Et tu, Consumer Reports?

Since I was a teenager, I’ve intermittently read Consumer Reports, relying on it for guidance in all manner of purchase decisions. CR has been known for rigorous testing of all manner of consumer products and the rating of various services, arriving at its rankings through a systematic testing method that, while not necessarily bulletproof, has been far more organized and consistent than most other ranking systems. True, I haven’t always agreed with CR’s rankings of products and services about which I know a lot, but at the very least CR has often made me think about how much of my assessments are based on objective measures and how much on subjective measures.

Until now.

I just saw something yesterday on the CR website that has made me wonder just how scientific CR’s testing methods are, as CR has apparently decided to promote alternative medicine modalities by “assessing” them in an utterly scientifically ignorant manner. Maybe I just haven’t been following CR regularly for a while. Maybe it’s been doing this for a while, but seeing it shocked me nonetheless. The first red flag was the title, namely Hands-on, mind-body therapies beat supplements. The second red flag was the introduction to the article:

A new survey of subscribers to Consumer Reports found that prescription drugs generally performed better than alternative therapies for 12 common health problems. But hands-on treatments such as chiropractic care and deep-tissue massage, as well as mind-body therapies such as yoga and meditation, held their own, especially for certain conditions. Far fewer said that dietary supplements helped a lot.

Prescription drugs helped the most for nine of the conditions we asked about: allergies, anxiety, colds and flu, depression, digestive problems, headache and migraine, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and osteoarthritis.

But chiropractic care performed better than drugs for back pain, and deep-tissue massage beat drugs for neck pain. Massage was as also as good as drugs for fibromyalgia. Those hands-on therapies also scored near the top for osteoarthritis as well as for headaches and migraines.

Oy, vey.

Clearly, whatever rigorous testing methodologies CR might bring to various products, its editors clearly have zero clue when it comes to science- and evidence-based medicine if they think that a survey is the appropriate way to determine which treatments work or how well treatments work relative to each other. There was a perfect example of what that is so just the other day with the study that appeared in New England Journal of Medicine that was touted as evidence that the placebo effect is powerful but in reality what the study showed is that, while placebos can make patients think they feel better, they don’t actually do anything to change the underlying pathology of the disease for the better. That’s why science and randomized clinical trials are necessary to determine what therapies work, which ones do not, and which ones work better than others. Surveys are a notoriously unreliable and deceptive (as in self-deceptive) way of trying to assess the relative merits of various therapies, representing as they do, mainly an aggregation of testimonials. Yet that’s what CR is using to try to rank alternative medicine therapies.

Worse, CR concludes its introduction:

For details, see our full report on alternative therapies, including advice on how to find a good chiropractor, massage therapist, yoga instructor, or other alternative-medicine practitioner.

I would submit to you that any reputable testing organization should not–I repeat, should not–be providing advice on how to find alternative medicine practitioners. On the other hand, note the bait and switch. Massage therapy is not necessarily “alternative.” At least it’s not alternative until it’s infused with woo like talk of “life energies” and such. Ditto yoga instructors, given that yoga, stripped of its woo, is basically stretching exercises. As for chiropractors, my standards for what would constitute a “good” chiropractor would be a bit different than most; I’d choose chiropractors who function primarily as physical therapists, eschewing any suggestion that they can cure any disease or treat anything other than musculoskeletal complaints. Any chiropractor who still believes in those mystical, magical “subluxations” that only chiropractors can find or who promote the idea of “innate intelligence” would not be a “good” chiropractor in my book; he’d be a quack.

My scientific orientation aside, it is nonetheless rather interesting to peruse CR’s report on “alternative” treatments entitled Alternative treatments More than 45,000 readers tell up what helped. The first thing I noticed was a rather obvious logical fallacy in the form of argumentum ad populum (i.e., appeal to popularity):

Done anything alternative lately? If so, you have a lot of company. When we surveyed 45,601 Consumer Reports subscribers online, we found that three out of four were using some form of alternative therapy for their general health. More than 38 million adults make in excess of 300 million visits to acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other complementary and alternative practitioners each year in the United States.

One wonders how long it will be before quacks start quoting the figure of three quarters of CR readers using alternative medicine or subtly misrepresenting the figure as three-quarters of Americans. After all, “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM) practitioners try very, very hard to paint those of us who are skeptical of their claims as hopeless Luddites trying to resist the inevitable CAM wave washing over medicine. Argumentum ad populum is one of the strongest logical fallacies that CAM proponents use. In fact, CR virtually admits that its survey is utterly useless for telling its readers what does and doesn’t work (although no doubt that’s not how the editors see it) when it states:

A total of 30,332 survey respondents gave us their perceptions of the helpfulness of treatments for their most bothersome conditions over the past two years. The respondents were Consumer Reports subscribers, and our findings might not be representative of the general population. Respondents based their opinions on personal experience, so the results can’t be compared with scientific clinical trials. And our results do not take into account the power of the placebo effect, the tendency of people to find even simulated or sham interventions helpful.

None of these caveats stops CR, though, which bravely dives right into the pool of pseudoscience promoted by appeals to popularity.

Even though this survey is pretty much useless (as CR admits while carrying it out anyway) for providing guidance about what therapies to use, I do have to admit–grudgingly–that this article does provide some rather interesting information, chief of which is that its results show that those nasty, evil, reductionistic prescription drugs in general outperformed any alternative therapy, even in a subjective, self-reported, Internet survey of CR’s subscribers like this. For instance, for allergy, prescription medications and over-the-counter medications were listed by CR readers by far as the top two therapies that “helped a lot.” It’s also interesting to note that only 2% of its readers used chiropractic to treat allergies, although 41% said that it “helped a lot.” Surprisingly, even for conditions for which “mind-body” therapies might be considered effective, prescription medications ruled the roost, including depression and anxiety. Other favorite conditions for which alt-med is used and for which alt-med claims success even though its success is virtually all placebo response yielded to the power of big pharma: Irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, headache, and colds and flu.

In fact, for only two conditions did any “alternative” modality beat or even come close to conventional medicine even in this biased, self-reported survey: back pain/neck pain (which I lumped together because they’re both the spine), osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. And what was effective? For neck/back pain chiropractic for neck/back pain, chiropractic and massage were reported to be as effective as or more effective than prescription medication, which is not surprising because conventional medicine prescribes physical therapy for these conditions anyway and for spine problems chiropractic is generally physical therapy with woo liberally sprinkled on top. For fibromyalgia deep tissue massage was in a dead heat with prescription medication, which is probably more an indication of the lack of good therapies for fibromyalgia right now than it is an indication that alternative therapies work. Ditto osteoarthritis, where the effectiveness of massage probably indicates the same thing.

There are three other results of this survey that are worth mentioning, for instance this passage:

For most conditions we asked about, the No. 1 reason respondents gave for choosing an alternative treatment was simply that they were “a proponent” of it.

“Some people use these therapies because it’s just the way they were raised,” says Richard Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior adviser for scientific coordination and outreach at the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Some say they have gone through a transformational process, such as a major illness that has caused them to look at their life in a different way, Nahin says. Others believe dietary supplements are safer than prescription medication because they’re natural, even though that’s not necessarily the case, he says.

In other words, CAM is belief-based medicine, not science-based medicine, and here we have a senior advisor from NCCAM admitting just that.

The second thing is that this article once again tries to make the claim that conventional, scientific medicine is “embracing” CAM by including a section discussing doctors and CAM. Of course, the interesting thing about this section is that it actually portrays physicians who practice CAM as being relatively uncommon, while representing one as being a “brave maverick doctor” who practices acupuncture. Even though I’ve seen doctors who practice acupuncture before (I’m talking to you, Michael Berman), I still can’t figure out the mental contortions and cognitive dissonance that must be necessary to make that happen. Still, in this article, we have a family practitioner named Dr. Rick Hobbs sticking needles into people to realign their qi. He’s even a kindly-appearing, bespectacled old guy wearing a bow tie! Can it get any more Norman Rockwell than that?

Finally, CR’s Hands-on and mind-body therapies: A user’s guide is depressing to behold. First, one notes the classic bait and switch, where therapies that could be considered part of science-based medicine, such as massage, yoga (which is just gentle stretching exercise), and meditation (which is more or less relaxation) are represented as “alternative” and then lumped in with quackery (acupuncture) as though the quackery were equivalent. Chiropractic itself would be a form of physical therapy if it were stripped of its vitalistic woo. In other words, not only has CR apparently decided that pointless Internet surveys where the respondents are all self-selected are a valid way to assess the efficacy of therapies, even while in essence admitting that they are not, but it’s apparently bought into the pseudoscientific world view at the heart of CAM. Whether it did so through belief or cynically in order to pander to a large, woo-loving segment of its audience, I don’t know and don’t care. What I do know is that CR has in this article utterly failed its readers and betrayed its history of rigorous product testing.

I hope it was worth it for CR to shoot its own credibility in the foot with such abandon.

Comments

  1. #1 jws
    July 24, 2011

    I imagine that some of this un-scientific mumbo jumbo has some merit for a few ills. But if I’m hiking in Yosemite and a grizzly mauls me, I’m gonna want a “western” doctor to sew my face back on.

    And so would everybody else.

  2. #2 Gopiballava
    July 24, 2011

    jws: Yes, but wouldn’t you be better off with prevention instead of this allopathic obsession with symptomatic treatment of problems after they occur?

  3. #3 lilady
    July 24, 2011

    @ Venna: I tried to bring the discussion back to a more serious level in a prior post…unsucessfully. I suspect our friends are have too much fun with the Yogi’s postings..oh well.

    You are too young to be having multiple joint problems without treatment or remediation. I wonder if you have explored a family practice clinic that accepts Medicaid for referrals to a PT? I know you are residing in the Northwest but I’m not aware of any shortage of doctors who accept Medicaid patients…in the Southwest there is a shocking paucity of such doctors. Are there any community or university affiliated hospitals nearby…most of them have a doctor’s referral service available on the internet or through a phone call.

    There is also the “AMA Doctor Finder” website to find a doc in various specialties…however I don’t know if you can discern which ones take Medicaid or even if you are enrolled in a Medicaid HMO type of plan. My state’s health department has a listing of every licensed doctor and many of the listings are quite complete with the exact medical plans (including Medicaid) that the doctor accepts. Then too, Google is you friend if you were to key in “Doctors who accept Medicaid and your county”

    You should have a doctor that you find simpatico for primary health care and also to monitor your blood glucose level and that old bugaboo of a small amount of weight loss. Your joint problems, written up correctly by your doctor, should get you a few sessions of PT…then perhaps some fitness sessions due to elevated glucose levels. Just remember that you must be healthy or the family unit caves. Sorry if I sound like a mommy here, but I care.

    Anecdotally, my sister who is 15 months older than me, pushed her self working and caring for her seven children…she is now a train wreck, with arthritis throughout, three knee replacements, multiple carpal tunnel surgeries and quite impaired. Of course her yo-yo weight gains/losses stressed her joints terribly.

    I’ll just read some more of yogi’s silly posts now and off to bed…just recovering from my Alaska trek.

  4. #4 Venna
    July 24, 2011

    @ lilady

    There are doctors who will accept my health coverage, but there is a limit to the number that are accepted each month. I missed the first of the month deadline to contact my health plan to check for doctors so now I need to wait until first of August. I need a PC physician for me, my partner and my partner’s daughter (who is 16) so we’d need a family practitioner. As for the specialists I’d need to get referral from a PC to go to them per the rules of my health coverage.

    I actually wanted to have my knees and my blood sugar looked at last summer when I went to the doctor I was assigned to through Kaiser coverage from work, but all they cared about was that I mentioned a heart issue that I was curious about. I found out I have Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia and they were pressing me to get an ablation procedure done to my heart which turns out is more risky then the occasional racing heart episodes I experience (I’m talking like once every two or three months so it wasn’t a worry just a curiosity as my youngest sister has it too). They didn’t even listen to my other complaints and I felt like they heard heart and their eyes turned into dollar signs or something because every other concern I wanted to have them look at was completely ignored. I never liked Kaiser anyway so I’m glad I’m not stuck going to them now.

    I’m working on finding a doctor, but there are constraints. There are a lot of people on OHP (Oregon Health Plan) due to low wages or unemployment so doctors have to set limits. Luckily the coverage we have isn’t HMO but it still requires PCP referral to specialists. I worry about my health because of Viktor. I don’t know how functional he is yet and until I do I need to make sure I’m here to care for him and keep him safe. I forget things easily because I get absorbed doing other things that I need to do. I’m one of those that could benefit from a daily To Do list, but I’ve never actually made one, I always forget. I’m sure nobody here really wants to hear about my worries though so I should keep them from this board. Sorry everyone for my short whine fest!

  5. #5 DLC
    July 24, 2011

    I guess CR doesn’t understand that the plural of anecdote is not “data”.

    And: I would sooner trust a science-based physical therapist over a chiropractor telling me that my condition is based on subluxations.

  6. #6 lilady
    July 24, 2011

    @ Vanna: Not a whine fest at all…It’s hard to manage at times with Medicaid and some limited access and I know only too well the extra care that the little ones who are in need of extra attention, require, plus the extra emotions tied into their care and their future.

    Insofar as your occasional heart problems, there are a few cardiac meds that can control them if need be, and as you probably already know, eliminating or drastically cutting back on caffeine including colas will at least lessen the episodes. Hubby has had right and left atrial ablations for more serious V-flutter and V-Fib as well as more recently, three stents placed in two arteries…all done through femoral arterial groin access. It is a much easy and shorter recovery process than cracking the chest for heart access.

    Hey, you’ve got to train for that walkathon!

  7. #7 epador
    July 24, 2011

    RE: Medicaid in OR and WA. They don’t pay for PT anymore. They will pay for drugs. Sad, isn’t it?
    Doctors don’t HAVE to set limits on the number of Medicaid patients they see, but they do. Especially at some OHSU clinics. That’s Oregon Health State University. The one that gets funding from the State and all. Wonderful, huh?
    Venna: What region are you looking for doctors? I might be able to hook you up with someone sensible.

  8. #8 Ashtanga London
    July 24, 2011

    The word ‘Yoga’ is meaningless if you don’t actually specify what is done under the label of ‘doing some yoga’.

    How ridiculous it would be if all medical research was done on ‘The Medicine’ or ‘The Drug’ without ever specifying which chemicals are in the medicine or the drug?

    So from now on Mr Orac / Lord Draconis, any talk of yoga in future please open that can of worms fully and let them wriggle a bit more.

    There’s more healing in that yoga than you can possibly imagine 😉

    Thank you all!
    P.S. I’m nothing to do with any Yoga businesses in London that might have names similar to ‘ashtanga london’.

  9. #9 lilady
    July 24, 2011

    Just wow, Epador…I wasn’t aware the Oregon and Washington won’t pay for PT…so sad. Does that exclusion also apply to post joint replacement PT rehab, as well? That being the case it is truly draconian and puts the patient at high risk for very poor outcomes from the joint replacement surgery.

  10. #10 Ashtanga London
    July 24, 2011

    @Gopi I think I should have picked different numbers.

    I think the most important areas for Ashtanga Yoga are maybe back pain and depression.
    Ahimsa (no hurting) and udiyyana bandha are essential for Ashtanga for Back pain.

    That’s interesting about Diabetes, my teacher died from diabetes but he was over 90 years old and he’d stopped doing ‘yoga postures’ when he was about 70.

    I think that study with the Texan kids probably would have cost about $10-15K. Would that be the right ball park or have I underestimated the cost of scientists?

  11. #11 kelian
    July 24, 2011

    Vanna: Some sort of to-do list is pretty much essential if you’re juggling that many things to keep track of and you have that many obligations to others. Can you just get started with putting pens and paper in the car, in coat pockets and purses, and on tables? That way when something jumps out at you as something you should write down, you can get a list started before the procrastinate-y bit of the brain knows what happened.

    Post-it note blocks are invaluable, because you can stick the list right to something you know is going to an appointment. But anything is a start. And it’s a lot easier than sitting around cudgeling your brain for that last vital thing you wanted to ask.

  12. #12 Venna
    July 24, 2011

    @ lilady

    The only caffeine I ingest is from the single cup of coffee I have each morning. I don’t drink soda, too much sugar in them. I will indulge in chocolate from time to time but it isn’t one of those things that I keep around the house because of my binge issues. So I don’t really have much caffeine in my diet.

    The tachycardia didn’t start until after Viktor’s birth. The episodes only occur when I’m particularly stressed out. I’ll tell you when I was working I had them much more often then I do now and when the advice nurse at the cardiac center was calling me three times a day trying to convince me to take time off work I wasn’t able to take and come in for a consultation it was really stressful. It irritates me when people don’t listen to what I have to say and she didn’t.

    I was prescribe Atenolol, which is used to treat high blood pressure and angina, neither of which I have, to take half a tablet once daily, but only if Valsalva maneuver or ice water on my face didn’t work. I never got a chance to try the Valsalva though while I was under going the Holter monitoring period. As soon as I sent in the first recording of my heart rate, which was two weeks after getting the monitor, I was getting calls from the cardiac advice nurse and told I need to up the intake of the Atenolol to one full tablet twice daily.

    I was really nervous about taking this since they didn’t really look at any of my other history and this was actually the first time I had gone to see this particular doctor and I felt like I wasn’t listened to from the start. Side effects for this drug include development of diabetes and since I already had concerns about this I didn’t want to do anything that would bring it on faster. I just don’t feel the doctors at Kaiser, or maybe it was just the doctors and specialists I dealt with, have my best interest in mind but are more concerned with making money. That’s what it seemed like anyway.

    @ Epador

    We live in Tualatin. My son goes to OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) for his Occupational therapy and will also go there for his language therapy once there is an opening in the waiting list and for parent training so I can learn how to give him therapy at home since insurance and health coverage doesn’t cover all of the therapy that Viktor needs (25 – 30 hours each week). I didn’t know OHP didn’t pay for PT either. From what I could tell from my particular coverage it is covered, as long as I’m referred by a PCP. I might need to recheck that. Those insurance guide manuals are really confusing.

  13. #13 Jarred C
    July 24, 2011

    Kelian,

    That’s a great idea. I do that often, too. In the house, instead of pen and paper, I keep a small white-board on my refrigerator.

  14. #14 Ashtanga London
    July 24, 2011

    Thanks Rain city girl,

    I hope you’re assuming I’m female because most yoga teachers are, or do I write like one?

  15. #15 Venna
    July 24, 2011

    @ Kelian

    Under normal conditions, yes, that would be a great and obvious solution. My situation is such that I can’t leave pens and paper lying around because my son will find them and either try to stab himself or other people with the pens, or he’ll take them apart and scatter the pieces everywhere. Paper gets shredded, essentially anything that gets left out is at the mercy of my son so nothing really can be left out. He can be quite sneaky about things too and I don’t always know he’s up to something until it’s nearly too late to save whatever has become the victim of his curiosity.

    I do carry a pen with me in my bag when I go out simply because you never know when you’ll need one, but I usually only go out when I’m going grocery shopping or taking Viktor to one of his appointments. I don’t have a car, we bus everywhere. What I think will help me is to make a list each night before I go to bed using Notepad on my computer, listing everything in order of importance and leave it up. The first thing I do when I wake is check my email. If I turn on my monitor and immediately see my to-do list, I’ll remember. I guess the hard part for me is actually making the list. Once I have it I can follow it. After all I do that ever time I go shopping, hehe. I’m gonna give it a try this week since I have so much that I need to get done this week and most of it is out of the ordinary from what my routine normally is comprised of. Heh, I’m not even sure why I’m telling you all this, maybe because telling someone else helps to keep me more accountable. Anyway, since tomorrow is Monday, I need to remember to make that to do list tonight before bed. I’m just not sure I remember everything I need to do tomorrow. I’l let you know how it goes.

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    July 24, 2011

    @ Venna: Ah, what’s a few whines amongst friends?

    To do lists are a great way to create a routine and save time. Also set up a calendar in your kitchen where you can write in important appointments per date. I have three.

    About knee replacements: (if and when you go) it’ll take a huge chunk out of your usual daily living activities. I play tennis and know so many who have had this and similar- e.g. ligament ( all ages). It is a major undertaking, so plan well. People’s reactions to surgery vary- e.g. two I know had to forestall PT due to bad rx to anaesthesia and pain meds ( the latter had gastric ulcers! Back to hospital!).

    Caregivers already have too much on their plates. Learn how to delegate duties within the household prior to setting up the appointment. No easy task I can assure you. You seem to have your head screwed on correctly, so I’m sure you’ll triumph…. eventually. Take care. Be well.

  17. #17 kelian
    July 24, 2011

    Vanna: Yeah, it sounds like paper won’t work at all for you. To every tidy solution, there are two or more problems! A white-out board sounds like a good backup, because you can move it someplace you can reach it easily, but it sounds like you’re already onto a winner with the computer thing. (The downside is printing it out.)

    Maybe part of the solution’s making sure you have a few chances built into the day to get to the computer to write your list down. (I have to say, if I had just pens and no paper I’d end up with my lists all over my arms!)

    Hang in there.

  18. #18 Venna
    July 24, 2011

    @DW

    I hope I don’t have to have knee replacement surgery, I live on the second floor and it’s already painful going up and down the stairs. I’m on the waiting list for a ground floor 3 bedroom (so my partner’s daughter can have a room instead of sleeping in the dining room) and right now I’m second or third on the list, but 3 bedrooms don’t come available very often, and ground floor ones even less often. I keep hoping there will be a mass exodus from the three bedrooms and I’ll come up on the list sooner, but since these apartments are section 42 I don’t think that will happen any time soon. If I do need to have knee replacement done, it might have to wait until we are on the ground floor, otherwise I’ll be stranded in my apartment until I can take the stairs again. But let’s think positive! Perhaps I just need to strengthen certain muscles in my legs/knees to compensate for other ones or something. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. Until I know for sure I’m going to hope for the best. Of course even if knee replacement is necessary, the very best in the long run for everyone would be to get the ground floor three bedroom. Hmm, hard to know what to hope for really in that situation, hehe.

  19. #19 GlaxoPharma Com Orbital
    July 24, 2011

    MESSAGE BEGINS——————-

    Shills and Minions,

    Squabbling over the efficacy of exercise routines my be amusing, but remember, we have work to do. And as Minion Venna reminds us, there are other minions with more pressing problems than whether the proper astrological signs are holding court in the sky whilst one is forming oneself into a mammalian pretzel.

    That, and there are quacks to be made into roast duck. I do, however, commend our vexatious vedics for their pluck and verve. But I find it rather like arguing whether Superman or Darth Vader is more powerful (correct answer: Darth Vader).

    Return to your duties and our best wishes for a swift recovery to Minion Venna.

    And lest I forget, congratulations to freshly-minted Shill, Class VII (with the wreath of the Keldan League) Chris. Your dedication is surpassed only by your keen intellect and charm.

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Suzerain of V’tar and Pharmaca Magna of Terra and SeedFather Progenitor of the Creche of 36

    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
    0010101101001

  20. #20 Chris
    July 24, 2011

    Thank you, Lord Draconis Zeneca!

  21. #21 Drivebyposter
    July 24, 2011

    There’s more healing in that yoga than you can possibly imagine 😉

    Except all that extra healing can’t be demonstrated in controlled circumstances. Hmm the powers of yoga are strange indeed.

    Also, are you sure it’s the yoga that is doing the healing and not the actual medical treatment you encourage people to get alongside the yoga?

  22. #22 Psorta Psychic
    July 24, 2011

    I psorta think that the yoga guy is confused. I have pseen Orac and our Lord Draconis at the psame time. They don’t look the psame, especially psince Lord Draconis Zeneca has an awesome beard.

  23. #23 Gopiballava
    July 24, 2011

    @Ashtanga London:

    What are your thoughts on whether Person A or Person B is healthier in your example?

  24. #24 Scottynuke
    July 24, 2011

    Venna, have you considered one of the many remarkably inexpensive digital voice recorders for keeping track of those “I should tell the doctor that” sort of thoughts? 🙂

  25. #25 Raincitygirl
    July 24, 2011

    Ashtanga London is the most entertaining troll i’ve seen in a long time. She makes a refreshing change from Augie, Thingie and Jacob. I’m sure she’ll get tiresome soon enough, but right now she’s very amusing. Good work.

    Honourable mention to Gopiballava, for some delightful troll-baiting, as well.

  26. #26 lilady
    July 24, 2011

    @ Venna: I hope you review Epador’s posting at # 205…I think it is a sincere offer to get you into a doctor (ala circumventing waiting lists and any b.s. quotas). Just provide Epador with your region or county or town in Oregon.

    No, no, no, they are not whine fests…they are b***ch sessions…so essential for our mental health and too bad they are on the internet. Women are so lucky to have our gal friends so supportive and so versed in the art of b***ching.

  27. #27 Venna
    July 24, 2011

    @Scotty

    That’s a really good idea, thanks. I hadn’t thought of something like that. Of course the first thing is finding a doctor and then going from there. I’ll need to do some pricing out if I get something like that to figure out how long I’ll need to save up to buy it. We shall see if that works. In the mean time, I’ll have to do the list on the computer idea. That’s the best I have so far, it’s just remembering to do it that’s tricky, heh.

  28. #28 Gopiballava
    July 24, 2011

    Venna: I use David Allen’s getting things done style of list management. It has helped me a lot, although it doesn’t deal with all my issues; I still am not that good. On the plus side I’m good at emergency management and last minute tasks 🙂 GTD does involve a lot of list management that is best done with software, most of which is $$$.

    The parts of his system that I think have helped me the most are:
    1. Separate collection of tasks from your lists. I have a list inbox where I scribble something quick down, and later I put all those short notes in the right lists
    2. Make your list items *actionable*. Figure out what is next, don’t leave broad and ill defined goals next to concrete actions. Every time you look at your list, your brain will say “house cleaning, that means I have to buy a mop, then etc etc”. Do the work of breaking things down once, so you can look and immediately figure out what is next
    3. List management and planning is a task. You’re better off finding time to look through your lists every so often so they make sense, rather than figuring it out all the time
    4. Be honest; delete things you won’t do. You are better off choosing what not to do with a plan rather than letting things slip based on what you skip during a busy day
    5. Keep lists short – at least for me, one long list will have stuff I skip even if it sounds important.

    And on that note I will go and send my car registration in before it’s late 🙂

  29. #29 Drivebyposter
    July 24, 2011

    I’ll need to do some pricing out if I get something like that to figure out how long I’ll need to save up to buy it.

    100 bucks is on the very upper limit of what you could/should expect.

    $40-$50 is probably more along the average from what I see on Amazon

  30. #30 Militant Agnostic
    July 25, 2011

    Venna @225

    Scott recommended a digital voice recorder – If you have an mp3 player even the cheapest ones have this capability although a purpose built digital voice recorder has a better user interface and better quality recording.

    Even a basic cellphone (mine is one step up from a “Seniors Phone”) has the capability for making to-do lists and a calendar for appointments with an alarm function. They also can record voice reminders.

    My wife got a Sony digital voice recorder a couple of years ago for well under a $100.

  31. #31 Venna
    July 25, 2011

    Thanks everyone for the advice! It’s nice to know so many people are willing to help me out. Particularly since I’ve felt so isolated the past few years, even when I was going to work during the week, and even when I had a car.

    Right now things are busy because I’ve committed myself to the Autism Speaks walk next month and I’m finding it difficult to get out and do what I need to do to raise funds. I just need to get through August and I think things will even out for me a bit. On the plus side, going through this now will help me know what works and what doesn’t for next year’s walk so I’ll be able to get started much sooner and will hopefully have raised the funds I set as my goal long before this time next year! So I’m trying to find the time to go and talk to people about donations, trying to find a company sponsor for our team and also getting to Viktor’s appointments and time to go grocery shopping, not to mention laundry, dishes, dinner and then Viktor’s therapy during the day at home. Sometimes it can be hard and I feel over whelmed and I push myself sometimes beyond what I am physically able to do and I start feeling it in my knees and my back and my ankles and feet. And as soon as I get Viktor down for bed I collapse into a chair and cry because I want to be the super mom, but physically I am wearing myself out. This is why I need to find a doctor so badly. I’ve always put myself and my own health last, but it’s getting to the point where I can’t do that if I expect to be able to care for Viktor still. I would do anything for him, and I want to make sure I’m physically able to. I need to make finding a doctor a higher priority then it has been, but I keep doing everything else first out of 40 years of habit. *And my mom always told me I was selfish.* As if…

  32. #32 lilady
    July 25, 2011

    Hi Venna: You so remind me of my feelings “back in the day” when my son was your Viktor’s age…different little boys with different diagnoses…but parents of disabled kids have those same frustrations of not enough time to do all that needs to be done.

    I am so happy that you are involved with the Autism Speaks Group and their walkathon. I have a suggestion for you to fund raise and meet your goal. There is a well respected (strictly) local newspaper in my small town that is published weekly and I bet you have a local newspaper too. Now some of the reporters are young journalism grads, using the newspaper job as a first step on their career ladder. Many of the reporters are not looking to climb that ladder and are happy covering school board meetings, the grand openings of new stores…things that only of interest to the “townies”. All the reporters love to report “human interest type stories” and they are very receptive to anyone (you, for instance) who contacts them with such a story. At the same time one proposes such an article, mentioning the worthiness of sponsoring agency and your unmet fund raising goal is a great tactic to generate those funds.

    Most of the reporters in the local and regional newspapers that I have ever dealt with are very open to such stories and delighted to have you provide background information for them…you become their stringer and do a lot of their research for them…and they get the byline credit.

    Your writing abilities are superb and should you submit an article to the local paper you’d have an excellent chance of it being published or…you could submit a “Letter to the Editor” about your walkathon and how readers can send donations directly to Autism Speaks with your team name written on the check. The advice I have provided is through my years of experience with “cultivating” contacts in the media to get stories and articles published.

    Venna, you have a perfect right to feel overwhelmed…at times…in comes with the territory. Your efforts on behalf of Viktor are acknowledged by your gal pals here as being nothing short of heroic.

    Stay in shape for that Walk-a-thon and good night.

  33. #33 kelian
    July 25, 2011

    Vanna, if your body is sending you such strong hints that you need to chill, you might also consider asking the organizers if there’s another form of volunteering you can do (covering tables, etc) that will let you help without burning up your time until then and your energy.

    If the walk-a-thon is helping you hang on to your health, go for it! But if it’s just eating up your resources when you have so many other demands, maybe it’s time to get involved in a different way. Caregivers have got to play a bit of “me first” or else they can’t help anyone.

  34. #34 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    OK Heads up, this is the YOGA thread because the OP said:

    “Ditto yoga instructors, given that yoga, stripped of its woo, is basically stretching exercises.”

    Whoa, hold on a minute…

    There’s no woo in the yoga I do and it’s recognised by me and anyone who is insane like me as the best yoga, and it can be physically specified, there is no woo. There isn’t even any ‘Stretching’, not that you would know the science behind ‘not actually stretching’.

    Ashtanga yoga employs 3 physical techniques with funny names.

    If we could translate them into the correct medical terminology, we might be able to logically see why ashtanga should be superior (though we’d need to test to show for real.

    So there are two things left to accomplish:
    1) You don’t know what you mean when you say ‘Yoga’
    2) I don’t know how much it costs to do a research project.

    c) Venna should do yoga. The ego lives in the knees!

  35. #35 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    Jarred C that was a really helpful contribution.

    Sick and dying people must love you when you have your childish fun instead of helping them.

    Grow up. You know damn well that I was using the word tongue-in-cheek.

    I put it to you, Jarred, that you feel personally very insecure when confronted with ashtanga yoga or even the discussion of it.

  36. #36 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    I think $0 is a bit low. You can probably get me to teach the yoga for no cost if the research is in London, or if in the US I might be able to find someone who would do it for no cost.

    Similarly, a room would be required and that may or may not cost money.

    The subjects would probably have some expenses (travel?).

    Equipment costs are negligible, even hight quality yoga mats are less than $50

    How long would it take to ‘design’ the study? Something tells me one of you guys could write it in 10 mins!

    How much does it cost for the scientist to do the calculations and write it up?

    We still need to define Ujjaya breathing and the two bandhas in terms of what a medic would call them (‘drishti’ or ‘looking place’/’gaze point’ is self-explanatory).

    We still need to define what is really going on when you think that we are ‘stretching’ when we are not.

    Come on, it’s easier than 1, 2, c 😉

  37. #37 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    If you were really able to ‘stretch’ muscle fibres, they would have to be elastic, if they were elastic, you would not be able to write neatly.

    The tension in a muscle is controlled by the nervous system via calcium bonds.

    The ‘limit’ you feel when you try to touch your toes is an arbitrary safety limit imposed by your nervous system.

    If you pull or push hard enough against this limit you will eventually tear muscle fibres. This is known as ballistic ‘stretching’ and is a technique employed by martial arts and dance schools to attempt to wear out young bodies. If you do this everyday, your muscles will get longer. If you stop, your muscles will get shorter and be full of broken fibers (surrounded by 6 new slightly shorter ones),

    Does everyone agree so far – shall I go on or would you like to correct anything before I go on to explain how Ashtanga Yoga ‘stretching’ really happens?

  38. #38 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    Thanks for that, the martial arts / ballet / ballistic stretching thing isn’t important, just illustrating that the ashtanga way is different to how everyone imagines us to ‘stretch’.

    What do you call the fuzz in between muscle layers? Is it fascia? Have you seen ‘the fuzz speech’?

    Anyway, so we don’t make our muscles longer by forcing fibres to break. We ‘melt’ the fuzz by generating a lot of heat through using Ujjayi breath and slow movements.

    Then the nervous system ‘lets go’ after about 35-40 seconds and removes the arbitrary safety limit, but only if you are not thinking about ‘the stretch’.

    That is one of the functions performed by the bandhas, drishti, ujjaya and the sequence. It’s as much as you can concentrate on at once and leaves no brain space for you to use for thinking about ‘the stretch’.

    Hence the weird jedi-like advice to try not to stretch or ‘wanting not getting.’

    People think it’s woo and most yoga teachers haven’t got a clue what really happens.

    So not ‘stretching’, rather, distracting the mind at the edge of a stretch with hot sliding layers of muscle ready to move as soon as the nervous system lets go.

    We measure the 35-40 seconds by counting 5 whole ujjayi breaths. That’s why it is ‘5 breaths’ in most postures. Not an arbitrary number. 4 breaths isn’t long enough, any longer than 5 breaths is diminishing returns.

    Hopefully that explains how we ‘not stretch’, you’ll still need to understand exactly how Ujjayi breathing and the Bandhas work 🙂

  39. #39 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    Chris it is not off topic. If you are feeling threatened just stay out of it.

    I’m sure a bit more definition will help us all. There is NO WOO in my ashtanga yoga.

  40. #40 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    Another man feeling threatened. Go away if you have nothing to add.

    We are moving towards ‘science’ by defining what is actually physically going on with a particular system of yoga.

    YOGA:

    Ujjayi breathing generates intense heat and sweat even when moving slowly.

  41. #41 Just Sayin'
    July 25, 2011

    The word ‘Yoga’ is meaningless if you don’t actually specify what is done under the label of ‘doing some yoga’.

    I’ve always wanted to do a Jedi master. I hear they can do amazing stuff with them litesaver thingies!

    How ridiculous it would be if all medical research was done on ‘The Medicine’ or ‘The Drug’ without ever specifying which chemicals are in the medicine or the drug?

    But what about the pancakes? I want a study on the health benefits of pancakes, dammit!!!!111one!!!

    So from now on Mr Orac / Lord Draconis, any talk of yoga in future please open that can of worms fully and let them wriggle a bit more.

    But what if the worms eat the pancakes? We could all go hungry. What about that smarty pants?

    There’s more healing in that yoga than you can possibly imagine 😉

    Oh, I don’t know. Pancakes have healing power too. Especially the ones that look like the Virgin Mary, or the Virgin Madonna, or Elvis, or something.

    Thank you all!

    Glad to be of service! Now all we need is some good Canadian maple syrup for our pancakes!

    P.S. I’m nothing to do with any Yoga businesses in London that might have names similar to ‘ashtanga london’.

    Lie! I saw you doing yoga on the campus of UWO!

  42. #42 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    It would be easier but seeing as the last time I gave you a picture someone called it ‘porn’ I thought better of it.

    How to do Ujjayi breathing so you know what it is:

    1) Make a ‘Haaaaa’ sound through your mouth as if you were blowing fog on a mirror, not the contraction of the glottis and how it feels. This is not ujjayi.

    2) With the mouth closed, do the same again but this time with the air coming out of your nose. It will be more difficult than in 1) so go gently.

    3) When you have got the hand of that, try it again but breath in the same way. This time go even gentler. Go to fast and your throat will ‘lock up’.

    If you are doing it right you will be breathing through your nose and you will hear and feel the air in your throat.

    If you really still have no idea, try to find someone doing it on youtube or ask me I can find it.

    Doing Yoga poses without Ujjayi breathing is dangerous, ineffective, and frankly is not really yoga.

  43. #43 Jarred C
    July 25, 2011

    it’s recognised by me and anyone who is insane like me as the best yoga

    Thanks for the heads up. You could have mentioned that early on.

  44. #44 Just Sayin'
    July 25, 2011

    not that you would know the science behind ‘not actually stretching’.

    Ooooh! Ooooh! I know! I know!

    The science behind “not actually stretching” involves taking an object, putting it on a flat surface, not stretching it, and observing the results. Normally, barring extremes of temperature or sudden falling asteroids, the object is left in its original “unstretched” state.

    AmIrite?

    But then, what does all of this have to do with pancakes, anyway?

    1) You don’t know what you mean when you say ‘Yoga’

    2) I don’t know how much it costs to do a research project.

    c) Venna should do yoga. The ego lives in the knees!

    Hey, wait a minute! What happened to 3) through b)? You’re just trying to distract us while you steal our pancakes!

    Oh, and research projects vary from $0 all the way up to several billion dollars (which, needless to say, would buy many pancakes for the world’s hungry people).

  45. #45 Vicki
    July 25, 2011

    Ashtanga @237: That’s right, you still need to define your terms (“what is really going on,” as you put it). Otherwise you’re walking into a biology lab and asking me to calculate the specific heat of a striped tachyon.

    It’s past time you went over to blogspot or somewhere similar and set up your own blog for a discussion of the benefits of yoga and how best to study it. I think you’ve done an adequate job of demonstrating the subject of this post, namely credulity towards alternative medicine.

    Oh, and can I have some lingonberry syrup for these crepes?

  46. #46 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    Yoga is not science and it never will be You can tell the future now o witch of woo?
    Venna, you are not a man feeling threatened, you are an attractive lady with long dark hair now please go away I’m not interested in your prejudices or your hair. You go away.

    Jarred yes, with yoga it is safer if you are warmer and the only way to get warm and move slow enough not to risk injury in another way is to employ ujjayi breathing. It also helps keep the practitioner concentrating on the yoga. It also tells the teacher everything about the student (yep, we listen to your ujjay and read your hopes and fears off it!).

    Ujjayi breathing = lower risk of injury.

    Ok, nit-picking aside, did anyone here actually try that ujjayi breathing?

  47. #47 Jarred C
    July 25, 2011

    Sick and dying people must love you when you have your childish fun instead of helping them.

    I don’t work in a field where sick and dying people are at my mercy, so they have nothing to fear from me. However, on the rare occasion that I do have to deal with sick and dying people, I can usually get them to laugh with my snark.

    Grow up. You know damn well that I was using the word tongue-in-cheek.

    Actually, I thought it was a typo, and that you forgot to proof-read, or when you did proof-read, you missed it (Things like that can happen all the time, which is why we’re supposed to have other people proof-read our work in formal occasions).

    I put it to you, Jarred, that you feel personally very insecure when confronted with ashtanga yoga or even the discussion of it.

    Are you getting mad that I’m derailing your topic? I hope so, because maybe then you will know why others were getting mad in the BLF/JM thread, where you derailed the topic back to your personal favorite.

    Now, if you would like me to be serious and not be foolish to you, I can be. Here’s some food for though:

    When a real scientist does work, (s)he uses scientific methods in order to prevent themselves from being fooled or tricked. Since oneself is the easiest person for one to fool, it’s vitally important that we do not allow ourselves to be tricked by what we want to believe. That’s the point of science: to weave out the truth from a myriad of untruths.

    You absolutely must be brutally honest with yourself while doing the research; you must never allow yourself to manipulate the data. But, even if you fall into the traps of humankind, it’s still okay, because your published work will be heavily critiqued by your peers, and your work will be replicated by your peers. And between all of that, after many replications have been done, all the biases of all the different researchers will be washed away, and the truth of the matter will come out. This is the point of peer-reviewed research: to help your fellow scientist’s work overcome the scientist’s biases.

    Science is a brutal field, and it is not for those who cannot handle criticism. We critique each other harshly, and often. And if we don’t then things like pseudo-science come out (ever notice how the purveyors of pseudo-science never critique each other?)

    With all of that, now let’s discuss your Ashtunga Yoga. Be honest with yourself. What do you know about A. Yoga which is backed by evidence? What do you know about A. Yoga which is not backed by evidence? What do you believe about A. Yoga which has been shown to be false, yet you still believe it? What do other A. Yoga practitioners believe about A. Yoga which has been shown to be false, yet the ideas are still persistent among your A. Yoga peers?

    Are there areas you can test it in comparison to other techniques (other Yoga styles, or non-yoga exercise routines which are similar)? Have those tests (a.k.a. research) been done? How many times? What biases are there in the research? Do the author’s conclusions match what the data says? Were the authors able to compare their test subjects to a control group? Did they control for biases in their subjects and in themselves?

    A lot of your own biases seem to be based around the idea that only if you could teach a person A. Yoga, then they too would believe all these things about it that you do. There are huge problems with that idea. It’s akin to stating that only if you would take aspirin, then you too would know that it alleviates pain. Statistically, you only have an n of 1 (and in statistics, many equations require you to divide by n-1. If n=1, then 1-1=0. You have to divide by 0, which is simply nonsense). Philosophically, a test subject of only 1 means that you have no idea how accurate that 1 person is to the average. Are they right on the average, or are they exceptionally above or below the average. Large n values allow for better analysis, and when people don’t have large values of n, further research leads to a phenomenon called “regression to the mean.”

    Another problem with your “if only you would learn A. Yoga, you would know what I mean” idea is that a factual claim should be able to stand on its own merits. It shouldn’t matter that I do not practice A. Yoga; if your claims about its health effects are true, I should be able to see it in the data and the statistics, without having to practice it myself. This is the case in science-based medicine; we can see the effects of medical techniques without having to practice them ourselves. I don’t need to be a surgeon or have surgery to know that certain techniques work and others don’t. I don’t need experience in or have been submitted to a lie-detector test to know that they don’t work. The evidence in the research stands by itself.

    As I’ve mentioned early, although in snark, I’m not a fan of practicing yoga, I’m a fan of practicing jujitsu and judo. I don’t care if others practice yoga, I just don’t want to, myself. Now, I’ve never been one to hit another person. I don’t like to hit people. I prefer to control their movements by joint manipulation. When I happen to be involved in a fight (and when I was in my 20s, it happened more often that I would have liked it to), the ability to lock a person’s arm behind their back was much more effective in stopping the fight than it would have been to punch them. However, I don’t need to have you practice jujitsu in order to show you that claim. I could test it, run statistics on it, etc., and then if I’m correct, I could show you in writing. If it turns out that I was wrong, then I would admit that I’m wrong and I would stop making the claim. But without the research to back it up, I have to admit that I don’t really know for certain – I think it’s true, I’ve seen it happen in my past, my own experiences back up my claims, but I could be wrong. I could have been allowing myself to be fooled this entire time. The point is that until I put my claims to the test, I don’t really know for certain.

    And neither do you.

  48. #48 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    Yes I read the whole article and I do understand the context in which the word ‘yoga’ is being misused and not understood.

    ‘Science’ is the thing that is going to eventually explain to you guys what I already know: Ashtanga Yoga is the bomb.

    I’d love to have a neutral point of view but I can’t – I’ve seen too many people changed by it to accept that it’s no different to other exercise.

    I’ve been amongst them all, and that includes ‘other yoga’, none of them produce the same results or the same feelings as ashtanga yoga.

    It’s time ‘science’ caught up with what we already know.

    You know the indus valley civilisation invented some kind of writing about 5 thousand years ago, then they didn’t write anything down for a couple of thousand years when they decided to start writing down sanskrit (which had been around for at least 1500 years prior to writing it down.

    Why did they stop and why did they start again?

    More to the point: Gray, how does Ujjayi breathing feel to you?

  49. #49 Ashtanga London
    July 25, 2011

    Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

    Logically, my claims are correct even if they have not been experimentally verified.

    Mathematics is science. Logically 1 + 1 = 2, do you need to stack two stones to prove it?

    Yoga is just exercise = 1
    All exercise = 1
    Add Ujjayi breath = +0.1
    Add Uddiyana bandha = +0.1
    Add Mula Bandha = +0.1
    Add Drishti = +0.1

    Exercise is 1
    Ashtanga is 1.4

    So we look at pilates:
    Exercise = 1
    Uddiyana bandha = 0.1
    Pilates gets 1.1

    Do you know of any other lands-based (non swimming) exercise systems which employ Ujjayi breathing and/or bandhas?

    If not, then logically there is no competition.

    You might need measurement to tell you that Pilates is not as effective or efficient as Ashtanga Yoga but to me it is evident, logical, and unproven.

    I’d like to see that proof happen one day. More than that, next time Orac reviews something ‘yoga’ he may realise that we can’t be lazy in describing it and the sanskrit terms make people think we are talking about chakra type woo.

    To me a chakra is a wheel. That’s all. 5000 years ago they were magically groovy. So much so that they called plexi chakras, they also called sweet spots chakras.

    The words ‘cake’ and ‘cart’ both come from chakra. Only modern woo-yogis believe in the multi-coloured wheels inside their bodies.

    I don’t teach my students anything I haven’t heard, seen or felt myself.

    Yes I’ve got records but I can’t use them here. Student privacy.

  50. #50 Vicki
    July 25, 2011

    No, everyone does not disagree. And not just because some of us have trouble writing neatly. Yes, the tension in a muscle involves the nervous system. It also involves the cells changing shape, which in turn makes them elastic and contracts or stretches them.

    Not being associated with a martial arts or dance school myself, I’m not going to demand that you retract your claim that they are deliberately trying to wear out young bodies, but I do think it requires proof.

    Now, where is your yoga blog?

  51. #51 Chris
    July 25, 2011

    Trolls ted to starve if they are ignored. Please ignore the off topic troll,

  52. #52 Gray Falcon
    July 25, 2011

    If you have science, then you should have evidence. Otherwise, you have woo. Simple as that. And the main topic is Consumer Report’s shoddy reporting, you only posted here because you saw the word “yoga” in the article.

  53. #53 Gray Falcon
    July 25, 2011

    Definitions are certainly helpful, but can you show that it’s actually happening? Otherwise, you’ve just got a bunch of sciencey sounding words. And unless you’re psychic, I suggest not assuming that we feel threatened.

  54. #54 Jarred C
    July 25, 2011

    Doing Yoga poses without Ujjayi breathing is dangerous, ineffective, and frankly is not really yoga.

    I see three things in this sentence. 1) dangerous claim: how do you know? 2) ineffective claim: how do you know?

    Based on these two things, I can extrapolate some other ideas: if breathing in this manner is so important for yoga, would it also be important for other exercises? For example, if I were to practice slow Tai Chi, would my tai chi improve with this exact breathing style? Or would the breathing patterns I’m taught in Tai Chi work for A. Yoga? If it’s dangerous to not breathe in this manner, what effects would occur from doing so? As a toxicologist, can I measure the dangerous effects of practicing yoga while not breathing in this exact manner? In other words, how is it dangerous, and what are the effects?

    3) Not really yoga? Kind of like the No True Scotsman argument.

  55. #55 Venna
    July 25, 2011

    @Ashtanga

    This does not become the ‘yoga thread’ simply because you say it is. This article isn’t about yoga, it’s about CR using surveys to determine the best woo to use. In essence it is a warning that a previously respected organization who used science to determine what their recommendations for consumers would be is now relying on opinions of brain washed groupies who partake in quackery. Yoga is not science and it never will be. Are you going to claim I’m another man feeling threatened? I might take issue with that if you do. Nobody wants to hear your off topic ranting so you need to go away. You are not in control here, as evidenced by the quick hand of Orac when it got too ridiculous on today’s blog comments. If you aren’t careful, you’ll become the next Jacob.

  56. #56 Gray Falcon
    July 25, 2011

    Ashtanga, what do you mean by “science”? I’d like to know if you bothered to read more than a single word of the article you’re posting on.

  57. #57 Gopiballava
    July 25, 2011

    Kelian is right:
    “Caregivers have got to play a bit of “me first” or else they can’t help anyone.”

    This is an important thing to remember. If you’re tired and burnt out you can’t help.

    EMS people are under strict instructions: don’t become an extra patient. Help out, but don’t do something dangerous. You’re just going to give the next team another patient.

    On airplanes, they always remind you: put your oxygen mask on first, then find somebody to help.

    Being a caregiver is tough. Often it seems “tougher than it should be”, whatever that means. Don’t beat yourself up thinking that Mary Poppins would do a better job; she doesn’t exist.

  58. #58 Gray Falcon
    July 25, 2011

    Ashtanga London, what do you mean by “science?” I need a definition, not a vague feeling. And it’s very clear you haven’t read the article, or you’d know that your observations alone are biased by your beliefs. For example, since you don’t have any records, there’s a good chance you’re not recalling anyone who wasn’t helped or was hurt by yoga, and you don’t know if it was the yoga or some other factor that was involved.

  59. #59 Gray Falcon
    July 25, 2011

    Did you bother to read the definition you cut and paste? If you had read the article or definition, you’d know why personal testimonies aren’t science. Tell me, are you infallible? Are you omniscient? Do you believe that any idea that you have must be correct, and that you don’t need to test it? Do you realize that for many years, bleeding as medicine was considered perfectly logical?

  60. #60 Johnny
    July 25, 2011

    Over at http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ , searching on ‘cake’, I read –

    from Old Norse kaka; related to Danish kage, German Kuchen

    Looking up ‘cart’, I read

    from Old Norse kartr; related to Old English cræt carriage, Old French carete

    Would you have any source to back up your claim, AL? Anything at all?

    If you’re wrong about ‘chakra’, what else are you wrong about?

  61. #61 Ashtanga London
    July 26, 2011

    Correct Venna, Your Hair is about as relevant to this thread as that anti-vax troll augustine. Also, when you say that science can’t prove yoga, I assume you are talking about the bullshit woo parts of yoga that don’t actually exist.

    In which case, you need to be arguing with Yogis on a Theology forum.

    When Yogis come to a science forum, it is with the ultimate aim of getting scientific descriptions of what we do (for you and for us).

    You know as well as I do that the scientific community has been rather slow on the uptake when it comes to yoga research. Masses of research has been done in India but I doubt you would accept it for obscure racist reasons.

    LOGIC:

    Uddiyana bandha is ‘keeping your lower belly drawn gently inwards and upwards’

    So imagine your ordinary exercise routine. However, you are doing a ‘sit-up’ in every position. That’s your +0.1
    It also (think about it) helps to prevent back injury. If you are going to willhle your spine back and forth like a paperclip, you can’t have a floppy lower back. The back is protected from the danger of Asthanga Yoga by employing Ujjayi breathing for heat and Uddiyana bandha for strength.

    No doubt you can find someone who hurt their backs doing Ashtanga Yoga.

    They are invariably people like Venna and possibly Orac who would reject the funny sanskrit named parts as potential woo, not realising they were actual physical actions which can be described, repeated and measured.

    There is NO WOO in my Ashtanga Yoga.

    Thank you Jarred for pointing out the relevance to the original post. I don’t think Venna actually read it!

    Finally: Augustine, It’s obvious why you are really anti-vaccine. Stop it, it’s mean and it won’t even work – not nowadays anyway!
    Venna, I don’t want you to go away. I want you to know that there is an exercise system which can help with your back and your knees.
    Back pain is a big problem for modern medicine. Not a big problem for 5000 year old medicine.

  62. #62 Gopiballava
    July 25, 2011

    1+1=2 is true because of counting. I’m fairly sure that it really is true because of counting stones. One criticism of Principia Mathematica is that it is descriptive rather than proscriptive. Its proofs, while valid, are only accepted due to arithmetic agreeing with them.

  63. #63 Gray Falcon
    July 25, 2011

    Come to think of it, does he have any explanation that “Uddiyana bandha = 0.1” other than his personal intuition. For all we know, it could be 0 or a negative number. Then again, he declared “All exercise = 1”, which anyone with a basic understanding of the human body knows is false.

  64. #64 Ashtanga London
    July 26, 2011

    “At best, yoga is a placebo used to make people feel warm fuzzies. At worst it is deceiving people to believe it can cure things that it really can’t.”

    We call it the haircut test. People feel the same kind of things after woo yoga as they feel after having a haircut of style of similar duration.
    This is how we point out to people that woo-yoga has parallels 😉

    So we agree. Woo yoga and haircuts are not medicine, and woo yoga may be a con and woo yoga may even be dangerous if an unyogic fool chooses it instead of proper treatment rather than in addition to proper treatment.

    There is NO WOO in my ashtanga yoga, and it can all be scientifically measured and proven, if not already, then some day soon.

  65. #65 Venna
    July 25, 2011

    @ AL

    Why do you feel the need to bring my hair into this discussion? I didn’t mention it and nope, I don’t think I will go away because I am here to learn and to share my experience and knowledge with those who have sincere questions about science vs. non-science. Now, can we please get back on topic because you are arguing something you can’t win here because you are unable to provide any science to back up your claims and opinions. Please try to remember that just because you believe something, doesn’t mean everyone else does, or will, nor do they have to, particularly if you can’t provide science based evidence to back up your claims. That is what this blog is about, science, fact that can be proven methodically, not your opinion and religious belief system. Your argument is circular and you prove this by your own definition:

    “Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”

    Very good getting your definition from Google. You fail in the next statement:

    “Logically, my claims are correct even if they have not been experimentally verified.”

    Can’t be scientifically verified, there for it is not science, period. Can you see how this is circular? You claim to know what science is and that yoga is science, but you admit in the same sentence there is no science to back it up. There isn’t anything logical about your claims and they are only your claims. I could claim I have x-ray vision, but just because I claim it doesn’t mean it is true and if science is used to experiment and observe, it would become pretty clear that I don’t actually have x-ray vision. At best, yoga is a placebo used to make people feel warm fuzzies. At worst it is deceiving people to believe it can cure things that it really can’t.

  66. #66 augustine
    July 25, 2011

    Venna

    Please try to remember that just because you believe something, doesn’t mean everyone else does, or will, nor do they have to, particularly if you can’t provide science based evidence to back up your claims.

    I don’t believe in Medicaid. Is that science? Do you believe it is?

    That is what this blog is about, science, fact that can be proven methodically, not your opinion and religious belief system. Your argument is circular and you prove this by your own definition

    Do you think you health problems will be solved by a doctor?

    Since you are so harsh, is that too harsh for me to ask of you?

    You made it into you teenage years with any vaccinations correct? Does that prove you don’t need vaccination? You received a vaccination in your teenage years with dying, does that mean vaccines are safe for everyone?
    Should the government mandate vaccines for everyone?

  67. #67 Jarred C
    July 26, 2011

    Venna, to be fair, I don’t think Ashtunga’s yoga talk is off topic. Yoga was mentioned in the original post, and Orac usually harps on people who go too off topic (we’ll note that he has not done so in this thread, while he has done so in a thread where yoga was not mentioned at all).

  68. #68 Dangerous Bacon
    July 26, 2011

    “There is NO WOO in my ashtanga yoga

    Then how come it’s listed right there on the label?

    “Contents: Inactive ingredients (100%) – exotic Eastern appeal, wishful thinking, conceptual fuzz, WOO.”

    “and it can all be scientifically measured and proven, if not already, then some day soon.

    Be sure and leave us on speed dial in anticipation of that great day.

  69. #69 Ashtanga London
    July 26, 2011

    Mr Bacon, did you try that Ujjayi breathing? How did you get on?

  70. #70 Interrobang
    July 26, 2011

    Hey, Ashtanga,

    I have cerebral palsy, the spastic kind. I’m not physically capable of bending my body into most of those poses, because my muscles and tendons and connective tissue just don’t let me bend that way. And yet, according to you, that’s “of my own making.”

    Check your able-bodied privilege, jerk.

  71. #71 Ashtanga London
    July 26, 2011

    Hello Interrobang,

    I know an awful lot of differently-abled people who don’t have your victim mentality.

    Yes of course you can benefit from yoga and who cares how you came to be the way you are? Just move forward and take whatever it takes to make your life the best you can possibly have.

    All the best, don’t assume that I’m not disabled too, just because I am a yoga teacher.

    Even paraplegics have benefited from ashtanga yoga. Now excuse me I am going to read up on Cerebral Palsy.

  72. #72 Ashtanga London
    July 27, 2011

    Hey Interrobang, maybe you should google ‘cerebral palsy and yoga/massage’.

    Others with CP report positively. I don’t know if that means it reduces symptoms of if it’s just really nice to get a massage. Either way you can’t really loose.

    Just a thought, are you really CP or are you a sock puppet sent to test me? I’ve searched this blog and only that Jacob guy calls people ‘jerk’ – it’s very american.

    I found this meta-analysis of all the research into manual lymph draining. It looks inconclusive.
    J Man Manip Ther. 2009; 17(3): e80–e89.
    PMCID: PMC2755111

  73. #73 Chris
    July 27, 2011

    Mr./Ms. London, why are you still here?

  74. #74 Chris
    July 27, 2011

    Interesting. Ashtanga London, never acknowledged the accommodations made by the swimming public pool system that I wrote about earlier. Is she/he trying to make up for it now?

  75. #75 Ashtanga London
    July 27, 2011

    Hi Chris, I am a He, sorry if I overlooked something, I thought we’d agreed and disagreed:

    1) Swimming is great – agree
    2) Swimming is more dangerous than Yoga? – it depends on the yoga teacher.
    3) We all know what swimming is? – agree
    4) We cannot confirm that anyone on this blog actually understands what I mean when I talk about my definable system of woo free ashtanga yoga.
    5) I claim that swimming is unavailable to a significant proportion of global society whereas yoga is available to more people (but not all, some prisoners are prevented from practising yoga). So we disagree.

    All things being unequal, the average person is going to have to spend longer on getting in an hour of swimming than an hour of yoga, because there are more 8′ by 6′ flat spaces than there are swimming pools or suitable bodies of water within a given distance of many people’s domestic arrangements.

    So may I ask Chris, have you tried The breathing and the bandhas? I assume you’ve swum and so have I. Were my explanations unclear? Have you tried the breathing and/or the bandhas?

  76. #76 Ashtanga London
    July 27, 2011

    Hi Chris, I am a He, sorry if I overlooked something, I thought we’d agreed and disagreed:

    1) Swimming is great – agree
    2) Swimming is more dangerous than Yoga? – it depends on the yoga teacher.
    3) We all know what swimming is? – agree
    4) We cannot confirm that anyone on this blog actually understands what I mean when I talk about my definable system of woo free ashtanga yoga.
    5) I claim that swimming is unavailable to a significant proportion of global society whereas yoga is available to more people (but not all, some prisoners are prevented from practising yoga). So we disagree.

    All things being unequal, the average person is going to have to spend longer on getting in an hour of swimming than an hour of yoga, because there are more 8′ by 6′ flat spaces than there are swimming pools or suitable bodies of water within a given distance of many people’s domestic arrangements.

    So may I ask Chris, have you tried The breathing and the bandhas? I assume you’ve swum and so have I. Were my explanations unclear? Have you tried the breathing and/or the bandhas?

  77. #77 Ashtanga London
    July 27, 2011

    Dude I’m learning loads.

    Ashtanga is a form of exercise but you fail to offer an example of another exercise system which employs the techniques I specified.

    You’re not accommodating my disability (if I have one) because I have not disclosed one. I think that other guy was your troll sock puppet trying to catch me out. Nice one but I can see through you.

    OK Chris, do you have a large number of steps or a hill near where you live?
    You can see for yourself what Ujjayi breathing does to your physiological experience.

    You are incorrect if you think that Ashtanga Yoga is equivalent to other exercise and you are unable or unwilling to comprehend what I have written about it.

    Exercise / healthy lifestyle counts as preventative medicine (as opposed to woo which is a con, and is no kind of medicine).

    Chris you’re description of what I am doing here is wrong and you are just looking like a fool who can’t read or breath through his nose.

  78. #78 Ashtanga London
    July 27, 2011

    and I look like a fool who gets “your” and “you’re” mixed up.

  79. #79 Ashtanga London
    July 27, 2011

    Gray Falcon.

    No, unless you want to get into a silly argument that no PMIDs can resolve. Assuming the real world exists and is here for all of us, no I do not think that my perceptions define reality.

    If you’ve ever gone to a psychology website and read about how the mind plays tricks, misses things and fills in the gaps, you’d be a fool to believe something if you were the only person who’d had that experience.

    I had such a high fever a few years back I was seeing centipedes everywhere. Knowing that centipedes don’t really ever hang out with me much I kind of figured they weren’t real.

    Why do you ask? I’m just defining a system of moving and breathing, mainly because it shows that the word ‘yoga’ is an oversimplified concept for a whole bunch of different practices, some of which are just exercise, and some are just !”£$%^&*()_+!!!

  80. #80 Ashtanga London
    July 27, 2011

    That explains why your are conversing with me!

    You don’t care what I have to say. Brilliant Logic.

    I wonder if the two people who claimed to have experience of ashtanga are ever going to come back?

  81. #81 Chris
    July 27, 2011

    Again, I say, it is not any kind of medicine, but just another form of exercise. Exercise of all kinds are part of a healthy lifestyle.

    Why are still here? You obviously are not here to learn, but to push your silly stuff — and you still don’t have accommodations for folks disabilities.

    Stop troll like behavior.

  82. #82 Gray Falcon
    July 27, 2011

    Tell me, Ashtanga, are infallible? Do you think your perceptions alone define reality?

  83. #83 Chris
    July 27, 2011

    Chris you’re description of what I am doing here is wrong and you are just looking like a fool who can’t read or breath through his nose.

    I don’t really read your spam, because I truly don’t care what you have to say. You’re just a another version of Jacob.

  84. #84 Gray Falcon
    July 27, 2011

    So, why do you believe that the only proof you need to give that your methods work is your insistence that they do? You could be wrong. We need scientific rigor, not just your say-so.

  85. #85 Beamup
    July 27, 2011

    The spammer has previously stated that he wants us to help him prove it. He seems to miss that without proving it, he doesn’t have any grounds for the statements he makes. Also that it’s his burden to provide the proof if he wants to make the claims.

  86. #86 Chris
    July 27, 2011

    Idiot yogi spammer, I was originally addressing Interrobang. You just happened to stumble along and tried to engage me with a bunch of inane questions, and I replied I don’t give a flying frack on a rolling donut what you have to say. Something you seem to not understand.

    Work on your reading comprehension and stop troll like behavior.

  87. #87 Ashtanga London
    July 28, 2011

    Vicki, would you allow a yoga teacher who does not charge any fee to go to your friend’s house and help them if that person was an MD with a 3 year yoga therapy degree, £10 million public liability insurance and offered only yoga that was free from woo and also free from stretching i.e. completely outside of Orac’s definition of yoga.

    Also assuming the yoga teacher would contribute more heat to your friend’s house than would be lost by letting the Yoga teacher in and out?

  88. #88 Ashtanga London
    July 28, 2011
  89. #89 MetaCritique
    July 28, 2011

    I just read the piece critiqued here and think Orac was a bit disingenuous. First, the article explicitly points out that this might all be placebo effect *and* explicitly draws a comparison with sham interventions! Let’s be at least a little fair in our critique.

    Second, I think Consumer Reports has a pretty even hand here, and is simply presenting the evidence for their (mostly intelligent) readers to make their own decisions. Imagine you have a medical problem for which there is no very effective prescription medication (take fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis). If you’ve never had either of these, you are lucky. If you have, you know that if you’re in enough pain, at some point you’ll try almost anything.

    I took the point of this article to be, “if you’ve exhausted options in terms of prescription meds or have some kind of objection to them, you’ll want to do something else. Let’s work together to find out which other things could at least possibly help you, and which are a total waste of money for sure.” That is helpful to consumers.

    Et tu, Orac? As a member of the traditional medical community, are you only interested in supporting medical interventions from which you materially gain? Or is the goal still to help patients find solutions – and above all do no harm?

  90. #90 Vicki
    July 28, 2011

    MetaCritique:

    I know people with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. If they have run out of actual medications (or other treatments, such as massage) that can help, I don’t want to tell them to use their already-limited time and energy chasing things that won’t work. I don’t want someone encouraging a disabled friend who is already having trouble paying the heating bill to somehow drag herself out of the house, drive somewhere, and waste money on something that won’t help the pain. I wouldn’t even if she had the money, because a trip to some woo “clinic” uses up energy that she might use for something more productive, either boring things like laundry or some time playing guitar.

  91. #91 lilady
    July 28, 2011

    As usual when replying to any poster, in this case Interrobang who has spastic cerebral palsy, Yogi provides a citation number about an off topic meta study of manual lymph drainage.The citation number provided is invalid and begs the question “What does “manual lymph drainage” have to do with treatment of spastic cerebral palsy?

    This troll is clueless about any physical diseases and disorders, and in this particular case by recommending yoga for spastic cerebral palsy might result in bone fractures and dislocation of every joint in the body.

    @ MetaCritique: Your point being? Orac stated that he has a subscription to Consumer Reports, has enjoyed reading them even before he was making any purchases in his teen years, because he is not an expert on consumer products such as mattresses, appliances and cars. In addition, Orac has no room in the cramped lab where he studies breast cancer, for the driving oval to test new car handling, braking and rollover capabilities or the giant rollers that evaluate the usable lifespan of mattresses…he leaves that to the “experts” at Consumers Reports.

    Orac’s expertise is the design of unbiased randomized double-blind placebo controlled studies…the “gold standard” of research studies and analysis of the data produced. He is eminently qualified to evaluate other studies based on the strictness of adherence to the “gold standard” and to offer his opinion about the results of such studies.

    So do tell us where and how Orac was so “wrong” and we would also be interested in your analysis of the Consumer Reports Reader Subscriber survey…using the “gold standards”; please in your analysis remember the “gold standards”:

    1. The design of the study by “qualified” researchers

    2. The randomization of study participants

    3. The double-blinded component of the study

    4. The placebo controls component of the study

    Et tu, MetaCritiqe? As a member of the CAM community, are you only interested in supporting CAM interventions from which you materially gain? Or is the goal still to help patients find solutions – and above all do no harm?

  92. #92 augustine
    July 28, 2011

    Orac’s expertise is the design of unbiased randomized double-blind placebo controlled studies

    Aren’t ALL pharmaceutical scientists?

    the “gold standard” of research studies and analysis of the data produced.He is eminently qualified to evaluate other studies based on the strictness of adherence to the “gold standard” and to offer his opinion about the results of such studies.

    YEEoucch! Looks like mainstream medicine is in trouble then. ORAC is gonna come after Pharma in the name of truth and honesty.

  93. #93 lilady
    July 28, 2011

    Ugh Troll shows up again, with another dopey nasty comment, whenever I post.

    Ugh troll is in general a misogynist who directs its venom at all female posters here…truly a “textbook” case. I only conjecture here, but IMO the troll has a particular hatred for me due to his unsuccessful attempts to drive me off the site when I first started posting here. I remember only too well the number and occasions when troll took potshots at me and the specific topic (case criteria, case finding, contact investigation and prophylaxis used by epidemiologists to investigate pertussis cases) when he first called me “a liar”.

    He also posed the questions: Where did you go to school? and
    Where do you work? That is when I first questioned troll about his education, his college education and his gainful employment.

    After a number of other posters started questioning the troll, who would suddenly “disappear” or go off topic with his ramblings, we collectively realized that troll is uneducated, has no gainful employment and is on “the dole”.

    During the intervening months posters have persisted with these queries directed at the troll and troll totally and deliberately ignores them with his usual tactics of “disappearing” or rambling off topic tactics. Of course the questions are useless and rhetorical in nature, because of the exceptional ignorance he displays of a basic science skill set.

    Troll also has determined I am a bit older, so troll now latches on to me, a total stranger from the internet, to vent because of his mommy complex and the hatred it feels for the hapless woman who gave birth to him. Another textbook head case.

    He has busted so many times by posters here I lose count, but he still persists for his masochistic satisfaction (jollies), because he has a psycho-sexual disorder and “needs”.

    He is also a hypocritical christian…I despise hypocrisy, especially religious hypocrisy.

  94. #94 Ashtanga London
    July 29, 2011

    The wiki page on ‘psycho-sexual disorder’ explains that it this a discredited term for ‘A sexual problem that is psychological in nature’

    There are those who’s bread and butter depends on maintaining the illusion that the brain can be seen as independent from the body.

    There are those who believe that sex is not a problem until you label it as such.

    Analogous to an electric motor and a dynamo, the brain can move the body and, in return, if the brain is in the right ‘state’, it can accept ‘reprogramming’ via repetition of a specific set of movements.

    lilady, may I suggest you take white noise, a blindfold, and 666 jumping jacks every morning. It may cure that sexual problem concerning your compulsive labelling of others.

  95. #95 Ashtanga London
    July 29, 2011

    lilady perhaps you are confused because I am not sick? Or you are a troll.

    They’re not called ‘patients’ for nothing you know.

    All the ‘students’ (we don’t like to call them patients) who have practised yoga under my guidance over the last couple of decades have not been without illness or injury during their often lengthy spells in my classrooms. Not all (if any) of their injuries were obtained in my classroom. Actually, I can’t think of any that were? No-one has ever sued me or tried to get a settlement out of me. On the contrary, I’ve been hurt a few times by yoga teachers, other exercise instructors and doctors alike, so things aren’t so clear cut as you’d like them to be. I’ve never sued or sought a settlement.

    Occasionally I get to see them before and after they have taken a break from yoga to seek out conventional treatment for things that are not fixed by yoga itself.

    “YOU did that to you! Now your injury is your teacher. I’m not interested anymore.” – anonymous yoga guru, BC

  96. #96 Jarred C
    July 29, 2011

    Ashtunga said,

    There are those who’s bread and butter depends on maintaining the illusion that the brain can be seen as independent from the body.

    Really? Who? Everything I’ve learned about science and medicine goes counter to that claim, and any study of the endocrine system will flatly dispute it.

    On another note, I don’t think Ashtunga should be labelled as a troll. Unless I’m wrong, trolls are those who deliberately try to entice anger out of others by use of bad arguments (such as Augustine, Th1TH2, etc…). From what I’ve seen of Ashtunga, he has a strong focus on Yoga with a weak understanding of science, and always wants to bring the topic back to his personal favorite; but he certainly isn’t deliberately trying to “troll” people.

    Now, as a person with teaching experience, I always give this advice to those I teach: “Remember your roots. Remember where you came from.” This is important, because sometimes people forget that it takes years to learn something; sometimes people get angry when someone new comes along, and doesn’t understand or misunderstands the topics. I remember a professor I had in college; I once overheard him saying how he hates students, and he wishes he would never have to deal with them. As a student at the time, I was rather angry at that, I thought, “Hey! You were a student, too, at one point! Did you hate yourself back then?”

    It’s taken me years to get to the level of understanding I have about science and medicine, and I cannot expect someone naive to the subject to just automatically get it. I think a lot of us are falling into this trap with some of our newer posters, such as Ashtunga. I know I did when he first arrived.

    I’m not saying that you should change your mind or your attitude. All I’m asking is that you remember where you came from, that you too were once naive and ignorant of your favorite subject, and you too once had misconceptions and misunderstandings. Think of yourself back then; would you label yourself a troll?

  97. #97 lilady
    July 29, 2011

    @ Jarred C: You are being too kind to Yogi. It is a troll, and quite possibly a sock puppet of pothead Jacob. Notice how Yogi gives advice even on spastic cerebral palsy with a bogus dead end citation? Yogi is not naive. Firstly naive people acknowledge their lack of knowledge, don’t interject their phony knowledge on each and every thread and then back down without further comment or explaining “what he meant”.

    Troll immediately checks out Wikipedia whenever a disorder or a condition is discussed, stuffs factoids into its brain and then spouts off…totally ineffectively because it does not even understand what it just read from Google U…typical troll behavior.

    Orac has been patient with this “Yogi”, I am not.

  98. #98 Beamup
    July 29, 2011

    More of a spammer than a troll.

  99. #99 Scottynuke
    July 29, 2011

    I’d agree, Beamup, except AL has enough neurons firing to avoid constantly providing URLs to a commercial site, which I think would trigger Orac’s “Nevermore” subroutine. Intellectually, however, AL is totally a spammer.

  100. #100 Jarred C
    July 29, 2011

    Firstly naive people acknowledge their lack of knowledge, don’t interject their phony knowledge…

    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” -Good ol’ Charles Darwin

    I can definitely see AL as a spammer, and perhaps a little obtuse (although, I withhold judgment on whether it is intentional), but not a troll or a sock-puppet. For one thing, he has tried to engage in rational conversation, although his attempts at interjecting the scientific method into his practice of yoga has been weak at best. As for the sock-puppetry, even if this is true, I doubt it is Jacob, Ashtunga’s posts are way too lucid for him. Don’t be fooled just because pot is brought up; as a California native, I see that subject brought up all the time by many different people.

    Ashtunga, you will benefit if you realize that the scientific method is more than just a simple method to follow, it is a way of thinking. Research starts small, with preliminary studies looking at simple aspects. My current research is a prelim study on extending the time-frame of detection for GHB (it’s used as a date-rape drug). I’m using rats. It’s a small study, with non-human animals. Even if it pans out, we still won’t know if my developed techniques will work on humans. And even if it does, we will still need to expand the test to many more subjects. What you seem to be doing is trying to force science onto the entire field of A. Yoga; this is the wrong way to do it. Start small, and work up. If you really want to figure out if A. Yoga really is the best exorcise system there is, then dedicate yourself to the research aspect. Start taking classes from your local college to learn how the entire system of systematic research works.

    The biggest thing I need to warn you about, however, is that as a human, you are likely to fall into the same trap that many humans fall into: conformational bias. This is when you do not follow the evidence, but rather you only take the evidence which confirms what you want to believe is true, while ignoring the evidence that contradicts what you want to believe is true. This it happens all the time. The only way to get past it is to be constantly vigilante against it, and even that is not enough. Which is why we do peer review and study replication. Those of us who do research do so because we want to find out how the world works; we do not do it because we want to prove that our favorite subject is true.

    This image exemplifies the difference between the scientific way of doing things, and what you’ve been doing these past few days: http://catdang.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/science-vs-religion1.png?w=450&h=333

  101. #101 Militant Agnostic
    July 29, 2011

    Jarred C @198

    If you really want to figure out if A. Yoga really is the best exorcise system there is, then dedicate yourself to the research aspect.

    Shouldn’t the evidence of demons be required first? 🙂

  102. #102 Jarred C
    July 29, 2011

    Militant Agnostic,

    Lol. I noticed that after I posted. Even missed it when I hit preview first.

  103. #103 MetaCritique
    August 1, 2011

    @Vicki I think we agree, actually. I was mostly interested in the massage ratings, because massage is something I sometimes recommend to patients (usually in conjunction with prescription meds, but not always). I’ve seen evidence (in journals, in individual patients) that it seems to help alleviate pain. I agree that if patients can’t afford it it’s not a good idea, but a massage school in our city occasionally accepts “volunteers” for students to practice on. These sessions still typically aren’t free, but the cost is greatly reduced and it seems that the school gives preference to volunteers there for medical reasons, which is very kind of them. I also agree with you that people need to prioritize in their lives, and if getting a massage means not meeting their basic needs then it’s not helping either. But I do think that even if the massage per se isn’t doing a lot, it can help people simply to step out of their houses for a few hours and interact with the world. I believe it helps prevent symptoms of depression, and that’s very important for both mental (obviously) and physical health.

    @lilady. Actually, relatively few of the research papers I read in medical journals truly fit the gold standard. Often times, they’ll throw in some subjective measures. I’ve seen lots of regression discontinuity designs, and lots of medical studies are (necessarily) not true experiments because it’s impossible to have random assignment to conditions in many cases (I have a PhD in statistics so I know my way around an experiment too.) My originaly point was that CR never claimed this *was* a true experiment. They went out of their way to say it was *not* a true experiment. So, I think some of the original criticism was a bit overblown. Obviously, if we can have double blind studies all the time with random assignment to treatment and conditions and we can test for Hawthorne effects by including sham internvetions, and, and, and… then that’s awesome! But that kind of study tends to be the exception, not the rule. And I for one wouldn’t really want to see us throw out any study that didn’t meet the strict criteria you outlined because frankly it wouldn’t leave us with much. I personally think it’s a question of weights.

  104. #104 lilady
    August 1, 2011

    @ MetaCritique: You still haven’t defined what your objections are to Orac’s critique of the Consumer Reports “survey” which you summed up in the last paragraph of your posting:

    Et tu, Orac? As a member of the traditional medical community, are you only interested in supporting medical interventions from which you materially gain? Or is the goal still to help patients find solutions – and above all do no harm?

  105. #105 Bob R
    September 27, 2011

    lilady hit it right on the head “first do no harm”. Does anybody really listen to the drug advertisement side effects? Find me a patented drug that has no dangerous side effects. Mainstream medicine never uses the word “cure”. They “treat’ disease with a pill or pills for the rest of your life. They try to stamp out all competition, not because they want us to be able to make wise choices as they claim, but because they want you on their drugs for life. The CDC reports that no one has ever died from any natural or alternative medicine. Of course the same cannot be said for main stream medicine. Mainstream medicine is the number one cause of death in America. We are 35th in the health of our citizens compared to other countries that spend far less per citizen. Research it for yourselves.

  106. #106 lilady
    September 27, 2011

    @ Bob R. Are you deliberately being obtuse…or are just plain stupid and didn’t read my original post to MetaCritique?

    Here it is again:

    @ MetaCritique: Your point being? Orac stated that he has a subscription to Consumer Reports, has enjoyed reading them even before he was making any purchases in his teen years, because he is not an expert on consumer products such as mattresses, appliances and cars. In addition, Orac has no room in the cramped lab where he studies breast cancer, for the driving oval to test new car handling, braking and rollover capabilities or the giant rollers that evaluate the usable lifespan of mattresses…he leaves that to the “experts” at Consumers Reports.

    Orac’s expertise is the design of unbiased randomized double-blind placebo controlled studies…the “gold standard” of research studies and analysis of the data produced. He is eminently qualified to evaluate other studies based on the strictness of adherence to the “gold standard” and to offer his opinion about the results of such studies.

    So do tell us where and how Orac was so “wrong” and we would also be interested in your analysis of the Consumer Reports Reader Subscriber survey…using the “gold standards”; please in your analysis remember the “gold standards”:

    1. The design of the study by “qualified” researchers

    2. The randomization of study participants

    3. The double-blinded component of the study

    4. The placebo controls component of the study

    Et tu, MetaCritiqe? As a member of the CAM community, are you only interested in supporting CAM interventions from which you materially gain? Or is the goal still to help patients find solutions – and above all do no harm?

    Posted by: lilady | July 28, 2011 11:40 AM

    Two months after the discussion closed you come trolling around here…Necromancing Troll.

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