Yesterday, I wrote about an antivaccine “march on Washington.” As is often the case with antivaccine rhetoric, if you listened to the people organizing the conference and planning to speak there, you’d think that they were fighting an apocalyptic battle for the very future of the human race. Certainly, Kent Heckenlively seems to think so. I’m not going to write about this march again, at least not today. It’s too soon. I don’t know how ridiculous, how pathetic it was, mainly because, as I write this, it hasn’t happened yet. What I can write about is something I came across while researching yesterday’s post that has to be up there on the list of the most ridiculous things ever written about vaccines. Not surprisingly, I came across it on Patrick “Tim” Bolen’s website, as I perused Kent Heckenlively’s all caps rant in which he compared himself to Nelson Mandela.

Oddly enough, the post that attracted my attention was not written by Heckenlively, though. It was written by someone I’ve never heard of named Elissa Meininger, who bills herself as a “health policy analyst,” and it encompasses some serious, serious woo. Meininger seems to be a writer of some sort who bills herself as “fighting for health freedom.” Now she’s writing for Patrick “Tim” Bolen’s blog, which is about as far down the food chain as you can go, with the possible exception of writing for Mike Adams. No, it’s even lower than Mike Adams. Adams has a lot more traffic and, as batshit nuts as he is, at least his website has better design. Of course, both are so bad that it doesn’t really matter. Be that as it may, the title of the article is Is This The End Of Vaccines?, and if there’s any headline for which Betteridge’s Law applies, it’s this one. After asking whether vaccines are the best way to deal with infectious diseases, Meininger proclaims that “vaccines have never been the safest and the best way to deal with epidemic diseases,” which is, of course, a bit of a straw man and untrue as well. Vaccines are a major tool—and one of the most powerful—to deal with epidemic diseases, but it’s not the only tool.

You know that you’re in for some hard core woo when Meininger cites Rupert Sheldrake, a populizer (I refuse to call him an “investigator” or scientist) if paranormal phenomena, as having pointed out the “scientific truths” of today, mainly as a prelude to attacking them for rooting science in the material. Of course, where else should science be rooted, but in the material? I’m not sure that these ten “core beliefs” really are “core beliefs,” but, even as distorted as some of them are in Meininger’s hands (via Sheldrake), it is true that science is based on them. For instance:

5. All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.

Well, yes. There’s no evidence that inheritance works by any other method than the material. Genes are material. Epigenetic mechanisms are material. What else could possibly carry the information necessary for biological inheritance? You get the idea. Meininger, like Sheldrake, doesn’t like science’s concentration on the material because they want to believe in the immaterial. For example:

1. Everything Is essentially mechanical. Dogs, for example, are complex mechanisms, rather than living organisms with goals of their own. Even people are machines, “lumbering robots,” in Richard Dawkins’s vivid phrase, with brains that are like genetically programmed computers.

You can tell from this passage that the complaint isn’t so much that everything is essentially mechanical, but the objection to the implications of such a view, which science generally supports, that there are physical explanations for natural phenomena like consciousness. Human beings don’t like accepting the fact that we are biological creatures and that our consciousness derives from the function of our brains and not some other magical mystical other mechanism that infuses our meat with thought and consciousness from…somewhere. Such concepts go against our exalted view of humans as being somehow apart from other animals, even though we are just animals ourselves. Personally, even when I was a religious Catholic, I had a hard time understanding just what was so horrible about being a part of the natural order, an animal like any other, even though we have complex language, self-awareness, and complex language.

What people like Sheldrake and Meininger really object to are the last three:

8. Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
9. Unexplained phenomena such as telepathy are illusory.
10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.

That all of these are true drives people who believe in woo crazy.

Now, here’s the funny part. Meininger is basically arguing that homeopathy is much better than vaccines, as you will see. She starts out by going back to Franz Mesmer. I kid you not. She references Mesmerism, which encompassed the belief that there was an invisible magnetic “fluid” that flowed throughout nature and that, when there were imbalances in this “fluid” disease resulted. Mesmer called this “fluid” “animal magnetism” and his techniques “magnetic healing”. Naturally, Meininger paints the rejection of Mesmer’s views as a grand conspiracy. Same as it ever was:

Naturally, the-powers-that-be needed to stop him, particularly because Queen Marie Antoinette was one of his most ardent supporters and King Louis XIV was not too pleased. In addition, Mesmer was the toast of pre-Revolutionary War Paris with associates suspected of being political agitators.

King Louis XIV convened a commission of “elite” scientists and medical experts to take a secret look at what Mesmer was talking about. As they were all philosophically committed to believing the world was a predictable, material, tangible system measurable by long-believed standards of measurement, they were hoping to find something they could measure. Since this “fluid” was invisible and not of the material world, they declared Mesmer a quack. That there were thousands who claimed they had been healed by his methods, didn’t count. Anecdotal information is not considered scientific evidence then or now by the standards of the “elite” “experts”. Mesmer became a laughing stock in the press so he left Paris.

After the Revolution, the Academy of Berlin formally acknowledged the validity of Mesmer’s ideas and invited him to Berlin but he chose to stay in Switzerland where he died In 1815.

I’m not sure where Meininger got the idea that the Academy of Berlin formally acknowledged the validity of Mesmer’s ideas. What I got from my research was conflicting. The Academy of Berlin did acknowledge Mesmer’s ideas and asked him to move to Berlin, something he didn’t want to do because he was quite old at the time and not too keen to do so.

Mesmer, as important as he was to the history of the paranormal, is not the main focus, though. The One Quackery To Rule Them All (homeopathy) is:

German allopath, Samuel Hahnemann had read about Mesmer’s work and it had provided the spark of an idea that turned into the philosophy and development of homeopathy. Hahnemann understood Mesmer’s idea about a universal energy that flowed through the universe and through people as well. He decided to call this energy the “vital force”. Like Mesmer, Hahnemann saw that if this vital force was disturbed, a person could become ill and if he could develop medicines that were able to restore normal flow of this energy, the patient could be restored to health.

For the record, the Chinese call it Qi, the Ayurvedic doctors of India call it Prana. 20th Century quantum physicists Max Planck and Albert Einstein called this field of energy “The Matrix” and both of them acknowledged that a greater mind had created it, thus confirming a spiritual dimension to its existence in modern times.

You can see why people like Sheldrake and Meininger don’t like current science. You can also see how she tortures quantum mechanics, as quacks are wont to do, to try to make it sound as though modern physics supports her prescientific vitalism. Notice how she conflates Max Planck’s and Albert Einstein’s spiritual beliefs with their scientific findings. Let’s just put it this way. Planck might well have believed that “religion and natural science require a belief in God,” but just because he was Max Planck doesn’t mean that he was correct.

Homeopathy quacksFinally, we get to homeopathy. You knew that homeopathy was coming, didn’t you? Based on the defense of vitalism and how vitalism infused Samuel Hahnemann’s fever dream that turned into homeopathy, it didn’t take too long into the article before I knew that this would probably be about homeopathy, but first Meininger has to invoke Dr. Benjamin Rush’s famous statement, “To restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others will constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic and have no place in a republic.” It’s a statement that was seriously wrong-headed, although in the 1700s it might be somewhat defensible given how little was known about medicine. 200+ years later, it’s an idiotic statement. Then, of course, she invokes—who else?—Thomas Jefferson, to do what people love to do with the Founding Fathers and claim that they would be “appalled to find the medical monopoly we have in America today.” Of course, no one really knows what the Founding Fathers would think of today’s medicine. They’d probably think it was miraculous, because physicians in the 1700s had little other than basic surgery, herbal medicines, bleeding, purging, and toxic heavy metal tinctures in their armamentarium.

Which brings us to homeopathy.

The rest of the article is basically an argument that homeopathy is better than vaccines for the control of contagious disease but has been covered up because of the evils of big pharma trying to find medicines and vaccines that could be patented:

Meanwhile, the scientific “elite” were toiling in their laboratories and the big news of the day was that Louis Pasteur of France and Robert Koch of Germany were studying microbes to figure out how to invent patentable vaccines to kill them. This lab work gave all the “elites” an opportunity to talk endlessly about their “fanciful biochemical theories” and which of the germ theories was their favorite. Chemical companies started perking up their ears as the prospect of patentable drug products that could spell major profits and international trade. The public was entertained in the front pages of the press across Europe about all the excitement.

And, of course, Pasteur and Koch were in on the conspiracy to suppress homeopathy. Claiming that both “Pasteur and Koch were well aware of Homeopathy’s major successes,” Meininger lays down this major bit of revisionist history:

Consequently, each, in his own way, developed vaccines that were material in nature so they could be patented using what they thought were homeopathic principles. Problem was, homeopathy is an energy medicine and its healing qualities are based on Mesmer’s idea that it’s the vibrations that matter. They are non-toxic in nature unlike the allopathic vaccines, which had and still have all sorts of material ingredients that can cause harm. In addition, homeopathy, as a practice is focused on strengthening the person’s entire body and spirit, and not in the business of trying to kill germs.

Homeopaths frequently claim that vaccines are based on “homeopathic principles.” This is utter nonsense. Homeopathy, being The One Quackery To Rule Them All, posits two pseudoscientific principles. The first is the Law of Similars, which states that, to relieve symptoms, you should administer something that causes those symptoms. There is no scientific basis for this as a general principle—or even in the vast majority of individual diseases or symptoms. The second is the Law of Infinitesimals, which states that diluting a remedy makes it stronger. So homeopaths take whatever tincture they’re using and serially dilute it, usually by factors of 100, represented as “C.” To a typical 30C homeopathic dilution is in reality a 10030, or 1060 dilution. Given that Avogadro’s number is roughly 6 x 1023, the chances that a single molecule of original substance remains after a 30C dilution is very small, other than carryover contamination on the glassware.

Now come the claims frequently used by homeopaths that homeopathy did so much better in epidemics of infectious disease, for instance, in a cholera epidemic in England in 1854:

The first report stated that under allopathic care, the mortality rate was 59.2%. When a member of the House of Lords asked why no homeopathic figures were included, the answer was that such information would “skew the results”. It turned out the homeopathic rate was only 9%.

Of course, I’ve frequently pointed out that “conventional” medicine in the 1800s and before was frequently toxic and ineffective and suggested that part of the reason that homeopathy seemed to do better at the time was that, for some conditions, doing nothing (which is all that homeopathy is) really was better than conventional medicines of the time, which, even though bloodletting was on the wane by then, still relied on purgatives, toxic metals like mercury and cadmium, and other potentially harmful interventions. There’s also the matter of selection bias, in which patients who were less ill might have chosen to try homeopathy while patients who were sicker would go to the conventional doctors of the time. Basically, what these figures, even if accurate, tell us is not informative, nor does it tell us whether homeopathy works. Then there’s the question of how many patients first sought out homeopathy, failed to get better, and then went to a conventional doctor before they died, where they would be counted as having been treated by conventional medicine.

Not surprisingly, Meininger also trots out the claim, frequently made by homeopaths, that during the 1918 pandemic of influenza victims treated with homeopathy had a 30-fold lower mortality rate (1% versus 30%). I’ve addressed this claim before when it was trotted out around the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009. No doubt homeopaths reported low mortality, but was there any objective evidence that this was true? How do we know that patients who got sicker under the homeopaths’ care didn’t go to real physicians or die without being followed up. Do we know that the homeopaths’ patients were comparable to the patients treated by “conventional” medicine? We don’t.

Meininger even trots out this old homeopathic chestnut:

Confronted with an epidemic of leptospirosis in 2007, an epidemic that followed the annual hurricane season in Cuba, the Cuban Ministry of Health decided to conduct a study on homeopathy in several provinces that season. It was so successful that for the next 10 years they have used homeopathy on the entire 11 million Cubans. The disease is basically considered eradicated so they no longer administer the remedy automatically. The Cuban Ministry is now expecting similar results for dengue fever, “swine” flu, hepatitis A and conjunctivitis.

I covered this “study” when it was published, as did Le Canard Noir and apgaylard. It’s a bad study poorly described and reported. Basically, homeopaths claimed credit for something that they had nothing to do with. Same as it ever was.

Meninger basically concludes that “our future has already arrived” in the form of homeopathy as a vaccination strategy. What she’s really arguing for embracing mystical thinking that is 220 years old over modern science, although she does her best to slap a patina of real science over the mysticism and vitalism. I’ll stick in the present and look to the future, thank you very much.

Comments

  1. #1 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    March 31, 2017

    Of course, no one really knows what the Founding Fathers would think of today’s medicine.

    Several of the Founding Fathers were known supporters of vaccination, which makes her comments even stupider.

  2. #2 Dorit Reiss
    March 31, 2017

    That’s a lot of creative history. And as a history buff, although this is a minor point, I would point out that Mesmer was born after Louis XIV’s death in 1715.

  3. #3 Eric Lund
    March 31, 2017

    9. Unexplained phenomena such as telepathy are illusory.

    This one is a straw man. Science is willing to accept the existence of phenomena for which there is as yet no explanation, provided there is sufficient evidence that the phenomena exist. For instance, dark matter has never been directly observed, and we don’t have a firm idea what it is. We know, however, that provided general relativity is the correct macroscopic description of gravity, dark matter must be present in order for the universe to appear as it does. By contrast, the evidence for telepathy is not nearly as compelling, which is why most scientists are skeptical about its existence.

  4. #4 Lawrence
    March 31, 2017

    Wasn’t George Washington killed by quackery?

  5. #5 Missylulu
    March 31, 2017

    I will never understand people’s obsession with wanting to live in the past. Like, oh yeah, life in the 1700s was just SO GREAT. Life expectancy looked to be about 36 years old in the late 1700s. I am approaching thirty now, so I would have been considered a geezer, if I managed to survive this long at all. These days I still have people telling me I’m young; although that really only happens now when someone wants to inform me that I have understood something incorrectly and want to use their own age that is a higher number to prove that I’m wrong and couldn’t possibly understand as much as they do.

  6. #6 JDK
    March 31, 2017

    Ben Franklin et al debunking of Mesmer was classic and not secret at all. Should be required reading for everyone.

  7. #7 Lawrence
    March 31, 2017

    They have this idealized view of things – not realizing that our ancestors at 100% organic food, worked outside, got lots of fresh air and exercise….yet they died in droves from disease.

  8. #8 MIssylulu
    March 31, 2017

    Lawrence, it is so crazy. I just don’t understand why people think this. It’s so obviously and objectively untrue that people’s health was better during those times. It also strikes me as some really weird privilege thing, and privileges that were afforded by things like vaccination and other advancements of modern medicine at that. It never ceases to boggle my mind.

  9. #9 Lawrence
    March 31, 2017

    I believe it starts with the failure of schools to impart critical thinking skills, backed with very poor requirements for teaching history….

    Any serious knowledge about past civilizations should include a study of how public health and disease shaped societies….most people don’t realize that Rome was stricken with a series of plagues throughout its history that killed millions.

    A study of Smallpox, by itself, would be enough to put the fear of disease in anyway – a disease, which even controlled by mass vaccination & inoculation, still managed to kill more than 300 Million people in just the 20th Century.

    This cavalier attitude exuded by people today is extremely dangerous. Just ask the people studying emerging diseases – there are plenty of bat-borne diseases which are beginning to spill over into humans. Any one of them could turn into the next Pandemic.

    There is a reason why there are people who dedicate themselves to disease surveillance.

  10. #10 Eric Lund
    March 31, 2017

    Like, oh yeah, life in the 1700s was just SO GREAT.

    The people who imagine this tend to think they would be (depending on gender) a Fitzwilliam Darcy or an Elizabeth Bennett. In reality, they would be far more likely to be servants, or manual laborers.

    It’s not just diseases, either. Death in childbirth was distressingly common: women actually had shorter life expectancies than men in those days because of this. Not to mention medical conditions other than infectious disease that are treatable today that were not treatable then. And as noted in the OP, many standard medicines of the day were actually harmful–the reason homeopathy was able to gain any foothold at all is because by definition it meets the letter of, “First, do no harm.”

    Certain moral scolds like to point out that divorce was almost nonexistent back then. That’s technically true, but second marriages were quite common–often, one had to replace a deceased spouse.

  11. #11 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    March 31, 2017

    Lawrence (#7) writes,

    They have this idealized view of things – not realizing that our ancestors at 100% organic food, worked outside, got lots of fresh air and exercise….yet they died in droves from disease.

    MJD says,

    Very clever, although, our distant ancestors ate sporadically and often consumed unhealthy choices based on availability and unreliable preservation techniques (dehydration, salting, tree hanging, ground burial, etc..).

    When available, spices were often used to disguise the rancid odor and taste of their food-stuff.

    One thing is certain, our ancestors lived in a world wherein the “Hygiene Hypothesis” was inconceivable.

  12. #12 Narad
    March 31, 2017

    Meininger seems to be a writer of some sort who bills herself as “fighting for health freedom.”

    “In the mid-1980s, she almost died of mercury poisoning from dental fillings.” Patty’s new Augean stable of authors is a riot. Does Caquias still have a license anywhere?

  13. #13 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    March 31, 2017

    8. Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.

    This really shouldn’t trouble Christians so much. I mean, if it’s true that our memories are stored exclusively in the physical matter of our brains, why worry? We all recite the Apostles Creed, right? It doesn’t say “and when we die, our souls go to heaven while the body rots away.” No, indeed. It says “the resurrection of the body”. Obviously, our brains are indeed necessary for a life after death according to Christian doctrine, which *furthermore* teaches that our bodies will be reincarnated perfect, with any injuries healed. (I personally have my doubts that it’s this straightforward, but I figure the details aren’t important. Someday, we will all either find out, or not.)

    If God is all powerful, He could clearly resurrect us with all of our memories available to us in our reincarnated brains. Even things we had forgotten, I suspect. He could do it in a way that would preserve us at our best. (Will He? Well, that’s up to Him, isn’t it?)

    That fundamentalists have a problem with the idea of memory being stored physically tells me that they are weak in faith, or lacking in imagination, or quite possibly both. I do think it ties into their strange inability to see beauty and wonder in the material world, even as they go around claiming you can cure diseases with infinitesimal dilutions of material tinctures.

  14. #14 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    March 31, 2017

    Like, oh yeah, life in the 1700s was just SO GREAT.

    The people who imagine this tend to think they would be (depending on gender) a Fitzwilliam Darcy or an Elizabeth Bennett.

    Even for the Upper Classes, life could be short.
    I read an article several years ago from a journalist who had gone to a historical site once occupied by Henry II. He concluded that he, a commoner living today, had a better quality of life than Henry, a royal living nearly a millennium ago. Scientific and technological advancements were the reason.
    The saying goes “nostalgia isn’t what it used to be”. We look back and see the good things, but don’t register the bad things of centuries past.

  15. #15 TBruce
    March 31, 2017

    Elissa Meininger, who bills herself as a “health policy analyst,”

    Oogh. One of them.
    I am reminded of an old joke, which I will paraphrase:

    “Is a health policy analyst a health care provider?”
    “Is a barnacle a ship?”

  16. #16 Rich Woods
    March 31, 2017

    @Calli Arcale #13:

    Some medieval theologians posited the existence of a metaphysical bone in the human skeleton, immaterial and intangible but always present. This bone would survive any fate which befell the, um, owner: if the physical corpse was lost at sea and consumed by fishes; for example, or burned down to nothing but ash, the bone would still exist upon the Earth. It was a theological necessity so that on the Day of Judgment everyone could rise from the grave and be made whole once more.

    To my mind, that’s a hypothesis almost as far-fetched as homeopathy…

  17. #17 Richard
    The Netherlands
    March 31, 2017

    @Michael J. Dochniak, #

    One thing is certain, our ancestors lived in a world wherein the “Hygiene Hypothesis” was inconceivable./blockquote>
    Now that you mention it, “hygiene” is a favorite excuse of quacks and believers in ‘natural remedies’ to play down the benefits of vaccination, antibiotics and other scientific/medical achievements – without them realizing that this hygiene theory didn’t magically pop up out of nothing, but stems from the exact same science that underpins both vaccines and antibiotics.

  18. #18 Richard
    The Netherlands
    March 31, 2017

    [Oops, something got badly mangled here… once again, this time proper]
    @Michael J. Dochniak, #11

    One thing is certain, our ancestors lived in a world wherein the “Hygiene Hypothesis” was inconceivable.

    Now that you mention it, “hygiene” is a favorite excuse of quacks and believers in ‘natural remedies’ to play down the benefits of vaccination, antibiotics and other scientific/medical achievements – without them realizing that this hygiene theory didn’t magically pop up out of nothing, but stems from the exact same science that underpins both vaccines and antibiotics.

  19. #19 herr doktor bimler
    March 31, 2017

    Louis Pasteur of France and Robert Koch of Germany were studying microbes to figure out how to invent patentable vaccines to kill them.

    How many vaccines did Pasteur patent?

  20. #20 Eric Lund
    March 31, 2017

    Even for the Upper Classes, life could be short.

    True, and in the 1970s even some rock musicians understood this:

    A bullet had found him
    His blood ran as he cried
    No money could save him
    So he laid down and he died

    Interesting trivia I learned in my Google search for that: Greg Lake wrote the first version of this song when he was only 12. It was recorded only because they needed one more song to satisfy their contractual album length.

  21. #21 Richard
    The Netherlands
    March 31, 2017

    @herr doktor bimler, #19
    I think is is truly appalling how antivaccine fundamentalists try to make even the greatest scientists of all time look bad in order to prop up their paranoid antivaccine world view…

  22. #22 Narad
    March 31, 2017

    It was recorded only because they needed one more song to satisfy their contractual album length.

    You Say France and I Whistle.

  23. #23 Narad
    March 31, 2017

    ^ Comment in moderation re recording contracts has yet another blockquote fail.

  24. #24 missylulu
    March 31, 2017

    @Lawrence # 9

    I am also very concerned about critical thinking skills. Dr. Novella made a good post about teaching critical thinking the other day over on Neurologica, and I believe specifically mentioned a study where critical thinking was taught in a history course.

    I have an MLIS and when I was in graduate school I taught a course on information literacy to incoming freshman (and a few seniors who needed some easy credits in order to graduate). The course was essentially a primer in how to evaluate literature when conducting research. Nothing really crazy, mostly very basic information literacy techniques. A lot of the students were fresh out of high school, but their lack of trouble-shooting skills and their inability to critically examine any literature or distinguish quality sources from nonsense was pretty troubling. We spent time each week on how to identify and evaluate a different source of information (primary sources, websites, periodicals, peer-review, reference, etc.). I didn’t realize that so many students had essentially NO background in research or critical thinking. It was a big eye-opener.

    @Eric #10

    I didn’t mention it in my previous post, but one of the reasons I would NEVER want to live in the 1700s is that as a woman I would have been expected to have child and probably would have died in child birth. Another reason the Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth Bennett crowd annoy the shit out of me, and which has nothing to do with health, is that women and minorities were horribly oppressed back then. I certainly do not want to go back to a time where I wouldn’t be able to boat and would be expected to pump out babies and then die before the age of thirty. Definitely I will pass on that. And as you mentioned, most people would be laborers, not a part of the wealthy elite, so the lifestyle these people glamorize is almost certainly not the one they would have lived in those times.

  25. #25 missylulu
    March 31, 2017

    A quick correction: I would not want to go back to a time where I wouldn’t be able to vote. What I wrote was “I certainly do not want to go back to a time where I wouldn’t be able to boat…” although don’t get me wrong, I am all for women’s boating rights.

  26. #26 Elliott
    nowhere near China
    March 31, 2017

    While thinking about medical history and whether life was really better in the good ‘ol days, I once “researched” (translation–rummaged about on the internet) whether the emperors of medieval China, who presumably had access to the best that traditional Chinese medicine had to offer, actually lived longer. This is a nice dataset, with over 200 generations of emperors to chose from.

    Answer was no. In fact, numerous emperors died prematurely due to excess consumption of various concoctions of the “elixir of life”.

    So, TCM isn’t the answer either, especially if it recommends large quantities of heavy metals with a liberal spritz of mercury.

  27. #27 doug
    March 31, 2017

    Doubtless Pasteur and Koch had seen all the reports in the financial magazines of the great payouts from Big Pharma to those who had patented the numerous vaccines they wanted to manufacture. The immorality of Pasteur in wanting to profit from high-priced anthrax and rabies vaccines, when he knew perfectly well both diseases could be cured overnight with some simple herbal remedies that cost next to nothing, is astounding.

  28. #28 herr doktor bimler
    March 31, 2017

    It may be that the word “patentable” found its way into the context of Koch and Pasteur only because Meininger had been given a list of Snarl-words that she was supposed to shoehorn into her screed someshere.

  29. #29 JustaTech
    March 31, 2017

    All these ideas about how great the past was, I wonder if the people who think that have ever gone camping?

    The BBC has done several programs on farming in various historical periods (Tudor, Stewart, Victorian, Edwardian, WWII) and the one theme in all but the WWII is how *cold* everyone was, all the time. Inside and out.
    You read descriptions of what the Victorians wore and you think “wow that’s a ton of wool!” But you needed it because home heating, even for the wealthy, was crap and everyone kept their windows open for fresh air.
    Historian Ruth Goodman (who was on all those programs and has written several books as well) talks about just how miserable the constant cold was.

  30. #30 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    March 31, 2017

    Hmm, once in while an idea hits. I may start making a homeopathic pain relief potion. Aspen bark diluted to 30c using 30 yr Glenfiddich. Dose as needed.

    You probably can get around the revenuers because it is a medicine.

    Being very sarcastic here, I wouldn’t want to ruin a good 30 yr old scotch.

  31. #31 Miles Sarill
    March 31, 2017

    Yeah. I just call whiskey tincture of oak.

  32. #32 Eric Lund
    March 31, 2017

    Being very sarcastic here, I wouldn’t want to ruin a good 30 yr old scotch.

    Not to mention the amount of it you would have to discard in the process. I’m not personally into scotch, and even I think that would be a waste of perfectly good scotch.

    It would also be overkill. The analgesic properties of ethanol are well known.

  33. #33 Samil Ozavar
    March 31, 2017

    20th Century quantum physicists Max Planck and Albert Einstein called this field of energy “The Matrix” [..]

    (1) Never start a sentence with a number.
    (2) I think she’s (I think it’s a ‘she’ (too stupid for malespeak)) is conflating Heisenberg’s Matrix Mechanics with an invisible force.

    You can see why people like Sheldrake […] don’t like current science.

    Whoa! Sheldrake loves science, he just think that there are forces that haven’t been full realized yet.
    ⁽³⁾⁶⁰⁽¹⁾⁽²⁾⁽³⁾⁽⁴⁾⁽⁵⁾⁽⁶⁾⁽⁷⁾⁽⁸⁾⁽⁹

    To a typical 30C homeopathic dilution is in reality a 100³⁰, or 10⁶⁰ dilution. Given that Avogadro’s number is roughly 6[.022] x 10²³, the chances that a single molecule of original substance remains after a 30C dilution is very small, other than carryover contamination on the glassware.

    Capillary electrophoresis can measure one fluorescent molecule using a very thin capillary and laser to excite the molecule.
    Experimenters were able to measure the neurotransmitters liberated from one single snail neuron using capillary electrophoresis.

  34. #34 Panacea
    March 31, 2017

    Pasteur didn’t patent any vaccines. He patented a process for brewing beer, and a process of producing yeast (for beer). He never tried to commercialize either of them.

    He didn’t actually patent either the rabies or the anthrax vaccines. He did engage in rivalries with other scientists over the development of these vaccines, as a matter of ego.

  35. #35 TBruce
    March 31, 2017

    Justatech:

    Even in the 60’s, the British styles which migrated to Canada when I was a kid involved layers of woolen knits, tweed and leather. Great in the outdoors, not so much indoors with central heating.

  36. #36 Richard
    The Netherlands
    April 1, 2017

    @Narad, #22
    I’m not quite sure if I fully understand your cryptic comment, but as there is no way of either previewing or correcting these errors, there’s always the conundrum of ‘to repost or not to repost’.

    About homeopaths and vaccination: some 9 months ago, I lodged complaints with the Dutch Advertising Authority against eight homeopaths for offering ‘Homeopathic Prophylaxis’ as a viable alternative for regular vaccination, while also proclaiming antivaccine untruths (‘vaccines cause autism’ etcetera) to further their business.
    And while all eight cases were ruled in my favor, these quacks so far failed to comply with the ruling (i.e. that they should remove the offending claims and untruths from their Web sites). And unfortunately, they can do this because the aforementioned authority is a toothless commission, without possibility to enforce actual sanctions(*).
    It is rather disheartening. Not only are homeopaths allowed to swindle people by selling them placebos as ‘remedies’ for existing ailments, even when their quackery clearly puts children’s lives at risk by falsely claiming to protect them against potentially life-threatening diseases, there is nothing that can be done to stop them.

    *: This is quite a bit better in Australia, where a stubborn homeopath by the name of Frances Sheffield was fined to the tune of $138,000 in all for spreading misleading information about vaccination and for offering useless sugar pills in lieu of real vaccination.

  37. #37 Chris Preston
    Australia
    April 1, 2017

    That’s a lot of creative history. And as a history buff, although this is a minor point, I would point out that Mesmer was born after Louis XIV’s death in 1715.

    And indeed Louis XIV died 40 years before Marie Antoinette was born, so I for one doubt he cared what she said.

    The rest of the article is so completely ignorant it is hard to know whether this was merely a typo or actually reflects Meininger’s knowledge of history.

  38. #38 shay simmons
    April 1, 2017

    When available, spices were often used to disguise the rancid odor and taste of their food-stuff.

    No.

    https://historymyths.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/revisited-myth-31-spices-were-used-to-mask-the-flavor-and-odors-of-rotting-food/

  39. #39 herr doktor bimler
    April 1, 2017

    20th Century quantum physicists Max Planck and Albert Einstein called this field of energy “The Matrix” [..]

    (2) I think [Meininger] is conflating Heisenberg’s Matrix Mechanics with an invisible force.

    If we’re going to bring actual science into Meininger’s crayon-drawing depiction, Einstein was not well-pleased with the Heisenberg-Born matrix formulation, and Planck even less so. But neither Meininger nor the Bolen readership give two tugs on a dead dingo’s dick about Einstein’s and Planck’s actual opinions about “this field of energy”. So here scientists become authority figures, to be credited with support for the magical / conspiratorial Bolen world-view, in contrast to the rest of the article where “science” is a boo-hiss snarl-word. She is under a contractual obligation to pass on the lies of her sources and make up a few more herself.

    The first report stated that under allopathic care, the mortality rate was 59.2%. When a member of the House of Lords asked why no homeopathic figures were included, the answer was that such information would “skew the results”.

    Here Meininger is strike>plagiarising pukefunneling an earlier homeopathic fabulist, who in turn cites Victorian-era fabricators as his authority:
    http://www.whale.to/v/winston.html

  40. #40 Eric Lund
    April 1, 2017

    Capillary electrophoresis can measure one fluorescent molecule using a very thin capillary and laser to excite the molecule.

    But only if the molecule is actually present. The point of the sentence you quote is that in a dose of a typical homeopathic remedy, the number of molecules of the alleged active ingredient you expect to have is much smaller than 1. For the 30C dilution example, you expect to have of the order of 10^-36 molecules of the alleged active ingredient in one mole. And the typical dose is often less than a mole: typically tens to hundreds of milligrams if taken in tablet form (a mole of water is 18 g).

    And even if there is a molecule of the alleged active ingredient present, how do you know it didn’t come from the water you used at one of the dilution stages, or from the wall of the glassware you used at one of the dilution stages? Or it could be in your tap water.

  41. #41 doug
    April 1, 2017

    Samil Ozavar is probably Travis J. Schwochert, fuckhead.
    Ozavar, major nutbar, is found, with his email address, is found here

    Again, I have to give Travis credit – he tries new material, unlike the NitWitOrdure fool.

    • #42 Orac
      April 1, 2017

      There’s no “probably” about it. He’s been banned. Again.

  42. #43 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    April 1, 2017

    Shay simmons (#38) writes,

    No

    MJD says,

    Thanks for the reference, Shay.

    Below is a reference titled, Beneficial Effects of Spices in Food Preservation and Safety.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5030248/

    Do you still believe that spices have not been used to treat and disguise the unpleasant odor of food?

    The article goes on to say that spices have exhibited numerous health benefits in preventing and treating a wide variety of diseases such as cancer, aging, metabolic, neurological, cardiovascular, and inflammatory diseases.

    @Orac,

    Would this be homopathy?

  43. #44 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 1, 2017

    All you need to know about “paleo” and the good old, old, old days:
    https://www.ipscommons.sg/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/cavemencpf-e1421290579522.png

  44. #45 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 1, 2017

    In the 18th Century my ancestors lived in ghettos and shtetls under the constant threat of pogrom, extortion, and expulsion, along with daily indignities of all sorts perpetrated by their so-enlightened Christian neighbors.
    In fact, Jews tended to suffer a lower incidence of many plagues due to somewhat better hygiene. This lower incidence was just one more reason to blame Jews for causing the plague, so of course another round of pogroms would be needed to teach them the benefits of Christian love and charity.
    The only good thing about the “good old days” is that they’re over and done with.

  45. #46 Chris Preston
    Australia
    April 1, 2017

    The article goes on to say that spices have exhibited numerous health benefits in preventing and treating a wide variety of diseases such as cancer, aging, metabolic, neurological, cardiovascular, and inflammatory diseases.

    The authors say so in the abstract, but provide exactly 0 evidence in the body of the review. Indeed, the review reads more like boosterism for the authors’ particular passion than a real scholarly review, but then what would you expect from a predatory open access publishing house.

  46. #47 Panacea
    April 1, 2017

    ORD: are they really over and done with? It hardly seems so.

  47. #48 Chris Preston
    April 1, 2017

    In the 18th Century my ancestors lived in ghettos and shtetls under the constant threat of pogrom

    Some of my ancestors live in grand country houses from where they oppressed Irish peasants. It still did not stop them losing numerous children to vaccine preventable diseases.

    My 6th great grandmother lived into her 80s though and claimed to have had 27 children. I have no idea how she did that though.

  48. #49 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 1, 2017

    are they really over and done with? It hardly seems so.

    In the words of the great philosopher, Billy Joel

    “You can linger too long
    In your dreams
    Say goodbye to the
    Oldies but goodies
    Cause the good ole days weren’t
    Always good
    And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems”

  49. #50 TBruce
    April 2, 2017

    With Trump’s proposed budget cutting to the NIH and his anti-vaccination beliefs, you may see the Good Olde Days come back with a vengeance.

  50. #51 Panacea
    April 2, 2017

    @Chris: She must have had several sets of twins.

    Though I do know a guy who is one of 11 siblings, no multiples.

    Then there’s 19 and counting. IIRC, the mom in that show nearly died in her last couple of pregnancies. It wouldn’t surprise me if her uterus falls outs, packs its bags and yells “I’m going to Disney world!”

  51. #52 herr doktor bimler
    April 2, 2017

    Then there’s 19 and counting.
    It’s NOT A CLOWN CAR.

    Is this a common expression in New Zealand or a bimler neologism?
    It has not caught on more widely. Despite my best efforts. Not everyone shares my weakness for alliteration

  52. #53 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    April 2, 2017

    Orac writes,

    Is homeopathy the end of vaccines? Only quacks would think so…

    MJD says,

    Slightly off topic…

    Is homeopathy the end of climate change?

    I’ve finished a book about climate change but failed to disclose or recognize a connection between homeopathy and climate change. 🙁

    Here’s a summary of the unpublished book: .

    After 4.5 billion years of change, is the planet earth a complex and delicate ecosystem? It is well known that some human activities may be part of a climate-change process that affects global warming. Environmental scientists continue to make substantial progress in our understanding of how such activities affect climate change. Since the year 1989, hundreds of global warming-related patents have been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Michael J. Dochniak has written this original and important book to provide an easy-to-read summary of such patents. Within many of the summaries, there are inventor profiles and news articles that are insightful and thought provoking. Pioneering inventors hail from many locations including Brazil, India, Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan. At the beginning of several chapters, you will experience contradictory opinions on climate change in the form of quotes. In chapter 7, there is an example of a sincere application that failed to gain US Patent protection. Most importantly, the book “There’s No Place Like Home – Climate Change -Thinking Patents” is about keeping the planet earth a comfortable place to live.

    Is there anecdotal evidence that homeopathy could end climate change?

    Please advise…

  53. #54 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 2, 2017

    Rachel french, I am curious as to what those fond memories are memories of.
    I continue to be surprised at the breadth of topics I have seen here. We have discussed all sorts of things here on RI, but as far as I know we have yet to get around to necrobestiality.

  54. #55 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 2, 2017

    two tugs on a dead dingo’s dick

    My first sighting was on Popehat, 2-3 years ago. I’ve used it a time or two.

  55. #56 Panacea
    April 2, 2017

    HDB: I thought it was good for a laugh until the wife almost killed herself trying to have another baby.

    ORD: I have to wonder if this isn’t Travis’s latest incarnation.

  56. #57 shay simmons
    April 2, 2017

    Do you still believe that spices have not been used to treat and disguise the unpleasant odor of food?

    Spices are used in the PRESERVATION of food (pickling, specifically). The whole point of preserving food is to prevent it getting rancid and unwholesome, which is why pickling recipes old and new tell you to examine the foodstuff carefully and cull anything that’s already started to go bad.

  57. #58 LouV
    France
    April 3, 2017

    @Dorit Reiss and Chris Preston
    This french commenter was pretty amused by the whole “Marie Antoinette / Louis XIV” thing. 🙂
    I suppose Meininger meant Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette’s husband.

  58. #59 Politicalguineapig
    April 3, 2017

    MJD: I’m sure you don’t know this, but humans have a built-in revulsion response to food that’s begun to go rancid. No amount of spices will disguise rotten meat. People learned to recognize food borne illnesses early on- think of the prohibitions on pork in the Middle East.
    Smoking, salting and pickling are ways to arrest the decomposition process and most groups figured this out pretty quickly. As for spices in the middle ages in Europe, they tended to be used as a display of one’s wealth. Not to mention that they taste good.

    So how many pages is the latest book? I’m actually kind of surprised you accept climate change, given that you don’t seem to know much at all and I would have pegged you for a Republican.

  59. #60 Potblack
    Not here
    April 3, 2017

    I think Richard has missed something, yes homeopathy is woo but so is vaccination. Replacing one with the other is a double fraud, vaccine isn’t science – it’s marketing. No one needs them to stay alive and having them does not contribute to health on jot.

  60. #61 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    April 3, 2017

    PGpig asks,

    So how many pages is the latest book?

    MJD says,

    108 pages (zero misspelled words).

    I don’t have a publisher yet but that’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes.

    Here’s an example:

    BENIGN GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTION OFFERS UNPRECEDENTED ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

    (Ace, Ronald S. in Application 20100252647 – October 7, 2010)

    Abstract – This describes making clouds.

    The author explained that there were upwards to 2-3 times more large trees long ago, which were mowed down by advancing glaciers and are currently transpiring less water, and therefore, are now producing fewer clouds than thousands of years ago; less hydration and fewer clouds now allow more solar energy to warm the planet. Of course, it is obvious that evaporating more water into the atmosphere will eventually produce more precipitation. More precipitation is unavoidable. But the priority is to make more numerous and more persistent daytime-clouds (not nighttime clouds), to maximize the amount of reflected solar energy with a minimum of applied input energy to macro-evaporate water.

    @PGPig,

    Read the book when it publishes, and stop the squeaking, then I will consider burying the hatchet.

  61. #62 Chris
    April 3, 2017

    Potblack: “I think Richard has missed something, yes homeopathy is woo but so is vaccination…..No one needs them to stay alive and having them does not contribute to health on jot.”

    Citation needed. Or you can tell us with supporting evidence why the number of reported measles cases dropped 90% between 1960 and 1970 in the USA. Please do not mention deaths (the census data is morbidity), please do not mention any other decade unless the drop is at least as big (and never goes above again), do not mention any other diseases, and finally do not mention any other country than the United States of America. This is only to keep you on topic with the following 20th century data from the US Census:

    From http://www.census.gov/prod/99pubs/99statab/sec31.pdf
    Year…. Rate per 100000 of measles
    1912 . . . 310.0
    1920 . . . 480.5
    1925 . . . 194.3
    1930 . . . 340.8
    1935 . . . 584.6
    1940 . . . 220.7
    1945 . . . 110.2
    1950 . . . 210.1
    1955 . . . 337.9
    1960 . . . 245.4
    1965 . . . 135.1
    1970 . . . . 23.2
    1975 . . . . 11.3
    1980 . . . . . 5.9
    1985 . . . . . 1.2
    1990 . . . . .11.2
    1991 . . . . . .3.8
    1992 . . . . . .0.9
    1993 . . . . . .0.1
    1994 . . . . . .0.4
    1995 . . . . . .0.1
    1996 . . . . . .0.2
    1997 . . . . . . 0.1

  62. #63 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    April 3, 2017

    I believe that Potblack is Travis J Schwochert.

  63. #64 Narad
    April 3, 2017

    People learned to recognize food borne illnesses early on- think of the prohibitions on pork in the Middle East.

    G-d, I hate this particular line of stupidity. Explain shatnez.

  64. #65 Chris
    April 3, 2017

    Julian, it may or may not be. I post that census data for the lurkers mostly. No antivaxers have come up with a satisfactory answer, they just try to change the subject.

  65. #66 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    April 3, 2017

    The idea that people back in the good old days (god) learned to recognize foodborne illnesses is at best a half truth. Yes, smoking, pickling and salting were methods to preserve food longer but were not fool proof.

    Many men, women, children died from foodborne illnesses back when and continue to die today (although in far fewer numbers). Just recently, a soy nut butter was directly linked to E. coli o157 h7 contamination. There are at least 29 victims and possibly 2 of them have died.

    So tell me how human senses can determine if food contains a contaminant that may kill you? Botulism toxin (develops often in improperly canned foods) is heat stable and has no taste. One of the known vectors for Ebola is contaminated bush meat.

    I could go on and on about this. The only reason we don’t see more foodborne illness is because we have better medical care, vaccines and at least in the most of the modern world at least some basic food safety regulations (of which trump would like to dump most).

  66. #67 RobRN
    United States
    April 3, 2017

    Chris #62: I’m now awaiting an anti-vaxxer’s post here saying that “Sanitation” reduced measles incidence!

  67. #68 Chris
    April 3, 2017

    RobRN, that has been used. Except they can’t quite come up with any evidence of a some drastic change in sewer systems and water treatment that was introduced in the 1960s.

    This is the most silly answer I have been given:
    http://shotofprevention.com/2012/07/26/vaccine-questions-answered-the-real-simple-way/#comment-10735

    It is hilarious.

  68. #69 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    April 3, 2017

    Julian Frost (#63) writes,

    I believe that Potblack is Travis J Schwochert.

    MJD says,

    Dear Travis J. Schwochert,

    With all due respect, please consider lessening Orac’s work load here at RI.

    Many of us, wrongfully placed in auto-mod, suffer inattention and severely delayed comments because of your deception.

    Stick with a nym and accept the consequences thereafter, please…

    Understand that auto-mod is not simply a filtering technique to protect the collective (i.e., Orac’s minions), it’s a way-of-life for those who over-come barriers and make a difference.

    Best Regards,
    MJD

  69. #70 Politicalguineapig
    April 3, 2017

    MJD:Global warming is a good thing, huh? That’s a new spin on it. The science seems sort of off, since I don’t know if you know this, but rain happens at night too. Seriously, clouds are clouds, they’re the same in the morning as they are at night. And I think the Maldives and the Netherlands might have a few bones to pick with you.

    As for reading the book, please. I can find ten better novels by just blindfolding myself in the local library. The novels would be more educational.
    I don’t actually care what you think of me, clack-dish. You’re so dim, you make brown dwarf stars look bright. There’s no hatchet to bury, as my life would only be diminished by having you around.
    Actually, I’d like you to leave the state, and if I had my druthers, orbiting earth.

    I’m actually just asking you to maybe be a little less of a prick and maybe consider learning something about the world sometime rather than relying on the echoes that bounce around your pathetic little skull. No wonder you’re single. How’d voting for Trump work out for you?

  70. #71 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    April 3, 2017

    @PGPig (#70),

    There you go squeaking again.

    Here’s the preface for the unpublished book:

    As we discover more about climate change and attempt to reduce global warming, intelligence not politics will guide our success. With respect to global warming-related patents, I wrote this book to capture some of mankind’s effort to sustain and protect life on the planet earth., These inventions clearly show that many are proactive, and change their way-of-life, to benefit the well-being of future generations. The book “There’s No Place Like Home – Global Warming – Thinking Patents” has taught me that climate change is manageable.

    @PGPig,

    Don’t you hate politics Politicalguineapig?

  71. #72 herr doktor bimler
    April 3, 2017

    Explain shatnez
    Let me guess… it’s a prohibition against watching scenery-chewing over-acting hams from Star Trek.

  72. #73 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 3, 2017

    Narad et al, I was taught that the likely reason that my ancestors rejected pork was that as the most human-like of quadrupeds, pigs were used as a substitute for humans in sacrifice by some of the people they were trying to differentiate themselves from. Anyone who has ever dissected a fetal pig in an anatomy class or studied their uses as stand-ins for humans in research will confirm the resemblance.
    It’s also possible that they were rejected,because they will eat both carrion and humans when the opportunity arises. The laws of kashrut rule out terrestrial carnivores, so omnivores wouldn’t make the cut either. Pigs also root in the ground for food,which is not an appealing thing for your dinner to be doing.
    Kashrut is complicated and the reasons behind the rules have been lost over time, so there is plenty of room to speculate.

  73. #74 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 3, 2017

    “Let me guess… it’s a prohibition against watching scenery-chewing over-acting hams from Star Trek.”
    Das Güte Doktor, your five-year mission is to live to live that one down.

  74. #75 Politicalguineapig
    April 3, 2017

    ORD: Okay, I can see being reluctant to eat pork after examining pig’s habits closely, but what about shellfish?

    HDB: Oh, my keyboard is so lucky I swallowed before reading that. How Shatner got any serious acting jobs is beyond me.

    MJD: Hello, read my nym. I cut my teeth on political blogs and read the papers daily. I wouldn’t say I like politics, more that I think paying attention to them is sort of a civic duty.

    MJD: intelligence not politics will guide our success.

    Well, first you’d have to go FIND some intelligence. Good luck with that, idle-headed waste of space. Look, why don’t you go read Bill McKibben, who’s actually intelligent and a good writer? I highly doubt you have any insights on the matter that he hasn’t already written of, and he’s a thousand times better at writing than you’ll ever be.

    It seems to have escaped your notice that global warming is an international problem, and nothing gets done at the international level without..politics.

    By the way, what is your obsession with my ‘nym? I explained why I don’t use my real name, and most people here don’t use their names either. So is this some sort of schoolyard thing? Why don’t you go down to the playground and get yourself arrested instead?

  75. #76 JoyMama
    April 3, 2017

    I think pigs are generally not eaten because they are so cute: http://cosmouk.cdnds.net/cm/14/31/640×414/53d4e528effea_-_270913-micropig2.jpg

  76. #77 JustaTech
    April 3, 2017

    PGP @59: I’ll be that person: actually in some cultures rancid sheep fat is a delicacy. Sadly, it is also strongly associated with a very nasty cancer of the upper airways, so hopefully people will stop eating it soon.
    (Based on a paper I read for my epi exam.)

  77. #78 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 3, 2017

    Pigs generally not eaten? Sheeeeeeeet. The saying is that you can use every part of a pig except the squeal.

    Pulled pork is practically a religion around here. I, myself, am somewhat of a heathen in these parts, because I will, on rare occasions, BBQ a brisket. Amongst the devout, the only critter fit for the pit is the pig, with the only discussion allowed being do you cook up the whole hog, or just pieces (and which pieces).

  78. #79 rs
    April 3, 2017

    “I can see being reluctant to eat pork after examining pig’s habits closely”

    That’s the very reason why I’m not a cannibal.

  79. #80 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    April 3, 2017

    Johnny, I hope if you use any wild or family raised hog that you cook it well done. Something both wild (and sometimes family raised) hogs and bears have in common is trichinosis. The last I saw almost all cases of trichinosis in this country are either from undercooked wild or family raised hog or bear. Pork from commercial sources are incredibly safe when it comes to trichinosis.

  80. #81 JoyMama
    April 3, 2017

    I saw a pig snout at the Asian supermarket! It kinda looked like this: https://thumb1.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/1188536/110068070/stock-photo-a-small-butchery-selling-pig-snout-amongst-other-things-hanoi-vietnam-110068070.jpg

    I knew what it was immediately. It was by the beef tripe and beef uterus.

    At least they’re honest. Americans and Europeans just covertly stuff these organs in hotdogs (pseudosausage) and sausages proper. If you’ve ever had a hotdog, then you’ve probably had cow penis and cow nipples!

    And if you’ve ever had Spam, then you’d likely eaten porksnouts! Cute, wet, baby porksnouts! http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XR8Jy61o7Hk/TygxtbMbPOI/AAAAAAAAA58/R54VTBEPQDs/s1600/Animals_Beasts_Little_pig_028817_.jpg

  81. #82 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 3, 2017

    IRT trichinosis, according to https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6401a1.htm
    (bolding mine)

    Results: During 2008–2012, a total of 90 cases of trichinellosis were reported to CDC from 24 states and the District of Columbia. Six (7%) cases were excluded from analysis because a supplementary case report form was not submitted or the case did not meet the case definition. A total of 84 confirmed trichinellosis cases, including five outbreaks that comprised 40 cases, were analyzed and included in this report. During 2008–2012, the mean annual incidence of trichinellosis in the United States was 0.1 cases per 1 million population, with a median of 15 cases per year. Pork products were associated with 22 (26%) cases, including 10 (45%) that were linked with commercial pork products, six (27%) that were linked with wild boar, and one (5%) that was linked with home-raised swine; five (23%) were unspecified.

    I like those odds.

    But the chance is zero, anyway. I’m talking about cooking for so long the trichinosis worms die from boredom – 4 to 6 hours (for ribs) to 10 to 12 hours (for pork shoulder), to a day or so for whole hog (I don’t cook a whole hog myself, but I know those that do). Low temps, sure, but not so low the little beasties can survive. I try to shoot for 180-200.

  82. #83 KeithB
    April 3, 2017

    The Inuit don’t seem to have a sixth sense for rotten food:
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2500/can-tupperware-cause-botulism

  83. #84 shay simmons
    April 3, 2017

    @Joymama — and if you’ve ever eaten Jello, you’ve had the rest of the pig.

  84. #85 Politicalguineapig
    April 3, 2017

    Who let the vegan in? Btw, I’ve never seen cow uterus in an Asian grocery store, and I’ve been going to them since I was in elementary school. So, I’m pretty sure Joymama’s making that up.
    So,

  85. #87 JoyMama
    April 3, 2017

    Depends on the store. The Japanese ones concentrate more on live crabs and fish. The Vietnamese stores are the ones with so many organs. They even have canned frozen pork blood.

  86. #88 JoyMama
    April 3, 2017

    Depends on the store. The Japanese ones concentrate more on live crabs and fish. The Vietnamese stores are the ones with so many organs.

  87. #89 Narad
    April 3, 2017

    Depends on the store.

    Fuck off, Travis.

  88. #90 herr doktor bimler
    April 3, 2017

    Btw, I’ve never seen cow uterus in an Asian grocery store

    In my part of the world it’s popular in Pacific Islander communities.

  89. #91 Politicalguineapig
    April 3, 2017

    KeithB: Uh, you don’t need a sixth sense at all, just a working sense of smell. And I’d suspect that northern populations like Inuit, Scandanavian and Lapplanders have a bit of a higher tolerance of microbes than other people.

  90. #92 Politicalguineapig
    April 3, 2017

    HDB: Huh. My local one is sort of all purpose; mostly caters to the Hmong community,foodies, Japanese and South Asian community, though they’ve been adding more Somalian and Indian goods to the inventory, especially since a mosque moved next door. They mostly concentrate on fruits, veg, sauces and seafood, and of course, rice.

    Joymama: Ok. That however, doesn’t explain why you popped up here all of a sudden.

  91. #93 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 3, 2017

    JoyMama, I’ve heard about that cow penis in hot dogs.
    I hear they also use bull’s vaginas.

  92. #94 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 3, 2017

    I don’t worry about hot dogs. That’s one of the few ways I keep kosher – my uncle used to be chief engineer for Hebrew National, and he would tell us how strict the mishgiach (kosher inspector) was. True, it was a long time ago, but I have seen no reason to think it’s changed much.

  93. #95 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 3, 2017

    Fuckin Travis = Tom Morris

  94. #96 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 3, 2017

    Tom Morris is, of course, our scokpuppet Travis.

    Banhammer summoned via obscene comment.

  95. #97 Politicalguineapig
    April 3, 2017

    ORD: Hebrew National’s one of my favorite brands. I haven’t had it in a while, but from what I remember they always tasted good.

  96. #98 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    April 4, 2017

    @PGP #75:

    ORD: Okay, I can see being reluctant to eat pork after examining pig’s habits closely, but what about shellfish?

    1) Shellfish are scavengers and will eat anything that can’t move fast enough to outrun them, including dead and decaying sealife.
    2) Several people are allergic to shellfish. My brother in law is one. He once had Chinese takeaway that had been cooked in the same oil as prawns. Within minutes he was vomiting hard.
    A lot of the Jewish dietary restrictions have turned out to be sound, even though, as ORD says, the reasoning h=behind them is lost to the mists of time.

  97. #99 Narad
    April 4, 2017

    A lot of the Jewish dietary restrictions have turned out to be sound, even though, as ORD says, the reasoning h=behind them is lost to the mists of time.

    Without the reasoning, it’s impossible to say whether they’re “sound.” Swaths of kashrut are absolute gibberish, such as treifiosity being carried by zeiah.

  98. #100 Elliott
    April 4, 2017

    Oy vey, enough already!

    Many Jews will tell you that the kashrut laws have a healthy basis. I love teasing my relatives about this, when they tell me beef is healthier than pork (God didn’t know about TB?). Some rabbis will tell you that the dietary laws belong to the category of commandments that cannot be explained rationally. In other words, it’s the Word of God, and it is not for us to question, just to obey.

    Undoubtedly, someone will now come back with a rabbinical opinion that contradicts what I said above. I don’t care–in my experience, when you ask two rabbis a question, you’re going to get at least three contradictory answers.

  99. #101 KeithB
    April 4, 2017

    Beef is OK, Cheese is OK. What is wrong with cheeseburgers?

    (When my wife worked at a Jewish Community Center I was tempted to ask if a Veggieburger with cheese was OK.)

    • #102 Dorit Reiss
      April 4, 2017

      The origins of this specific prohibition is a biblical clause that said “do not cook a kid (goat’s child) in its mother’s milk.”

      In a herders society where people ate their flock, I think it was a nice humanitarian idea – that there is something cruel in using a mother’s milk this way. It has less meaning in today’s world, and remains more as tradition, but that was the origin.

  100. #103 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    April 4, 2017

    What is wrong with cheeseburgers?

    I spent just over a week in Israel, and as soon as the wheels touched down, I wanted a bacon cheeseburger. There isn’t one to be had in the whole country, even at the Embassy.

    Once we had wheels-up, the craving went away.

  101. #104 JustaTech
    April 5, 2017

    Elliott @100: I’ve read that at least some of the kashrut laws are about marking inclusion to the group (“we are different from them because we eat X and they eat Y”), which seems to be pretty much the same answer as “God says”.

    Ooh, now I want kosher-for-Passover Coke. Mmm, sugar Coke.

  102. #105 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 5, 2017

    KeithB, a veggie burger with cheese is perfectly okay under kashrut. Dorit has the origins of the milk/meat separation right, and over time was extended to prohibit all milk products and all meats from being mixed.
    Under Talmudic Judaism, the wider prohibition is in the nature of crating “a fence around the law”, in other words to make the rule so broad that it’ discourages getting close in spirit or in action to the the thing that is forbidden. It should be added that there are likewise positive commandments, not just negative ones, and a long tradition of encouraging the positive acts.

  103. #106 Elliott
    April 5, 2017

    JT–the intent has been argued about ever since Moses descended from Mt. Sinai. However, it does seem to me that the overall effect is certainly to reinforce a group identity,

    Enjoy your cane sugar Coke—it’s more healthy. God says so.

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