about humans adatping to their diet The Inuit have much darker skins than Northern Europeans because their diet is rich in vitamin D and they tend to do much better on high fat diet than on high carbhohydrate diet and East Africans and Northern Europeans have evolved lactose tolerance, but the water thing just makes my head hurt. Perhaps her enthusiasm for raw food comes fomr the fact that she is too stupid to boil water, much less cook food.

    Cooking food is quite natural – recent research has discovered that chimps and orangutangs have similar preferences to humans with respect to what foods they prefer cooked and what foods they prefer raw. This suggests that humans have been cooking their food for an a lot longer than they have been practicing agriculture. A raw foods diet is actually unnatural.

  56. #56 M
    December 6, 2008

    Damn sattelite internet.

  57. #57 Dangerous Bacon
    December 6, 2008

    “Oh, wow, I almost gave myself nosebleed and black eyes from the facepalming and headdesking.”

    …”now that I’ve had a few hours to cool down from the attack of the burnin’ stupid.”

    “Of course my brain shut down half way through the stupid”

    The above are signs and symptoms of people suffering from a newly-described disorder, which I shall call a woonosis (as opposed to a zoonosis). Exposure to woo, as we have seen, results in both primary ill effects and secondary damage (i.e. self-inflicted injuries such as head-banging). Treatment involves a liberal dose of sarcastic rebuttal with factual evidence (extreme cases may require separation from woo altogether).

    There is no cure, but there is _hope_.

  58. #58 DMcILROY
    December 6, 2008

    My biochemist’s soul howled out in pain reading this one. It was such an extreme example of someone using sciencey words (amino acid, enzyme) without having the slightest understanding of what they actually mean.

    Anyway, to pick up on Militant Agnostic’s point, cooking food is almost certainly much older than agriculture. Evidence of the use of fire goes back to Homo erectus at least 500 000 years ago. Most woo peddlers only want us to go back to a medieval level of understanding of health and disease. This Alt girl wants us all to go back half a million years. Who knows, maybe the next step for these eejits is to suggest that somehow tool use is bad for you, and how we would all be much better off if we did everything with our bare hands……….

  59. #59 Lurkbot
    December 6, 2008

    That was a good link on Amanda Peet. At first I was afraid you were confusing The American actress with the Canadian physicist. I’m glad some celebrities are coming out against the madness.

    (She didn’t make much of an impression on me in “The Summer of George” on Seinfeld, but just in the commercials for The Whole Nine Yards I remember going: “Whoa! Who’s that?”)

  60. #60 Joseph Hertzlinger
    December 6, 2008

    This shows how parody is becoming useless. A few years ago, I saw an inspired parody of food-irradiation paranoia on Usenet, only to find there’s a movement that takes the same arguments seriously.

  61. #61 Kathryn
    December 7, 2008

    @makeinu: “Cologne” is probably what her spellchecker suggested when she misspellled “collagen,” since spellcheckers don’t consider context (i.e. mention of wrinkles).

    MS Word can make stupid people look even stupider!

  62. #62 Azkyroth
    December 7, 2008

    So maybe it’s just confirmation bias or residual sexism in myself that I had hoped I had rid myself of that leads me to wonder if there’s something about having been a model and a tendency towards woo.

    I doubt it’s sexism; it certainly seems logical to me that (regardless of gender) a career which contains little to no particular demands for critical thinking skills and focuses on attempts to win people over by appealing to emotions and impulses on the basis of superficial appearance, presentation, and “new-thing” trendiness would both attract and amplify the sort of worldview that finds Woo both appealing and compelling. It’s kind of like how a lot of engineers seem inclined to see “design” in everything (I apologize on behalf of my brethren).

  63. #63 idlemind
    December 7, 2008

    I’ve heard that use of enemas and colonics is common among models for its reputed abdomen-flattening effect (a belief no doubt tied to the “up to twenty pounds of accumulated waste” myth). Given the diuretic effect of caffeine, there might actually be some “evidence” for minor weight loss…

    I much prefer to take my coffee via the oral route.

  64. #64 -
    December 8, 2008

    “I make love to my enema bag” might be a good thing to use as an unexplained figure of speech in conversations about serious topics, and then append, “as it were”, or “so to speak”, like:

    “Well, with the chaos in the market and falling house prices, it’s hard to know how to invest. For my part, I make love to my enema bag, so to speak.”

    or

    “It’s during those quiet times in one’s life that one really senses what’s important. On still winter days, I make love to my enema bag, as it were, and I find it really fulfilling”

  65. #65 Christophe Thill
    December 8, 2008

    Alt-medicine at its best…

  66. #66 Oldfart
    December 8, 2008

    Hey, don’t pick on the Hunter-Gatherers. Last I heard, the average height of a HG was 5′ 9″, same as modern man. I believe they did quite well for themselves. They moved around, ate a variety of foods, in season, cooked and raw, got plenty of excercise, fresh air, slept well and played alot. (ok, ok, lot of speculation there but I bet I’m close). They existed in small groups rarely gathering in large groups so that plagues were not much of a problem. They rarely stayed in one spot long enough for pests to gather (rats, ticks, mice, fleas, lice, etc.). They probably were smart enough not to defecate upstream. Except for the fact that they were subject to catastrophic illnesses and physical problems that we can easily cure, they probably lived much better than their “civilized” agrarian descendants. They were very successful for a long time. They did not threaten the earth. Tho I’m sure they had their squabbles, they could not have ended all human life. They are my heroes……:)

  67. #67 IBY
    December 13, 2008

    What she wrote was so stupid even a high school student like me could see how stupidly wrong her stupidly stupid statements stupidly were. And the part about water boiling being chemical change… Seriously!! She actually wrote that!? That was something that I learned in elementary school! That was too much, even for a noob like me…

  68. #68 Dean
    November 4, 2009

    “I smell Unicorn farts.” (copyright dean10e, 1988)
    [See P.S. below for further illucidation.]

    Why should Alt or McCarthy be any different from the other kooks we meet from time to time?

    I don’t know why the frighteningly misinformed women I’ve met outnumbered the men of the same inclination, unless I just tend to notice the women more or meet more of them…

    It’s so creepy to end up in a room with one of them while they are compelled to hold me by the forearm and “enlighten” me on any of a thousand topics they are so incredibly misinformed on. The hodge-podge mixture of voodoo, alchemistry and delusional cognition has caused me to coin another of my many original phrases.

    P.S.:
    When I feel trapped in a conversation such as these referenced or even overhear one, I am often guilty of uttering one of my original phrases to a sane bystander, such as “Do you smell Unicorn farts?” or “Is that Fairy poop on your shoe?” I hereby authorize limited use of these two phrases by those so inclined; without royalty fee, unless monetary gain is accrued from said use…in that event, you owe me big time!

    Dean

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