Respectful Insolence

I know I’ve been ragging on The Huffington Post a lot lately. Trust me, I take no great pleasure in doing so. Indeed, more than anything else, it’s been a major frustration for me. It’s bad enough that HuffPo has been a hotbed of anti-vaccine propaganda and pseudoscience ever since its very inception, continuing through to today. Ditto Deepak Chopra, who has had a home there for at least three years now. But 2009 has been especially bad, adding proponents of distant healing, detox quackery, and, worst of all, the stylings of Kim Evans, a detox maven who thinks that antibiotics cause cancer. It’s not clear whether this is due to HuffPo’s new “Wellness Editor,” Patricia Fitzgerald, or whether it’s just an acceleration of a tendency that’s been there from the beginning, but the addition of Kim Evans and her detox quackery to the already toxic woo brew at HuffPo signals a new low.

Leave it to Evans to sink HuffPo to even lower levels still. She does so in a rapid fire series of two posts, first Health Care: Scientific or Rational? and then Swine Flu: Protect Yourself and Loved Ones. Oh, how the stupid does so burn.

In the first post, Evans reveals herself to be very, very unhappy at how mean we scientists and skeptics have been to her because of her “antibiotics cause cancer” post, in the process laying down a textbook example of antiscientific thinking and credulity such as I haven’t seen in quite a while:

In a recent post I got a lot of flack for not speaking like a scientist. Something in that rubs me the wrong way because it presumes that only by a very narrow method can we come to any valid conclusions or make any new discoveries about the world we live in – while also presuming that only a tiny portion of the population, with a very specific set of skills and communication methods, has the ability to do so.

Of which, I heartily disagree. I think it’s small minded thinking. I’ve never limited myself by what school I went to or any other largely esoteric sources that people regularly limit themselves by, and apparently limit and harshly judge others for. And by how easily this harsh judgment came to me, opens my eyes to how many others, children included, must be held back from speaking and following their truth by such sources.

This is nothing more than the classic “appeal to other ways of knowing” writ large. It’s all there, the attack on “small-minded” or “narrow-minded” skeptics and scientists who are just too wedded to the scientific method. It’s a common attack that woo-meisters use whenever scientists or skeptics call them on their misinformation, exaggerations, and scientific ignorance. They seem to equate “open-minded” with accepting any old health claim that they care to make (or, as in the case of Ms. Evans, given her fixation with enemas and “detox,” to pull out of her nether regions) as provisionally true, rather than, as a true scientist does, looking for ways to test such claims against reality and then accepting them as provisionally true only if they pass these tests. Characteristically, woo supporters can’t defend their health claims using legitimate science; instead they rely on cherry-picking studies, pseudoscience, and logical fallacies, and Evans is no exception.

Speaking of logical fallacies, Evans’ statement is also a huge straw man. We skeptics weren’t appalled by Evans’ claims that antibiotics cause cancer and her support for Dr. Tullio Simoncini’s cancer quackery because they were somehow outside the “way of knowing” of science. We were appalled because they were claims that are easily evaluable by science and by the methods of science easily shown to be wanting. We already know a lot about how the body works and how cancer forms, thanks to science, and it’s very clear that it has nothing to do with the nonsense that Evans was laying down in such copious quantities. We also already know a lot about the detoxification mechanisms the body uses, and we know that they have nothing do with “autointoxication” from huge quantities of waste caked on the walls of the colon cleanses or vague, unnamed “toxins” that are the cause, apparently, of virtually all illness if Evans’ book is to be believed.

But what else should we expect? After all, this is a woman who can make a massive straw man even more massive and then, as Steve Novella put it so well, become a pyromaniac in a field of straw men, with this nonsense:

To form the basis of your argument on the fact that you apparently don’t like where the information is coming from, the method of discovery, or by the words used to transfer information, is far from rational thinking. And for the moment, I’d like to transfer the focus from scientific to rational. In my mind, the truth is the truth, even if it doesn’t agree with what you already believe and regardless of where it comes from.

I just about spit up my iced tea when I read this. It’s so typical of the woo-meister way of thinking, all postmodernist and relativistic to the point where up equals down and hot equals cold. Because of this, Evans spectacularly misinterprets the reasons why scientists thought her antibiotics post was so risible. She thinks it’s just because of an irrational dislike of “where the information is coming from.” I have news for Evans. I don’t give a rodent’s posterior where information comes from. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do take into account the previous reliability of a source if I have knowledge of it. However, before seeing her antibiotics post, I had never heard of Evans before. I hadn’t the foggiest clue who she was. All I knew was what she wrote and that what she wrote was full of pseudoscience so astoundingly idiotic that it literally took my breath away briefly. That’s all I knew about her. If she had been posted sound science and rational, logical arguments, that’s all I would have known about her, and I would have been impressed.

She’s also wrong in making a dichotomy between science and rationality. Science requires rationality. It doesn’t work without it. Rationality may encompass more than science, but making a distinction between the two reveals Evans’ mindset, which is that she thinks she recognizes the “truth” without science. To her, if it seems “rational,” it must be right. Too bad the history of science is littered with the corpses of “rational” hypotheses that didn’t stand up to experimental and observational testing. Even worse for her is that it’s quite possible for “rationality” to lead to belief in pseudoscience if those beliefs are not rigorously tested against reality using…the scientific method. Indeed, I have seen creationists and believers in the paranormal use exactly the same sorts of arguments that Evans uses in her HuffPo post.

Ideally, scientific medicine should operate based on testing one’s hypothesis against reality. It require not just that, too, but also reproducibility. Hypotheses that fail that test or do not make reproducible predictions quite correctly fall by the wayside. Not that that stops Evans from spewing the usual “alt-med” misinformation about “toxins” (the alt-med equivalent of evil humors) in a completely evidence-free spew, which I sample here:

There’s a decent chance you’re also not familiar with many of the behind-the-scenes-chemicals that are used in the food supply, and I’m referring of course to non-organic foods. Bananas are pulled in a warehouse and gassed to ripen. Vegetables are being treated with radiation. Formaldehyde is being used on foods. Many foods contain genetically modified materials which offer genetic creations never before found on the planet and these plants often have pesticides built right into them. These are all off-label, and you’ll find thousands of other on-label chemicals used in foods, including the main ingredient in anti-freeze. And be sure to drink your eight glasses of unfiltered water a day because much of it contains fluoride, which you can also find as a main ingredient in rat poison. I could go on about common toxicity sources for the next six days, but I’m gathering you’re getting the point.

Actually, I am getting the point. Kim Evans is a moron who could spew nonsense about what she doesn’t understand for days on end. Formaldehyde? Geez, does Evans even know that the body makes formaldehyde as a byproduct of its own metabolic processes? Fluoride? Give me a break! Antifreeze? Has she been reading Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine nonsense? And, oh noes! It’s the dreaded genetically modified food! Then it’s all followed up by a heapin’ helpin’ of the oldest, tiredest alt-med conspiracy-mongering:

So, while all of this looms and is largely unaccounted for in the standard health care equation, critics judge harshly alternative views and hail a system that’s been found to kill almost 200,000 people a year due to preventable errors. The same system has been found to kill another 100,000 annually with drugs, and seriously harm another 2.1 million each year by the same means. They hail “proven” methods for cancer that are known to cause significant damage to the immune system, and are even known to be carcinogenic, which means to cause cancer. So, I ask, “Is this rational?”

Yes, but Evans is not.

I’m always curious about how the estimates of medical errors that lead to preventable deaths (based on most lax interpretation of what constitutes and “error”) of 100,000 seem to morph to 200,000 and then millions “seriously harmed.” It’s also an exaggeration, in which In any case, unlike the “alternative” medicine that Evans likes to tout, scientific medicine actually pays attention to medical errors and tries to correct them. Moreover, these numbers are highly overstated in that they only take into consideration of the risks of intervention without a consideration of the benefits, and the benefits of scientific medicine in general far outweigh the risks. Woo like Evans’ is never subjected to testing and improvement. Evans tells you why! If it’s rational to her, it must be true, science be damned, which leads her to a false dichotomy:

And if being rational never really enters the health care equation, I ask you, “What are we left with?”

Perhaps a population where most of the constituents have a health problem or two, and where new diseases pop up out of nowhere? Maybe a society where an estimated forty percent of the population is expected to have a problem with cancer? Or a populous where 80,000,000 members have some sort of problem with heart disease? Perhaps one where huge numbers of the population, including children, are on drugs long term for all sorts of calamities?

Oh wait, that’s exactly where we are now… So, in light of the numbers above and all of the proof that’s literally walking around next to us, maybe it’s time we started looking at and thinking about things a little differently. Because if a reliance on proven demonstrated science has gotten us exactly to the situation I describe above, perhaps a shift of focus to rational is the best move we can make.

Here’s a clue: If scientific medicine has areas where it needs to improve, that does not leave embracing your quackery as the only other solution. Moreover, the reason that a third of the population eventually gets cancer is because of the very success of scientific medicine (you know, vaccines, antibiotics, treatments for cardiovascular disease and hypertension, and stuff like that) keep people alive to old age, and cancer is, above all, a disease of old age. The more people who make it to old age, the more people will develop the diseases of old age, such as cancer and heart disease. Because we’ve done a better job at decreasing the mortality from heart disease than we have for cancer over the last 100 years, it won’t be long before cancer is the number one killer. If we were to reduce cancer mortality by 50% or 90%, more people would die of something else, because everybody dies eventually of something. Rational scientists and physicians know this.

Pseudoscientists like Evans don’t like science because inevitably many, if not all, of their pet ideas fail its test. They also don’t like science because it is a methodology that goes to great lengths to minimize the effect of normal human cognitive biases and quirks. We humans have a huge tendency to confuse correlation with causation and to remember what supports out beliefs while forgetting that which doesn’t. We all do it; we’re all prone to it–even Evans and, yes, even scientists. The difference is that pseudoscience boosters like Evans don’t understand that, and scientists do. Indeed, science is a bulwark against normal human irrationality tainting our conclusions about how the world works. In contrast, Evans seems to view such irrationality as equal to that of science, so much so that, in the second article, she is more than willing to recommend her detox quackery for a purpose where its use could be most dangerous, protecting against swine flu:

Cleansing involves changing your internal environment and specifically, removing a bunch of the stored waste that most people have trapped in their bodies. Most estimates are that the average person has ten or more pounds of stored waste just in their colon, and I’d argue far more throughout their body. In any case, many people have found that disease disappears when this waste is gone, and that when the body is clean it’s much more difficult for new problems, like viruses, to take hold in the first place. And it’s my understanding that many people who took regular enemas instead of vaccines during the 1918 pandemic made it out on the other side as well.

That’s right. Evans is recommending enemas and “detox” quackery to protect yourself against the swine flu. I can tell you one thing; this woman is utterly clueless, as can be shown by her utter ignorance of history. Here’s a clue, Kim: There was no vaccine against influenza during the 1918 influenza pandemic. In fact, influenza vaccines were only developed widely available during World War II, where they were used to protect our soldiers. You’re either clueless or lying. I pick clueless, given how easy it is to find this information out. (A liar, I suspect, would produce a better, less easily discovered lie.) Moreover, there are not–I repeat, not–ten or twenty pounds of “stored waste” in the colon that are making people sick, and it especially isn’t poo in your colon that gives you the flu. Any surgeon who’s ever operated on the colon regularly (as I used to do until I subspecialized) or gastroenterologist who does endoscopy knows this to by a myth, but it’s the basis of so much enema quackery, as is the belief that the liver needs “help” dealing with these unnamed “toxins” through purging and enemas. Indeed, this obsession with “toxins” and poo caking the inside of the colon is nothing more than the alt-med version of the religious belief that one is “unclean” and needs “purification,” but all the enemas in the world won’t purify believers in this woo. They always think they need more.

Unfortunately, Evans looks as though she’s going to be a permanent fixture on HuffPo. She’s clearly using it to sell her books, but the very fact that HuffPo would offer her a popular platform on its blogs tells me that it’s upping the ante. No longer is mere anti-vaccine propaganda and “quantum” woo like that of Deepak Chopra is enough. Kim Evans is now the new standard, and–oh, look!–there’s a post by a chiropractor named M. J. Wegmann spewing the same “toxins” pseudoscience, but with a twist: He’s listing chiropractic as one of three “sure-fire strategies to prevent the swine flu,” claiming it can “boost the immune system” and thereby protect you from swine flu! Truly, the swine flu scare is drawing quacks to it like moths to a flame, the difference being that people who listen to this sort of nonsense are the ones who will get burned.

Given its history over the last few months, it’s clear to me that, no longer satisfied with being the “respectable” home of antivaccine lies and quackery in the blogosphere, HuffPonow wants to invade Whale.to and Natural News territory. It’s getting there, too. Fast. All that remains are posts about “noxious earth energies” and conspiracy theories about lizard men, the Illuminati, and claims that the Asian tsunami of 2005 was in fact due to a nuke.

Just give HuffPo time. I’m sure it’s recruiting Mike Adams and James Scudamore as I write this.

Comments

  1. #1 Corry
    April 28, 2009

    I particularly like how in the comments section of the swine flu piece she cites herself when asked for evidence.

  2. #2 Landru
    April 28, 2009

    Hey! You can’t disprove the lizard men!

    Heh.

    Okay, back to swine flu hysteria now.

  3. #3 Enkidu
    April 28, 2009

    I should tell Kim that I make sure to give my toddler her rat poison… er, I mean fluoride drops… every day.

  4. #4 Mu
    April 28, 2009

    Hmm, wouldn’t a lung enema be more efficacious against an air-borne illness than coffee up your butt? Or maybe a bleach inhaler to remove all the toxins from the alveoli and allow them to breath more freely?

  5. #5 Paul Browne
    April 28, 2009

    The stupid certainly burns, it staggers me to see just how wrong people can be.

    Her reference to medical errors and adverse drug reactions, without of course mentioning the good that drugs and doctors do, is fairly typical of fans of alternative medicine, who as you say don’t properly evaluate whether their treatments work or whether they cause harm. I guess such narrow minded focus on the actual results of the intervention just isn’t their style.

    It reminds me of a rather awful newspaper add that an animal rights group ran last year which attacked the toxic effects of drugs used to treat childhood leukemia (presumably acute lymphoblastic leukemia) but somehow failed to mention tha because of these treatments the overall cure (really long-term remission) rate for ALL in children has gone from less than 10% to over 80% over the past four decades.

    Funny how they forgot that part!

  6. #6 Militant Agnostic
    April 28, 2009

    Flouride in rat poison? – I thought rat poisins were anticoagulents like warfarin and coumadin. I hope she never finds out that the evil doctors are prescribing rat poison to people.

    Anyhow, we don’t have to worry about the swine flu since it is only a beta test by the New World Order to test distribution techniques for the real pandemic.

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/swine-flu-attack-likely-a-beta-test.html

    Now you know where evil Dawn gets her news.

  7. #7 Kemist
    April 28, 2009

    He’s listing chiropractic as one of three “sure-fire strategies to prevent the swine flu,” claiming it can “boost the immune system” and thereby protect you from swine flu!

    uh… If we’re talking about a 1918-style influenza virus, the very last thing I would want is “boost my immune system”. In fact, the most sensible course of action would be to tone it down.

    The casualty pattern of those viruses (which runs contary to the everyday influenza), killing mostly healthy adults and sparing children and old people, seems to indicate that an immune overreaction played a role in their deaths.

  8. #8 The Perky Skeptic
    April 28, 2009

    Her unbelievable lack of rationality, her UNBEARABLE arrogance of ignorance… I just… am needing a detox from the overload of STUPID on my immune system!

    1000 ccs 5M coffee, administered orally, might do the trick.

  9. #9 Clare
    April 28, 2009

    The idea that enemas were a dandy treatment for flu in 1918 is a new low (or high, depending on whether one sees this as stupidity or comedy). From what my elderly mother has to tell me about folks of that era, they also swore by smearing goose fat on the chest for curing respiratory diseases. Perhaps I should write that one up for huffpo?

  10. #10 rb
    April 28, 2009

    well, if the average person has 10 pounds of crap in their colon, how much crap does evans have in her head.

  11. #11 bob
    April 28, 2009

    As I mentioned over on PalMD’s blog, I left a comment for her and was apparently censored. I guess they don’t like being told that anecdotes aren’t data, and they don’t want people requesting hard data and peer-reviewed articles from them. It’s despicable that someone would try to capitalize on the public’s legitimate fear and danger to promote BS like this.

  12. #12 Whitcoat Tales
    April 28, 2009

    I choose to believe Kim Evans thinks people used time travel to get vaccinated against the 1918 flu. It’s as sensible as everything else she’s said.

    I was going to leave a book of a comment here, but it got so long that it turned it into a post post.

  13. #13 idlemind
    April 28, 2009

    Just what is it with woo-meisters and their obsession with what comes out of their butts?

  14. #14 Aftercancer
    April 28, 2009

    Here’s the comment I posted at HuffPo

    This is absurd! If you want to help yourselves and your community stop paying attention to this kind of balderdash and pay attention to things that can make an actual difference. Like what? Like —

    *** Making sure your local health department has not had to lay people off because of budget cuts
    *** Contacting your republican senators and make them approve a Secretary of Health and Human Services
    *** Advocate for health insurance so that when people are sick they don’t wait until they’re deathly ill to see a doctor
    *** Making sure that medical policy decisions are made based on science and not anecdotal evidence. Oh and when I say science I mean evidence based, peer reviewed, independently sponsored research and nothing less.

  15. #15 Michael Simpson
    April 28, 2009

    Can someone explain to me how her thinking differs from so-called physicians of the Dark Ages? If you can’t figure it out, “there be dragons.” Or demons. Or magick.

    Vaccines in 1918? That made me spit up my coffee.

    This woman is as dangerous as Jenny.

  16. #16 The Perky Skeptic
    April 28, 2009

    @idlemind, Woomeisters are not only obsessed with what comes out of their butts, they love to talk crap.

    Oh, and they evidently think that human beings, if they do EXACTLY the right things with NO DEVIATION, can somehow LIVE FOREVERRrrrrrr, zomgwtfbbq~!!!!one!

  17. #17 Citizen Deux
    April 28, 2009

    And here we have the reprehensible offspring of ideology trumping science. The results of HuffPo’s support of these views indicates a willingness to permit belief to overcome reason. We see similar problematic beliefs among extreme right websites and at times a remarkable comingling of false ideas – typically conspiracy theory driven.

    It’s one thing to debate the permutations of philosophy and it’s awkward cousin politics – quite another to apply that relativist, post-modern view to epidemiology.

  18. #18 Rose
    April 28, 2009

    I can’t believe she didn’t delete the “vaccine during 1918 flu” line in embarrassment, at the least.

    Fail basic medical history, Kim.

  19. #19 Pablo
    April 28, 2009

    In regards to the whole “cancer can be cured by antibiotics” and Simonici’s “cancer is a fungus” nonsense, I wonder, have these people ever heard of pathology?

    I mean, we can actually REMOVE cancerous tissue, and we can examine it under a microscope. News: it’s not a bacterial infection, and it’s not a bloody fungus (Simonici’s thing is, “Look, there are white spots! Fungus is white! Cancer is a fungus!!!”)

    Shoot, the NIH keeps stores of growing cancer cells that can be used to test anti-cancer treatments in-vitro, for pete’s sake! You’d think they would be able to detect the bacteria or fungus in them.

    I’m not convinced that the sellers of this crap are so ignorant as to not be aware of this stuff (they’ve undoubtedly been told), but they are certainly preying on the public’s ignorance. Darn it, people, doctors and scientists aren’t just making this stuff up or guessing.

    Personally, I consider pathologists to be among the most scary people I know. Scary in that they are scarily smart, but also weird enough to find it interesting. But the amount that they (and the medical/scientific community) knows about how the body works is almost overwhelming.

  20. #20 Todd
    April 28, 2009

    I mean, we can actually REMOVE cancerous tissue, and we can examine it under a microscope. News: it’s not a bacterial infection, and it’s not a bloody fungus (Simonici’s thing is, “Look, there are white spots! Fungus is white! Cancer is a fungus!!!”)

    Hmm, I think I see the mistake you are making. Microscopes are used for looking at very tiny things. Anecdotes are big.

  21. #21 Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac
    April 28, 2009

    I HAVE to post her reply to some comments over at Huff.

    As for tests, I look at people:
    Have I seen migraines disappear with cleansing? Yes.
    Have I seen chronic constipation disappear? Yes.
    Have I seen a man with 16 stints in his heart and having a heart attack once a month, stop having heart attacks and have his doctor add 10-15 years to his life with cleansing? Yes.
    Have I seen cramps disappear? Yes.
    Have I seen athlete’s foot disappear? Yes.
    Have I seen chronic insomnia disappear? Yes.
    Have I seen general chronic pain disappear with cleansing? Yes.
    Have I seen more symptoms of problems disappear with cleansing? Yes.

    And if you’re content doing what you’re already doing, by all means, please continue to do so.

    This gives me a bad case of the ROFLs.

    I was glad to see so many people calling for evidence/proof/clarification in the comments.

  22. #22 Sastra
    April 28, 2009

    “I’ve never limited myself by what school I went to or any other largely esoteric sources that people regularly limit themselves by, and apparently limit and harshly judge others for. And by how easily this harsh judgment came to me, opens my eyes to how many others, children included, must be held back from speaking and following their truth by such sources.”

    They just don’t get science. This complaint from Evans would make perfect sense if she were talking, instead, about art or literature. It’s true that people who are self-taught musicians or poets might be snubbed just because they haven’t gone to the “right” schools — in which case her argument makes sense: judge them on the quality of their work, not on their academic background. If you like it, then it “works” for you, and nobody should tell you any different.

    And the little reference to children who are “held back from speaking and following their truth” due to harsh criticism sounds like budding artists whose creativity was condemned, because ‘elephants aren’t purple’ or something. Awww…

    So, before you criticize so harshly, please think of the children.

  23. #23 Rebecca Fisher
    April 28, 2009

    Just a tiny correction… It’s *John* Scudamore at Whale.to, not James. Other than that, excellent as usual!

  24. #24 Mu
    April 28, 2009

    Have I seen athlete’s foot disappear? Yes

    A high colonic works against fungus – CANCER CURE!

  25. #25 Badger3k
    April 28, 2009

    “Just what is it with woo-meisters and their obsession with what comes out of their butts?”

    Fundies worry about what goes in, Woo-meisters worry about what comes out, and then they switch.

    Eeewwww. Gotta clean that image out of my head.

  26. #26 Pareidolius
    April 28, 2009

    Oh no she did NOT just say “Have I seen a man with 16 STINTS in his heart and having a heart attack once a month, stop having heart attacks and have his doctor add 10-15 years to his life with cleansing? Yes.”!!!
    I did a stint at UCSD for a few years, but I digress . . .
    Evans’ inability to use (or comprehend) rationality is stunning. Rationality is evidently whatever she wants to be true. Science is “esoteric” and reality is all squishy and relative in her magical, indigo universe. Surely, small children should not be criticized harshly for their flights of fancy, but adults who spout dangerous nonsense dressed as medicine must have their fairy wings plucked off without anesthesia.

  27. #27 Calli Arcale
    April 28, 2009

    Kemist:

    uh… If we’re talking about a 1918-style influenza virus, the very last thing I would want is “boost my immune system”. In fact, the most sensible course of action would be to tone it down.

    Read the tooltip text for the current XKCD (mouseover the comic to see it). It has the perfect recipe — well, better advice than what Kim Evans is giving, at any rate, which isn’t difficult to achieve.
    http://xkcd.com/574/

  28. #28 Warren
    April 28, 2009

    Vegetables are being treated with radiation.

    Good. Those that aren’t irradiated carry salmonella.

  29. #29 RxnMan
    April 28, 2009

    “And be sure to drink your eight glasses of unfiltered water a day because much of it contains fluoride, which you can also find as a main ingredient in rat poison.”

    This all must be a joke – I mean, she’s cribbing theories from Dr. Strangelove

  30. #30 The Perky Skeptic
    April 28, 2009

    ROFLOL, Pareidolius, I was thinking the same thing– “16 stints” of what?

  31. #31 John M
    April 28, 2009

    Let’s look on the bright side of this. If the pandemic comes, despite all the best efforts to halt it, then the stupid is not simply going to burn – it’s going to kill. Far more snake oil users are going to die than those who take Tamiflu, and the probability that Kim Evans dies while Orac lives has to be on the friendlier side of 0.5

    Err… I suppose Ms. Evans WILL absolutely refuse a swine ‘flu vaccination if offered one?

  32. #32 Rjaye
    April 28, 2009

    I can’t believe this woman’s delusional writing is getting her published and not psychiatric help.

    Sixteen stints and having a heart attack a month? Flouride in rat poison? That somehow we have all of this waste just rotting inside of us that needs removing?

    The woman obviously has no wiki-foo, and has never had a colonoscopy. I found that our GI tracts do a pretty good job of getting that nasty waste out of us, and if not, those yucky magnesium sulfate solutions do the job at a couple bucks a shot-instead of the hundred bucks my friend spent having an herbal colonic.

    But I guess it’s not as sexy.

  33. #33 MrProsser
    April 28, 2009

    Maybe all their enema interest is because they have klismaphilia? And I say that not because such a fetish is bad in any way, I just wish they could admit it. I felt a lot better when I became more open about my fetishes. Maybe then they can give up this health woo and start enjoying getting off for the sake of getting off.

  34. #34 dt
    April 28, 2009

    Fluoride has been used as an insecticide and as rat poison, but obviously only in toxic doses.

    “16 stints in the heart” = 16 STENTS in the heart. Must have been a typo on her part.

  35. #35 Prometheus
    April 28, 2009

    The Devil – they say – is in the details:

    “And be sure to drink your eight glasses of unfiltered water a day because much of it contains fluoride, which you can also find as a main ingredient in rat poison.”

    Sodium fluoride – which can be used to fluoridate water – is (was?) used as an insecticide. Of course, the doses were much higher than anybody could ever reach drinking fluoridated water. It’s all about the dose.

    A sprinkle of salt tastes good on your food and is absolutely essential to the well-being (wellness) of marine fish, but pack those same marine fish in rock salt and they die. Even pure water (sans fluoride) has killed a number of people when ingested in excessive amounts.

    If Kim starts making writing “Purity of Essence” over and over again, it’s a sign that she’s channeling the spirit of Gen. Jack D. Ripper.

    It is possible that Kim is confusing sodium fluoride – which is/was not used as a “rat poison” – with sodium fluoroacetate (Compound 1080), which is used in a few places as a rodenticide (“rat poison”).

    Most likely, Kim is simply repeating what is posted on any number of conspiracy-theory anti-fluoridation sites without doing the slightest bit of fact-checking. Pretty much par for the course.

    Is HuffPoo trying to reach that New-Age, Post-Modern Nirvana where their posts contain absolutely no accurate information? This one comes close.

    Prometheus

  36. #36 Coragyps
    April 28, 2009

    “Bananas are pulled in a warehouse and gassed to ripen.”

    Well, yeah – gassed with the same ethylene that they generate to ripen themselves….so?

  37. #37 Michael Simpson
    April 28, 2009

    And now Michelle Bachmann, right wing Republican congressman from Minnesota, is claiming it’s the Democrats who caused Swine Flu. So I’m a Democrat who refuses to clean his colon. I’m obviously patient 0.

  38. #38 drew
    April 28, 2009

    Quack Quack Quack!!!

  39. #39 Rogue Medic
    April 28, 2009

    Michael Simpson,

    You are so full of it, unless you recently had a BM (Bowel Movement, or it could be a Bachmann Moment – when that Bachmann Moment passes, you would no longer be full of it). :-)

    Back to the post. This is a great quote by Ethan Allen, quoted in Carl Sagan’s
    The Demon-Haunted World. Evans’ argument against science reminded me of this:

    Those who invalidate reason ought seriously to consider whether they argue against reason with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principles that they are laboring to dethrone: but if they argue without reason (which, in order to be consistent with themselves they must do), they are out of reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument.

  40. #40 Cliff Hendroval
    April 28, 2009

    Throughout the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s there was a stock character who showed up in popular literature, plays and movies. She was a well-to-do society woman of middle years and (at best) middling intelligence who becomes totally obsessed with woo: usually it was spiritualism or some form of the Wisdom Of The East. Often there was a rather obvious fraudulent spiritual leader or “doctor” that this woman was an acolyte of; he was usually unmasked as a fraud/blackmailer/sexual predator.

    Arianna Huffington is the 2009 version of one of those society women. Sadly, though, she doesn’t even have the redeeming feature of Shirley MacLaine, who at least was absolutely adorable in The Apartment.

  41. #41 Kemist
    April 28, 2009

    Just what is it with woo-meisters and their obsession with what comes out of their butts?

    Well, with it being so similar to what comes out of their mouths, how could they not ?

  42. #42 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 28, 2009

    To give the benefit of the doubt to Evans, it’s possible that this much-pounced-upon line of hers:

    And it’s my understanding that many people who took regular enemas instead of vaccines during the 1918 pandemic made it out on the other side as well.

    does not in fact mean she thinks that some people were getting vaccines against the flu in 1918. It certainly does read as if she’s talking about people who had the option of vaccines in 1918, of which there are of course none. It could be, however, just her snarky way of saying “People didn’t need your fancy-pants vaccines to survive in 1918, did they?” When you consider that the contrary of her statement would be that “all people who didn’t get vaccines but did get regular enemas during the 1918 pandemic died” then it’s easier to read it as a statement of smirk, not blatant historical error.

    Too bad the rest of her article is ten pounds of what clogs up colons.

  43. #43 Mandos
    April 28, 2009

    @Cliff:

    Have you heard of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the Disney children’s movie? It’s based on the same premise, where the lead female character is taking distance education classes in magic from an obvious fraud. But it turns out that while it is fraud, it actually works for her.

  44. #44 EH
    April 28, 2009

    The controlled clinical trial is nothing more than a Judeo-Christian epistemological device forced on other cultures. Read Daniel 1:1-15 if you don’t believe me. There are other systems of judgment in healthcare that are equally effective. I, for one, favor entrail reading.

  45. #45 Mandos
    April 28, 2009

    Hah! I looked that Bible passage up. It is indeed about a clinical trial, of sorts. But unfortunately not randomized.

  46. #46 Anthro
    April 28, 2009

    I have been writing to Huff Po about this, Evans, McCarthy and that horrible Fitzgerald who calls herself “Dr.” and when you click on bio you find out she has a “doctorate” (from where we are not told) in homeopathy!

    Well, here it is:

    Patricia Fitzgerald is a licensed acupuncturist, certified clinical nutritionist, and a homeopath. She has a Master’s Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and a Doctorate in Homeopathic Medicine. She is the founder and Medical Director of the Santa Monica Wellness Center and the author of the best-selling, award-winning The Detox Solution: The Missing Link to Radiant Health, Abundant Energy, Ideal Weight, and Peace of Mind. You can learn more at TheDetoxSolution.com.

    I have had no response from Huff Po and realize that they probably see me as a “crank”. No doubt, if they do reply, they would tell me that they are simply being “balanced” and that people can “choose for themselves” what kind of “wellness” advice they want to read about.

    This is where respecting people’s “faith” has landed us.

    By the way, I had my first colonoscopy a couple years ago. I did exactly as instructed (unlike my friends who cheated here and there) and the doc said I had the cleanest colon he’d ever seen. I eat a lot of fiber as a vegetarian, but I’ll not claim correlation OR causation and I’ll tell you that for FREE.

  47. #47 DLC
    April 29, 2009

    Is it me, or has the Huffington Post gone the way of the National Enquirer ?
    Handling that much brightly burning stupid must use up resources. We need to donate to Orac’s stupid-proof gloves fund.
    There are not “other ways of knowing” than the scientific methold, there are simply ways of guessing.

  48. #48 lemons
    April 29, 2009

    HuffPo used to be in my regular reads list – with Andrew Sullivan, Slate, etc.- but I’ve skipped it ever since Robert Kennedy and the anti-vaccine crowd took over. Which is probably how they keep their audience: when rational people stop reading, the kooks can say whatever they want. Arianna probably buys into the woo, but she’s also a shrewd lady and certainly realizes that pushing woo gets her more clicks than trying to live in boring old reality.

  49. #49 Lester
    April 29, 2009

    From HuffPo’s user agreement…

    THIS SERVICE IS AVAILABLE “AS IS.” WE DO NOT WARRANT THAT THIS SERVICE WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR-FREE. THERE MAY BE DELAYS, OMISSIONS, INTERRUPTIONS AND INACCURACIES IN THE NEWS, INFORMATION OR OTHER MATERIALS AVAILABLE THROUGH THIS SERVICE. WE DO NOT MAKE ANY WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, THOSE OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, WITH RESPECT TO THIS SERVICE OR ANY INFORMATION OR GOODS THAT ARE AVAILABLE OR ADVERTISED OR SOLD THROUGH THIS SERVICE. WE DO NOT MAKE ANY REPRESENTATIONS, NOR DO WE ENDORSE THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, TIMELINESS OR RELIABILITY OF ANY ADVICE, OPINION, STATEMENT OR OTHER MATERIAL OR DATABASE DISPLAYED, UPLOADED OR DISTRIBUTED IN THIS SERVICE OR AVAILABLE THOUGH LINKS IN THIS SERVICE. WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CORRECT ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS IN THIS SERVICE. ALTHOUGH WE INTEND TO TAKE REASONABLE STEPS TO PREVENT THE INTRODUCTION OF VIRUSES, WORMS, “TROJAN HORSES” OR OTHER DESTRUCTIVE MATERIALS TO THIS SERVICE, WE DO NOT GUARANTEE OR WARRANT THAT THIS SERVICE OR MATERIALS THAT MAY BE DOWNLOADED FROM THIS SERVICE DO NOT CONTAIN SUCH DESTRUCTIVE FEATURES. WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR HARM ATTRIBUTABLE TO SUCH FEATURES. IF YOU RELY ON THIS SERVICE AND ANY MATERIALS AVAILABLE THROUGH THIS SERVICE, YOU DO SO SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

  50. #50 Wes
    April 29, 2009

    Is it any wonder that this Kim Evans is also a Secretard? From her website:

    Spiritual reasons are exciting reasons to cleanse your body. It’s not coincidental that Jesus, Buddha, and many other spiritual greats are known to have done deep cleansing through fasting. When people cleanse deeply, they often find that they obtain a direct energetic connection to our higher power. This gives people insight into their higher purpose and often leads to a life characterized by divine synchronicities. Body cleansing also tends to elevates your energy – which directly alters life circumstances – as what you put out energetically, you will attract. It’s kind of a way to get “The Secret” working for you, and trust me, it’s much easier to experience than to explain to another…

    You may notice that when you’re grouchy everything seems to go wrong. This is because your energy is low and you’re attracting problems into your life. The good news is, you can create higher energy and attract wonderful things into your life by removing your toxic burden.

    http://www.cleaningupcleanse.com/

    On top of being a complete woo-woo, she’s also a terrible writer. Some of those sentences are just gibberish.

  51. #51 Interrobang
    April 29, 2009

    Well, there’s a huge wodge of evidence against The Secret right there. She says “what you put out energetically, you will attract,” and so far I haven’t noticed her landing in the shit, despite spewing it with the force and vigour of an industrial irrigating sprinkler…

  52. #52 Mu
    April 29, 2009

    It is possible that Kim is confusing sodium fluoride – which is/was not used as a “rat poison” – with sodium fluoroacetate (Compound 1080), which is used in a few places as a rodenticide (“rat poison”).

    Thanks Prometheus, I googled NaF as rat poison, and all I could find was woo and anti-woo mentioning, but no reasonable explanation of how the chemistry would work.
    Sodium fluoroacetate LD50 in rats is .2 mg/kg, a factor 100 more lethal than the basic sodium fluoride at 22 gm/kg (for comparison, sodium cyanide is 6 mg/kg). That’s some potent stuff.

  53. #53 missy
    April 29, 2009

    Kim seems to have a wee bit of an OCD issue re: fecal matter. Out, out damn poo!

    It may be gross, Kim, but like all of our other precious bodily fluids, it’s necessary to life. Mother Nature, to whom you bow (or, as we scientifically-minded folks call it, evolution) has done a pretty good job of designing a system that rids itself of toxins while maintaining a balance of good bacteria to bad (all without spending a cent on your book or “probiotics”).

    All that enamizing is messing with your system. A rational person might even come to the conclusion that such extreme “detoxification” has diluted the nutrients necessary to make your brain function properly…

  54. #54 Pablo
    April 29, 2009

    It is possible that Kim is confusing sodium fluoride – which is/was not used as a “rat poison” – with sodium fluoroacetate (Compound 1080), which is used in a few places as a rodenticide (“rat poison”).
    Thanks Prometheus, I googled NaF as rat poison, and all I could find was woo and anti-woo mentioning, but no reasonable explanation of how the chemistry would work. Sodium fluoroacetate LD50 in rats is .2 mg/kg, a factor 100 more lethal than the basic sodium fluoride at 22 gm/kg (for comparison, sodium cyanide is 6 mg/kg). That’s some potent stuff.

    How dare you folks call their bluff? I mean, what do you think you are doing asking them to support their claim that “fluoride” in drinking water was used as rat poison?

    Sheesh, you’d think you were almost expecting them to know what they are talking about.

  55. #55 Prometheus
    April 29, 2009

    Mu,

    The sources I have show an LD50 for sodium fluoride of between 100 and 180 mg/kg for rats and about 100 mg/kg for sheep and goats. For those not familiar with the term, “LD50″ is the dose that will kill 50% of the animals receiving that amount.

    The concentration of sodium fluoride in fluoridated water is between 0.5 mg/L and 1.0 mg/L. So, to drink enough sodium fluoride to kill them, the “average” 70 kg adult (assuming the lower 100 mg/kg LD50) would need to drink 7000 liters of water.

    Now, since fluoride is rapidly excreted by the kidneys, this dose would have to be taken over a fairly short period, such as a day or two.

    So, is it possible to drink 3500 liters of water a day (well over the “eight glasses of unfiltered water” Kim thought were so harmful)? Even assuming that the fluoride accumulated unexcreted, it would take 3500 days (almost ten years) drinking 2 liters (~ eight glasses) of water a day to reach that level.

    Kim needs to clear out some more of that impacted fecal matter.

    Prometheus

  56. #56 khan
    April 29, 2009

    #44 I, for one, favor entrail reading.

    I have a DH (Doctorate of Haruspicy) and post-graduate work in GS (Gizzard Squeezing).

  57. #57 Natalie
    April 29, 2009

    Prometheus, it seems to me that drinking the amount of water you’re talking about would cause one to die of water toxicity before they died or flouride poisoning.

  58. #58 mcow
    April 29, 2009

    I can almost guarantee that the “main ingredient in anti-freeze” she’s talking about is propylene glycol, a very low-toxicity antifreeze agent and emulsifier commonly added to food.

    Of course, this is not the same as the antifreeze used in cars, ethylene glycol which is many thousands of times more toxic than PG, and which is not approved for use as a food additive. Evans either knows this, and is a lying dirtbag, or doesn’t know this, and is a dangerously ignorant flake.

  59. #59 Prometheus
    April 30, 2009

    Natalie comments:

    “Prometheus, it seems to me that drinking the amount of water you’re talking about would cause one to die of water toxicity before they died or flouride poisoning.”

    Yep.

    It would take 7000 liters of water to reach the LD50 of fluoride. If even 1% of that amount (70 liters) were consumed by one person in one day, they would die of water intoxication (hyponatremia). Even if they were sunbathing in Death Valley in August, they couldn’t process 70 liters of water in one day, let alone the 7000 liters it would take to reach the fluoride LD50.

    Now, in case someone has “googled” fluoride and has noticed that “renal toxicity” is a complication of excess fluoride intake, the result is a loss of concentrating ability and increased urine output, with a corresponding decrease in tubular re-uptake of fluoride and minimal net change in fluoride excretion. And this happens at plasma fluoride concentrations of over 400 micromolar (~17 mg/L).

    Assuming an “average” 70 kg adult with a blood volume of roughly 5 liters and a plasma volume of 2.7 liters, this works out to about 46 milligrams of fluoride in the plasma – the amount contained in 46 liters of water. As noted above, ingestion of this much water in one day would cause problems far greater than a mild kidney dysfunction.

    Additionally, ingested fluoride doesn’t just stay within the plasma – it is distributed throughout the body water and is avidly taken up by bone and teeth. The actual amount of water you would have to ingest to reach the threshold of kidney damage is estimated to be 5 mg/kg/day, or 350 mg per day in our imaginary “average” adult. This equates to 350 liters of water per day, which is – as mentioned above – a ludicrous amount of water.

    Even people drinking well water with extremely high levels (up to 8 mg/L) of fluoride (as occasionally occurs in Texas) would need to drink over 43 liters of water each day to reach the toxicity threshold.

    No, Kim Evans is not on solid ground with this one.

    Prometheus

  60. #60 Ice Nine
    June 11, 2009

    What is “woo”?

  61. #61 Ice Nine
    June 11, 2009

    What is “woo”?

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