Pharyngula

HuffPo flops again

Whenever the Huffington Post brings up a science-related issue, I just cringe. It’s Jim Carrey or Deepak Chopra or some other celebrity incompetent babbling out some nonsense — it’s like the site editors have no B.S. detectors at all. Well, now they’ve really done it: they’ve got some quack named Kim Evans piggy-backing on the recent concerns about a pandemic to offer her own remedies: Got the swine flu? Treat it with an enema. And great dog in heaven, they’ve got another quack touting chiropractic as a treatment for swine flu.

Of course, it’s not just the liberal-leaning Huffpo — every day, the frauds at the conservative website, Human Events, are dunning me with ads to buy Coenzyme Q10! And Magic Exercises to give me washboard abs in only minutes a day! Is this a golden age for quackery now?

Comments

  1. #1 quackers abound
    April 28, 2009

    One of the worst offening sites is curezone dot com.

    If you drink colloidal silver, dose up on iodine, do a liver/kidney/whatever flush, take dewormers for months at a time, cleanse your colon twice daily, treat your fungus, alkalinize your diet, go raw, do a water fast, stop eating sugar/dairy/wheat/meat, take these magic ‘formulas’, douche daily with wheatgrass, etc. – you’ll be fiiiiiine…..

  2. #2 The Science Pundit
    April 28, 2009

    All sorts of lung ailments can be cured by straightening out the spine … I mean cleaning out your colon … I mean detoxifying your liver … I mean …

  3. #3 The Science Pundit
    April 28, 2009

    Pretty soon they’ll bring back bleeding. Perhaps I can make a good living if I switch carreers and start selling leeches to quacks.

  4. #4 quackers abound
    April 28, 2009

    …and don’t forget to use your foot pads, ionize your meridians, buy a zapper(with lots of frequencies), face magnetic north, use baking soda for cancer, eat your oleander soup, drink your structured water, and NEVER go to an allopathic physician because they don’t want to cure you ’cause Big Pharma won’t let ‘em.

  5. #5 mxh
    April 28, 2009

    PZ, you’re just brainwashed by big Pharma… the people who are pushing colon cleansing/spine straightening/homeopathy/etc, on the other hand are selfless givers who have nothing to gain from pushing their cures.

  6. #6 Hammurabi
    April 28, 2009

    quackers abound, you just reminded me of a story I saw a while back… http://boingboing.net/2007/12/20/another-person-turns.html

    I wish all quack medicine turned their patients blue, that way they could be easily identified and singled out for emergency courses in good decision making

  7. #7 'Tis Himself
    April 28, 2009

    I will not give in to the temptation of commenting on how woo medicine likes enemas.

  8. #8 IST
    April 28, 2009

    Didn’t this schlep take an oath to do no harm? She seems to be br… oh right, wtf was I thinking? Why would I expect someone offering medical advice on infectious disease to be a doctor? It must be my narrow mind holding me back again.

  9. #9 Qwerty
    April 28, 2009

    PZ – You have washboard ABs! They just have a load of laundry on them!

    Bwahahahahaha!

  10. #10 CJ
    April 28, 2009

    Out of interest – what’s the deal with chiropractic? ‘Cause I totally go to a chiro here in the UK and I’ve not encountered anything that seems like quackery. So is there a difference or have I been suckered or something?

  11. #11 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 28, 2009

    stop eating sugar/dairy/wheat/meat

    Of course, there are such things as diabetes, lactose intolerance, milk allergy, wheat allergy, and gout, but… few people have any of those (except of course for the drastic geographic variation in lactase persistence).

    I will not give in to the temptation of commenting on how woo medicine likes enemas.

    I do think this is a purely US phenomenon, though. Haven’t seen it elsewhere.

  12. #12 Sastra
    April 28, 2009

    Yes, Orac’s already taken this apart on Respectful Insolence — and points out another essay by Evans, this one on the topic of the difference between science and reason. You have to read it to believe it:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-evans/health-care-scientific-or_b_190680.html

    It’s got gems like this:

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

    You see, the problem we have with the idea that you can prevent swine flu with enemas apparently has to do with the fact that we don’t think Evans is an “esoteric” enough source — and it’s a new idea we don’t already agree with. In other words, she thinks scientists decide things the same way she does: consult personal experience, and then believe in yourself.

    Sheesh.

    The religious/spiritual pseudoscience which comes out of both the so-called ‘left’ and the so-called ‘right’ share some common traits: a eager willingness to believe in conspiracy theories — especially when they have to do with people in power who are, in some significant way, too worldly — and an even more eager willingness to have faith in subjective experiences which can’t be replicated.

  13. #13 IST
    April 28, 2009

    CJ> Everything I’ve seen from a credible source says that it helps back pain and things related to the spinal cord, but nothing else.

    here: http://www.healthwatcher.net/chirowatch.com/cw-debunked.html

  14. #14 Martin Christensen
    April 28, 2009

    I don’t get it. Here in Denmark, stuff like chiropractic and acupuncture is in serious use in our medical system. Several people in my immediate family have benefited from such treatments. However, I simply cannot recognise such obvious quackery in the way it’s practiced here, e.g. we only use chiropractic for fixing back problems. I haven’t really understood before why people on this blog have been so harsh on these forms of treatment, but if all you hear is how it’ll cure anything, including swine flu, I can certainly understand your protests.

    I don’t get it; how can something that’s practiced as (more or less) medical science here in Denmark but as complete bullshit elsewhere go by the same name?

    Martin

  15. #15 kamaka
    April 28, 2009

    CJ,

    Does your chiro claim to be able to affect the flu?

    Some chiros here are major woo-meisters.

  16. #16 Ichthyic
    April 28, 2009

    I will not give in to the temptation of commenting on how woo medicine likes enemas.

    now that the word has been mentioned 3 times…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BJWAMd2IbI

  17. #17 SC, OM
    April 28, 2009

    I’ve always been amazed at the enema thing. The late night commercials for “cleansing” are so gross and just one lie after another. The idea that we naturally fill with “toxins” that way and that these have to be ritually “cleansed” and made pure is just so…Christian. Disgusting.

  18. #18 Sastra
    April 28, 2009

    CJ #10 wrote:

    Out of interest – what’s the deal with chiropractic? ‘Cause I totally go to a chiro here in the UK and I’ve not encountered anything that seems like quackery. So is there a difference or have I been suckered or something?

    My understanding is that Chiropractic has, over time, split into 2 different “camps” (with some practitioners drawing from both.) The original chiropractic theory came out of the 19th century, and rests on the belief that health relies on the flow of “animal spirits” through the body. This energy can be blocked by something called “subluxations” — small crimps in the spine which, curiously, only chiropractors can find, and no two in the same places. They believe that adjusting the back can cure just about anything — ear aches, allergies, and even serious diseases. Or, rather, they “help the body to heal itself” by allowing the chi to flow. They often reject the germ theory of disease, and discourage vaccinations.

    This is known as the “Palmer School,” or traditional chiropractry.

    Over time, some chiropractors began to treat only back and skeletal problems: when they confine themselves to this area, studies show they can be as effective as physical therapists. Some of them are quite good, and strictly follow scientific methodology.

    I’m going to guess that you’ve been going to one of these latter types.

  19. #19 Pygmy Loris
    April 28, 2009

    Martin,

    The US seems to be a veritable fount of quackery, especially the kind Evans promotes. Americans have an unholy obsession with cleanliness and I think that feeds into the notion that the colon and other organs need to be “cleansed.”

    As for why we don’t incorporate chiropractic and acupuncture among other CAM treatments is that they don’t work. Chiropractic is useful for back pain or other spinal problems as IST stated, but acupuncture is a placebo pure and simple. Since it’s illegal for our MDs to prescribe placebos (unless the patient knows that’s what it is, which defeats the purpose), you have to get your placebos from an alt practitioner who calls it something else (acupuncture, naturopathy, homeopathy, etc.)

  20. #20 CJ
    April 28, 2009

    IST – thank you for the link! I did a bit of looking on my own but I got totally lost and couldn’t figure out whether it really applied to my dude (who, incidentally, is against too much of that ‘crack yer bones’ crap because obviously too much movement of the joints = not so awesome.)

    kamaka – Nah, I like to think I’d have a few questions if he claimed that – though given how much good he’s done me if he were to say ‘soooo, about this swine flu..’ I might have to think for a moment ;)

    Anyway, thanks guys, I was afraid all the explanations of skeletons and muscles and conversations that go ‘here, do you feel how this bit’s twisted over wrong way’ ‘holy monkey is that my SPINE?!’ were just a cover. I’ve also been told by a couple of people that acupuncture has done absolute wonders for their chronic arthritis. It’s probably a good sign when the aim of a place is to have you back as infrequently as possible.

  21. #21 Gruesome Rob
    April 28, 2009

    PZ, now? I didn’t think you fell off the turnip truck this morning.

  22. #22 Blake Stacey
    April 28, 2009

    it’s like the site editors have no B.S. detectors at all.

    Their bullshit detectors are plugged in, but they need to reverse the polarity.

  23. #23 SourBlaze
    April 28, 2009

    That woman should take her enema and shove it right up her… oh, all right, lack of originality.

    Here’s a better one: The reason there’s no B.S. detectors is because HuffPo went and invested in B.S. magnets instead!

  24. #24 CJ
    April 28, 2009

    Sastra – Perhaps the only drawback to this place is smart, knowledgeable people happy to share said smarts and knowledge – it’s enough to make me incurably lazy. I’d better go read IST’s link before I get too complacent!

    As an aside – is just me or is the concentration of intelligence around these parts totally hot?

  25. #25 Newfie
    April 28, 2009

    CJ #10
    Out of interest – what’s the deal with chiropractic? ‘Cause I totally go to a chiro here in the UK and I’ve not encountered anything that seems like quackery. So is there a difference or have I been suckered or something?

    I’ve gone to a chiropractic clinic here in Newfoundland. Provincial Health Care doesn’t cover it, but my insurance does.

    From the Canadian Chiropractic website:
    http://www.ccachiro.org/Client/cca/cca.nsf/web/Facts%20%26%20FAQs?OpenDocument

    What conditions do chiropractors treat?

    Chiropractors are experts trained in the neuromusculoskeletal system. They diagnose and treat disorders of the spine and other body joints by adjusting the spinal column or through other corrective manipulation. Chiropractors provide conservative management of neuromusculoskeletal disorders including, but not limited to, back, neck and head pain (over 90 percent of conditions treated). They also advise patients on corrective exercises, lifestyle and nutrition.

    And if you’ve ever thrown out your back on the golf course, you Chiropractor is your friend.

  26. #26 Intelligent Designer
    April 28, 2009

    So how many of you skeptics are wolfing down a handful of vitamin supplements every day?

  27. #27 Russell
    April 28, 2009

    Ah, but PZ, those ads don’t show that Human Events advocates for anything, other than ad money.

  28. #28 Leukocyte
    April 28, 2009

    Nix on the vitamin supplements.

    I’m not sure that there are any more quacks than before (at least my medical history text was teeming with them), but now in the age of the internet, we have to hear from all of them in the course of our daily day. In the same vein, I refuse to believe the world has gotten stupider in the past few years (contrary to what reading the comments on the average newspaper/blog would suggest), but that even the idiots have computers and screen names now.

  29. #29 Martin Christensen
    April 28, 2009

    Pygmy Loris,

    Acupuncture is actually pretty broadly accepted as being useful here, though I’ve never heard any doctor talk about qi flows and such woo. It’s primarily used for pain relief, though it’s also in use in such diverse areas as, for instance, an aid when quitting nicotine and relieving muscle tensions. My wife was offered acupuncture as a method of pain relief during labour.

    If acupuncture can offer nothing better than the placebo effect, an awful lot of doctors would either have to be fooled or all be in on the conspiracy. I think it does have a bit more merit than that, if for no other reason than this appeal to authority.

    Martin

  30. #30 Russell
    April 28, 2009

    And again: every good American needs to go punch the button in this poll:

    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/04/28/hot-seat-bushs-war-crimes/

    Is that Minnesota backing Bush’s torture policies?

  31. #31 Becky
    April 28, 2009

    It’s a FANTASTIC remedy!
    An enema might just help flush their heads from their asses.

  32. #32 IST
    April 28, 2009

    ID> Just a glucosamine/MSM supplement, and I checked the studies on that before I bothered to pay for it…

  33. #33 raven
    April 28, 2009

    Of course, the quacks are revving up. A new pandemic that no one is sure where it is going. This is a perfect time for them to make some big money.

    As it spreads, which right now it is, expect more. Already colloidal silver, herbal remedies, electric water, and who knows what else are being marketed as treatments. Never mind that the swine flu is a week old in our public consciousness and they haven’t even tested it on a mouse much less a tissue culture dish.

    The conspiracy theorists are already out. Next up is the god smiters, anti-vaxxers, and germ theory denialists.

    Going to be heaven for the crazies. In a worst case scenario, literally.

  34. #34 The Tim Channel
    April 28, 2009

    Didn’t you know that some doctors think you may be carrying around anyway from 5 to 50 pounds of gunk just glued to your intestine walls…..

    /snark off.

    Some people are just looking for any rationalization to play with their ass.

    Enjoy.

  35. #35 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 28, 2009

    Intelligent Designer: “So how many of you skeptics are wolfing down a handful of vitamin supplements every day?”

    Who, me? I take VitD and Calcium supplements for osteoporosis. The rest I get in food.

    BTW, what does this have to do with enemas?

  36. #36 SC, OM
    April 28, 2009

    Ah – Orac and I are on the same wavelength:

    Indeed, this obsession with “toxins” and poo caking the inside of the colon is nothing more than the alt-med version of the religious belief that one is “unclean” and needs “purification,” but all the enemas in the world won’t purify believers in this woo.

    ***

    So how many of you skeptics are wolfing down a handful of vitamin supplements every day?

    That’s a no for me. Not even one, in fact.

  37. #37 Happy Tentacles
    April 28, 2009

    The best enema I’ve ever found comes from smoking a fully- laden shisha-pipe in an odd backstreet cafe in Tunisia. Doesn’t alleviate flu (Porcine or otherwise) but after a pipe of Tunisian shisha, I was not only thoroughly cleansed but could speak fluent French for as long as the influence lasted. This information might be of use to somebody. Possibly . . . Or maybe not . . .

  38. #38 Davidlpf
    April 28, 2009

    I never ever put any bacon there.

  39. #39 Intelligent Designer
    April 28, 2009

    Wikipedia on MSM:

    MSM is promoted as a natural source of sulfur by the supplement and health food industry, suggesting that people are deficient in sulfur intake. However, protein in the diet is an abundant source of sulfur, which is contained in the amino acids methionine and cysteine. MSM is sold as a dietary supplement that is marketed with a variety of claims and is commonly used (often in combination with glucosamine and/or chondroitin) for helping to treat or prevent osteoarthritis. U.S. Retail sales of MSM as a single ingredient in dietary supplements amounted to $115 million in 2003.

  40. #40 IST
    April 28, 2009

    ID> yup.. keep reading that entry, and check the Kim et al study… and it’s in the same capsule as the Glucosamine. (Chondroitin is the other option for combo, and it clearly has no benefit)

  41. #41 Watchman
    April 28, 2009

    ID:

    So how many of you skeptics are wolfing down a handful of vitamin supplements every day?

    I’m not. Do I win a prize?

    Sastra:

    Over time, some chiropractors began to treat only back and skeletal problems: when they confine themselves to this area, studies show they can be as effective as physical therapists. Some of them are quite good, and strictly follow scientific methodology.

    Yes. In fact, I’ve never met a chiropractor who has used the word “subluxation” in my presence. I’ve had some very good experiences with chiropractic care, including suggestions of exercises and stretching I could do on my own time that would improve muscular support of the spine and help avoid, or minimize, similar problems that might occur in the future. No woo, nothing magical – though I’ve had a few adjustments that were nearly preternatural in their effectiveness, and I’m not talking placebo effect or confirmation bias here. I know the difference. I’m talking immediate and complete alleviation of a problem. That said, I believe a little bit goes a long way, and I’m not convinced that regular, routine visits aren’t a questionable practice for the average person.

  42. #42 Rob Adams
    April 28, 2009

    The thing I like about HuffPo is their policy of gathering together in one place a good percentage of the things on the internet that aren’t worth reading. It saves me a lot of time sorting through digg feeds for example to be able to just ignore anything linking there, since I know it will be awful.

  43. #43 Ichthyic
    April 28, 2009

    Randy, I take it you are looking for skeptics that have fallen for woo, like you have fallen for ID?

    why?

    commiseration?

  44. #44 Sastra
    April 28, 2009

    Intelligent Designer #26 wrote:

    So how many of you skeptics are wolfing down a handful of vitamin supplements every day?

    Not many, I’d guess: skeptic-humanist groups go with the science, and the science says they’re over-hyped. I take one multi-vitamin, but only because I don’t always eat right, and recognize it’s still probably not necessary.

    By the way, the New-Agey, liberal, “I’m- not- religious- I’m- spiritual” types dislike the secular humanists almost as much — and sometimes more — than the traditional, conservative religionists. We’re too mean and critical, and not “open-minded.”

    I’ve noted that a lot of Christians tend to lump humanists together with postmodernists, because they have some political beliefs in common. Secular humanists, on the other hand, tend to lump the “everything comes down to faith and other ways of knowing there really is a spiritual truth” people together. We can tell them apart, of course (especially politically) — but what they have in common, is rejection or re-definition of scientific method.

  45. #45 Intelligent Designer
    April 28, 2009

    Wikipedia on Glucosamine:

    Oral glucosamine is commonly used for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Since glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans, and glycosaminoglycans are a major component of joint cartilage, supplemental glucosamine may help to rebuild cartilage and treat arthritis. Its use as a therapy for osteoarthritis appears safe, but there is conflicting evidence as to its effectiveness … It also found that when only the studies using the highest-quality design were considered, there was no effect above placebo.

  46. #46 Loc
    April 28, 2009

    Huff Post needs to salvage any respect they have by hiring an Enzyte rep to write an objective article about penis size and sexual performance.

  47. #47 Mu
    April 28, 2009

    For those looking for the proof of efficacy of chiropractor treatment and acupuncture, a quick trip to Respectful Insolence might be in order. Orac’s been pretty good at presenting the science debunking that myth as high-class placebo.

  48. #48 The Science Pundit
    April 28, 2009

    @SourBlaze (#23)

    That woman should take her enema and shove it right up her… oh, all right, lack of originality.

    Here’s a better one: The reason there’s no B.S. detectors is because HuffPo went and invested in B.S. magnets instead!

    Who needs a BS detector when you can just give all the bulls enemas?

  49. #49 Ichthyic
    April 28, 2009

    (Chondroitin is the other option for combo, and it clearly has no benefit)

    not only does it provide no benefit, but one of the primary sources of it is sharks, which are being overfished like there’s no tomorrow as it is.

    In the 90′s, the chondrotin industry (for fucking PETS as well as humans), was one of the primary factors leading to overfishing.

    Not sure what the figures are for this decade; I suspect they have dropped off a bit as bovine sources have become more common.

  50. #50 Pygmy Loris
    April 28, 2009

    Martin,

    I believe that many people experience pain relief as a result of acupuncture. I don’t believe that it’s actually a product of the acupuncture. The placebo effect can be very powerful. That doesn’t mean it’s not a placebo.

    Right now there are many conflicting studies as to whether acupuncture actually provides relief to patients. One of the problems has been creating a viable placebo for the control group.

    Checkout
    Quackwatch which provides references to many peer reviewed articles on acupuncture and also has quite a bit of information on all sorts of alt “medicine.”

  51. #51 IST
    April 28, 2009

    ID> again, yes, thank you. Did you bother to read the rest? or just quotemine? There are recent studies cited there that show effectiveness… so yes, mixed results indeed. If you have anything more substantial that demonstrates that either or both don’t work, I’d appreciate it. Not interested in wasting money.

  52. #52 IST
    April 28, 2009

    and if someone has a better option for treating my knee arthritis, other than replacing them, I’d love to hear it.

  53. #53 Pygmy Loris
    April 28, 2009

    Intelligent Designer,

    I don’t take vitamins. I’m not a vegan* so I don’t need to supplement my diet with horse pills :)

  54. #54 tmaxPA
    April 28, 2009

    I think acupuncture and chiropractic both illustrate an important point about ‘alternative medicine’, which is that if there were anything about it that worked, it wouldn’t be ‘alternative’. Both treatments are firmly based in non-science crapola. Yet, despite the outrageously wrong explanations they have for their own positive affects, it can be shown that they have positive affects.

    So medicine, because it will embrace any alternative that WORKS, incorporates the treatments, but not the pseudo-science. The ‘modern’ (non-Palmer School, as it were) chiropracticioners (?) recognize they are manipulating bones to treat misalignments, not undoing ‘subluxations’.

    And as for the claim that acupuncture is only the placebo effect, that is not necessarily so. What is true is that the effectiveness of acupuncture cannot be scientifically distinguished from the placebo effect, because it is presumed that you either do or do not have needles stuck into your flesh, making double-blind studies impossible.

    So it may be fashionable for skeptics to conclude that acupuncture is only a placebo effect, but it ain’t necessarily so. Still, there is certainly no doubt that if it has any additional effect, it has nothing to do with ‘chi’.

  55. #55 Ichthyic
    April 28, 2009

    and if someone has a better option for treating my knee arthritis, other than replacing them, I’d love to hear it.

    Hey, I’m no expert on the latest effective arthritic treatments, but some old standbys that I recall:

    Hot water bottles, steroids or other anti-inflammatories, and what’s wrong with replacement, btw, or is it contraindicated in certain cases of arthritis?

    as to your current course of action, have you considered that if there is no concrete evidence supporting it, and there are demonstrable tangential disadvantages to it, that it might not be a good thing to continue?

    Placebos are one thing, but placebos that have negative impacts are something else.

    That said, I don’t recall that glucosamine itself has much impact on anything, just the chondrotin.

    btw, I saved this article on glucosamine some time back, not sure if there are newer studies:

    http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/DSH/glucosamine.html

    good luck, I know that pain really sucks; my pop suffered with it for years in his knees and feet.

  56. #56 Cokehead
    April 28, 2009

    I also take vitamins. I’ve eaten unhealthy for years (I used to be constantly underweight due to ADHD meds – I had to eat an insane amount of healthy food to stay at a stable weight. Parents eventually decided that it’d just be better to stick to foods that would maintain weight) – the idea is, because of the incredible unhealthiness of my diet, the vitamins will act as a tiny counterbalance.

    They’re not exactly harmful either, I’ve experienced no ill effects. Then again, I haven’t experienced ill effects resulting from a terrible diet, either, other than slight overweightness and a loss of appetite…

    -Cokehead

  57. #57 kamaka
    April 28, 2009

    So how many of you skeptics are wolfing down a handful of vitamin supplements every day?

    You don’t need vitamins if you eat squid.

    Mmmmm… tentacles…

  58. #58 Intelligent Designer
    April 28, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    Here is a dose of some of my own quackery: I think that non-processed food is intelligently designed and contains everything we need for good health. My strategy for good health is to eat a little bit of a lot of different kinds of foods, drink lots of water and to exercise moderately. So during a lunch or dinner meal I’ll try to eat at least a bite of 10 to 15 different non-processed foods. For breakfast I will try to eat 3 to 5. This is usually pretty easy to do if you eat a lot of fruit, salad and korean food. I don’t take supplements and I avoid medication unless it is absolutely necessary. If I am perscribed something by a doctor I always ask if the medication is necessary for treatment or just to make me comfortable while my body performs its only healing work. I don’t like to put synthetic crap in my body if I don’t have to.

  59. #59 JackC
    April 28, 2009

    Another NO on the vitamin supplements. I believe in eating poorly and getting my lack of vitamins from that non-source.

    That and bacon.

    JC

  60. #60 Ichthyic
    April 28, 2009

    Here is a dose of some of my own quackery

    *sigh*

  61. #61 IST
    April 28, 2009

    Ichthyic> TY.
    hot water bottles don’t do a thing for me, and I was attempting to avoid steriods as I’m not a fan of the side-effects. As for the NSAIDS, I take those also, although sparingly because I do tend to drink a bit.

    Replacement isn’t contraindicated as far as I’m aware, but it would be a major pain in the ass… I suppose that’d be better than a major pain in the knees.

    As far as the supplements go, there isn’t any solid evidence that they have have any harmful side effects, but as there seems to be the same lack of solid evidence in regards to their efficacy (wasn’t considering who was making the claim here…) I’d say I’m on my last bottle of them. Time for a new doctor as well, it appears.

  62. #62 Desert Son
    April 28, 2009

    Just had a related discussion with a friend of mine. One of the points I made about science in the discussion was that science is self-correcting. At some point scientists figured out oxygen was necessary for combustion, and that there was no such thing as phlogiston. Result: discard phlogiston theory.

    The counterpoint, though, is that there has always been some portion of humans who want to continue to believe in phlogiston, no matter how much the facts demonstrate that oxygen is necessary for combustion. They need phlogiston as a psychological condition. And for that portion of people, there will always be another portion of people who have phlogiston to sell, as much as the consumer can buy.

    No kings,

    Robert

  63. #63 Sastra
    April 28, 2009

    tmaxPA #54 wrote:

    So medicine, because it will embrace any alternative that WORKS, incorporates the treatments, but not the pseudo-science.

    I think naturalism/secularism has the same relationship to religion, that science-based medicine has to so-called alternative medicine. Those things in religion which are valuable (art, charity work, community) work on secular ground, and are secular. They’re not “religious,” any more than herbal remedies supported by good studies are “alternative medicine.”

    And yet, both alt med and religion try to use the bait ‘n switch: take those parts which happen to be reasonable, and lay claim to them, as exclusively and uniquely their own. And then, if you accept that they came out of alt med/religion, the supernatural-woo is supposed to be supported, and legitimate.

  64. #64 Pygmy Loris
    April 28, 2009

    tmaxPA

    And as for the claim that acupuncture is only the placebo effect, that is not necessarily so. What is true is that the effectiveness of acupuncture cannot be scientifically distinguished from the placebo effect, because it is presumed that you either do or do not have needles stuck into your flesh, making double-blind studies impossible.

    Sham acupuncture has been used in clinical trials. Needles are inserted, but they’re not in the right place or deep enough etc. Also there are increasingly sophisticated techniques of simulating the feeling of acupuncture without needles (I read about these awhile ago but can’t remember where). So yes there are double blind studies and they show that acupuncture is a placebo.

  65. #65 Cath the Canberra Cook
    April 28, 2009

    About acupuncture:
    I recommend Singh & Ernst’s Trick or Treatment for a good overview. There are ways of doing at least single blind acupuncture studies – needles at supposedly wrong point; retracting needles that go in an extremely shallow depth as compared to the proper ones. It seems also that a lot of the initial credibility of acupuncture came from outright lies – Chinese Maoist propaganda. It looked good, so it took some time to be debunked. But the evidence is now in enough to say that yes, it is placebo.

  66. #66 N? Maka &#lsquo;?
    April 28, 2009

    I think that non-processed food is intelligently designed

    That’s supposed to be funny, right?

  67. #67 PA
    April 28, 2009

    Look: I like an enema as much as the next guy. But I don’t think it will cure the flu.

  68. #68 Wowbagger, OM
    April 28, 2009

    Randy wrote:

    I think that non-processed food is intelligently designed

    You do realise that you’d need a time machine to find any ‘intelligently designed’ food, Randy – there’s not much chance you’d find any fruit and vegetables that have not been artificially selected by thousands of years of human cultivation otherwise.

  69. #69 Inky
    April 28, 2009

    The Golden Age of Quackery reached its peak in the Dark Ages, but, coincident with science illiteracy and religious fundamentalism (I know, a redundancy!) in the United States, Quackery is in an upward trend.

    Actually, I think that base levels of quackery are probably fairly consistent. They just sound slightly more sciencey over time.

  70. #70 Miranda Hale
    April 28, 2009

    I know that others have said it before, but The Huffington Post very frequently makes me embarrassed to be a Liberal. That kind of “we must remain open-minded about EVERYTHING, even if there’s no evidence to back up the assertions that the writers are making, just so that we will be Good Liberals” is just SO tiring.

  71. #71 Newfie
    April 28, 2009

    oh, and with regard to HuffPo. They have some good columnists, and some not good columnists… and some celebrity bloggers..
    Science blogs has some good bloggers, and some not so good bloggers…. and a great one that we all like.
    You take the good, dump the bad.. and bottom line, HuffPo is a commercial enterprise, and most of the folks here aren’t their target demographic.

  72. #72 Desert Son
    April 28, 2009

    PA at #67:

    “Howls of derisive laughter, Bruce!”

    Also:

    washboard abs in only ten minutes a day!

    At this point, I need to face reality and just admit I’ve gone from washboard abs to washing machine abs.

    No kings,

    Robert

  73. #73 PA
    April 28, 2009

    The Huffington Post very frequently makes me embarrassed to be a Liberal

    But it makes be proud to be a celebrity stalker.

  74. #74 Josh
    April 28, 2009

    there’s not much chance you’d find any fruit and vegetables that have not been artificially selected by thousands of years of human cultivation otherwise.

    There might be a few out there…

    As far as I can recall, isn’t Balsas teosinte currently postulated to be directly ancestral to modern corn?

  75. #75 Pygmy Loris
    April 28, 2009

    If you want to find double blind acupuncture studies use google scholar and type in double blind acupuncture

  76. #76 The Science Pundit
    April 28, 2009

    No on vitamins.

  77. #77 Anonymous
    April 28, 2009

    You do realise that you’d need a time machine to find any ‘intelligently designed’ food,

    ahh, let me be the first to post the obvious:

    he could always consult Ray Comfort, after all, the banana is designed…for something…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z-OLG0KyR4

  78. #78 Josh
    April 28, 2009

    @74: what I wrote doesn’t weaken your point much, of course…

    Oh yeah. No on vitamins.

  79. #79 druid
    April 28, 2009

    Well, for whatever it is good, Coenzyme Q 10 did show some efficacy in Parkinson’s’ disease, some potential for symptoms of congestive heart failure and quite a few doctors will advise it for aches and pains in muscles in people who take cholesterol drugs (statins).

  80. #80 Longtime Lurker
    April 28, 2009

    There might be a few out there…

    As far as I can recall, isn’t Balsas teosinte currently postulated to be directly ancestral to modern corn?

    I think the original point is that Balsas teosinte is typically not eaten by populations who have readily available Zea mays.

    Balanced diet, enough fiber to “scour the pipes”, no vitamins, no enemas. For flu… hand washing and hope.

  81. #81 Josh
    April 28, 2009

    I think the original point is that Balsas teosinte is typically not eaten by populations who have readily available Zea mays.

    Well, I’m certainly not disagreeing with that. I didn’t see that as the point.

  82. #82 ndt
    April 28, 2009

    Posted by: Martin Christensen | April 28, 2009 6:32 PM

    If acupuncture can offer nothing better than the placebo effect, an awful lot of doctors would either have to be fooled or all be in on the conspiracy.

    I think an awful lot of Danish doctors have either been fooled or are in on the deception. The latter is not necessarily a bad thing; the placebo effect can work.

  83. #83 Tatarize
    April 28, 2009

    Tisk. PZ. I’m an avowed skeptic of the highest order and I think *EVERYBODY* should treat their swine flu with chiropractic remedies! Go into the “doctor” office especially during the first 48 hours of showing symptoms and get such a remedy. In fact, you should go about to all the chiropractors in town during this critical period to maximize “results”.

  84. #84 Michael W Simpson
    April 28, 2009

    Take multivatimins? For what? So that my urine can be filled with vitamins, so that the rats in the sewer systems can benefit? I eat right. I don’t waste money on vitamins.

    And as for glucosamine and chondrointon. You’re using Wikipedia as your source? WTF? I thought this group was smarter than that. Both articles illustrate the terrible state of Wikipedia’s medical articles in that there are bogus statements unsupported by the citations. Well constructed clinical trials have shown nothing. But one or two poorly constructed ones show something, so typical of creationists/vitamin pushers/anti-vaccine types, all there is no weight given to the better studies.

    Those who use Wikipedia for their medical conclusions. Good luck, it’ll kill you.

  85. #85 Andrew
    April 28, 2009

    Here is a dose of some of my own quackery: I think that non-processed food is intelligently designed and contains everything we need for good health. My strategy for good health is to eat a little bit of a lot of different kinds of foods, drink lots of water and to exercise moderately. So during a lunch or dinner meal I’ll try to eat at least a bite of 10 to 15 different non-processed foods. For breakfast I will try to eat 3 to 5. This is usually pretty easy to do if you eat a lot of fruit, salad and korean food. I don’t take supplements and I avoid medication unless it is absolutely necessary. If I am perscribed something by a doctor I always ask if the medication is necessary for treatment or just to make me comfortable while my body performs its only healing work. I don’t like to put synthetic crap in my body if I don’t have to.

    You’ve got it a little backwards — we’re designed (by natural selection) to eat non-processed, natural foods. What you describe is a very good idea, and similar to what a lot of animals do in nature.

  86. #86 Pygmy Loris
    April 28, 2009

    Tatarize,

    You just made everyone in the library give me a dirty look for laughing so loud :)

  87. #87 HenryS
    April 28, 2009

    If you want swine flu answers here is the place to go:

    Republican Faith Chat
    Conservative Christians ONLY. Liberals, Atheists Not Welcomed

    “SWINE FLU: GOD?S LATEST PUNISHMENT OF IDOL-WORSHIP”

    Can’t beat Republicans for faith based science.

    http://baptistsforbrown2008.wordpress.com/

  88. #88 sugarbaby666
    April 28, 2009

    I don’t understand what the enema is supposed to do.

    I’d rather listen to Chopra than Hovind or Ham.

  89. #89 tmaxPA
    April 28, 2009

    Sastra@63: Good point.

    PL@64: I don’t understand what ‘the right place’ or ‘deep enough’ means in this context. You’re not testing against acupuncturist’s claims, you’re testing against the subject’s response. Let’s put it this way; if it is a placebo effect, but it is a reliable placebo effect (even if only for some people), then it isn’t a placebo effect, it is just something that can’t be statistically differentiated from a placebo effect. Like spinal manipulation, this may very well be something that it does not behoove the skeptic to scoff at, regardless of their intuitions.

    That said:

    Newfie@71: That is a problem that infects the entire feminist movement. Blame thousands of years of entirely imaginary claims of “women’s intuition”, I guess, because any organized feminist gathering, no matter how serious, is going to have a strong strain of woo.

    I was thinking about this the other day, in a different context, because it seems to be an aspect of the development of modern atheism. All of the positive social enlightenment that came out of The 60s was tainted from one end to the other with woo. Atheists were either dry and somber and claiming it’s still a good thing to go to Church, or they were themselves totally frootloops and not really atheists at all. Skeptical of the Gods of modern religion, but not their own personal woo.

    What got me thinking about this is that my mother got involved in psychology in the hay day of the 70s. And I realized that, in contrast to neurobiology and anthropology, the studies of psychology and sociology are hopelessly moribund and still stuck for the most part in that woo-filled era. In the end I figured neither will get anywhere until somebody manages to put them both together.

  90. #90 2 cents
    April 28, 2009

    Would you believe the Mayo Clinic uses leeches and offers acupuncture?

    The leeches are applied after someone has a finger reattached. As the blood vessels in the finger knit together, they prevent blood flow back to the arm and the finger swells. The leeches suck enough to keep the swelling to a minimum. I’ve taken care of these patients and observed the process.

    Acupuncture works on the gateway theory of nerve stimulation. A nerve can carry only one sensation at a time, e.g., pain. The acupuncture needle interrupts the flow of sensation and prevents the brain from “recognizing” the pain signal. The needles must be placed accurately to be effective. I have not seen any clinical studies on the efficacy, just anecdotal.

    The main point is that Mayo is not quick to try treatments of any kind until they are sure the procedures are valid.

    (my credentials: retired RN, Mayo)

  91. #91 anon
    April 28, 2009

    “Is this a golden age for quackery now?”

    That’s most of the ads you’ll hear on Christian radio these days; apparently the advertisers have come to the strange conclusion that Christians — particularly Christian talk radio listeners — are an exceptionally gullible bunch. Can’t imagine why.

  92. #92 Fl bluefish
    April 28, 2009

    I got a question for you folks…I hope it’s not too far off topic ,but I’ve been dealing with some pretty nasty back pain and have been looking into procedure call “Spinal Decompression”…..They basically put you on a rack and stretch your spine to relieve pressure on bulging and herniated disks so that they can “Rehydrate”.
    The rub is that when I asked the Doctor if he could prescribe me some medicine for the pain he said he could not because he’s a Chiropractor.

    I’ve read here and at” Bad Astronomy ” long enough that red lights started flashing.

    Is this procedure quackery.?

  93. #93 gaypaganunitarianagnostic
    April 28, 2009

    Some few years ago I was given a barium drink for gastrointestinal x rays. The I was told to take a purgative. For a few days afterward I felt wonderful. I concluded that that was why purges and enemas were so popular in earlier times.

  94. #94 supplement believer
    April 28, 2009

    Many of you areknocking supplements, but have any of you ever tried any of them. Of course an enema is not a supplement and is useless unless it is medically needed.

    However, forget what “science” tells you and think about this for a moment: What was the last disease that was actually cured? It was polio. There has not been an effective vaccine for anything (except certain forms of flu)since then. Why do we not have a cure for cancer? Cancer is a terrible disease that can affect anyone at any stage of life and yet we make so little efforts to find a cause and cure.

    However, if you really stop and think about it, why would anyone in the industry want a cure? There is no money in a cure – there is billions in treatments though.

    Maybe we should start hiring private researchers who actually have cancer to do the job and pay them with private cash tax free funds.

    Supplemts do help. I suffer from kidney stones. The doctors only say cut down on sodium, drink plenty of clear liquids, cut down on red meats (impossible – it’s so delicious), etc. While all of ths helps, I did manage to find Uriflow on the internet. I doubted the claims that it made about reverting sones back into urine. The doctor said it was impossible. He told me I might have to have the stone crushed in order to pass it.

    Well, I had nothing to loose so I ordered Uriflow and within one week my stone shrank one whole size and I passed it (with pain) without medical procedures. Popped a few pain pills, moaned and groaned, and walah! A brand new baby stone in the toilet.

    I normally do not go for such unproven treatments, but with the pain I ws in I was willing to try it once anyway.

    Ther are alternatives to heart surgery and blockages if the bloclages are not too bad. I prefer the EDTA Chelation therapy to surgery any day.

    So, before you knock alternative medicines (and energy for that matter) at least try it once.

  95. #95 Sastra
    April 28, 2009

    FI Bluefish #92 wrote:

    I got a question for you folks…I hope it’s not too far off topic ,but I’ve been dealing with some pretty nasty back pain and have been looking into procedure call “Spinal Decompression”

    That term rang a bell with me, I thought I remembered that Harriet Hall had written on it. And so she did:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=196#more-196

    She also wrote about it in Skeptical Inquirer. If this is what you’re talking about, seems to be a scam…

  96. #96 raven
    April 28, 2009

    raven #33:

    The conspiracy theorists are already out. Next up are the god smiters, anti-vaxxers, and germ theory denialists.

    Henrys #87:

    Republican Faith Chat
    Conservative Christians ONLY. Liberals, Atheists Not Welcomed

    “SWINE FLU: GOD?S LATEST PUNISHMENT OF IDOL-WORSHIP”

    Well that didn’t take long. I predicted this a few days ago, not that it isn’t mind numbingly routine.

    Their imaginary target of god’s wrath is lame and weak. What in the hell are idol worshippers and where’s their IDOL.

    I believe this is an anti-catholic slam, xians being known for murderous bigotry towards each other and Mexico is a catholic country. One of their slang insults for catholics is idol worshippers.

    But rest assured, the usual demons will be blamed. Gays, biologists, scientists, MDs, Moslems, Jews, Obama, Democrats, Fairies, Illuminati, nonwhites, and so on. Damn, more mind numbing stupidity and lack of imagination. These morons haven’t invented a new bogey man in decades and the old ones have gotten trite and overworked.

  97. #97 Ichthyic
    April 28, 2009

    forget what “science” tells you

    Umm, no.

    …and think about this for a moment: What was the last disease that was actually cured? It was polio. There has not been an effective vaccine for anything (except certain forms of flu)since then. Why do we not have a cure for cancer? Cancer is a terrible disease that can affect anyone at any stage of life and yet we make so little efforts to find a cause and cure.

    *blink*

    I think I’m experience contradiction overload. No effective vaccines except for the ones that are effective?

    I normally do not go for such unproven treatments, but with the pain I ws in I was willing to try it once anyway.

    so correlation = causation for you then, eh?

    Yup, woo is for you then. Get yourself hence to an herbal practitioner and abandon your GP stat!

    I’m sure those who would prefer to take advantage of medical science will thank you for bowing out.

    within one week my stone shrank one whole size and I passed it (with pain) without medical procedures.

    but it didn’t magically xform into urine now, did it?

    so if it didn’t do what the product claimed it would, but you still passed it, your conclusion is that the product was responsible.

    uh huh.

  98. #98 Patricia, OM
    April 28, 2009

    You guys are really tough on us herb peddlers.

    Damn lucky thing for me you like hops, and bacon goes good with eggs. *snort*

  99. #99 Intelligent Designer
    April 28, 2009

    Fl bluefish,

    I would definitely try spinal decompression before going under the knife. The success rate isn’t as high as surgery for bulging or herniated disks, but it costs less, is less dangerous and has no recovery time. If it doesn’t work for you then try surgery.

    If you are a smoker quit. Spinal tissue heals slowly and smokers heal slower than non-smokers. So whether you try decompression or surgey, if you are a smoker it will help your back to quit.

    You can also try an inversion table to help decompress your lower back. I have one and my chiropractor suggested I use it at a 45 degree angle for one minute twice a day for self decompression. They cost about $200-$300. Costco sometimes carries them.

  100. #100 Cliff Hendroval
    April 28, 2009

    I don’t know if I’ve posted this here or somewhere else, but it’s still relevant. Throughout the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s there was a stock character who showed up in popular literature, plays and movies. She was a well-to-do society woman of middle years and (at best) middling intelligence who becomes totally obsessed with woo: usually it was spiritualism or some form of the Wisdom Of The East. Often there was a rather obvious fraudulent spiritual leader or “doctor” that this woman was an acolyte of; he was usually unmasked as a fraud/blackmailer/sexual predator.

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

  101. #101 Pygmy Loris
    April 28, 2009

    tmaxPA

    PL@64: I don’t understand what ‘the right place’ or ‘deep enough’ means in this context. You’re not testing against acupuncturist’s claims, you’re testing against the subject’s response.

    Placing the needles in the wrong place is exactly what it sounds like. For various acupuncture treatments there are a set of locations where you insert the needles. When you put them in a different place you’re changing the treatment. That’s pretty obvious. Not placing the needles deep enough is again self explanatory. Acupuncture requires the needles to be placed at a certain depth and in the control groups the needles will be placed in a more shallow position so that the subject gets the feeling of a needle, but won’t get the treatment because the needle isn’t deep enough. Your point that we’re not testing against acupuncturists’ claims is ridiculous. That’s the basis for testing. If acupuncturists weren’t making claims about the efficacy of their treatments we wouldn’t be testing them.

    Anyway, there’s considerable evidence that the response patients have is a placebo effect. Other than the two techniques I described above, there is a technique where the needles are encased in a sheath and a plunger is used to insert (or not) the needle. Because the sheath is pressed against the skin the subject cannot distinguish whether or not a needle was inserted. Again, these studies find that acupuncture is no more effective than the fake acupuncture. Like I said, use Google Scholar and look up double blind acupunture and check out the page on acupuncture at quackwatch.com.

    Let’s put it this way; if it is a placebo effect, but it is a reliable placebo effect (even if only for some people), then it isn’t a placebo effect, it is just something that can’t be statistically differentiated from a placebo effect. Like spinal manipulation, this may very well be something that it does not behoove the skeptic to scoff at, regardless of their intuitions.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about here. If the effect is indistinguishable from a placebo, it’s really not much of an effect is it? The most parsimonious explanation is that it’s a placebo effect. And I’m not scoffing at the ability of spinal manipulation to treat spinal pain. The thing we scoff at is the idea that spinal manipulation can treat ear aches or any other medical problem other than spinal misalignment or back pain. It can’t and it doesn’t. Bottom line.

    Furthermore, the primary condition people seem to be claiming acupuncture as a valid treatment for is chronic pain. Because chronic pain that is not caused by a medical condition (like osteoarthritis) is a problem with the brain’s ability to interpret stimuli, it’s very reasonable to suppose the placebo effect would be more pronounced in this group of people because of the ability of the brain to modify itself.

    Note that I am not saying chronic pain is all in a patient’s head, just that it may be easier to alleviate pain that has no physiological cause through placebo effects than pain that has a definitive physiological cause since the stimulus creating the pain doesn’t go away.

  102. #102 Ichthyic
    April 28, 2009

    You guys are really tough on us herb peddlers.

    hey now, I ain’t no *dope* who calls the *pot* black. I can readily relate to the effects of certain, uh, *herb*s, and wouldn’t attempt to *weed* out the purveyors of same.

    Yeah, it’s medicinal. I got a doctor’s note. I have a *chronic* cough.
    :P

  103. #103 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 28, 2009

    I got a question for you folks…I hope it’s not too far off topic ,but I’ve been dealing with some pretty nasty back pain and have been looking into procedure call “Spinal Decompression”…..They basically put you on a rack and stretch your spine to relieve pressure on bulging and herniated disks so that they can “Rehydrate”.
    The rub is that when I asked the Doctor if he could prescribe me some medicine for the pain he said he could not because he’s a Chiropractor.

    I’ve read here and at” Bad Astronomy ” long enough that red lights started flashing.

    Is this procedure quackery.?

    There’s one word in your comment that should tell you it is quackery.

    see if you can pick it out.

  104. #104 JackC
    April 28, 2009

    FI Bluefish@92:

    Both a friend of mine and I are carrying a bit too much bacon around the midsection. We both have some pretty good back pain.

    He has acquired one of these “inversion” things – you basically strap in and flip upside down for a few minutes a few times a week.

    He is doing much better. I am not. I have been thinking about getting (or making – I am basically a Scotsman, true or not) one.

    Anecdotal? Yes – but probably a HELL of a lot less expensive than having the same thing done by a Chiroproctologist. I have been to those too – meh.

    JC

  105. #105 Sastra
    April 28, 2009

    supplement believer #94 wrote:

    Many of you areknocking supplements, but have any of you ever tried any of them.

    Trying something for myself would likely tell me nothing, since it would be an uncontrolled study of one. You underestimate how easy it is to make errors when there are a lot of confounding factors, such as in health. The methods of science help us to weed out mistakes we make when we’re biased, and only see part of a larger picture.

    Why do we not have a cure for cancer? Cancer is a terrible disease that can affect anyone at any stage of life and yet we make so little efforts to find a cause and cure.

    Making no efforts to find a cause and cure for cancer? Nonsense. Go over and see cancer-doc-researcher Orac at Respectful Insolence. Cancer is an extremely difficult disease to deal with, on many levels.

    If you want a quick and easy cure for cancer, go see a quack.

    However, if you really stop and think about it, why would anyone in the industry want a cure? There is no money in a cure – there is billions in treatments though.

    Anyone, or any group, which found a cure for cancer would become rich and famous. Researchers are also human, and their own loved ones get cancer — even if you think they are monsters who care nothing for other people, so they will suppress a real cure. This is errant nonsense, and conspiracy thinking.

    As for your personal story, people pass kidney stones all the time. There is no good evidence here that your medicine must have been the thing that “worked.” And chelation therapy for heart problems (as opposed to removing lead poisoning) is known quackery. You clearly have no discernment on what sources to trust, and which ones to be suspicious about.

    So, before you knock alternative medicines (and energy for that matter) at least try it once.

    Again, personal anecdotes — even when they actually happen to us — are not good evidence for efficiency, particularly when the therapy is scientifically implausible to begin with. The only way we’re going to “forget what science tells us” is for us to start to think we can’t make mistakes, and believe in ourselves, as special.

    This is science blogs, and we understand what personal bias, arrogance, and ignorance can do. No way, babe.

  106. #106 'Tis Himself
    April 28, 2009

    You guys are really tough on us herb peddlers.

    Nothing wrong with herbs. My basil is starting to come up, so I’ll be using fresh leaves in my spaghetti sauce instead of dried. Rosemary is a perennial so I always have some to go with lamb. In another month or so the catnip can be harvested so the cats can get stoned.

    Nope, I have nothing against herbs.

  107. #107 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 28, 2009

    the plural of anecdotes is not data.

  108. #108 Li'l Innocent
    April 28, 2009

    What age has not been golden for quackery? I can’t think of any offhand. Some ages have been goldener than others, but not have been leaden.

    People in various kinds of pain – mental, physical, emotional – are willing to experiment, and inclined to hope, even if rationality cautions them against it. Also, some kinds of pain are not dependably treatable by conventional medicine in its present state of development.

  109. #109 Li'l Innocent
    April 28, 2009

    Feh – that should be “NONE have been leaden”.
    It’s been a hard day. Usually I’m perfect.

  110. #110 Pygmy Loris
    April 28, 2009

    “the plural of anecdotes is not data.”

    I think this is exactly why sociocultural anthropology has moved away from a “sciencey” basis to a more narrative structure. It seems to me this is one of the key aspects of the Post-modern critique, though I’ve never heard it put that way in any of my sociocultural anthropology classes. Which reminds me that tmaxPA said upthread that anthropology wasn’t stuck in the woo-age. I beg to differ. Check out medical anthropology and the extremists who say that other ways of knowing are just as good as science and that traditional treatments should be respected…they’re woosters all the way.

  111. #111 Anonymous
    April 28, 2009

    Given the steady stream of bullshit that flows from the place, what I’d like to know is how Huffington Post managed to convince Sam Harris to write for them.

  112. #112 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 28, 2009

    sorry that should have been

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    Threw an s in there.

  113. #113 Fl bluefish
    April 28, 2009

    Thanks to everybody for the info on back pain.
    I’d be fine in zero gravity… but until then I’ve got to do something.

  114. #114 Lycosid
    April 28, 2009

    A dying man who had been a chiropractor once looked at me and said “I thought chiropractic was going to change the world, but it was all bullshit.”

    True story.

  115. #115 InfraredEyes
    April 28, 2009

    Arianna Huffington has never, so far as I know, met a form of woo-woo that she did not like. HuffPo will give space to the likes of Deepak Chopra for as long as she is running it. On the plus side, she has also given space to Dawkins and Hitchens although I would hope that they would think twice about posting there after this. Advocating enemas to cure the flu crosses the line from merely silly to downright dangerous.

  116. #116 Will E.
    April 28, 2009

    What most disturbed me about supplement believer’s comment #94 was the astonishingly illiterate spelling–one I’ve *never* seen *anywhere* before–of “walah” for, I can only assume, the commonly used French word “voilà.” Should we be surprised?

  117. #117 Keanus
    April 28, 2009

    A week ago I had to have a prostate biopsy, the preparation for which called for an enema two hours before. Not having had an enema since I was less than 10 (and my mother gave it to me), I visited the drug store to pick up a Fleet Enema. I was astounded. At least 25 feet os shelf space was devoted to enemas?several different brands, each in several flavors (I’m not sure that’s the proper word but it works for me), different concentrations and volumes, etc. Given the size of the display enemas must be popular in some part of our culture, at least as popular as taking aspirin and its relations. Interestingly the drug store devoted more space to enemas than condoms! Maybe out society is more anal than I thought.

  118. #118 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 28, 2009

    Thanks to everybody for the info on back pain.
    I’d be fine in zero gravity… but until then I’ve got to do something.

    I know the knife is the last thing anyone wants to do but I’ll give you my little anecdote (not data).

    My wife blew out a disc about 5 years ago. Couldn’t move and was laid up for 6 months. She did it at work and so workman’s comp of course wanted the least expensive and least invasive treatment possible. So for 6 or 7 months she went to rehab and it did nothing. Finally she talked to a doc who suggested a disc replacement.

    She had it done and has had zero problems after the recovery, which was a month or so and then rehab.

    So while the knife is a last result, it can be the best treatment.

    /anecdote off.

    Be very afraid of chiropractors. Just to a search ont eh history of it and be sure to look up the Palmer family and their contributions to its beginnings.

  119. #119 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 28, 2009

    Supplement Believer blethers, and I comment:

    “However, forget what “science” tells you and think about this for a moment: What was the last disease that was actually cured? It was polio. There has not been an effective vaccine for anything (except certain forms of flu)since then.”
    Oh let’s see…Hemophilus meningitis, Pneumococcal infection, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rubella, Mumps, Chickenpox, Measles, Gardisil? Nope, not a single effective vaccine since. Nope. Not one.

    “Why do we not have a cure for cancer? Cancer is a terrible disease that can affect anyone at any stage of life and yet we make so little efforts to find a cause and cure.”
    Yep, all those researchers and clinicians spend their days doing NOTHING. They sure put a lot of time, effort and expense into NOTHING.
    No we don’t have a cure. That’s why everyone who gets lymphoblastic leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, thyroid carcinoma, breast carcinoma etc. die. ALL of them. Every last one. Yep.

    “However, if you really stop and think about it, why would anyone in the industry want a cure? There is no money in a cure – there is billions in treatments though.”
    Obviously, that’s why we continue to keep the cure for tuberculosis secret, so that we can continue to make megabucks operating sanitoriums…

    “Maybe we should start hiring private researchers who actually have cancer to do the job and pay them with private cash tax free funds.”
    Hey, I’m in! Now all I’ve got to do is get cancer. Pass the Marlboroughs.

    “Well, I had nothing to loose so I ordered Uriflow and within one week my stone shrank one whole size and I passed it (with pain) without medical procedures. Popped a few pain pills, moaned and groaned, and walah! A brand new baby stone in the toilet. ”
    Hey, I did that twice. I used beer. No supplements.
    Your stone shrank one whole size? Loser. The Grinch’s heart shrank three whole sizes. No supplements, either.
    Walah? If you’re going to try to lay some French on us, at least get somewhere in the same universe as the word you want – voila.

    “So, before you knock alternative medicines (and energy for that matter) at least try it once.”
    Sure, I’ll take advice from someone with such a great track record.

  120. #120 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 28, 2009

    I visited the drug store to pick up a Fleet Enema

    Someone gave my wife the Fleet Enema mascot, Eneman as a joke present for her 40th B-Day. We took him on a tour of the outer banks

    People thought we were strange holding him up for pictures at all the lighthouses.

  121. #121 Fl bluefish
    April 28, 2009

    Be very afraid of chiropractors
    : Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Thanks …got any advice on how to feel zero gravity.?

  122. #122 SocraticGadfly
    April 28, 2009

    How about if a chiropractor administers the enema? Am I doubly protected?

    Or, what if I claim a vaccine needle is actually an acupuncture needle?

  123. #123 Paul Lundgren
    April 28, 2009

    Is this a golden age for quackery now?

    No there’s just more visible quackery. And if you accept the notion that Jesus healed the cripples, the con men can take it from there.

  124. #124 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 28, 2009

    Thanks …got any advice on how to feel zero gravity.?

    Become really good friends with Richard Branson and Hitch a ride to space?

  125. #125 Sastra
    April 28, 2009

    Rev BigDumbChimp #120 wrote:

    Someone gave my wife the Fleet Enema mascot, Eneman as a joke present for her 40th B-Day. We took him on a tour of the outer banks
    People thought we were strange holding him up for pictures at all the lighthouses.

    Strange? No stranger than the situations Eneman gets himself into on his calendar (which I’ve seen, courtesy of Respectful Insolence.

    I am so jealous that you have one, though.

    My other favorite toy mascot is the Red Cross’ ‘Buddy the Blood Drop,’ who has a coloring book for children. I sometimes hand them out when I work at Bloodmobile, and I’ve been agitating that they make it into a plushie.

    Of course, it’s no “Crypty the Cryptosporidium” ( http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39498), but that one is pretend.

  126. #126 Andrew
    April 28, 2009
    However, forget what “science” tells you and think about this for a moment: What was the last disease that was actually cured? It was polio. There has not been an effective vaccine for anything (except certain forms of flu)since then.

    Oh let’s see…Hemophilus meningitis, Pneumococcal infection, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rubella, Mumps, Chickenpox, Measles, Gardisil? Nope, not a single effective vaccine since. Nope. Not one.

    Not to mention smallpox, which was entirely eliminated in the ‘wild’ thanks to vaccinations, and only survived in cultures in laboratories until some of Russia’s cold war bio-warfare materials fell into the hands of terrorists. Supposedly, anyway.

  127. #127 Katkinkate
    April 28, 2009

    Posted by: quackers abound @ 4 “… eat your oleander soup…”

    That will actually solve all your problems … for ever.

  128. #128 Kagato
    April 28, 2009

    However, forget what “science” tells you

    What, you mean “methodical observation of the natural world can help us understand the way it works”? I should forget that? How about: No.

    and think about this for a moment: What was the last disease that was actually cured? It was polio. There has not been an effective vaccine for anything (except certain forms of flu)since then. [...]
    However, if you really stop and think about it, why would anyone in the industry want a cure? There is no money in a cure – there is billions in treatments though.

    Ah, conspiracy theories. There is no end.
    Out of curiosity I did a search for “last disease cured” and the first page of hits all said “polio”, followed by “because there’s no money in cure, only treatment”. Unbelievable.

    I am sure every single person working in the pharmaceutical and medical industries is happy with allowing patients to suffer and die for the sake of continued profits, rather than curing them and saving lives. Not one solitary individual from the hundreds of thousands that must be involved in this global cabal has the humanity to admit such a cure exists and reveal it to the world. After all, it’s not like any of them or their loved ones ever get cancer.

    Never mind the fact that you’re flat-out wrong about “effective vaccines”.
    There wouldn’t be much of a vaccination schedule for children if there weren’t any working vaccines, would there?

    No wait, let me guess — you’re antivax as well?

    Why do we not have a cure for cancer? Cancer is a terrible disease that can affect anyone at any stage of life and yet we make so little efforts to find a cause and cure.

    Cancer is not “a disease”, it is a broad classification of diseases in which cells display uncontrolled growth. They don’t all behave the same way (not all even form tumours, such as leukaemia), and they have different treatments. I think it is unlikely there will ever be some catch-all cure for every possible type of cancer. Many of the treatments will, however, help some patients to achieve full remission, which is effectively a cure for those cases.

    “Making so little effort” is an incredible insult to the countless people who do make the effort to find cures. Google “cancer research” and see how many organisations you can count. Donated to any of them?

    There are alternatives to heart surgery and blockages if the bloclages are not too bad. I prefer the EDTA Chelation therapy to surgery any day.

    Good luck with your next (and probably last) heart attack then.

  129. #129 Eidolon
    April 28, 2009

    I think my skeptical career started when as a mere lad, I read “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science” by Martin Gardener. I was amazed that people could be so stupid as to believe that stuff. Now, 5 decades later, the same shite is still being pedaled.

    OT – O.K. HenryS @87:
    You win something for finding what has to be the most racist, ignorant, hate filled site I have seen. Period.

    I keep thinking it has to be a Poe, like Landover Baptist, but I think it’s serious. It’s rare to see such trash openly and proudly displayed.

  130. #130 Lee Picton
    April 28, 2009

    Older people have difficulty processing vitamin D and because they have listened all these years to use SPF protection in the sun, many have become marginally Vitamin D deficient. The husbeast’s doctor has put him on a stiff dose of it, which he takes. I do not know if he feels any different (he takes so many meds), and I don’t yet know if he can back off once he is out in the sun more for the summer, but it was a real internist who recommended it. I consider the source reliable.

  131. #131 No Guy in the Sky
    April 28, 2009

    Those sure are quacks. The scientists from the US Dept. of Health did a study on Swine Flu Virus at http://noguyinthesky.blogspot.com/

  132. #132 Kagato
    April 28, 2009

    Of course, it’s no “Crypty the Cryptosporidium” ( http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39498 ), but that one is pretend.

    Maybe, but there’s a real collection of plush microbes available online.
    E. coli is adorable!

  133. #133 Sastra
    April 28, 2009

    Eidolon #129 wrote:

    I keep thinking it has to be a Poe, like Landover Baptist, but I think it’s serious.

    Oh, come on. It’s over-the-top satire.

    If nothing else, it says “Liberals, Atheists Not Welcome” — and then they let in negative comments.

  134. #134 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 28, 2009

    So, before you knock alternative medicines (and energy for that matter) at least try it once.

    Before I try them I’d like to see some double blind studies that suggest even a modicum of efficacy.

  135. #135 Blind Squirrel FCD
    April 28, 2009

    Eidolon: I believe the site you mention is a Poe. It links to Betty Bowers.

  136. #136 llewelly
    April 28, 2009

    Oh let’s see…Hemophilus meningitis, Pneumococcal infection, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rubella, Mumps, Chickenpox, Measles, Gardisil?

    nit – Gardasil is the brand name for a vaccine for several strains of HPV.

  137. #137 Elphaba
    April 28, 2009

    Maybe Branson will ride you naked on his back into space!

  138. #138 Kemist
    April 28, 2009

    However, if you really stop and think about it, why would anyone in the industry want a cure? There is no money in a cure – there is billions in treatments though.

    Dude, my best friend is presently undergoing her third chemo series for ovarian cancer. She is one of those underpaid scientists working in cancer research.

    Heh, I guess she’s nobly sacrificing her life so that the “industry” makes more millions.

    You know, idiots like you are one of the reason I’m leaving research.

  139. #139 Aquaria
    April 28, 2009

    So, before you knock alternative medicines (and energy for that matter) at least try it once.

    I don’t have to kill someone to find out if murder works for me.

    Some things you don’t have to try, to know that they’re not in your best interests–or anyone else’s for that matter.

    Maybe I had just enough of a good science education, and enough motivation to pay attention in class) to understand the importance of double-blind studies and the like.

  140. #140 Kemist
    April 28, 2009

    So, before you knock alternative medicines (and energy for that matter) at least try it once.

    So, before you think you should eat shit before you can say it tastes bad ?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  141. #141 Don't Panic
    April 28, 2009

    Ichthyic,
    Thanks for the info on Chondroitin. I’ve been using glucosamine on-and-off for a while — aware of the marginal studies but leaning towards it based on my doctor saying it might help and my (generally skeptical) father’s claims of effectivity for his arthritis. I’ve bought the stuff with w/ chondroitin and MSM on the “can’t really hurt” theory as again my research didn’t point strongly one way or the other. Now that I know about the shark damage I’ll avoid it.

    Ibuprofen helps as an anti-inflammatory to some extent but it’s all about slowing the advances of the disease. Replacement is contraindicated in my case because it’s my fingers, and well I sort’a use them all the time [code doesn't type itself] and can't really afford to take them out of commission for any extended period.

    As for the HuffPo, my RSS feed doesn't seem to present me with any of the these pseudo-science articles so my blood pressure only skyrockets when I see Orac's posts.

  142. #142 Ichthyic
    April 29, 2009

    Thanks to everybody for the info on back pain.
    I’d be fine in zero gravity… but until then I’ve got to do something.

    you say that as if it’s not possible for you to effectively be in “zero gravity”.

    One treatment I’ve seen work for patients with severe back trauma is light swimming. Takes the pressure off of their backs, and the light resistance exercises help to rebuild muscle tone and structure.

    have you talked to a physio-therapist about working with you in water?

    Might be a good way to go.

  143. #143 Pareidolius
    April 29, 2009

    Sastra @105
    That was a tour de force. Smart, powerful, clear and deadly serious. There’s nothing wrong with some good snark, but sometimes these clowns need two barrels of serious right up their arses. Bracing? Rather!

  144. #144 Patricia, OM
    April 29, 2009

    All right you smart alec’s, I get the drift – you like some of the herb but not the woo that goes with it.

    We grow basil, comfrey, sage, calendula, mint, lavender, chives and other herbs which people enjoy using.

    And NO, I don’t sell hops or bacon enemas.

  145. #145 Ichthyic
    April 29, 2009

    Replacement is contraindicated in my case because it’s my fingers, and well I sort’a use them all the time

    heh. Wish I had some experience with that, but nobody I’m personally familiar with has had to really deal with arthritic fingers. That’s a tough one. At least one can still type while elevating their knees.

    To cut back on typing, you might try a voice interpreter type of software maybe? It’s an artificial dictation, of a sort. I hear the newer stuff can be pretty damn accurate.

    I’m pretty sure a reasonable version of the software even comes bundled with Windows since XP was released, if you wanted to try it out.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306902

  146. #146 Patricia, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Don’t start Chimp.

  147. #147 Ichthyic
    April 29, 2009

    argh, not only did i post the wrong link, but I posted the right link in the wrong thread.

    this is the right one:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306537/EN-US/

    and in general:

    http://www.microsoft.com/speech/speech2007/default.mspx

    Time to take a break and work on some pictures, I think.
    :P

  148. #149 Wildy
    April 29, 2009

    Is this a golden age for quackery now?

    Yes. Yes it is.

  149. #150 Sili
    April 29, 2009

    Hmmm – I’d be willing to put in fifteen minutes a day for a reasonably flat stomach (and possibly firm arse). No need to for visible musculature.

    Any recommendations (this here is a varied and talented lot after all)?

  150. #151 jo5ef
    April 29, 2009

    Homer: Can you crack my back?
    Chiropractor: Oh Mr Simpson we don’t crack backs!
    (manipulates Homers back)….now you may hear a cracking sound…
    Seriously, chiropractory is BS.
    I don’t take vitamin supps, no good studies show any effect.

    And on HuffPo, last time PZ criticized, I defended them, I’ve since had a look at some of the other links to bad science articles and withdraw my defense. I just wish there was some other news site that had such a good format and updated so frequently.

  151. #152 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    any organized feminist gathering, no matter how serious, is going to have a strong strain of woo.

    [citation needed]

    All of the positive social enlightenment that came out of The 60s was tainted from one end to the other with woo.

    [citation needed]

    Atheists were either dry and somber and claiming it’s still a good thing to go to Church, or they were themselves totally frootloops and not really atheists at all. Skeptical of the Gods of modern religion, but not their own personal woo.

    [citation needed]

    And I realized that, in contrast to neurobiology and anthropology, the studies of psychology and sociology are hopelessly moribund and still stuck for the most part in that woo-filled era.

    [citation needed {for ridiculously ignorant claim}]

    “My mother _______, and I realized that…” is not a sociological argument. Much better: “My mother _____, I became interested in X, and so I systematically gathered data on X. Here are my data, analysis, and conclusions.”

    ***

    Someone gave my wife the Fleet Enema mascot, Eneman as a joke present for her 40th B-Day. We took him on a tour of the outer banks

    :D

    ***

    One treatment I’ve seen work for patients with severe back trauma is light swimming. Takes the pressure off of their backs, and the light resistance exercises help to rebuild muscle tone and structure.

    have you talked to a physio-therapist about working with you in water?

    Might be a good way to go.

    I agree.

  152. #153 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Hmmm – I’d be willing to put in fifteen minutes a day for a reasonably flat stomach (and possibly firm arse). No need to for visible musculature.

    Any recommendations (this here is a varied and talented lot after all)?

    The thing is that, since you can’t do spot reduction, a flat stomach generally requires aerobic exercise – more than 15 mins/day. You can develop and define the ab muscles in this little time/day, though, with one of those tapes or something on TV (my cable company offers 10-min ab workouts – not that I’ve taken advantage of them :)). And building muscle further contributes to fat-burning…

  153. #154 Clemens
    April 29, 2009

    I am very skeptical of all sorts of woo medicine. However, in the main news they once showed how in China they did an operation using acupuncture for anesthesia.

    Of course this was neither a study nor do I have the knowledge to judge this but that looked quite interesting to me. Can the placebo effect be that strong that it won’t hurt you if they cut you open and fiddle with your intestines?

    And, if we ignore all that chi B.S., wouldn’t it at least be plausible to say that with these needles you can silence nerves transporting the pain-signal to your brain?

    Just asking.

  154. #155 Clemens
    April 29, 2009

    On a different note:

    For great abs you’ve got to do two things: Burn stomach fat and build up the muscles itself.

    The former you can achieve by a healthy diet and training with a not to high pulse frequency (70% – 75% of your maximum heart rate). The latter you achieve by crunches, sit-ups and all those fancy exercised. Then, it’s always a good idea to also do exercises for the corresponding back muscles, for balance.

  155. #156 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Also, (I keep starting and then falling away from it but) yoga is great for all-over muscle toning. (Standard ab exercises can be tricky for people over 30.) The difficulty is finding non-woo yoga, but you can.

  156. #157 Peter Ashby
    April 29, 2009

    i object to those washboard ab devices too. I run 30+ miles a week, including situps as part of my warmup and eat a healthy balanced diet. What did I get? the top two. I estimate it will take me about 6months to get a 6pack, exercising for at least an hour a day. Why should couch potatoes get it easy? These things should be banned on moral grounds alone. Where is the sense of achievement gone?

  157. #158 Matt Heath
    April 29, 2009

    Did you see the comments though? The later ones mention Orac, so are probably not typical HuffPo folks, but right from the start the consensus is hating on the bullshit. Maybe Ariana will listen to her customers and cut back on this bollocks

  158. #159 poejavlo
    April 29, 2009

    I have sent an email to Huffington Post (info@huffingtonpost.com). I don’t know what difference it will make, but maybe if enough people criticize them, they will sit up and take notice.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Dear Huffington Post,

    I have been shocked and angered by your websites seemingly credulous open door policy toward dangerous anti-science nonsense. Do you not have any editorial vetting process in place for pseudo science nut jobs like Deepak Chopra or Kim Evans? And the unfounded and discredited anti vaccination celebrity ranting of people like Robert Kennedy Jr and Jim Carrey are not only nonsense but actually dangerous. People are dying because of these idiots and your website is giving them a platform.

    I used to visit your site daily, but no longer. I used to link to it on my blog and on social networking sites, but not any more. I used to recommend it to people, but I refuse to now.

    Perhaps your editors will wise up, start actually looking in to these peoples claims and kick out the pseudo science clowns.

    I will read your website again when you own up to this gross error in judgement, make a public apology and put the proper distance between the Huffington Post and these dangerous charlatans.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  159. #160 John Phillips, FCD
    April 29, 2009

    Martin Christensen, there has actually been quite a bit of research on the efficacy of acupuncture and in properly run trials it never performs better than placebo. Recent piece of research in the UK, IIRC, used real acupuncture on the so called meridians and fake acupuncture on random points as a placebo and the results were basically equal. I don’t have any links handy but if you go to Ben Goldacre’s site ( http://www.badscience.net ) and do a search, you will find a number of articles covering the results of properly conducted acupuncture research.

    As to chiropractics, the well trained types who know their limitations and just do safe muscle and joint manipulation are about equal to a well trained physio in efficacy. However, there are other chiropractors who go the whole woo hog who have actually caused the deaths of people. Both by over-manipulation of the neck, for example, and in pushing the woo side on health issues they are not qualified to even have an opinion on beyond telling you to ‘go see a proper doctor’.

    Homeopathy also, at best, only equals the efficacy of placebo when properly run trials are held. Again, Ben Goldacre has related articles on his site.

  160. #161 Sili
    April 29, 2009

    Thanks. No easy way out, then. (Not that I had great hopes.)

    I don’t have too much fat to burn actually (despite my horrible diet – 177cm/69 kg), so I thought it míght just be a question of tightening up a little (hence “falt” rather than “washboard” – that sorta definition would be overkill).

    Ah well.

  161. #162 neil
    April 29, 2009

    Dear Suppliment believer.

    “Why do we not have a cure for cancer?”

    Cancer is not one condition, guess what we have cures for many forms of cancer you half wit.

    How do I know?

    Because 10 years ago I had bowel cancer, I got cured and not by taking vitamins, so STFU.

  162. #163 Lilly de Lure
    April 29, 2009

    Matt Heath said:

    Did you see the comments though? The later ones mention Orac, so are probably not typical HuffPo folks, but right from the start the consensus is hating on the bullshit. Maybe Ariana will listen to her customers and cut back on this bollocks

    She hasn’t shown any sign of it so far, but we can hope I suppose!

  163. #164 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Oh, good grief! If anyone’s in the Boston area, I recommend not turning on the local NBC news. They keep repeating a story this morning about this guy in Marshfield who had back pain, prayed, felt better, and is now awaiting Ratzinger’s pronouncement on whether or not it was miraculous. Here’s the caption: “John Sullivan: Experienced Miracle.” Bah.

  164. #165 Rorschach
    April 29, 2009

    They’ve sunk so low those Catholics !! God now fixes back pain??? Pleeeeaaaaaase…..

  165. #166 Eidolon
    April 29, 2009

    Sastra, Blind squirrel:
    Ooops! Apparently I’ve not only had 2 bad strobes and a dead camera recently but now my BS indicator is on the blink as well.

  166. #167 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    They’ve sunk so low those Catholics !! God now fixes back pain??? Pleeeeaaaaaase…..

    Yeah, these modern “miracles” are pathetic. What’s also annoying about it is that the local news doesn’t even have that much pressure to present it this way. When Ratzinger skipped Boston on his last trip to the US, it was widely speculated that it was because he was afraid to come here given the outrage over the (ongoing) child-rape scandals. There were interviews with (former?) Catholics, saying things like “He knows betteh than to come heah.” They could certainly do a piece including skeptical or critical views (and maybe even get better ratings). They’re just gutless, delusional, or unthinking themselves.

  167. #168 Cosmic Teapot
    April 29, 2009

    T’is Himself

    In another month or so the catnip can be harvested so the cats can get stoned.

    Our cat refuses to touch it. I do think she is dealing it to the other kitties in the neighbourhood though.

    As to the sit ups, be careful, it may cause back damage. Learn how to do them correctly.

    Also, if you have a layer of fat over your stomach, you will not get a visible sixpack as sit ups do not burn the stomach fat.

  168. #169 Anonymous
    April 29, 2009

    For the sixpack wanting,weight loss yearning mob :

    Just exercising and cutting down on calories wont cut it,exercise is great,dont have to overdo it,even an hour of walking per day is fine,some weights or proper situps,even better.

    Now,as to the weight loss,you dont want to lose muscle but fat,so you have to have enough protein intake,for the body to burn fat and not muscle.So,no pasta,white bread,potatoes,rice.Any veg is good,meat,fish,chicken,as much as you like,even bacon & eggs is fine,yogurt,natural,not sweetened,wholegrain cereal,all fine.
    Get yourself some protein drinks/shakes,for inbetween meals.

    That will get your weight down quickly,motivate you to keep going,and improve general fitness.

  169. #170 Rorschach
    April 29, 2009

    Bloody hell,169 was me.

  170. #171 Chris A
    April 29, 2009

    Mr. Ashby @ 157:

    I run 30+ miles a week

    Be careful there, you are endangering your immortal soul:

    Proverbs 28:1 -
    “The wicked flee when no man pursueth”

    This is why I never run unless someone is chasing me.

  171. #172 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Bloody hell,169 was me.

    Hmmmmmm.

    *strokes chin with thumb and forefinger*

    Do you swear, on your honor, that the “Anonymous” quote I attributed to you on the “Foot Soldiers” thread was not you?

  172. #173 maddogdelta
    April 29, 2009

    I wish people like Kim Evans would instead demonstrate the “Noble Katana” method of killing the swine flu virus, by destroying the host.

    Then maybe Jenny McCarthy can demonstrate the same methods on herself.

  173. #174 Ralph
    April 29, 2009

    I too was appalled by the recent Jim Carrey article at HuffPo about the dangers of vaccines and their imaginary link to autism. I think Newfie @ 71 made the key point here. Like Rush Limbaugh, the HuffPo has colonized (heh) a market segment that makes money for its advertisers. The result is not purely… well, it’s not purely anything. It is what it is. And it’s popular. Personally, I’ll take HuffPo over Time any day of the week. That doesn’t mean much, though, because I hate Time.

  174. #175 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 29, 2009

    as much as you like,even bacon

    now there is a religion I can subscribe to

    Oh? not a religion?

  175. #176 AJ Milne
    April 29, 2009

    This is why I never run unless someone is chasing me.

    Well, there’s always Bug-Eyed Earl’s exercise routine.

  176. #177 Don't Panic
    April 29, 2009

    Posted by: Ichthyic | April 29, 2009 12:11 AM


    Replacement is contraindicated in my case because it’s my fingers, and well I sort’a use them all the time


    heh. Wish I had some experience with that, [...]

    Ah, trust me, you don’t.

    Voice recognition software might work if I were doing something linear like dictating a story or an article. I can’t imagine using it to develop C++ code. Especially in my usual style of having 4 windows open and jumping amongst them. Besides those in neighboring not-quite-cubicals might object; I have enough complaints about conversations and phone calls, the idea of 8hrs of speaking to myself …

    I can’t believe you’d suggest that I sully my computer with software from microsoft. My MacBookPro whimpered, and the desktop running Linux scampered into the corner to hide.

  177. #178 KI
    April 29, 2009

    As someone living in the frozen north, I find vitamin D necessary in the winter (I don’t drink milk).
    As far as the arthritis discussion, I started to have pains in my hands after 15 years of pushing pins into cork walls (mural photo printer), and turned to glucosamine on the advice of a friend. At the same time, I started to practice my guitar every day for half an hour (I’d been pretty slack for a few years). The pain diminished, I stopped the glucosamine, kept up the practice, and the pain lessened even more. Now, I practice for an hour a day, and I have no pain, and I don’t spend stupid amounts of money trying to wipe out the sharks of the world. I know it’s not scientific, and for many people it’s impractical, but exercise is the best treatment for arthritis that I know of.

  178. #179 AJ Milne
    April 29, 2009

    Voice recognition software might work if I were doing something linear like dictating a story or an article. I can’t imagine using it to develop C++ code.

    I actually tried this for a little while–fairly briefly. Hadda had my carpal tunnels ground out, had to keep working in the meanwhile, before and after surgery…

    It was pretty much as maddening as you might imagine. Possible, but in no way optimal. Very, very slow against typing (I type pretty fast–clock around 100 WPM in standard tests–having to do this felt like trying to feed the flow from a firehose through a drinking straw). I recall doing a lot of macro stuff to speed things along/make thinks possible–taught the system some simple loop shapes, function signature blanks, so on… But it was a huge pain.

    I can still absolutely imagine it may be possible given long enough to refine things to somehow map noise your speech organs can produce to generate code at rates comparable to what you can do with a keyboard, but this would take some pretty serious time investment–both the system and you doing some pretty serious learning. Far more time (thankfully) than I had to do without fingers.

    As for writing other stuff, I found it far less maddening than it was for code, but still a lot less convenient than typing.

    This was all some ten years ago now, tho’… Suppose things may have improved somewhat.

    The moral: be good to your wrists.

  179. #180 Don't Panic
    April 29, 2009

    Damn, some combination of the “preview” and the “submission failed” ate the joke:

    Posted by: Ichthyic | April 29, 2009 12:11 AM

    Replacement is contraindicated in my case because it’s my fingers, and well I sort’a use them all the time


    heh. Wish I had some experience with that, [...]

    </ShamelessQuotemine> Ah, trust me, you don’t.

    ….

    KI, alas, I don’t play guitar… Actually for me the problem is likely too much exercise. I type for a living; well, actually I write code but somehow need to transfer it from my head into the computer. But I thought Ichthyic said it was the chondroitin that came from sharks, not the glucosamine. Though I’m probably going to give it all up anyway since I really haven’t been seeing much from it.

  180. #181 Don't Panic
    April 29, 2009

    AJ Milne,
    Been there, done that: had carpal tunnel in grad school near the end while writing my thesis and finishing up my analysis (again, lots of code writing). I think the edge of the desk was a bit sharp and was irritating my wrists.

    As for using voice recognition, I can’t imagine speaking something like:

      switch ( fUseFluxAtDetCenter ) {
      case -1:  // near detector
        wgt_xy   = fCurEntry->nwtnear;
        Ev       = fCurEntry->nenergyn;
    [...]
      default:  // recalculate on x-y window
        RandomGen * rnd = RandomGen::Instance();
        fCurEntry->fgX4 += ( rnd->RndFlux().Rndm()*fFluxWindowDir1 +
                             rnd->RndFlux().Rndm()*fFluxWindowDir2   );
        fCurEntry->CalcEnuWgt(fCurEntry->fgX4,Ev,wgt_xy);
    

    [Hopefully the formatting comes through as well as that's important too]
    No matter what macros and short cuts I developed it would drive me insane, at least more so than I currently am.

  181. #182 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Glucosamine can help people with low synovial fluid in their joints. It helps me with one knee. I can tell if I skipped a couple of capsules. The problem with glucosamine is that the earliest studies used glucosamine sulfate (good quality), but the nutraceutical companies mix potassium sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride and call it glucosamine sulfate. So the 750 mg capsule only contains about 400 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride, or about half the dose found in good quality material. We buy good glucosamine hydrochloride and one 750 mg capsule per day works for me. The Redhead needs a second pill for good movement.

  182. #183 Kismet
    April 29, 2009

    Michael W Simpson, you’re correct. The majority of studies show Glucosamine to be useless (most conclusively the GAIT), but I wouldn’t call the outdated Rottapharm funded studies badly designed (I just wouldn’t take them at face value). There’s still some limited evidence in favour of 1500mg/d glucosamine sulphate, it’s everything but impressive, though.
    Furthermore Glucosamine could negatively affect glucose metabolism in people at risk…

    Vitamin D (which is not a vitamin anyway), on the other hand, seems like a relatively safe bet. It has much more backing than any multi-vitamin one can imagine. Even though, the studies are mixed in some cases, I’d recommend (people research) vitamin D supplementation and testing 25(OH)D. Deficiency (& insufficiency) is pandemic…

  183. #184 Kismet
    April 29, 2009

    BTW, I’m not talking about vitamin D as a treatment for osteoarthritis, just a general supplement for health á la the infamous but probably useless multivitamins.

  184. #185 the pro from dover
    April 29, 2009

    It is the rule and not the exception that most Americans, even well-educated ones, firmly believe that herbal products are safer and more effective that proprietary medicines because they are natural.
    I used to chide patients with this: “I guess that Socrates, when given the cup of hemlock to drink said “well this comes from a tree so it must be good for me”. Last year I used this line on a 30 something lady who looked at me quizzically and asked “is that the guy from Survivor?”. I haven’t used it since. But since you asked. During pregnancy folic acid can lower the frequency of neural tube defects. Vit. B6 lowers some of the toxicity from INH. Fish oil can elevate HDL levels although the survival benefit of that is unclear. Postmenopausal calcium (1200 mg./d)+ Vit D(800-1000mg)/d can improve new bone formation even in the abscence of HRT. Beyond the use of vitamins to prevent or treat specific deficiency diseases (scurvy, pernicious anemia, pellagra etc.) the jury is out on all other uses of vitamins and minerals. A good example of how overblown this can get is the use of folate to lower homocysteine levels. There is no evidence that this effort reduces any morbility or mortality, in fact it seems to be worse than doing nothing even when it does lower these levels, yet the massive Foltx etc., etc. machinery moves ever forward with “evidence based” doctors in the lead. etc)

  185. #186 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 29, 2009

    And again: every good American needs to go punch the button in this poll:
    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/04/28/hot-seat-bushs-war-crimes/
    Is that Minnesota backing Bush’s torture policies?

    I voted and had to pick a state. I chose Alaska because 1) it’s first in the list and 2) Sarah Failin’. Lo & behold, of the 348 votes submitted on behalf of Alaska so far, 56 % are for prosecuting Fearless Flightsuit, 40 % are against, and 4 % are not sure. Do all non-Americans vote like me?

    (The page updates automatically. Three votes came in while I wrote this paragraph, changing it from 54 to 55 %, and another 39 came in while I wrote the rest of the comment, increasing it to 56 %.)

    As far as I can recall, isn’t Balsas teosinte currently postulated to be directly ancestral to modern corn?

    Yes? What? Balsas? It isn’t even called Zea? Wow.

    ?????????????

    supplement believer (that last word says it all), read this.

    ?????????????

    No vitamins. It’s really hard to get a lack of vitamins these days. I mean, we live in an age when vitamin C is often added to cookies as a preservative (an antioxidant). Read the fine print, find the ascorbic acid?

  186. #187 Anonymous
    April 29, 2009

    If acupuncture can offer nothing better than the placebo effect, an awful lot of doctors would either have to be fooled or all be in on the conspiracy. I think it does have a bit more merit than that, if for no other reason than this appeal to authority.

    Uh, no.

    Acupuncture is placebo medicine. Like the case for homeopathy, the better-designed and better-controlled the trial, the less likely it is to find any effect attributable to acupuncture. I’ve blogged about this extensively for some time.

    And an awful lot of doctors are being fooled by various “complementary and alternative medicine” (a.k.a. CAM) modalities because they rely too much on “clinical experience” (which is easily affected by confirmation bias, regression to the mean, and placebo effects) rather than sound clinical trials. The plural of “anecdotes” is not “data.”

    Orac

  187. #188 Xerglacia
    April 29, 2009

    Wow. For a bunch of rational thinkers it doesn’t look like many of you bothered to go and look up studies coming out about chiropractic.
    I admit now, some chiropractors are quacks, just like some MDs are quacks. So let me link you to some studies.

    A study that shows the a specific chiropractic treatment lowers blood pressure better than a combination of drugs:
    http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20070316/chiropractic-cuts-blood-pressure

    Now, I can’t directly comment on the swine flu thing, but this is a link to a number of studies concerning chiropractic and the immune system (yes, they provide journal citations for everything they mention in it).
    http://www.spineguys.com/newsletter/02142008d.asp

    These are just a few, but they are there and they do show that they work. Now because there are only a few of them it’s wise to be skeptical, but at the same time, there is a growing amount of evidence that shows it’s more than woo.

  188. #189 Eidolon
    April 29, 2009

    Xer…

    Just took a look and it would appear that the citations are about 50% in chiropractic journals. None are in any of the major journals, something I would expect for any discovery that can have a strong, positive effect on AIDS, for example.

    I don’t have access to the journals in question – can you provide any info on the studies: how they were run, who performed them, sample size, etc? Right now, it still seems to be mostly woo.

  189. #190 Xerglacia
    April 29, 2009

    Eidolon,
    I do understand what you mean, but at the same time I need to make this comment about it.

    Where else are you expecting to find chiropractic studies? They aren’t considered medicine in the same sense as drugs are, so why would many of them appear in medical journals (which I’m assuming are the major journals you’re talking about)?

    I also leave open the possibility that it only happened there/once and was unreproducible, I don’t know. I don’t have access to the original journal article either.
    Here’s another one that seems to have access to the journal. It appears it was looking at 5 patients, here’s the link to it: http://www.idealspinecentre.co.uk/AZ_Chiropractic_AIDS_HIV.htm
    Though they say or add very little to it.

    Just because you chose the HIV/AIDS one, doesn’t mean the others in the other journals you’d consider more reputable are wrong. It’s most likely that in these cases there’s insufficient data to say one way or another on what is being found and that more studies need to be done on it. But unlike astrology or religion there are studies coming out that show that it does help people and their health.
    What chiropractic likely needs is hundreds of millions of dollars poured into chiropractic studies (like those for drugs) that way there’d be sufficient data to back or dismiss these studies.

    http://www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clcentral/articles/426/CN-00505426/frame.html
    I’m adding this in just to show that studies are being done, but they are small. This one says that chiropractic care is more effective than placebo or muscle relaxants for low back pain. Just as an example that chiropractic not just the placebo effect.

  190. #191 Kagato
    April 29, 2009

    And an awful lot of doctors are being fooled by various “complementary and alternative medicine” (a.k.a. CAM)

    I prefer the other name: “So-Called Alternative Medicine”.

  191. #192 TrueD
    April 29, 2009

    Up to about 4 years ago, I would have jumped right in and mocked chiropractors. I have a serious problem with one of my knees, and while I was insured I went through many tests over a period of years, including an MRI on the knee, only to be told repeatedly that the doctors couldn’t find a problem except for a little arthritis. A friend urged me to try her chiropractor, and I finally decided, with great skepticism, to check it out. Woo, maybe, but WOW! I can freaking walk again, and even do stairs most of the time. I do go see him about every eight weeks or so, or when I am in real pain, but I learned some things I can do for myself to relieve the pain and strengthen the joint. One of his recommendations was to stop eating wheat. Within 3 days I noticed a difference in my joints, and the 3 times in the last year that I have been in a situation where I could eat wheat or go hungry, and ate the wheat, I suffered so much within 36 hours that it is no problem to keep off it. Placebo effect? Since I have no insurance, it’s sure cheaper and more effective than going to medical doctors whose advice is to suck it up and take ibuprofen by the fistful. One guy did prescribe Vioxx, which at the time had “scientific” studies showing it was safe and effective…
    Just saying, when it comes to pain, one person’s placebo effect may be another person’s release from misery.

  192. #193 Ichthyic
    April 29, 2009

    I can’t believe you’d suggest that I sully my computer with software from microsoft. My MacBookPro whimpered, and the desktop running Linux scampered into the corner to hide.

    tell your machines to get over themselves.
    :P

    I’ve grown so weary of posting the slightly differing instructions necessary to accomplish the same things on different platforms, I rarely bother any more. I just go with the one that has the largest install base, and figure most are smart enough to figure out how to do it on different platforms.

    that said, I had never made a serious attempt to use the software myself (just for fun), so thanks to AJ@179 for the feedback.

  193. #194 Eidolon
    April 30, 2009

    Xer…

    I would expect to find results relating to medicine and symptom relief in journals dealing with…medicine. Publishing in Chiropractic journals seems like rolling marbles down a tube. Whoa – another article showing how effective chiropractic is! Amazing! I have some reservations about just how critically the studies were reviewed. Chiropractic makes claims that are clearly medical in nature but they don’t seem to publish in journals where their claims can earn greater attention – and scrutiny.

    As for the AIDS, they make an amazing claim. I would think that is major news with respect to this illness. More troubling is the broad range of “benefits” they claim for those having periodic adjustments.

    I think there is some general agreement here with regards to the effectiveness of chiropractic and back issues. As for throwing money at research on chiro to get further testing done, it would seem some on-going studies would not be hugely expensive.

  194. #195 scooter
    April 30, 2009

    Got Flu
    Treat it with an enema
    Hold on
    Let me get the camara

  195. #196 Rorschach
    April 30, 2009

    ,blockquote>One of his recommendations was to stop eating wheat. Within 3 days I noticed a difference in my joints

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc.Just sayin’

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