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Medicine Skepticism/critical thinking

From deep in the heart of Sin City…

There won’t be a new post today, as you probably have figured out. The reason is that I’m at The Amaz!ing Meeting, where I’ll be participating in the Science-Based Medicine Workshop today and a panel discussion on Saturday. Yesterday afternoon after arriving, I was busy putting the finishing touches on my talk, and then in the evening I communed with fellow skeptics over a libation or two. Unfortunately, I could only make it until 11 PM. Damn the time difference between the Eastern time and Pacific time!

I am, however, in a most excellent mood. The reason? Well, I ran into some of my commenters, but even more importantly I got to bask in the glory that is our master and lord, Lord Draconis Zeneca, straight from GlaxoPharmaCOM. Truly, his scales and claws are even more impressive than I imagined, and, of course, he had new orders for his shills and minions to bring about world subjugation, which I will begin to implement upon my return home.

While I’m at TAM, I’ll probably post some dispatches, and perhaps some pictures, but there probably won’t be posting any of my logorrheic wonders. I will rely on you, my fellow shills and minions, to hold the fort in the comments while I am receiving new orders. To begin the process, here’s an open thread…

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

68 replies on “From deep in the heart of Sin City…”

Jon Brock, a research fellow at McQuarie, has an excellent blog post on how a speculative paper on temporal binding in autism has been highjacked by a chiropractor to give credence to the idea that chiropractic can “help” autism. Chiropractors come by in the comments.

Writes one chiropractor:

There is a difference between being a chiropractor and being a functional neurologist. Dr. Sullivan seems to be speaking from his functional neurology education and not merely as a chiropractor that is laying patients down on an adjusting table, delivering a spinal adjustment and claiming to have improved the function of a person with autism.

The commenter doesn’t say what the difference is

Discuss

Oh goody. I can’t wait to get Lord Draconis’ next orders. Your minions await your guidance!

Have a great time while you are out there while the rest of us are stuck at home doing work. And, the reason we are all stuck doing work is because all of the cool bloggers we follow are too busy in Vegas to post. Grumble, grumble.

Oh goody. I can’t wait to get Lord Draconis’ next orders. Your minions await your guidance!

http://www.malawivoice.com/latest-news/131-children-vaccinated-at-gunpoint-in-nsanje/

131 Children Vaccinated at Gunpoint

Minion orders Taken. Orders executed. Operation Science Based Medicine is working as planned.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/11/cia-fake-vaccinations-osama-bin-ladens-dna

CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden’s family DNA

Covert Operation a success.
More Morale boosting to come from SBM headquarters.

Greetings fellow and sister Servants of the Dark Forces,

Like the “young dudes” I carry the news**: these excretions might suggest new work projects for you, I know how you *like* to get down to business:

Today, @ NaturalNews, Mike Adams again defies PharmaCom’s explicit warnings ( gruesomely and viscerally illustrated with photos of previous miscreants)and spills the beans with “Burzynski documentary reveals true agenda of FDA and cancer industry to destroy cancer cures that really work”. Detailing the near-martyrdom of Dr B.

and if that’s not enough, the much quoted Neal Z. Miller chimes in with “7 reasons schools should NOT mandate vaccines” ( @ NaturalNews)

Gary Null as a new documentary coming out: “Knocking on the Devil’s Door”- might be about us.

Because of contractual agreements ( which dictate that I cannot be more than 500km from any one of the three Loci of Evil of the Western World-i.e. NY, London, or SF – *except* when in transit between any two of said LEWW) I cannot be in LV, NV.

As usual, his Lordship gets to bask in the sun by the pool on a chaise, drinking margaritas, chit-chatting with shills and minions,eating shrimp cocktail, playing baccarat while I have to deal with stochastic events. You know, two weeks ago I was standing on the San Andreas Fault and it *felt just like home*- nearly random catastrophe and devastating calamity poised to break out at any minute and who’s there to fix it? Just me as usual. You know, I *felt* the quiver… I did.
You know, I could have been on the Exchange. I could have been a statistician. Those people really *liked* me. Oh bother. What’s the use!

OK, better now.

Orac, Ms O, and attendant shills and minions,
Have fun in Sin City, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! Ha Ha.( Take photos for *proof*!)

Sincerely yours, DW, DL, VII whatever.

** my apologies to Mr Bowie

Funny how no other news agency is looking into the “vaccines at gunpoint” story. No credible news agency, anyway. It’s all the anti-vaxers’ bloggers running around screaming this from the mountaintops.

Lord, mercy.

Anyway, we continue to spread and give headaches (and some gnarly rashes) to people worldwide. Anti-vaxers, keep up the bad work. (Bad as in evil, not as in bad quality. That thing you do with all those paranoid delusions is delicious.)

Sorry, Rubella. I forgot that you(SBM) only listen to Rupert Murdoch or Brian Deer. The credible journalists.

Actually, judging from the article augustine posted, one could argue that vaccination at gunpoint was entirely justified, given that such a large drop in herd immunity would increase the odds of an outbreak.

Also, if you drive on the wrong side of a highway, police officers will come and tell you to knock it off. Is that oppression? Shouldn’t one be able to drive wherever one wants?

GrayFalcon

Actually, judging from the article augustine posted, one could argue that vaccination at gunpoint was entirely justified…

Of course it’s justified. It’s Science Based Medicine!

Maryn McKenna @Superbug wrote about the CIA use of Hep A vaccination to try to find bin Laden. I was thinking of posting it in the thread but Augie beat me to it.

From McKenna’s post,

Longtime global-health reporter Tom Paulson says this will “undermine global health“; Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, calls it a “horrible move with potentially dangerous consequences“; infectious-disease physician Kent Sepkowitz says it’s a “paranoid’s dreamy nightmare“; and blogger Brett Keller bluntly calls it “despicable.” (Update: The Guardian’s Sarah Boseley adds: “a black day for medical ethics and a one-off crazy scheme.”)

Of course, augie falls right in there with the paranoids. Yes, it shows what poor medical ethics a group like the CIA can have, but the condemnation it is being greeted with by those in health show you that we think just as poorly of it as anyone.

Ah, yes, Polio by vaccine, an old, old anti-vax gambit. “Look, everyone, the vaccine has caused cases of polio, so it must be baaaaaaaad!!!” You seem to say. How human of you to not inform your listening public that the vaccine has prevented millions of cases while giving the unfortunate few the real thing. (Not unexpected in a continent where immune-compromising HIV is rampant.)

But, you know, whatever, Agustine. You keep telling yourself what you want to tell yourself, and we’ll keep knocking down your dribble. In other words, and to steal from Prime Minister Churchill:

You have written and spoken every anti-vax lie under the sun. Where you have been the least educated there you have been the most deceiving. It was you who began the indiscriminate lying. We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang (Age of Autism, Robert Schecter, Jenny McCarthy, Andy Wakefield) who work your wicked will. You do your worst – and we will do our best.

Bitches.

@ Augustine: Why not try posting information about polio and its eradication from a (newer) more reliable source such as:

Polio Global Eradication Initiative

252 YTD cases of wild polio virus worldwide (July 13, 2011)

15 YTD cases of vaccine-derivative polio virus (cVPD2) which were reported from Nigeria (9 cases), Somalia (5 cases) and Afghanistan (1 case).

Scientists are meeting frequently to discuss the appropriate time to discontinue the use of OPV in polio endemic countries…they have more credentials than the USA Today reporter whose two year old article was cited by Augustine.

The NEJM published an article about the topic:

NEJM-Health Policy and Reform “The Polio Endgame” (June 15, 2011)

Boring troll is boring once again –

“Nigeria is almost a case study in what happens when you don’t follow the recommendations,” Kew said.

Since WHO and partners began their attempt to rid the world of polio in 1988, officials have slashed the disease’s incidence by more than 99%.”

I think it is pretty obvious at this point that augustine is one of the pinheads that angels dance on.

I didn’t see anything about the police using their weapons to exert force anyone to do anything, what I read from the aricle was that they were the armed escort of the medical team, maybe to protect them from raving antivaxers who’d perhaps want to fight tooth and nail to protect their young from scary chemicals…

@Hortan

Well, there is that sensationalist line toward the beginning saying they were vaccinated at gunpoint, but nothing else in the articles suggests that that was actually the case.

It actually reminds me of what Michael Willrich described about the smallpox epidemic in the early 20th century in the U.S. In some cases, police were brought along to, indeed, force people at the end of a barrel to be vaccinated against the disease. In many cases, though, police were there to protect the vaccinators from being brutally assaulted or shot at.

I have heard of people being vaccinated at gunpoint in parts of Africa but that was a couple of decades ago. I was told that sometimes you would get armed police at checkpoints stopping buses and demanding to see proof of required vaccinations, and all those unable to provide it being ordered off the bus to be vaccinated, all with the same needle. This was to limit outbreaks of cholera and typhoid IIRC. That was when I was at SOAS and knew a lot of people who traveled in Africa regularly, so I don’t think it was an urban legend.

DW:

“Today, @ NaturalNews, Mike Adams again defies PharmaCom’s explicit warnings ( gruesomely and viscerally illustrated with photos of previous miscreants)and spills the beans with “Burzynski documentary reveals true agenda of FDA and cancer industry to destroy cancer cures that really work”. Detailing the near-martyrdom of Dr B.”

Joe Mercola beat him to the punch on June 11th, with this introduction on his site:

The Great Cancer Hoax: The Brilliant Cure the FDA Tried Their Best to Shut Down…

I am a long-time lurker who been hoping for some respectful insolence on some of Mercola’s wackiest, most dangerous woo. My personal beef is the loss of a brother-in-law (chiropracter) to cancer because, as a Mercola disciple, he was determined to show that he could cure himself.

Here’s the link:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/06/11/burzynski-the-movie.aspx

@ lsm

Type “Mercola” into the search box on the left side and you’ll see that Orac has delivered insolence right and left to Mercola. Ole Joe is a veritable cornucopia of idiocy. If Orac covered every stupid thing Joe said, this would become the All Mercola All The Time channel.

Sorry to hear about your brother in law. Sadly, another example of why “what’s the harm?” is so dangerous.

Sorry to hear about your brother in law. Sadly, another example of why “what’s the harm?” is so dangerous.

Not much into critical thinking are you, Art? You don’t know what type of cancer, what stage, co-morbities, medical options, surival rate, nothin’ about this person yet you automatically assume that he would have been saved. Thousands of people die under medical oncology. Hundreds of thousands.

@ augustine

I never claimed that lsm’s brother in law could have been saved. But by doing nothing, he guaranteed that he couldn’t be saved.

Yes, many people die while being treated for cancer. But you’ve never provided any proof that they die because of the treatment, rather than in spite of the treatment. You also ignore the improvements in longevity and quality of life due to those treatments.

If anyone fails with logic here, it’s you. Look up the post hoc fallacy; just because someone dies while under treatment, it doesn’t mean that the treatment caused them to die.

“Thousands of people die under medical oncology. Hundreds of thousands.”

Notice how the troll now takes on medical oncology…wonder why the troll continues to post here…lsm provides an anecdotal story and troll jumps on it while taking a swipe at ArtK.

Mercola would welcome the troll’s comments as well as troll’s citation from U.S. News about polio eradication, but troll persists at RI. How do you die “under medical oncology”?

ArtK

Look up the post hoc fallacy; just because someone dies while under treatment, it doesn’t mean that the treatment caused them to die.

Just because someone lived under a treatment doesn’t mean they lived BECAUSE of the treatment. They could live in spite of the treatment. Just a little logic lesson for ya there.

But you’ve never provided any proof that they die because of the treatment

Are you challenging that people do not die from medical treatment? Do you need evidence?

Just because someone lived under a treatment doesn’t mean they lived BECAUSE of the treatment. They could live in spite of the treatment. Just a little logic lesson for ya there.

The difference between my position and yours is that mine has actual evidence. That’s the point of a lot of medical research — to determine if the benefits of a treatment outweigh the risks. When ethically feasible, the treatment is also compared to doing nothing. If doing nothing were the better option, that’s what the decision will be.

Are you challenging that people do not die from medical treatment? Do you need evidence?

Nope. Never made that claim. It doesn’t follow from anything that I said.

Your problem is that you want a perfect solution, and if a perfect solution isn’t available, then the next best thing is to do nothing. If a treatment isn’t 100% safe and effective, then you don’t think that the treatment should be used.

I’m not in favor of “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” Medical treatment (anything in life, really) is a matter of making choices between risk and benefit. I don’t believe that a slight risk outweighs a great benefit.

Getting in a car and driving down the street is a choice between risk (accident) and benefit (getting where you want to go.) The risk is actually high relative to the risks of many medical treatments (including vaccination.) Do you avoid riding in cars because of the risks?

Augustine – do you believe that any medical treatment is useful? Do you know that in 1900 the life expectancy for someone born that year in the US was 47 years? It’s now around 80. What do you think changed that life expectancy? Prayer? Chiropractic? Fruits and vegetables? Try – improved sanitation, vaccines for common infectious diseases, antibiotics, and improved treatments for heart disease.

I have an anecdote for you. My aunt was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1992 – it was caught at a very early stage. She had surgery and the cancer was taken out. Several years later it returned, alas, and she eventually died of the disease. The length of survival for her was quite remarkable, because lung cancer is very deadly. She was lucky because she was diagnosed early.

My mother, on the other hand, was diagnosed with lung cancer when it was already far advanced. She was given chemotherapy and radiation, which probably added a few months to her life. She died a year and three months after her diagnosis.

Augustine – would you advise people with operable cancers not to have the surgery done? Would you like to tell people with inoperable cancer, which is treatable by other means (like chemotherapy) not even to try it? In both cases, you would be guilty of shortening their lives.

You pretend to be concerned about whether people live or die, but you’re really concerned about your pet theories, which are woven of paranoia, conspiracies, and ignorance.

@ Ism : But you see, Joe is not designated at the same high level of threat to PharmaCom as are the other two truth tellers.
Both Adams and Null have political aspirations and plan infiltrating the school system with their scientific ideas. They speak of paradigm change. Their masterful and soul-stirring rhetoric @ 11 might mobilise the awakened public onwards to Health Revolution. We couldn’t have that now, could we?
Mikey and Gary are as frightening as was Andy Wakefield before he was … counter-acted.
It’s my job to add up the numbers and alert the minions. End of story. Have a nice day.
DW

Just a little logic lesson for ya there.

A logic lesson – from you?

Once again, augie, you crack me up!

@DLC:

Do any of you know where I can sign on to be a Pharma Shill ?
I could use the money.

Don’t bother, their checks always bounce.

ArtK, re your kind post #23

Your words were oddly satisfying to me (Ole Joe is a veritable cornucopia of idiocy, etc.). I once wrote an essay about what it would be like to live a single 24-hour day if we bought into everything he has to sell. The day began when I used my Mercola Bidet upon rising, and ended by turning on my Mercola Natural Himalayan Salt Lamp –to promote my sense of partnership and love with my spouse. What went on in between would make your head explode.

lilady

Welcome back! How was the vaca? Got your donation and I wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH!! You are top donator for our team!.

I could really use some PharmaShillTM cheques right about now, with a mini-Composer on the way.

Too bad I would probably need to go back to school, get the correct degree, and go through the job application process like everyone else.

Hi Venna:

So glad to hear from you and that my donation was received. I held mailed at the post office for the two weeks I was in Alaska and didn’t receive an email receipt nor a mailed receipt…once I waded through the snail mail late yesterday.

I sent a note to you for Autism Speaks to forward to you. Let me know if you got it…otherwise I can provide you with the “secret” to my email address.

I had a great time in Alaska…but am glad to be home…something about my own bedroom and (non-squishy) firm pillows that promote blissful sleep.

I see you have been holding down the fort in my absence, with your many postings.

Thousands of people die under medical oncology. Hundreds of thousands.

Even more die under your fat mother.
(somebody just got burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnnned!)

@Drivebyposter

Seriously? Yo momma jokes? Although I applaud your attempt to communicate on an age-level similar to the troll, do try to be a little less childish in your responses.

If you want something less childish, let me ask augustine a question: Tell me, where’s the cutoff point? If it’s idolatry to use modern medicine (and don’t nitpick about the definition of the word unless you can clearly explain the differences), why is it perfectly acceptable to post with your computer rather than just pray to God and hope that your words arrive to us through His divine breath?

@ DLC & Composer99:

Now I’m not supposed to do this, but I *like* you both: you’re so clever!( and probably good looking)

Shill-candidates are spotted as commenters on blogs and in RL conversations. They are *contacted* ( Don’t call us: we’ll call you!) by a representative (usually of the opposite sex) who meets them for drinks. *Money* is never discussed.

During a trial period, candidates are given assignments and encouraged to “work independently” as well (for extra points). Bounced cheques are a *test* of your willingness to serve- ( number of bounced vs cashable varies with individual factors). JayK was being tested: they admire his brilliance but doubt his sincerity.

If you pass, you will be subjected to a symbolic trial-by-fire**, applauded by your colleagues, and asked to sign a contract. Then, drinks for everybody!

Composer99, your education in the arts is no restriction; creativity is valued at PharmaCom: we’re like Wall St!

We’re always looking for new talent. Once your’re in, the climbing of levels begins, limited only by yourself. Sky’s the limit for some people. Ask RM.
Take care. We’ll be seeing you. Have a nice day.

Sincerely, DW

**Mozart revealed its predecessor in *the Magic Flute*- probably a mistake on his part.

I have to be a little impressed by his shear determination to break the rules….as inane as he is.

@lilady

No note came to me, just the donation. I did take a couple days off of reading and posting simply because things were a little crazy here. Viktor went through a rough time. I haven’t quite figured it out, but there seems to be a cycle or rhythm that he goes through. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually, in the mean time, I keep doing my part for the vaccine movement, because there aren’t enough pro-vaxers out there that are vocal and obnoxious like the anti-vaxers are.

I always thought RULE ONE was, ” First rule of you-know-what is we don’t talk about you-know-what…”

Various Jacob-sock puppets – your ideas are probably better served being discussed at a place like AoA (Age of Autism) which actively pursue various treatments as part of their autism support network.

As a test, why don’t you visit them & see what kind of response you can garner. We’d love to hear back.

Hi Venna: I’m not listed as a donor on your team’s website. I’ve placed two phone calls to coordinator Justin Weinig to make certain it was received…and I’ll continue to bug him about the donation…tenacious sort that I am.

Please folks, no replies to any of the sock puppets that pothead uses…thanks.

Are these two both jacob sock puppets and are they really having a conversation with themselves?

So not a sock-puppet, just pocking the puppet & see if I can get him to start bugging the AoA people instead.

You’ve got the rules all wrong. The Ramones told us what they were.

First Rule Is: The laws of Germany
Second Rule Is: Be nice to mommy
Third Rule Is: Don’t talk to Commies
Fourth Rule Is: Eat kosher salamis

No, no, Rule One is “Never act incautiously when facing a small wrinkly bald smiling old man”.

Augustine, if you’re not going to act like an adult, please leave.

@ Gary Falcon,

This is absolute proof that vaccines don’t work and that they kill! This science is proof that you have been

@lilady

Only team members are listed, not those who donate. Team members are people who sign up to help with fund raising. On the right hand side of the screen though, there is an Honor Roll box and it’s scrolling with your name. At least I think it’s your name but since I don’t know your name I can’t say for certain that it is or not.

Next weekend, our apartments are holding the annual community yard sale. I don’t have normal things to sell at a yard sale, but I’m going to be selling iced coffee, ices chai and otter pops for autism. Considering I live in Oregon (and judging by how many Starbucks there are in a 5 mile radius) I think that will do fairly well, at least as long as enough people come, but it’s for three days and I have nothing to do but sit outside and sell so I’ll sell till all my coffee, tea and otter pops are gone and then I’ll call it good. Anyway, it’s late and my brain is starting to shut down so I’m gonna go. Let me know if you have any questions.

Orac might just end up asking Lord Draconis to lift a claw and finally end the troll infestation if this keeps up…

DL, you took it very well. But I suspect people like Scotty, lilady, and the others may not take the facts and evidence very well and respond like this guy did.

It’s OVER! In the end you lose.

Orac might just end up asking Lord Draconis to lift a claw and finally end the troll infestation if this keeps up…

I will admit, the Jacob/cannabis troll is one of the more persistent ones to have blighted the comments of this blog in the last six years. Of course, since I’m spending a lot of time in talks, it doesn’t take much for me to check my phone a couple of times an hour for e-mails alerting me to new comments, recognize the tell-tale signs of Jacob, and to delete his posts. A minor inconvenience, albeit somewhat annoying. I also notice that the Mabus has returned. More trash comments to delete.

@ Venna: Yes, I got an email this AM from the coordinator and located the scrolling donor list. If you want to reach me via email here’s the “secret”: first 3 letters of my first name, then first 3 letters of my last name, attach 43 (one continuous phrase)@gmail.com. Go team!

Augie @61

Gee thanks Augie. No only is it amusing to watch the shills and minions rip you a new arsehole ( you must have about 20 of them now) but that vid was funny. I didn’t think I could chuckle at another hitler parody vid but you proved me wrong.

Keep the inane dribbling up Augie, its always nice to start the day laughing at an idiot.

Cheers

Composer

With regards to augustine’s video clips featuring Never Gonna Give You Up… uh… yeah.

@Composer 99

You just wish you were that famous with your flute.

You got RR. Admit it.

You just wish you were that famous with your flute.

Another in the self-written annals of “Things Augustine Screams at His Date Hand Like It Owes Him Money.”

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