Respectful Insolence

The “decline” of science? Not so much

I’ve on occasion been asked why I even bother responding to the brain–and I do use the term loosely–droppings of Mike Adams, the purveyor of one of the largest repositories of quackery on the entire Internet. Good question. Sometimes I wonder that myself. After all, Adams is so far out there, so beyond the realm of rational thought, so full of bizarre conspiracy theories and defenses of quackery that anyone the least bit rational and science-based should be able to see through his nonsense. Applying a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence to someone as reality-challenged as Mike Adams at times seems like killing a flea with thermonuclear weapons.

So why do it?

I do it because (1) there are times when I enjoy it and, more importantly, (2) there are times when Adams so perfectly encapsulates the sheer unreason that undergirds so much of “alternative” medicine. A few days ago, Adams did it again, in fact. His distillation of the nonsense behind so much of “alt-med” was entitled The downfall of science and the rise of intellectual tyranny. “Intellectual tyranny.” You keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it does. Not that that ever stopped Adams from going off the deep end of crazy before. And when Adams goes off the deep end, sometimes killing a flea with thermonuclear weapon is not only justified but required. You’ll see what I mean when you read:

The very reputation of so-called “science” has been irreparably damaged by the invocation of the term “science” by GMO lackeys, pesticide pushers, mercury advocates and fluoride poisoners who all claim to have science on their side. It seems that every toxin, contamination and chemical disaster that now infects our planet has been evangelized in the name of “science.”

Where “science” used to be highly regarded in the 1950′s, today the term is largely exploited by pharmaceutical companies, biotech giants and chemical companies to push their own for-profit agendas. Actual science has little to do with the schemes now being pushed under the veil of science.

I love how, whenever science doesn’t support Adams’ woo-ful beliefs, it’s obviously been corrupted by corporations. It’s lying to him. It’s all gone bad. Even more hilariously, to Adams, this pharma-corrupted science is promoted by–you guessed it–science bloggers:

To make matters even worse for the sciences, many so-called “science bloggers” have been revealed to have financial ties to the very same companies whose profits are shored up by their activities (http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/08/…).

Rather than defending any sort of scientific truth, science bloggers have become the internet whores of Big Pharma, Monsanto, pesticide manufacturers, chemical companies and toxic mercury factories. There’s hardly a dangerous chemical in widespread use today that the science bloggers haven’t venomously defended as safe and effective. Many are just blatantly paid off by corporate entities to run around the internet pushing GMOs, chemicals and vaccines.

This realization has caused the science bloggers to be widely ridiculed by intelligent people who see right through their thinly-veiled (but well-funded) disinformation campaigns. Where science bloggers once had credibility, they now are seen as intellectual prostitutes for dangerous corporate agendas that benefit powerful companies at the expense of environmental health and human health.

If they weren’t doing all this in the name of science, it wouldn’t be so bad, actually. If they called themselves “corporate whore bloggers” instead of “science bloggers,” their actions wouldn’t be so harmful to the reputation of science itself. But, to the great detriment of actual science, they insist on calling themselves “science bloggers.”

Hilarious! Adams actually believes Jake Crosby! As I pointed out a long ago, Jake is a crazy mixed up kid who came up with a crazy mixed up conspiracy theory about a crazy mixed up blog collective. If there’s one thing about Jake Crosby that I can say, it’s that his research skills are best characterized as…well, not exactly Woodward and Bernstein-level quality. And that’s putting it mildly. In fact, Jake’s journalistic skills rival that of the typical Weekly World News writer. No, actually, that would be an insult to your typical Weekly World News writer. They, at least, have much more active and creative imaginations. No wonder Adams believes Crosby!

I’m half tempted to claim the title of “corporate whore blogger” just as a joke, even though I don’t receive any financial recompense or research support from any company, pharmaceutical or otherwise. Sad, but true. When I sit in my underwear blogging, it’s on my own dime and on my own free dime, not because some nefarious pharma masters have put me up to it. (At least, that’s what Lord Draconis Zeneca tells me to say.) In fact, maybe I’ll change the title of this blog from “Respectful Insolence” to “Corporate Whore Blog” in his honor.

Or not.

This brings me back to the reason why it is sometimes worthwhile to take on Mike Adams and his nonsense. The reason is that his “thinking” process (such as it is) is quite revealing. Although Adams cranks it up to 11 and puts it all on steroids, so to speak, at its heart Adams’ thinking reveals something about belief in alt-med, and that’s a profound anti-science attitude, a profound distrust of what is accepted as science. If it doesn’t fit within Adams’ magical thinking that forms the core of his world view, it must be corporate corruption. it couldn’t possibly be that Adams is wrong or that science doesn’t support his beliefs. In fact, if science doesn’t support his beliefs, Adams declares it an “intellectual bully”:

Where real scientists once used to welcome debate and discussion, today’s “science” advocate operate with the intellectual finesse and flexibility of a two-ton block of granite. You either agree with them or you are branded an idiot. There is no discussion, no debate, no thought and no real science involved. On so many of the big issues that matter today — vaccines, GMOs, mercury, fluoride, pesticides and so on — the “science” position is that of a self-proclaimed dictator (or tyrant) who believes he causes things to be true and factual through the mere act of stating them. That isn’t science. It’s just an advanced form of arrogant bullying framed in the language of science and carried aloft by a never-ending stream of corporate dollars.

It is, in essence, intellectual tyranny.

Not quite. You’re branded an idiot when you are an idiot. Adams just doesn’t understand science. It doesn’t support his fear mongering about vaccines, GMOs, mercury, fluoride, and such. Unfortunately, Adams won’t accept the science and instead lashes out against it, branding it “arrogant bullying.” In reality, the arrogance is his. He is ignorant, but doesn’t realize it. He thinks he knows better than scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying various questions. In this, he is like Jenny McCarthy. He is like J.B. Handley. He is like Deepak Chopra. Actually, he is all of them rolled into one.

If there’s one characteristic of advocates of pseudoscience, particularly advocates of pseudoscience who have a huge investment in their unsupported beliefs that is emotional (such as anti-vaccine advocates), ideological (advocates of complementary and alternative medicine) or political (anthropogenic global warming denialists), or religious (evolution denialists, some varieties of CAM advocates), it’s that they often know that science does not support their beliefs. As a result, whether intentionally or not intentionally, they have to find a way to dismiss the science that tells them that their beliefs are not in line with our current understanding of reality.

Adams may be, as they say, bat shit crazy and over the top when he attacks science, but if you tone down Adams’ post and strip it of some of its more hyperbolic rhetoric, you’ll find the same sorts of arguments you find on any crank site: Science is arrogant (which is why science dismisses my favorite pseudoscience, not because it’s magical thinking with no basis in reality). Science has been totally corrupted by corporate interests (which is why my favorite pseudoscience isn’t accepted, not because it’s magical thinking with no basis in reality). Science will doom us because it is so corrupt (which is why I’m so hostile to science, even though I always preface my broadsides against science with “I love science” in the same way anti-vaccine activists preface anti-vaccine rhetoric with, “I’m not anti-vaccine”). A good example of this latter tactic is right there in Adams’ screed:

As a proponent of scientific discovery, even I have to admit that science has lost its credibility due in large part to the corporate takeover of science. Whereas science was once a popular and highly respected field of study for young thinkers, very few people in America enter the sciences these days. More and more people are waking up to the reality that many of the great evils that have been unleashed upon our world have been conducted in the name of science: GMOs, seasonal flu vaccines, plastic food containers, pesticides, mercury poisoning, fluoride in the water supply, psychiatric pharmaceuticals and so on.

Translation: I’m not “anti-science,” but science is pure evil. Not just that, but there are “other ways” of knowing:

For the record, I am not opposed to actual science, nor the use of the Scientific Method as one avenue through which wisdom may be gained. There are other methods of gaining wisdom, however, such as spirituality, meditation, the study of consciousness and even quantum connections between sentient beings. All of these non-science methods are utterly disregarded by the “scientific” community which believes so strongly in its own dogma that the brains of its top scientists have no room left for any ideas other than their own.

Science. Quantum. You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean. Big surprise.

So, coming back to why I sometimes consider it worthwhile to “slum” a bit by taking down something as easily deconstructed and loony as a typical Mike Adams screed, I usually do it for one of two reasons. Either it’s so bizarre or despicable that its utter bizarreness or despicableness fascinates me, as when, for example, Adams abuses dead celebrities by claiming they could have lived if they had only just used his quackery du jour rather than conventional medicine. The other reason is that Adams really can teach us about the mindset behind a lot of anti-science beliefs. He’s like a black hole of anti-science, concentrating the beliefs and arguments into a natural reductio ad absurdum, so that I don’t have to reduce them to that myself. Science is not perfect. There might even be a grain of truth in some of Adams’ rants. But, by taking the occasional valid criticism and amping the crazy up to 11, Adams performs a valuable service by making it easier to recognize less hyperbolic versions of such arguments.

Comments

  1. #1 Thama
    January 25, 2011

    “The study of consciousness”- he means psychology? I’m sure the psych department at my university will be intrigued to learn that they no longer use the scientific method (though the couple of Freudians who haven’t taken a hint will be elated).

    “Quantum connections”- Particle physicists will probably be even more confused to learn that their field isn’t science either.

  2. #2 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    No substance to this critique of Adams. Just Ad Hominem attacks, straw men, and poisoning the well fallacy logic of people who challenge skeptic philosophy.

    This must have been an emotionally charged personal opinion letter.

  3. #3 Tom Morris
    January 25, 2011

    How dare he try and bring “the study of consciousness” in as some kind of justification for his pseudoscience? That’s a standard gambit of many pseudoscientists: as if the existence of some fields which are studied (by necessity) in non-scientific ways justifies fake science.

    As for meditation? Adams needs to flick through some psychology of religion journals: there are plenty of scientists studying meditation and spiritual practices and learning about the neuroscience and psychology of these interesting experiential states. And no scientist is really going to argue that sometimes deep introspection can be a useful technique for coming up with genuine insights. (Of course, the next step after coming up with those insights is to test them against the world by subjecting them to rational analysis by constructing a logical proof, or by doing an experimental test. But that’s not the sort of thing Mike Adams is evidently into.)

  4. #4 J. J. Ramsey
    January 25, 2011

    Mike Adams writes,

    To make matters even worse for the sciences, many so-called “science bloggers” have been revealed to have financial ties to the very same companies whose profits are shored up by their activities

    and his justification for the claim is to cite an Age of Autism blog post about the PepsiCo ScienceBlogs debacle? Wait, let me get this straight; a protest by science bloggers against corporate influence is a sign of corporate influence. How does that even begin to make sense?

  5. #5 Scott
    January 25, 2011

    “Quantum connections”- Particle physicists will probably be even more confused to learn that their field isn’t science either.

    What we’d call “quantum connections between sentient beings” don’t exist due to decoherence effects, so I am more annoyed at his misuse of a perfectly reasonable word than offended at a claim that my dissertation wasn’t science.

  6. #6 prn
    January 25, 2011

    I don’t really follow Adams’ issues that much. But there are bases, both scientific and historical (S&H), for distrust of various institutional interests hiding behind “science”. I think S&H bases, combined with manifold personal experiences in the population, permeate the atmosphere with popular distrust.

    Two societal issues that we’ve seen “scientifically proven” after decades of “science says…it’s ok” cruft, are tobacco and lead. People are kind of twitchy about bland government / corporate denials, white washes, trojan horse-like attack studies, and agenda driven science.

    So even if Adams is moon staring mad on his specifics, he’s tapping a mother lode of disgust, distrust and historical experience.

  7. #7 MikeMa
    January 25, 2011

    What sounds to rational people as pure bunk and insanity will resonate well within the empty heads of the true believers (TM). Adams may have the intelligence of a flea and his followers even less, but their sheer mass is not flea sized. Thermonuclear devices may not suffice I’m afraid.

  8. #8 Scott Cunningham
    January 25, 2011

    What’s scary is that, turning the amp back down to 10, I heard these sort of screeds every single day when I was an arts & humanities student. From the students, thankfully, and not the profs.

  9. #9 Dangerous Bacon
    January 25, 2011

    Uh-oh. Adams has taken note of Orac’s commentaries and is Not Pleased.

    Any further challenges to his Ecuadorean Empire of Alt-Dumbass, and I fear he will single you out by name. The troll onslaught ensuing in that case would make the current crop of dingbats look Einsteinean in comparison.

  10. #10 Militant Agnostic
    January 25, 2011

    prn @5

    Two societal issues that we’ve seen “scientifically proven” after decades of “science says…it’s ok” cruft, are tobacco and lead.

    Any evidence of this? This sounds just like the AGW denialist claim that in the 70s all the climate scientists were predicting Global cooling and a coming ice age.

  11. #11 Vicki
    January 25, 2011

    The other thing this reveals is that Adams cannot believe that anyone would honestly disagree with him.

    It’s one thing to think you’re right, even to be sure of it. It’s another to be sure that every sane person really agrees with you, and that anyone who claims to disagree must be corrupt. Not mistaken. Not even misled. Corrupt.

    If I thought like Adams, I’d be asking who was paying him off to attack vaccines and other aspects of modern medicine. I would then have to ask who was paying off his followers. It’s certainly possible that Adams is only in it for the money. I don’t, however, think that his listeners and readers are lying when they repeat his ideas to their friends.

  12. #12 attack_laurel
    January 25, 2011

    It’s ragingly typical of Adams to mistake distrust of faceless corporations for distrust of science itself. Science, like a hammer, just is. How it is used makes all the difference.

    Take the tobacco thing – the corporations that produced smokeable and chewable tobacco were highly interested in making it seem desireable to smoke, so they paid doctors to advertise their products, giving them a veneer of respectability. When it came to the actual science, however, they were forced to falsify results and suppress studies; the science was not in their favour. The actions of corporations who are motivated by profit should be questioned, as they clearly don’t have our best interests at heart.

    In that vein, Mike Adams is not to be trusted, as he is a corporation and is motivated by profit (selling his “supplements”). Much more so than any science blogger, he has a vested interest in telling you things that support his sales.

    Distrust of corporations is rational. Distrust of the biases in scientific studies is rational. Distrust of the scientific method makes me think you have something to sell (be it supplements or dogma).

  13. #13 sophia8
    January 25, 2011

    Where “science” used to be highly regarded in the 1950′s,
    It’s sad and strange how all these right-wing cranks always, but always, regard the 1950s as some sort of Golden Age. That decade is when most of them were very young children, so there’s probably some sort of psychological explanation for it.

  14. #14 James Sweet
    January 25, 2011

    Heh. Funny that he looks back to the 50s as the time when science was honest and was never invoked to justify the harmful, toxic, and profitable. Oops.

  15. #15 prn
    January 25, 2011

    @9
    Literally “scientifically proven” on lead and tobacco hazards, not so-called proven scare quotes,” “. Certain corporate interests were corruptly sponsoring adversarial “science,” to tell us they were not too harmful, to extend product life and profits.

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    January 25, 2011

    Although I read Adams for the Schadenfreudesfest of peering into his through-the-looking-glass world where he fancies himself to be a critic of science, cognitive psychologist**, and revolutionary socio-political thinker, I am painfully aware that others (e.g. 92,000 on facebook) do not read him for tongue-in-cheek laughs. People read him for *information* about *health*. And advice.

    I am imagining a newly ascending matrix of woo where Mikey is one of the chief luminaries- these internet disease-promoters engender fear and mistrust of SBM and doctors ( and psychologists, educated people, universities, scientific journals, pharmaceuticals, corporations, governmental agencies, etc.) while promoting medieval concepts that justify customers’ purchase of products that *they sell*.

    Information trickles down to those even less astute than Adams who can spread it around like rancid butter. However, there is another even more alarming path: information provided can creep upwards towards a larger audience ( e.g. Mercola on Oz’s national TV show). We just learned that another woo-entrepreneur is teaching a graduate course at a mildly-to-moderately respected university ( see Gary Null.com). To complete the matrix, these *innovators of scientific thought* sometimes work in tandem- Adams and Null broadcast their combined nonsense; Wakefield and others like Duesberg, Loe Fisher, Young, ad nauseum, are given a platform and *encouraged* in their folly. Even more insidiously, the aforementioned perpetrators may have *political* aspirations as they predict a frightening economic downfall under a “police state” instead of an enlightened free state of health freedom advocates led by guess-who. Delusions of grandeur lack a basis in reality but can often have real life consequences.

    Thus, while the “information” he provides is laughable, his influence is definitely not a joke – anti-vax, HIV/AIDS denialism, anti-SBM, anti-pharmaceuticals, anti-psychiatry… following these internet ideas have real world consequences that don’t follow the original fantasy-based script.

    ** he has actually written about this. Comedy gold!

  17. #17 Chris Lindsay
    January 25, 2011

    I, for one, enjoy your blog posts about Mike Adams. I know someone who is distrustful of science and reads his website regularly. Since I can’t stomach it, I prefer getting my updates about his nonsense from Orac.

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    January 25, 2011

    @ Dangerous Bacon: the Empire of Alt-Dumbass is now located in Tucson, AZ. He has has abandoned his *Casa del Loco* in Ecuador for life in the good old USA!

  19. #19 Militant Agnostic
    January 25, 2011

    @9 Any evidence this was the scientific consensus or just a few corrupt individuals and cranks just like the AGW “skeptic” scientists of today. I smell a burning straw man.

  20. #20 Joseph
    January 25, 2011

    The scientific consensus on AGW goes counter to the idea that science can be controlled by corporate interests. In this case deniers have invented a ridiculous conspiracy theory that involves research funding.

  21. #21 Lawrence
    January 25, 2011

    So, “corporate” science is bad, but “science” science is good? I’d like Adams to show one piece of technology, device, medical procedure, regulated pharmaceutical, or other related, proven advance that hasn’t come from using the Scientific Method – did meditation build the first computer? Are our cars designed using quantum hypnosis?

    How can he even begin to claim that there are “other ways” when the only process that has been proven, time and time and time again, is the scientific one?

  22. #22 Militant Agnostic
    January 25, 2011

    Are our cars designed using quantum hypnosis?

    How else would you explain the Chevrolet Vega (aluminum block and cast iron head WTF).

  23. #23 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    Lawrence

    show one piece of technology, device, medical procedure, regulated pharmaceutical, or other related, proven advance that hasn’t come from using the Scientific Method -

    That’s easy. Antibiotics…Aspirin…Would you like more A’s or shall I go to the B’s?

    Did Harriet Hall serve you glass of Kool Aid or do you just not think very much?

    Your friends can’t help you here. They can only apologize for you.

  24. #24 Greg Fish
    January 25, 2011

    You know, if most science bloggers are paid to write what they write, where are my checks from Big Pharma, Big Hot Fusion, Big Cosmology, Big Atheism, and Big AI?

    Come on evil corporate conspiracies I’ve apparently been serving, I’ve got bills to pay like all people and a wire transfer or two certainly wouldn’t hurt…

  25. #25 Yojimbo
    January 25, 2011

    @13, 14

    Ironic indeed. The ’50s were rife with misuses of “trust me, I’m a scientist”. It is our science now that so often discovers potential harm and forms the basis for regulations to help keep us safe. The ’50′s were the last days of open range corporate science, before the grasslands were fenced. Adams may admire those heady days when anyone could claim anything and make money from it, but he’s living in the Looking-glass World.

  26. #26 turnipseed
    January 25, 2011

    Denice Walter, #16 has hit the nail on the head again.

    It’s fine to laugh at Adams, but every time I post something on any blog that I regularly read (science and public health oriented), I get mail that regurgitates Adams trash and calls me an “idiot” for questioning the brave defenders of this warped thinking. When I post anything in my field of expertise, I get piles of mail telling me how shifty “experts” are and that “science doesn’t know everything”. I think I’ll put this column aside to paste in on all such future responses.

  27. #27 Jen
    January 25, 2011

    When the science served up is stuff like the studies that The Autism Science Foundation holds up as presumably good, or at least adequate then no wonder we are in trouble with credibility, never mind the “paid science-blogger” stuff. J.B. Handley just summed up the studies on their website (under Thimerosal and Autism Studies and MMR Vaccine and Autism Studies) at AoA and I would
    really like to see a scientific rebuttal on why in fact the studies are good or valid because they sure don’t seem to be.

  28. #28 Denice Walter
    January 25, 2011

    @ turnipseed – *Merci Beaucoup!*

    My criticism not based on idle speculation – unlike the woo-some twosome I describe, I have a real education ( undergrad- arts, bio, social science/ grad degrees- psych), I counsel people *and* have managed a great deal of money since 2000 for myself and a few relatives ( a job I inherited from my father when he became too ill to continue). So when Mike or Gary talk about “cognition”, “counselling”, or the “economy”, I cringe as I laugh.

  29. #29 Chris
    January 25, 2011

    Speaking of comedy gold, here is Jen again. Spewing off on Handley’s “science” like a good little fan girl.

  30. #30 jre
    January 25, 2011

    Orac, I’m glad you take the punishment for the rest of us, but I just can’t read Mike Adams.

    Just. Can’t.

  31. #31 Lawrence
    January 25, 2011

    I love the fact that our standard trolls have no problems with science when it comes to technology, physics, astronomy, etc – but just mention anything related to medicine & all of a sudden it is all “we’re not sure, blah, blah, blah.”

  32. #32 DaveD
    January 25, 2011

    It’s also a serious abuse of history to imagine that “science” was so worshiped during the 50s. Oh, I think there was perhaps less distrust of science overall (we can have a nice debate about whether or not this was a Good Thing later on).

    But there’s a strong anti-science undercurrent in the 50s also, especially when it came to nuclear weapons. Consider all the bad movies in which giant creatures are created as the result of exposure to radiation (everything from “Them” to “Night of the Lepus”). I suppose when you’re living with “duck and cover” and atmospheric testing in the western US, it’s inevitable that there would be a backlash.

  33. #33 BKsea
    January 25, 2011

    To Jen: To me the central theme of this blog is one of how we should think not necessarily what we should think. A good scientis considers the weight of all the evidence, comes to an informed opinion, and freely admits the possibility of being wrong. A woo-woo grasps onto only part of or very preliminary evidence, steers it toward a pre-existing opinion, and seeks to redefine the laws of physics rather than admitting the possibility of being wrong.

    If you behave in the former manner, you can have useful discussions and probe the boundaries of how likely we are to be wrong, on what scale we could be wrong and what if anything more should be done. When you behave in the latter manner, you are just being a gnoron and we have no time for you.

  34. #34 Orac
    January 25, 2011

    When the science served up is stuff like the studies that The Autism Science Foundation holds up as presumably good, or at least adequate then no wonder we are in trouble with credibility, never mind the “paid science-blogger” stuff. J.B. Handley just summed up the studies on their website (under Thimerosal and Autism Studies and MMR Vaccine and Autism Studies) at AoA and I would
    really like to see a scientific rebuttal on why in fact the studies are good or valid because they sure don’t seem to be.

    Seeing Handley lecture about science and the importance of control groups makes me chuckle. No, rather, it makes me guffaw. No, it makes me laugh uproariously, so much that my sides hurt and I fall down in a heap. The most hilarious part is this:

    “Without a real control group, the conclusions of a study on the potential harm of a drug are 100% useless.”

    Uh, no, JB. That’s not exactly true. You also have no clue what a “real control group” is. In any case, thanks for the blogging material. Either I or my alter ego might have to take this on. In the meantime, Handley’s basically regurgitating much of the same crap he spewed a couple of years ago for his “Fourteen Studies” website, which I blogged about here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/04/generation_rescue_and_fourteen_studies.php

    Steve Novella blogged about it here:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=459

    And Mark Crislip blogged about it here:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=466

    I would, however, be happy to counter J.B.’s own “hungry lie,” namely that vaccines cause autism, once again. Maybe I’ll do it under my own name and see if J.B. has the guts to respond, unlike how he usually only responds when I blog as Orac.

  35. #35 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    Maybe I’ll do it under my own name and see if J.B. has the guts to respond, unlike how he usually only responds when I blog as Orac.

    What’s the difference?

  36. #36 Dangerous Bacon
    January 25, 2011

    “…the Empire of Alt-Dumbass is now located in Tucson, AZ. He has has abandoned his *Casa del Loco* in Ecuador for life in the good old USA!”

    Say it isn’t so.

    On the one hand, being in the U.S. would provide easier access to supplement dealers and “natural products” conventions, making it easier to drum up ad revenue for Adams’s website.

    On the other hand, he’s now within range of the jack-booted thugs of the F.D.A., who could at any moment storm his residence and haul him off in chains for the crime of challenging their Pharma Masters.

    It’s a double-edged sword, for sure.

  37. #37 Adam_Y
    January 25, 2011

    Seeing Handley lecture about science and the importance of control groups makes me chuckle. No, rather, it makes me guffaw. No, it makes me laugh uproariously, so much that my sides hurt and I fall down in a heap.

    Isn’t Handley the jackass who called you an idiot over the overtly bad Hewitson studies?

  38. #38 Orac
    January 25, 2011

    BTW, does anyone know why Mike Adams moved to Tucson from Ecuador?

  39. #39 Triskelethecat
    January 25, 2011

    @little augie:

    What’s the difference?

    You’ll never know, since you don’t apparently have the courage to post comments over where Orac posts under his real name. At least, I don’t recall ever seeing you over there. And we all know that JB and co never come over where they will be challenged outside the AOA echo chamber by those devoted to science rather than sensationalism.

  40. #40 Phoenix Woman
    January 25, 2011

    Auggy @ 2, why are you lying?

    Seriously, why are you lying?

    You well know that Orac’s post contains pertinent cites and links to pertinent cites, yet you lie and say it has no “substance”.

    So why are you lying?

  41. #41 Phila
    January 25, 2011

    OK. I’m sure I’ll regret asking this…but how is aspirin not a product of the scientific method? Or of corporate science, for that matter?

    And please don’t talk to me about willow bark. Salicylic acid and acetylsalicylic acid are not the same compound.

  42. #42 Chris
    January 25, 2011

    Phoenix Woman:

    Seriously, why are you lying?

    How can you tell a blogger is lying and should be ignored? Answer: when it is Little Augie.

    Phila, take that as answer to your question. Ignore the troll.

  43. #43 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    PW

    So why are you lying?

    What part of the fallacies that he used do you not understand?

    It was more of a gossip column than a defense of Skeptic Based Medicine (SBM).

  44. #44 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    Pat:

    How can you tell a blogger is lying and should be ignored? Answer: when it is Little Augie.

    Let me use your style, If I may. Do you have evidence of this? Are you barking directives to other bloggers without facts to back up your claim?

    This itself is an ad hominem attack.

  45. #45 Autism and Oughtisms
    January 25, 2011

    Fantastic post! Beautifully makes some very important – and too often forgotten – points. You continue to do a very good and effective job of exposing bad arguments and poor science. Fighting the good fight; and appreciated by a lot of people for doing so.

  46. #46 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    You continue to do a very good and effective job of exposing bad arguments and poor science.

    Maybe you posted on the wrong article. This one is titled “The “decline” of science? Not so much”.

    Or… maybe you think the use of logical fallacies such as strawman arguments are very good and effective at exposing bad arguments.

    Translation: I’m not “anti-science,” but science is pure evil.

  47. #47 Science Mom
    January 25, 2011

    I would, however, be happy to counter J.B.’s own “hungry lie,” namely that vaccines cause autism, once again. Maybe I’ll do it under my own name and see if J.B. has the guts to respond, unlike how he usually only responds when I blog as Orac.

    Oh please please please include standardised scoring if you blog about Handley’s ’14 studies’ and why didn’t he consult with epidemiologists with regards to assessing study quality, rather than rectally-source his own ‘method’. Of course we know the answer to that but it’s a sticking point with me and (admittedly biased) needs to be pointed out.

  48. #48 Prometheus
    January 25, 2011

    Jen (#27) comments:

    “J.B. Handley just summed up the studies on their website (under Thimerosal and Autism Studies and MMR Vaccine and Autism Studies) at AoA and I would
    really like to see a scientific rebuttal on why in fact the studies are good or valid because they sure don’t seem to be.”

    I actually went to AoA and read Mr. Handley’s insightful ponderings on studies involving autism. I have to wonder, though, why people take his reportage seriously when he starts out with a few paragraphs that say, essentially “I don’t know much about science, but I’m not going to let that stand in my way.”

    Following that disclaimer, Mr. Handley goes on to largely accuse everyone who disagrees with him of “lying” or being a paid shill for “Big Pharma” (or both). His “rebuttal” of the studies he chose for ridicule consists mainly of him not understanding how a study can be done without a control group (see: dose response study) and referring people to his (repeatedly debunked) “14 studies” article.

    Assuming that a real answer is wanted (hope springs eternal), I will try to explain how dose response studies are not only valid but are often the only practical (or ethical) means of studying certain questions.

    Dose response studies don’t have a formal “control group” because they look at everyone in terms of two variables: how much of the exposure (the “dose”, e.g. vaccines, thimerosal) they received and the presence (or absence) of the “response” (in this case, autism). The assumption is that if the exposure causes the response, that higher doses will be more likely to cause the response than lower doses. Finding a correlation between the “dose” and the “response” suggests (but does not prove) causation. Contrarily, failing to find a correlation between “dose” and response usually suggests that there isn’t a causal relationship.

    Now, the “vaccines-cause-autism” movement has – at least implicitly – claimed that there is a dose-response relationship between thimerosal and/or vaccines. They have repeatedly, in their claims of an “autism epidemic”, affirmed their belief that the increasing number of vaccines given since the dawn of the 1980′s have led to increased autism prevalence through an increasing “dose” of thimerosal or vaccines (or both). In essence, they have validated the use of dose-response studies.

    The only reason that a dose-response study wouldn’t be valid would be if the effect being studied (in this case, the risk of autism as it relates to vaccine and/or thimerosal exposure) does not vary with dose. In other words, if children who receive more vaccines (i.e. “too many, too soon”) or more thimerosal aren’t more likely to develop autism even though vaccines and/or thimerosal cause autism.

    Of course, if this were true, there wouldn’t have been an “autism epidemic” and the whole “vaccines-cause-autism” argument would be moot. Also, if this were the case, then there would be no point in doing the oft-requested “vaccinated vs unvaccinated” study of autism because it wouldn’t be able to give us the answer, either.

    [Note: the exception would be if the assumption is that all autism is caused by vaccines and/or thimerosal, in which case we would only need to look at the unvaccinated population. A single case of autism in an unvaccinated child would "prove" that vaccines and/or thimerosal don't cause all autism.]

    So, once again we find that there is a world of difference between saying “These studies don’t make sense.” and “These studies don’t make sense to me.”

    Prometheus

  49. #49 Dangerous Bacon
    January 25, 2011

    A brief Google search didn’t reveal anything about an Adams move from Ecuador to Tucson, but I found a startling link describing his Tucson operation.

    According to this site (which appears heavily into antivax ideology, conspiracies and anti-Semitism, in other words typical of our more virulent alties), Mike Adams’ Tucson office is a front for “psy-op” and is staffed by “well-suited FBI-looking guys”.

    Well! You could have knocked me over with a feather. Adams and NaturalNews a government front? Wheels within wheels, my friends…

  50. #50 Prometheus
    January 25, 2011

    One small clarification.

    I wrote:

    ” Finding a correlation between the “dose” and the “response” suggests (but does not prove) causation.”

    To be completely accurate, that should read:

    Finding a positive correlation (where the dose and the response increase together) suggests (but does not prove) causation. A negative correlation (where the response rises as the dose falls) suggests that the exposure prevents the response.

    Sorry for the confusion.

    Prometheus

  51. #51 Todd W.
    January 25, 2011

    OT – Just read via Dr. Rachie that Wakefield is looking to conduct a study on HBOT on autistic Somali children in Minnesota.

  52. #52 Joseph
    January 25, 2011

    @augustine:

    Lawrence

    show one piece of technology, device, medical procedure, regulated pharmaceutical, or other related, proven advance that hasn’t come from using the Scientific Method

    That’s easy. Antibiotics…Aspirin…Would you like more A’s or shall I go to the B’s?

    What are you on about? Both of those came about from empirical observations, and were perfected using the scientific method. The point is that they didn’t come from prayer or meditation.

  53. #53 Anonymous
    January 25, 2011

    Jan 6
    Autism ‘Fraud’ Sets Research Sights on Minnesota’s Somali Community
    http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/news/autism-fraud-wakefield-mn-somali-community-jan-6-2011

  54. #54 Lawrence
    January 25, 2011

    LOL – sometimes I miss seeing Augie’s original posts (kill files are fun), but that’s what his/her response was?

    Seriously? Too funny.

  55. #55 Fuzzzone
    January 25, 2011

    @Lawrence (50 as of this comment):

    I find it sad, actually. I remember when augie used to try a lot harder…

  56. #56 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    LOL – sometimes I miss seeing Augie’s original posts (kill files are fun)

    I love it when a plan comes together.

  57. #57 Jen
    January 25, 2011

    Orac and Promethius, Callie: I get your point about control groups. That’s why a vaccinated VS unvaccinated study (and looking at bio-markers like brain inflammation) of primates would be so important. Why isn’t anyone doing this before giving vaccines to children? Also, there are a lot more issues to pick apart with these studies than the control group issue. Examples: Tozzi, even in 2009, when autism rates are approximately 1in100 uses a sample that features 1 child with autism in 1,704! How can that be right? Madsen’s data didn’t include 93% of kids diagnosed with autism in Denmark during the time mercury was in vaccines, then did once it was removed. Huh? Lots more to look at than just control group.

  58. #58 nybgrus
    January 25, 2011

    I was going to post a rebut to Jen and Auggie about the notions of medical ethics and the idea of the scientific method (respectively, about controlled vaccine studies and antibiotics being wished into existence by prayer or deep meditation “man, my head hurts, let me think really hard about how to fix this…. “) but I lost my will to do so. I actually have to write a summary of the IgE response in atopy and type 1 hypersensitivity. Not that Auggie or Sid would have any clue about such things.

  59. #59 DW
    January 25, 2011

    @ Orac- just a random comment on Woo Central ( progressiveradionetwork/ maybe 6-8 weeks back)- when the malapropizing host was asked by a caller for advice about moving to Ecuador for health freedom, he replied that he knew an American who was “very visible” and threatened by kidnappers, so had to move away from his paradial digs: the host knows Adams.

  60. #60 DW
    January 25, 2011

    - correction- “paradisal digs”.

  61. #61 Autism and Oughtisms
    January 25, 2011

    @ #46, augustine,

    Think you could express yourself clearer? A good start would be by explaining what particular strawman you see as undercutting the post? Just stating there is a strawman argument there, proves nothing. I noticed you made the claim near the top of the comments too, but haven’t explained yourself. You come across as quite reactionist and combative, without actually seeking to prove your point(s). If you want to change minds, then give reasons for those minds to change. If you don’t think you can change any minds here, then why bother commenting? (Genuine question by the way).

  62. #62 Sauceress
    January 25, 2011

    Well it’s good to know Mike Adams/Natural News &Co. doesn’t pay people to push their products.

    Oh wait…

    Welcome to the Truth Publishing affiliate program, where we pay 25% on sales of our electronic products (downloadable ebooks). To enroll in the program, click the “continue” button below, and our affiliate coordinator will contact you to get you approved.

  63. #63 Sauceress
    January 25, 2011

    OK moderation holding my post.
    Mike Adams, Natural News &Co. (Truth Publishing)
    don’t pay anyone to peddle their products.

    Truth Publishing Affiliate Program

    Welcome to the Truth Publishing affiliate program, where we pay 25% on sales of our electronic products (downloadable ebooks). To enroll in the program, click the “continue” button below, and our affiliate coordinator will contact you to get you approved.

  64. #64 Sauceress
    January 25, 2011

    Going from the link at Dangerous Bacon #49

    investigation into NaturalNews shows it is owned and operated by Truth Publishing, a Taipei Taiwan (ROC) company headed by a Mike Adams.

    Scratch “& Co.” from my previous post.

  65. #65 Matthew Cline
    January 25, 2011

    The other thing this reveals is that Adams cannot believe that anyone would honestly disagree with him.

    It’s one thing to think you’re right, even to be sure of it. It’s another to be sure that every sane person really agrees with you, and that anyone who claims to disagree must be corrupt. Not mistaken. Not even misled. Corrupt.

    I think this thinking is at least partially responsible for pro-vaccine online commenters of being accused of being shills: anyone who reads enough about vaccines to comment on them intelligently must have come to the conclusion that vaccines [blah blah blah], because it’s so obvious, so you must actually believe the opposite of what you’re saying, and are therefore a shill.

    (Anecdote time: some time back an article here mentioned a Newsweek article on vaccines which was being discussed over at Huffington Post. When I went to add some of my own comments, someone accused me of being a shill for either the CDC or Newsweek).

  66. #66 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    Maybe he should be more specific and say “The decline of medical science”

    http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/23/why-almost-everything-you-hear-about-medicine-is-wrong.html#

    “Why Almost Everything You Hear About Medicine Is Wrong”

    In just the last two months, two pillars of preventive medicine fell. A major study concluded there’s no good evidence that statins (drugs like Lipitor and Crestor) help people with no history of heart disease. The study, by the Cochrane Collaboration, a global consortium of biomedical experts, was based on an evaluation of 14 individual trials with 34,272 patients.

    Looks like its time for Skeptic Based Medicine to do something about that pesky Cochran Collaboration. Ad Hominems should be in order.

    Or when all is lost you could just say “that’s science fixing itself.”

  67. #67 Mooloo
    January 25, 2011

    or political (anthropogenic global warming denialists)

    Can you please stop using this term.

    There are those that do not deny AGW but are bitterly opposed to the political machinations of the greens. Climate Resistance, Pielke Jnr etc.

    Your language makes it very hard for anyone to both believe in AGW and oppose poor political decisions made in its name. They get lumped as “denialists” even while denying nothing scientific.

    It’s the equivalent of insisting Obama is “Marxist” because of some mild socialist tendencies. Unless you are into that too.

  68. #68 Orac
    January 25, 2011

    Maybe he should be more specific and say “The decline of medical science”

    http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/23/why-almost-everything-you-hear-about-medicine-is-wrong.html

    Sharon Begley is about three months late and a dollar short on this:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=7734

  69. #69 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    ORAC

    Sharon Begley is about three months late and a dollar short on this:

    No. You’re just decades late.

  70. #70 Joey Babowee
    January 25, 2011

    Respectful Insolence comes up a lot when googling about such things as he writes about, so, hopefully a few people are coming here and getting a brain beating.

    I’ll admit it, I was one of those people awhile ago. This blog helped me get out of the natural health cult.

  71. #71 Fish
    January 25, 2011

    The scare quotes in the title are in the wrong place. It should be The Decline of “Science”.

  72. #72 Matthew Cline
    January 25, 2011

    @augustine:

    Or when all is lost you could just say “that’s science fixing itself.”

    What exactly is wrong with science fixing itself?

  73. #73 augustine
    January 26, 2011

    What exactly is wrong with science fixing itself?

    Nothing. I just gave an example that follows this observation by Schopenhauer.

    “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

  74. #74 Matthew Cline
    January 26, 2011

    @augustine:

    What exactly is wrong with science fixing itself?

    Nothing.

    Then why give it as an example of something that SBMers would “fall back on”, if there’s nothing wrong with it?

    I just gave an example that follows this observation by Schopenhauer.

    People who said “statins are ineffective” were laughed at, then violently opposed?

  75. #75 Jarred C
    January 26, 2011

    “Not all things ridiculed, opposed, or self-evident are truthful.” — Jarred C

  76. #76 Agashem
    January 26, 2011

    Bravo Jarred C!

  77. #77 Agent Smith
    January 26, 2011

    Apparently augustine finds citations from a early 19th century philosopher talking about his own very unscientific discipline as great evidence of its applicability to modern medical science. Well done.

    Additionally, I take great joy that the quote seems to most often crop up in Holocaust denial circles. I have seen in multiple times from the folks on the Historical Review and Stormfront.

    Lots of true ideas are accepted without ridicule or opposition, violent or otherwise. Einstein’s theory of relativity was largely ignored until 1919, when experimental evidence proved him right. He was not ridiculed, and no one violently opposed his ideas. The Schopenhauer quote is just a rationalization, a fancy way for those who are ridiculed or violently opposed to say, “See, I must be right.” Not so.

  78. #78 augustine
    January 26, 2011

    The Schopenhauer quote is just a rationalization, a fancy way for those who are ridiculed or violently opposed to say, “See, I must be right.” Not so.

    I see you know how to use strawman arguments. Now go forth and perfect them.

  79. #79 Heliantus
    January 26, 2011

    I see you know how to use strawman arguments.

    Well, a strawman argument is when you put into someone’s mouth an opinion he didn’t expressed.
    You spend plenty of time castigating our opinions as wrong, but you are always very careful never to express your own opinion, so it lets us guessing what your point is. No wonder that we keep missing (or that you are very good at dodging).

    I don’t know what science or medicine did to you, but it must have been horrible.

  80. #80 Dr Zorro
    January 26, 2011

    I must be the only one missing out on the largesse of the big corporations.
    How do I get my blog onto the big pharma payroll.

  81. #81 augustine
    January 26, 2011

    Right on cue. (SBM is predictable) Looks like that other skeptic website, sciencebasedmedicine.org, has started in on eroding the Cochrane Collaboration’s reputation. It’s a pretty soft and weak article but it won’t be long before more skewering is in order.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=10170#more-10170

    This is not the first Cochrane review discussed on SBM that can be criticized for taking a decidedly biased approach to the evidence in their conclusions. This should prompt some soul-searching, in my opinion, on the pat of the Cochrane collaboration.

    But let’s face it. Statins are on their way out the door. AstraZenaca is just trying cash in on the back end.

    Pharmaceutical companies drive the market. Not ideological sciencebloggers. Except when pharma decides so.

    “Pfizer Dropping Heart Drugs; Focus on Cancer”

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/10439933/pfizer-dropping-heart-drugs-focus-on-cancer.html

  82. #82 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 26, 2011

    Augie…
    “Lawrence

    show one piece of technology, device, medical procedure, regulated pharmaceutical, or other related, proven advance that hasn’t come from using the Scientific Method -

    That’s easy. Antibiotics…Aspirin…”

    OMFG. How much more evidence do we need to demonstrate clearly that augustine is a complete twat?

    Antibiotics (basically, penicillin) came about as a serendipitous discovery when a mould that accidentally contaminated the contents of a petri dish was seen to prevent the propagation of bacteria where it had contaminated the sample. Very good, augie… except that our resident twat omits to tell that – when this possibility was mooted – it became the hypothesis being tested in a scientific study aimed at finding out if this was a one-off event or whether the mould would prevent bacterial propagation on a sufficiently regular basis for it to be seen as medically useful.

    Accident. Then subjected to the scientific method for verification!

    Aspirin has a similar history, although a longer one before it was actually subjected to scientific investigation. It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that aspirin was actually named, and the scientific investigation of its properties did not end in the 1800s. They went on into the 20th century. Until the end of the 19th century, however, the use of aspirin itself was not widespread – even though the herbal extract from which the active ingredient (salicylic acid) had come was in use for a long time.

    Here, a long-term use of a herbal concoction followed by – yes – a scientific investigation to determine the active ingredient. It should be noted that the herbal compound was not aspirin, and it was not called aspirin. Ergo, augie’s attempt at being intelligent fails… yet again.

    How much more evidence do we need to demonstrate conclusively that augustine really is a complete twat?

    Nurse, he’s climbed out of his cot again!

  83. #83 Todd W.
    January 26, 2011

    @David N. Andrews

    Re: Aspirin

    Not only the points you raised, but science also allowed for the adverse effects of the naturally occurring compound to be minimized or removed. That’s not to say that the synthetic version is without risk, but the risk that is there is significantly lower than the risk for the natural salicin.

  84. #84 augustine
    January 26, 2011

    @ MR. David N. Andrews PhD,C.S.I.L.M.N.O.P.etc.,

    There would be no aspirin if it weren’t for ancient cultures using willow back. This use was not born out of the scientific method.

    What scientific first principle, at the time of discovery was used to come up with the idea of antibiotics? The answer is none. If it weren’t for the series of non-scientific events that allowed for the astute observation of the mold in the trash can, then there would be no antibiotics.

    With that said neither of those “came from (origninated) using the scientific method”.

  85. #85 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 26, 2011

    Thank you, Todd, for your addendum to my post. Very salient point indeed.

    Everyone else… all you need to do is look at augie’s response to see that he has fuck all clue about anything to do with this discussion.

    I’ll deal with his droppings shortly. We have evidence to demonstrate conclusively that he is, indeed, a complete and utter twat.

  86. #86 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 26, 2011

    Augie: “There would be no aspirin if it weren’t for ancient cultures using willow back. This use was not born out of the scientific method.”

    OMFG! This idiot’s unbelievable.

    First statement cannot be supported by any credible evidence; the use of willow extract was also from an accidental discovery, which was then subjected to a quasi-scientific inquiry (which is how those cultures would know about the effects of the willow extract concerned). Nonetheless, nobody knew what the active ingredient was, and because of this if cannot be said to have been aspirin. Deal with being wrong, augie. Because you’re totally useless at being right.

    “What scientific first principle, at the time of discovery was used to come up with the idea of antibiotics? The answer is none.”

    What? Are you seriously expecting me to believe that you’re right on this? The scientific principle was this:

    1- observation of an unexpected result, owing to a contamination
    2- hypothesis linking result to contamination
    3- scientific testing of hypothesis
    4- rejection of the null hypothesis

    That is how science is done: scientific principles were followed.

    “If it weren’t for the series of non-scientific events that allowed for the astute observation of the mold in the trash can, then there would be no antibiotics.”

    What trash can? This didn’t end up in a trash can. You’re stupid when it comes to history as well, aren’t you? Where do you get the idea that this mould was found in a sodding trash can?

    The fact is that he purposefully grew cultures of this mould in order to investigate its properties with respect to bacteria, which failed to grow in the presence of the chemical exuded by the mould. That is science. There is nothing you can say to counter this: these things came about as a result of scientific inquiry. If you can’t handle that, then you are the one whose problem it is, not us.

    Get a life, augie. Better still, put yourself out of our collective misery.

  87. #87 Gray Falcon
    January 26, 2011

    Augustine, try learning the definition of “science” before arguing it. Hint: it doesn’t mean “entirely artificial”.

  88. #88 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 26, 2011

    GF: “Augustine, try learning the definition of ‘science’ before arguing it.”

    No danger of that ever happening …

  89. #89 Prometheus
    January 26, 2011

    Jen (#57) replies:

    “Orac and Promethius [sic], Callie: I get your point about control groups. That’s why a vaccinated VS unvaccinated study (and looking at bio-markers like brain inflammation) of primates would be so important.”

    Clearly, she doesn’t get the point about control groups. Dose-response studies don’t have control groups for the same reason bicycles don’t have wings (i.e. they are not needed and serve no purpose).

    Also, if I read her comment correctly, she’s suggesting a “vaccinated vs unvaccinated” study in primates (?) – like the retracted Hewitson monkey study? I believe we’ve been over the reasons why that one didn’t work, not the least of which being that we can’t unambiguously diagnose autism in primates (it’s hard enough to agree on the diagnostic criteria in humans).

    A “vaccinated vs unvaccinated” study in primates might not have all of the ethical problems a similar studies in humans would have, but that doesn’t mean it would answer the question. Besides the unresolved issue of diagnosing autism in non-human primates, there is the problem that other primates have small but significant genetic differences from humans (that’s why we’re not orangutans and orangutans aren’t human). Many of these small but important differences have to do with (surprise!) language and social interactions – areas critically important in autism.

    So, trying to do the mythical “vaccinated vs unvaccinated” study in primates is simply “kicking the can” farther down the street – we can sidestep (some) of the ethical problems but run up against serious problems (and probable controversy) in making the diagnosis of autism.

    One more point – “brain inflammation” can (and does) occur in the absence of autism, just as autism occurs in the absence of “brain inflammation”. Using “brain inflammation” as a pseudo-marker for autism merely ensures that the results will be ambiguous.

    I’d be a lot more willing to answer Jen’s “questions” if I wasn’t sure that she’d come back with the same responses (e.g. “We need a vaccinated vs unvaccinated study!”). My replies, therefor, are meant for people who have open minds.

    Prometheus

  90. #90 Todd W.
    January 26, 2011

    @Prometheus

    Not to mention that even if primates did serve as an adequate analog for humans in an autism study, the sheer number of primates required to get any sort of meaningful result would be staggering. If anyone thought that a large human subjects study is expensive, a similarly sized primate study would be orders of magnitude more expensive! The cost alone would preclude conducting such a study, let alone having the proper facilities and animal handlers.

  91. #91 Joseph
    January 26, 2011

    @Jen: Would you agree that a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children would require thousands of children to be statistically meaningful?

    So how do you propose to do this study with primates? Are they going to use thousands of primates?

    (Incidentally, if a study involving 10 or 20 primates finds an effect, the most reasonable explanation is that there’s something wrong with the methods of the study. Or that the study was fraudulent — you never know these days.)

  92. #92 Heliantus
    January 26, 2011

    If it weren’t for the series of non-scientific events that allowed for the astute observation of the mold in the trash can

    In my naive way, I would have had defined science as the result of making astute observations.
    (and then planning experiments to test the conclusions from said observations and making even more astute observations on the results of these experiments, and so on…)

  93. #93 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 26, 2011

    Heliantus…

    you would be right.

  94. #94 WD
    January 26, 2011

    Augie seems to be forgetting there were pre-penicillin antibiotics such as sulfonamides.

    Looking for things that kill bacteria but not people was already well under way. They were looking at coal tars since dyes were known to kill microorganisms.

    What penicillin showed us that fungi already did the work for us.

  95. #95 augustine
    January 26, 2011

    David N. Andrews A.S.B.E.R.G.E.R.S.

    he has fuck all clue about anything to do with this discussion.
    I’ll deal with his droppings shortly. We have evidence to demonstrate conclusively that he is, indeed, a complete and utter twat.

    Being diagnosed with Asbergers is no excuse for your profanity and your behavior.

  96. #96 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 27, 2011

    “Being diagnosed with Aspergers is no excuse for your profanity and your behavior.” (FTFY)

    No. But your being a complete and utter twat is!

  97. #97 Prometheus
    January 27, 2011

    Todd W. comments:

    “Not to mention that even if primates did serve as an adequate analog for humans in an autism study, the sheer number of primates required to get any sort of meaningful result would be staggering.”

    Well, I “ran the numbers” on that. If we assume that the “vaccinated” monkeys will have the currently touted autism prevalence of 1% (reasonable, since nearly all of the US population has been vaccinated to some degree) and the autism prevalence of the unvaccinated monkeys is less than 0.1%, we would need 730 monkeys, split into “vaccinated” and “unvaccinated”.

    That – for anyone who hasn’t done primate research – is a LOT of monkeys!

    But what if we want to do it “on the cheap”? How much of a difference could we detect?

    Well, if we used 50 monkeys in each group (still a lot of monkeys, but a manageable number), we would be able to detect a difference if the autism prevalence in the unvaccinated group were less than 0.1% and the autism prevalence in the vaccinated group was 22% or greater.

    Unfortunately, if a “vaccinated vs unvaccinated” study – of any type – showed an autism prevalence of 22% (or greater), we’d probably have to conclude that there was something seriously wrong with the study, since the (human) autism prevalence in the US (where 90+% of children receive “most” of their vaccines) is only 1% (or less).

    So, it doesn’t look like anyone will be doing a (valid) “vaccinated vs unvaccinated” monkey study any time soon.

    For an interesting comparison, look at the number of monkeys used in the Hewitson et al study.

    Prometheus

  98. #98 idlemind
    January 27, 2011

    Although Augie doesn’t seem likely to understand it, if you’re wondering about the Cochrane Review on statins there is a good post by Steven Novella over at Science-Based Medicine. As one might expect, Augie both misunderstands and misrepresents the actual claims.

  99. #99 Jen
    January 28, 2011

    Promethius, I do appreciate that you actually took the time to look into the primate research and the numbers needed to reach statistical significance.

  100. #100 augustine
    January 28, 2011

    @ idlemind

    Too late. Already predicted.

  101. #101 Composer99
    January 28, 2011

    Ugh troll: try reading idlemind’s comment for comprehension. I know it’s difficult for you, given your demonstrable and lamentable inability (or deliberate unwillingness) to understand almost anything to do with science, medicine, rationality, and logic. But try.

  102. #102 augustine
    January 28, 2011

    Compost99

    Ugh troll: try reading idlemind’s comment for comprehension.

    Statins are dead. D.E.A.D. dead. When 999 out of 1000 people take a drug with no benefit but are still exposed to the side effects its going to be gone. G.O.N.E.

    Try reading NNT for comprehension. That’s number needed to treat. Its 1000. Not very good. Statins are gone Pfizer knows it.

    You apparently can not comprehend that.

  103. #103 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 28, 2011

    Augustine,
    What about people who have had a heart attack? Statins seem to be useful in preventing a second heart attack.

  104. #104 idlemind
    January 28, 2011

    Wow. Augie must live in some alternate reality.

    Pfizer’s patent on Simvastatin expired. Several generics manufacturers now produce it. Pfizer wants to spend their research dollars in a less crowded field rather than pursue a market that is crowded both by competitors’ patented products and a growing number of generics. It’s a sensible decision, one that could make business sense even if statins were wildly effective.

    The 1:1000 number isn’t new; I’m hardly a professional in the field, but I’ve certainly known for some time that statins may have relatively little effect in people without risk factors. The Cochrane Review simply collected together a number of studies that had appeared over the years and said that, in aggregate, those studies suggest that only one death in 1000 would be prevented in a non-at-risk population. Note that death and not progression into an at-risk category was the measure, and that if mortality is the standard, the less than one death in a million caused by statins seems negligible by comparison. But 1:1000 is a small enough effect that, absent other benefit, the question of whether non-at-risk individuals should receive statins is certainly raised.

    But here’s the thing. It’s always been controversial to give statins to people with no risk factors for cardiac disease. On the other hand, the benefit of giving statins to the millions of people who have already developed coronary artery disease is not controversial — the benefits are closer to 1:3 in mortality.

    The core of the controversy seems to be over whether people with risk factors but no manifest coronary artery disease should receive statins. And, of course Pharma is going to take the side of the controversy that makes them the most money. Has one person here suggested otherwise?

    But the idea that statins are “dead” or useless is utterly preposterous.

  105. #105 augustine
    January 28, 2011

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2811%2960111-6/fulltext

    Right on cue. The skeptics attack on Cochrane Collaboration continues. I told you earlier. Ideological Skeptics are so predictable. There will be more. You heard it hear first.

  106. #106 augustine
    January 28, 2011

    Memphis

    What about people who have had a heart attack? Statins seem to be useful in preventing a second heart attack.

    Seems to be. Maybe. Slightly. Could be. Possibly.

    Stop dancing and put your name on the line so I can come back and call you a scienceblogger laughingstock fraud. Say it, “Statins save lives, unequivocally.” “The benefits outweigh the risks for all.” “We should put statins in the water.”

  107. #107 augustine
    January 28, 2011

    idlemind

    Wow. Augie must live in some alternate reality.

    why don’t you explain this then: Explain this reality.

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_04/b4068052095204.htm

  108. #108 augustine
    January 28, 2011

    What is ashamed is that you call yourself “science”blogs.
    You only hurt the credibility of science.
    Real science cries every time a sockpuppet sticks their hand up science’s ass. And then says science says… Chris and Science Mommy, are you listening?

    There is nothing wrong with a little natualistic philosphy cult existing. But to deceptively call itself “science” is deceptive and shows a lack of honesty. The problem is that the term science has become synonymous with knowledge and truth. The naturalistic cult(sceptic) has taken advantage of this cultural phenomena.

  109. #109 idlemind
    January 28, 2011

    Methinks you’ve no idea what a “sockpuppet” is, nor do you even seem capable of understanding the very articles you link to.

    I’m done kicking this particular troll.

  110. #110 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 28, 2011

    Augustine,
    When did I, or anyone on this blog, say anything even remotely like “statins should be put in the water”?
    Heck, I’ll say it – I believe statins are over prescribed. What of it?

  111. #111 augustine
    January 28, 2011

    Idlemind

    I’m done kicking this particular troll.

    If you feel like you’ve “kicked me” in your so called nerd life then so be it. At least you can live in your head. If that makes you feel better.

    In reality there’d be no kicking from your part.

  112. #112 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 28, 2011

    Angus,

    You’re ornery tonight. What’s really eating you?

  113. #113 augustine
    January 29, 2011

    memphis

    Heck, I’ll say it – I believe statins are over prescribed. What of it?

    good!

    Some of the medical ilk believe it should be put in the water. Must be a shill who promotes that. Not necessarily of the “science” blog ilk.

  114. #114 Gray Falcon
    January 29, 2011

    Some of the medical ilk believe it should be put in the water.

    Name five. Seriously, augustine, just because one item of medication is over-prescribed does not invalidate medicine in general.

  115. #115 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 30, 2011

    “Name five. Seriously, augustine, just because one item of medication is over-prescribed does not invalidate medicine in general.”

    Can’t do it. Because, if he could have, he would have by now.

    Epic fail on augustine’s part. But why should we be surprised about that nowadays?

  116. #116 meh
    January 31, 2011

    I had the misfortune of being introduced to Adam’s work last week. Within a few page clicks it was painfully obvious that he was a conspiracy theorist who, apparently, cannot even take criticism from people who agree with him: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000782064897&ref=ts#!/group.php?gid=123398377672004&v=wall

    What I would like to know is, where in the world did he come from? His own blurbs declare that he’s an award winning journalist, but I am curious to know how he can claim these credentials.

  117. #117 augustine
    January 31, 2011

    Gray Falcon:

    Name five. Seriously, augustine, just because one item of medication is over-prescribed does not invalidate medicine in general.

    I don’t have to name 5. That’s your own standard.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3931157.stm

    Dr John Reckless, chairman of Heart UK and a consultant endocrinologist at Bath University, put forward the case.

    “The whole point of the debate is to bring out the fact that we are under-treating and the fact that a lot more people could benefit.

    “Of course we all need that. But on the other hand, rather more people do need statins than are currently getting them.

    “So maybe people should be able to have their statin, perhaps if not in their drinking water, with their drinking water.

    And you think statins are overprescribed? I guess you don’t think 8 year olds should be put on them in mass either?

    just because one item of medication is over-prescribed does not invalidate medicine in general.

    Strawman.

    David Andrews C.P.S.I.,S.T.F.U.:

    Can’t do it. Because, if he could have, he would have by now.
    Epic fail on augustine’s part. But why should we be surprised about that nowadays?

    Epic fail? Seriously, who are you? Who uses that term? The “I know you are but what am I?” argument doesn’t work too well for you.

    That’s the type of maturity and logic sciencebloggers would expect from their enemies. You are supposed to stand for logic, reason, science, and skepticism. You’re not very representative of that.

  118. #118 Gray Falcon
    January 31, 2011

    I don’t have to name 5. That’s your own standard.

    One person with a radical view does not the entire scientific community make. What’s more, this is how science works: We evaluate the evidence, and change views if the evidence shows a previously-held view to be incorrect. This is what is known as “integrity”.

    just because one item of medication is over-prescribed does not invalidate medicine in general.

    Strawman.

    Well, then, what was your point mentioning statins, anyway?

  119. #119 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 31, 2011

    “Epic fail? Seriously, who are you? Who uses that term?”

    I do. To describe your pathetic attempts at one-up-man-ship.

    “The ‘I know you are but what am I?’ argument doesn’t work too well for you.”

    Good to know. I don’t use that argument, so I never got to find out for myself.

    May I suggest a new hobby for you? Try ‘chuteless sky-diving!

    Thing is, augie, you’re one of this irritating little shits that – however hard we try here to be civil and nice to you – just makes it impossible for us to even respect you as anything human, let alone as someone on an equal intellectual level to us.

    “You are supposed to stand for logic, reason, science, and skepticism. You’re not very representative of that.”

    Who says we’re supposed to stand for that? As for representing it all – I do, but when I have to deal with your little turd-droppings on here; you don’t deserve anything like that. Even JG deserves better than I give you. He’d probably get it.

    Until you produce something useful or interesting or up to the standard you hold us up to, you don’t.

    Do us all a favour, augie: piss off!

  120. #120 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 31, 2011

    “Well, then, what was your point mentioning statins, anyway?”

    He doesn’t know, GF… remember that we’re talking about augie here. This ‘debating’ thing is a bit beyond him, as is obvious from what we see every time he drops a turd on this blog. But – and here’s the thing – augie’s too stupid to even know that he’s out of his depth here. So he keeps putting things out there and failing to support them because … well, he’s not been show how. As an example of how home-schooling a kid can fuck a kid up for life if it isn’t done properly, I’d say that augie’s case would be the best!

  121. #121 herr doktor bimler
    January 31, 2011

    Some of the medical ilk believe it should be put in the water.
    – Name five.
    I don’t have to name 5. That’s your own standard.

    Naming just one would be nice. I can’t see the point of naming someone who explicitly rules out statin in the drinking water, and suggests instead that “people should be able to have their statin [...] with their drinking water”.