Quackademic medicine versus cancer quackery: The central dogma of alternative medicine is questioned by an advocate of "integrative medicine"

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

So I'm going for it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Siegel then goes completely off the deep end:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Siegel concludes:

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

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

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

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

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

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I had a thought when you were talking about the issue of "communication" and alternative practice, and you got to it later.

Remember, the one aspect of communicatin commonly used by quacks that is not used by actual doctors is that they LIE to their patients.

So when I hear Seigel claiming that traditional doctors need to improve their communication to get rid of quackery, what I hear him saying is that doctors need to lie to their patients.

Like he does.

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

This is absolutely fabulous woo, Orac, thanks much.

So, Bengston healed mice of cancer with energy transmitted through his hands? I myself once cured a mouse problem with the power of my hands, though the energies were transmitted via a heavy book that squashed a mouse that was lurking on my living room bookshelf.

Bernie Siegel, you're too much! The healing power of laughter in cancer patients can easily be trialed - just let them read Siegel's articles.

Side note: now that Ebay has banned sale of reiki services, I wondered if bereft patients could still turn to other forms of woo, such as oxygen therapy for their diseases. Might Ebay have banned "food grade" hydrogen peroxide, too?

Nope.

ht_p://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_kw=1+gallon+3+H2O2+Hydrogen+Peroxide+w+John+…

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Is Chronic Lyme even a recognised diagnosis, or is it one that could be real but potentially overapplied, such as CFS and some depression/anxiety types.

By DurhamDave (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Before I comment on the post, I'd like to mention that a few weeks ago, in the wee hours, I chanced upon a documentary on television about Bob Marley- by pure happenstance, I tuned into the last days: seems he had consulted with a Dr Issels in Germany after receiving a poor prognosis from oncologists. It was terribly pathetic to see poor, emaciated Bob, weakly making his way through the snow, wearing a woolen hat, probably freezing. He stayed for months and felt he was improving but died upon his return to IIRC Miami.
Wouldn't he have better spent his last days surrounded by family, friends, music and his drug of choice at home?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Bengston cured mice of cancer in a controlled study with the energy conducted through his hands. [Siegel] was healed of an injury in the same way by healer Olga Worral many years ago. We definitely need to test potential therapies to verify whether or not they are useful, but we also have to keep an open mind to what might be possible

Laying on hands may be an effective treatment in fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, but here in the real world that treatment method was debunked by a fourth-grade science fair project. So this particular treatment method actually has been tested, and found not to work. It's all well and good to have an open mind, but not so open that it falls out.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Bengston and his amazing healing abilities (so powerful that they even healed the control group of mice) were discussed at some length in a recent comment thread. Anyone interested in reading more might find his article in Issue 2 of Edge Science of interest. BTW there is plenty of woo in those Edge Science magazines, varying from the intriguing to the ridiculous; a goldmine for those with a taste for such material.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Unfortunately, I am dreadfully familiar with most of this, courtesy of the Progressive Radio Network, where Bengtson, Siegal, energy healing and stress-as-causation are frequent topics; Lipton has appeared on various shows at the aforementioned festering sinkhole of un-reason. That 'words/swords' meme sounds awfully like the AIDS denialism belief that stress and fear following the diagnosis *kills* people, not HIV.

Recently, PRN's head honcho has been lovingly recounting his storied history as a researcher and intuitive healer: seems that he did both anti-aging ( nutrition) and *psi* research at the Institute for Applied Biology with the blessing of Pauling himself.

He had a group of healers pray for cancer-ridden mice and *Voila!*- they were cured. Of course, there is much more drivel along these lines that I won't trouble you with: it all boils down to the remarkable powers of the mind and spirit.
Gag.

Woo-meisters spread these ridiculous ideas in order to trump the scientific community- which they are not a part of and barely comprehend- at least in their audience's minds. I believe that often both the proselytiser and the proselytised harbour a barely concealed hatred and envy of the more educated because they are not part of that *elitist* group, as they label them reproachfully. Read Natural News article by MIke and you'll see what I mean. This animosity accounts for much of the venom we encounter: they reject the standard and conjure up a new aristocracy of pseudo-intellectual poppycock purveyors who enthrall their un-suspecting followers whose adulation fills in the missing ego- enhancement that rightly should have been supplied by the entire world's respect. Fame, fame, fame** continually evades them so they seek out followers instead.

Yes, their research is rejected because it is truly *independent* and free of entrenched interests- and INDEPENDENT of sense, ethics and utility as well.

** my apologies to DB

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

There was a lot of discussion about Bengston and his followers right here on RI recently. Check the thread on using reiki on dogs--several reiki "masters" wrote in to defend and extoll Bengston, and of course the RI regulars ripped them to shreds.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

By the way, Bengston holds seminars across the US and can teach anyone to cure cancer using energy healing in a weekend for a few thousand dollars. He also teaches "distance energy healing." On the reiki thread someone in Toronto claimed she can do the same thing.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Partway through the article, going through that central dogma, I remembered a post of mine on Bruce Lipton, then I saw you mention his last name. He's definitely into the positive thinking, and has some weird leaps in how he tries to justify it.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Bengston and his amazing healing abilities (so powerful that they even healed the control group of mice) were discussed at some length in a recent comment thread.

To wit.

Given that Bengston's somehow able to cure subjects he isn't even treating, aren't we all under his care right now?

“many alternative therapies, once believed by conventional medical practitioners to be merely placebos, have now been shown to have proven therapeutic value (eg, acupuncture, numerous botanical extracts, meditation).”

It seems to me that the various plant-inspired chemo drugs (taxol, vincristine) were discovered without any help at all from alt-med. Unless there are *specific* botanical extracts from the alt-med pharmacopeia that later entered mainstream cancer treatment, this is like arguing that
(1) Ayurvedic concoctions contain heavy metals like lead
(2) the cis-platin drugs are platinum compounds
(3) Therefore conventional medicine recognises the basical validity of Ayurveda.

Given that Bengston’s somehow able to cure subjects he isn’t even treating, aren’t we all under his care right now?

If you've *read his papers*, you've probably undergone the requisite quantum entanglement to come under his healing umbrella.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

The Lockerbie Bomber was released by the Scottish authorities because he was dying of cancer. He went back home to the Middle East and survived for over 3 years— and that is no coincidence.

It is certainly no coincidence that the Lockerbie bomber claimed to have only weeks to live when he was applying for compassionate release.

Libya is not the 'Middle East'.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

Unless there are *specific* botanical extracts from the alt-med pharmacopeia that later entered mainstream cancer treatment

AND that they did so because CAM practitioners demonstrated their effectiveness.

Also worth noting that the bit you quoted is straight-up false. Nobody actually says that herbs are "merely placebos." It's a pure straw man.

If you’ve *read his papers*, you’ve probably undergone the requisite quantum entanglement to come under his healing umbrella.

"So, Dirac called me the other day with the usual sales pitch. I had to tell him, 'Paul, my wavefunction is so collapsed that the bras are all imaginary anyway.'" [/phyllisdiller]

I, for one, am perfectly willing to believe that chronic stress leads to some diseases, and that techniques like meditation can help remove stress and reduce the risk or impact of those diseases. Hypertension might be one such disease.

Naturally, this would need to be verified on a disease-by-disease basis. While I suspect that chronic stress could cause, say, back pain, TMJ, and various sleep disorders, I've yet to hear adequate evidence that it leads to influenza, type 1 diabetes, or cancer just to name a few.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 22 Aug 2012 #permalink

"Can energy healing really cure cancer?" sure its even got a name. Radiationtherapy. Conventional medicine 1, quackery 0

Dokter bimler, to be fair, some people consider Libya part of the Middle East and some don't.

The first rule of blogging is that you don’t talk about blogging. Oh, wait. That’s not it. I talk about blogging all the time. The first rule of blogging is: When the world is throwing easy blogging material at you, for cryin’ out loud, go for it. Yeah, that’s it.

I literally LOL'd at this. :) Ah Orac, always enjoyable to read even when I get so angry at some of the antics you blog about.

whatever “supporting patient well-being in general” means.

Supporting positive thinking and calmness. But then, why not just meditate or read a book?

Seriously she's for biofeedback... sigh.. that was debunked in my high school psych class.

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

This sounds like an intro to some sort of psychic reading TV show... or a magic show. Either way.

Regarding the alleged effects on patients of doctors giving them a poor prognosis, here's a counter-anecdote.

My mother had been ill for years, and in 1981 her sister finally talked her into going to a doctor. The doctor was surprised she could walk into the office because her congestive heart failure was quite severe. He warned her that she had no more than 6 months to live. There was little they could do but prescribe diuretics (or at least that's what I recall as a teen going off to college a long time ago).

Every time she went to the doctor, she was in worse shape than the last, and they estimated she'd die within 6 months. This went on for nearly two decades, and after the first few years she stopped paying attention to their prediction. The last few years, she was looking forward to an end to her suffering from peripheral neuropathy, arthritis, kidney disease, post-polio syndrome, etc. She was not fighting to live, though I think she mainly just took things day by day.

I know anecdotes aren't data, but this is a pretty good counter to people who say that doctors kill people by saying have only so much time to live, and that people die because they don't think positive thoughts. (Yes, I'm sure people will say she was in pain because of negative thoughts. But she kept as active as she could, despite the pain, and was a voracious reader who sewed most of her own clothing.)

some people consider Libya part of the Middle East and some don’t.
Some people are WRONG. Harrumph.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Orac

whatever “supporting patient well-being in general” means.

I believe it means making it easier for the patient to move about by lightening their wallet.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 23 Aug 2012 #permalink

Added to Kathryn - a wonderful man at my church was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive prostate cancer at stage IV (he had had a clean PSA only two months early, suddenly got very sick and a scan found prostate cancer with bone mets and I think the others were liver and lung). There were several times he himself swore he was going to die and would be sick for several weeks until new treatment would restabilize him.

He actually lived just over two years after diagnosis. He was always on the edge with chemo doing its best to just give him more time. Though it wasn't the same life he had before, it gave him peace to get as much time as possible with his wife, manage and plan his own funeral, spend time with my husband and I after our marriage, etc.

@ Militant Agnostic:

I venture that it might also include helping them to get in touch with their own 'spirituality', to become less materialistic..
so they won't be too upset by the wallet -lightenong process.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Aug 2012 #permalink

Pardonnez-moi, LIGHTENING.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg, what part of that paper indicates that chemotherapy promotes the spread of cancer? I'd wager you haven't even read it.

@marg

Have you even read the paper? Do you know what the results mean?

Judging by your ignorant comments, probably not.

This is being bandied about here and on other sites to prove that chemo is evil. I would suggest that anyone that thinks that is what is says should read the whole study and not just press releases.

What part of "promoting tumor cell survival and disease progression" is unclear? Chemo interacted with the existing microenvironment in a way that was harmful.

"The expression of WNT16B in the prostate tumor microenvironment attenuated the effects of cytotoxic chemotherapy in vivo, promoting tumor cell survival and disease progression. These results delineate a mechanism by which genotoxic therapies given in a cyclical manner can enhance subsequent treatment resistance through cell nonautonomous effects that are contributed by the tumor microenvironment."

If one were to read the entire quoted bit of abstract, let alone the full paper, it would become clear that it's describing the chemotherapy being less effective than otherwise.

Apologies; hit Submit accidentally before I was done.

One would also notice that the thing which was "promoting tumor cell survival and disease progression" was "the expression of WNT16B," not the chemotherapy.

But I guess basic reading comprehension isn't some peoples' strong suit.

Marg, you do understand that there is a difference between “promoting tumor cell survival and disease progression” and "promoting the spread of cancer," right?

@AdamG

If anything else, it highlights a process that certain tumor cells can use to become resistant to chemotherapy,k a process that, since it is more fully understood, can now be better researched and used to develop more effective therapies to stop this process.

But of course, ignorant individuals like marg cannot understand this. Of course,, reading comprehension was never a strong suit for him/her.

If anything else, it highlights a process that certain tumor cells can use to become resistant to chemotherapy,k a process that, since it is more fully understood, can now be better researched and used to develop more effective therapies to stop this process.

Yes, absolutely. The authors of the study are actually affiliated with my department, and I'm friendly with several of them. I can't wait to show them how the woo-peddlers are twisting their research, I'm sure they'll get a kick out of that.

Attenuated--I don't think that word means what you think it means, Marg.

Could someone please enlighten me on the criteria for successful chemotherapy. My understanding is that a drug is deemed successful if it shrinks a tumor by a certain percentage for a certain period of time. I would like to know by what percentage and for what period of time. I would also like to know the correlation between shrinking tumors and long-term survival.

@AdamG
I would say that "promoting disease progression" would mean promoting the growth of cancer.

I knew a man who grew a large inoperable tumor WHILE receiving aggressive chemotherapy for bladder cancer. After this tumor was discovered he was given an aggressive last ditch combination of chemotherapy and radiation which essentially killed him. I also know two women with supposedly aggressive cancers, one of them breast cancer, who said no to conventional treatment and are still alive 15 years later with the cancer still in their bodies. While you call me an ignoramus there are things about cancer that you do not know that would fill several encyclopedias. And trust me, the day is coming when pharmaceutical companies will be looking at multi-billion dollar class-action suits for promoting cancer drugs which they knew to be deadly and ineffective, and oncologists will be lucky if they don't get dragged into it.

@Marg
Your anecdotes are heartwarming. Where are the studies to back them up?

@Rose

Answer my questions about what the criteria for a successful chemotherapy drug are and then we can talk.

@ Rose
Furthermore, I don't think the anecdote of the man who grew a large tumor while undergoing chemotherapy and died while receiving further treatment is the least bit heartwarming.

Could someone please enlighten me on the criteria for successful chemotherapy. My understanding is that a drug is deemed successful if it shrinks a tumor by a certain percentage for a certain period of time. I would like to know by what percentage and for what period of time. I would also like to know the correlation between shrinking tumors and long-term survival.

Goalpost shift much? Or could it be that you simply have no response to the fact that you've conclusively been shown to simply be making up lies with no basis in reality?

I'm pretty sure that your questions are quite meaningless, too, though this isn't my field. I don't believe that any hard-and-fast rule such as you demand exists. It's all relative to what kind of cancer, how advanced, what other options are available, etc. And tumor shrinkage isn't necessarily the endpoint being used - survival times are more often the metric.

I would say that “promoting disease progression” would mean promoting the growth of cancer.

Pop quiz - what was promoting it, and relative to what baseline? The answers do not support your claims.

Alrighty then, the majority of your anecdotes are heartwarming and still not backed up by studies. i am sad when anyone dies of cancer but what do you have to offer that is proven to work better than chemo?.

And trust me, the day is coming when pharmaceutical companies will be looking at multi-billion dollar class-action suits for promoting cancer drugs which they knew to be deadly and ineffective

Tell it to Burzynski.

@beamup
What is meaningless about a question asking what the criteria for a successful cancer drug are? I would think that is a crucial question for cancer research. If there are different criteria for different cancers, I would like to know that too. There are people on this discussion board who have the answers to this question.

Don't bother to respond if all you have to offer is innuendo and ignorance.

@marg

Since when is “promoting tumor cell survival and disease progression” and “promoting the spread of cancer”, which you seem to keep dodging, marg.

Change goalposts much?

And my anecdote. I had a friend of mine whose father had colon adneocarcinoma. An aggressive treatment of radiation and chemotherapy was able to get his cancer into remission, and he was able to see his son graduate high school.

So my anecdote trumps your anecdote.

Either way, you maliciously assume that since chemo didn't work on your so-called "friend", it must be totally ineffective, which is a logical fallacy.

And of course, the old "pharma shill" gambit, which is a classic sign of a troll quack.

No one has yet answered my question about what the criteria for a successful chemotherapy drug are.

"Disease progression" in cancer usually leads to metastases. To suggest otherwise is to split hairs.

Insults don't answer questions and don't constitute meaningful discussion.

Marg, do you by any chance know one Jonathan Chamberlain?

You got an answer. And you have signally refused to even acknowledge any of the questions you have been asked, or detailed explanations of why you are completely wrong.

At this point you're approaching the level of a three-year-old sticking his fingers in his ears and screaming, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

“Disease progression” in cancer usually leads to metastases. To suggest otherwise is to split hairs.

Yet you stand up for Gonzalez, whose idiocy demonstrably worsens outcomes.

The point you're missing, Marg, is that this article's findings don't argue against the use of chemotherapy. They argue for better chemotherapy. The authors themselves acknowledge this when they state

However, the complexity of the damage response program also supports strategies that are focused on inhibiting upstream master regulators, such as NF-κB45, that may be more efficient and effective adjuncts to cytotoxic therapies, provided their side effects are tolerable.

No treatment is 100% effective. That there are researchers working to improve the treatment's efficacy is not an indictment of the entire treatment.

@beamup
You are still resorting to insults without providing a single meaningful criterion.

@Narad
I am not acquainted with Jonathan Chamberlain. I also don't know what bringing up Gonzalez has to do with the statement that disease progression in cancer usually leads to metastases. Agree with the statement or disagree. Don't sidetrack.

@AdamG
Kudos to the authors for looking for better chemotherapy.

Quoth Marg:

You are still resorting to insults without providing a single meaningful criterion.

Quoth Beamup:

I’m pretty sure that your questions are quite meaningless, too, though this isn’t my field. I don’t believe that any hard-and-fast rule such as you demand exists. It’s all relative to what kind of cancer, how advanced, what other options are available, etc. And tumor shrinkage isn’t necessarily the endpoint being used – survival times are more often the metric.

Yes or no - do you admit that you were completely wrong about that paper claiming that chemo promoted the spread of cancer?

So Marg, do you see now why your statement

The biggest group perpetrating quackery against cancer patients is oncologists promoting chemotherapy, which has now been shown to promote the spread of cancer.

is a baseless swipe based on a complete misinterpretation of a high-profile study?

I also don’t know what bringing up Gonzalez has to do with the statement that disease progression in cancer usually leads to metastases. Agree with the statement or disagree. Don’t sidetrack.

It isn't sidetracking: supporting Gonzalez is advocating disease progression.

@AdamG
I stand by the first half of the statement and amend the second to "which has now been shown as potentially ineffective or detrimental depending on the surrounding microenvironment". I don't see how any chemotherapy can now be administered without further studies on how each and every drug affects/is affected by this microenvironment.

@Beamup
There may be no hard and fast rule, but there have to be guidelines for particular cancers. I would like to hear from someone who is familiar with these guidelines and can give examples.

how each and every drug affects/is affected by this microenvironment

Marg, which drug(s) were used in this study?
Can you summarize the authors findings regarding how these drugs "affect/are affected by this microenvironment?"

I stand by the first half of the statement

Your grounds for which are?

and amend the second to “which has now been shown as potentially ineffective or detrimental depending on the surrounding microenvironment”.

Still false; a correct statement would be "the effectiveness of which varies depending on the surrounding microenvironment." Chemotherapy works. This enhances our understanding of the factors contributing to how well it works, nothing more.

I don’t see how any chemotherapy can now be administered without further studies on how each and every drug affects/is affected by this microenvironment.

When we already know that they are effective, it's perfectly reasonable to continue to administer them while further research progresses on how to make them even more effective.

There may be no hard and fast rule, but there have to be guidelines for particular cancers. I would like to hear from someone who is familiar with these guidelines and can give examples.

As a pure diversion from the complete and utter failure of your claims, I gather.

I don’t see how any chemotherapy can now be administered without further studies on how each and every drug affects/is affected by this microenvironment.

What do you recommend instead?

@Beamup
"When we already know that they are effective". These would be criteria for which I am asking. By what criteria do we deem them effective?

@Narad
A groundbreaking 14 year study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in December 2004 called “The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies”.

Researchers at the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre studied the 5-year survival rates of chemotherapy on 22 types of cancers in the US and Australia.

They studied 154,971 Americans and Australians with cancer, age 20 and older, that were treated with conventional treatments, including chemotherapy.
Only 3,306 had survival that could be credited to chemotherapy.

Study Results: “The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1 % in The USA”

Study Conclusion: “As the 5-year survival rate in Australia is now over 60%, it is clear that cytotoxic chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival. To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required.”

Only 3,306 had survival that could be credited to chemotherapy.

Hey, who am I?

I don’t see how any chemotherapy can now be administered without further studies on how each and every drug affects/is affected by this microenvironment.

What do you recommend instead? A cost-effectiveness study?

@AdamG
Read it. To change the percentage of effectiveness from 2% to 8 or 10% does not make chemotherapy much more impressive. In no other avenue of life would we consider that kind of success rate acceptable.

I am still waiting for someone who knows to give me examples of what some of the criteria for effectiveness are.

In no other avenue of life would we consider that kind of success rate acceptable.

What's the alternative, Marg? 10% doesn't seem so bad when the alternative is 0%.

Still waiting on these:
Which drug(s) were used in this study?
Can you summarize the authors findings regarding how these drugs “affect/are affected by this microenvironment?”

@AdamG
If the pharmaceutical industry were not barking up the wrong tree, we would have had better results by now, considering that they've been barking up this particular tree for at least half a century.

If the pharmaceutical industry were not barking up the wrong tree, we would have had better results by now, considering that they’ve been barking up this particular tree for at least half a century.

Try jumping off a cliff and flying. If you don't fly, then clearly you weren't trying hard enough.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 24 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg,

If the pharmaceutical industry were not barking up the wrong tree, we would have had better results by now, considering that they’ve been barking up this particular tree for at least half a century.

After only 70 years we have effective treatments for some types of leukemia, improved 5 year survival of breast cancer patients to over 90% and cure more than 85% of testicular cancer, to name but a few successes. By comparison, herbalism and other traditional approaches have been trying to find a cure for cancer for thousands of years with absolutely dismal results.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 24 Aug 2012 #permalink

A groundbreaking 14 year study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in December 2004 called “The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies”.

As pointed out by AdamG above, a systematic rebuttal of that study is available to anyone who bothers to search the R.I. archives.

One crucial point being that the 'ground-breaking' study somehow left off *all the varieties of cancer* for which chemotherapy is most effective. Another point being that '5-year survival' is simply not appropriate for breast cancer (among others) where delayed relapse is the rule rather than the exception, and adjuvant chemotherapy produces a greater survival-rate improvement *after five years*.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 24 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg, let's pretend for a moment that you are a grade school teacher. Teaching, say, math. Got that?

Okay, let's move on with this thought experiment. Suppose you have a particular analogy that you teach all your students which is meant to help them understand fractions. And for most of your students, the analogy does indeed work, and most of those students "get it."

Okay. Now suppose you find out that for some students, maybe 1 in every 1000, the analogy doesn't work. Those rare students just don't understand the analogy and as a result, they are actually worse at fractions after you've presented them with this analogy.

Okay. Now, with those as the facts in place, how fair is it for someone to ignore the 999 out of 1000 students that are helped by your analogy, focus on the 1 out of 1000 that your analogy confuses, and characterize you on that basis as "promoting the spread of ignorance"?

Now you might protest, "wait a minute! We have discussed no data on how these recently-discovered side effects of chemotherapy compare in strength to the cancer-killing effects of the chemotherapy - how can you compare it to the specific figure of 'helps 999, harms 1'?" That's a very good point! Except that you, by bringing it up, show yourself to be a big hypocrite. Because you showed NO interest in "how do the side-effects compare to the cancer-killing effects in strength?"; you talked about these side-effects as if they were the ONLY effects. Whether that was deliberate deception on your part or merely ignorance, it fatally undermines your credibility.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 24 Aug 2012 #permalink

Read it.

Really?

To change the percentage of effectiveness from 2% to 8 or 10% does not make chemotherapy much more impressive.

So where did you pull that number from? It's not in the link.

In no other avenue of life would we consider that kind of success rate acceptable.

Say we have a treatment that results in 80% of patients surviving a disease with high mortality. Say we have a second treatment that, in conjunction with the first, results in 90% of patients surviving. According to you, we would reject the second treatment because the success rate is an "unacceptable" 10%.

By W. Kevin Vicklund (not verified) on 24 Aug 2012 #permalink

I can't see what Marg is on about... whether the available chemotherapy options are actually counterproductive (as she first claimed) or simply not good enough (as she's claiming now), the answer is the same. No-one is forcing her to take them. If she develops cancer, she is free to die with as little therapy as she likes.

If the problem is that medical researchers are wasting their money by barking up the wrong tree, all she has to do is prove them wrong by producing the better chemotherapy herself.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 24 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Krebiozen
Say you have a type of breast cancer that kills women in 8 years. It takes four years for it to become palpable, so through breast examination it is discovered in the fifth year, but with a mammogram it is discovered in the first or the second. Prior to mammograms, the women with this cancer die three years after the discovery of their cancer; after large scale mammography is introduced the women live 7 years. Nothing about the cancer has changed, but there has been a huge increase in 5-year survival, giving the illusion that something has improved when in fact nothing has. The same can be said about early detection of prostate cancer. You have no way of knowing how much the percentages you cite are due to people living longer simply because their cancer was detected earlier and not because of any treatment they might be receiving.

@Antaeus Feldspar
Your numbers are way off.

BTW note the title of the study, which is "Treatment-induced damage to the tumor microenvironment promotes prostate cancer therapy resistance through WNT16B." In particular note the words "Treatment-induced damage".

Someone has swiped your nym…

Duly noted, thanks (I mean, I don't claim ownership or anything, but the distinction is there).

@ Marg:

Now you may not believe this, but cancer researchers have actually considered the phenomenon you describe, given it a name and measured it.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 24 Aug 2012 #permalink

The same can be said about early detection of prostate cancer. You have no way of knowing how much the percentages you cite are due to people living longer simply because their cancer was detected earlier and not because of any treatment they might be receiving.

Please explain, in detail, what lead-time bias has to do with any position that you have advanced previously.

@ Narad:

I had a peek at MarkH's blog and there is no comparison to the original. But I wonder if the 'nym lifter might be someone who holds a grudge against you.... you-know-who .
However, the spelling and grammar aren't totally atrocious, so maybe not.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 24 Aug 2012 #permalink

But I wonder if the ‘nym lifter might be someone who holds a grudge against you…. you-know-who .

Oh, right the Swampjack. I'll never forget Ol' Whatshisname. I dunno, at 7:20 his time, he might not have been fully in his cups. Or maybe he's been fervently working the chapbook or something. Beats me.

@Narad
What's with this habit of assigning essay questions? I began with the statement that the biggest purveyors of quackery in cancer treatment were oncologists promoting chemotherapy drugs. Pointing out that increased survival rates could be due to earlier detection and not to any drug intervention is entirely consistent with that position.

@Marg: Your non-answer straightforwardly indicates that you have attempted to change the subject. You have floridly demanded answers to your own questions as a control attempt, so perhaps you could unclench long enough to answer a simple one.

@Narad
I have responded. That is my answer; it is internally consistent, and it is consistent with my position in this discussion. End of story.

Let me rephrase Narad's question for you. What evidence do you have that early detection was solely responsible for the cancer survival rate? The difference between you and a scientist is that you ask questions, while scientists look for answers.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 24 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Gray Falcon
I did not say that early detection was solely responsible for the cancer survival rate but merely posited a scenario in which it could have been.

@Denice Walter
It would be interesting to know how they figured out a ratio.

In particular note the words “Treatment-induced damage”.

Marg, what, specifically, is the treatment?
I've asked 3 times now. You continue to cite that study, but you do not understand its methods or conclusions. You want us to be shocked by these results but you can't even identify what drug or drugs they used.

Marg, hypothesis is the second step of scientific inquiry, after observation, not the last. Humans are not infallible; after a hypothesis is formed, one must test it to be sure. If it fails, there's nothing to be upset over, just move on to the next one.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

What’s with this habit of assigning essay questions? I began with the statement that the biggest purveyors of quackery in cancer treatment were oncologists promoting chemotherapy drugs. Pointing out that increased survival rates could be due to earlier detection and not to any drug intervention is entirely consistent with that position.

Uh, you do realize, don't you, that that's why RCTs are so complex and are designed to try to control for lead time bias? That's why clinical trial subjects are stratified by stage, for example. Differentiating lead time bias from a real effect on cancer outcomes is difficult for screening tests, but not as much for treatment. The patients have all been diagnosed with cancer and grouped according to clinical-pathological stages for which the expected survival is known, all before undergoing treatment.

The Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania has no problem with Reiki as an adjunctive treatment:

And neither do I if reiki is correctly described as a spiritual/religious modality and its practitioners are treated the same way as chaplains, allowed to see patients, but no claims made for them being able to actually treat anything.

@Orac
Glad to know that.

@Gray Falcon
I see that answer as a non sequitur

@Orac
My comment about lead time was not for current experiments or for experiments going forward. My comment relates to claims of improvements in survival as compared to a time when early detection through the use of mammography was not widespread.

@Antaeus Feldspar
Your numbers are way off.

And as I pointed out even before you made that objection, Marg, you did not even acknowledge THE EXISTENCE of cancer-killing effects of chemotherapy, MUCH LESS try to assign any kind of number or any form of quantification to them, MUCH LESS try to provide any reasonable assessment of how those cancer-killing effects compare in strength to the effects recently discovered that promote tumor cell survival. That makes you A BIG FLAMING HYPOCRITE when you try to say "Antaeus, the true figure isn't 99.9% : 0.1% !" Whatever the true figure is, it's even farther from the false 'figure' of 0% : 100% that an unwary observer would have taken away from YOUR wholly biased misrepresentation of the paper's conclusions.

I am not TRYING to provide figures, I am trying to explain the PRINCIPLE. I am trying to explain to a WILLFULLY IGNORANT PERSON (this would be you, Marg) that "One of the effects of chemotherapy is that some tumor cells are actually helped to survive because their cell-repair mechanisms get triggered, and disease progression in these cells is heightened" and "The effect of chemotherapy is to trigger the cell-repair mechanisms of tumor cells, thus resulting in disease progression in the patient" are NOT SYNONYMOUS STATEMENTS; anyone who takes a paper that concludes the former and announces its conclusions as the latter is at best completely misunderstanding and at worst deliberately deceiving. To say "chemotherapy promotes the spread of cancer," which I will remind you again is EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID VERBATIM, is a big fat freaking lie unless you prove that whatever the chemotherapy does to promote the spread and survival of tumor cells WHOLLY OUTWEIGHS what chemotherapy does to limit and destroy tumor cells. Did the paper you quote come to any such conclusion? NO. Did you provide independent evidence of any kind to justify such a conclusion? NO. Did you even acknowledge that there was any need to consider the cancer-killing effects of chemotherapy, i.e. THE WHOLE FREAKING PURPOSE FOR WHICH WE ADMINISTER CHEMO IN THE FIRST PLACE AND THE ONLY REASON WE USE IT, in assessing whether the overall effect of chemotherapy is "the spread of cancer"? NO, you did not.

If I sound a bit snippish, my apologies. That was not my intent. My intent is TO SHAME YOU for being either A BIG FAT LIAR or AN IDIOT. I already TRIED being patient with you, Marg, and what was the result? You took EXACTLY the argument that I explained to you that you could not use in good faith, and you used it anyways. Where the hell do you get your nerve?? You big mewling hypocrite. "You failed to accurately represent the comparative strength of this effect in relation to the other, Antaeus." Yes, and YOU failed completely to ACKNOWLEDGE ITS EXISTENCE so kindly take all your criticism of figures that are "way off" and SHOVE IT.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Antaeus Feldspar
I am not easily shamed or bullied, the latter of which is what you are trying to do. From my perspective for the purposes of the patient it is entirely sufficient that “One of the effects of chemotherapy is that some tumor cells are actually helped to survive because their cell-repair mechanisms get triggered, and disease progression in these cells is heightened” to lead to the worsening of their condition and ultimately death. These chemo-resistant cells will then be the ones that go on to divide, creating one heck of a chemo resistant tumor. And where the hell do YOU get the nerve to try to bully me because I disagree with you?

Marg, your perspective is irrelevant. It is not what the authors conclude, so any personal interpretation you use is faulty.

@Antaeus Feldspar
I am not easily shamed or bullied, the latter of which is what you are trying to do.

No, bullying would be if I was saying "You should quit posting here, because I don't like your point of view." That's far different from shaming you for your pathetic use of a double standard, where it's a big problem if I don't provide figures for the relative comparison of two factors that are accurate enough for your liking (in a thought experiment, no less) but it's okay for you to completely ignore the existence of one of those two factors for your relative comparison.

It really is a pity you aren't more easily shamed. It might have led to you actually being a decent person, if you had had conscience and shame to guide you.

From my perspective for the purposes of the patient it is entirely sufficient that “One of the effects of chemotherapy is that some tumor cells are actually helped to survive because their cell-repair mechanisms get triggered, and disease progression in these cells is heightened” to lead to the worsening of their condition and ultimately death. These chemo-resistant cells will then be the ones that go on to divide, creating one heck of a chemo resistant tumor.

Except that is not the conclusion of the paper and it is not a reasonable extrapolation from the conclusions of the paper, it is ENTIRELY PULLED OUT OF YOUR AR5E. It would be like me saying "I just discovered that there's a service fee for setting up a Certificate of Deposit at my bank; that proves that setting up a CD at that bank leads to losing money!" If the service fee is one dollar and the interest I can expect to gain from the minimum deposit amount over the term of the CD is more than one dollar, then no, it does not lead to "losing money" as any sane honest person would understand the phrase. You as someone outside that description will doubtless have trouble comprehending that.

And where the hell do YOU get the nerve to try to bully me because I disagree with you?

Not because you disagree with me, Marg, but because you withhold information and argue dishonestly and maintain a double standard. THAT is why I shame you.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

You do seem pretty shameless, Marg. Antaeus was angry because he shouldn't have to explain to you why lying is bad.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Darwy
The authors may not be saying it, but given that the reason cancer is so deadly is the proliferation of multiple-drug-resistant cancer cells, they should certainly be asking the question whether the mechanism they discovered is implicated in this. Not to ask the question is dishonest.

@Antaeus Feldspar
If chemotherapy helped 999 and harmed 1, I would have zero problem with it. The odds are rather worse.

@ Marg:

Unfortunately I have to leave and can't go into detail BUT
risk/ benefit analysis is considered with ALL medical procedures and treatments. It is. Furthermore, it is studied mathematically not by personal factors.
If you decide whether to buy something or not, you weigh the pros and cons casually: SBM has to do a whole lot more to justify using ANY procdure and doctors have to also weigh this information when they prescribe and discuss it with patients who have CHOICE.

Pehaps someone can follow my lead.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

The authors may not be saying it, but given that the reason cancer is so deadly is the proliferation of multiple-drug-resistant cancer cells

This statement is false.

@ Marg,
I don't know what you mean, but if everyone would try to cure cancer without the help of a doctor, specialised in cancer, I think less people would survive.
Cancer isn't a battle one can win if one has enough fighting spirit. One needs luck and good doctors. Especially the latter.

I am not sure why you pointed me to Jonathan Chamberlain, but it’s interesting stuff.

The "why" is in the acknowledgments. Just a lark. As for Chamberlain himself, I think his endorsement of detoxifying foot baths really says it all.

@Narad
In what way?

In what way?

Perhaps you could be more specific.

Marg,

I wonder how the statistics would change if everyone took charge of their own healing.

We know the answer to that question since oncologists are now seeing cases of untreated cancers that they had previously only seen in old textbooks, thanks to people believing the sort of nonsense Chamberlain writes. For example, the following comment from a cancer surgeon on a UK medical professional site.

In the UK, there is the "cancer act" to protect patients from the claims of CAM in treating cancer, sadly this is seldom enforced. As a cancer surgeon and professor of medical humanities I can attest to the tragic consequences of patients with breast cancer refusing modern humane treatment in place of barbaric alternatives. I call them barbaric as it allowed me to follow the natural history of untreated disease. Although I rarely endorse the use of mastectomy, if there is one thing more barbaric than radical surgery, it's the disease itself being allowed to run riot. The cancer leaves behind a rotting stinking ulcer and a swollen arm as the involved lymph nodes block the drainage from the lymphatics.

Here's a an interesting look at one of the cases Chamberlain cites as a success story for alternative cancer treatment.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

The authors may not be saying it, but given that the reason cancer is so deadly is the proliferation of multiple-drug-resistant cancer cells, they should certainly be asking the question whether the mechanism they discovered is implicated in this. Not to ask the question is dishonest.

Did Marg just say that the authors' conclusions are wrong, and that they should change their results because *it's just so obvious that chemo is bad*?

Narad,
I think Marg was asking you why you think Chamberlain's endorsement of detoxifying foot bath says it all.

Marg - it's because detoxifying foot baths don't actually do anything to remove heavy metals or other toxins from your body. Someone less charitable than myself would call them a scam (and many have). You might check out the article titled "Do you really need to detox?" in Consumer Reports.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Flip
Not change their conclusions but follow up on their study.

@Mephistopheles
What are you on about? There is far more to what Chamberlain says than foot baths. I didn't even see a reference to foot baths. This is your MO, ladies and gentlemen, pick out on small item to stick your claws into and then rip it to shreds.

@Narad
Again, the link you provided about the patients cited by Chamberlain refers to one patient among twenty-something.

I have seen what chemo does when it doesn't work. You destroy the person and then shrug and say, "sorry, it didn't work, there is nothing more we can do. You can go home and die now."

I wonder how the statistics would change if everyone took charge of their own healing.

They'd change, all right, but not in the way you seem to assume.

This is your MO, ladies and gentlemen, pick out on small item to stick your claws into and then rip it to shreds.

The fact that the man can't think is not a "small item."

If the authors aren't saying it , it is probably because they did draw that conclusion from the evidence. This study does not support your point. Do you have one that does? If the answer is no then you really don't have a leg to stand on.

the reason cancer is so deadly is the proliferation of multiple-drug-resistant cancer cells

I hate to have to point this out, but cancer is deadly even without chemotherapy.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg,

I have seen what chemo does when it doesn’t work. You destroy the person and then shrug and say, “sorry, it didn’t work, there is nothing more we can do. You can go home and die now.”

I'm puzzled by this notion that people with cancer who die despite the best treatment available die of the treatment, not of the cancer. It seems to me a very dangerous idea that is becoming more and more widespread, that cancer patients do better with no treatment at all. Why do you think the cancer destroyed the person, not the cancer? For just one example, take a look at the Gonzalez pancreatic cancer clinical trial; those on conventional treatment lived three times as long as those on Gonzalez' 'treatment' (essentially no treatment at all). When you consider that pancreatic cancer has probably the worst prognosis of all cancers, I think this speaks volumes.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

I meant "Why do you think the treatment destroyed the person, not the cancer?" Funny how typos leap out at you after you submit the comment...

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

The authors may not be saying it, but given that the reason cancer is so deadly is the proliferation of multiple-drug-resistant cancer cells, they should certainly be asking the question whether the mechanism they discovered is implicated in this. Not to ask the question is dishonest.

And in the meantime, you are citing the paper as your source for what you admit the authors didn't say. How do you justify that, Marg? Are you really so egotistical that you say, "Well, I've never published a paper in my life, but I know what these researchers should have concluded, so I'll just announce my own personal views as being the conclusions they came to" and think that's legitimate? Oh, that's right, you're hard of thinking, so I'll give you the answer: No, that's dishonest.

If chemotherapy helped 999 and harmed 1, I would have zero problem with it. The odds are rather worse.

And again, Marg, I don't give a damn what you have "zero problem" with or don't, because your judgment reeks like month-old tuna salad. In case I haven't already explained this to you five or six times, my point is that your assessment methods fail. Given a chemotherapy method that killed 99.9% of the cells in a tumor and left 0.1% stronger, your assessment of that method would be "oh! Look at these 0.1% of cells, and ignore all the others! Obviously this method promotes the spread of cancer!" That is all we need to know to know that your assessment methods blow chunks.

And the fact that you present the flawed conclusions that your flawed assessment methods led to as if they were the conclusions of the paper means one of two things: you couldn't understand what the paper actually said OR you deliberately chose to lie about what the paper said. It's one or the other, Marg, but whichever one it is, you're a fool if you think you have any credibility left.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

I think "the authors may not say it " tells us all we need to know about Marg. She will jump, no parachute to a conclusion that meets her beliefs regardless of the evidence.

And again, Marg, I don’t give a damn what you have “zero problem” with or don’t, because your judgment reeks like month-old tuna salad.

I regret to report the result of an inadvertent recent experiment: month-old tuna salad is pretty neutral-smelling, at least with jarred mayo. Never, ever, buy a seven-pound ham if you live alone, though.

@Marg

I'm sure the authors will do what they think is necessary to follow up on the conclusions of their study. And so will others.

However... You said this:

From my perspective for the purposes of the patient it is entirely sufficient that “One of the effects of chemotherapy is that some tumor cells are actually helped to survive because their cell-repair mechanisms get triggered, and disease progression in these cells is heightened” to lead to the worsening of their condition and ultimately death.

Darwy said this:

It is not what the authors conclude, so any personal interpretation you use is faulty.

You said this:

The authors may not be saying it, but

To which you seem to be implying (and being wonderful in objecting every time someone tries to understand what you're saying by accusing us of not understanding you) that their *own* conclusions are wrong because you think something else. If they haven't said something in the conclusions, it's not because they're pretending the data didn't say something and they don't want to be going against the grain. They're not saying it because it's *not what the data showed*.

You're the one starting off with a conclusion (chemo = bad) and working back from there.

The authors are saying that chemo is effective *but that it can be made to be more effective*. As others have pointed out, you can't use the study based on *what you think they should have said instead*.

If you want to go on about chemo=bad, find a different source/publication/experiments that show it.

I'm going to call you Pegamily Rebooted. You sound alike.

This is your MO, ladies and gentlemen, pick out on small item to stick your claws into and then rip it to shreds.

I think in science, detail counts.

I have seen what chemo does when it doesn’t work. You destroy the person and then shrug and say, “sorry, it didn’t work, there is nothing more we can do. You can go home and die now.”

[citation needed]

@Narad
Hundreds of thousands of cancer patients have experienced variations on the theme of "there is nothing more we can do" and "put your affairs in order". If you want a citation, check out Jeff's story in chapter 5 of Leigh Fortson's "Embrace, Release, Heal". Obviously your lot are not going to bother with scientific studies on the people who have been destroyed by chemo and sent home or to hospices to die.

@Narad
Hundreds of thousands of cancer patients have experienced variations on the theme of “there is nothing more we can do” and “put your affairs in order”.

It is unclear to me why you aimed this in my direction, but given that you have already confused me with Krebiozen above, I don't suppose it matters. You don't have anything better.

shrug and say, “sorry, it didn’t work, there is nothing more we can do. You can go home and die now.”

I'm not sure quite what alternative Marg has in mind. Possibly the hospital should lock the uncured cases away in basements and not let them go home to die.

Hundreds of thousands of cancer patients have experienced variations on the theme of “there is nothing more we can do” and “put your affairs in order”.

Evidently not enough oncologists are lying to their patients -- they should be telling them 'Yes! You're getting better and better!'

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Narad was meant to be @Flip. Reach chapter 5 of Leigh Fortson's "Embrace, Release, Heal" anyway. Or better yet, read the whole book.

@Antaeus Feldspar
If you have chemo that kills 99.9% of cancer cells and leaves 0.01% super cells, guess what that 0.01% is going to do. Yippee, hurray, multiply!!! And don't give me that I don't know what I'm talking about because patients with AML are given exactly that as a reason for needing the most stringent chemotherapy protocol possible.

@Herr Doktor Bimmler
I know two women diagnosed with supposedly aggressive cancers, one of them breast cancer, who are still alive 15 years after their initial diagnoses, with no chemotherapy or radiation, with the tumor still in their bodies, both of whom used diet and other alternative therapies to maintain their health. I know of people with the same cancers, diagnosed more recently, who obediently went through the standard protocols, and are now quite dead.

@Narad
Sorry, that would "read chapter 5" ...

@Narad
Sorry, that would be "read chapter 5" ...

Sorry, that would “read chapter 5″ …

If you cannot make the case yourself, and you certainly have not, I assure you that I have both more pressing and more interesting things to deal with than sales pitches.

Marg,
Perhaps there is some point to your anecdotes. Then again, maybe there is not.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

Hundreds of thousands of chemo patients have experienced variations on the theme;"Congratulations, you have reached five years." or ten or fifteen.

@Narad
I can certainly summarize. Chapter 5 of Leigh Fortson's book is about "Jeff", who had multiple myeloma, and came to the end of his extensive and ineffective treatment when he refused to have experimental chemotherapy that would have been injected directly into his spine and would have left him wheelchair bound if he survived. After he refused the treatment he was told to go home and put his affairs in order. Someone suggested he should go to see a man called Ben who lived in the desert. Ben treated him an hour a day and taught him a style of meditation in which he visualized cleaning up his spine. About six weeks after he began treatment with Ben, he was cancer free. This happened in 1991 and "Jeff" was still alive and free of cancer when Fortson's book was published last year. According to some information on the internet, this "Ben" was Bill Bengston's teacher.

Scoff all you want. Fortson's book is not only about Jeff but also about a dozen others who healed from cancer against all odds using alternative treatments, many of them _after_ they came to the end of the road with conventional therapies, after their doctors told them "there is nothing more we can do".

But of course you have better things to do than waste your time on things that challenge your conventional way of thinking. So go ahead and do them.

Someone suggested he should go to see a man called Ben who lived in the desert.

It's hard to be a hermit these days. There you are, living in the desert, trying to enjoy some piece and quiet, but there's a whole stream of visitors knocking at the door of your shack in the hope of one of the hermits will be called Ben.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

Fortson’s book is not only about Jeff but also about a dozen others who healed from cancer against all odds using alternative treatments

Do they *all* have made-up names like "Jeff"?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Antaeus Feldspar
If you have chemo that kills 99.9% of cancer cells and leaves 0.01% super cells, guess what that 0.01% is going to do. Yippee, hurray, multiply!!! And don’t give me that I don’t know what I’m talking about because patients with AML are given exactly that as a reason for needing the most stringent chemotherapy protocol possible.

And once again, Marg, you are completely avoiding the real issue.

You claimed that the paper was a source for the claim that "chemotherapy promotes the spread of cancer."

The way that a reasonable person would interpret that phrase is that cancer spreads faster and becomes worse when chemotherapy is administered, as compared to what it does when chemotherapy is not administered.

Those are NOT the conclusions of the paper.

I'll repeat that again.

Those are NOT the conclusions of the paper.

For you to claim that "chemotherapy promotes the spread of cancer" and cite the paper as the source of your claim is dishonest.

You may in fact yourself hold the opinion that chemo does no harm than good. That's fine, if you want to believe it.

What's not fine is telling the lie that "the researchers who wrote this peer-reviewed paper concluded that chemo does more harm than good!" when their paper concluded no such thing.

And as long as you continue telling that lie, and keep on dragging red herrings across the trail to try and distract people from the fact that you lied, people will continue to be angry with you.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

If you have chemo that kills 99.9% of cancer cells and leaves 0.01% super cells

99.9% + 0.01% =/= 100%. Just saying.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

I can certainly summarize. Chapter 5 of Leigh Fortson’s book is about “Jeff”

I did not ask you to summarize the book that you are now for some reason pitching, I suggested that you actually make the case that you have been advancing, which is that, in general, chemo is worse than no chemo, modulo shooting coffee up your ass (Chamberlain, oddly, suggests that flaxseed oil and coffee are interchangable for this purpose, but I'll be damned if I can figure out how this conclusion is arrived at).

Allow me to get this out of the way as well:

But of course you have better things to do than waste your time on things that challenge your conventional way of thinking.

Marg, I strongly suspect that you would lose your ever-lovin' sh*t if you really understood what's "inside" my head. "Conventional way of thinking"? I'm willing to assert that the perceived world is isomorphic to the unconscious mind. One can leave the reservation and nonetheless arrive at very nearly the exact same conclusions, which do not involve the globular-blobular pudding-mind that seem to be so proud of.

^ "that you seem"

Oh boy! I come back 10 hours later after an exceedingly pleasant day alongside the river, looking at outsider art, trendy shops, crumbling 19th century buildings, renovated 19th century buildings and sampling fabulous halal curry (after drinks) now it's late and WHAT DO I FIND?

Oh Marg! I have been told countless stories about all of the people who conquered cancer without SBM, courtesy of alt med proselytisers: I've read articles, seen films, heard interviews and *exposes* BUT I have YET to see any one of them produce ONE study that illustrates the differences of which they speak.

On one hand, SBM has thousands of meticulous, complex studies that can be investigated and criticiqued and the alt med bastion has *stories*.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink

Oh boy! I come back 10 hours later after an exceedingly pleasant day alongside the river, looking at outsider art....

Let me know if you want a copy of Bern Porter's Found Poems and I've Left; I have one each remaining from the stockpile.

@Pegamily Rebooted... er, Marg

Obviously your lot are not going to bother with scientific studies on the people who have been destroyed by chemo and sent home or to hospices to die.

It's up to you to provide citations. Not book references: peer-reviewed journal citations.

Anecdotal data: many of my family received many bouts of chemo (one even for different cancers throughout their life), all enjoyed years if not decades of extra life, with limited side effects. These were all elderly people, but all died due to natural causes or other illnesses, not chemo/cancer. See, my anecdotes equal your anecdotes. And that's just my immediate family! (Oh, if only I could tell the show-stopper anecdote: but that gives away my ID)

I really don't need to read a book to discover that cancer is a bad thing and that medicine is improving all the time. Or that some people die and some don't, or that life is way more mysterious than we think. What I would like is some actual scientific statistics.

Show me the statistics that chemo is not helping the majority of people, that the risk/benefit comes down on the side of "better not try it", or that you have any kind of proof at all outside of anecdotes. Give me something I can look up in Pubmed. (I can't afford books at the moment, particularly just for a one-off read... Pubmed's cheaper)

By the way, I see what you did there. Nice sidestep away from the point, which is that you lied, or attempted to put words into the authors' mouths. Either the study supports your point or it doesn't; either you think the authors are wrong or you don't.

So I repeat:

You’re the one starting off with a conclusion (chemo = bad) and working back from there.

The authors are saying that chemo is effective *but that it can be made to be more effective*. As others have pointed out, you can’t use the study based on *what you think they should have said instead*.

If you want to go on about chemo=bad, find a different source/publication/experiments that show it.

I'll give you another attempt:

Is this study truly proving your point? Or are you calling the authors liars?

Antaeus is right. You're just trying to distract from the fact that you've been caught out.

But of course you have better things to do than waste your time on things that challenge your conventional way of thinking. So go ahead and do them.

Oh for... can you at least be original? Post some data, we'll look. But we're picky. We don't want anecdotes or books, try some CDC (or other country) stats or Pubmed or something...

(To the regulars... Note the similarity between Pegamily and Marg. Both refuse to offer peer-reviewed citations. Both argue over semantics whilst refusing to admit that what they said is what they meant (or being vague so they don't have to be pinned down). Both like distracting you away from the proven lies. Both like books as references. Both like the nirvana fallacy. Is this a sock puppet? Or should I dig out my post to Pegamily about how books are not science? ... Incidentally, this is why I'm annoyed about ghost writers and alt-med. There are any number of people who want to "tell" their scare/survival story - that's not science, that's literature)

Obviously your lot are not going to bother with scientific studies on the people who have been destroyed by chemo and sent home or to hospices to die.

Obviously not... but wait, here is a scientific study of terminal cancer patients at a hospice! Apparently "our lot" are going to bother after all!

Carter, Helen, McLeod, Rod, Brander, Penny and McPherson, Kath (2004) Living with a terminal illness: patients' priorities. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 45, (6), 611 - 620. (doi:10.1046/j.1365-2648.2003.02953.x).

-- It's the first study that came to mind, on account of living with one of the authors. There are many many many others.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Aug 2012 #permalink
Someone suggested he should go to see a man called Ben who lived in the desert.

It’s hard to be a hermit these days. There you are, living in the desert, trying to enjoy some piece and quiet, but there’s a whole stream of visitors knocking at the door of your shack in the hope of one of the hermits will be called Ben.

And if you do find a hermit in the desert named Ben, frequently you come back to find your moisture farm destroyed by Imperial stormtroopers.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

I knew I had heard of the hermit Ben who lived in the desert.

First known picture taken in 1908, he appeared to be between the ages of 35 and 40. In 1921 he moved to Chicago. Worked in a drugstore that was a front for a speak easy. 1923 promoting a wonder drug. Became known as Dr. Von Naturlich, traveling the midwest selling wonder drug until arrested in Peoria, Illinois. After jail, he became a magician named "Mr. Natural the Magnificent". Eventually stopped and blacklisted before commiting an "Unnatural Act" on a female audience participant. Became a band leader of Mr. Natural and his Lyrical Lechers. Lived the high life with rich extravagent parties until he inexplicably gave it all up in 1928. Disappeared until 1938 when he started hanging around with the Old Pooperoo in Modesto, California. The Old Pooperoo eventually got rich working for gangsters and Mr. Natural disappeared again, supposedly spending the war years of World War 2 in India, China, Tibet and Afghanistan where he became a taxi driver and learned many strange and wonderful things. Came back to the States for "some stupid reason" in 1953 and meditated in the desert. 1960 some young groupies formed the first Mr. Natural fan club and his fame grew and in 1966 he was the epitome of the love and godlike perfection.

You tell me.

@ Narad:

I thank you for your kind offer but I was refering to more visually-oriented outsider art: a long time ago ( in a galaxy far away?), I knew a fellow who used to set fires and another who produced bizarre *tableaux vivants* - in which I was often cast- more recently, I look at textural essays involving unlikely materials- like making trees out of steel nails and building room-like sculptures that move ( but only when no one is observing), torturing fabrics et al.
-btw- one of the idiots I survey calls himself the "New Mr Natural".

@ Antaeus:
re moisture farm.
You got it, Mister!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

-btw- one of the idiots I survey calls himself the “New Mr Natural”.

I'm considering "The New Pooperoo" myself.

@ flip:

One thing I've noticed is the naivete of alt med advocates who trash a study unaware that most of their objections have already been considered, studied and dismissed DECADES ago by real scientists. This is especially true about SMI.

They continue beating the same old dead horse that has long since vaporised and now exists only as a memory. I venture that the reason that the memory of the aforesaid deceased equine hasn't been eradicated is because woo-meisters continuously resurrect it frequently, intensively and emotionally every chance they get. Some of them even produce documentaries on the subject.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

@ Narad:

Especially apropo because of the coffee enemas.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

Let me be more clear: apropo for a woo-meister.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

Forgive me: haven't read the comments just yet, but I just saw this in my twitter feed...

An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism
nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/immune-disorders-and-autism.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=general&src=me

@Denice

I suspect it's partly an ignorance of where to find that info. Then one day they happen across, say, RI, and then post a comment. Time is also an issue: who has the time to search blogs for previous content - especially when they think they are privileged to some inner knowledge that "it doesn't work" (in the case of SBM).

I agree that it doesn't die because proponents don't let it: but it also doesn't die because the people looking for info are possibly looking in the wrong places or just not bothering to look at all.

An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism
I have no great confidence in an author who follows the principle of "include the most dramatic claims available, even if you backtrack and admit that the claim is wrong within the same sentence":
Diagnoses have increased tenfold, although a careful assessment suggests that the true increase in incidences is less than half that.

"firstborns seem to be at greater risk"
Seemingly not.

"the whipworm, which is native to pigs, has anecdotally shown benefit in autistic children."
-- This is just the form of inspiration they need at AoA!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

“the whipworm, which is native to pigs, has anecdotally shown benefit in autistic children.”
– This is just the form of inspiration they need at AoA!

But then, Herr Doktor, they would have to admit to Doing It Wrong with those parasite 'cleanses'! (Although I suppose we should be grateful, if it would put an end to bleach enemas.)

@ herr doktor bimler:

All of us10th generation, candy-@ssed, elitist city-dwellers need to get back to Nature! And get infested with good old-fashioned natural parasites! THEN we'd be healthy.
But wait. I am healthy!
It's Nature that makes me sneeze and itch.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

@hdb

I only skimmed the article, but it seemed to me to be an opinion piece which wanted to vaguely point to immune disorders without actually coming out and saying it. Ie. wanting to appear reasoned and balanced but adding the subtext of "why so much chronic illness?" that anti-vaxxers are so fond of.

Going back to this study, as you all attack the ultimate conclusion of a 2.1% contribution of chemotherapy to overall 5-year cancer survival, are you also raising questions about the numbers given for individual cancers?

Are we to be reassured by the 0% contribution in the case of pancreatic, kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer? The 1% contribution to survival from colon cancer? 1.4% for breast cancer? 0.7% for stomach cancer? 2% for lung cancer?

No wonder the authors are questioning the validity of chemo.

No wonder the authors are questioning the validity of chemo.

Advance a demonstrably superior option or bugger off.

We are not looking for demonstrably superior options because we are putting all our resources into _this_ option, because apparently many of us have our heads stuck up our buttholes looking for light where it doesn't shine. If biochemical approaches worked, you would think that after 70-odd years we'd something better to show for all the money and effort sunk into this.

Although I have spent most of weekend in idle diversion, I vaguely recalled a certain post, so prior to mixing myself a drink, I typed "chemotherapy effective" into the searchbox *et voila*! What do you know? A wealth of results came up, including the one I wanted: "So chemotherapy does work after all" ( Dec. 2011) in which our esteemed host explains how woo-meisters spread mis-information about chemoherapy including the infamous "2% gambit" and why that is not based in reality.. oh he can say it so much better than I can because he's an expert and like it or not, they do exist.
At any rate, Cheers!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg: something better to show for all the money and effort sunk into this.
Seems to me that there's actually been an awful lot of money (from patients) & effort (persuading patients to part with money) gone into 'alternative' treatments for cancer, over the last 70+ years. You'd think by now that there would be some actual published peer-reviewed data demonstrating how superior those alternative treatments actually are.

Also, what Denice said above.

The numbers are cited are for individual cancers, not for cancers overall. @Denice, show me the studies that disprove those individual numbers. Show me where the authors of this study recanted.

Orac's (and others') objection to this study was that it excluded cancers such as leukemias where the results were more positive and therefore came up with an overall low percentage. Mind you the 5-year survival rate for AML is not so hot either, is it?

We are not looking for demonstrably superior options because we are putting all our resources into _this_ option, because apparently many of us have our heads stuck up our buttholes looking for light where it doesn’t shine.

Marg, there is a truism that was often invoked at NANAE, and I suggest that you ponder upon it: There Is No We. Moreover, if there were, you sure as shit wouldn't be the spokesperson, so I further suggest that you quit dancing around.

Once upon a time, there was a doctor who wanted to prove that energy healing was real.

He performed experiments where, if the experiments were done correctly and the hypothesis was true, the control group of mice should have all died and the experimental group should have had a statistically significant number of survivors.

The results he actually got, instead, were that his control group all survived with the exception of one, which was not statistically different from the experimental group, which also survived with the exception of one.

This meant that the doctor had screwed up his experiment.

But the doctor was unwilling to admit defeat. Whether he was simply pathetically insistent upon fooling himself, or whether he just wanted badly to fool others, we do not know.

We do know what he did next, though, and that was to spin one hell of a whopper about what the experiment results meant. Instead of admitting that it was a failed experiment, the doctor pretended that it was actually a SUPER-SUCCESS where the control group got QUANTUM ENTANGLED with the experimental group and therefore the experimental results meant the doctor had proved energy healing to work on BOTH groups.

There were actually people gullible enough to swallow that load of bullcrap.

And one of them is Marg.

So, Marg, when you say that biochemical approaches to cancer haven't given sufficient results and don't show enough promise of further results to be where we should be concentrating our research, I say your opinions on the matter amount to birdcrap, because that's what your ability to distinguish between real science and wishful thinking amounts to.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

I’m just curious. Is the Marg posting on this thread the same Marg who wasted lots of bandwdith tossing out silly insults, misunderstanding jokes, and avoiding addressing questions back in late June on the http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/06/05/reiki-versus-dogs-just-bei… post (along the Reiki Master Judith)?

I am intrigued by language, and the unusual spelling caught my eye (again).

None of that changes the dismal numbers for chemotherapy.

The numbers are cited are for individual cancers, not for cancers overall. @Denice, show me the studies that disprove those individual numbers. Show me where the authors of this study recanted.

Orac’s (and others’) objection to this study was that it excluded cancers such as leukemias where the results were more positive and therefore came up with an overall low percentage. Mind you the 5-year survival rate for AML is not so hot either, is it?

Marg, you turkey, you're still pulling the same craphead manuevers! No one is saying the authors of the study have "recanted." No one is saying that chemotherapy is a magic bullet that can alleviate every form of cancer.

What we are saying is that, contrary to your idiotic claim that "chemotherapy promotes the spread of cancer," chemotherapy is one of the most successful anti-cancer methods we actually have, and while not every cancer can be successfully treated with it, many can. Oh, yes, we know that you think energy healing is a much better alternative, but that is because on the subject of energy healing you are a gullible chump who swallows nonsense that an intelligent seventh-grader would spot as a load of fetid dingo's kidneys.

So no one is really interested in hearing you whine ungratefully (and lie) about how awful chemotherapy is. It's the best we've got so far, and while we'd gladly drop it in a heartbeat for an alternative that gave better results and caused less hardship to those taking it, that alternative has to be REAL. Not your cockamamie energy healing crapola where you look at an experiment that clearly failed and claim it actually proved both energy healing AND non-locality.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

None of that changes the dismal numbers for chemotherapy.

Which, none too surprisingly, are vastly better than yours from a Billy Beane sort of approach to player evaluation.

If as much time, money and effort were spent on researching energy healing as has been wasted on the biochemical alternative, it would be doing a heck of a better job by now than chemotherapy does.

If as much time, money and effort were spent on researching energy healing as has been wasted on the biochemical alternative, it would be doing a heck of a better job by now than chemotherapy does.

C'mon, let it all out, honey.

Marg

If as much time, money and effort were spent on researching energy healing as has been wasted on the biochemical alternative, it would be doing a heck of a better job by now than chemotherapy does.

I’ll take that as an affirmative answer to my question.

I’m pretty sure I suggested this to Judith, not you, back in June, so I’ll toss it out to you, now, too:
Go write some grants. Get back to us after you’ve done the studies.

if as much time, money and effort were spent on researching energy healing
Also, see my previous comment. Many 'alternative therapies' are big business in their own right - look at the supplements industry as an example - so how come they aren't funding research to demonstrate their effectiveness? CAM proponents claim what they offer is effective, so over to them to support that claim with published, peer-reviewed data (none of those anonymised heart-warming stories, thank you).

If as much time, money and effort were spent on researching energy healing as has been wasted on the biochemical alternative, it would be doing a heck of a better job by now than chemotherapy does.

I missed the part where mainstream science intervened to stop Marg from investing her own time, money and effort on researching energy healing.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

Obviously your lot are not going to bother with scientific studies on the people who have been destroyed by chemo and sent home or to hospices to die.

I am still intrigued by this earlier claim that the medical establishment is simply not interested in patients for whom chemotherapy is ineffective. The Frau Doktorin does a lot of volunteer work at the local hospice, so I occasionally meet the non-existent researchers there (not to mention the dedicated medical & nursing staff). They are all generous-souled individuals who would probably not approve of me inviting Marg to die in a fire.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

I see Marg is avoiding my questions. And not posting citations as requested instead of books...

No wonder the authors are questioning the validity of chemo.

Are they though? Can you cite their actual words where they do that?

If biochemical approaches worked, you would think that after 70-odd years we’d something better to show for all the money and effort sunk into this.

If rockets worked, you would think that after 70-odd years we'd have something better to show for all the money and effort sunk into space flight. And look: we've only been to the moon a couple of times!

(Erm, Alison said it better: homeopathy, energy healing, bloodletting, cupping, acupuncture... so many things have had plenty of time to show evidence. Heck, evolution has had the same amount of time as many of these and look how well it's been supported by evidence!)

The numbers are cited are for individual cancers, not for cancers overall. @Denice, show me the studies that disprove those individual numbers. Show me where the authors of this study recanted.

You're the one with the hypothesis. But of course, all you can do is point to *one* study that doesn't say what you think it does, and where you insist that the authors mis-wrote their conclusions.

And why you won't find anything about *recanting* is because the others don't say what you think they do.

None of that changes the dismal numbers for chemotherapy.

Which you don't seem to want to cite. Funny, I asked you to post some stats. Where are they?

If as much time, money and effort were spent on researching energy healing as has been wasted on the biochemical alternative, it would be doing a heck of a better job by now than chemotherapy does.

Ah yes, the "there's no money to research alt-med" gambit. Yawn...

Where's the stats Marg? How can I possibly change my mind if you refuse to post any real references?

If as much time, money and effort were spent on researching energy healing as has been wasted on the biochemical alternative, it would be doing a heck of a better job by now than chemotherapy does.

And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride them.
(OT, English is my second language, and I never really understood this saying - still, I found it quite evocative)

Isn't there a branch of the NIH, the NCCAM, with a annual budget of 125-million dollars, whose role is to investigate alternative medicine?
(sigh - that budget could be enough to finance annually about sixty 20-people, cancer-searching academic teams like my former lab)
I believe the only "alternate" protocol NCCAM managed to confirm after 20 years of inquiries is massage as pain relief.
Which, considering, is not that alternative. Nor that news.

I guess the searchers there (and the politicians behind the foundation of the institute) were not interested enough in challenging their conventional way of thinking.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 26 Aug 2012 #permalink

@heliantus - in the legal world, if you want to be a litigator, you work for a a law firm, if you're interested in reviewing contracts & having a 9 - 5 job, you go work for a corporate legal office.....I guess in Medicine, if you don't want to stretch yourself, or are just looking for a paycheck, you go work for NCCAM - I mean, how hard can that research be, really? It isn't like you have to worry about finding actual, "evidence" right?

*one* study that doesn’t say what you think it does

The goal of trolling is to put less time & effort into provoking people you provoke than they spend responding to your provocations. Or so I hear from a friend.
So you can't expect Marg to *read* the papers she waves at you; that would take time and effort, and miss the whole point of the game.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Flip

Gladly. Here it is:

"As the 5-year relative survival rate for cancer in Australia is now over 60%, it is clear that cytotoxic chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival. To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required. Morgan, G. et al. (2004). Clinical Oncology 16, 549e560"

For the percentages, see the tables on pp 3 and 4.

http://chrisbeatcancer.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/contribution-of-c…

Marg,

For the percentages, see the tables on pp 3 and 4.

So 1690 patients in the studies looked at owed their 5 year survival to chemotherapy? How many owed 1 year additional survival to chemotherapy I wonder? Even one of the examples they give of chemotherapy being oversold, in breast cancer, seems a lot better than nothing to me:

From our calculations, only 164 women (3.5%) actually had a survival benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. In other words, on average, 29 women had to be treated for one additional woman to survive more than 5 years.

A 'number needed to treat' of 29 for 5 year survival doesn't seem so bad, does it? Do you think it would have been better if these patients had died? If not, what exactly is your argument, because it isn't at all clear to me. Also worth noting is that survival isn't the only important factor in cancer. Quality of life is also important - again if you look at the Gonzalez trial, not only did the patients receiving chemotherapy live 3 times longer (though apparently according to Marg increasing survival by less than 5 years is pointless), they also had a much better quality of life than those treated using the Gonzalez protocol.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Krebiozen
Yep, 1690 out of 72,903. What happened to the other 71,213?

@Krebiozen
"Quality of life"? I've seen the quality of life chemo can give. Puking guts out, no energy, joint pain, kidney failure; in comparison having no hair is just a minor, cosmetic detail. In another thread a commenter said "I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy". And yes, I recognize that this is not everyone's experience, but it should not be _anyone's_.

Re: one additional year. How do you know that the people who lived one year lived that additional year because of chemo? They could have lived that year without chemo too.

If as much time, money and effort were spent on researching energy healing as has been wasted on the biochemical alternative, it would be doing a heck of a better job by now than chemotherapy does.

How wise you are to know the outcome of things that never happened...

If chemotherapy helped 999 and harmed 1, I would have zero problem with it. The odds are rather worse.

What exactly are the real odds then, and from exactly what data set have you calculated them? Show your math, Marg.

More Oracian analysis : Does chemotherapy work or not? The "2%" gambit ( Sept 2011).

It appears to me that the '2%' gambit is part of a programmed campaign by alt med to accomplish many goals, including:
frightening people about SBM treatments,
illustrating how 'useless' SBM treatments are,
painting the medical establish as cruel, greedy and disingenuous,
portraying themselves as those who will 'enlighten' and 'save' the general public heroically.

Orac discusses how the oft-quoted study doesn't disentangle curative/ adjuvant chemotherapy and doesn't include cancers that use chemotherapy successfully as a primary treatment; it doesn't include other measures of outcome, I note. Orac notes another alt med PR gem: that doctors themselves 'refuse' chemotherapy- based on an old study. They neglect to tell you that a new study doesn't show the same results.

However, if you take the word of woo-meisters, it would seem as if Gonzalez and Burzynski** offer a superior advantage to chemotherapy ( note: Dr B, despite his press, does use chemotherapy and *exclusively* so);
to those who carp about SBM's so-called 2%:
what are alternative therapies' effect? 30%? 70%?
Oddly, I don't seem to recall seeing *their* numbers.

If you scan a so-called documentary about alt med cancer 'cures', read a book by Suzanne Somers, see articles or listen to rants by web woo-meisters, you will hear amorphous stories about 'cures' without any numbers or percentages included: one of the idiots I survey says "all" while simultaneously hinting that SBM produces NO cures.
This is similar to anti-vaccine propaganda wherein negatives are exaggerated and positive effects are omitted.

Sounds like a black-and-white paint job with a broad brush.
2%? Why not just say zero?

** or Burton, Issels, Gerson, Revici

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

What happened to the other 71,213?

Let me guess: they were destroyed by chemo and sent home to die.

@JGC
See my response to @Flip, above (9:38)

Here is a sampling of headlines in early August. Clearly your lot have a lot of people to educate out there:

Headline – Time magazine:
How Chemotherapy May Trigger Tumors’ Resistance

Headline – The Week:
How Chemotherapy May Trigger Tumors’ Resistance

Headline – Fox News:
Chemotherapy can inadvertently trigger cancer resistance

Headline – BBC News:
Chemo ‘undermines itself’ through rogue response

Headline – Digital Journal:
Study: Chemotherapy can make cancer worse

Headline – Medical News Today:
Chemotherapy Can Inadvertently Encourage Cancer Growth

@Narad
Probably.

We can all play teh anecdote game--I've also seen the quality of life chemotherapy did. Gave a friend an additional four years with his young children, one more wilderness trip with the college friends he'd been kayaking with every summer for 29 years, the time to wrap up his personal career to his own satisfaction, etc. Gave my mom nearly 6 more years with me and my family. Cured a cousin (testicular cancer).

Is chemotherapy a guaranteed cure for every type of cancer? Of course not. One can cherry pick specific cancers where it proves less likely to result in long time survival as the authors of the study you keep shoving in our faces did but it would be dishonest (either wilffully or through ignorance) to argue that therefore chemoptherapy is only effective in 2% of all cancer patients who receive it and therefore should be abandoned in favor of natural 'therapies' that have never been shown to be effective at all.

I’ve seen the quality of life chemo can give. Puking guts out, no energy, joint pain, kidney failure; in comparison having no hair is just a minor, cosmetic detail.

Not only are you stupid, but you're a liar and behind the times. My mother just had chemo for breast cancer, and didn't throw up once. She lost some -- not all -- of her hair, and only had one major incident at all, which was because she contracted a bladder infection. Another friend of mine who was also undergoing chemo at the same time didn't throw up, didn't lose much of her hair at all, and had no issues aside from some fatigue. I have fatigue and I've never had cancer or chemo.

Also, the study you just threw out claiming that it proves chemo doesn't work is looking at adjuvant chemotherapy only, which is to say supplemental chemo that is secondary to the major treatment. It does have a higher treatment-to-benefit ratio than primary chemotherapy, but since you never know if you're going to be that one person in 29, it's still probably a good idea.

Also, to actually rebut your argument on the lack of merits, even assuming arguendo that there really was such a thing as vitalistic energy, you just said that energy healing doesn't work as well as chemotherapy, so why in hell should we discard something that works in favour of a clunky prototype anyway?

Jesus you're stupid, and you don't even know it. You're a walking Dunning-Krueger Effect.

By Interrobang (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Narad

On April 16, 1996, Amalie Bigony died at Palmetto General Hospital, in Hialeah, Florida. As this story ... told by Mrs. Bigony's daughter, Vicky, makes clear, the cause of this South Florida woman's death was chemotherapy, although physicians originally attempted to lay the blame on ovarian cancer. ..

'In April 15th of 1996, my mother passed away-exactly 10 days after undergoing chemo-therapy. She had been told by her surgeon that she only needed six treatments. My mother died after just one.

Her doctor finally conceded that the chemotherapy killed her and the amended death certificate is so annotated. It was a shock to us all. Who would have thought one treatment of chemo could be fatal? That's why I feel what happened to my mom should be made public.

Undergoing chemotherapy is not to be taken lightly. Even though many people are aware of the terrible side effects, such as nausea, weakness and loss of hair, how many really understand that the drugs used for chemotherapy are toxins, deadly poisons that kill all your cells, not just cancer? According to one doctor regarding my mother's case, it is not uncommon for patients to die from chemotherapy. I wonder why people are not aware of this fact? We certainly were not, and even after the doctor conceded to us that the chemotherapy had killed my mother, he still tried to downplay what happened by saying, "The cancer was so advanced, your mother would not have lived long anyway."

In late December 1995, my mother had a severe pain attack in her abdomen. A sonogram determined she had a mass on her right ovary. Follow-up tests confirmed it was cancerous. Her CA-125 count was at 400 [editor's note: normal CA-125 levels are less than 35]. Due to some delay, surgery was not scheduled until March 6, 1996. A full hysterectomy was performed and the mass removed.

However, since the tumor was touching on four different areas, the surgeon insisted that my mother undergo chemotherapy. My mother was hesitant and asked about alternative treatment, but the surgeon said that was not anoption. He added that she needed to have only six treatments of chemotherapy.

On April 4 and 5, my mother underwent the chemotherapy. The drugs used were Taxol and Platinol. Three days later, on Monday, April 8, my mother fainted and was rushed to the emergency room. She was released, but on April 10 was again in the emergency room because of severe pain. No blood was drawn and after being given a shot of morphine, my mother was released and again sent home.

On Friday, April 12, my father and I took my mother in to see her physician. After a brief examination, she was, to my surprise, not hospitalized. I thought the doctor might hospitalize her or at least run more tests. In my mind, my mother was more than just weak; she could not walk and could hardly stand. We even had to borrow a wheelchair from the doctor's office for her to use. However, our not being doctors and never having been around anyone who had to undergo chemotherapy, my father and I had to trust the doctor's decision. We took my mother home.

Two days later, on Sunday, April 14, my Mother was again rushed to the emergency room-one final time. She was barely conscious. At first the doctor thought she was having a reaction to the drug Darvon, which my mother was taking for pain.

However, when the blood work came back, the doctor explained to me that my mother had no more white blood cells [editor's note: a common and sometimes lethal side effect of chemotherapy is white blood-cell depletion], and her prognosis was poor.

The next 24 hours were a nightmare, with one crisis after another. First, my mother had to be intubated [the insertion of a tracheal tube] because she was having problems breathing. When she was finally stable enough to be transferred to the critical care unit, her heart rate had shot up to 180. It took four hours for a cardiologist to finally come. Later, my mother ran a high fever.

Her own doctor and oncologist never came until the following Monday morning, but my dad and I stayed and never left my mother's side, holding her hand and talking to her. During this entire time, my dad and I had no idea how critical my mother's condition was or what was causing her heart rate and temperature to soar. Unbeknownst to us, my mother's kidneys had also begun to fail. Even though the cardiologist had mentioned the term "septicshock" [shock associated with overwhelming infection], I was unable at the time to fully comprehend what it meant.

At 8 a.m. Monday morning, my Mother's doctor and oncologist finally came. But by then, there was not much they could do and so had to call in a heart specialist as well as an expert on infectious diseases. A procedure was attempted whereby a tube was inserted into the lungs with the hope of draining fluid which had accumulated. However, not long thereafter my mother's heart stopped beating altogether.

Quite simply, my mother died from septic shock brought on by chemotherapy. The chemotherapy had wiped out her white blood cell count, leaving her at risk for infection. This led to the release of endotoxins [fever-producing agents of bacterial origin causing her blood pressure to drop]. Without receiving the necessary oxygen to survive, her organs then began to fail. Yet all along, her heart was desperately trying to pump harder until it, too, failed.

I know if my mother had known how lethal chemotherapy is, she never would have consented to treatment. I hope what happened to my mother is enough to stop others from choosing chemotherapy.

I will never forget my mother's words as she got weaker and weaker: "No more chemo." My dad and I did not know at the time how true her words would be.'

@Marg
I saw your post at 9:38. See Denice Walter's at 10:56.
Then perhaps read Orac's full blog entry from Sept 2011.

As this story … told by Mrs. Bigony’s daughter, Vicky, makes clear

Yes, we've finally gotten down to cut-and-pastes from Life Extension magazine.

Re: Amalie Bigony

Is chemotherapy, like all other medical interventions, known to sometimes have side effects? Yes.

Are some of the known side effects of chemotherapy, like all other medical interventions, sometimes serious? Yes

Does that mean chemotherapy only contributes to the survival of 2% of all patients who receive it? No.

@ Denice

Sounds like a black-and-white paint job with a broad brush.

That's a rather succinct and accurate description of Alt-med grievances, yes.

Cue Marg's last painting job, quoting four headlines which look like the same press article just copy/pasted from one news organism to the next. News tend to be propagated this way, you know.
The last headlines are more on topic, but that we wanted was peer-review articles. Press releases are not the same thing, the data is missing or incomplete.
But your argument from popularity is noted.

Clearly your lot have a lot of people to educate out there

Actually, as a matter of fact, you are right. Part of the scientists' job should be to educate the public on their findings, and we could do a better job.
As the saying goes, knowing is half the battle.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@JGC
You are really not looking at the numbers, are you? Orac disputes the overall 2% finding. I am conceding to him on the charge that authors left out blood cancers where chemo is the primary method of treatment, but that still leaves the numbers for the individual cancers, which with the exception of one or two are dismal.

The study was not done by so-called "woo-meisters" but by medical professionals. It was published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Here are comments from some other scientists/medical professionals:

...as a chemist trained to interpret data, it is incomprehensible to me that physicians can ignore the clear evidence that chemotherapy does much, much more harm than good.
Alan C Nixon, PhD, former president of the American Chemical Society

Cancer researchers, medical journals, and the popular media all have contributed to a situation in which many people with common malignancies are being treated with drugs not known to be effective.
Dr. Martin Shapiro UCLA

Many medical oncologists recommend chemotherapy for virtually any tumor, with a hopefulness undiscouraged by almost invariable failure.
Albert Braverman MD 1991 Lancet 1991 337 p 901, "Medical Oncology in the 90s"

Most cancer patients in this country die of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast, colon, or lung cancers. This fact has been documented for over a decade, yet doctors still use chemotherapy for these tumors.
Allen Levin, MD, UCSF, The Healing of Cancer

...chemo drugs are some of the most toxic substances ever designed to go into a human body, their effects are very serious, and are often the direct cause of death. Like the case of Jackie Onassis, who underwent chemo for one of the rare diseases in which it generally has some beneficial results: non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She went into the hospital on Friday and was dead by Tuesday.
Dr Tim O'Shea in TO THE CANCER PATIENT

Seems there are doctors out there who don't buy into chemo. Convince them first, then try to convince me.

@Narad
Regardless of where it comes from, the woman died, and her doctors conceded that it was from her chemotherapy.

@ Marg

‘In April 15th of 1996, my mother passed away-exactly 10 days after undergoing chemo-therapy. She had been told by her surgeon that she only needed six treatments. My mother died after just one.

Ah.
My sincere condolences for your loss. I am sorry that chemotherapy didn't helped your mother.
Sometimes, medicine (and science) fails.

how many really understand that the drugs used for chemotherapy are toxins, deadly poisons that kill all your cells, not just cancer?

One problem with cancer, you see, is that cancer cells are your cells, too.
So yeah, targeting the rogue cells and leaving the normal cells alone is sort of tricky.
And this will likely be the case with any alternative treatment you may think of (alternative as "other than mainstream chemo").
Unless you have something specific of cancer cells to target. We are getting here, slowly, for some cancers, with more or less success.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19111700

The BBC's report was clearly not cut-and-paste., and you can see how it would lead people to believe that chemotherapy leads to a worsening of cancer:

"Around 90% of patients with solid cancers, such as breast, prostate, lung and colon, that spread - metastatic disease - develop resistance to chemotherapy.

Treatment is usually given at intervals, so that the body is not overwhelmed by its toxicity.

But that allows time for tumour cells to recover and develop resistance.

In this study, by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle looked at fibroblast cells, which normally play a critical role in wound healing and the production of collagen, the main component of connective tissue such as tendons.

But chemotherapy causes DNA damage that causes the fibroblasts to produce up to 30 times more of a protein called WNT16B than they should.

The protein fuels cancer cells to grow and invade surrounding tissue - and to resist chemotherapy. "

Regardless of where it comes from, the woman died, and her doctors conceded that it was from her chemotherapy.

Um, no, this has not been demonstrated in the slightest. The underlying assertion is that a single administration of paclitaxel destroyed, in toto, Ms. Bigony's leukocytes, which were just dandy otherwise. This is the part where you provide some actual documentation.

Ah, comprehension fail on my part, Marg was quoting someone's else testimony. I retract my condolences.

he still tried to downplay what happened by saying, “The cancer was so advanced, your mother would not have lived long anyway.”

Cold comfort, but that's likely true.
A number of cancers are benign and trying to treat them is doing more harm than good. There are constant re-evaluations of the consensus for treatment for prostate tumors, by example. Colon tumors are another example.
On the other hand, a number of cancers are known to be quickly fatal. Pancreatic cancer (see Steve Jobs) is one of them. Ovarian cancer isn't far down on the list, IIRC.

I concur with Narad, "This is the part where you provide some actual documentation." I don't reject the idea that this woman had her life shortened because of the chemo.
But.
For a proper risk/benefit assessment, one need to know the chance of the risk, and the chance of the benefit.
[Citation needed], please.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@ Marg

My cut-and-paste sentence was referring to the way News media are propagating information, by picking up that has been published by the concurrent and re-publishing it.
Or more simply: next time you point us to a news article, just pick one, no need to give four or five versions of the same.

But that allows time for tumour cells to recover and develop resistance.

Yes, this is a problem, a serious one, and not a new one. We have something similar going on with antibiotics, and to some extend with herbicides.
A few scientific teams are trying to find solutions, be it new molecules, or different protocols. Not enough teams, in my opinion, but I could be biased.

you can see how it would lead people to believe that chemotherapy leads to a worsening of cancer:

I agree that having a cancer resistant to chemo is worse than having a cancer which is not, but I'm not sure I agree with the implication that chemo should be dropped altogether.
When a soldier run out of ammo to shot at the enemy, the situation is worsening for him, but that doesn't necessarily mean he shouldn't have fired in the first place.

Believe me, if there was something better than chemo, all of us here would love to hear about it.
Or just that a treatment is ineffective? Again, do tell.
But as pointed elsewhere, we are picky: we need data to convince us that we are not running after shadows.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Narad @Heliantus

Is it common for ovarian cancer to destroy lymphocites? Answer: NO.

Is chemotherapy known to destroy lymphocites?

@Narad @Heliantus

That should have been leukocytes.

Is it common for ovarian cancer to destroy lymphocites? Answer: NO.

Is chemotherapy known to destroy lymphocites?

No, toots, it doesn't work that way. You have a single, inadequately documented, facially implausible, 16-year-old, fatal adverse event, and you think it's golden.

Adverse events are all around if you just care to open your eyes and look.

So are good outcomes.

Adverse events are all around if you just care to open your eyes and look.

Your continuing retreats into the stupidest pouting imaginable are not advancing your argument.

@ Marg

Adverse events are all around if you just care to open your eyes and look.

Sigh. Everything you do has potential adverse events. Even breathing air or drinking water
(to start with, there are all the dust micro-particles you draw in, which do some damage to your lungs or guts; let's add allergens and the occasional pathogen micro-organism for more serious adverse events)

If something has biological effects, then part of the effects are likely to be undesired, or even undesirable. Salicylic acid (a natural molecule which lead to aspirin) is an egregious example of this - it's a painkiller, an antipyretic, an anticoagulant, and it has a tendency to trigger stomach ulcers. Not everybody need all of these effects, especially the ulcer part.

The question, again, is risk/benefit. How often does that adverse event happen? How often, by comparison, the patient is getting better for taking the medicine?

By Heliantus (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

We agree that as Orac has indicated the authors failed to include outcomes for the cancers where chemotherapy has been found most efficacious during their analysis. Do you also agree that Orac's other points (the author's failure to distinguish between adjuvant and curative chemotherapeutic regimens or to consider other measures of outcome other than survival time (e.g., quality of life) are correct as well, and as a result a blanket statement that chemotherapy is only successful 2.1% of the time isn't supported by this study?

...but that still leaves the numbers for the individual cancers, which with the exception of one or two are dismal.

Yes, for the particular set of 'individual' (I.e. cherry-picked )cancers presented chemotherapy does not perform as well as we'd all wish it would.:clearly, however, it still performs better than no chemotherapy at all.

as a chemist trained to interpret data, it is incomprehensible to me that physicians can ignore the clear evidence that chemotherapy does much, much more harm than good.

What evidence is Dr. Nixon suggesting we're ignoring, exactly? Be specific.

...a situation in which many people with common malignancies are being treated with drugs not known to be effective.

Which common malignancies, what drugs, and what evidence demonstrating they are ineffective is Dr. Shapiro referring to here? Again: be specific.

Are you seeing the trend here? Yes, there are "doctors out there who don’t buy into chemo", but unless they can provide credible evidence that they're correct not to buy into chemo all these cut and pastes represent is an argument from authority at best, and an argument vox populi at worst.

Show us evidence, rather than cut and paste random quotes, if you want anyone to take your position seriously.

Marg,

What happened to the other 71,213?

Perhaps their lives were extended by 4 years? If you include cancers that have a very short average survival and use 5 year survival to assess treatment efficacy, you will get a very distorted picture. For some cancers conventional treatment is not very effective, it's true. My reaction is to hope that current and future research will find better treatments for the many thousands of different types of cancer that have proved to be more complex and difficult to treat than anyone expected 40 years ago, and to make a donation to a cancer charity. You appear to assume that this (relative) failure is because scientists are too stupid and have been trying all the wrong approaches, when in many cases those approaches have been tried and are utterly useless. Your attitude seems to me to be hopelessly naive and more than a little offensive to the thousands of doctors and scientists who have devoted their working lives to solving this conundrum.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Did anyone notice, in Marg's lovely story about her friends with breast cancer, that she carefully worded that they refused chemotherapy and radiation therapy and then went on about they did dietary changes, etc. Wonder if they happened to have the curative SURGERY which is the primary treatment for breast cancer? (Gee, Marg, given what our host does for a living, you think we don't know a fair amount about how breast cancer is treated from his many posts?) After all, I'm sure Marg is well aware that surgery (lumpectomy preferably, greater surgery if the mass is too large or there is lymph node involvement) is the treatment of choice, and chemo/radiation are additional therapies used to improve long term outcomes?

After all, WAY back in the day, many, many, many women lived long lives after radical mastectomies with no radiation or chemotherapy. Nowadays, we've improved things so women don't necessarily have to lose their entire breast, but they improve their changes to some extent with chemo/radiation.

So, Marg - want to tell us the rest of the story of your friends? Surgery or not?

Another facet of black-and-white thinking.. scratch that! there AREN'T any facets in black-and-white thinking!
Another *characteristic* of B&W thinking is that you don't weigh benefits and risks- it's all one way or the other - not gradations.

We know that young children think this way and GRADUALLY start to incorporate a more subtle recognition of shades of difference rather than just 2 categories- a dichotomy ( yes/no). By adolescence, most kids start to think this way, e.g. they can rate things on a scale and using percentiles gets easier for them. Also their verbal characterisations get more complex as they use qualifiers and exceptions more. Kids learn to consider more than one variable simultaneously and their interactions as well AND this is not purely in the cognitive realm ( school work, naive physics et al) but includes social cognition. They are less swayed by emotional arguments and learn to understand hidden motives of persauders.

For some unearthy reason that I cannot fathom**, alt med seems to habitually use less complex explanations when discussing science with its audience.

** although I have my guesses, I add innocently.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

hidden motives of PERSUADERS.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@MI Dawn
I believe I said in my post that both were still alive with the tumor still in their bodies.

Only one of them is a breast cancer. In 2007 it was the size of a grapefruit. It waxes and wanes.

The other is a soft tissue sarcoma. It was removed by surgery when it was first discovered and grew back larger than it had been.

So, no, the woman with breast cancer did not have surgery. The other woman did, but the tumor grew back.

@MI Dawn
And why the sneering tone?

@Denice Walter
And you and others in these posts don't adopt B&W thinking in your blanket condemnation of CAM? Especially Orac, who would not even allow it as an adjunct to conventional treatment?

@ Marg:

No, we firmly differentiate CAM/ woo/ alt med that does NO harm from that which DOES harm as well as the degree/ amount of harm that is done. Additionally, we discriminate 'harm' that merely wastes time, money or both from that which causes physical harm. Or psychological harm. We also discern that alt med providers might be motivated by monetary rewards or may honestly and TRULY believe in their woo.
I could go on but won't.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

And of course pharmaceutical companies have motives that are as pure as the driven snow.

With the use of chemotherapy we must then differentiate between the temporary harm that causes the patient to feel ill while under treatment and the lasting harm which causes the cancer to come back stronger than ever, or results in "adverse treatment effects" leading to death.

No kidding! Who ever said corporations have pure motives? Why do you think there is regulation? Should be more.
Or that SBM isn't concerned with multiple side-effects along a spectrum of harm or that there isn't a trade-off between gain and loss with any treatment? What do you think testing and trials are about?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Using people as guinea pigs?

@Denice
Okay, that bit about guinea pigs was facetious on my part. I take it back. I understand that everyone means well, maybe even the pharmaceutical companies, whose main interest is the bottom line and for whom a long protracted illness needing lots of treatment is a financial bonanza. No one really wants to see cancer patients suffer, not you, not me, not Orac, or anyone on this discussion board. And I have as much contempt as you do for alternative practitioners who are out to fleece cancer patients. In the best of all possible worlds orthodox medicine and CAM should work together for the best outcome and least suffering for the patient. I hope we can agree on that.

I have as much contempt as you do for alternative practitioners who are out to fleece cancer patients

The problem here is that you are unable to recognize when patients are being fleeced. Remember that time you wrote this?

[...]reiki hasn’t been repeatedly and emphatically demonstrated to be utterly false. It has been demonstrated to speed up wound healing, and to improve surgical outcomes and anxiety in hospitalized patients. Pranic healing, another form of energy healing, has been demonstrated to protect cell lines against gamma radiation.

CAM practitioners fleece people, including cancer patients, every day. The only way 'orthodox medicine' and CAM can truly "work together" is if CAM disappears.

Yep, 1690 out of 72,903. What happened to the other 71,213?

Marg would not ask such stupid questions if only she would read the sources she cites. Nothing happened to them, because these are extrapolations from applying results from RCTs and historic cancer incidences to the Australian population at a particular moment -- not empirical counts.

Some would have lived, some would have died. The 1690 is the hypothetical number of people who would have died before 5 years if they had been treated without chemotherapy, and would have passed the 5-year point *with* chemotherapy. The numbers who would have died before 5 years despite receiving chemotherapy or who would have lived at least 5 years without chemo are *not calculated* in the paper (not being the authors' concern).

Even one of the examples they give of chemotherapy being oversold, in breast cancer, seems a lot better than nothing to me:
As has been noted, a lot of women who undergo surgery for breast cancer without adjuvant chemo or radiotherapy relapse after more than 5 years. The 5-year criterion was chosen to minimise the benefit of adjuvant treatment.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg, the conclusion that you want us to accept is "energy healing is better than chemotherapy." And the premise you keep spewing at us is "Chemotherapy is awful." Let's diagram that syllogism, shall we?

1. Chemotherapy is awful.
2.
3. Ergo, energy healing is better than chemotherapy.

Do you see what I see? I see a missing premise! I see a big empty space where there needs to be some sort of evidence for energy healing being better than chemotherapy!

By "evidence," BTW, we mean something better than unsupported assertion of counterfactuals, like:

If as much time, money and effort were spent on researching energy healing as has been wasted on the biochemical alternative, it would be doing a heck of a better job by now than chemotherapy does.

I see by this that we have something in common: I, too, enjoyed a few episodes of Sliders back in the day, at least in the early seasons. But you have to realize, Marg, all those things they showed of "Here's what would have resulted in some alternate world where things happened differently than they did in ours!" were just make-believe. They were made up by TV writers, Marg. Trying to use them as evidence to win real-world arguments is just embarrassingly silly.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

It's ok, all of this talk of measuring effectiveness is totally pointless according to Marg. On the last thread she said
It’s really quite simple. When you treat a person, there are two possibilities: there is either an effect or there isn’t one. In my empirical experience there is an effect most of the time. I don’t need studies to prove to me that what I do is effective; people tell me whether it’s effective or not.

Marg, why does chemotherapy require studies of effectiveness but reiki doesn't?
Could oncologists just say, "In my empirical experience there is an effect most of the time" like you did with reiki?
Why the double standard?

sigh, html fail. the section from "It's really...or not" is all quoting Marg from the reiki thread.

@Antaeus Feldspar
That argument is the best one anyone has produced so far. I agree. There is a big blank. We will have to work on filling that big blank.

@AdamG
If I were a cancer patient I would be far more reassured by an oncologist saying "in my empirical experience there is a [positive] effect most of the time" than I would be by "studies show", but that's just me.

Marg, you've dodged the question entirely. Why is observational data sufficient to prove reiki's effectiveness but not chemotherapy's?

I have not stated that experimental data is de rigueur to prove the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

The problem with experimental data from the perspective of the consumer is that because something works on X per cent of the participants in a study is no guarantee that it will work on you. In fact, it is not even a guarantee that it will work on the same per cent of the population, when it's taken out of the lab into the general population or that there will not be unexpected side effects or "adverse events" (see Vioxx). It's a game of chance that is dressed up in scientific garb and therefore people naively buy into it.

I have not stated that experimental data is de rigueur to prove the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

So, a number of practitioners speaking to its efficacy is all it takes for a treatment to be effective? How, then, do you propose we identify alternative practitioners who are 'fleecing cancer patients' as you suggest above? Surely those who are fleecing patients also claim that their treatments are effective. What system can we use to determine whether or not their claims are truthful?

@AdamG
It's a problem, isn't it? When the world was a much smaller place, you could rely upon patient testimonials. If a healer consistently failed, everyone in the community would know. With healthcare delivered in a mass market, this no longer works. Whether you go to a healer or an oncologist, you have no clue what kind of track record they have. And, BTW, even with the best studies on hand, you as a patient have no idea what kind of results your oncologist or the cancer centre you are going to have had with your kind of cancer. None. It's all accepted on faith. Unless I am missing some kind of database that keeps these records. Is there one? Also, does anyone keep tabs on oncologists? If there were one out there that consistently and catastrophically underperformed, or just had the signal bad luck of losing a lot of patients, would other oncologists ring the alarm bell? Would anyone warn patients? Are there checks and balances? I am just asking the question because I don't know the answer. The same is true of healers.

@ Marg:

With any therapy, we have no way of knowing how effective it will be *without* research and yes, research is not infallible. A patient only can be assured that on *average* a person will be helped- not any one individual. But that's science. It's about probabilities and liklihoods. And SBM strives to acquire more information that guides doctors better in matching patient and therapy.

And research can be tainted and experimenters can CHEAT( and get found out, I should add). And competing researchers can often improve methods. SBM thus is a self-correcting system, altho' it may take a long time..

Alt med does NOT usually present scrupulous methodologies and serious peer review. Statistical analyses are often an afterthought. Testimonies may be relied upon to convince potential patients sans data. Theoretical considerations may be articles of faith rather than testable hypotheses.' they just KNOW it will work.

Here is my greatest concern about alt med: many of those who proselytise also have vested interests because they sell products like supplements, treatments or information ( books, lectures, videos) AND they do not have the blind justice of methodology, statistics, review and regulation to ferret this out.They don't rely upon the scientific method even though they present themselves as scientists. It's harder to spot a cheat if they don't submit themselves to the public scrunity and criticism of submitting articles to journals.

And -btw- two of the biggest frauds in medicine/ psychology were found out by the press, although their work caused suspicion by people in their own fields first.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

That argument is the best one anyone has produced so far. I agree. There is a big blank. We will have to work on filling that big blank.

No, Marg. You have to work on filling that big blank. Because you're the only one who is insistent on the particular goal that blank is en route to. The rest of us are all "we want whatever works best against cancer to be used against cancer" and you're the only one who's all "Energy healing, ooh, ooh, it's the new paradigm, let's ditch that nasty chemotherapy which only has real-world results in its favor."

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Antaeus
By "we" I meant my lot, not your lot. Because we are not scientists, our opportunities for creating scientific studies are limited. Most studies on energy healing tend to be of the "adjunctive pain and anxiety relief" variety. We don't often get mice to play with. Apparently IRCs believe that subjecting mice to energy healing is causing them unnecessary suffering. So it's hard even to get a foot in the door.

BTW wouldn't you love to ditch that nasty chemotherapy and have something better?

@Denice
Curious to know, who were the two frauds unmasked by the media?

I know about an incompetent pathologist who often acted as expert witness in child death cases and sent many innocent parents to jail. I also know about an ob/gyn who crippled women through shockingly incompetent surgeries for decades before his license to practice medicine was finally revoked. He just kept moving jurisdictions every time questions were raised.

BTW I am mistrustful of alternative practitioners too.

When the world was a much smaller place, you could rely upon patient testimonials.

You used to be able to rely on investor testimonials as well. Carlo Ponzi's customers were quite happy and gave glowing testimonials. So did Bernie Madoff's.

Guess testimonials aren't as sure a sign of quality and effectiveness as they used to be.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

When the world was a much smaller place, you could rely upon patient testimonials. If a healer consistently failed, everyone in the community would know.

Marg, I suggest you do a little research on Benjamin Rush, Founding Father of the USA, a great man, a medical pioneer, yet he was convinced that bloodletting was a cure-all. He even sued, successfully, a journalist who suggested he was leaving a trail of corpses in his wake, which we now know was almost certainly true. If a man like Rush could deceive himself so thoroughly, what chance do the rest of us mere mortals stand, without the scientific method and randomized clinical trials?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Krebiozen @Mephistopheles
How true. I guess Rush didn't leave enough people alive to complain?

@ Marg:

One has been a topic often @ RI: Andrew Wakefield fixed data and was exposed by Brian Deer of the Sunday TImes.

Another was Sir Cyril Burt whose research into intelligence and heredity was widely accepted. It was suspected that he created data - perhaps subjects and assistants as well. Also made public by the Sunday TImes. Psychologists were suspicious because of other data that contradicted his and because his coefficients of correlation were remarkably stable across studies- to 3 places, IIRC. This is not very likely to occur by chance.

On a personal note: my prof used to speak at length about how Burt's dishonesty affected school/ social policy for decades: if science shows IQ is firmly based in heredity why spend money trying to educate kids?

I've always speculated if perhaps Wakefield, who is around my age, heard similar tales from a prof and instead of being upset by it, used it as a jumping off point for his own fraud. He didn't have things line up quite so neatly as did Burt...he did Sir Cyril one better..or so he thought.
I always thought that Wakefield's work didn't fit other research I knew about.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Is it common for ovarian cancer to destroy lymphocites? Answer: NO.
I can only conclude that in Marg's world, leukocytes survive after the death of the patient.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Then we have this:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57376073/deception-at-duke-fraud-…

and this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4617372.stm

'Dr Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said he would be speaking to the co-authors of the study to seek their permission to retract the paper.

He described the fabrication of data as a "terrible personal tragedy" for Dr Sudbo.

However, he denied that there was anything fundamentally wrong with the process of peer-reviewing contributions to scientific journals.

"The peer-review process is good at picking up poorly designed studies, but it is not designed to pick up fabricated research," he said.

"Just as in society you cannot always prevent crime, in science you cannot always prevent fabrication." '

If i subscribe to what Marg writes, as an active breast cancer patient, the chemo, radiation, surgery, and hormonal drugs I take are all bunk because I will be dead in a few years anyway. Thanks Marg!

Give sarcasm a rest, @Herr Doktor Bimmler. We were just reaching a consensus here.

@Jergen
In the long run, we are all dead. In the meantime I wish you all the best with your treatment, sincerely. I think the one conclusion we all agreed with is that results are individual. May you live a long life.

Marg @ 6:17 pm

If I were a cancer patient I would be far more reassured by an oncologist saying “in my empirical experience there is a [positive] effect most of the time” than I would be by “studies show”, but that’s just me.

By Bill Price (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Where's the rest of it go? Here's the whole thing, I hope:
Marg @ 6:17 pm

If I were a cancer patient I would be far more reassured by an oncologist saying “in my empirical experience there is a [positive] effect most of the time” than I would be by “studies show”, but that’s just me.

"Studies show" is shorthand for "the empirical experience of a large number of practitioners and patients, adjusted for various sources of misleading experiences, such as the personalities and dreams of the practitioners, shows."
Marg 7:09 pm

When the world was a much smaller place, you could only {FTFY} rely upon patient testimonials. If a healer consistently failed, everyone in the community would know. With healthcare delivered in a mass market, this no longer works. Whether you go to a healer or an oncologist, you have no clue what kind of track record they have. And, BTW, even with the best studies on hand, you as a patient have no idea what kind of results your oncologist or the cancer centre you are going to have had with your kind of cancer.

"And ... even with the best [reputation] on hand, you as a patient have no idea what kind of results your ]woo-peddler is] going to have had with your kind of cancer." FTFY.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A few weeks ago, Daughter-in-law was diagnosed with GBM (Glioblastoma Multiforme). We immediately hit the various (medical) resources, on the web and in real life. Her hospital team in Seattle recommended radiation + adjuvant chemo, following the little bit of surgery that had been possible: web medical sources report this as the treatment most likely to be effective.
She has a family option of going to Scripps Hospital in San Diego (her sister works there). Sister checked with the Scripps center, who reported that Seattle had a good reputation. at least as good as their own, for GBM. The current plan is for her (and Granddaughter and Greatgrandkids) to return to San Diego after the Seattle treatment completes, next week or so.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Info not relevant to Marg's misguided blather:
Son was too far down the kidney list when dialysis proved insufficient, ten years ago, so DIL has been going it more-or-less alone.
The bad news: DIL's platelet count took a nose dive over the weekend, so the Seattle team has DCed the chemo. They may treat her to a platelet infusion this week, depending on her condition. She may be going home to San Diego to recover, or to die. That's the way life works. At least she will have given it her best shot, without falling prey to Marg-style fraud.

By Bill Price (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Bill Price
I wish your daughter-in-law well and I am very sorry to hear about your son. Most alternative practitioners, like orthodox practitioners wish to help and your daughter-in-law (and you yourself), would probably benefit from something like reiki. I understand that you are angry, but it helps no one for you to vent on me.

In the best of all possible worlds orthodox medicine and CAM should work together for the best outcome and least suffering for the patient.

No.
In the best of all possible worlds, there is medicine which has been proved to work and is proposed to patient with appropriate explanation of risks and benefits, and there is medicine which hasn't been proved efficient, and which is not proposed to the patient.

Again and again and again, it's not about black and white orthodox vs CAM. It's about data.
We don't accept CAM because the data shows us it's not working.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Forgive me: haven’t read the comments just yet, but I just saw this in my twitter feed…
An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism
nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/immune-disorders-and-autism.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=general&src=me

Emily WIllingham has systematically examined the editorial's claims, discovering that the author was wrong about practically everything it was possible to be wrong about.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg,

I share your desire for better options. My wife's ovarian cancer was too far advanced for surgery at diagnosis so chemo was her only option. Unfortunately first and second line chemo failed and her tumours just laughed at the clinical trial agents she tried at the end. If there were another option with a better chance of working then I'd have urged her to try it. I'd have screamed for it. We moved 4000km for a clinical trial that looked promising and would have done whatever we could to find the right treatment..

Unfortunately there isn't a better option.

Lots of interesting ideas: cell therapies, novel agents, combination therapies and better methods of detection (get it early enough and the stuff we have now works) but the data isn't in yet to demonstrate efficacy... or side effects.

There are also lots of ideas for treatments that don't work. That have been tried and failed. That's where a lot of the CAM options fall. My wife's oncologists were willing to let her stop treatment and try something alternative while they continued to monitor her blood work and the scheduled scans, but when we asked them for hard numbers, for outcomes, they were only able to say that there were no published data showing that the vitamin, energy and related treatments worked; that there was some data showing they didn't work; and that they had never seen a single patient improved by the CAM in any measurable way.

Life doesn't always work out how we'd like. The magic options isn't there just because we think it should be. That doesn't mean we stop looking, but we don't have the luxury of fooling ourselves.

By Niche Geek (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Clearly my grasp of grammar fails when I write too quickly. My apologies.

By Niche Geek (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Niche Geek
You are right about life not always working out the way we`d want it to. And also about keeping on looking while not fooling oneself. That`s a difficult balance to keep. I also wish medical practitioners were more abreast of what`s available out there.

I am sorry about your loss.

Marg,

"I also wish medical practitioners were more abreast of what's available out there"

Like what? What is out there that works better than the conventional treatment? I haven't seen any convincing evidence and a lot of dis-confirming evidence.

By Niche Geek (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Niche Geek
There are new energy therapies out there that are more effective than reiki, for instance. The studies on energy therapies have mostly concentrated on reiki and therapeutic touch, and mostly with regard to pain and anxiety relief. They are usually initiated by nurses, many of whom have some background in reiki or TT. The only person I know of who studied the effectiveness of an energy therapy on cancer was Bill Bengston, who Orac & everyone else here love to scoff at because all the mice in his experiments survived to full life span cures, including most of the controls. The catch is that he has done about a dozen experiments in at least five institutions (including medical schools), with at least two different cancers, and the pesky mice persist in surviving no matter what is done to them, even after growing massive tumors. He has not done trials with people yet.

Also, Leigh Fortson`s book ``Embrace, Release, Heal``, which came out last year, is quite a resource. She has collected the stories of a dozen cancer survivors, including herself, who beat the odds with alternative medicine after conventional treatment failed. But at this point reading it may just serve to add to the pain of your loss, so you may not want to. The evidence all tends to be anecdotal rather than experimental anyway.

Marg,

Forgive me if you've heard this before, but you are applying an appalling double standard. Every single chemotherapy worked brilliantly in mice. Every single chemotherapy looked great anectdotally. Nobody would have tried a further trial if it hadn't. Why should I believe your anecdotes over theirs?

As for Reiki, she actually tried it as an adjuvant. It was definitely restful and calming but clearly had no effect on any objective tests. Based upon that experience, I have no problem with Reiki as a meditative tool. In that way it is comparable to a lot of religious practices... but that doesn't make it medicine.

By Niche Geek (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg August 27, 11:27 pm

@Bill Price
I wish your daughter-in-law well and I am very sorry to hear about your son. Most alternative practitioners, like orthodox practitioners wish to help

Thank you for your good wishes and sorrow. The issue I have with "alternative practitioners" and their putative "wish to help" is the simple truth that what they practice destroys life, while pretending to 'help'. Life is all we've got, and death is part of it. The best we can do is to make the best of what we get – both in quantity and quality. The game of the "alternative practitioner" is to promise both, but to deliver, at most, a brief improvement in perceived quality, often at the expense of quantity.

and your daughter-in-law (and you yourself), would probably benefit from something like reiki.

Well, I've found that relaxation and massage can give me a brief improvement in my mental state, and DIL has likely had that experience also. No reiki practitioner is needed for that.

I understand that you are angry, but it helps no one for you to vent on me.

Like theists insists that atheists are angry at the theists' gods, CAM believers seem to believe that real-med users are angry at CAM. The believer must adopt the attitude that, since the believer has THE TRUTH™, any dissent must be from anger. The believer also tends to project: the believer is angry because THE TRUTH™ is not immediately, unquestioningly accepted, so the 'angry' dissenter-from-TRUTH™ must likewise be angry.
No, Marg, I'm not angry; I'm sometimes sad however. I'm sad about the likelihood that DIL will not survive much longer, and that we, her kids and her grandkids will not have her in their lives. I'm happy, though, that none of the family has suggested substituting woo-fraud for actual medicine. I'm sad, a bit, that the chemo hasn't been as effective an adjuvant as it often is; but I'm happy for what effect it has had.
When I speak of reiki and the other forms of woo-fraud as woo-fraud, I'm not venting any anger. To the extent that you identify your woo-fraud as part of yourself, I can see how you might think I'm venting on you. I'm just honestly and accurately characterising them. No, Marg, it's not about you — it's about reality.

By Bill Price (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

The catch is that he has done about a dozen experiments in at least five institutions (including medical schools), with at least two different cancers

List them, please.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 27 Aug 2012 #permalink

If Bengston has done about a dozen different experiments in five institutions with two different cancers and each time the result has been that the control group survives at a rate indistinguishable from that of the experimental group, the conclusion it points to is that he needs to learn how to stop f***ing up his experiments.

It would take a truly committed idiot to look at Bengston providing these results and say "Wow, there was no difference between the control group and the experimental group; that proves that energy healing makes a big difference." Unfortunately, Marg has affirmed over and over that she fits that bill.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

If Bengston has done about a dozen different experiments in five institutions

Antaeus Feldspar, you may be exaggerating Bengston's incompetence -- I only know of 5 experiments. Bengston & Krinsley report 4 experiments. Bengston and Moga summarise those four and report one more.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Bill Price
No one suggests using reiki as a stand-alone therapy for cancer. I don`t know where you would get the idea that it would improve quailty of life _at the expense of quantity_, but I am pretty sure that if it did that, hospitals would not be offering it as an option. I am also pretty sure that the reiki practitioners who volunteer their time in hospitals are not fleecing patients. Why would you want to take pride in your DIL not availing herself of an option that might make her feel better while she undergoes orthodox medical treatment? It is very different from massage.

@Niche Geek
As above, I don`t advocate reiki as a stand-alone medical therapy. I advocate it precisely for the reasons you suggest: it makes people feel better. Calm and peaceful are valuable states to be able to have in the midst cancer treatment.

Reiki or other energy "healing" most certainly can have a calming effect and help with pain and stress. So can the prayer that any church will teach you for free. So can watching sitcoms on television.. So can watching a baby sleep.
My problem is when energy"healers" claim to be able to cure cancer. Then they are just stealing peoples' money and giving them ephemeral useless twinkles of hope. True hope that a real treatment will work is beyond price but the false hope these people sell is pitiable.
I have lasting side effects from chemo but compared to the agony of a fungating breast tumor they are so small as to not be mentioned.

@ Marg
You and I cross posted. If you do not advocate energy "healing" as a substitute for chemo was substitute would you suggest?

There are new energy therapies out there that are more effective than reiki, for instance.

I'll bite: what are these new energy therapies, and how exactly have then been shown to be effective at all, let more effective than other reiki or other previous energy therapies?
Be as specific as possible.

Re: Bengston, quite simply when your control group fails and treatment outcomes are indistinguishable from untreatment outcomes (i.e., in B's case, when both the treated and the untreated mice survive with equivalent frequencey) your entire experiment has failed and you cannot derive any meaningful conclusions regarding the efficacy of the treatment you've given the experiental groups, it doesn't matter if the treatment we're talking about is science based or CAM.

If I ciyed a study which found cancer patients treated with surgery followed by adjuvant chemo did no better than a control group of cancer patients who were left completely untreated, and said "See? This shows surgery and chemo works!" wouldn't you jump all over me?

Why then are you giving Bengston a pass?

Why then are you giving Bengston a pass?

Because she neither knows nor cares what the facts are; only what validates her religion matters.

I can only remark that we have had centuries to show the efficacy of various alt med treatments: herbs, healing, meditation, prayer and decades for the more modern forms like vitamins and special diets. There should be a mountain of data. There isn't. I read about the same herbs, supplements and methods in 1950s alt med articles or a 1990s healing digest ( I have a collection).

And whilst SBM *may* only provide what's been shown to have effectiveness probablistically: it's all we have. There is no certainty - but I'll take the latter over no data at all. You can't just rely upon word of mouth.

Someone in my family had a serious heart problem after the age of 80: he was managed by a simple pill 3 times a day and a simple 24 hour patch for almost 10 years. Needless to say, I was admonished by a few people to try herbs or supplements, even prayer over "dangerous pharmaceuticals". Brew up the daily hawthorn/ foxglove! And pray? Not at all. He certainly wouldn't buy into that. Nor would I. And I said so in no uncertain terms.

Alt med that works ( and is shown to work) becomes 'medicine'. What works gets replicated. There are additional modalities that may make a person *feel* better without treating them, like massage and meditation. I view these as an extension of spa services. The problem comes in when alt med providers try to impute medicinal properties to them.

Have a nice day all! I am off.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

@ Marg

Reiki is only one energy therapy. Energy therapy and reiki are not interchangeable terms and more than color and red are. You cannot speak about the peace and calm reiki can create and compare it to other things, such as watching TV, unless you have experienced it. If you dismissing it without experience, all you are doing is expressing a prejudice.

My reason for giving Bengston the benefit of the doubt is that his only involvement with the mice was putting his hand around the cages. He didn`t inject them with cancer; he did not feed them; he did not touch them. Lab technicians did all of that. The experiments took place in multiple labs over several years. I just can`t wrap my head around the astronomical improbability that qualified lab technicians at several universities are all so incompetent that they can`t properly inject mice with cancer. Also, the cancer took. The mice grew the expected tumors. Histological analysis, not done by Bengston but by biologists, showed they were cancerous.Then the tumors ulcerated and healed. Something did that. Bengston relates that he did two experiments at most institutions; the second one because the people who ran the lab refused to believe the results of the first. Is it easier to believe that all these people screwed up, even when they were trying to prove him wrong, than it is to believe that there was some kind of effect?

I would like to see Bengston duplicate his results with people. That would be more meaningful.

How does reki compare to meditation?

Sorry-reiki Why are typos easier to see after you hit submit?

Marg,

If Reiki doesn't work better than conventional medicine then your comment at 1:32 didn't answer my question at 1:04... So why did you bring it up?

By Niche Geek (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

I missed the comment that said all energy "healing" was reiki. Could someone point it out to me?

Something did that.

Yes, something did that, but there's no rational reason to conclude that Bengston had anything to do with the mice's survivals.

Bengston, after all, only "put his hand around the cages" of the mice in the treatment group, yet that something did whatever it does to both the treatment group and the control group.

That pretty conclusively demonstrates that whatever that undetermined something was, it wasn't Bengston's putting his hand around cages.

Well Marg, buying CD's makes me feel better, but I'm not going to sell it as an aditional therapy for people suffering from cancer.

only what validates her religion matters.

I haven't seen any evidence that Marg takes Bengston's claims seriously except as a way to wind up RI readers. She hasn't read his papers (or she wouldn't be claiming that he's done "about a dozen experiments").

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

I haven’t seen any evidence that Marg takes Bengston’s claims seriously except as a way to wind up RI readers.

Oh, I believe she truly does. Here's some of her words from the Reiki thread:

To summarize: mice healed of cancer with “woo woo” healing. Multiple experiments with extraordinary results conducted at accredited post-secondary institutions including medical schools. 87.9% of lab mice injected with breast cancer in 4 separate experiments have full life-span cures.

Here is a guy who is curing cancer in mice in experiment after experiment done at different university labs including two medical schools. He cures induced breast cancer and some kind of sarcoma.

reiki hasn’t been repeatedly and emphatically demonstrated to be utterly false. It has been demonstrated to speed up wound healing, and to improve surgical outcomes and anxiety in hospitalized patients. Pranic healing, another form of energy healing, has been demonstrated to protect cell lines against gamma radiation.

Marg has a deep failure to understand not only how scientific inquiry is conducted, but also why scientific inquiry is the only effective method for evaluating medical claims. We're not going to get anywhere with Marg.

Marg: ''Leigh Fortson`s book “Embrace, Release, Heal“, which came out last year, is quite a resource. She has collected the stories of a dozen cancer survivors, including herself, who beat the odds with alternative medicine after conventional treatment failed''

And there we have it, really. ALL those cancer survivors had had conventional cancer treatment. Suzanne Somers-style, they have chosen to credit whatever 'alternative medicine' they also took.

I've read scores - perhaps hundreds – of 'I healed my own cancer' stories. I've never seen one that stood up to the mildest scrutiny. Without exception the person has either had conventional treatment too, OR was never actually diagnosed with cancer in the first place (many of the latter had self-diagnosed, some were flat out lying).

And believe me, I wanted to see reliable testimonials. I've 'fessed up on RI before to being a reformed altie. It took my own cancer to shake me out of that. Books, websites, email exchanges... all the 'healed myself' testimonials I read led me to one conclusion - no alternative treatment had ever been effective against a single case of cancer. Anywhere. Ever.

The person who argued most persuasively had refused chemo and radiotherapy for her breast cancer, and was adamant that Gerson therapy had saved her life. But... before undertaking that gruelling regime, she had had surgery.

Me? Stage 3 breast cancer; surgery, chemo, radiotherapy. Fit and well almost 9 years after diagnosis.

Oh, that reminds me.

'Most cancer patients in this country [which country, btw?] die of chemotherapy.'

Evidence, please.

Due to computer issues I haven't been able to check in to the updates to this thread - I am here and I will be catching up, but it will take me a while.

I do see Marg has posted some citations - or at least one, and remember I haven't read anything but the couple of posts after my most recent one - but I don't see anything as yet that shows a study or list of statistics of the percentage of people who have cancer but the majority are dying/getting worse/not getting better when using chemo.

Does that kind of thing exist?

In the meantime, please be patient with me while I catch up.

Rose,

I'm not sure why you asked "I missed the comment that said all energy “healing” was reiki. Could someone point it out to me?" but I don't believe I've seen it. I commented on Reiki because my wife tried it.

By Niche Geek (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

So not all energy healing is reiki. Yay. We have successfully adjusted the position of at least one Titanic deck chair. What an achievement.

Now that we've wasted more time on that than it deserves... Marg, when the hell are you going to show us some evidence - not speculation, not baseless assertion, but evidence - that energy healing OR reiki, whichever you choose, has a greater effect on cancer survival rates than chemotherapy? Oh, the answer is "never"? Then who the hell cares what the failed woo is called?

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Niche Geek
I asked because Marg said that not all energy healing was reiki. I did not think that anyone had said that it was and was wondering why she was refuting a point that had not been made.

@Herr Doktor Bimmler

My information about there having been a dozen experiments comes from various talks/interviews Dr. Bengston gave. They are available on the web, along with some, but not all, of his papers. I also attended a talk in person.

BTW in one of the experiments geomagnetic probes were placed near the cages of the mice, both the experimental ones and the controls, which were in another lab. At the times when Dr. Bengston did energy healing on the mice the geomagnetic probes, which normally register a random pattern, began to show an organized wave, the same organized wave in both places, regardless of the distance. Other geomagnetic probes set up as controls in other places did not show the same patterns. Bengston published an article about this: "Anomalous DC Magnetic Field Activity during a Bioenergy Healing Experiment." Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 397-410, 2010. (with Margaret Moga)

Another experiment not involving mice showed that Bengston's brainwaves and the brainwaves of the people he treated became synchronized. This has been shown with other modalities too, such as Reiki. The results of the experiments involving Bengston were published in:
"The Healing Connection: EEG Harmonics, Entrainment, and Schumann's Resonances."Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 24, no. 4,Winter 2010, pp. 655-666. (with Luke Hendricks and Jay Gunkelman)

From past experience I know that you will now all get your panties into a twist about the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Be my guest. But the experiment with the geomagnetic micropulsations seems to suggest a mechanism for the healng of the control mice. The organized pattern recorded by the probes has been referred to as "negative entropy", and the hypothesis has been advanced elsewhere, not by Bengston, that one of the ways energy healing works is through creating "negative entropy". There are actually scientists out there interested in the phenomenon.

Good night, everyone. Sleep well in the knowledge that there is still stuff out there left to discover.

BTW in one of the experiments geomagnetic probes were placed near the cages of the mice

BTW, WTF is a "geomagnetic probe"? You mean a "compass"?

@Narad
Your ignorance is not my problem.

@Narad
That last was my reaction to your "WTF". Here is a link that explains geomagnetic micropulsations:

http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/ElizabethWong.shtml

Micropulsations or geomagnetic pulsations are responses to changes in the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is a cavity in the solar wind, which is the result of the geomagnetic field (earth's magnetic field) impeding the direct entry of the ionized gas (plasma) of the solar wind into the cavity. Micropulsations were first observed and published by Balfour Steward (also spelled Stewart) in 1861. He described pulsations with frequencies ranging from 3 mHz to 30 mHz. Today, geomagnetic pulsations cover the frequency range from 1 mHz to 1 Hz. Pulsations are divided into two classes, continuous and irregular, each of which are further divided according to the period of the pulsations.

Some research has found that the variations in the geomagnetic field strength (which micropulsations are a response to) can affect one's health, especially cardiovascular health. Dr. Eliyahu Stoupel published his results in the Bio-Electro-Magnetics Institute (vol. 1, no. 1) in the spring of 1989. Research into micropulsations and their resonances may also be applied to space meteorology, field-line resonances (FLRs) in the magnetospheres of other planets, and other geomagnetic activity (GMA), including geomagnetic storms and flares.

Are we seriously continuing a debate on the cancer healing abilities of Reiki? Energy healing? Really? What a load of crap!

JGC:
Yes, something did that, but there’s no rational reason to conclude that Bengston had anything to do with the mice’s survivals.

One way of looking at it, is that the natural course of events when you inject mice with a dose of unrelated, tissue-cultured cancer cells, is for the cells to proliferate madly for a while and create a tumour, until the immune systems of those mice kick into gear and wipe the tumours out again.

What happened in Bengston's 10 experiments -- the 'test' and 'control' arms of the five reported studies -- is that the natural course of events did indeed happen, 10 times.

If people prefer to interpret this in terms of "energy healing" (with a form of otherwise-unknown energy) and "quantum entanglement" (with a form of quantum theory unknown to quantum theorists), then there is little one can do except remember Schiller's aphorism -- the one about a human attribute against which the gods themselves contend in vain.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

Here is a link that explains geomagnetic micropulsations

Perhaps you didn't understand the question. Describe the instrumentation that is Bengston's "geomagnetic probe."

Oh, mercy, this Stoupel stuff is side-splitting. Heart attack? In Lithuania, it's the neutrons.

Clinical cosmobiology, Narad!
I'm guessing that someone read Lucius Shepard's first novel "Green Eyes" (with the subplot about magnetosensitive bacteria) and mistook it for a documentary.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

AH CANNA MAHK A BABBY, DE SUNSPOTZ IS GONNA TURN DE PRIVATES IN DE WRONG DIRECTION!

Shirley you mean Sunpot, Narad.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

OK, the actual paroxyms have backed off and my eyes are nearly dry. In the piece linked above, which is really just dorking around for correlations in the solar-geophysical data, Stoupel also makes the bold assertion (citing himself) that "solar, cosmic ray and geomagnetic activity, at the begin-
ning of pregnancy may also play a role [1-9,17-19], per-
haps via their effects on chromosome function (clearly shown in the case of Down syndrome)."

Oh, no, not again.

The effect of solar activity on human biological behavior is apparently due to solar corpuscular and wave energy. High levels of cosmic rays in space leave remains of crushed atoms in the form of neutrons, and the measurement of neutron activity on the Earths’ surface serves as an indirect measure of cosmic ray activity. It is assumed that neutrons, by the nature of their physical properties, connect with H+ ions and are converted to protons, which attack cell nuclei in enzymes and other regulatory systems [19,21].

F*cking protons.

Narad, you may wish to peruse his paper on "Death -- Optimal Physical Conditions", in which the good cardiologist explores the physical conditions most conducive to the cessation of life.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 28 Aug 2012 #permalink

Narad, you may wish to peruse his paper on “Death — Optimal Physical Conditions”, in which the good cardiologist explores the physical conditions most conducive to the cessation of life.

I'm not paying for that, De Gruyter seems to have crappy manuscript editing if any at all, I'd probably get thrown out of the library, and I'll bet it's just the same damn thing.

I'd also be curious if anyone could track down the history of "The Terrestrial Echoes of Solar Storms" by one A.L. Tcizevsky, which is kind of looking like the locus classicus for this whole trip, which totes polishes Bengston to a blinding shine.

Fuckin' geomagnetic probes/
How do they work?

By W. Kevin Vicklund (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

So Bengston's 'geomangnetic probes' detected activity at the location of both the treatment and control group cages, but not at other locations? Why then didn't bBEngston relocate the control group to one of those other locations he had found to be unaffected by his 'healing energy', rather than go ahead with an experiment lacking a valid and necessary control?

RE: negative entropy, words have meanings. Entropy is defined as the quantitative measure of the amount of thermal energy not available to do work in a closed system, it can be calculated and is expressed as joules per Kelvin.

How exactly is 'negative entropy' defined, how is it calculated, and in what units is it expressed?

I still find it strange that a professor of sociology got to experiment with cancerous mice.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

Oh no! Suddenly I understand everything: illness is caused by disruptions in the cosmic plane. Sounds like astrology.

Perhaps this explains the ex's depression: the old Kozmic blues got him again,
or the other guy's asthma - breathing in those protons,
or my Irish friend's diverticulosis, caused by
ingesting them: " So you're telling me that it was the fricking PROTONS when all the time I thought it was the bloody sesame seeds!", she'll say.

A few web woo-meisters believe that this year's solar flares will cause disruptions of the electrical grid AND now we can add the CNSs of living animals as well. Not sure about plants though.

Oddly, I seem to be rather healthy: could that mean that I am in tune with the esoteric harmonies of the spheres and swirling nebulae? Adrift non-randomly in supposed random-ness?
And immune to random protonic toxicity.
Mercy me. I feel as though I won the sweepstakes.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

For intelligent people you really are a bunch of morons, sorry to say. Over and out; I'm not wasting any more time on you.

Marg, do you have any specific reason you think we are morons, or do you just have no idea what "negative entropy" means. I work in refrigeration and air conditioning, and in our industry, entropy isn't an impressive metaphysical concept, it's a word that gets used as often as "torque" among automotive engineers.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg,
You did invite us to scoff all we wanted.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

Obviously, she doesn't get that RI is like the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex:
it's where sarcasm happens.

My work here is done.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

In case anyone's wondering, negative entropy is created by any functioning climate control system. An air conditioner is not a closed system, because it receives outside power, so one should actually expect entropy to decrease, rather than increase.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg, any chance you can answer a few questions before you leave the discussion?

What is the definition of "negative entropy", as you've used it in your post? How is it calculated? What units is it expressed in?

If I cited a study which found patients receiving no treatment did just as well as patient's receiving chemo, and claimed this proves chemotherapy works, wouldn't you rip me a new one? Why then do you expect us to accept Bengston's study as proof energy healing works?

When you decribed Bengston taking measurements with 'geomagnetic probes, what actual device or devices were you referring to?

Can you explain why, once Bengston had evidence that his control group was compromised (the geomagnetic probes near the control group cages also generated an organized waveform whenever he attempted to heal the treatment group mice) he didn't halt the experiment and devise a valid negative control? It could have easily been done, since he'd identified locations where the organized waveform wasn't detected, or perhaps enclosing the control group mice in a Faraday cage.

Not knowing what a "geomagnetic probe" is, I searched for a copy of the paper in question to see what they were, as my thought was also that it was a fancy name for a compass.

I couldn't find the paper anywhere other than behind a pay wall, so if anybody out there can help a brother out...

If they are indeed anything real, compass or otherwise, it seems that we'd have the makings of a JREF challenge. We wouldn't even need a cage of sick rats, just the quack making a single probe 'dance around' would probably count as a win.

Of course, the quacks will say they don't need a million dollars, but it would be fun to watch them fail.

A guy can dream, can't he?

For intelligent people you really are a bunch of morons, sorry to say. Over and out; I’m not wasting any more time on you.

Oh, c'mon, honey. I really, really want to know how protons manage to talk neutrons into not being all Switzerland-like and start hurling tiny sabots at the "cell nuclei in enzymes."

Not knowing what a “geomagnetic probe” is, I searched for a copy of the paper in question to see what they were, as my thought was also that it was a fancy name for a compass.

From the title, I can only guess that it was some sort of DC magnetometer. This presents a couple of issues in terms of detecting "micropulsations," to say the least.

A previous flounce from the "Reikie versus dogs" thread:
Marg
June 22, 3:32 pm
Ciao, ciao, gentlemen.
In a few years we will know who was right.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

Not knowing what a “geomagnetic probe” is, I searched for a copy of the paper in question to see what they were, as my thought was also that it was a fancy name for a compass.

Everything Marg has said about Bengston's papers comes from interviews he's given. To provde details about the "geomagnetic probe" she would have had to read his papers.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

At the times when Dr. Bengston did energy healing on the mice the geomagnetic probes, which normally register a random pattern, began to show an organized wave, the same organized wave in both places, regardless of the distance.

Marg's source appears to beJudith's blog*:

some of Bill Bengston's mouse experiments, in which geomagnetic probes set around the cages of sick mice showed that the earth's geomagnetic micropulsations, which normally show up as a random pattern of spikes, became a visibly organized series of waves (referred to as "negative entropy") at the times the mice were being healed.

(this is the Judith who was also commenting on the Reiki thread, in alternation with Marg).

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

OK, so he coughs this up in the January–March 2010 issue of Edge Science:

Margaret Moga and I have done three mice experiments on mammary cancer at her lab at Indiana University Medical School, and while going through the usual routine of hands-on healing, also strategically placed geomagnetic probes to test whether there might be some interesting environmental correlates to the healing. And so we examined DC magnetic field activity during hands-on healing and distant healing of mice with experimentally induced tumors. And, in act, during the healing sessions we observed distinct magnetic field oscillations adjacent to the mice cages beginning as 20–30 Hz oscillations, slowing to 8–9 Hz, and then to less than 1 Hz, at which point the oscillations reversed and increased in frequency, with an overall symmetrical appearance resembling a “chirp” wave. The waves ranged from 1–8 milligauss peak-to-peak in strength and 60–120 seconds in duration. We speculate that this evidence may suggest that bioenergy healing may be detectable with DC gauss meters.

While there is no direct description of the instruments, the reported values and what I imagine their budget to have been like seem consistent with something like this (if not even this. I'm really wondering, given that they're claiming "DC" up to 30 Hz, how noise rejection was achieved. And how stably they were mounted. And the power supply.

^ There's an error in the quote: "And, in act" should be "And, in fact." Any other missing f's are probably my fault--they were for some reason all ligatures in the original and didn't carry over.

Isn't "intelligent morons an oxymoron?

Hmmm. Like Marg upthread, Judith on her blog is enthusiastic about "Embrace, Release, Heal".

Judith, however, has become skeptical about Bengston therapy, which is why I suspect Marg of plagiarising from Judith's blog rather than being a sockpuppet.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

Marg’s source appears to beJudith’s blog

The bit just before the negative entropy stuff about concentrating Schumann resonances in one's pineal gland before shooting the energy out your hands seriously risks sending me into another laughing fit.

Does negative entropy mean that someone's getting colder?

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

concentrating Schumann resonances in one’s pineal gland

It makes perfect sense that the 7.88-Hz Schumann fundamental, with its wavelength equal to the Earth's circumference, should be coupled so strongly to an organ the size of a rice grain.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

It makes perfect sense that the 7.88-Hz Schumann fundamental, with its wavelength equal to the Earth’s circumference, should be coupled so strongly to an organ the size of a rice grain.

[Cue music]

Why yes, yes it does.

I have half a, err, mind to just do up a Powerpoint presentation of all this. Something like Koyaanisqatsi in reverse. With mice and stuff.

@ Narad:

I think that that would be very enlightening but please don't tell Mr Glass - I met him once. Dead serious. I am. He was.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

I have read that it's all the melanin in the pineal gland that gives it those special third-eye properties. So far the alt-reallity thinkers haven't caught onto the bafflegab possibilities of Pinopsin.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

The probes were never directly affected. There had to be a cage of sick mice nearby for the effect to occur. Therefore, wherever Dr. Bengston moved the mice, the effect would have followed also.

Here is something else for you to chew on. This one should keep you busy for a while:

http://www.tonibunnell.co.uk/healing.html

@JGC re: Faraday cage

The Faraday Cage and Psi
...
The cage also has a role to play in trying to determine the mechanism by which psi effects - if they exist - are generated. If an experiment that works normally then fails when the cage is employed, this strongly suggests that some form of electromagnetic radiation is involved. The electromagnetic hypothesis would seem to be a logical idea, especially given the level to which electrical signals are essential to the brain and hence - presumably - are connected with consciousness.

Despite the attraction of the theory, most research suggests that psi is not blocked either by the presence or absence of a Faraday cage. This suggests strongly that the mechanism for psi phenomena is not electromagnetic in nature.

That said, as with most areas of parapsychology the results are not clear cut. There has been some research (1) that suggests the use of a grounded Faraday cage might actually increase General ESP (GESP)!

Which is especially bad news for those who trust in tin foil hats to protect them from external mind control.

The discovery of millions of crystals in the cells of the brain suggests that the brain might be able to tune in (similar to a radio receiver) to the surrounding earth's emf, the crystals providing the vibratory link between the earth's emf and the alpha brain waves, resulting in the Schuman Resonance.

There are not "millions of crystals in the cells of the brain."
That didn't take long at all.

There are not “millions of crystals in the cells of the brain.”
Only if it's frozen. Negative entropy will do that.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

The probes were never directly affected. There had to be a cage of sick mice nearby for the effect to occur.

Is this assemblage of words supposed to be self-consistent?

Over and out; I’m not wasting any more time on you.

Flounce duration: 10 hours, 43 minutes.

Alpha is also the home of the window frequency known as the Schuman Resonance, which is the vibrational frequency of the earth's electromagnetic field (emf). This means that the brain waves of a person in the alpha state will resonate in sympathy with the earth's emf producing constructive interference which amplifies the vibration.

Seems to me someone has a failure of understanding where Schumann resonances come from. Amongst other things.

the window frequency known as the Schuman Resonance, which is the vibrational frequency of the earth’s electromagnetic field (emf). This means that the brain waves of a person in the alpha state will resonate in sympathy with the earth’s emf producing constructive interference which amplifies the vibration.

I am not brave enough to ask where HAARP fits into the picture, but there is little doubt that it fits in somewhere.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

Note: I originally prepared this response yesterday, but shelved it when Marg announced her flounce. Since she failed to stick the flounce in record time, why, I dusted it off and brought it here for your enjoyment...

Marg doesn't seem to realize a very key fact of the universe itself:  a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  She keeps arrogantly shoving in our faces chains of evidence and shrieking "See!  See!  See how strong this one link is!  Since the rest of the chain is as strong as its strongest link, this is nigh irrefutable logic I'm giving you!"

Just the most obvious example from her latest fewmet: she gives us factoids from the Journal of Scientific Exploration and then sneers "From past experience I know that you will now all get your panties into a twist about the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Be my guest."  Basically, Marg's syllogism is:

1. It was published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration.
2.
3. Therefore, it's almost certainly a meaningful result.

Except that if we have no reason to think the Journal of Scientific Exploration is anything but a crank journal like Medical Hypotheses or Medical Veritas, we have no reason to think the conclusion holds true.  Marg might as well be saying "my cousin Bernie who I think is pretty smart thinks it's true, therefore it's true!"  Why on earth would cousin Bernie's opinion mean a damn thing?

Same thing with the supposedly "organized" results from the "geomagnetic probes" (did Bengston have a reason to think these would show results, or did he just make sure his experiment had lots of endpoints?)  Scientists are interested in the phenomenon and are calling it "negative entropy."  Wheeee.  Are these "scientists" any better than those who drew elaborate phrenological maps a century ago?  They were very good at making authoritative declarations and giving things exciting names that made it sound like they knew what they were talking about, but they didn't.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

Yawn. You are all way too predictable. Tell you what, take it up with Bengston in person. He gives free talks a few times a year (usually the day before his workshops, which don't cost thousands of dollars as somebody earlier claimed). You can find the talks announced on his website, www.bengstonresearch.com well before the event.

BTW the statement that he should have moved his control mice to where there was no geomagnetic effect illustrates exactly how moronic some of you are being about all this.

Still completely unable to actually refute any of the many arguments demonstrating you to be Not Even Wrong, eh?

The probes were never directly affected. There had to be a cage of sick mice nearby for the effect to occur. Therefore, wherever Dr. Bengston moved the mice, the effect would have followed also.

Would have followed, or did follow? Did Bengston actually try moving the cages?

If we assume all this to be true, that there is no way to isolate the control and treatment mice from bengston's supposed healing energies, neither by moving cages nor using by Faraday cages, etc.--the experimental as designed is fundamentally incapable of providing any meaningful result: quite simply, without a valid control there's nothing to discuss.

Thank you for remaining to answer this question, at least. Can I expect you'll also respond to the others? I'm particularly interested in whether or not you would accept a study which found patients receiving chemotherapy fared exactly as well as patients who received no treatment whatsoever as credible proof chemotherapy works.

BTW the statement that he should have [used an actual negative control] illustrates exactly how moronic some of you are being about all this.

FTFY

The probes were never directly affected. There had to be a cage of sick mice nearby for the effect to occur. Therefore, wherever Dr. Bengston moved the mice, the effect would have followed also.

So Bengston can't directly cause a 'geomagnetic probe' to fluctuate, but a cage of sick mice will 'rebroadcast' his magic healing energies as a magnetic field? Is that what I'm expected to believe?

I note in Narad's post that Bengston claims to have noted

The waves ranged from 1–8 milligauss peak-to-peak in strength and 60–120 seconds in duration.

However, in the description of the milligauss meter that Narad provides, we read "the Earth's field is typically about 500 milligauss". I've never had a chance to play with a gauss meter, but I'd bet that just walking by the meter would cause a 1 to 8 milligauss fluctuation. It sure sounds like a noise to me.

Belief in *psi* was fashionable in educated, sophisticated
London, Paris, Vienna, NY and Boston more than 100 years ago AND psychologists, James and Jung amongst them, wrote about how it could be studied *scientifically*. I enjoyed how Freud himself regarded common beliefs ( pre-cognition, prophetic dreams) and showed how they might be explained in a more mundane, parsimonious fashion by a person who studied human abilities and emotions.

In the past 100 years, we've learned a great deal more about psychological processes and physics plus new instruments and means of measurement have been developed YET has any SERIOUS research revealed even an inkling of evidence for *psi*?

One of the woo-meisters I survey has spoken about his own research 'healing' mice by prayers performed by acknowledged 'healers' ( 1970s? 1980s?) which yielded spectacular results- yet has this ever been published?

Larry Dossey was widely publicised 20 years ago: has his research goe anywhere since then?

Beliefs of this sort provide comfort for people and thus persist: it would be wonderful if we could speak to the dead because they somehow persist somewhere and that their personalities didn't dissolve into nothingness. It would be great if healers could vaporise cancers without resorting to surgical instruments and cutting through flesh. It would be fabulous if we could predict the future and avoid terrible accidents and make fortunes in the market.

All of those *psi* abilities are idealisations of human abilities that we DO have: we recall the dead and incorporate their qualities into ourselves, we look at photographs that trigger memories; scientists use technology to find therapies that harm the patient less as they cure; through analysis of data we can predict natural disasters and economic events better than our ancestors could.

In the past several decades, we've learned a shocking amount about the brain : there are MRIs and other scans that illustrate differing abilities and conditions in living people ( e.g. LONI), that can show the progression of devastating illness that destroy parts of the brain and result in psychosis or dementia. Yet we haven't found any solid evidence for powers beyond natural ones like memory, perception, reasoning, attention and even social skills.

So, if we can't find its locus or measure its power by instruments that measure minute quantities of energy, what is it? If it is insubstantial and non-local? My guess is 'spirit' or 'soul' which is but another metaphor for human abilities perfected and non-existent.

And Marg, I would truly like to believe in this, but I can't . I actually think that people have a tendency to believe that helps them live better in our un-predictable, sometimes disastrous, frightening world.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

If our responses are predictable, Marg. it's because we're responding to the same predictable expressions of ignorance.

Like it or not (and I know you don't) scientific experiments do not default to "earth-shattering and paradigm-changing." You keep acting on the false premise that they do, that if anything unexpected happened in Bengston's experiments, it supports the idea that something magical and mystical and wonderful was just proven to be there around the corner. This is not science. You don't get to tell people you were the winner of the race just because you didn't come in dead last. You don't get to tell people you won the baseball game just because there was at least one inning where you didn't strike out. You don't get to trumpet how we're on the verge of a revolutionary change in medicine because one experiment which FAILED to show any difference between the tested intervention and placebo had instruments which were at best tangentially related to the actual subject of the study give anomalous readings.

And the more you predictably keep repeating your false claims that Bengston's screwed-up experiments are meaningful, the more we'll give our predictable response that Bengston's experiments are no more "science" than counterfeit bills are "currency."

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

I was taking another look at the Society for Scientific Exploration and came across two target-rich areas for skeptics: firstly a page of video links to talks on a variety of subjects (one by Bengston about a third of the way down the page), the second a page of links to articles again on a variety of topics (there's link to an article by Bengston about half way down the page). I'm not sure what to make of some of this material, as some seems fairly sensible, while some seems like utter BS. There seems to be a sort of consensus there that does not resemble the scientific consensus I am familiar with. In their world precognition, remote viewing and telepathy are proven fact, as are energy healing, acupuncture and homeopathy. It's a bit like a weird parallel universe, but inhabited by (apparently) well-credentialed scientists.

For example I just watched with some amusement a talk on how you can use remote viewing to predict changes in the the stock market (I thought of you Denice). I couldn't stomach one on how a woman was cured of Asperger's through two methods, firstly, "to provide coaching of behavior in this very bright and mature 18 year old woman who was suffering from problems in learning mathematics, inattention, difficulties in interpersonal relationships, lack of feeling in the left hemisphere of her brain and a symptom she called “galloping,” a practically all-day pacing back and forth due to an inner sense of urgency", which seems reasonable, but also, "to heal using the Levashov Method of mental intention to scan and enter the etheric and astral bodies of Gwen’s (fictitious name) subtle body structure and make corrections where needed".

If any of you have a few minutes to kill, I would be interested in what those with specialist knowledge make of some of the topics you are familiar with that are discussed there. Those areas where I do have some specialist knowledge do seem like nonsense to me, but my physics and astrophysics are rusty, as is my understanding of neuroscience and consciousness studies and several other areas. So little time, so much interesting information. Anyway, is there any wheat amongst the chaff, or is it all chaff?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

lack of feeling in the left hemisphere of her brain

Actually, we all--each and every one of us--lack feeling in both hemispheres of our brains.

It’s a bit like a weird parallel universe, but inhabited by (apparently) well-credentialed scientists.

I'm reminded that Vallée was the very first ApJ author that I handled. Kinda surprised to see Yervant Terzian on the list. Anyway, I just glanced at "Is There a Mars Effect?" Gauquelin would seem to be shooting himself in the foot by noting, "Actually, the more recent obstetric procedures tend to modify the natural (circadian) cycle of labor and birth. Fortunately, the athletes were not born that recently, and their births still reflect a spontaneous pattern." (Citations omitted.) I mean, what, it doesn't "work" if labor is induced? Mars is actually on a mission?

JGC,

Actually, we all–each and every one of us–lack feeling in both hemispheres of our brains.

I didn't spot that. Anyway, I seem to recall that the whole hemispheric specialty thing has been largely debunked. Most of us have a functioning corpus callosum so experiments with split brain patients are of limited relevance.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

Narad,

Mars is actually on a mission?

If there is a signal in the noise it seems vanishingly unlikely that it is caused by the position of Mars in the sky, but more likely something that correlates with both that and some other factor that affects behavior. It seems reasonable that a child conceived in the winter might be different to a child conceived in the summer, for example, and I think there is some evidence for that. Of course even more likely is that the correlation itself is an artefact. It's interesting that in so many of these studies they seem to detect a signal that vanishes when examined more closely, and they then spend years chasing shadows. It reminds me of the phenomenon of clinical trials that initially seem positive, but further studies are disappointing.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

You are all way too predictable.
It is because our pineal glands are coupled to the 7.83-Hz Schumann Resonance of the Earth's emf. That leaves little room for unpredictability.

Tell you what, take it up with Bengston in person.
If Bengston takes the trouble to writes comments in a Respectful Insolence thread, I imagine that someone will respond to him. At the moment, it's Marg writing comments in a RI thread and receiving critiques of her ideas.
Why should we go to the organ-grinder in person?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

It is because our pineal glands are coupled to the 7.83-Hz Schumann Resonance of the Earth’s emf. That leaves little room for unpredictability.

Aside from being able to release the energy at unexpected moments to make funny hand noises, of course.

Oh, Krebiozen, I tried!
I looked over the list of articles, hoping to find something about consciousness, memory or personality that I might delve into seriously BUT
then after looking over the AUTHORS and running across 'H.Bauer/ H.H. Bauer' several times in a relatively short list... well, he is highly ranked amongst chief HIV/AIDS denialists, I mean DISSENTERS. And an expert on the Loch Ness monster- so I suppose I became judgmental .. you know that old saw about the company people keep giving us valuable hints about their quality etc.

I might go back after my headache dissipates.
-btw- I myself do remote viewing all of the time but I call it either visual memory or imagination. I'm odd that way.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

Aside from being able to release the energy at unexpected moments to make funny hand noises, of course

Is that like armpit farts?

I've said it before, life would be so much simpler without ethics. As a marginally accomplished scientist, I think how famouser I could be by selling out to the sCAM side. I could do it and throw my position behind it and they'd love me.

As I said I have an ethical streak. Not so much a moral streak, as I could easily see myself ruling in hell (I figure, if the christians are right, then satan would certainly appreciate all of his "work" I've done on earth so I'd have that going for me), so it's not like I don't have a satanic side, but when it comes to colluding with scam artists, I draw the line. Thesew folks are bloody evil.

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

Denice,

Oh, Krebiozen, I tried!

It sounds like you had a similar experience to mine when I saw familiar names like Maccabee, Radin, Vallee, Stevenson, Puthoff, Targ, Gauquelin, Sheldrake, Hoyle, Wickramasinghe... I suppose that shows where my interests used to lie, until I got tired of all that. I still find it fascinating that so many scientists spend their time chasing, but never catching, rainbows.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

By the way, I don't think my diversion is as OT as it seems at first. I think the phenomenon of people seeing and pursuing patterns in noise has a lot to do with the kind of quackery often discussed here. I'm not convinced, as Marry Me, Mindy appears to be, that these sCAMsters all know they are selling false hope. I'm pretty sure most of them genuinely believe in it. It's just that these kinds of belief have a much greater potential to do serious damage in the area of health, than believing parrots are telepathic, that you can remote view climate change or whatever.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

two target-rich areas for skeptics: firstly a page of video links to talks on a variety of subjects ..., the second a page of links to articles again on a variety of topics...

Lots of blogging material there to be sure, but one can't just write about "crazy stuff that intelligent people take seriously" without soon reaching satiation, because there's SO MUCH crazy stuff that people believe. Eventually you starting for "crazy stuff that stands out in some way".

It’s a bit like a weird parallel universe, but inhabited by (apparently) well-credentialed scientists.
Reminds me of the Fortean Times but without the sense of humour.
I see Persinger's on the list.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

@ Krebiozen:

I wonder if we can smell woo?
I find myself in the uncomfortable (RL) position wherein I know a lovely, bright man, who is entirely well-meaning and expert at what he does, whose daughter is directing a documentary of what-might-be-woo ( concerning athletic training/ performance linked to a factor that may have some physiological merit) I don't want to entirely lower the boom and I haven't as yet read the whole thing but I fear I might have very bad news for the father. Who I don't want to hurt.

So far, I have warned him that her project may have merit but she should be very wary of marketting engines- like alt med websites with high rankings who might use her and who often are associated with dodgy business and science. I guess at somepoint I should write something up for her. I'd also hate to see her hurt or, as an innocent trying to break into a field, get used as someone else's vehicle. And I don't want to lie to these people. But I also wouldn't want to see a young person's career start out badly.

Pablo (MMM) is right: ethics are a b!tch.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

HDB,
The sheer volume of nuttiness is a bit overwhelming, but it's the scientists who should really know better but have bought into the crazy that fascinate me. I did notice browsing through some Edge Science volumes that quite a number have strayed some distance out of their area of expertise, like Bengston, a sociologist, wandering into energy medicine and cancer, and Sheldrake, whose PhD is in biochemistry, postulating morphogenetic fields and psittacine telepathy. BTW I know the chap who founded Fortean Times, who lives not far from me, and I used to attend the Fortean Unconventions which were quite fun, though I enjoyed the pub afterwards even more.

Denice,
That's a bit of an unenviable quandary you have there. Remember that disillusionment may hurt but it's a good pain.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

I've never been in the UK at the right time of year for an Unconvention, alas -- when I was living in London in the late 80s the FT's social activities were restricted to a stall at the Alternative Press festivals in Conway Hall. Had a few beers with Paul Sieveking though.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

I finally have time to get caught up and see there's no point in discussing the original cancer quackery anymore... apparently we're now in the land of weird energy fields?

I agree with Antaeus: Marg holds onto one single example of 'proof' and ignores the consensus of data that disproves her point.

Antaeus was too generous:
You keep acting on the false premise that [...] if anything unexpected happened in Bengston’s experiments, it supports the idea that something magical and mystical and wonderful was just proven to be there around the corner. This is not science.

I emphasise that nothing unexpected happened in Bengston's experiments. Bengston reckoned that it was a surprise for one particular strain of inbred mice to have sufficiently strong immune systems to destroy one particular strain of cultured tumour cells -- but he had nothing to support that assumption. The only relevant publications are decades out of date, when mouse strains and tumour cell lines are both continuing to evolve with each generation.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

@ flip:

" we're now in the land of weird energy fields"
Yes and I sense a disturbance in the Force.

Seriously, woo seems obsessed with the idea of energies and waves, having apparently given up on bio and physio.

I have heard a tale about Rife's assistant ( or wife) having saved a ledger filled with the curing frequencies he had discovered : each one specific to a particular illness. Of course, no one knows where this treasure now is located.

Similarly, energy medicine ( or psychology) may be described as an attunement of a person's unwieldy energy patterns being brought into line by a healer who serves as a human tuning fork, coaxing the bad vibes into allignment.
Chakras- wheels of energy, may be similarly balanced through meditating or repeating an assigned syllable ( by sound vbrations).TCM balances Qi by various methods.

I think that energy/ waves is a step on the immaterial/ material scale that leaves the purely material behind: it may be halfway to 'soul' or 'spirit'- which is where they're really headed.

If you scratch woo deeply enough, you'll find religion.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

Boy, a person throws you a bone and you have hours of fun chewing on it. I should be charging for all this entertainment.

Have you checked out Joie Jones's experiments yet on pranic healing and cell lines damaged by gamma radiation? That's on the SSE website too. And Youtube.

One of these days someone is going to twig that the experimenter's consciousness affects the outcome of experiments. Oh wait, I think physicists already have ....

One of these days someone is going to twig that the experimenter’s consciousness affects the outcome of experiments. Oh wait, I think physicists already have ….

Oh, wait, you think wrong. Are you just bouncing on the flouncepoline at this point?

@Narad
Nope, I think I'm quite right on this point.

@ DW
Yes we can smell woo. Mercaptans, maybe. I respect your expertise! Do you intend to write a review, monograph, or book?
And yeah, Marg, nothing like seeing some very smart & educated people take the bait and try to explain some elements of real-world science to the deluded provocateurs who drop in now & then. Some of the threads amaze me.

@DW
This is where smart, educated people who have been completely brainwashed into thinking that nothing completely new could ever be discovered again try to impose that point of view on someone else who thinks otherwise.

Sorry, that last is for @THS

@DW

Similarly, energy medicine ( or psychology) may be described as an attunement of a person’s unwieldy energy patterns being brought into line by a healer who serves as a human tuning fork, coaxing the bad vibes into alignment.

Yes, that appears to be the general belief. Seems kind of consistent with the results of Bengston's studies with geomagnetic probes.

One of these days someone is going to twig that the experimenter’s consciousness affects the outcome of experiments. Oh wait, I think physicists already have ….

Quantum physicist here. Also, I was once a farmboy. One thing about growing up on a dairy farm is that you know cowshit when you see it.

You are all way too predictable.
You know what would be really unpredictable? Flouncing out from a web community promising never to come back, and then not coming back.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

It appears that the word 'c0wsh1t' puts one in moderation. Ah well.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink

Wait... umm. Let me get this straight - his healing energies are so amazing that they bounce off what they are healing and effect the geomagnetic field...

I have to wonder why everyone with cancer for miles wasn't miraculously healed at the same time as the mice?

Marg's whole argument is ridiculous. Even if Bengston could do what she says, which is so far beyond rational that it is invisible in the real world, so what? Can anyone else do it? No? So what good is it? Let's compare him to Uri Geller who claimed to be able to bend spoons. Again, so what? What possible use is there in the world of such a useless skill? Who benefits?
I know that if these charlatans could actually do what they say they can do, which they can't, it would mean that all the known laws of physics would have to be changed but I am just pointing out how useless it is for one person to display a skill that no one else has. I can wiggle my ears, one at a time. Seems to me that is at least as impressive.

August 25, 9:05 pm:
Scoff all you want.

12:50 am:
This is where smart, educated people ... try to impose that point of view on someone else who thinks otherwise.

I guess scoffing is not allowed after all.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

Remembering the time someone dropped a flask-full of mercaptans in the cold-room - more phew than woo...
Marg,

This is where smart, educated people who have been completely brainwashed into thinking that nothing completely new could ever be discovered again try to impose that point of view on someone else who thinks otherwise.

Of course completely new things can and will be discovered, but when someone claims they have made such a discovery, the quality of evidence they provide has to be high, which includes replicability. I would love to see Jones' and Ho's work replicated by someone else - their claims that stimulating acupoints associated with vision in the foot cause the visual cortex to light up on fMRI should be easy enough to test, using a more robust double-blinded methodology (IIRC visualizing something also causes the visual cortex to light up on fMRI so expectation could be a serious confounder). Until then I remain skeptical, particularly as it seems certain that acupuncture as practised today was invented in the 1930s, not developed through thousands of years of trial and error as Jones suggests.

Some of Jones' paper on pranic healing made me chuckle I must admit, such as, "These experiments represent, to the best of our knowledge, the first experimental observation and measurement of karmic intervention" and, "A Newtonian physics world view, which serves as the basis for contemporary biology and Western medicine, is incapable of explaining these experimental results; however, the data are quite consistent with a quantum mechanical world view". I'm afraid I find it hard to take that sort of thing very seriously.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

visualizing something also causes the visual cortex to light up on fMRI
IIRC the evidence for that is pretty shaky. Perhaps some activity in extra-striate cortex.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

Did Marg just call psychology energy medicine?
No Marg psychologists do real experiments with real controls and results that can be duplicated. That is like calling quack medicine for the body real medicine. Oh wait, you do that too

One of these days someone is going to twig that the experimenter’s consciousness affects the outcome of experiments. Oh wait, I think physicists already have …

Darn! If you had just used the CAM buzzword "quantum" I'd have filled my bingo card!

Oh well, maybe next game...

This is where smart, educated people who have been completely brainwashed into thinking that nothing completely new could ever be discovered again

Perhaps the stupidest comment I have ever read here.

Marg, apparently you are not aware that there are plenty of folks here even whose entire careers depewnd on the fact that there are new things to be learned! It is what folks like me do for a living - discover new things that people did not know before.

The idea that these smart people can't accept something new is about as clueless ad hominem that can be. Created

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

One of the problems seems to be that Marg does not understand intelligent people.

The problem isn't the unwillingness to believe that anything completely new can ever be discovered: it's that you've offered no actual evidence something new has actually been discovered.

I keep asking this question, and you keep persistently failing to answer it: if we offered a study which found cancer patients receiving chemotherapy did just as well as cancer patients receiving no treatment at all, would you consider that evidence science had been "discovered" chemotherapy cures cancer?

@ THS:

Well, I didn't think it'd smell like oakmoss- which I like.

I thank you for your interest :I actually don't want to write a book ( although I have thought about a story updating Thomas Hardy where the characters live in highrises and use electronic communications but that might be entirely too close to home for me).
We are engaged in a collective endeavor and I work very hard to share what I know and what I find.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

@ Kr (7:59)
The section of Jones paper you quote has me suspecting a Sokal-style parody - but it's a bit of a task, actually, to spoof material that is intrinsically a self-parody. But it's not easy for someone trained in critical thinking and reasoned argument to spout gibberish at length. Sokal has discussed this in his commentary on how & why he wrote & published that spoof - "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity".
"Newtonian physics world view.." Phew! Reminds of an exchange I had ~ 20 yrs. ago with a friend, newly minted Ph.D. with a post-modern bent. I'd expressed interest in the molecular biology of neurology or some such thing & she responded something like, "Oh, so you have a Newtonian approach..." And i was like, "I'm not sure what you mean but my interest in is how things work...".
"Newtonian world-view" rhetoric is generally followed by quantum-mechanical and/or relativistic nonsense.

About SB people being brainwashed:
I'd argue quite the opposite- many people here have had experience with alt med, new age thought, religion and esotericism of various sorts. Some people are converts to SBM *from* woo. And just possibly- a few of us might understand how brainwashing and propaganda work.

No one tells me how to think. I'm over 50 and can easily recall movements that expounded new age ideas in the 1970s and 1990s.. I was fortunate to begin my university education at a very young age and didn't start out in social science- I studied art and literature and life sciences as well. I did entertain possibilities beyond the accepted norms but always came back to what seemed most feasible.

It comes down to whether results and evidence can be shown OR if there is a possible mechanism that explains the action postulated. If you have one, it might eventually lead to the other. But when you look over data that can be explained other ways more easily, is haphazardly acquired or supports a product OR there doesn't seem to be any mechanism, you often become jaded.

About mechanisms:
how would this work? We can detect extremely small amounts of energy and minute biological changes. If someone is transmitting something or receiving something, we should be able to detect something. And where would this occur? What part of the brain? Or body?

One woo-meister I survey talks about 'energy exchanges' being his method of healing: he lays hands on people. OK, this shows a location - hands. If there is something, why hasn't it been measured? People report these healings since the early days of humankind. Now we have sensitive instruments.

I sometimes think that people who are entranced with alt med might have a better time of it if they studied art, literature or music where emotions and creativity can rule unhindered and speculation has no negative consequences.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

THS,

“Oh, so you have a Newtonian approach…”

She's obviously not a pool player... Newtonian physics still seems to work pretty well in the macro world I mostly inhabit.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Mrs Woo
See, this is what I mean by intelligent people being surprisingly dense. What the results suggest is a correlation between healing and local changes in geomagnetic micropulsations. The nature of the correlation needs to be investigated.

@Krebiozen
But a lot of the gadgets that you use rely on quantum physics.

@DW
It has been measured.

http://www.spiritualone.com/Download/OschmanReprint2.pdf

What the results suggest is a correlation between healing and local changes in geomagnetic micropulsations.

Sure thing. In that case, you should see a latitude-dependent effect.

@Marg - but you also insist that creatures he had no intention of healing were also healed. So just how does his healing work? If it is unintentionally healing mice, why wasn't it also unintentionally healing every single living being within the experimental area?

If he can "heal" - is he sure he can and is the one doing the healing if he can't even control "what" he his healing?

I don't mind being called dense. I am regularly reminded I am not nearly as educated as some of the people who regularly comment on this blog (not by them; they are very gracious; rather, when they discuss things I haven't had a formal education in I absorb what I can and try to read what papers are available without paying as I find them). Besides - if you'll call Ph.D.'s who are arguing with you within their area of expertise morons, I consider being called dense a compliment...

But a lot of the gadgets that you use rely on quantum physics.

On an subatomic level, yes. I don't think that means that mice can become quantumly entangled, or that mere intention has effects on healing.

It has been measured.

But Jones found that in pranic healing "the shielding of cells from EMF and gamma radiation had no effect on the results", which excludes the kind of pulsing electromagnetic fields the article you linked to claims is responsible for energy healing. Something there doesn't add up, methinks. That's only one of several serious flaws a cursory glance at that article reveals.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

Dear Mrs. Woo, I didn't start out here by insulting people, I only began to respond in kind after several people (most notably @Antaeus Feldspar) insulted me. It is generally not in my nature to throw around insults but apparently I can be provoked into it.

To all: it is called "subtle energy". It is not called subtle because it is hit-you-over-the-head obvious. People like Bengston, Oschman, Radin, Tiller and Swanson (among others) are trying to figure out what it is and what it does. People like you are flinging poop at their efforts and ridiculing them because you simply cannot even conceive of the merest possibility that what they are looking at is real. Labs and scientific journals are generally run by people like you, hence people like them have had to create their own society and journal to publish their results.

Bengston has been having a hard time even getting mice for his experiments. The mice always heal, but the ethics review boards say that putting them in Bengston's experiments would expose them to undue hardship. He would love nothing more than to have the opportunity to do human studies, but no one will allow him to do one.(Of course my information here could outdated.) He could, for instance, do a study with newly-diagnosed stage-3 or 4 pancreatic cancer patients who are too far gone for anything other than palliative chemotherapy. If he healed a bunch of them, would you believe that what he does is real? Then, as a next step, he could do a double-blind study, if people agreed, in which one group received palliative chemo and sham healing and the other saline solution and Bengston healing (which he could do from a distance, so no one would need to be the wiser), and we could see which group does better. But quite likely the ethics review boards that wouldn't allow mice to be exposed to the undue hardship of receiving energy healing would be even more squeamish about people.

If any of you have the clout to arrange something like that, contact Bengston.

Isn't time we dredged up Occam?

Seriously: I once went to a presentation about veganism and auras: the aura person went through her beliefs and put up a white screen. lowered the overhead lighting and had people stand in front of it- including yours truly- she said I had a lavender and blue aura. A very nice one.

Looking this up at a reiki website today, I learn that I am ( was) good at communication and am a visionary. Oh!

Now anyone who studied art or visual perception can tell you that there is a phenomenon called simultaneous contrast where you will see the OPPOSITE because of what is going on in the receptors ( so light/ dark, red/green, blue/orange etc; long story- lateral inhibition, edge detection, horseshoe crabs etc). So if you place a red square on a white ground, you'll see a tinge of green along the border, the reverse wih a green square. You can do this at home.

The theory of perceptual contrast assumes much less that the theory of aura perception which would postulate special abilities without known or measurable mechanisms of action. We can say: cells.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

HDB,
Forgot to mention:

Had a few beers with Paul Sieveking though.

Me too, which by Jake Crosby's criteria makes us practically related.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

To all: it is called “subtle energy”. It is not called subtle because it is hit-you-over-the-head obvious.

Do you really think you're laying down some sort of novel trip?

There is no “subtle body” (linga-sarira). The phenomenological body is always imaginary. Aloofness from prakrti, kaivalya, or whatever you want to call it, is impossible since distance and the space-time continuum itself are prakrti, and there is no distance between abstracts, at least not where I come from. The monist Vedanta of Badarayana and his ilk is less objectionable than the Vedanta of Samkara or Ramanuja, but much ado about nothing in any case.

All phenomenology is flux (samtana) and an aggregate lacking self (samghata), as Hume, in effect, says. Instantaneous “manifestation” of capacity instantaneously “obliterated,” so to speak. Not only is there no objective “reality” whatever (sunya-vada), there is no subjective “reality” whatever. The term “reality” is meaningless. Nabokov, a solipsistic nihilist, was right. It is the only word in the English language that should be placed, routinely, between quotation marks (to emphasize its mere idiomatic utility).

Now, where's the latitude dependence?

Had a few beers with Paul Sieveking though.
Me too
Like any true hipster, naturally I prefer those 1980s issues of Fortean Times in the A5 format... before it sold out and went commercial.

That was when Compendium Books was still going -- before the pressures of mass tourism filled the streets of Camden with chain stores identical to every other tourist attraction.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

I recently gave away my entire collection of FT (mostly of the commercial A4 variety) to an appreciative acquaintance, and donated most of my collection of books on the weird and esoteric to the Charles Fort Institute. It felt good.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

donated most of my collection of books on the weird and esoteric to the Charles Fort Institute
You can never have too many volumes of Corliss's Anomalies series

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

Gentlemen:

I do believe that me might have scared her off. Pity.
We probably said a bad word: (Occam, Hume, beers, hipster) are my top guesses.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

WE might have scared her off....

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Narad

Different context.

But if you are going to invoke nihilism, and state that all phenomenology is flux, and reality should be placed in quotation marks, then you might well take an axe to Newtonian physics.

@DW
I do have a life & can't spend all my time online. I don't think Occam's razor is quite applicable here.

But if pointless derision is all you can produce at this point, then this discussion has a probably come to an end.

"might as well take an axe" and "has probably come to an end".

Six will get you four she comes back. Any takers?

In the words of the bear in the joke, I'm beginning to think that she doesn't really come here for the hunting.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Narad
Different context.

Oho! You've come quite close to hitting upon your problem.

But if you are going to invoke nihilism, and state that all phenomenology is flux, and reality should be placed in quotation marks, then you might well take an axe to Newtonian physics.

And now you are missing the mark badly. I should note that I did not "invoke" anything other an extent reply of which I am fond to your actual invocation of "subtle energy."

What in the quoted analysis do you actually object to? I don't mind painting the target in fluorescent colors.

^ "extant"

One of these days someone is going to twig that the experimenter’s consciousness affects the outcome of experiments. Oh wait, I think physicists already have ….

Actually, behavioral scientists did it, not physicists. A number of studies showed that someone doing an experiment may be tempted, more or less consciously, to influence the result of the experiment accordingly to his/her expectations.
It's called experimenter bias.
By example, provide a group of students with similar rats, but tell them that they randomly got a smart rat, or a dumb rat. And then, have the rats running a maze or something similar. Weirdly enough, the students who were told they got smart rats had better results.
Article: A longitudinal study of the effects of experimenter bias on the operant learning of laboratory rats.
Rosenthal, Robert; Lawson, Reed
Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2(2), 1964, 61-72.
Quite old, but there have been plenty of articles confirming the results since then.

Oh, wait, the experimenter's influence is carried out by the physical handling of the animal, not by psionic waves. Carry on, carry on.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

Actually, behavioral scientists did it, not physicists.

Didn't they cover that in your physics classes? How the successful formation of a Bose-Einstein condensate at extremely low temperatures or the coupling of electrons into BCT pairs in a superconductor depend crucially upon the researcher maintaining the correct state of consciousness throughout the experiment? That was part of third-year lectures for me.

That's what went wrong with cold fusion... Pons and Fleischmann allowed unsympathetic witnesses into the laboratory too early, and their skeptical consciousness banjaxed the effect. I believe there is an article on this in Edge Science.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 31 Aug 2012 #permalink

@Marg

To all: it is called “subtle energy”. It is not called subtle because it is hit-you-over-the-head obvious.

Then one wonders how the energy manages to heal anything at all. Gravity is also 'subtle', in the sense that it is a very weak force. Yet we can detect the presence of planets just from the effects of its gravity on another planet.

How is it we can't measure energy healing but we can detect such other 'subtle' things? (And part two of that question: if we can measure tiny magnetic changes, how come we can't measure energy healing which somehow uses magnetic forces?)

Serious question: has anyone tried to use the power of energy healing - or whatever it is - to move an (super strong) Earth magnet?

Labs and scientific journals are generally run by people like you, hence people like them have had to create their own society and journal to publish their results.

Ah, I get to use my bingo card...

Big Science conspiracy. Check.

The mice always heal, but the ethics review boards say that putting them in Bengston’s experiments would expose them to undue hardship.

What now? Can the regulars inform me whether this makes any sense? Because it doesn't to me...

And Occam's razor isn't applicable? How is it not applicable?

@Denice

Thanks for that explanation about auras. I often noticed quite an obvious tinge around objects at times: but I wear glasses all the time and assumed it was to do with refraction. (Some of it would be for obvious reasons... ) Now I'm going to pay more attention to when it happens and see when it's my glasses and when it's not.

@ Herr doctor bimler

Shhh, I'm hunting wabbits.

I put a post with the words "experimenter bias" and "animal handling physically influences the outcome" following a discussion about a searcher who thought he mentally influenced the outcome of his experiences.
I'm waiting to see what sort of hare is going to rush out of the bushes...

[outcomes] depend crucially upon the researcher maintaining the correct state of consciousness throughout the experiment

Ah, so don't go to sleep until your experiment is over?
That could explain a number of failed tests I experienced. The number of times I found on the morning that my instrument got jammed about one hour after I left the previous evening...
(eh, "recall bias"? what do you mean?)

By Heliantus (not verified) on 01 Sep 2012 #permalink

Marg doesn't get that we're not the enemy: we just want to use words appropriately.

If you call research 'science' that implies certain characteristics- it means that you are demonstrating something, explaining certain effects, showing how effects are attributable to particular variables and not others, RULING OUT things, showing mathematically how the effect is not due to chance alone, linking this to past studies, showing OTHERS how to replicate your data, using parsimony etc.

On the other hand, there are also 'belief' and 'faith': it's important to keep data and belief separate as Helianthus points out ( re the 'halo effect'/ experimenter bias). That's what controls, seeking confounders, using statistics, having multiple experimenters, blinding, replication et al. is trying to accomplish. We know that what we see is often NOT what is there without us: we need to control for our own effect.

There's nothing wrong with having faith or belief: it's just not right to call it science.. If a healer calls upon the power of her g-d/dess or upon the arcane powers of the universe itself: there's nothing wrong about that. If she proclaims special powers or that immeasurable, invisible forces are at work, healing people- no problem.

There's only a problem if you call what is rightly labelled 'religion', 'science': they're different; they don't follow the same rules; they have different purposes. Religious fervor interferes with scientific observation because it itself is a bias that tilts results in a pre-determined direction: the answer is known in advance. And can't be wrong.

If a person wanted to scientifically study the effects of faith or belief: that is entirely possible but there is a need for controls, outside observers,statistical analysis and all of the usual methods of eliminating bias. You need testable hypotheses. This would be easy to do.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 Sep 2012 #permalink
The mice always heal, but the ethics review boards say that putting them in Bengston’s experiments would expose them to undue hardship.

What now? Can the regulars inform me whether this makes any sense? Because it doesn’t to me…

I imagine they're considering the stress placed on the etheric bodies of the mice.

OK, I am now wondering whether Stephen Extra-Sensory Perception of Quarks Phillips is in fact a direct connection between Theosophy and Marg's fantasy world. (E.g., here [PDF]; shouldn't have hung your astral hat on the subtle peg of superstrings, Stephen.)

Oh wait, nobody has mentioned Fritjof Capra yet?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 Sep 2012 #permalink

@Herr Doktor Bimmler

She comes back to yank your chains.

@Narad
But if you are going to invoke nihilism, and state that all phenomenology is flux, and reality should be placed in quotation marks, then you might well take an axe to Newtonian physics.

And now you are missing the mark badly. I should note that I did not “invoke” anything other an extent reply of which I am fond to your actual invocation of “subtle energy.”

What in the quoted analysis do you actually object to? I don’t mind painting the target in fluorescent colors.

I don't object to anything in the quoted analysis. I am just pointing out that it is entirely inconsistent with a reliance on Newtonian physics for all things, which seems to be a favorite pastime of the posters on this thread.

I

I am just pointing out that it is entirely inconsistent with a reliance on Newtonian physics for all things, which seems to be a favorite pastime of the posters on this thread.

This is just another incredibly stupid utterance on your part, Marg. Leaving aside the fact that you plainly don't know a goddamned thing about physics, the invocation of the topic to support your mind-slop cosmic healing ideation is using the wrong tool for the job. "Bad Fazzm," it's been called.

@Narad
You are the one who hasn't thought through the implications of the philosophy you cited. I am not impressed by your ability to cite complicated-sounding texts you don't seem to understand.

@DW
Fritjof Capra.

You are the one who hasn’t thought through the implications of the philosophy you cited. I am not impressed by your ability to cite complicated-sounding texts you don’t seem to understand.

"Complicated-sounding"? Well, I suppose you have already demonstrated that you're rather the simpleton, so terms such as "Bad Fazzm" might confuse you. Trust me, O ye of the empty posturing, I know that which I quoted very, very well.

@Narad
No you don't. Otherwise you wouldn't have used it. You are full ot if.

"full of it"

No you don’t. Otherwise you wouldn’t have used it. You are full ot if.

Perhaps you'd like to elaborate on this devastating critique, Marg. Scholarship in this particular religious tradition is a rather specialized endeavor, with perhaps one or two dozen serious types on the planet.

I see we've moved past the intricate and detailed debate points of data and evidence to the more primary school debate tactics known as "you're full of it".

How about we just introduce glue and rubber and fully devolve the conversation to "I know you are but what am I?"

Now that the thread has evolved into a discussion of the philosophical and theological bases of the Neo-American_Church Church, I for one am enjoying the prospect of a debate between Narad and Marg as to who is more knowledgeable, and I know on whom I am betting my 50 quatloos.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 02 Sep 2012 #permalink

Well, you don't really have to be a Psychedelian to get Narad's point. The depths of Marg's obliviosity are truly unfathomable.

By W. Kevin Vicklund (not verified) on 02 Sep 2012 #permalink

@Narad

The phenomenological body is always imaginary ... The term “reality” is meaningless. Nabokov, a solipsistic nihilist, was right. It is the only word in the English language that should be placed, routinely, between quotation marks (to emphasize its mere idiomatic utility).

This would seem to imply that the phenomenological world is also imaginary. Newton's laws appear to do an excellent job of propping up this world that "appears to be". Your co-debaters appear to place great faith in Newton's laws and this phenomenological world. Explain to them that it is all illusory, just as illusory as "energy healing", which, like everything else, is an Instantaneous “manifestation” of capacity instantaneously “obliterated,” so to speak,

Oboy - a postmodernism discussion.

No wonder Marg isn't interested in posting evidence: truth is perception after all.

@Flip
Just pointing out to @Narad the implications of his quote.

[Pulls 'The Tao of Physics' ("includes a fresh chapter on subatomic physics") from the bookshelf, blows off a small cloud of dust, leafs through it, briefly considers rereading it, decides against it and replaces it in bookshelf.]

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 02 Sep 2012 #permalink

@Narad
Or rather, if all the probes are at the same latitude ... They were all on the same university campus.

If the control probes are all at the same latitude, there is no discrepancy, and therefore no problem.

Did you forget the part where the experiment was putatively replicated in different locations?

We were forced to deal with dualism/ etc publicly because we studied what is called the history of 'pre-scientific psychology'- having had a few philosophy courses previously enabled me to amaze my fellow/ sister students who weren't at all happy with the material...my ultra-posh prof was very pleased with me for not minding.

However the entire issue never caused me to lose any sleep: personally I look at it this way, it is possible that all is indeed one substance or the other ( probably not both) and that which we experience as mind is merely an epiphenomenon or that all is indeed an illusion that mind broadcasts into our viewfinder- which is also illusory..
it's INSUBSTANTIAL
it doesn't make a shred of difference because if the relationships within that ( material or illusory) world remain AND the systems of relationships of how we represent that so-called world to ourselves (including their linguistic stand-ins as well as whatever our selves ARE to us) remain, we are alright and can function and operate in that world..

So the world being a drift of ideas or illusions or objects is at heart the same thing and doesn't matter in the least. I act as if it's real or not in some sense or the other. As long as something ELSE doesn't intrude into it, I'll be fine.
I get things done. You would be surprised how well.
Hope I'm clear.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 02 Sep 2012 #permalink

This would seem to imply that the phenomenological world is also imaginary.

It is. So? This observation doesn't mean that all of a sudden it starts doing whatever you want it to.

Newton’s laws appear to do an excellent job of propping up this world that “appears to be”.

No, what "props things up" are the psychological wish and repression system of the subject, who is just as real as everything else, which is to say, not at all.

Your co-debaters appear to place great faith in Newton’s laws and this phenomenological world. Explain to them that it is all illusory, just as illusory as “energy healing”, which, like everything else

, is an Instantaneous “manifestation” of capacity instantaneously “obliterated,” so to speak,

Why would I "explain" an utter falsehood? There isn't any "energy healing." You seem to be under the impression that anything goes. The appropriate tool, McPozzm, for understanding the perceived physical world is the scientific method. "Energy healing" is Fazzm. Trying to pretend that it's some sort of quantum mechanical yet also geomagnetic mystery healing fluid squirting around between plural minds is Bad Fazzm. Really, really, bad Fazzm. A solipsistic nihilist approach, which isn't much different from a stripped-down version of Madhyamaka Buddhism (which similarly scorns magic) has nothing but derision for such occultist bloviation.

So the world being a drift of ideas or illusions or objects is at heart the same thing and doesn’t matter in the least.

It does come in kind of handy if one is in need of talking down someone in the grip of paranoid delusions long enough to broach the subject of presenting at the ER.

@ Narad:

Oh, I know ( and wish I didn't).
Newton has also come in handy a few times.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 02 Sep 2012 #permalink

@ Denice

So the world being a drift of ideas or illusions or objects is at heart the same thing and doesn’t matter in the least. I act as if it’s real or not in some sense or the other. As long as something ELSE doesn’t intrude into it, I’ll be fine.
I get things done. You would be surprised how well.
Hope I’m clear.

I believe you are.
To use an old joke, if i was to step up to one of these philosophers and slap him, he will feel the hit regardless of the reality of the universe.
Whether the world is really physical, the dream of one person, or that we are all connected to a virtual construct a la Matrix, we can function quite well by assuming the world is real and is governed by specific cause-and-effect rules.
Now, as you said, if something was to step in and offered us a red pill (or was it blue?), we will have to re-assess the way we can interact with the world.
But, to put the topic back on science, if this out-of-reality something exists and breached in, there should be ways to study its interactions with our reality.

Oh, I get it. When Siegel healed the tumor-injected mice, the Computer in charge of the Matrix noticed it (It notices everything) and healed the control mice, just to mislead us.
Forget energy healing. That we need is a bunch of hackers to rewrite the code.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 02 Sep 2012 #permalink

Narad,
Thanks for the Kleps reference, which has led me into some head spaces I haven't explored for quite some time.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 02 Sep 2012 #permalink

@Narad

http://okneoac.org/dts/snazzm-fazzm-and-mcpozzm

I don't think this privileges "mcpozzm" thinking as you seem to believe it does. It seems to privilege the personal, or snazzm.

Having led a sheltered life, I have never had to talk a friend on a bad trip off a ledge, which is apparently what this system is designed for. I showed/e-mailed the site to a number of friends who are not simpletons, including a scientist and a university professor, and the response I got was a) what the hell is this and b) why are you wasting my time with it? I actually found it interesting, although some of the distinctions are somewhat wobbly. It has a "Monty Pythonesque" feel to it.

Re: Mahayana's rejection of "magic", I believe the Elephant Path recognizes that once the mind is brought under control there can be so-called "magical" abilities, of which healing is one; these are not rejected as not possible but as not desirable if one is pursue the path to enlightenment.

@DW
Just reading Dan Falk's _In Search of Time: Journeys along a Curious Dimension". How interesting to read in the chapter on Newton that he attributed the intricate machinery of the universe to the divine. So when you/we use Newton's theory to divorce science from God, we are denying Newton. Here is a sample from the General Scholium: "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being". Newton believed in intelligent design: his clockwork universe had a clock maker.

Just saying. It still happens that advanced physicists and mathematicians come around to the belief that there is indeed a God.

@ Marg:

Newton was a creature of his times and used the language of his day. Whether he was a believer or not is irrelevant: his numbers stand on their own- I never saw a g-d constant written into any equations yet. No one has to divorce science from religion - they've been separated for a long time.

(-btw- 'intelligent design' is used to refer to the development of life forms TODAY as a substitute for evolution - not for the machinations of the solar systems and galaxies)

Most people of Newton's day held that the universe was created by a deity: he was speaking to them, not to us.

And if some advanced physicists and mathematicians believe in a deity today that doesn't mean anything or prove anything at all about the ultimate veracity of that idea : they are no better equipped than anyone else.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Sep 2012 #permalink

I don’t think this privileges “mcpozzm” thinking as you seem to believe it does. It seems to privilege the personal, or snazzm.

Given that I don't think that McPozzm analysis is "privileged," this is an odd remark to make. Would you like a cartoon to help?

Having led a sheltered life, I have never had to talk a friend on a bad trip off a ledge, which is apparently what this system is designed for.

Your ability to judge appearances is grossly inadequate, if that is what you think is "apparent."

I showed/e-mailed the site to a number of friends who are not simpletons, including a scientist and a university professor, and the response I got was a) what the hell is this and b) why are you wasting my time with it?

How did you answer these questions?

I actually found it interesting, although some of the distinctions are somewhat wobbly.

Such as?

It has a “Monty Pythonesque” feel to it.

Well, there's something one doesn't hear every day. Precisely what parallels would you draw between Python and Kleps's writings?

Re: Mahayana’s rejection of “magic”, I believe the Elephant Path recognizes that once the mind is brought under control there can be so-called “magical” abilities, of which healing is one; these are not rejected as not possible but as not desirable if one is pursue the path to enlightenment.

The "Elephant Path"? I presume this is some sort of odd Nagarjuna reference that you picked up. This is a tangent, so I will not pursue it any further than necessary: There is no "path to enlightenment." It is not a place. It is not an attainment. It is very simple, unless one's head is full of crazy nonsense about geomagnetic microquantum mouse-healing chirp pulsations shooting out of one's hands. (For the purpose of definiteness, I am asserting subitism.)

@Narad

It's "Monty Pythonesque" in its erudite silliness.

Sidhis:
http://the-wanderling.com/siddhis.html

The Elephant Path is taught in Tibetan Buddhist meditation to attain calm abiding prior to proceeding to insight meditation.

I take it from the tone of your responses that you don't practice meditation -- or at least you don't apply it much to daily life.

Namaste.

The Elephant Path is taught in Tibetan Buddhist meditation to attain calm abiding prior to proceeding to insight meditation.

Do give me a pointer. I'm always curious to see what sort of hilarity the Lamaists are up to.

Go enlighten yourself :)

Orac is the ultimate alternative cancer treatment skeptic, who's taken over from Stephen Barrett, who was barraged with so many lawsuits for untruths that he lost that he has been forced into the background. These guys are getting paid by the pharmaceutical industry to suppress the alternative med guys. Sure, he knows his stuff; he's a trained researcher himself, but his views are tainted by filthy lucre.

By Tom Calarco (not verified) on 03 Sep 2012 #permalink

Forgot to mention, Orac is developing a chemo drug for breast cancer, or so I've read, and stands to make a lot of bucks if it's approved by the FDA

By Tom Calarco (not verified) on 03 Sep 2012 #permalink

Go enlighten yourself

This is not a good answer, Marg. It would seem that the meditation isn't helping. "All are hypnotized by the system of the jnanas, but none cares to realize his own self."

I wonder why Marg is using Newton as some sort of argument from authority? I thought "Newtonian" was an epithet amongst her ilk. What does the religious beliefs of a 17th - 18th century scientist have to do with someone apparently curing mice (including the ones he wasn't curing) by literal hand waving?

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 03 Sep 2012 #permalink

@Marg's latest comment

Blah blah blah... Can no one come up with anything original anymore? It gets so tiresome after a while.

I find it fascinating though that Marg has now so completely given up on providing data to back up her cancer claims that she's totally moved to discussions about religion and postmodernistic worldviews. With arguments from authority thrown in.

Does either have anything to do with cancer? No. But still she goes on...

@Narad

To be fair, Monty Python makes much more sense than many of the woomeisters. Especially if you consider at least one of their songs on the universe ;)

I meditate and I know a lot of people who do. They are just as likely to call dung dung when they see it as anyone else I know.

@Flip
Kindly explain to me what is wrong with "arguments from authority", which is an entirely accepted way of doing business in the humanities.

@Narad
"go enlighten yourself" was my rejoinder to your request for a pointer about what the Lamaists were doing. You have a computer, you can use Google, just type in "Elephant Path", and enlighten yourself as to what it's all about.

Re: you privileging McPozzm, I am going by the statement you made, The appropriate tool, McPozzm, for understanding the perceived physical world is the scientific method. This statement doesn't appear to be supported by anything I read here: http://okneoac.org/dts/snazzm-fazzm-and-mcpozzm.

Kindly explain to me what is wrong with “arguments from authority”, which is an entirely accepted way of doing business in the humanities.

Because this isn't the humanities, this is the sciences, where physical evidence is the currency of choice.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

Does anyone have any explanation as to why my reply appeared before the text I was quoting?

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

@Militant Agnostic
And yet the mice lived ... 200+ of them, comprising nearly 100%. Someone suggested earlier that they were substandard mice that cured themselves; Jackson Labs, whose mice they were, might have a little something to say about that assertion, legally speaking. I am also not aware of a slew of cancer experiments where all the mice lived, rendering the research useless. The cancer research community might have made some kind of concerted response about that to Jackson Labs, which we would have most certainly heard about that. So how is it that only Bengston's mice were useless, in 12 experiments over 30 years, at five different institutions?

Marg@10:24AM:
Because nearly all the mice in the control group lived as well. This indicates that they didn't live because of the treatment, but because they were not ill to begin with.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

Does anyone have any explanation as to why my reply appeared before the text I was quoting?

The subject matter has disturbed the flux of the space-time continuum. Or some servers' clocks aren't synchronized properly. I prefer the former, as it's more Pythonesque.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

Marg,

I am also not aware of a slew of cancer experiments where all the mice lived, rendering the research useless.

I believe that in most cancer experiments on small mammals they are sacrificed (to the great God Science I presume, I can't help resist a wry smile at that euphemism) long before they die, as leaving them to die slowly of cancer is considered cruel. Treatments are rated on effects on tumor growth or shrinkage; it is generally human experiments in which death is a chosen endpoint (human suffering not being as important as murine suffering it seems, but I digress). If I was pushed to choose between the possibility of a strain of mice developing a resistance to a cancer so that if left untreated they eventually recover, or Bengston's energy healing having an effect, I think the former is very much more likely. A while ago I did dig around trying to find out more about the strains of mice and cancer used in the experiments, but I couldn't find any solid data on how long they are supposed to live if untreated. I would like to see Bengston's experiments properly replicated and debunked, as I don't buy the skeptical indifference he claims he has witnessed in the labs he has worked in.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

Tom Calarco,

Orac is developing a chemo drug for breast cancer, or so I’ve read, and stands to make a lot of bucks if it’s approved by the FDA

He's doing what? Developing an effective treatment for an illness that kills about 40,000 people* in the USA every year? That's disgraceful. And he expects to get paid for it as well? Shocking. Only alternative treatment proponents deserve to live in luxurious $2 million mansions, after all.
*Men get breast cancer too.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

If you are going to suggest that Bengston somehow managed to get defective mice for 12 separate experiments over 30 years or that trained lab assistants at 5 separate institutions somehow all managed to screw up his experiments, isn't it time to invoke Occam's razor, as @DW suggested?

@Grey Falcon
And yet they developed large tumors which histology showed to be cancerous. How strange.

@Grey Falcon
And yet they developed large tumors which histology showed to be cancerous. How strange.

So do most domestic mice and rats. They can survive for a while with tumors.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

@Grey Falcon
Domestic mice and rats are not injected with tumors that normally kill them within 27 days.

And these mice did not just survive with the cancer but resorbed the tumors and went on to full-lifespan cures.

As did the control mice. Why was that?Oh, and if you feel that spiritual experience trumps physical evidence, does that mean I can accuse you of murder based on a dream I had last night, even if the alleged victim is still alive?

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

All of this brings back memories: as a student I read various writers influenced by Buddhist or Hindu religion/ philosophy- including Watts and Campbell- I even had a dream about Indra's net**: no drugs, I swear!

Getting back to the mice: over @ PRN, the head honcho has been repeatedly re-living his past 'research' ( the 1970s?/ Institute for Applied Biology) - supposedly, he had lab mice with cancer/ injured by radiology research *healed* by several religious healers whom he had assembled. Earlier, he had also healed similar mice with nutrient rich juices himself. He claims rates of 100%. He explains that NO journal would print his research. So it is out there.

I am informed that he also uses energy exchanges to heal participants at his retreats over the past decades. And gives them juices/ a vegan diet as well. Insurance, I'd guess.

** I dreamt that I floated in a lightly self-illuminated, pale lime-green, gelatinous sea, whose un-breaking waves rose and fell -with which I could allign my breathing; the net was suspended at the surface- the interstices wherein the gems were affixed were 9 feet apart. I was in one of the spaces between...

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

You have a computer, you can use Google, just type in “Elephant Path”, and enlighten yourself as to what it’s all about.

Gee, why didn't that occur to me? Oh, wait, it did. Nothing relevant comes up at the head of the class. Of course, if you had bothered to add "Dan Brown," it would have simplified things tremendously. As stated above, I have no interest in "paths to Enlightenment" or other encumbrances that promise to unencumber one in x simple steps or your money back. (I do still feel a bit bad about failing to restrain a snort some years ago when informed that a coworker was going to be out for knee surgery as a result of his commitment to doing 108 five-limbed prostrations every morning, though.)

Re: you privileging McPozzm, I am going by the statement you made, The appropriate tool, McPozzm, for understanding the perceived physical world is the scientific method. This statement doesn’t appear to be supported by anything I read here

The use of "McPozzm" in that which you quote was transitional, not appositive. It makes no difference; you cannot meditate away ring around the collar. This is not "privileging" anything.

@Narad
The Elephant Path pre-dates Dan Brown & internet searches do produce relevant material.

The Elephant Path pre-dates Dan Brown & internet searches do produce relevant material.

Perhaps you would like to identify some items in this plenitude. As well as what it has to do with anything, given that I'm getting bored with scoffing at the useless earnesty of gradualism.

Domestic mice and rats are not injected with tumors that normally kill them within 27 days.

I'm gonna be boring and predictable and ask (again) for evidence that the tumours injected into Bengston's mice *should* have killed them within 27 days. You'd think that if this was an accepted fact, it would be supported by the lierature, in textbooks somewhere. But no. Nothing.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

"Earnesty" in the Oxford English Dictionary:

"No exact results found for earnesty in the dictionaries.
Did you mean earnest?
Did you mean earnestly?
Did you mean earnests?"

@herr doktor bimler
I've been looking too. Found this:

http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/26/11_Part_1/2297.full.pdf

See the second column under Results:

"The mammary adenocarcinoma (H2712) was originally ob
tained from the Jackson Memorial Laboratories at Bar Harlx>r
and transplanted in C3H/HeJ mice for a number of transplant
generations (approximately 50). Growth of H2712 was very
rapid (Chart 1). It was palpable 3-4 days postimplantation,
and rapid growth started 3 days later. At 11 or 12 days after
tumor implantation, the tumor reached a maximum weight of
3-4 gm. Also at this time some animals died, and by 15-20 days all mice had succumbed."

“Earnesty” in the Oxford English Dictionary:

Your utter failure is duly noted. And I put the neologism there with full awareness.

@herr doktor bimmler

This is interesting too:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/1097-0142(197108)28:2%3C340:…

"We have investigated a new and as yet totally unevaluated method for retarding the growth of tumor cells by either transient in vitro exposure of tumor cells or palpable in vivo exposure of the tumor to a non-homogeneous magnetic field. Ten million mammary adenocarcinoma (H2712) mouse tumor cells were exposed to a 38 kilogauss magnetic field (field gradient, 12 kilogauss /mm) for 20 minutes, and subsequently, were injected in equal parts into C3H/HeJ mice, the carrier strain. Mice receiving tumor cells exposed to the magnetic field had a mean survival of 18 ± 1.3 days; the mean control survival was 9.0 ± 1.3 days. In addition, another group of C3H/HeJ mice with a barely palpable mammary adenocarcinoma tumor in the hind leg (48 hours post-injection) were exposed to the same field strength for 20 minutes, with a resulting mean survival of 18.3 ± 2.25 days, compared to a mean survival of 7.9 ± 1.4 days in controls. A repeated exposure of these in vivo tumors for 20 minutes at 72 and 96 hours post-injection produced a mean survival of 21.1 ± 2.0 days. Tissue temperature within the field remained normal, and there was no obvious damage to skin or surrounding normal tissues. These experiments have demonstrated that a non-homogeneous magnetic field is a potent inhibitor of tumor cell viability and growth rate, both in vitro and in vivo, and offers promise for clinical application."

It also sounds like none of them lived to 27 days.

Some history:

http://www.biomedsearch.com/attachments/00/13/19/01/13190106/brjcancer0…

The Tumor H2712 originated spontaneously in the mammary gland of'a C3H
mouse in 1948 at the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory. This has gone through 86 transplant generations and shows 100 per cent transplantability in
C3H strains and their F1 hybrids. The histological type is an adenocarcinoma.
...

By means of graded Gomori reactions a more complete picture could be obtained
concerning differences between 4 tumors arising in the breast tissue of mice.
These tumors have been transplanted for many generations to their original hosts
and F, hybrids with a I00 per cent take. Thus a certain homogeneity of the
tumor strain should be expected. The three tumors E0771, H2712 and dbrB are
fairly identical in Itistology, as each is an adenocarcinoma with attempts at acinar
formations...

@Narad
What utter failure? I looked it up to show you that it was a non-existent word.

@Narad
The Oxford Classical Dictionary used to comprise some 26 volumes.

Marg, you can post as many links about H2712 as you want, but it doesn't change the fact that Bengston's 'studies' are poorly designed, improperly controlled, and contain no statistical analysis to speak of. The fact that you've tunnel-visioned onto this one point about survivability is very telling.

I’ve been looking too. Found this:
http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/26/11_Part_1/2297.full.pdf

As noted elsewhere, that paper was from 1966. The documentation for C3H/HeJ mice from the suppliers lists a number of mutations within the strain that have occurred since then.
Notably, around 1985 they became much less susceptible to mammary cancer.

The only reports about the life expectancy of *today's* C3H/HeJ mice after tumour-cell injections are from this researcher called Bengston.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

@AdamG
I was responding to @herr doktor bimmler's assertion that there was nothing out there to indicate that the mice should have died in 27 days.

If you actually bothered to read what I posted you would have seen that the cancer is highly virulent, highly lethal & has 100% "take". What kind of botched experiment is it where all these mice, programmed to die, survive to full life-span cures? You are the ones who suffer from tunnel vision, and whose understanding of statistics is so compromised by this tunnel vision that you can't see the astronomical odds against ANY of these mice surviving, let alone most of them.

The fact that you’ve tunnel-visioned onto this one point about survivability is very telling.
Hey, it's my tunnel vision too!
A comment is currently in moderation -- too many links -- but a 1985 report from the Jackson laboratory comments on a recent mutation within the C3H/HeJ strain (one of many mutations they have incurred over the decades) that makes them much less susceptible to mammary cancer. Meanwhile the H2712 cell-line mutates in different directions.

This came up in the other Bengston-related thread... papers on mouse survival from 1966 are not dealing with the same mice.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

@herr doktor bimmler
The original Bengston experiments date from some time in 1970s, well before the 1985 mutation.

It does seem that this strain of mice has undergone at least one major mutation, making it resistant to endotoxins, since 1966 when the experiment Marg posted a link to was carried out. Also, only since 1999 has this strain been free of exogenous mouse mammary tumor virus, which could have a major effect on their mortality. It's not tunnel-vision Marg, it's eliminating the most likely explanations of what observations have been made. Magic? This strain of mouse doesn't behave the same way it did umpteen mouse generations ago? Or something else went awry with the experiments? It's how science works.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

The original Bengston experiments date from some time in 1970s

Citation plz. The 2000 Bengston-Kinsley paper says nothing about the research being from two or three decades earlier.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

It does seem that this strain of mice has undergone at least one major mutation, making it resistant to endotoxins

The 1985 paper on reduced cancer susceptibility in the C3H/HeJ strain does associate their greater resistance with that mutation.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2997536?dopt=Abstract

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

What utter failure? I looked it up to show you that it was a non-existent word.

You are attached to names and forms.

The Oxford Classical Dictionary used to comprise some 26 volumes.

Yes, Marg, I do have some familiarity with the trade. You've also misidentified the work that you're aimlessly trying to gesticulate at.

What kind of botched experiment is it where all these mice, programmed to die, survive to full life-span cures?

Marg. it's 'botched' because the control mice survived at the same rate that the experimental group did.

This means either the treatment didn't work or the tumor was not properly administered. Neither explanation lends much credence to energy healing. Is this the best evidence there is for energy healing?

whose understanding of statistics is so compromised by this tunnel vision

What do you mean by this Marg? On what basis are you claiming that our understanding of statistics is 'compromised?'

Simple question for you, Marg. What statistical test should Bengston have done? Which test is appropriate here and why?

From Bengston & Krinsley:
The mice then lived their normal life span of approximately 2 years

If this experiment was indeed performed in the 1970s, this is quite an accomplishment in itself, since until the 1990s program of selective breeding that eliminated a carcinogenic virus, C3H/HeJ mice didn't live that long. They developed spontaneous mammary tumours -- originally at a median age of 40 weeks, shifting to 60 weeks after the mutation (reported in 1985, actual date not documented) that reduced their susceptibility, now over 80 weeks in the absence of MuMTV.
Now they tend to die of spontaneous hepatomas instead.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

@Marg

Kindly explain to me what is wrong with “arguments from authority”, which is an entirely accepted way of doing business in the humanities.

Others will have gotten here first, but:

The clue is in that you use "humanities". Arguments from authority don't work in *science* which is what we're discussing. We don't talk about Newton because he's a god; we talk about him because his ideas and data stand up after repeated pummeling and testing. The same goes for Galileo and Salk and all others. In fact, good science is all about ignoring where and who the data comes from. If it's replicable and solid data, then that's all that matters.

To put a finer point on it: even a young girl can come up with good data. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Rosa

If you really need this explained to you, then you don't know the most basic principles of how science works. This is high school stuff.

Besides, as an artist who thinks very little of fame in the first place, I find arguments from authority to be utterly stupid when they're used in humanities anyway. Most of the general public fall for the argument from authority when it comes to the arts, and it's pretty bullsh*t for many reasons.

I am known for hating Shakespeare. Ask me why.

(Of course, my reasons have nothing to do with the obvious which is that in art no one actually bothers to check whether or not anything is based on reality and where postmodernism and "truth from feeling" rules the world. No wonder Marg thinks it's acceptable for authority to win in humanities. Side point: if argument from authority truly worked in the arts, then no painter would need to die in order for their work to be worth anything. People would just recognise their genius on sight)

NONE OF THIS DISTRACTS ME FROM THE ISSUE THAT YOU HAVE POSTED NO DATA AND ARE COMPLETELY VEERING AWAY FROM DISCUSSING CANCER BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO EVIDENCE OR REFUSE TO POST IT. FOR WHICH YOU NEED TO USE SCIENCE, NOT HUMANITIES OR GUT FEELING, TO PROVE YOUR ASSERTIONS.

So how is it that only Bengston’s mice were useless, in 12 experiments over 30 years, at five different institutions?

Do you know what replication is?

You are the ones who suffer from tunnel vision, and whose understanding of statistics is so compromised by this tunnel vision that you can’t see the astronomical odds against ANY of these mice surviving, let alone most of them

Argument from incredulity.

I thought I was having a discussion with MDs and researchers. It appears that I am having a discussion with artists who hate Shakespeare and Buddhist scholars who are familiar with the Oxford English Dictionary. Oh well. If all we can do is discuss philosophy of science and search the internet for mice, it is all quite a pointless exercise.

@herr doktor bimmler
Wouldn't an externally introduced cancer qualify as an exotoxin rather than an endotoxin? It would be nice to find a cancer researcher who could tell us where these mice are at. The link you sent seems to suggest that they became less prone to developing spontaneous mammary cancer. Re: Bengston's mice, since they developed immunity to the mammary cancer from which they were cured, they no doubt could live longer than their average cousins.

only Bengston’s mice were useless, in 12 experiments over 30 years
Just noting that the implication here -- that Bengston's research spans the period 1980 to now -- contradict's Marg's later claim that he began "some time in 1970s". It is also unsupported by any claims in Bengston's papers (2000 and 2007) that the experiments had been much earlier.

trained lab assistants at 5 separate institutions somehow all managed to screw up his experiments
This seems to be a trend in the discussion of Bengston's work elsewhere on the Intertubes. Here, for instance, a 2007 discussion of Bengson & Moga plays host to an anonymous defender:
http://skepstat.blogspot.com/2007/09/no-thanks-i-dont-need-any-treatmen…

Anonymous said...
What you forget are the historical controls. No mouse ever, in any experiment, lived longer than 27 days with the form of cancer that these mice were injected with. [...] Dr. Bengston is now up to 10 experiments at 5 different accredited institutions, including two medical schools, and the results have been replicated in all 10 experiments. Surely you could not accuse ALL the scientists involved of such gross incompetence that they could muck up ten experiments?

and later in the same thread:
Dr. Bengston had nothing to do with preparing the mice for the experiments. As I said, there have been 10 experiments in 5 different places.

Apparently to criticise the experiments is to CRITICISE THE STUDENTS who did the work, and how dare we do that!!
If the experiments were badly designed then it doesn't matter two tugs on a dead dingo's dick WHO performed them.

One notes that this discussion occurred in 2007, shortly after the Bengston & Moga paper described results from 5 studies (Bengston's original four from 2000, plus one more), mentioned a 6th, and alluded to two 'informal' experiments; yet his defender is already talking about "10 experiments". Rounding error.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

@AdamG
The expected outcome of a woo/magical waving experiment involving mice with cancerous tumors is that all the critters die.

Re: Bengston’s mice, since they developed immunity to the mammary cancer from which they were cured, they no doubt could live longer than their average cousins.
Why would sending the H2712 adenocarcinoma into the cornfield also increase their resistance to their own spontaneous diseases?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 #permalink

It appears that I am having a discussion with artists who hate Shakespeare and Buddhist scholars who are familiar with the Oxford English Dictionary. Oh well.

Marg, it is merely your own posturing attempts at distraction that caused you to find yourself in such varied uncomfortable positions.

@herr doktor bimmler
The source for the experiments taking place in the 70s is Bengston's book The Energy Cure and the talk I attended. The source for there being 10/12 experiments is also Bengston. When I attended his talk about 4 years ago he was talking about 10 experiments. In more recent talks on the internet he said 12, so I presume there have been two more since then.

How were the original four experiments badly designed?

@Narad
I am not the least bit uncomfortable.

I am not the least bit uncomfortable

Yah, but what about your audience?

@Narad
My audience has free will and can stop following the thread any time.

@Marg

I thought I was having a discussion with MDs and researchers. It appears that I am having a discussion with artists who hate Shakespeare and Buddhist scholars who are familiar with the Oxford English Dictionary.

Nah, I'm just the odd one out here. Plus, you're repeating the argument from authority again.

Anyway, you're still not posting actual evidence. Heck, even I could find a link that proves my point. (The wikipedia article) And I'm capable of reading and understanding a journal article. Ok, I grasp most of it. I still struggle with the maths.

I note that you don't actually rebut my points. What, you don't want to discuss the fact that you used a logical fallacy?

(By the way, it's not that I hate Shakespeare: it's that I don't like the fact that people go to see it simply because the reputation must mean that it's good - doesn't matter if they can't understand a word of it. My point, and I expected you not to ask me why I have that opinion, was that argument from authority in the arts leads one to ignore artists who are just as good, if not better, than the so called masters. People go to Shakespeare less because they like it and more because it's familiar and safe and other people say it's good so it must be. I only pick on Shakespeare because his reputation is known across all cultures; I could just as easily use another example from visual arts or literature or anything else. Eg. Neil Armstrong's recent death. It's sad and the world lost a great and courageous person: but we shouldn't forget the thousands of engineers (etc) who worked so well to get him and the other astronauts there. Nor should the moon-auts be overshadowed by the great number of continuing scientists who travel up to the ISS whose names will never be known by the majority of the population. Their contributions are no less important to science. I make a more rational argument against authority than you do for it)

Hmmm...

This

doesn’t matter if they can’t understand a word of it

should follow with:

and the performance is terrible.

As I said the arts is allowed or even expected to rely on gut feeling and New Age-y belief systems and post-modernistic views. That has absolutely 100% nothing to do with how science works, and the two are absolutely not interchangeable in how they should work.

Good science is repeatable data. Good art is doing whatever you feel like. If science worked the way humanities do, well, the Earth would still be the centre of the universe.

The expected outcome of a woo/magical waving experiment involving mice with cancerous tumors is that all the critters die.

If this is true, then the fact that the mice lived means the experiment was not conducted properly. That's a proper application of parsimony.

Marg, if I presented you with a clinical trial of energy healing in actual humans with cancer, and the main conclusion of the study was that not a single individual died (neither in the experimental nor the control group) would you conclude that energy healing cured their cancer? Why or why not?

This:

Nor should the moon-auts be overshadowed by the great number of continuing scientists who travel up to the ISS whose names will never be known by the majority of the population

is in reverse. I meant that the ISS scientists shouldn't be overshadowed by the moon-auts.

Sigh...

@herr doktor bimmler
Here is Bengston's story paraphrased. Around 1970 or 71 he met a psychic/healer who wanted to be debunked and thought Bengston as a sociology student would be just the right man for the job. Bengston found the man interesting and hung around with him, watching and participating in his healings and asking him questions. He set up the first mouse experiment to test the man's healing ability in a lab, but at the last minute the psychic balked and the two of them had a major falling out.

Bengston then decided to do the experiment with himself as the healer. He had no idea what to expect. He thought that maybe the mice would not grow tumors, and when they did he decided that the experiment was a failure. When the tumors grew he wanted to terminate the experiment because he did not want the mice to suffer. But then it was pointed out to him that the mice were not suffering, and that aside from having tumors and then ugly ulcerations they were looking healthy and acting quite normal. Then the ulcerations began to heal.

When he found out two of the controls died, he went to look at the remaining four to compare them to the batch that he was treating. He saw that the control mice in fact looked far the worse for wear. But after he looked in on them, they started following the same healing pattern as the experimental mice, with a few days' delay, and in the end both groups remitted.

In the experiments that followed he says he tried to figure out what kind of parameters were necessary for the controls to die. He found that on site, they would remit. Off site, if he didn't know where they were, they would die.

This is his story as he tells it. I cannot say whether it is true or not. From what he says, he didn't set out to prove that the phenomenon was real. He is still not interested in proving that it's real; he wants to do experiments to find out more about what it is and how it works.

The talk I went to had some MDs in the audience. The ones I talked to found him quite convincing and one even said he would take Bengston's workshop out of curiosity even though he didn't think he'd use what he learned. What Bengston says and shows is cumulatively quite convincing; he seems to have a body of research approaching the problem from a variety of angles; healing experiments with mice with strange results, the geomagnetic probes that show organized patterns when they should be random, and fMRIs of his brain, which does weird anomalous things when he heals.

When I saw him, he said he just wanted to be able to do more experiments.

Here is Bengston’s story paraphrased. Around 1970 or 71 he met a psychic/healer who wanted to be debunked and thought Bengston as a sociology student would be just the right man for the job.

Seems like the "psychic/healer" could have stopped right there and called it a day.