Since I seem to be on a roll the last few days discussing cancer quackery, I thought I’d just go with it at least one more day. Frequently, when I get on these rolls laying down the Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful, over antivaccine quackery I start whining about how I need to change topics, but not this time around, not this topic. It takes a lot more than what I’ve posted lately to make me feel as though I need a change of pace. Besides, for whatever reason, the blog fodder is flying at me fast and furious, whether it be the dubious testimonial I discussed yesterday, yet another deconstruction of the moral bankruptcy that is Stanislaw Burzynski, or my take on the sheer quackery that is “naturopathic oncology.” The first rule of blogging is that you don’t talk about blogging. Oh, wait. That’s not it. I talk about blogging all the time. The first rule of blogging is: When the world is throwing easy blogging material at you, for cryin’ out loud, go for it. Yeah, that’s it.

So I’m going for it.

The blog fodder this time around comes in the form of three articles that appeared in ONCOLOGY: Perspectives on Best Practices, an open-access journal about…well, oncology. All three of them are about cancer quackery. Shockingly, in the first article, by Barrie Cassileth, director of all woo integrative oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and IIan R. Yarett, actually uses the word “quackery” in its title: Cancer Quackery: The Persistent Popularity of Useless, Irrational ‘Alternative’ Treatments. In it, Cassileth provides a rather standard discussion of bogus cancer treatments that almost could have been written by Orac, were it not for the complete and utter lack of snark, even the subtle snark that academics sneak into papers. She does, however, complain that quacks have appropriated the term “complementary” in order to “use it incorrectly.” This complaint derives from how many of these cancer quacks don’t actually advocate using their nostrums in addition to conventional therapy but rather in lieu of science-based medicine. Personally, I find this amusing, given that quackademics have no one to blame but themselves for this, given the specific modalities they have tried to “integrate” with science-based medicine. It rather reminds me of the “intelligent design” creationists, craving respectability and crowing to high heaven that they aren’t pseudoscientists but real “scientists,” taking umbrage at being lumped together with fundamentalist creationists who believe that the earth was created 6,000 years ago with all animals in their current forms. No, Cassileth seems to be saying, we don’t associate with that riff-raff. They’re fundamentalist loons. We’re scientists!

I’ll give her some credit for this article, though, and why not? Cassileth lists a fairly standard bunch of quack treatments, the majority of which have been covered on this blog at one time or another, and rips into them. The litany should be familiar: laetrile, shark cartilage, Entelev/Cantron (which I recently discussed, with the comment thread afterward having swollen as of this writing to nearly 1,100 entries), various oxygen therapies (such as hyperbaric oxygen or various means of administering hydrogen peroxide, “energy therapies,” which Cassileth admits have no evidence to support them. Given that admission, one wonders why reiki, which is a form of “energy therapy,” is offered at MSKCC. Come to think of it, acupuncture is also a form of “energy healing” as well, given its claim to be able to manipulate the flow of qi through the body to healing intent, and MSKCC offers acupuncture as well. That doesn’t stop Cassileth from making the dubious claim that acupuncture and other woo have “been shown to be safe and effective as adjunctive treatments for managing pain, nausea, stress, and many other symptoms, and for supporting patient well-being in general,” whatever “supporting patient well-being in general” means.

There are other weaknesses. For instance, no mention is made of Gerson therapy, and it is that particular form of quackery, as well as its many variants (such as the Gonzalez protocol and other treatments that loosely fall under the rubric of “metabolic therapies” and often include such lovely interventions as coffee enemas), that is arguably the cancer quackery most heavily promoted right now; that is, unless high dose vitamin C, which never seems to stay dead no matter how many scientific stakes are driven into its heart, isn’t the most common quackery. One could only wish that, like the vampires on True Blood, such quackeries would explode into a disgusting blob of blood and tissue when the stake of science is driven through their hearts, but sadly this never seems to happen. Her omissions aside, I can’t be too hard on Cassileth. Her article is actually pretty good, by and large, if you can ignore that she is in charge of bringing quackademic medicine into one of the greatest cancer centers in the world. She also makes this statement:

Many alternative approaches to healing are premised on the concept of the mind/body connection, and specifically on the theory that patients can harness the power of their mind to heal their physical ills.[4] Many mind/body techniques, such as meditation and biofeedback, have been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation, and are effectively and appropriately used as complementary therapies today. However, some proponents of these techniques overpromise, suggesting that emotional stress or other emotional issues can cause diseases like cancer and that correction of these deficiencies through mind-body therapies can effectively treat major illnesses. Such claims are unsupported.

Many of these ideas were promoted by a former Yale surgeon, a popular author who advocated special cancer patient support groups in his books. The importance of a positive attitude was stressed, as was the idea that disease could spring from unmet emotional needs. This belief anguished many cancer patients, who assumed responsibility for getting cancer because of an imperfect emotional status. Among alternative modalities, the mind/body approach has been especially persistent over time, possibly in part because it resonates with the American notion of rugged individualism.[4]

Of course, none of this stops MSKCC from offering “mind-body” services. I guess it’s OK to Cassileth because she doesn’t promise that such woo will cure the cancer. OK, I’ll stop with the snark (at least the snark directed at Cassileth). She’s basically correct that there is no evidence that these therapies can impact the natural history of cancer and produce a survival benefit, and I give her props for carpet-bombing the quackery that is the German New Medicine.

Cassileth’s article was accompanied by not one, but two, additional commentaries, both of which didn’t take issue with the criticism of specific cancer quackeries, such as Entelev, but rather with her statement above about mind-body “healing.” Neither of the commentators were happy that Cassileth had questioned the central dogma of alternative medicine, which is what I’ve been discussing the last couple of days. That central dogma is that if you wish for it hard enough your mind can heal you of anything. The corollary of this central dogma is that if you are ill it is your fault for not having the right “intent,” attitude, and thoughts and therefore not doing the right things and/or not believing hard enough. It’s not for nothing that I have likened alternative medicine to religion or the New Age woo that is The Secret, and these authors simply reinforce that view. First up is radiation oncologist and practitioner of “integrative oncology” Brian D. Lawenda, MD, who pens Quackery, Placebos, and Other Thoughts: An Integrative Oncologist’s Perspective.

In the first part of his article, Lawenda protests loudly, arguing that “not all therapies categorized as ‘alternative,’ ‘nonconventional,’ or ‘unconventional’ are completely ineffective.” I suppose it depends on what you mean by “completely ineffective.” Personally, when I say “completely ineffective,” I mean “indistinguishable from placebo.” That’s the usual definition of “ineffective” in medical circles, and it is a description that applies to the vast majority of “integrative oncology,” including acupuncture, therapeutic touch, reiki, and the like. In the case of acupuncture, for instance, it doesn’t matter where you stick the needles or even if you stick the needles in at all (a toothpick twirled against the skin will do as well or better). In other words, in the case of acupuncture, the effects are entirely nonspecific. Indeed, Lawenda’s claim that these therapies are being used in an “evidence-based” manner is almost as overblown as the claims that quacks make; real “evidence-based” use of the vast majority of these modalities would be not to use them at all. They don’t work. That doesn’t stop Lawenda from advocating placebo medicine. But first he has to remonstrate with Cassileth over her characterization of “mind-body” medicine:

One area of controversy that comes up often in integrative oncology circles is whether or not there is an association between chronic stress and cancer-specific outcomes. Dr. Cassileth asserts that the association between chronic stress and cancer development, progression, and recurrence has not been definitively established. Those who support this view might categorize as quackery the claim that stress reduction (eg, through lifestyle changes, mind-body therapies, etc) can improve cancer-specific outcomes.

Those who believe that chronic stress and cancer are linked cite data that support this claim. In particular, there are clinical studies[7] that report improvements in cancer-specific outcomes in patients who are taught stress management techniques. Furthermore, researchers continue to identify chronic stress as a causative factor in numerous pathophysiologic processes that are known to be associated with the development, progression, and recurrence of various cancers (eg, stimulation of systemic inflammation and oxidation, impairment of immune function, increases in insulin resistance and weight gain, etc).[8]

Lawenda overstates his case massively. The evidence that improving “attitude” improves cancer-specific survival is of shockingly low quality. There’s just no “there” there. As I’ve said before, that’s not to say that psychotherapy and other modalities designed to improve a patient’s mood and mental state might not be useful. Certainly, they can improve quality of life, used in the proper situation. However, there just isn’t any evidence that is even mildly convincing that such modalities can improve a patient’s chances of surviving his cancer.

I also know that Lawenda is laying down pure, grade-A woo when I see him retreating into the favorite alt-med trope, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” and claiming that “many alternative therapies, once believed by conventional medical practitioners to be merely placebos, have now been shown to have proven therapeutic value (eg, acupuncture, numerous botanical extracts, meditation).” Well, no. Acupuncture has not been convincingly shown to have therapeutic value for any condition, and it’s no surprise that botanical extracts might be effective for some things; they are, after all, drugs. Adulterated drugs with lots of impurities whose potency can vary widely from lot to lot, but drugs nonetheless. He even attacks antidepressants based on more recent evidence suggesting that they might not be as effective as previously thought and in some cases might not be better than placebo, an idea ably countered by James Coyne.

Lawenda’s rebuke, however, is nothing compared to what comes next. Remember Cassileth’s dismissal of the findings of a “Yale surgeon” who claimed that support groups improved cancer survival? Here comes that Yale surgeon! Yes, indeed. It’s Bernie Siegel, and he’s pissed, proclaiming that The Key to Reducing Quackery Lies in Healing Patients and Treating Their Experience. Of course, his carefully cultivated image of being the ultimate nice guy and caring physician can’t be endangered; I only infer his annoyance from the tone of his response. I also infer a lot from the fact that, unlike Lawenda and Cassileth, who at least include some references taken from the peer-reviewed scientific literature to support their points, Siegel cites exactly one reference, and one reference only, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward. Lawenda cites mostly poor quality studies, but at least he tries by citing studies. Siegel, on the other hand, seems to think he is the Great and Powerful Oz (Dr. Oz or the Wizard of Oz, take your pick) and that you should just take his pronouncements on faith because he is so awesome. I will admit that Siegel probably has a point when he says that better communication could potentially reduce the incidence of cancer patients turning to quackery, but even making this reasonable point he overstates his case when he says that quackery would “diminish greatly” if doctors would just learn to communicate better. There’s a lot more to the appeal of quackery than having a doctor who can’t communicate, much of which wouldn’t even come close to disappearing, even if every doctor turned into a Bernie Siegel clone with respect to showing incredible empathy to patients.

Siegel then dives right in, relying on the sheer force of that awesome empathy of his to rip Cassileth a new one for daring to criticize his work:

Our emotions govern our internal chemistry, and hope is therapeutic. We know that laughter enhances survival time in cancer patients, while loneliness has a negative effect. When a Yale graduate student did a study on our support group members and it showed increased survival time for the group’s members, his professor told him that couldn’t be true and made him change the control group so that everything came out equal. Doctors don’t study survival and the power of the mind.

Which is, of course, utter nonsense, leavened with more than a little conspiracy mongering. Doctors have been studying the “power of the mind” and survival for a very long time. What Siegel doesn’t like is that they haven’t found that the mind is nearly as powerful as Siegel would like to believe. It’s a topic I’ve been writing about since the very beginning. There’s a reason for the central dogma of alternative medicine; it’s very appealing to believe that sheer force of will or thinking happy thoughts can heal us of serious diseases. Talk about the ultimate form of “empowerment”!

Siegel then goes completely off the deep end:

The mind and energy will be therapies of the future. I know of patients who were not irradiated because the therapy machine was being repaired and no radioactive material was reinserted. The radiation therapist told me about it because he was feeling terrible. I told him he didn’t know what he was saying to me. “You’d have to be an idiot to not know you weren’t treating people for a month—so obviously they had side effects and shrinking tumors, which was why you assumed they were being treated.” He said, “Oh my God, you’re right.” I couldn’t get him to write an article about it. I also have patients who have no side effects because they get out of the way and let the radiation go to their tumor.

Yes, an unsubstantiated anecdote about an apparently incompetent radiation oncology tech who didn’t notice that his radiation machine wasn’t actually delivering radiation trumps evidence, apparently. (One wonders how the machine still functioned if its source wasn’t re-inserted. Most such machines have a warning light or won’t turn on if the source isn’t properly in place.) Siegel’s article is so full of alt-med tropes and a heaping’ helpin’ of what can best be described as pure woo. Besides recommending his own books (one of which I actually have on my shelf but have not gotten around to reading), Siegel recommends The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-On Healing by William Bengston, The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles by Bruce Lipton, and The Psychobiology of Gene Expression by Ernest Rossi. Lipton, as you recall, is a cell biologist who abandoned “conventional” biology after having some sort of mystical revelation about cells that led him to conclude that God must exist and that “holistic” therapies work. I hadn’t heard of the other two, but Siegel describes Bengston thusly:

Bengston cured mice of cancer in a controlled study with the energy conducted through his hands. I was healed of an injury in the same way by healer Olga Worral many years ago. We definitely need to test potential therapies to verify whether or not they are useful, but we also have to keep an open mind to what might be possible, and we must understand that we are treating a patient’s experience and not just a disease.

It turns out that Bengston preaches exactly the sort of quackery that Cassileth quite correctly castigated, namely that energy healing can cure cancer! From his own website:

Can energy healing really cure cancer? Is it possible for you to heal someone’s terminal illness with your bare hands? Is the Western medical community ready for a fundamental change in its approach to treatment?…Dr. William Bengston invites you to decide by taking a journey with him into the mystery and power of hands-on healing. Drawing on his 30 years of rigorous research, unbelievable results, and mind-bending questions, Bengston challenges us to totally rethink what we believe about our ability to heal.

As there so frequently is after a book advertisement, there are blurbs with people saying how great Bengston’s book is. Guess who gave Bengston a plug. Yes, Bernie Siegel. I must say, I had no idea that Siegel was so deep into woo. Elsewhere in his article he says he had chronic Lyme disease and was helped by homeopathic remedies. He even says that he “knows they work” because of his “experience of having the symptoms of the disease alleviated.” It doesn’t get much quackier than energy healing and homeopathy. They are the two most ridiculous quackeries out there, and Bernie Siegel is promoting them both.

Siegel concludes:

I was a pediatric surgeon and a general surgeon, and I know how powerful my words were to the children—and adults—who believed in me. I had no problem deceiving children into health by labeling vitamin pills as medications to prevent nausea and hair loss, or telling them the alcohol (Drug information on alcohol) sponge would numb their skin (and of course, sharing this with their parents, who helped empower their child’s belief). The mind and attitude are powerful healing forces. The mind and body do communicate, so I work with patients’ dreams and drawings and have diagnosed illnesses from them. I have yet to meet a physician who was told in medical school that Carl Jung correctly diagnosed a brain tumor by interpreting a patient’s dream.

This may not seem related to the subject of quackery, but it is—because it is about how to train doctors so that they know how to provide hope and potential to patients and how to use the mind and placebo effects. Doctors’ “wordswordswords” can become “swordswordswords” and kill or cure patients. I know a man who had cancer and needed cataract surgery so he could enjoy the life that remained to him with restored vision. His health plan denied the surgery because they expected him to die within 6 months and didn’t want to spend the money. He died in a week. The Lockerbie Bomber was released by the Scottish authorities because he was dying of cancer. He went back home to the Middle East and survived for over 3 years— and that is no coincidence.

Note the mind-body dualism (“the mind and body do communicate”). Of course they do, because the mind is the brain, and the brain is in constant communication with the body! That doesn’t mean you can think yourself healthy. Remember how I discussed some time ago the way that this increasing emphasis on placebo medicine among promoters of “integrative medicine.” As I’ve said so many times before, the reason IM fans have taken this position is because they’re finally being forced to accept that high quality evidence shows that most alt-med nostrums rebranded as “CAM” or “integrative medicine” produce nonspecific effects no better than placebo. So these nonspecific effects get relabeled as the “powerful placebo,” as proponents of “integrating” quackery into real medicine pivot on the proverbial dime and say that’s how their favored therapies worked all along, by firing up placebo effects! It’s pure paternalism, as well, as I have discussed multiple times.

Siegel claims he’s “unleashing the healing power” in each of us, but what he is really doing is advocating a return to the paternalistic, unquestioned, shaman-healer so common in so many societies in pre-scientific times. In ancient Egypt, physicians were also priests; both functions were one, which made sense given how little effective medicine there was. Praying to the gods for patients to get better was in most cases as good as anything those ancient physicians could do. Also notice how, to Siegel, apparently the end justifies the means. Siegel can deceive patients about vitamins and alcohol sponges because he thinks it’s all for a greater good, really believing that he is so all-powerful a shaman-healer that his words alone can have a huge effect in curing or killing patients. That’s how he appears to be justifying the deception. He needs to get a clue (and some humility) and realize that, although placebo effects are important confounders in clinical trials, it’s a huge stretch to ascribe such awesome power to their effects. What Siegel is describing is magic, not science; religion, not medicine. Thinking does not make it so.

Unfortunately, Cassileth doesn’t seem to realize that, at their core, the “unconventional” aspects of the “integrative medicine” that she is promoting are little or no different than what Siegel promotes. In essence, “integrative medicine” is all about “integrating” magical thinking into scientific medicine. Acupuncture, “mind-body” interventions, reiki, and all the various quackademic medicine that has infiltrated medical academia relies on the same ideas, the same magical thinking, that we see on display from Bernie Siegel. Cassileth might think herself so much more rational and “evidence-based” by attacking the most egregrious cancer quackery, but she’s only fooling herself.

Comments

  1. #1 al kimeea
    www.quackademiology.com
    November 15, 2012

    @thenewme

    say it like Yoda, it”l make more sense

    snabel, learned something new off this thread

  2. #2 al kimeea
    www.quackademiology.com
    November 15, 2012

    @gaist

    they are in tune with the universe, silly, and so with their patients marks’ bodies and the bodies just know how much lovin they needs and takes no more

  3. #3 Krebiozen
    November 15, 2012

    Judith,
    I couldn’t access your link, but I think I found the same article here. I think you have misunderstood that article, which is about the appropriate time to stop palliative chemotherapy. It doesn’t say that palliative chemotherapy is bad per se as you suggested when you wrote:

    The effect is temporary, the side-effects often severe. In many cases a few extra months of life are offered at the cost of significant suffering from the treatment itself.

    On the contrary, it says that:

    True palliative chemotherapy does have a purpose, and not all chemotherapy near the end of life is futile, said Thomas J. Smith, MD, FACP, co-founder of the palliative care program at the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. “Less than 25% of the treatments oncologists give are curative. Palliative chemo is given to extend life, or improve symptoms or quality of life, and hopefully all three together.”
    And even at the end of life, when drugs may be buying patients little if any more time at all, there may be some benefit. “There is a small body of literature that [says] you may not make people live longer, but you may make them feel better on the chemotherapy,” said David Weissman, MD, a pioneer in hospice and palliative medicine who until recently served as director of the MCW Palliative Care Center and the Froedtert Hospital Palliative Care Program, in Milwaukee.

    It even points out that there are clear NCCN guidelines for when it is time to “switch to non–chemo-based palliative care”. It doesn’t say that palliative chemotherapy should never be given at all, which is what you appear to be suggesting. I have been looking at the NCCN guidelines for palliative care, and they are clearly based on the best evidence available. I think they should be followed.

    This is not making dying more comfortable. I am beginning to wonder just what kind of experience you have with this.

    It has nothing to do with my experience of this and everything to do with what the best evidence tells us. Look at the Gonzalez trial of stage 4 pancreatic cancer in which the chemotherapy group reported a greatly improved quality of life over the group who were only treated with juices and supplements.

    The bottom line is that patients should be able to make an informed decision about what treatment they receive. You are still trying to scare people away from palliative chemotherapy altogether with inaccurate statements like:

    The notion of palliative chemotherapy making dying more comfortable is simply absurd. Sure, let’s take a cancer ravaged body that is on its last few breaths and throw in some poison for good measure so the patient can feel better. Why not?

    That’s not true. There are times when palliative chemotherapy has clear benefits. It is these blatantly untrue statements you persist in making that I object to.

  4. #4 flip
    Maybe she's jealous of Judith for hogging the spotlight...
    November 15, 2012

    @Marg

    Funny how many of these compounds are adulterated from nature because natural compounds can’t be patented & therefore the pharmaceutical companies can’t make money from them.

    Way to miss the point, yet again.

    If you can’t make any money from natural compounds, how do the alt-med companies work? Half of my pharmacy is full of these natural ‘remedies’ and funnily enough I don’t see any of the manufacturers going bankrupt.

    Secondly, you are once more proving to be full of fallacies: the periodic table is the periodic table, whether it’s in the body, pristine plants picked from the ground, or in little white pills. The only difference between the pills and downing a herbal ‘remedy’ is that you know exactly how much the dosage is *every single time* – oh, and it’s been studied for both efficacy and safety.

    If pharmaceuticals are poison, as Judith puts it, then so are bananas, your own body, and dihydrogen monoxide.

    But you know, that’s been explained a billion times already, so I’m not sure you or any other woo peddler has been paying attention. This is once more, basic high school science here, which you managed to forget/not learn.

    Also, what everyone else said.

    And hey, what’s this?

    Yet another tour of distractions away from the fact that MARG, the contemptible purse-snatcher of science, HAS NO EVIDENCE THAT ENERGY HEALING WORKS. Cause you know, complaining about pharma conspiracies is exactly the same as providing evidence.

    It’s like Marg has picked up the handback for fallacies and canards and is trying all of them out to see which one sticks…

  5. #5 flip
    November 15, 2012

    Handback = handbook…. I’m now officially downloading the preview file! Thanks Krebiozen!

  6. #6 Judith
    November 15, 2012

    @Krebiozen
    Clearly you have NO experience with cancer patients at the end of their life. By the time they get to the very final stages they no longer have the kidney and liver function needed to process the poisons in chemotherapy through their bodies. At that point they would be far better off with a Reiki practitioner waving his or her hands over them, even for the placebo effect. There is no placebo effect from poisons your body can no longer process, only misery.

    Yes, the bottom line is that patients should be able to make an informed decision about what treatment they receive, but their options should also include energy treatments.

    The point the article makes is that even though there are clear guidelines for chemotherapy should no longer be used, it is being used, ever more frequently.

    Did you notice this bit in the article?

    “The forces pushing people to receive treatments are overwhelming. They include everything from the societal view that you can’t ever give up, which is a very big reason people continue on treatments, to family pressure, to the increasing availability of drugs,” Dr. Weissman said. “If there are more drugs available, people feel like there are more options. And then there are financial incentives for oncologists who make more money based on the chemotherapy they [provide]. You have a whole gamut of forces pushing people toward treatment, and there’s very little push in the opposite direction. It’s hard for patients and families to say that it’s time to stop. Oncologists have been very poor at having these discussions.” (emphasis mine)

  7. #7 Judith
    November 15, 2012

    “for when chemotherapy should no longer be used, it is being used beyond that point, ever more frequently.”

  8. #8 Lawrence
    November 15, 2012

    @Judith – how exactly does the fact that “end of life” decisions can be improved upon mean that “energy healing” actually works?

  9. #9 flip
    November 15, 2012

    “Yes, the bottom line is that patients should be able to make an informed decision about what treatment they receive, but their options should also include other scientifically proven treatments and advice about both the benefits and the risks.”

    FTFY Judith.

  10. #10 JGC
    November 15, 2012

    .

    By the time they get to the very final stages they no longer have the kidney and liver function needed to process the poisons in chemotherapy through their bodies.

    Citation’s needed, judith.

    Yes, the bottom line is that patients should be able to make an informed decision about what treatment they receive, but their options should also include energy treatments.

    How can they make an informed decision about energy healing, with poeple like you and marg spreading mis-information regarding its efficacy? Or do you tell your clients up front, so that they’re properly informed, “Just so you know, there’s absolutely no evidence that the magical energy I’m claiming to manipulate exists, or that what I’m going to do next works other than by placebo effect”?

    The point the article makes is that even though there are clear guidelines for chemotherapy should no longer be used, it is being used, ever more frequently.

    The fact that chemotheapy is sometimes or even often continued past the point guidelines suggest it be curtailed does not argue that there’s ever a point where energy healing has proven to be safe or effective.

    At late stages of cancer chemotherapy is no longer recommended as palliative care, but too often it’s continued anyway. That is a problem that needs to be addressed.

    But it doesn’t mean that at any stage energy healing is either safe or effective, or should be recommended for palliative care.

  11. #11 Krebiozen
    November 15, 2012

    I have been looking more closely at the article Judith referred to, and I think I detect some serious bias from the journalist who wrote it. For example she wrote:

    Between 15% and 20% of people with cancer receive chemotherapy within 14 days of their death—at a point when the treatment has virtually no chance of extending survival or the quality of their life.

    This cannot possibly be true as the graph further down the page shows that only 9% of patients receive chemotherapy in the last month of their lives.

    It’s referred to as “palliative” chemotherapy, but it frequently “palliates” very little—indeed, it often causes more discomfort and burden on the patient and family.

    That is not supported by what the experts in the article actually say. Palliative chemotherapy is not only given at the very end of life as the author seems to imply. Some of the other conclusions she comes to seem similarly unsupported by the evidence she presents.

  12. #12 Krebiozen
    November 15, 2012

    On the subject of the efficacy of palliative chemotherapy, this article from JAMA (PDF), ‘The Role of Chemotherapy at the End of Life “When Is Enough, Enough?”’ is well worth reading for anyone interested in this subject. It states, with citations, that:

    The increasing effectiveness and lessened toxicity of palliative chemotherapy is well supported by randomized trial data. First-line chemotherapy for patients with non–small cell lung cancer improves survival by 2 to 3 months, relieves symptoms, and improves quality of life compared with best supportive care. Second-line treatment of patients with non–small cell lung cancer with docetaxel vs best supportive care is associated with significantly longer survival (7.0 vs 4.6 months, or 10 weeks, and a difference in 1-year survival, 29% vs 19%); and improvements in pain and less deterioration in quality of life. Even third-line treatment may improve survival or symptoms, especially with novel, relatively nontoxic oral agents such as erlotinib, which, in 1 study, improved survival compared with best supportive care from 4.7 to 6.7 months with improved results for pain, dyspnea, and physical functioning. Palliative chemotherapy has also increased survival and quality of life in metastatic colorectal and prostate cancer.

    Compare this with what Judith wrote that I took exception to:

    There are many cancer patients who come to the point in their treatment where their doctors tell them that they have run out of curative options and that further chemotherapy and radiation would only serve palliative ends. In other words, when the cancer gets bad enough, treatment is offered to shrink the tumour to make it interfere less with the body’s functioning. The effect is temporary, the side-effects often severe. In many cases a few extra months of life are offered at the cost of significant suffering from the treatment itself.

    I don’t think I need to add any more.

  13. #13 Bronze Dog
    November 15, 2012

    Its funny and sad that Marg and Judith are so fixated on badmouthing a competing treatment. They aren’t thinking about potential consumers like me who want proof that their treatment works. They aren’t arguing to help the sick, they’re in here to try and increase their market penetration.

    The way I see it, they’re trying to win brand loyalty through (dishonest) negative ad campaigns while we’re demanding they present the positive aspects of their brand before we buy. It never occurs to them that some of us see no point in remaining loyal to any brand: We use what works best, and we’re used to seeing identity politics being used as a surrogate for performance. We want to buy treatments that work a la carte. We do not want to buy package deals based in corporate ideological culture.

  14. #14 Krebiozen
    November 15, 2012

    Judith,

    Clearly you have NO experience with cancer patients at the end of their life.

    Unfortunately that’s not true.

    By the time they get to the very final stages they no longer have the kidney and liver function needed to process the poisons in chemotherapy through their bodies. At that point they would be far better off with a Reiki practitioner waving his or her hands over them, even for the placebo effect. There is no placebo effect from poisons your body can no longer process, only misery.

    Leaving aside the fact that little of this is true, where have I or anyone else advocated giving cancer patients in the very final stage chemotherapy? I have stated that I think doctors should stick to the guidelines, such as the NCCN guidelines I referred to earlier which state that:

    Patients with months to weeks to live should be provided with guidance regarding the anticipated course of the disease. These patients are typically tired of therapy, homebound and more concerned about the side effects of more treatments. The focus of treatment for these patients shifts from prolonging life towards maintaining quality of life. These patients should consider potential discontinuation of anticancer treatment and be offered best supportive care, including referral to palliative care or hospice. To avoid demeaning the value of end-of-life care, palliative care should not be described as “just hospice”. In general, patients with weeks to days to live (i.e. dying patients) should not be given anticancer therapy, but should be given intensive palliative care focusing on symptom control and preparation for the dying process.

    That seems like a good approach to me.

  15. #15 Calli Arcale
    November 15, 2012

    Judith:

    Clearly you have NO experience with cancer patients at the end of their life. By the time they get to the very final stages they no longer have the kidney and liver function needed to process the poisons in chemotherapy through their bodies. At that point they would be far better off with a Reiki practitioner waving his or her hands over them, even for the placebo effect. There is no placebo effect from poisons your body can no longer process, only misery.

    I am doubtful of your experience with cancer patients at the end of life, if you think reiki makes much of a difference to them. I watched my grandfather approach death a while back, of cancer. He would’ve had any reiki practitioner thrown out of his house, even though he’d consciously rejected chemo. (Not because he doesn’t believe in it. Because he was in his 90s, in failing health, and honestly didn’t think there was any point. He was a general surgeon with an exceptionally pragmatic approach to life.) What did he select at the end of life? Hospice, liquid morphine, highballs, and Dos Equis. And, of course, plenty of conversation with the people he’d known and loved through his life.

    I respect the decisions made by people at the end of life. I do not respect people attempting to make a buck by offering to handwave over them with the implication that this will do something beneficial, especially if it delays them at all from doing the things that will actually get them what they want — effective pain relief, especially.

  16. #16 dyson
    November 15, 2012

    I think Judith has little concept of the range of responses that exist with most forms of therapy, or why single anecdotes can never form the basis for consistent management of any disease.

  17. #17 Judith
    November 15, 2012

    @Krebiozen
    You are still confusing chemotherapy that is intended to extend life with palliative chemotherapy that is intended to make the process of dying more comfortable.

    This is you suggesting the use of chemotherapy to make the process of dying more comfortable. That would be you advocating giving final stage cancer patients chemotherapy.

    @Calli Arkale
    1) We have done it for free.

    2) We have seen significant pain relief.

    You are speaking out of ignorance.

  18. #18 al kimeea
    www.quackademiology.com
    November 15, 2012

    why all this talk now of relieving cancer pain when earlier it was curing cancer (and gangrene, diabeetus…) via waving hands?

  19. #19 Bronze Dog
    November 15, 2012

    You have a talent for understatement, dyson. I think those things are rooted in the inability to think in terms of populations, rather than ideals, as well as a lack of self-awareness of their humanity and what that means.

    Judith:

    @Calli Arkale
    1) We have done it for free.

    2) We have seen significant pain relief.

    You are speaking out of ignorance.

    1. Price and efficacy are not related.

    2. Are you talking of your anecdotes, biased by your natural human cognition shortcomings that everyone has? Or are you talking about a study of energy medicine versus sham energy medicine as placebo?

  20. #20 JGC
    November 15, 2012

    Judith, how have you excluded the possibility that you’re observing a placebo effect, and that the magical hand waving/forming mystical symbols integral to reiki, ‘performed for free’ or otherwise, is the proximate cause of the significant pain relief you observe?

    Your claim, after all, is that you’re channeling energy which relieves pain–surely you can other some credible reason to believe you are in fact channeling energy and that energy is in fact causing the observed pain relief.

  21. #21 Krebiozen
    November 15, 2012

    Judith,

    This is you suggesting the use of chemotherapy to make the process of dying more comfortable. That would be you advocating giving final stage cancer patients chemotherapy.

    That would be you demonstrating, not for the first time, that you seem to have a serious problem with English comprehension. The word “dying” has shades of meaning. Palliative chemotherapy is given to patients with terminal cancer, who are by definition dying. The process of dying may take months or even years, and chemotherapy given during that period is palliative chemotherapy, which is intended to make the process of dying more comfortable, as I put it earlier. It is very effective for that purpose, as you can see from the JAMA article I cited and quoted from above. The final stages of cancer are the final weeks or days, a time when chemotherapy is probably not useful as I also stated above.

  22. #22 Judith
    November 15, 2012

    @Krebiozen
    Bit by bit, we are dying all the time. It’s not dying that palliative chemotherapy is meant make more comfortable but the decline leading up to it. I do know what effect “palliative chemotherapy” had on our second pancreatic cancer patient — I was later told he wished he had never tried it, and in hindsight he thought it would have been better if he had continued his treatment with us.

  23. #23 AdamG
    November 15, 2012

    I do know what effect “palliative chemotherapy” had on our second pancreatic cancer patient

    This is what is known as an anecdote. What Krebiozen presented is data.

    Why should we weight the experience of a single individual more than results from a cohort of many individuals?

    Which would you rather drive: a car that was driven by one person, who thought it seemed safe, or a car driven by hundreds of individuals, the majority of which thought it seemed safe?

  24. #24 Bronze Dog
    November 15, 2012

    And another anecdote. Judith once again refuses to acknowledge her humanity.

  25. #25 Krebiozen
    November 15, 2012

    Judith,

    I do know what effect “palliative chemotherapy” had on our second pancreatic cancer patient

    No you don’t. What you know is:

    — I was later told he wished he had never tried it, and in hindsight he thought it would have been better if he had continued his treatment with us.

    I refer you back to the Gonzalez study comparing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer with no treatment (actually enzymes, juices and coffee enemas) cited somewhere above, which found:

    Adverse events appeared similar in both groups and were difficult to distinguish from the morbidity of progressive pancreatic cancer.

    I’m told it is quite common for cancer patients to attribute the effects of their cancer to their treatment. Based on the evidence, I suggest that what your second pancreatic cancer patient experienced was largely “the morbidity of progressive pancreatic cancer”, and he would probably have been considerably worse off in terms of survival and quality of life if he had continued with your “treatment”.

  26. #26 Judith
    November 15, 2012

    @Krebiozen
    How long did Gonzalez’ cancer patients in the study live?

  27. #27 Narad
    November 15, 2012

    How long did Gonzalez’ cancer patients in the study live?

    Thinking about branching out into something more ghoulish?

  28. #28 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 15, 2012

    OK, Judith, for a while there you were actually a bit of a relief compared to Marg, the contemptible purse-snatcher of science, but when you decided to tell people that ‘clearly’ they had ‘NO experience’ (your emphasis) with cancer patients at the ends of their lives, you crossed a line. It makes clear how self-centered and selfish you are. You view your personal experience as sufficient to hang an entire pseudoscience on, but if anyone else’s personal experience does not match yours, you declare it not to exist. Do you even comprehend the arrogance that speaks of? No one else’s experience can exist if it doesn’t support the conclusions you’ve come to from your own experience??

    Let’s cut to the chase.

    You keep trying to argue towards the conclusion “What we do is so much better than chemotherapy.”

    Nothing you have to say about chemotherapy is going to be of interest until you manage to support the premise that your offering actually produces measurable results. And by “support the premise,” we mean supporting it with rigorously collected data, not with anecdotes and especially not with anecdotes that aren’t even what happened but what someone thinks would have happened, e.g. “our second pancreatic patient thought he would have done better with energy healing than with chemo.” If that’s the closest you have to convincing evidence, then you have none. And all you’re doing – besides grossly insulting the people who have seen end-stage cancer first-hand and didn’t convert to Handwaveology, by telling them they don’t exist – is wasting your time and ours.

  29. #29 Krebiozen
    November 15, 2012

    Judith,

    How long did Gonzalez’ cancer patients in the study live?

    I did mention that somewhere in the mass of comments above, but I’m happy to quote from the paper itself:

    Twelve months after enrollment, 56% of chemotherapy-group patients were alive; 16% of the enzyme-group patients were alive. The longest survivors were one chemotherapy-group patient who died at 39.5 months and one chemotherapy-group patient […] was still alive at 40 months.

    Out of 23 patients on chemotherapy, 2 survived twice as long as the patient given energy healing who survived 20 months. About 25% of the treated and 5% of the untreated patients were still alive after 20 months.

  30. #30 Krebiozen
    November 15, 2012

    Antaeus,

    Nothing you have to say about chemotherapy is going to be of interest until you manage to support the premise that your offering actually produces measurable results.

    I agree. The only reason I’m engaging with the subject is that it mightily pisses me off to see chemotherapy misrepresented and portrayed as an ineffective bogeyman. Cancer patients are frightened quite enough without being told that the treatment their doctor recommends will do nothing but “torture them on the way out” and that they would be better off relying on pixie dust.

  31. #31 Judith
    November 15, 2012

    Thank you, everyone, for this interesting and informative discussion.

  32. #32 alison
    November 15, 2012

    what, Judith – no comment on the data comparing Gonzales’ “protocol” with chemo that Krebiozen provided just above?

  33. #33 Narad
    November 15, 2012

    I presume that “discussion” has novel semantics once one is wired into the Ancient Masters.

  34. #34 flip
    November 16, 2012

    @Bronze Dog

    It’s kind of like how political parties work, trying to get voters from their base, but ignoring the swing votes and independents.

    @Judith

    Thank you, everyone, for this interesting and informative discussion.

    AKA I’m not winning this argument and I don’t have any data, so I think I’ll duck out now…

  35. #35 Judith
    November 16, 2012

    There is a type of pancreatic cancer with very good 5-year survival rates, which is the one Steve Jobs had. He lived 8 years.

    Apparently Gonzalez has now written a book denouncing the way the trials for his regimen were conducted, with particular emphasis on how patients were recruited for the trials. I haven’t read the book, so I cannot comment.

  36. #36 Scottynuke
    November 16, 2012

    Yet you just did comment, Judith, while not bothering to mention that Jobs had quite a bit of “conventional” treatment in living 8 years (not to mention Orac had several posts about how Jobs’ flirtation with woo might have cost him additional time among us).

    Not that you can be bothered collecting data, but count me among the semi-lurkers who both laughs at your complete inability to grasp science and who laments the possibility that anyone in need actually listens to you.

  37. #37 Krebiozen
    November 16, 2012

    Judith,

    There is a type of pancreatic cancer with very good 5-year survival rates, which is the one Steve Jobs had. He lived 8 years.

    That’s true, but it’s not the type of pancreatic cancer we have been discussing, and is not the type of cancer studied in the Gonzalez trial. We are talking about inoperable pancreatic exocrine adenocarcinomas, Jobs had an endocrine tumor, an insulinoma.

    Apparently Gonzalez has now written a book denouncing the way the trials for his regimen were conducted, with particular emphasis on how patients were recruited for the trials. I haven’t read the book, so I cannot comment.

    I have read quite a lot of Gonzalez’s comments on this trial, which amount to nothing but special pleading, or as Orac put it, “disingenuous nonsense”. It has also been discussed at great length at the science based medicine blog.
    Even if Gonzalez was correct (he wasn’t) and the trial was unfair (unethical? probably, a shambles? perhaps, unfair? I don’t think so), it doesn’t help your case at all. Several patients in both arms lived longer than the patients whose lives you claim were extended by energy treatment.

  38. #38 JGC
    November 16, 2012

    haven’t read the book, so I cannot comment.

    Then why mention that he’s written the book in the first place?

  39. #39 Krebiozen
    November 16, 2012

    Veering even further off topic, but I think it’s interesting to note the results Gonzalez was claiming for his regimen in pancreatic cancer patients before the clinical trial I have mentioned. Such as:

    As of 12 January 1999, of 11 patients entered into the study, 9 (81%) survived one year, 5 (45%) survived two years, and at this time, 4 have survived three years. Two patients are alive and doing well: one at three years and the other at four years. These results are far above the 25% survival at one year and 10% survival at two years for all stages of pancreatic adenocarcinoma reported in the National Cancer Data Base from 1995. This pilot study suggests that an aggressive nutritional therapy with large doses of pancreatic enzymes led to significantly increased survival over what would normally be expected for patients with inoperable pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

    The results of this “2-year, unblinded, 1-treatment arm, 10-patient, pilot prospective case study”* were interesting enough to prompt the NCI to sponsor a trial. If energy treatment practitioners carry out a case study with results like this, perhaps the NCI might fund a further investigation. As I understand it the Domancic Method is supposed to work with conventional treatment, so there would be no ethical barriers to randomizing two groups of cancer patients: conventional treatment alone and conventional treatment plus energy treatment. I won’t hold my breath.

    *It now seems likely that this case study suffered from selection bias – you have to be in pretty good shape to endure 2 years of constantly juicing, drinking juices, cleaning the juicer, swallowing handfuls of supplements and somehow fitting in coffee enemas as well. It makes white water rafting look like a walk in the park.

  40. #40 Bronze Dog
    November 16, 2012

    …swallowing handfuls of supplements…

    That’s one thing that strikes me about some alties. They’ve got a segment of pill poppers who seem to think they can get healthy without modifying their diet or exercising so long as they take the right metabolism boosting supplements or whatever they’re advertising.

    It certainly gets thrown in with all the radical diets and such, which sets up a bit of a conflict: If the diet’s so healthy and natural, why do you need supplements on top of it? Naturally, I suspect the answer is, “To boost the guru’s profits.”

  41. #41 THS
    still avoiding italics
    November 16, 2012

    Thank you, Anteaus F for your comment above regarding Judith, especially this bit, copied, below:

    “And all you’re doing – besides grossly insulting the people who have seen end-stage cancer first-hand and didn’t convert to Handwaveology, by telling them they don’t exist – is wasting your time and ours.”

    Exactly. There was something grotesque about Judith’s proclamation: “…you have NO experience with cancer patients…”. I was astonished at the arrogance and willful ignorance of her comment. (J.’s woo & pseudo-science crap was bad enough).

    I’m impressed by the restraint and good manners of the medical people who contribute to this comment thread.

  42. #42 Judith
    November 16, 2012

    @THS
    Anyone who has seen end-stage cancer patients and the ravages of both cancer and chemo, who does not want to see a better solution, has no heart.

  43. #43 al kimeea
    www.quackademiology.com
    November 16, 2012

    anyone who thinks believes mindless handwaving is a better solution is not only heartless…

  44. #44 Krebiozen
    November 16, 2012

    Anyone who has seen end-stage cancer patients and the ravages of both cancer and chemo, who does not want to see a better solution, has no heart.

    You still don’t get it do you? Anyone who deludes themselves into thinking they have a better solution without any reliable evidence and with zero plausibility, has no brain. When you try to persuade patients to abandon the best hope they have it makes things even worse. There’s no excuse for that in the 21st century.

  45. #45 Bronze Dog
    November 16, 2012

    We want a better solution, Judith. It’s rather cynical of you to pretend we don’t. Demonizing us or the pharmaceutical companies isn’t going to accomplish anything outside of providing you with an excuse to feel superior.

    The real problem we have with you is that you aren’t willing to do what it takes to prove you have a better solution.

  46. #46 Agashem
    November 16, 2012

    I actually don’t believe Judith has seen people at end stage. I have and it is not pretty and if she thinks we are heartless enough not to want better then there is no reasoning with her AT ALL

  47. #47 gaist
    November 16, 2012

    Anyone who has seen end-stage cancer patients and the ravages of both cancer and chemo, who does not want to see a better solution, has no heart.

    And you no doubt are accusing others of being heartless money-grabbing poisoners because you have so big a heart?

  48. #48 Krebiozen
    November 16, 2012

    Agashem,

    I actually don’t believe Judith has seen people at end stage.

    I suspect she has, but has assumed that the unpleasant symptoms were all due to the chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and not the cancer. Orac wrote an interesting blog post on this a few years ago.BTW on the anecdotal front, I have seen a few friends and relatives at end stage – for example my father died of leukemia*, my uncle of stomach cancer. I have also seen more than a few children die of cancer. My son spent most of the first two years of his life in the same hospital I worked at. That meant I got to know a succession of parents and their sick children. As parents who have been in a similar situation know, you can get to know people surprisingly well in such circumstances, spending hours together in emotional torment, waiting while your child is in the OR etc. I was also often doing lab work on the same children, which was interesting but often heartbreaking, finding out bad (sometimes good) news before the parents and having to pretend I knew nothing. One child who sticks in my mind, a boy of about three years old, went through chemotherapy, losing all his hair, vomiting etc., to shrink a brain tumor sufficiently for surgery to remove it. I sat with his parents discussing the decision they faced – consent to the surgery which would probably blind him, as the surgeon would have to go though his visual cortex, but possibly save him, or rely on chemotherapy which meant he would almost certainly die. His parents opted for the surgery and bravely took their blind son home but he was back within weeks and rapidly deteriorated. I was there when he had his final cardiac arrest, saw the faces of the doctors after their unsuccessful attempts at resuscitation, and also saw his parents who were understandably devastated. You don’t forget something like that.So I agree with Judith, “Anyone who has seen end-stage cancer patients and the ravages of both cancer and chemo, who does not want to see a better solution, has no heart”. However, I have never encountered nor even heard of anyone who does not want a better solution.*He was a doctor and went for chemotherapy, not surprisingly.

  49. #49 Krebiozen
    November 16, 2012

    Yikes, wall of text! Sorry about that. There are paragraphs in there but [p] tags clearly don’t work how I thought. The latest version of my preview program needs a tweak.Test – this should be a separate paragraph.

  50. #50 Narad
    November 16, 2012

    Test – this should be a separate paragraph.

    Let’s see if <br /> works.This should be a new graf.

  51. #51 Narad
    November 16, 2012

    Yah, so it’s digested like any other WP-ignored tag. What’d you write the previewer in? It seems like you’ll just have to output a CR or CR/LF.

  52. #52 Krebiozen
    November 16, 2012

    Narad,

    I think something has changed in the way Scienceblogs process html.

    I’m sure [p] and [/p] worked yesterday, but today it strips them out and puts in its own instead of LF/CR, your <br /> was stripped out too. That or I’m more confused than I thought.

  53. #53 Narad
    November 16, 2012

    (Gets out stick… …and… …starts…poking.)

  54. #54 Krebiozen
    November 16, 2012

    What’d you write the previewer in?

    I used Visual Basic’s inbuilt WebBrowser which is basically a version of IE, which I thought would process simple HTML tags the same. I’ll have another play at getting it right.

  55. #55 Alain
    November 16, 2012

    @ Krebiozen,

    That’s a really tough story to read; Thanks for commenting.

    Alain

  56. #56 Bronze Dog
    November 16, 2012

    The thing about finding better solutions:

    Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are continuously researching new drugs and treatments. They experience failures, dump them, and move onto the next one that looks promising. They’ve made steady progress against a lot of cancers over the decades.

    Energy medicine has been stuck in stasis, and it’s an uphill battle to get any proponent to merely cite the source of their claims. More often, they whine that they should be given special treatment and offer transparent excuses instead of doing the work.

  57. #57 Narad
    November 16, 2012

    Last… …tries at… …tinkering……with the… …breathtaking fun of amateurish WP rollouts.

  58. #58 Narad
    November 16, 2012

    I used Visual Basic’s inbuilt WebBrowser which is basically a version of IE, which I thought would process simple HTML tags the same.

    The problem you have is that there’s no telling what the $allowed_tags are going to be. WP “thinks” in XHTML (which, if there is any justice in the world, will be obsoleted by HTML5), so you need to output a plain CR (the stylesheet will handle the LF) rather than a tag.

  59. #59 Alain
    November 16, 2012

    Hey guys, I wondered if it’s possible to customize the $allowed_tags? if it’s possible, you may be looking at an uphill battle.

    Alain

  60. #60 Krebiozen
    November 16, 2012

    All I have to do is arrange to have the previewer mimic what the WP does to the text, so the user can tinker with it until it looks right.[LF/CR]
    I think I have it working about right now. [LF/CR LF/CR]

    The single and double line breaks have me a little confused though.

  61. #61 Narad
    November 16, 2012

    Hey guys, I wondered if it’s possible to customize the $allowed_tags?

    Sure. Hell, it’s possible to have the courtesy to tell people what they are in the first place. It’s possible to implement a preview. It’s possible to set the damn fool server clocks correctly rather than deleting the time stamps. I’m not holding my breath on competence in this quarter.

  62. #62 S
    November 16, 2012

    Using an html editor is new to me, but I find this one particularly helpful and easy for beginners (like me). http://www.w3schools.com/tags/tryit.asp?filename=tryhtml_basic

  63. #63 THS
    November 16, 2012

    Heart, brain, whatever. There are self-appointed “healers” who do see end-stage cancer. That does not qualify them to insult the medical profession.

  64. #64 Alain
    November 16, 2012

    I’m not holding my breath on competence in this quarter.

    neither do I 🙂

    See ya later (after listening to Fast Five).

    Alain

  65. #65 Judith
    November 16, 2012

    @THS
    Pointing out that the medical profession does not do particularly well with end stage cancer is not an insult but a statement of fact. My, we are thin-skinned.

  66. #66 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 17, 2012

    @Judith – your statement was

    Anyone who has seen end-stage cancer patients and the ravages of both cancer and chemo, who does not want to see a better solution, has no heart.

    The clear implication is that you believe that someone fits this category. To whom do you refer?

    In your follow up, you say “Pointing out that the medical profession does not do particularly well with end stage cancer is not an insult but a statement of fact.” What are your criteria? Well compared to what? Is there someone who does better? Who? If not, how do you know it’s possible to do better?

  67. #67 Judith
    November 17, 2012

    @Mephistopheles
    No comparison needed. It does not do well, period.

  68. #68 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 17, 2012

    Pointing out that the medical energy healer profession does not do particularly well with end stage cancer much of anything is not an insult but a statement of fact.

    FTFY

  69. #69 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 17, 2012

    Of course a comparison is needed. People can only do as well as it is currently humanly possible to do. Claiming that people don’t do a good job when there is no known way to do it better is merely being spiteful.

    If there’s a currently known better way, then point to it. If there’s not, then encourage people to research it.

  70. #70 Judith
    November 17, 2012

    @Mephistopheles

    No, that’s an opinion.

  71. #71 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 17, 2012

    So, wait, to declare the the medical profession doesn’t do well with end stage cancer (whatever you mean by that) is merely a statement of fact, but a similar statement about energy healers (backed by a complete lack of data about the efficacy of energy healing) is opinion?

  72. #72 novalox
    November 17, 2012

    @judith

    Apparently, since all you have posted is opinions (and apparently ones that can kill innocents), I can assume then that you are nothing more than a charlatan and a debased murderer, wiling to cheat innocents out of their money and time just for some voodoo treatment.

    But please, keep posting along with marg your incompetent minion. The more you post here, the less time you have to prey on innocents and to spew your venomous lies to other vulnerable people.

    I await your incompetent reply, just to see how much of the stupid your comment contains.

  73. #73 Bronze Dog
    November 17, 2012

    Spiteful is the right word. It’s also cheap, transparent rhetoric once again intended to make Judith feel superior despite doing nothing. We go on an on about consumer protection by wanting clinical trials to test efficacy of all proposed medical treatments (or as close as we can ethically get to such trials) and Judith turns a deaf ear because such things are beneath her, and because it can’t be compacted into a partisan slogan.

    The only time she feigns concern about the patients is when she thinks it’ll be an effective way to badmouth the lead competitors. It’s like she’s actively doing everything to convince us of her insincerity and heartlessness. She’s a ruthless businesswoman at her core and can’t understand why we don’t see absolutely everything in terms of market share.

  74. #74 Narad
    November 17, 2012

    Judith has the secret files, man. The ones that are so amazing that nobody would dare publish a write-up. This wellbore into the Mysterium Tremendum pulsates with such amplitude (yet discreetly low frequency) that it would be completely unreasonable to suggest that she, you know, give it a whirl.

  75. #75 flip
    November 17, 2012

    Judith seems to fall for the nirvana fallacy…

  76. #76 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 17, 2012

    @Flip – I never cared much for Nirvana. I prefer Utopia.

  77. #77 THS
    November 17, 2012

    Judith is wrong, of course. Untreated cancer is a terrible way to die. There are ways to alleviate pain and suffering, but Judith will have none of that. Unconscienable quackery.

  78. #78 Krebiozen
    November 17, 2012

    A friend of mine told me this morning that he just just found out he has throat cancer. He’s waiting for some results to find out exactly what type so he can get properly targeted treatment. I won’t be suggesting energy healing, but I will offer to accompany him to his next appointment. A bit of friendly moral support is worth more than any hand waving I reckon.

  79. #79 Judith
    November 17, 2012

    I find your close-mindedness terribly sad.

  80. #80 Krebiozen
    I can't believe it's not Marg
    November 17, 2012

    I find your close-mindedness terribly sad.

    Since we are sharing opinions, I think you are a walking text book example of confirmation bias, and a danger to yourself and others.

  81. #81 Bronze Dog
    November 17, 2012

    You’re projecting, Judith. You’re the closed-minded one. We’re willing to change our mind if you provide good evidence that was obtained in ways that counteract human biases. Instead of trying to meet us on those terms, you spout anecdotes while in denial of your very humanity, thinking you have a godlike immunity to perceptual bias.

    Here’s a big question, Judith: What would it take to convince you you’re wrong?

  82. #82 novalox
    November 18, 2012

    @judith

    As predicted, a childish, stupid little answer form someone so small-minded like you.

    But then again, what would we expect form a quack like you.

  83. #83 flip
    November 18, 2012

    @Krebiozen

    I can’t believe it’s not Marg

    Exactly what I was thinking. They really do lack originality, don’t they?

    And yet another post void of evidence that energy healing does anything at all.

  84. #84 gaist
    November 18, 2012

    I find your close-mindedness terribly sad.

    Judith, you’re the one who has said there’s no point in doing research because it wouldn’t get published, WITHOUT EVEN TRYING.

    Others have repeatedly asked you and Marg to come up with the sources OR do your own research, so they’re not stonewalling you quite like you insist.

    You’re the one who raises objections and accuses the medical establishment, but changes the subject when presented with a scientific explanation/refutation.

    You’re the one who makes broad generalised statemets about how bad “allopathic” medicine is, but either 1) don’t acknowleedge the contrary evidence when presented, 2) change the subject, OR 3) attack the messenger with vague ad hominems.

    You even agreed you have a bias when called out on it. Others have agreed they have biases too, which is precicely why they’re calling for valid evidence for your statements about energy healing before believing it. You haven’t provided any such evidence. Others are dealing with their biases in their research. You aren’t.

    One side is constantly doing research, keeping score (of both hits AND misses, so to speak) and experimenting to find new or improved treatments. The other side (as you’re so fond of black-and-white thinking) doesn’t.

    You don’t even bother apologising for you ad hominem statemets when shown to be erroneous.

    Which side sounds more close minded?

  85. #85 LW
    November 18, 2012

    Anyone who has seen end-stage cancer patients and the ravages of both cancer and chemo, who does not want to see a better solution, has no heart.

    A perfect description of Judith and Marge, who don’t want to do *anything* to find a better solution, don’t want anyone else to find a better solution, and just want to scoop up the bucks with their handwaving while their victims suffer and die horribly.

  86. #86 Judith
    November 18, 2012

    @LW
    You just described, perfectly, what the pharmaceutical companies are doing.

  87. #87 flip
    I can't believe it's not Marg
    November 18, 2012

    You just described, perfectly, what the pharmaceutical companies are doing.

    Uhuh. If you were the opposite then, you would be sharing your better solution with the world by posting evidence and not anecdotes. Oh wait, that’s what Big Pharma have been doing and you haven’t been doing it… so LW is right.

    If you have the better solution, nothing would make Big Pharma cringe more than you lording it over them by submitting yourself and your ‘data’ for everyone to see.

    I won’t hold my breath.

  88. #88 Bronze Dog
    November 18, 2012

    Then why have they been finding better solutions all this time? Why have cancer survival times gone up in general with new treatments? Why are pharmaceutical companies spending money researching these new treatments?

    Once again, you’re projecting, Judith.

  89. #89 LW
    November 18, 2012

    No, I have not. Pharmaceutical companies, for all their faults, have over a period of decades improved their products. There is a good reason why one of my best friends survived lymphoma, and it wasn’t because of charlatans like you.

    Also, as has been pointed out repeatedly on this thread, tu quoque is not a valid argument. If Big Pharma doesn’t care whether its patients suffer and die in agony, that does not change or excuse the fact that *you* don’t care if your victims suffer and die in agony.

  90. #90 Bronze Dog
    November 18, 2012

    Judith, why do you intentionally go out of your way to use arguments we’ve said won’t work? If anyone’s stonewalling, it’s you. You’re self-censoring by choosing the least effective arguments.

  91. #91 Krebiozen
    November 18, 2012
    A perfect description of Judith and Marge, who don’t want to do *anything* to find a better solution, don’t want anyone else to find a better solution, and just want to scoop up the bucks with their handwaving while their victims suffer and die horribly.

    You just described, perfectly, what the pharmaceutical companies are doing.

    That’s possibly the dumbest thing that either of you have said here, and it has stiff competition. Drug company executives, like the rest of us, have relatives and friends with cancer and are just as likely to get cancer themselves, so of course they want to find a better solution. Also, when drug companies find safer and more effective treatments for any type of cancer they make billions, which is why they invest billions of dollars every year in cancer research, along with governments and charities.

    As just one of many examples of this, picked more or less at random, look at rituximab, a drug produced by IDEC Pharmaceuticals and approved by the FDA in 1997. It’s used to treat to treat chemotherapy-resistant B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas and is a monoclonal antibody against a protein called CD20 found on the surface of B cells. It was developed in mice but has been cleverly genetically engineered to have human characteristics (i.e.it is chimeral) to reduce the immune reactions injecting a foreign protein normally provokes. It’s an effective drug which has spurred the development of other chimeral monoclonal antibodies and made IDEC $3 billion last year alone.

    You might also look at other targeted drugs like trastuzumab (Herceptin), gefitinib (Iressa), panitumumab (Vectibix) and cetuximab (Erbitux) all of which are significantly effective and make at least half a billion dollars a year for their developers.

    As others have pointed out, the inaccuracy of your statements is easily proven by looking at the increase in survival we have seen over the past few decades. For example, picking a cancer that isn’t picked up by improved screening, here’s a graph of 5-year-survival of leukemia in those under 20. From 40% 5-year-survival in 1975 to better than 80% today, and all of it due to better treatment, mostly chemotherapy. None of that improvement is due to any kind of alternative treatments, certainly not energy healing.

  92. #92 Bronze Dog
    November 18, 2012

    Another way to summarize Judith and Marg’s style:

    They think this is a zero-sum, two-party election, so they run a negative campaign against the biggest competitor, stupidly thinking people will vote for energy medicine solely as a means of voting against pharmaceuticals.

    The first problem is that they doesn’t realize that even if we believed the mudslinging, we would more likely opt to stay home or to vote for a third party. Negative ad campaigns tend to lower voter turnout for this reason. Some of us recognize our candidate as flawed but see positives that outweigh all the real negatives. The addition of lies in a negative campaign also acts as a giant red flag that the mudslinger has nothing in his favor. Hypocritical attacks make it even worse for the mudslinger.

    The other problem is that this isn’t an either/or election. We can vote for any number of people, and there are several seats available. If we were convinced of energy medicine’s effectiveness, we could use both pharmaceuticals and energy medicine.

    Because Judith and Marg don’t understand our utilitarian perspective and trapped themselves in a closed-minded partisan perspective, they don’t realize that they’re effectively arguing for non-voting, rather than voting for energy medicine. They’re more interested in hurting the “competition” than they are in presenting someone worthy of holding office.

  93. #93 Narad
    November 18, 2012

    You just described, perfectly, what the pharmaceutical companies are doing.

    Ooh, somebody’s biofield seems to have taken on a greenish tinge. Maybe one of your partners in pseudoo at “Toronto Bioenergy Associates” could adjust that for you, Judith. (Then again, maybe not, as only you seem to merit testimonials on the Web site.) Indeed, as time is short, perhaps it would be appropriate to wind up by assisting you in this effort to manifest The Sort Of Advertising That You Just Can’t Buy with, say, a slogan.

    How about “Puting the Zero Back in Zero-Point!™”? “When It Comes to Mesmerism, We Don’t ‘Mes’ Around!™”?

  94. #94 LW
    November 18, 2012

    I’ve often wondered if newage types like Marg and Judith have ever *met* anyone who works in real health care. Somehow their descriptions of doctors and the entire pharmaceutical industry remind me of the scene in Woody Allen’s Love and Death when the Russians are discussing whether Russian Jews have horns like German Jews.

    I *have* met a lot of doctors, and just among the ones I’ve known, two died of cancer, two lost their wives to cancer, one lost his mother and a cousin to cancer.

    If, as the newage types claim, oncologists know The Cure For Cancer, or don’t know and are just pretending to research with no intention of ever finding a cure, or of admitting it if they do find a cure — well, all I  can say is they’d better hope their fellow doctors never find out.

    Of course, any oncologist who knew The Cure, and broke ranks to tell the world, would be immediately world famous and incredibly rich, whereas if he kept quiet he’d be just another doctor paying off his student loans. I guess oncologists don’t study game theory.

    Funny how Marg and Judith don’t want to tell the world their “cure” — or at least don’t want to prove it to the world.   

  95. #95 LW
    November 18, 2012

    I hope I’m not commenting too much, but the recent sneering by Judith has really offended me.

    Clearly you have NO experience with cancer patients at the end of their life.

    That’s an awesomely stupid thing to say on a blog run by a surgeon/ scientist specializing in breast cancer.  You think he hasn’t seen cancer patients at the end of life?  Oncologists *don’t* just tell patients to go home and die, and just wash their hands of the matter, Marg and Judith’s fantasies to the contrary not withstanding.  Oncologists remain involved to at least provide palliation if they can.

    And furthermore some of us laymen have experience with cancer patients too.  Like *me* for instance. I was in the room when my stepmother died. I was the last person my grandmother responded to the day before she died (I wasn’t in the room when she died because her children didn’t feel the grandchildren needed to see that).  And both of them had extremely bad prognoses but survived for years (six and ten respectively) thanks to modern medicine. 

    And then Judith comes in here sneering about how much better and more knowledgeable and more caring she is than people who have devoted their lives to saving others from the ravages of cancer and other diseases. What a horrible person.

  96. #96 flip
    November 18, 2012

    Funny how Marg and Judith don’t want to tell the world their “cure” — or at least don’t want to prove it to the world.

    Well no – then they’d also have to share profits and stop being special little snowflakes. As Pixar put it: when everyone is special, no one is.

  97. #97 Denice Walter
    November 18, 2012

    I’m not sure what high church scepticism orders for the dead and dying, but this thread shall soon breathe its last…
    gentlemen, make your statements or give last rites or do whatever is apropo…

  98. #98 Peebs
    Over here and grateful we lost the War of Insurrection.
    November 18, 2012

    Totally off topic but this new blog set up is driving me up the wall.

    I liked to comment and, due to my working hours did it on my mobile (cellphone for the Septics).

    It’s now near on impossible to scroll down and actually loading this site takes longer than to convince Ms McCarthy that she may be misinformed.

  99. #99 Judith
    November 18, 2012

    @LW
    You do realize that that comment was not meant for Orac but for someone who I thought was suggesting chemotherapy to make dying cancer patients feel better? We sorted it out, as it turned out that he did not mean cancer patients who were actually at the very end stage of their disease but cancer patients in earlier stages.

    I realize there is a lot to read here, but I do wish people would read back a little before it before they jump to comment on something.

  100. #100 Judith
    November 18, 2012

    omit “before it”

  101. #101 LW
    November 18, 2012

    You do realize that that comment was not meant for Orac but for someone who I thought was suggesting chemotherapy to make dying cancer patients feel better? We sorted it out, as it turned out that he did not mean cancer patients who were actually at the very end stage of their disease but cancer patients in earlier stages.

    Your insult was addressed to Krebiozen, one of the regulars here who has real medical knowledge which you do not. Whether or not Krebiozen meant “cancer patients in earlier stages” is irrelevant to your completely unwarranted insult. You have no way of knowing whether Krebiozen or anyone else on this thread has experience with cancer patients at the end stage, but you feel free to flaunt your ignorance and insult people like Krebiozen, Orac, and medical personnel in general.

    And yes, I have read this whole thread, and every time I look at your comments I loathe you more.

  102. #102 Judith
    November 18, 2012

    @Denice Walter
    In any good brawl or argument you eventually realize that the epithets the other party is throwing at you apply equally to them.

    @LW
    And you are just plain rude.

  103. #103 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 18, 2012

    In any good brawl or argument you eventually realize that the epithets the other party is throwing at you apply equally to them.

    Thanks for that revealing look into your psyche, Judith. In your mind, an argument that devolves into “I know you are but what am I?” is a good argument? Explains a lot about you.

    In the meantime, present us with rigorously collected data that demonstrates the safety and effectiveness you keep claiming for energy medicine. Oh, what’s that? You don’t collect data in any sort of a rigorous fashion? You in fact refuse to do so? Then you have no grounds on which to criticize those who actually do that hard work which you won’t do because it might ruin your fantasies.

  104. #104 novalox
    November 18, 2012

    @judith

    And you are a certified snake-oil scammer, willing to cheat and kill innocents for money.

    And please, relying on childish insults? You really have to get out more, judith, your insults are pathetic beyond belief.

    But keep posting, the more you post here, the less time you have to scam innocents of their time and money.

  105. #105 LW
    November 18, 2012

    I’m saddened that Judith thinks I’m plain rude. I was going for “deeply offended and quite contemptuous”. Perhaps there’s an emoticon I should have used.

    But I’ll just agree with novalox.

  106. #106 Narad
    November 18, 2012

    And you are just plain rude.

    Beats a mind-numbingly stupid, recycled fraud any day.

  107. #107 novalox
    November 18, 2012

    @LW

    Thanks for the compliment.

    And I really do mean for judith and her incompetent minion marg to keep posting here. At the very least, these two scientific illiterates provide some entertainment value with there inane postings.

    More importantly, it keeps them away from posting their dangerous superstitions to other individuals who are vulnerable and may not know the fraud that these two hucksters are putting on them.

    I’d rather that the rats judith and marg post here where the posters can dismantle their flawed arguments rather than another forum that they can push their fraud onto others. Limits the damage they can do.

  108. #108 Bronze Dog
    November 18, 2012

    Wait, Judith, are you saying that everyone who criticizes anything is a hypocrite? It sounds like a convenient (and misanthropic) psychological defense mechanism that prevents a person like you from being open-minded about criticism. In the real world, some people criticize bad behaviors and refuse to tolerate such behavior in themselves. Some people actually have principles, not that you’d know anything about that.

    Ever considered growing up? Ever considered taking responsibility for your actions and how they continually reinforce the bad image we have of you?

  109. #109 Judith
    November 18, 2012

    My parting gift to you all, since this thread is probably about to shut down.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ5eajLCz

    Shame on you all for this little exercise in trying to shut down dissent and innovative thinking.

  110. #110 THS
    November 19, 2012

    Judith, wrong again. Certainly not innovative thinking. Nothing new and no particular thinking in J.’s fanciful nonsense and egregious insults.
    And I do hope “parting gift” is a final flounce.

  111. #111 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    Shame on you all for this little exercise in trying to shut down dissent and innovative thinking.

    Holy f*ck. Seventeen hundred comments is “shutting down dissent”? Warmed-over Theosophy is “innovative thinking”? Again, perhaps you should look into the correct frequency to hum away asshurt. The Ancient Masters must have this filed away somewhere.

  112. #112 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    My parting gift to you all, since this thread is probably about to shut down.

    Entirely appropriate to depart on the equivalent of a 404, though. Did you make up that hash yourself, or did it mysteriously fall from the ceiling in an envelope, Koot Hoomi–style?

  113. #113 novalox
    November 19, 2012

    @judith

    Thanks for the evidence of your complete idiocy and stupidity.

    Please keep posting, entertaining idiots like you and your minion marg don’t come by often, and we all do need a laugh from someone so incompetent like you.

  114. #114 flip
    I can't believe it's not Marg
    November 19, 2012

    @Peebs

    It could just be this thread. With almost 2k comments, it takes my speedy computer several minutes to load properly.

    @Judith

    Shame on you all for this little exercise in trying to shut down dissent and innovative thinking

    Oh wah – poor little baby is forced to have her freedom of speech trampled on. Because it’s not like you don’t have your own site where you can babble to your heart’s content. Or a million other avenues for speech.

  115. #115 Renate
    November 19, 2012

    @Judith
    You are still allowed to comment here, while sceptics often are not allowed to comment on sites, which are in favor of all kinds of quackery.

    b.t.w. Will we reach the 2,000 mark, before this is closed?

  116. #116 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 19, 2012

    Shame on you all for this little exercise in trying to shut down dissent and innovative thinking.

    There is nothing innovative in saying “Hey, I have this fantasy where I’m an ultra-special miracle worker who knows The Truth and can heal people with my Sooper Sekrit Knowledge! You should believe it despite my failure to provide or even collect evidence!”

    Shame on you for inventing a “shut down the dissent” boogeyman rather than face the fact that you came peddling bull**** and everyone recognized it as such. If it’s not bull**** then show us the rigorously collected data which demonstrates it to be more than a figment of your wishful thinking – OH WAIT, that’s right, you already admitted that YOU DON’T COLLECT DATA. That’s why no one’s buying the hooey you want to sell, not because you’re oppressed.

  117. #118 Lawrence
    November 19, 2012

    @Marg – yes, so rather than work to get more companies involved (perhaps generics) to fill the gaps providing a treatment THAT IS PROVEN TO WORK – you hope that people will have to rely on “hand-waving?”

    You’re funny….and not in a “ha-ha” way either.

  118. #119 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    @Lawrence
    I’m sure cancer patients are not finding it funny either that big pharma is cutting back on making these drugs because they are not profitable. But who knows, they might find out that they do better with handwaving.

  119. #120 Lawrence
    November 19, 2012

    @Marg – any proof of that? Oh yeah, we’ve been asking for proof for about 1800 posts now, and you have offered nothing……

  120. #121 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    @Lawrence
    Or I should say, maybe they will have to rely on handwaving as their drugs become unavailable and new drugs that replace them will probably be prohibitively expensive.

    Big Pharma has to keep generating money to pay all those multibillion dollar fines.

  121. #122 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    Judith lies about who’s shutting down discussion: Judith and Marg are. They are actively censoring themselves by refusing to cite good evidence in favor of energy healing. They’re drowning out the most important talking point by constantly whining about pharmaceutical companies being imperfect, by citing anecdotes in a manner that denies their human capacity for self-deception, and by framing everything in their closed-minded, intolerant black-and-white perspective. They aren’t even listening to our ideas, just knee-jerking at buzzwords. They don’t want the conversation to move forward, they just want a forum for their bigotry.

    They aren’t serious about discussing this matter. They’re patting themselves on the back for emulating their echo chambers.

  122. #123 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    Thought: Maybe Marg and Judith aren’t really energy healers. Maybe they’re just a couple trolls who simply hate pharmaceuticals and only pretend to be energy healers in order to make it look like they have a stake in medicine. Because surely, a real energy healer would have good scientific evidence for its utility right on hand and bookmarked for just such an occasion. I’d expect a fake energy healer to be evasive when we point out that we have no basis for trusting their claims of expertise.

    Sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face. XD

    Energy healers are pretty much like psychics. They probably also lack any sort of method for telling the real ones apart from the fake ones, which leads one to wonder how a psychic can know they’re really psychic instead of fooling themselves.

  123. #124 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    @Bronze Dog
    Above I provided multiple links. You all dismissed them. Only the pharmaceutical companies get a free pass.

  124. #125 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    Marg, what were the reasons given for the dismissals? Would you like to specify a particular link you provided?

    Oh, and newspaper articles aren’t scientific, if you’re referring to that Daily Mail link. Newspapers are notorious for misrepresenting science in the name of sensationalism and “balance” at the cost of fairness and accuracy.

  125. #126 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    No, I provided links to studies.

  126. #127 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    Dare you to watch this to the end:

  127. #128 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    Or I should say, maybe they will have to rely on handwaving as their drugs become unavailable and new drugs that replace them will probably be prohibitively expensive.

    Big Pharma has to keep generating money to pay all those multibillion dollar fines.

    Have you considered the possibility that what’s coming out of your hands is actually your neurons desperately attempting to flee?

  128. #129 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    So, name one study you cited, and block quote the reason given by the people here for dismissing it.

    I don’t like to click YouTube links without at least a general idea what kind of video it links to.

  129. #130 Johnny
    Sittin on top of the world
    November 19, 2012

    Dare you to watch this to the end:

    I don’t like to click YouTube links without at least a general idea what kind of video it links to.

    I’ll tell you what it is – it’s 50 minutes of the same thing Marge has been posting here. Testimonies and claims of scientific validation, but not actually showing any actual science.

    I admit I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I did take about 10 good 1 minute samples out of it, and that’s what I saw.

    However, I may have missed the good bits, so I’ll ask –

    Marge, please tell me where to find what you think is the most important part of the video you linked to.

  130. #131 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    @Johnny
    The scientists who speak about their findings? The doctors who say that their patients have been helped? The patients and caregivers who speak about their results waving their medical records?

  131. #132 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    50 minute video. Yeah, that’d leave me wondering about how much is padding or Gish Galloping. If I was using such a long video to make a point, I’d probably add a link to a transcript, since that’d make it easier to critique, either on a point-by-point basis or to pick out points of emphasis. Failing a transcript, I’d at least give timestamps for the most relevant points. Netiquette matters.

  132. #133 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    Dare you to watch this to the end

    This isn’t a Tupperware party or any other sort of MLM “event,” Marg. In return, I double-dog-dare you to attempt to present the Lagrangian of your “system.”

  133. #134 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    The scientists who speak about their findings? The doctors who say that their patients have been helped? The patients and caregivers who speak about their results waving their medical records?

    Anecdotes don’t have scientific safeguards against human cognitive failings. Anecdotes are generally only useful for generating new hypotheses, not for confirming them. Even if we’re talking medical records of individuals, that moves it up to case studies, but that won’t let us know if their apparent results are typical for the treatment, if other factors might have been involved, or if they were cherry-picked after the fact.

    So, on the first point of scientists showing their findings, how were those findings acquired? What was their methodology?

  134. #135 AdamG
    November 19, 2012

    The scientists who speak about their findings?

    Please point us to where these findings have been published in a peer-reviewed journal. No proper scientist would speak about ‘findings’ that weren’t published or in prep, right?

    The doctors who say that their patients have been helped?

    Again, show us the published clinical results.

    The patients and caregivers who speak about their results waving their medical records?

    All anecdotes. I think you’re the only one doing any ‘waving’ around here.

  135. #136 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    The truth is that the lot of you are so uncomfortable with the notion of something you don’t understand that nothing will change your minds.

  136. #137 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    I believe that the trailer will suffice. Slovenian hand gestures now will cure gangrene in but four days.

  137. #138 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    @Narad
    You are waving around your prejudices and closed mind like a flag.

  138. #139 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    November 19, 2012

    I remember watching some of that video when it was posted in the “reiki for animals” thread. Within the first minute the healer claims he can “cure” cancer and AIDS in three to four days. I switched right over to the Sci-Fi channel for some fantasy fiction done well.

  139. #140 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    The truth is that the lot of you are so uncomfortable with the notion of something you don’t understand that nothing will change your minds.

    Hunnybunny, I think the truth is that you are uncomfortable with the fact that not only are you understood very, very well, you’re not even particularly novel.

  140. #141 AdamG
    November 19, 2012

    The truth is that the lot of you are so uncomfortable with the notion of something you don’t understand that nothing will change your minds.

    The truth is you are so uncomfortable with the idea that you could be wrong that you believe in magical curing powers with no evidence to support it.

    I’m perfectly aware that there are thing’s I don’t understand. I’m happy to be wrong, it means I learn. These are the first things you learn when you embark on a career in science. I suspect you don’t know many scientists…our thought process is not like yours. Every day things that I believe to be true are challenged by actual evidence, and I adapt my models to fit this evidence. If you had presented any actual evidence for your model, I would certainly change my mind.

    The problem is, you assume that our minds work like yours. That our minds are committed to a truth despite evidence to the contrary. It’s pure projection.

  141. #142 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    @Narad
    More evidence of your fear?

  142. #143 Alain
    November 19, 2012

    @ Marg,

    Judith did not answer my question. Would you answer it please: Do you have any evidence that reiki can relieve depression?

    Alain

  143. #144 Krebiozen
    November 19, 2012

    I think that’s the video of which Orac wrote:

    As for that video, well, that was hilarious. That guy Zdenko Domancic is the classic snake oil salesman using testimonials. The guy with the hepatitis C is most ridiculous. He had a false positive, and his followup test was negative. So what?

  144. #145 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    You are waving around your prejudices and closed mind like a flag.

    I have asked you repeatedly for the teleology of the hands, Marg, and you have never failed to… well, fail. I assure you that if I’m going to be waving something in your general direction, it’s not going to be a flag.

  145. #146 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    More evidence of your fear?

    Where’s the Lagrangian, Pancakes?

  146. #147 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    November 19, 2012

    I’ve only been browsing these comments but did either Marge or Judith ever answer when asked point blank if there was any evidence or anything that would ever change their minds?

  147. #148 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    @Narad
    With the Broddingnagians, natch, Snuggles.

  148. #149 Marg
    November 19, 2012

    “Brobdingnagians”

    Hell of a word to type.

  149. #150 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    So, we point out the inherent flaws in testimonials, how they can lead to self-deception, and thus why they aren’t acceptable as scientific evidence. Then Marg goes back to the panicked knee-jerk response of calling us closed-minded because we dared to point out the mere possibility of an alternative explanation for the results.

    The accusation of us being uncomfortable is quite amusing because quite frankly, testimonials for quackery are well within our range of expectation because we know that humans are varied, there are a lot of humans, and thus some are going to have lucky beneficial outcomes despite ineffective treatment that are then favored by selection bias when quacks fish for testimonials. Confirmation bias is also common. These good outcomes are only unexpected if you assume humans and cases of illness are homogenous. We do not subscribe to those assumptions. We’re population thinkers, and statistical outliers aren’t extraordinary, and they aren’t proof of anything when isolated from the larger context.

    Marg, it’s the unexpected that’s supposed to be uncomfortable, not the mundane. But then again, like Judith, you seem uncomfortable with the very idea of your mundane humanity.

  150. #151 AdamG
    November 19, 2012

    But then again, like Judith, you seem uncomfortable with the very idea of your mundane humanity.

    Ultimately, i think this is what it boils down to. The 2 ideas ‘I can heal people with mystical energy, and have accepted money for this service’ and ‘there is no such thing as mystical healing energy, and no study has even shown that mystical energy can heal people’ are incompatible. But because Marg’s self-worth is so intimately tied to the second idea, her own cognitive dissonance prevents her from seeing the bigger picture and drawing rational conclusions.

    What i don’t understand is why Marg feels her thought process is any different from the other denialists featured on this site…chelation therapists, acupuncturists, AIDS / germ theory denialists, antivaxxers all engage in exactly the same tactics and thought processes as Marg. Does she believe in all these too? After all, if she’s willing to accept anecdotes as evidence for energy healing, why not for ‘vaccine injury’ too?

    Do you believe vaccines cause autism, Marg? If not, how can you discount the anecdotes of the parents who claim vaccines injured their children?

  151. #152 AdamG
    November 19, 2012

    …that should read “intimately tied to the first idea”

  152. #153 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    What i don’t understand is why Marg feels her thought process is any different from the other denialists featured on this site…chelation therapists, acupuncturists, AIDS / germ theory denialists[….]

    There’s no point in being an HIV denialist if you suspect there might be a buck to be leeched off the gig.

  153. #154 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 19, 2012

    Marg,

    The truth is that the lot of you are so uncomfortable with the notion of something you don’t understand that nothing will change your minds.

    I’m saddened to see that you’ve so completely misunderstood what’s happened here.

    I, for one, would be perfectly happy to be shown that by wishing manipulating energy fields with my mind and hands alone I could improve health, cure disease, turn water into Scotch, or what have you. So far the evidence I’ve been shown boils down to:
    – failed experiments (results indistinguishable from no action)
    – possibly interesting single cases of recovery that are well within the normal range of the progression of disease
    – testimonials, anecdotes, and other takes not backed by good solid data.

    As you no doubt know, it’s quite easy to find patterns in randomness. Gamblers have winning streaks which they often attribute to skill or some lucky charm. Sports fans act as though, somehow, what they wear on game day can affect the team’s performance. People see faces in clouds, mountains, pancakes, toast, and patterns of lichen that they attribute to spirits. deities, or demons. That’s why science relies on techniques as statistics, repeatable controlled experiments, and calculation.

    Yes, it’s hard to do the work needed to get real evidence that something works. You can’t just say “I willed the coin to come up heads 10 times in a row and it did – that’s so mindbogglingly unlikely to have happened by accident that there must be a connection.” You need to be able to show that chance alone did not cause the results you’re seeing – and that you’re not using a trick coin.

    So, Marg, Judith, whoever – get some real data. Do it with suitable controls. Come up with just one thing that you can show repeatably that energy healing will cure better than placebo energy healing. Do it so that you can show that the people involved didn’t just imagine it and treat noise as signal.

    Please.

    Thank you for reading this message.

  154. #155 Alain
    November 19, 2012

    Quote MO’B

    Please.

    Dream on…Hell’s gonna freeze over before they consider the scientific method.

    Alain

  155. #156 JGC
    November 19, 2012

    The truth is that the lot of you are so uncomfortable with the notion of something you don’t understand that nothing will change your minds.

    Marg, my mind is ready and willing to be changed–I’d love to be convinced that there’s a cheap, non-invasive, cure for cancer that’s without side effects. The problem isn’t that we have minds incapable of change but that you’ve offered nothing in the way of evidence indicating a need they be changed.

    You want to change our minds? Provide actual evidence that energy healing does heal people. That’s hardly asking for much, if energy healing really does work as you claim.

  156. #157 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    Actually, AdamG, I was mostly talking about their mundane humanity in the sense of viewing themselves as error-prone. Humans are subject to confirmation bias, post hoc fallacies, faulty memories, motivated thinking, regressive fallacies, tribalism, and so on and so on and so on. Scientific methodology is necessary because we know that we’re subject to those problems. We acknowledge our human limitations, which is why we demand the scientific approach.

    Marg and Judith, however, don’t see themselves as mere humans. They see themselves as godlike beings who only see things as they are because they’re inherently objective and infallible as well as possessing a supernatural sense of causation, able to pick out the real cause of a change from the many, many possible factors, both known and unknown. They think they can see a handful of cherry-picked cases and draw conclusions from them because they don’t acknowledge their humanity.

  157. #158 Alain
    November 19, 2012

    Dear Marg,

    Since you view me as a closed-minded scientist, I’ll provide that piece of evidence for you: I have tried reiki not too long ago and the reiki practicioner tested me to see if I had an open mind before going further (which I had).

    Now as an exercise (exercice? I’m a French speaking guy), I’d like you to tell me if reiki relieve depression. Okay? In the mean time, I’ll go wash the dish while enjoying two IPA classic from the Simple Malt brewery or even better, you tell me how much time do you need to answer my question and I’ll patiently wait for you 🙂

    In exchange, I’ll give you my conclusion on the reiki session.

    Deal?

    Alain

  158. #159 S
    November 19, 2012

    Marg: November 19, 2012

    Dare you to watch this to the end:

    Watching even the first few minutes of this video makes me feel like a witness to attempted manslaughter.
    One of the comments on this YouTube video is as follows. It is the typical excuse (blame) given to patients.

    “That won’t necessarily mean it doesn’t work. Its possible the person needs something else. Perhaps they are holding onto something emotional (which if is their choice they won’t let go) and that is causing their problem.”

    When the energy and other treatments don’t work, the patient is faulted for their holding on to their bad energy. Apparently, one patient’s bad energy can trump the doctor’s and universe’s good energy.

  159. #160 S
    November 19, 2012

    I have tried reiki not too long ago and the reiki practicioner tested me to see if I had an open mind before going further (which I had).

    @Alain, my understanding is that the practitioner is asking your energetic being for permission to enter your energy field, prior to their beginning the session. This is the similar to the NAET and other energy treatments. It is not the same as their testing you to see if you have an open mind.

    The patient is prepped with a statement explaining that even if the patient perceives that their mind is open to the treatments, their energy and karma may not be ready to receive the healing. This way, when the treatments inevitably fail, the Healer can blame the patient for the failure, instead of the treatment.

  160. #161 Alain
    November 19, 2012

    @ S,

    What about spirit eating energy out of me?

    Alain

    p.s. you can guess where the reiki session went.

  161. #162 thenewme
    November 19, 2012

    Of course Judith/Marg isn’t going to provide any real evidence of her “healing” abilities. Why would she bother when she can continue scamming patients just fine without any evidence?

    In the absence of a conscience or successful lawsuit, there’s absolutely nothing stopping her murderous fraud.

    Remind me again, which specific business is Marg/Judith affiliated with? Is it BioEnergy com or Toronto BioEnergy Associates or…?

  162. #163 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    The big problem is that they don’t know what constitutes good evidence, otherwise they’d stop trying to pass testimonials off as such.

  163. #164 thenewme
    November 19, 2012

    Hmmm. I think they actually *do* know what constitutes good evidence. They just don’t give a damn.

    Why voluntarily subject your woo-business to needless and bothersome restrictions? It’s so much easier and financially beneficial to just market your crap directly to your target audience.

    I’ll bet Marg/Judith actively promote their woo via online patient support groups.

  164. #165 Bronze Dog
    November 19, 2012

    I’m sliding between the idea that they’re Ayn Randian cronies who want to undermine consumer protection measures for the sake of profit, or they’ve been indoctrinated into spouting those sorts of memes reflexively.

  165. #166 Militant Agnostic
    In the middle of the road setting the toe in on my old Volvo because the garage is full of crap.
    November 19, 2012

    @alain

    p.s. you can guess where the reiki session went.

    Straight to the first/base Chakra?

  166. #167 thenewme
    November 19, 2012

    From what I’ve seen from their type on the breast cancer support forum I visit, I think unfettered profit is absolutely their motive. If it were simply an indoctrination reflex, then surely (?!) they’d show signs of “coming around,” given that they’re often apparently relatively intelligent people.

    I think of it as the Judge Judy test. Is it more likely that they’re intelligent and reasonable people who legitimately believe in magic despite all evidence to the contrary, or that they’re simply con artists out to make a buck? Ayn Rand, indeed.

  167. #168 Krebiozen
    Almost at 200 comments
    November 19, 2012

    thenewme,

    Is it more likely that they’re intelligent and reasonable people who legitimately believe in magic despite all evidence to the contrary, or that they’re simply con artists out to make a buck?

    I think the former is more likely, but then again I have been accused of having an unrealistically optimistic view of human nature. I like to look at Benjamin Rush who was convinced, from his own personal experience, that bloodletting was beneficial, even though we now know that it actually weakened and killed his patients. I think that confirmation bias, and a belief that all the unpleasant symptoms they have observed in cancer patients are caused by the treatment, not the cancer, is enough to explain where Marg and Judith are coming from.

    If an intelligent man like Rush could believe an actively damaging treatment was doing his patients good, I think it is entirely possible for energy healers (homeopaths et al.) to believe they are curing patients when the truth is they are at best offering a few minutes of human companionship and attention.

    That said, I do still find it weird that in the 21st century we still have literate people in the developed world insisting that magic is real.

  168. #169 LW
    November 19, 2012

    Energy healers are pretty much like psychics. They probably also lack any sort of method for telling the real ones apart from the fake ones, which leads one to wonder how a psychic can know they’re really psychic instead of fooling themselves.

    Many “psychics” really don’t know. Randi mentioned in one of his books that many people who tried to win his prize were not charlatans but genuinely believed they could do it. It was quite a crushing blow when they learned that they could not and had simply been fooling themselves.

  169. #170 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    Remind me again, which specific business is Marg/Judith affiliated with? Is it BioEnergy com or Toronto BioEnergy Associates or…?

    I’ve refrained from the inclination to SEO the gig, but Judith is Toronto Bioenergy Associates. Marg appears to be a nobody of the first water, and I suspect that her fellow travelers share the sentiment.

  170. #171 AdamG
    November 19, 2012

    Is it more likely that they’re intelligent and reasonable people who legitimately believe in magic despite all evidence to the contrary, or that they’re simply con artists out to make a buck?

    Interestingly, i think we’ve got one of each here. I think Marg is True Believer, based on her staunch defenses of Bengston and willingness to at least discuss some specifics of the ‘experiments’ and ‘evidence’ behind energy healing earlier in the thread.

    I think Judith, however, is a classic con artist. Notice how she doesn’t even bother to respond to or defend claims that relaxation from reiki is not due to the actual energy, instead choosing to go on about the purported failings of chemotherapy instead.

    It’s a classic con artist maneuver: instead of trying to defend what you know is a lie, cast doubt on the opposing side. Poor Marg, however, has bought the story hook, line, and sinker, and spins around in circles of dissonance trying to avoid the truth.

  171. #172 thenewme
    November 19, 2012

    @Krebiozen,
    You’ve no doubt had a much broader exposure to it than I have, but I also think you give them more credit than they deserve. IMO, the willful ignorance in favor of financial gain is the key thing that separates “quacks” from misguided consumers.

    My experience is from a cancer patient perspective and participation in several online patient forums over the past few years. In nearly every instance on those forums, it has turned out that they just *happen* to have a business selling supplements, treatments, therapies, or other woo-services. Seriously, on BCO for example, every cancer treatment quack I’ve encountered turns out to be a woo peddler of some sort.

    Of course I’m not talking about patients or interested people who ask questions or investigate or even fall for woo and quackery. And I’m sure there must be a few woo believers who aren’t financially vested, but here I’m only referring to the really loud, persistent, arrogant, and EVIL monsters like these we’re discussing, who claim to have The Cure and market directly to the desperate and gullible.

    I’d love to believe that your vision of human nature is closer to reality than mine. Maybe I’m hopelessly jaded.

  172. #173 thenewme
    November 19, 2012

    @Narad, I dunno. Is this type of SEO necessarily a bad thing?

    @AdamG, as I mentioned, I may be hopelessly jaded, but I’d wager that if we looked further, we’d find that Marg is indeed just as much of a con artist as Judith, with financial stakes involved.

  173. #174 LW
    November 19, 2012

    You know, this all started with Bengston, who can heal mice of cancer — the tumors disappear — without seeing them or being within miles of them.

    It seems to me that one ought to be able to set up a completely ethical clinical trial of this. That is, a busy oncology practice makes this proposal to its sadly terminal patients: we want to test whether Bengston can cure you by waving his hands and thinking happy thoughts, so, if you consent to this … procedure … we’ll make an appointment for you next week. When you come in the waiting room, our receptionist will call Bengston and alert him to your presence without identifying you in any way, just that you’re a patient and present. If your tumor has disappeared in one month — complete remission — we’ll count that as success, otherwise failure. And we’ll consider Bengston to have succeeded in this trial if over half the patients “treated” are successes.  We’ll have an agreed third party oncologist do the exam in one month, so there won’t be a question of prejudice.

    It seems to me that we have informed consent, privacy protection, no possible harm to the patient, and a clear endpoint not very susceptible to various forms of bias, placebo effects, or whatever, so lack of blinding doesn’t seem like a big problem.  We don’t have a control group, but those don’t work with Bengston anyway, and in this case success is extremely unlikely to occur by chance. Also, it would be difficult to cherry-pick patients to prejudice the trial either way.  And such a trial would be very inexpensive, as such things go.

    I wonder why Bengston and his ilk haven’t proposed such a trial.     

  174. #175 Alain
    November 19, 2012

    Straight to the first/base Chakra?

    If that mean nowhere, yup.

    Alain

  175. #176 AdamG
    November 19, 2012

    I wonder why Bengston and his ilk haven’t proposed such a trial.

    I’m guessing the answer involves Geomagnetic Probes.

  176. #177 Krebiozen
    November 19, 2012

    LW,

    It was quite a crushing blow when they learned that they could not and had simply been fooling themselves.

    There are some interesting videos on YouTube of dowsing being subjected to a double blind test, for example here. When, inevitably, the dowsers fail, they are surprised but it doesn’t dent their confidence in their abilities in the slightest.

    Also,

    I wonder why Bengston and his ilk haven’t proposed such a trial.

    Bengston claims that conventional treatment interferes with his energy healing treatment, so it is impossible to test his claims with a randomized trial ethically. You could have a self-selected group that was willing to reject conventional treatment, but that would introduce biases and would also be unethical.

  177. #178 LW
    November 19, 2012

    Ah, the inevitable out. You must choose either handwaving or real medicine, but not both.

    On the other hand, if the patient is near death, they’re not getting any more conventional treatment, except of course the pain relief that alt-meddlers would deny, so Bengston should be able to heal them at that point. But he won’t accept that challenge, of course.

  178. #179 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    Bengston claims that conventional treatment interferes with his energy healing treatment

    Because it involves record-keeping? This is not purely in jest; Bengston also claims that the Ponderomotive Energization, while functioning with terrifying power against cancer, cannot be expected to and does not in fact cure warts, so the explanations for these distinctions are of interest.

  179. #180 LW
    November 19, 2012

    When, inevitably, the dowsers fail, they are surprised but it doesn’t dent their confidence in their abilities in the slightest.

    True, failure wasn’t always a crushing blow. But it was for some. I wonder if dowsers are particularly resilient since they have had so many successes (if you drill deep enough, you’ll probably hit some kind of water, though it may not be potable).

  180. #181 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 19, 2012

    @LW – If Bengston were to remain true to form, the treated patients and the control patients would become entangled, with equal results in both groups.

    Note this is not necessarily the same entanglement one sees when playing Twister.

  181. #182 Narad
    November 19, 2012

    I wonder if dowsers are particularly resilient since they have had so many successes (if you drill deep enough, you’ll probably hit some kind of water, though it may not be potable).

    I would note that dowsing, in the form of pendulums, is also used as a diagnostic method in homeopathic practice. The results are about what one would expect.

  182. #183 Judith
    November 19, 2012

    @LW
    Bengston would have to know who he is treating and have a photograph of the person. The scenario of the anonymous patient in the physician’s waiting room would not work. Also, by the time the physician consented to such a scenario, the patient would have to have been riddled with chemo and radiation, and be more or less beyond help, and Bengston says his method doesn’t work with patients who have received chemo or radiation.

    Back to the drawing board.

  183. #184 Narad
    November 20, 2012

    Bengston would have to know who he is treating and have a photograph of the person.

    Why? Seriously, what could possibly be the explanation for the Cosmic Healing Vibrator being mediated by photographic emulsion? The blind cannot Hum The Distance Electric?

  184. #185 Militant Agnostic
    November 20, 2012

    the Ponderomotive Energization

    Formerly known as the Bonanza Speed Shop

    @LW

    (if you drill deep enough, you’ll probably hit some kind of water, though it may not be potable)

    Not probably – certainly. The is an ironic saying in the oil patch that all “dry holes” are actually wet (because all the permeable formations were full of water).

    @LW

    I wonder why Bengston and his ilk haven’t proposed such a trial.

    I would be more impressed if he could turn his cloud busting energies to power generation. I did a quick calculation for a cumulus cloud at the top of thermal from a quarter section summer fallow field (a half mile by a half mile.

    Assuming the thermal results from a cube of air the size of the field (approximately 800m a side = 512 10^6 m3) and the cloud forms at 10 C (Water vapor pressure = 1.20 kPa), the ideal gas law gives us 261000 kg mol of water (4700 tonnes). The heat of vaporization of water is about 44.5 MJ/kg mol. This means the Bengston is expending 11,600 GJ to vaporize the cloud. This equivalent to burning 430 tonnes of anthracite coal. If he can do this every 15 minutes his power output is 12.9 Gigawatts. Even allowing for 25% efficiency and much smaller clouds, he should give up on healing and get to work on solving AGW.

  185. #186 Militant Agnostic
    In a state of stuned disbelief with Philly Joe Remarkable
    November 20, 2012

    @narad

    Why? Seriously, what could possibly be the explanation for the Cosmic Healing Vibrator being mediated by photographic emulsion? The blind cannot Hum The Distance Electric?

    I wonder if a digital photograph would work?

    I have seen William Lee Rand send a Reiki Treatment through his eyes via a DVD. I think there is no claim so preposterous that a Reiki Master hasn’t made it.

  186. #187 Narad
    November 20, 2012

    And everything looks worse in black and white

  187. #188 Militant Agnostic
    November 20, 2012

    And from William Lee Rand’s website, this waiver (bolding mine).

    I understand that Reiki is a simple, gentle, hands-on energy technique that is used for stress reduction and relaxation. I understand that Reiki practitioners do not diagnose conditions nor do they prescribe or perform medical treatment, prescribe substances, nor interfere with the treatment of a licensed medical professional. I understand that Reiki does not take the place of medical care. It is recommended that I see a licensed physician or licensed health care professional for any physical or psychological aliment I may have. I understand that Reiki can complement any medical or psychological care I may be receiving. I also understand that the body has the ability to heal itself and to do so, complete relaxation is often beneficial. I acknowledge that long term imbalances in the body sometimes require multiple sessions in order to facilitate the level of relaxation needed by the body to heal itself.

    Rather different than what Marg and Judith are claiming and advocating. However, Mr Rand also has this document on his website:

    This article, written by an attorney specializing in the field of alternative/complementary health rights, is valuable to anyone wanting to use the religious or spiritual defense to protect themselves from being prosecuted for the practice of medicine without a license. This lengthily, in-depth article indicates that becoming a minister does not guarantee freedom from prosecution.

    A slippery eel indeed.

  188. #189 AdamG
    November 20, 2012

    Would Bengston’s method work on an individual if Bengston only had a photo of his or her identical twin?

  189. #190 Narad
    November 20, 2012

    I also understand that the body has the ability to heal itself and to do so, complete relaxation is often beneficial.

    What’s the ED vernacular for opiate overdoses? “Pulmonary indifference,” or some such nod to thorough relaxation, as I recall.

  190. #191 Militant Agnostic
    November 20, 2012

    What would happen if the photo was printed from a flipped negative? Would the healing energy go to the wrong side of the body? How recent does the photograph have to be?

  191. #192 Alain
    November 20, 2012
  192. #193 flip
    I can't believe it's not Marg
    November 20, 2012

    @Renate

    b.t.w. Will we reach the 2,000 mark, before this is closed?

    Yes.

    Because this evidently needs to be repeated ad naseum (thanks Antaeus)

    Shame on you for inventing a “shut down the dissent” boogeyman rather than face the fact that you came peddling bull**** and everyone recognized it as such. If it’s not bull**** then show us the rigorously collected data which demonstrates it to be more than a figment of your wishful thinking – OH WAIT, that’s right, you already admitted that YOU DON’T COLLECT DATA. That’s why no one’s buying the hooey you want to sell, not because you’re oppressed.

    @Judith

    Bengston would have to know who he is treating and have a photograph of the person. The scenario of the anonymous patient in the physician’s waiting room would not work.

    In other words it doesn’t work without cold reading involved. Hmm, wonder if Emily Rosa would be relevant here… oh yes, you guys love to ignore her study, don’t you?

  193. #194 flip
    Maybe she's jealous of Judith for hogging the spotlight...
    November 20, 2012

    @Marg

    I’m sure cancer patients are not finding it funny either that big pharma is cutting back on making these drugs because they are not profitable. But who knows, they might find out that they do better with handwaving.

    and

    Big Pharma has to keep generating money to pay all those multibillion dollar fines.

    Someone’s logic is in a knot: first it’s “Big Pharma profits” and then it’s “cancer treatments aren’t profitable”. Make up your mind.

    Sheesh, it’s a wonder anyone falls for the crap Marg spouts at all, a five year old could see through the holes in her arguments.

    No, I provided links to studies.

    Which were resoundingly shown to be full of problems. Instead of providing rebuttals or better evidence, you resorted to logical fallacies. It’s not our fault if we have higher standards for evidence than you do – your standard is apparently postmodernistic “I believe, therefore it is” crap. Also, pharma hasn’t gotten a free pass, it’s just you keep inventing strawmen whereas pretty much everyone has said something akin to “SBM isn’t perfect, but it improves over time”. If it’s not black and white, you refuse to see it.

    The scientists who speak about their findings? The doctors who say that their patients have been helped? The patients and caregivers who speak about their results waving their medical records?

    AKA anecdotes.

    The truth is that the lot of you are so uncomfortable with the notion of something you don’t understand that nothing will change your minds.

    If you posted actual evidence I might be inclined to change my mind. If you posted lots of evidence I’d change my mind. But that doesn’t fit your worldview, so you continue to ignore it and pretend we’re the ones with issues. The only thing I’m uncomfortable with is the fact that you expect that we’re supposed to just take your word for it. (Or: what MOB said) I’ll remind you that I previously posted I’d tried qi gong, and it’s only in looking for evidence that I changed my mind about it – ie, the lack of evidence (and effects) turned me away from it.

    But my FSM, this has all been said a billionty times before on this thread. Why we expect it to be hammered home this time around is beyond me. You really need a universe-sized clue bat to the head, don’t you?

    I repeat:

    Yet another tour of distractions away from the fact that MARG, the contemptible purse-snatcher of science, HAS NO EVIDENCE THAT ENERGY HEALING WORKS.

    And resorts to creationism tactics of attacking X in the hope that it proves Y. And is a classic crank.

    That is my summation.

  194. #195 Alain
    helping meet the 2k mar(g)k
    November 20, 2012

    You know @ Flip, neighter will answer my question because they have no clue why reiki didn’t work on me.

    Alain

  195. #196 Krebiozen
    November 20, 2012

    (if you drill deep enough, you’ll probably hit some kind of water, though it may not be potable).

    Similarly, half of all cancer patients will live longer than predicted, and if you treat enough you will come across some that live a lot longer than predicted.

    Also, by the time the physician consented to such a scenario, the patient would have to have been riddled with chemo and radiation, and be more or less beyond help,

    How can anyone be “riddled with chemo and radiation”? Anyway, it’s not a physician who has to approve such a trial, it’s an institutional review board, or in the UK an ethics committee. Leaving a terminal cancer patient untreated, or treated only with handwaving, is considered unethical and contravenes several articles of the Declaration of Helsinki. For example it is essential that, “the physician has good reason to believe that participation in the research study will not adversely affect the health of the patients who serve as research subjects”. That’s why the Gonzalez trial, as instructive as the results are, should never have been carried out.

    and Bengston says his method doesn’t work with patients who have received chemo or radiation.

    I wonder if Narad is on to something. It is far too easy to prove that Bengston’s treatment doesn’t work for warts, but when he treats cancer patients who have had surgery but no chemotherapy or radiotherapy he can take the credit for the effects of the surgery, which is responsible for the great majority of the efficacy of cancer treatments of solid tumors. He can then point out that the (surgery-cured) patient had no chemotherapy or radiotherapy, so his treatment must have been responsible for any improvements. I’m sure that impresses the ignorant.

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