Complementary and alternative medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

A chiropractor strikes back at the Institute for Science in Medicine…again

A couple of weeks ago, I had a bit of fun with a rather clueless chiropractor by the name of J.C. Smith (JCS), who decided to take a swipe at an organization with which I’m associated, namely the Institute for Science in Medicine (ISM). It was such an inept attack, filled with misinformation, pseudoscience, and logical fallacies, that it was what I like to call a “teachable moment” when it comes to chiropractors and chiropractic. Even more amusingly, JCS promised at the end of his post lambasting ISM as a new “medical mafia” that he would be writing a followup post. I could hardly wait. The only thing that disappointed me was that it took him so long to deliver.

But deliver he has, finally, much to my amusement and, I must confess, disappointment.

You see, I had expected something a bit more clever, a bit more difficult to dispose of. Don’t ask me why. I really don’t know. Perhaps hope springs eternal I just figured that if you’re going to plug a followup post, you should try to make sure it’s at least as good as the original, preferably better. In this case, even as an example of chiropractic crankery, The Medical Goodfellas, Part 2 falls flat. Or is it Three Unwise Monkeys? Both titles are used, and both are equally silly, at least as silly as Smith’s broadside at ISM that labels it a “dangerously deceptive organization.” Once again, before I dig in to this delectable bit of chiropractic crankitude, I need to point out that I do not speak for ISM, even though I am a member. The following opinions are mine and mine alone, not those of the ISM.

JCS begins:

The Institute of Science in Medicine (ISM) is a dangerously deceptive organization that hides behind an illusion of medical watchdogs to “protect the public from the predations of anti-, non-, and pseudo-scientific practices.”

Gee, he says that last part as though it were a bad thing! What’s wrong with wanting to help protect the public from the preations of anti-, non- and pseudo-scientific practices”? Personally, I think that’s a very good and noble goal to pursue. Apparently JCS does not. In fact, he has a real bug up his posterior about ISM. I suppose that’s not surprising, given that ISM is dedicated to medicine based as much as possible on science and chiropractic is infused with pseudoscience in its very essence. Perhaps that’s how JCS can write something like this with a straight face:

Of course, the ISM alone determines what qualifies one method as “pseudo-scientific practices” and the others as “scientific.” Just like its predecessors—the Medical Mussolini, the CoQ, and Stephen Barrett—these current ISM GoodFellas continue to take cheap shots at chiropractors allthewhile ignoring the medical spine care problems.

Certainly the most glaring problem with ISM is that it is not its role to act as watchdogs since this is a governmental issue within each state. No one has endowed ISM to act as such, but the AMA has never subjected its power to any governmental agency in its quest to remain the medical monopoly.

This is, of course, a massive straw man that misses the point of a policy institute. Policy institutes make policy recommendations and publish position papers. That does not mean that ISM believes that it, and it alone, determines what qualifies as pseudoscience and what does not. It means that ISM declares its position on what the science says and what policies it thinks advisable. This is not the same thing as declaring what is and is not pseudoscience with a belief in its own infallibility akin to the infallibility in matters of doctrine attributed to the Pope by the Catholic Church. In addition, where on earth did JCS get the idea that ISM would be trying to take on a role that is appropriately carried out by governmental organizations. Nowhere does it claim to do that?

As for “cheap shots” at chiropractors, where on earth does ISM do that? There isn’t even yet a policy statement on white paper on chiropractic on the ISM website! Of course, the fellows of the ISM are a group of doctors dedicated to promoting science-based medicine. That much is certainly true, but where’s all the unrelenting “hostility” to chiropractic. It’s not there, at least not right now.

So how does JCS justify his paranoia? Easy. He trots out the same tired, old attacks on science-based medicine (SBM) and evidence-based medicine (EBM) that pretty much all practitioners of unscientific medicine parrot time and time again. First, there’s the attempt to claim hypocrisy because there are modalities in medicine that are not as science-based as we would like. Of course, the problem with these attacks is that it is not quacks who discover and report the shortcomings of SBM. It’s certainly not chiropractors. Rather, it’s scientists and physicians who, as they investigate, find areas where physicians could do better. Meanwhile, JCS parrots a common fallacy:

Eddy believes only 15% of medicine is based on evidence while more optimistic ethicists claim no more than 25% of medical care is based on actual science, suggesting 75% of medical care is baseless.

Steve Novella demolished this particular canard long ago, pointing out that that mythical “15%” figure comes from a small survey of primary practice offices conducted in 1961 in the north of England. It was never intended to assess the degree to which primary care practices were evidence-based but rather was designed to study whether treatments were “specific” only from the point of view of insurance reimbursement. In other words, like so many attacks on SBM, this number comes from an obscure (and very old) source and has mutated far beyond what the original study actually found. In that, it’s like the claim that only “25%” of doctors would take chemotherapy for cancer, which similarly came from an old survey that looked at a specific chemotherapy that was new (and not entirely proven) at the time.. In reality, the percentage of medical interventions with a compelling evidence base behind them is not 15% but probably closer to 78%.

JCS also cites Gary Null, specifically “Death by Medicine,” by Gary Null, PhD, Carolyn Dean MD, ND, Martin Feldman, MD, Debora Rasio, MD, and Dorothy Smith, PhD. I’ve thought that there should be another addition to the law that says that if you cite in a medical argument you automatically lose to include Gary Null on that list, given that his density of sheer wrongness approaches black hole levels. This particular article is one of the most amazing bits of distortion I’ve ever seen, and I’ll tell you why. It claims that 783,936 die per year due to “conventional” medicine. Now, consider this: There are only approximately 2.4 million deaths per year in the U.S., which means that, if you believe Null and company, just under 1/3 of all deaths every year are due to medical errors and adverse reactions to drugs, more deaths than occur due to heart disease (599,413) or cancer (567,628), which would make it the single largest cause of death in the U.S., and not just by a little. In fact, it’s probably worse than that, as the figures used by Null came from 2004, and the number of deaths that year was slightly smaller.

At the risk of flirting with an argument from incredulity, I have to ask: Does this sound the least bit plausible? Before you answer, consider this: Both the crude and age-adjusted death rates have been falling steadily since 1940, with age-adjusted death rates falling dramatically. Indeed, in 2010, there were 746.2 deaths per 100,000 population. Compare this to 1935, when there were 1,860.1 deaths per 100,000 population. In other words, death rates have fallen by well over 50% in a mere 75 years. That’s a massive decrease. If another source of deaths due to conventional medicine had skyrocketed to over 3/4 of a million deaths per year, then for age-adjusted death rates and overall population death rates to fall there would have to be a massive decrease in other causes of death to offset it. That just hasn’t happened. Death rates due to various causes have fallen, but not by enough to absorb an extra 3/4 million deaths a year. The bottom line is that, by any reasonable measure, death rates are falling, not rising, and there is no good evidence to suggest that one in every three people who die in a given year die because medical errors or complications from conventional medical care. In general, people are living longer than ever before. True, there are a lot of chronic health issues that plague the U.S. at a high rate, in particular obesity, which contributes to the rise in type II diabetes, but, for all its deficiencies, medicine today is far better than it was 75 years ago, and a large part of that is due to science.

Harriet Hall puts it well in her evaluation of Nulls’ “Death by Medicine”:

In the first place, how can they claim medicine does more harm than good by just listing harms? That’s like saying people buy more kumquats than artichokes and just presenting numbers for kumquat sales. You can’t say that’s “more” unless you also know what the artichoke sales figures are.

Most of their numbers are wrong. They are based on extrapolations. Even when they are more or less accurate they are misleading.

Drug reactions? All effective drugs also have side effects. It’s meaningless to count the side effects without counting the benefits. An insulin reaction counts as an adverse drug reaction, but if the patient weren’t taking insulin he probably wouldn’t be alive to have a reaction. Some of the counted drug reactions are transient minor annoyances like a rash. People have iatrogenic infections in the hospital, for instance post-op infections; but without hospitalization and surgery they might have been dead instead of infected.

Iatrogenic deaths? How many of those were of people who would have died many years earlier without modern medical care? How many of those iatrogenic causes were high-risk treatments in high-risk patients who had no other option?

No one denies that medicine is not as evidence- and science-based as it should be, least of all myself. Indeed, I’ve been known to take a swipe at procedures whose efficacy is not well supported by evidence and drug companies trying to manipulate data. However, let’s get down to the real issue and compare Smith’s favored woo, chiropractic, to SBM and ask a simple question: Which one changes and improves based on the evidence? It’s obviously not chiropractic, which has remained largely the same since D.D. Palmer first dreamed it up in the 1890s. Well, that’s not entirely true. If anything, chiropractors have gone beyond manipulative therapy to become what I like to call “physical therapists with delusions of grandeur,” going beyond the spine and musculoskeletal system to claim they can treat allergies, asthma, hypertension, and a whole host of other diseases and conditions. Some even claim they can treat autism, and many are very much antivaccine.

Now, let’s look at which one looks at patient safety seriously and tries to change practice in response to patient safety concerns. It sure isn’t chiropractic, which has at every turn, for instance, belittled and ignored concerns about strokes after neck manipulation. In fact, that’s exactly what JCS does:

Obviously these serious mistakes from medical spine care are never mentioned by ISM. Despite the huge discrepancy in medical mistakes compared to chiropractic errors, the GoodFellas are quick to use Chicken Little articles to incite mass hysteria by chanting, “Chiropractors cause strokes, chiropractors cause strokes,” allthewhile hiding the fact that there is a greater likelihood of sustaining a stroke at a hairdresser’s salon, in a dentist’s office,[20] or even a greater chance of being hit by lightning than at the hands of a chiropractor.

Indeed, where is the outcry by the ISM about the tsunami of addictive drugs, ineffective epidural shots, expensive MRI scans looking for “incidentalomas,”[21] and dangerous spine surgery based on an outdated disc theory[22]?

It amuses me greatly to see JCS opine about “outdated disc theory.” The reason, of course, is that his entire specialty is devoted to an idea that is not just “outdated” but pure fantasy. I’m referring, of course, to the idea of “subluxations,” which chiropractors claim to be able to fix. Subluxations do not exist; yet his entire specialty is constructed around the idea of them. Moreover, the most recent Cochrane review on chiropractic and low back pain concludes:

The review shows that while combined chiropractic interventions slightly improved pain and disability in the short term and pain in the medium term for acute and subacute low-back pain, there is currently no evidence to support or refute that combined chiropractic interventions provide a clinically meaningful advantage over other treatments for pain or disability in people with low-back pain. Any demonstrated differences were small and were only seen in studies with a high risk of bias.

That’s the state of the evidence as it exists now.

In other words, even for back pain, the one area where one might expect that chiropractors could do some good, the evidence for efficacy of chiropractic interventions over conventional interventions is weak to nonexistent. See why I say that most chiropractors would do a heck of a lot more good if they just became physical therapists and jettisoned the woo?

In the end, this followup post attacking ISM is risible in the extreme, relying primarily on tu quoque arguments, emphasizing harm that conventional medicine can cause while not balancing it with the good, personally attacking people like Harriet Hall and Steve Barrett, and in general using the same old fallacies favored by cranks and quacks. He even finishes up by quoting the editor of my favorite crank vanity journal of all time, Medical Hypotheses. To me, that about says it all, given that this editor, Bruce Charlton, fits the very definition of someone so open-minded that his brains fall out. Yes, SBM has its shortcomings,

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]

92 replies on “A chiropractor strikes back at the Institute for Science in Medicine…again”

Way to go, Orac 😀

This is interesting. I still have to understand what chiropratic IS truth to be told.
Kind of like a fancy name for massage therapists?

Also, I need help (sigh, second post, second cry for help *winces*)
One of my friends want to become a naturopah 🙁
Now. She is not the brightest pea in the pod, so to speak. She wants to become a naturopah because she is my age (27), withouth a degree and having always done only promoter jobs, and wants another revenue of income.
I kid you not. She actually told me so.

Suggestion on how to dissuade her? 🙁 she say “I might also help people and I’ll not hurt anyone!”. I am usually a live and let live person, but… Well… I don’t want an old friend to become a quack.

Again. Sorry. Always asking for help >.<

Over the years I’ve attempted to engage numerous chiropractors in meaningful dialogues. OK, so I’m naive… but I keep trying. I ask legitimate questions, perhaps sometimes with an all-too-obvious sarcastic bent. (Wasn’t it Shakespeare who referred to this as “wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve)?

In a recent exchange during a chiropractic lecture on “heart health” I asked the “doctor” point blank how much clinical experience he’s had, how much time he’s spent with actual sick patients. Does he do EKGS? Can he detect a heart murmur? Can he diagnose A-Fib? His response was to cite the encounters he had with walk-ins at his chiro college when he was a student – as if that equals working with genuine heart patients. (For those who don’t know how chiropractic colleges teach hands-on experience, what they do is have their students adjust the nonexistent subluxations of their relatives and sundry derelicts who walk in off the street – much like barber college students learn to cut hair on skid row derelicts. OK, maybe I’m being a bit harsh but the spirit of my comments is based in reality).

This guy made so many absurd statements and recommendations that my comments would be longer than Orac’s blog post so I’ll hit a few of the highlights. Or should I say “lowlights?”

Just about all alt-med proponents warn about the putative dangers of sugar. This guy piped up with “sugar causes inflammation.” Of course he didn’t specify what it inflames. I pointed out to him that there’s no evidence that sugar has any significant effect on health other than the extra calories involved. No response.

“Acidity causes cancer.” I submitted this claim to Wally Sampson who has a modicum of knowledge on the subject. Wally responded, in his inimitable way citing facts and figures, saying that the guy absolutely has no idea what he’s talking about.

The “doctor” pushed hard for the Gerson method. When I pointed out to him that Gerson was demonstrated false decades ago his paranoid response was to claim that mainstream practitioners won’t admit that the method works because they can’t make any money on it.

As is my M.O. when confronting cretins of this nature I attempted to determine if he had any idea of what the scientific method is. No surprise: his reaction was that of a startled deer in the headlights. No conception whatever of what I was talking about. His most boneheaded comment was to state that my truth is not the same as his truth.

Unlike Orac, who claims to have not much more than a passing interest in chiropractic, I’ve made it the thrust of my 30+ years of investigating quackery (I’m a layman with no scientific bona fides) and I’ve concluded that represents at least as big a threat to the mainstream as any of the other alternative systems and modalities. I could write a book on the subject; in fact Wally has suggested that this might not be a bad idea. He even inferred that he knows someone who could edit it!

Of course, it’s quite easy for Null et al. to get 780k deaths per year due to medicine. All they have to do is define it differently from how the CDC defines it. Say for instance that they consider anyone who has had chemotherapy, or some other hospital-based treatment for a chronic condition, to have died of medicine. If that’s 90% of cancer cases and half of the heart disease cases, you already have more “deaths by medicine” than the number Null et al. give.

Not that I am endorsing their definition, mind. But I would be surprised if Null and company never resorted to twisting or distorting definitions. It seems to be common in the alt-med world.

Orac, here is a quote that seems relevant to so much you write about, including recidivist woo-meisters:
“The worst tempered people I have ever met were those who knew that they were wrong.” – David Letterman

When I pointed out to him that Gerson was demonstrated false decades ago his paranoid response was to claim that mainstream practitioners won’t admit that the method works because they can’t make any money on it.

And the fact that Gerson made money on it, as does his daughter and several other followers, didn’t sink in, I take it…

-btw- JCS is over at the older thread. Can’t keep up, Mister?

He quotes Null- well, *qui se ressemble s’assemble*.

About that iatrogenesis number ( a long word to impress the marks and a big number to scare them):
this is widely quoted across the woo-esphere, similar to the Galileo/ Semmelweis memes.

Null suffers ffrom the grandiose delusion that if *he* were in charge, people would be cured of all ills and would live virtually un-incapacitated and pain-free until age 150, if I recall correctly. Jettison Pharma and live naturally. He details plans to change care for the elderly, de-ghettoise** inner cities, create sustainable homesteads, assist impoverished villages in Africa, re-calibrate the educational system and transform economics and society.

All of this is a smokescreen, a masquerade and a fiction: he wants to convince people that he is both brilliant*** and a true paradigm-shifter as well as a humanitarian so you don’t sit down and figure out that he is a megalomaniac who wants to sell useless nonsense that wastes money, effort, time and life.

His websites feature a treasure trove of idiotic notions; he has a finger in many pies- anti-vaccination, HIV/AIDS denialism, anti-psychiatry and anti-SBM cancer woo. Truly a man for all seasons- all of them BAD

** his neologism..
*** not in my book.

@ Tiziana

This is interesting. I still have to understand what chiropratic IS truth to be told.

I’m not sure even the chiropractors know 🙂

Kind of like a fancy name for massage therapists?

That would be about right to define the part chiropractors seem competent about.
Initially, chiropractors were followers of the “theory” of subluxation – that a misalignment of the vertebrae in your backbone, most notably in your neck, is somehow responsible for that ails the patient.
I guess it started with back pain and other muscular/joint issues, but eventually the list of illnesses dues to subluxation has grown to encompass about all ailments which were ever observed in humans or animals (baby colitis? check. Horses’ racing performance? check.)
The mechanism of action of subluxation goes from nerve pinching to vital energy flux.

A number of chiropractors seem to reject the subluxation theory, or so they say.

tl;dr – don’t let a chiropractor works above your neck.

“don’t let a chiropractor works above your neck”

I think that should be “don’t let a chiropractor touch your neck”.

Amazing how chiros continue to be in denial about a rare but devastating complication of a procedure (neck cracking) that in the hands of typical chiros offers no proven benefit. That’s a concept chiros and other wooists never seem to grasp – we may tolerate side effects, even serious ones if the treatment has a compelling evidentiary basis. But therapies that are not evidence-based and which are performed for non-life threatening indications should be essentially free of the potential for severe complications.

@ Dangerous Bacon:

I have been being told by so-called friends to go to chiros *forever* because I have suffered several minor neck injuries ( whip-lash in minor car accidents, etc- the first at age 17); even before I read about what you describe, I have resisted and managed to keep them away from my neck. Same goes for vampires.

@Denice Walter

Similar problem with neck. Chiro didn’t do much except one dizzy spell–I’m probably lucky I didn’t have a stroke!.

OTOH, a good RMT can do wonders for ‘temporary’ relief and improved range of motion.

My sister somehow got convinced to go to a chiropractor after a car accident. They kept her coming in until she ran out of money from the settlement, assuring her, when she complained that there was no improvement, that it was just taking more time than normal. They of course immediately quit seeing her when the settlement ran out and could only shrug their shoulders about her continuing back injury.

To the best of my knowledge she never even had a back x-ray or MRI that was reviewed by a real doctor. She also had absolutely no improvement and no actual concern for her condition by the wonderful “alternative provider/back expert.”

much like barber college students learn to cut hair on skid row derelicts

Hey! The barber college in my neck of the woods receives glowing reviews and is $8 to boot. The exchange is that it takes much longer. I have a strong sense that homeless populations take care of such things internally.

@ jrkrideau:

I received help from various quarters:
a physical therapist I knew gave me exercises/ stretches. a tennis friend advised using an ice pack when I got up and- hilariously-
when I was having a particularly hard time, a fellow I know who used to go to a Chinese massage therapist – I suppose *tui na*- he asked to split his hour into 45 minutes for him and 15 for me: and it worked!
Of course, I’ve made jokes about re-distribution of Chi accomplished by rubbing various body parts, but I can assure you that he only rubbed my neck and it helped.

The Chi part is woo, the rubbing isn’t.

@Narad: The homeless population is believed to not get haircuts at all; leading to the stereotype of the long-hair, dirty, mentally ill homeless person. (NB: this is not to say that the homeless are this stereotype.) In reality, the homeless that have access to shelters are usually given access about every 2 wks. to free haircuts donated by various barber/beauty salons or schools. [I had the misfortune to be homeless for 6 months at one time a while back.]

@Curt: The “outdated disc theory” is based on the anatomy of the spinal column; between each vertebal bone there is an intervertebal disc of mesothelial tissue (derived from the notochord of all Chordate animals) that cushions and allows the spine to bend and twist. It is only “outdated” in the minds of the quacks. One of the most common causes of chronic back pain is degeneration of the disc, resulting in arthritis of the spine and possible compression (pinching) of spinal nerves that emerge in the vicinity of the intervertebral space. Osteoporosis in older people can also lead to degenerative disease of the spinal column. This (the allopathic medical theory) is based in anatomy and physiologic measurements of spinal functions.

Subluxation is the displacement of one verteba from its normal position in relation to another vertebra. The chiropractic theory is that these displacements inevitably cause compression and dysfunction of the nerves and/or blood vessels and/or “energy pathways.” Chiropractic therapy is generally the manipulation of the vertebrae (using an antiquidated system of levers and pads) to “re-align” the spine. More often than not, these manipulations cause more misalignment that they correct. The chiropractor learns to always take overpriced x-rays pictures before and after each manipulation. (E.g. a real medical x-ray image of the spine might cost $150, the chiropractors x-ray will cost $500!) [Based on personal experience circa 1995 in Durham NC.]

Based on my experience, never go to a chiropractor. Of the two that I have talked to one was a computer coder who moonlighted as a chiro, and the other admitted to being the most gullible person he knew.

“One of my friends want to become a naturopah 🙁
Now. She is not the brightest pea in the pod, so to speak. She wants to become a naturopah because she is my age (27), withouth a degree and having always done only promoter jobs, and wants another revenue of income.”

Uh. Sorry … she’d probably do quite well as an “alternative” practitioner. In sales, the job is to sell the salesman and incidentally the product. By seeming not too threatening (too smart), and being untroubled by scientific facts she can attract like-minded folk, who are looking for someone to make them feel good about choices they’ve already made.

I have to agree with Spectator:
in surveying woo-meisters’ websites and internet radio, I have come to the conclusion that altho’ they may call it ‘commercial-free’ in reality, the entire production *is* a commercial for their products and own perverse slant on reality.

One tactic is called “Scare’em, then sell’em”:
the woo will paint a frightening picture of advancing illness caused by ..oh, let’s say ‘oxidation’
he’ll** speak about how your poor diet/ lack of vitamins/ bad living will lead to various dire consequences that are *silently* clogging arteries or creating plaque or irregular cell division that will coninue, *silently*, without you ever knowing, until one sad day- BOOM!- you are hit with an MI, stroke, Alzheimer’s or cancer.

If you had ONLY listened to the voice of wisdom ( his) and changed your errant ways before the catastrophe.

Then, he talks up a product he created especially to address the aforementioned problems. Usually the dietary regime and programmed exercise advocated by the master is too much for most people to consider ( I can’t believe the meticulousness of the food prescriptions/ proscriptions; amount of exercise) so you can save yourself through a conveniently compact supplement, altho’ you might have to take several of them a day. Along with other products he just happens to have also created.

If you think about it, the Grand Master of this technique is none other than AJW:
he took pre-existing fears about vaccines and created evidence to show vaccine “damage”, increasing those fears and all-the-while he had a patent on a product to avoid the triple threat vaccine and business plans for products to fix *** “damaged” brains and GI tracts..
All accomplished with a smile and great empathy for the injured parties.

Most woo-meisters cultivate a persona that combines friendliness and down-to-earth regular guy-ness: ” I’m not like those uppity *doctors* and *scientists* altho’ I’m even more brilliant”. Some times they add a dash of religion or new age spirituality to provide contrast to the cold hearted scientists ( usually atheists).

There’s one problem for your friend: many alternate practitioners have trouble earning enough money so they have to create other income streams : they might go chiro plus supplements or ND plus some sort of non-SB counselling. If you peruse woo-ful websites, you’ll see what I mean. Even the big wheels don’t just stick with supplements.

** and it’s usually a ‘he”
*** the only thing he ever fixed was data

“I’ve thought that there should be another addition to the law that says that if you cite in a medical argument you automatically lose to include Gary Null on that list, given that his density of sheer wrongness approaches black hole levels.”

Any medical argument that trots out Gary Null as a reference is automatically NULLIFIED.

Here, on Null’s website, his guest columnist trots out Null’s book as the reference for this article:

Statistics prove prescription drugs are 16,400% more deadly than terrorists

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 by: Jessica Fraser

America was rudely awakened to a new kind of danger on September 11, 2001: Terrorism. The attacks that day left 2,996 people dead, including the passengers on the four commercial airliners that were used as weapons. Many feel it was the most tragic day in U.S. history.

Four commercial jets crashed that day. But what if six jumbo jets crashed every day in the United States, claiming the lives of 783,936 people every year? That would certainly qualify as a massive tragedy, wouldn’t it?

Well, forget “what if.” The tragedy is happening right now. Over 750,000 people actually do die in the United States every year, although not from plane crashes. They die from something far more common and rarely perceived by the public as dangerous: modern medicine.

Yes, just what we need, a bunch of people in a crowded, dark & gassed movie theater shooting at each other….yeah, that would work out really well, I’m sure.

What an ass

You left off “two-faced”: “This is not any sort of insensitive attempt at satire or blaming anyone, by the way…. for some reason that remains entire unexplained, they let him do it.”

Whatever you say, Ranger.

@Lilady – made the mistake of bringing up the issues with “natural” treatments to Mr Woo on the trip to get his truck today (new alternator died after less than a month). He assured me (of course) that all pharmaceuticals are dangerous chemicals while “real herbs” were the “treatment that was safest” – when I asked him how he could believe that an herb that was pharmicokinetically active could NOT have side effects, he said of course they didn’t, because herbs are nothing but food. Ignoring that little bit of misunderstanding, I asked him what side effects were – he said “unwanted reactions to putting chemicals in your body” (therefore, in his mind, avoiding the possibility entirely that herbs could have side effects). I then said, “If it can change the way the body works (an herb), how can it not have possible side effects, too?” He said that there might be a few that could have side effects, but they are very rare because the whole herb has other ingredients in it that make side effects not happen, unlike drugs which distill out everything but one active component…

I’m assuming he gets this from Mike Adams and similar places. He is pushing me to go on a no-carbohydrate diet (because he also doesn’t realize there are some amount of carbohydrates in fruit) – pretty much nothing but squashes and leafy vegetables and meat. No dairy, no grains, no fruits. He heard a “dietitian” on Coast to Coast or something the other night who has the cure of all diseases and who assures everyone that they have no biological need for carbohydrates as long as they eat a diet high in protein and fat. ~sigh~

The alternative reality… such a fascinating, but strange, place.

@Bad poet – they didn’t “let” them – like all really bad things that happen in the world, the people who later realized they saw signs of the event actually held out hope that they misunderstood or that sanity would prevail and it wouldn’t happen.

People always want to believe that evil can’t happen. The better they know someone, especially if they have seemed mostly normal most of their lives, the more they want to believe the person is not capable of mind-boggling, almost impossible to understand evil. Even more with teenagers. We kind of expect them to be a bit more dramatic and often don’t take what they say completely seriously (that is why I think Columbine happened as it did).

On this guy – at 24 and some of what has been said about his surrender, plus his interest in neurology, I have to halfway wonder if he has a family history of delusional issues? Pure speculation at this point though.

@ Mrs. Woo: Poor you. Dear hubby is an excellent patient. A few years back, we mourned the death of his young cardiologist due to anaphylactic shock…most probably an allergy to peanuts…in a local Asian restaurant.

Dear hubby stated then “He was such a great, caring doctor”. My reply, “You were a great, compliant patient”. Doctors really do look at their day’s schedule and it’s going to be a great day, when the patients who are on their schedules, are as compliant as my hubby. The day is a bummer, when you have patients scheduled, who are not compliant, or who dose themselves with mega doses of herbal supplements.

He said that there might be a few that could have side effects, but they are very rare because the whole herb has other ingredients in it that make side effects not happen, unlike drugs which distill out everything but one active component…

Ugh. I am not sure how you put up with it, my patience would have worn so thin long ago. This is a twist on the idea that herbal medicine is better as there are other components that aid the effects that I had not encountered before. I really wish people would give examples when they make make that claim. Sadly it usually appears to be an assumption rather than a claim based on facts. I would have thought it would be rather unlikely that multiple compounds in an herb had a synergistic effect as they are not producing these chemicals specifically for us. Sometimes I wonder if deep down many people think that plants and animals are really around just for our benefit.

taylormattd (1:16 pm)

He’s just jumped several million sharks I think.

Perhaps that could be extended to “He’s jumped the whale”

@Travis – if they used examples it would be too easy for us to list possible side effects based on the herb’s intended function, and or be able to look up the herb in something that’s a little more reasonable and find out what it has that might cause activity and what those compound’s side effects might be. It’s easier to use vague assertions when arguing because it is harder to argue with – for the skeptic it becomes almost like trying to build sand castles far from the ocean with no water. Vague assertions they keep getting to move the target on you.

@Lilady – I absolutely adore my primary care doctor. When I was diagnosed I was uninsured and he has managed most of my care since then. I consult with specialists from time to time when the course chosen develops issues, then go back to him and for regular supervision. We’re at a point now where all of the treatments left are either outpatient or inpatient procedures that I can’t do at home because of anesthetic. Most have about a 40% success rate at best and I just am not desperate enough I guess, to pay anywhere between $4000 and $20,000 copay, depending on procedure, for those kinds of odds. So… well, I am in a holding pattern doing what I can to ameliorate symptoms and waiting for some of the newer researched stuff in trials to see how promising they are when they get to larger studies.

@Krebiozen – I could, and Mr Woo would say “Oh! That was one of the two or three I was trying to remember the names of that might have side effects,” instead of saying “Oh, you’re right, a lot of things that are assumed safe in herbal medicine/Chinese herbalism/etc. might have dangerous side effects and/or might not have been researched to conclusively determine their safety and effectiveness.”

I’ve given up trying to argue with him too much. Now, if, heaven forbid, he were to develop cancer, etc., one day, I would have to butt heads with him and be sure he received the best evidence-based care available. Lucky for me his sons are not enamored with his magical thinking, so at least I would have allies in that fight.

As far as the diet – I just ignore him for now. I have been using that strategy for a few years and usually it works about 80% of the time. Sometimes he’ll bring strange things home if allowed in the health food store alone, but that’s as far as he pushes it.


Sometimes I wonder if deep down many people think that plants and animals are really around just for our benefit.

Wonder no more. Flora brand herbal teas have the following slogan on their boxes.

For every disease we know God allows a herb to grow

What strikes me is the hubris and narcissism of the teleological attitude that nature is here for us. There are a hundred billion stars in our galaxy and a hundred billion galaxies in the portion of the universe that we can see. To think that we are the purpose of something that huge is ludicrous. As George Carlin said:

If humanity is the purpose of the universe, the universe aimed low and was satisfied with little.

If “Nature” really cared about us one way or the other it would be doing its’ best to kill us in self defense, not provide us with beneficial ,side effect free, herbs.

Mrs Woo:

You either have the patience of a saint, or a fantastically charming husband.

Next time he needs an alternator, tell him to charge the truck off the Universal Polarity Field, and also ditch the evil lead battery which is full of chemicalz.

Should there be some objection, remind him that the original, natural, real man’s cars started with a hand crank.

good luck ..

@Spectator – Mr Woo has dealt with hand-cranked tractors. Not sure if he has dealt with hand-cranked cars. Being who he is and growing up on a farm with practical Midwestern people around, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hand-cranked a farm truck at some point in his youth.

He is funny and sweet, just incredibly trusting. He also treats me like a queen – I am in the happiest, best place I have ever been in my life, even with the strange diets and supplements he keeps dragging home and insisting I need. Since somewhere, somehow, someone introduced him to alternative thought (the whole thing – alternative economy, conspiracy theories, etc.), he has been slowly dragged down the rabbit hole – if you keep listening to this stuff and they all refer to each other, if you don’t know better you actually think that it has to be plausible because it is “cited” (if you don’t know how to way cited evidence you’re a goner on the internet). All of you know that if you google an alternative cure the first 30 things you find are all sites that support it sometimes. When you get all that “positive” feedback, it gets even more believable.

Poor Mr Woo. The first thing I google when he comes home with a new miracle is “(insert name of woo here) scam.” That usually gives me the alternative perspective (I’ll also google some of the strange claims he hears on alternative radio about current events and get the real background and explain that to him, too).

Maybe, since he has had years to get wrapped up in this (more than ten, as a guess), it will take years to work him back out of it – a little at a time. We can consider Mr Woo our own (or my own) personal experiment in skeptical debate – can you reclaim a diehard alternative believer with enough patience? What scares me most is the possibility of him developing a serious illness and refusing medical treatment for it because he can “cure himself” with this herb or that supplement. I would hate to lose him for such a stupid reason.

On the Universal Polarity Field – he was looking for permanent magnet motors again the other day (no, not making that one up either). He is convinced they exist and are wonderful, green and effective ways for every home to have their own power generated forever (I tried to tell him that gravity and friction cause issues with any kind of perpetual motion device, at which point he argued that things in space move continuously so it is obviously possible for permanent magnet motors to work. I read somewhere once when researching magnetic water softening (bunk) that often woo meisters use magnets because they’re accessible but still “kind of magical,” making people willing to consider them for applications because they don’t understand magnetic forces so can be convinced that they can do things that people might otherwise scoff at…

Mrs Woo
July 21, 5:37 pm

“because the whole herb has other ingredients in it that make side effects not happen, unlike drugs which distill out everything but one active component”

This is a very seductive argument. Herbs have been around as long as humanity, and presumably we’ve evolved to tolerate most and benefit from some. The trial and error period for them is vastly longer than for modern medicines.

The modern versions also tend to be single component, while the things we’ve been ingesting for thousands of years have multiple active components, which might work independently or might not. With food, isolating single components and replacing the food doesn’t work very well – replacing broccoli with a vitamin pill is about as good as replacing it was a Pop-Tart. Similarly an ounce of fructose plus a glass of water are not at all equal to a couple of apples. (I can remember when sugar was advertised as “quick energy food”). Food is not the same as medicine, but food is more familiar.

So it right that a mixture of multiple substances which have been around for thousands of years are preferable to a refined, single component molecule that’s been known for a few decades.

Anything can be made to sound good. “Herbs sound better” leaves out whether the particular herb has been tested against the particular condition to be treated in a way that can be verified, and whether the outcomes with it were better or worse than the modern item. I do wonder if the difficulty of working with compounds that may act quite differently in combination than individually and perhaps can’t be patented (and are thus doomed to financial failure if research and trials are done) means that there are herbal medicines which will not be investigated.

I do know that if I get an infection, I don’t rush to fill a prescription for garlic pills – I use whatever nasty antibiotic is required and read the directions. I don’t care to experiment on myself any more than I have to.

re Adams’ sickening articles:

I came across them this am and decided NOT to bring them to others’ attention as the disturbed, grandiose [email protected] already gets enough attention for his incompetant, irresponsible, insensitive nonsense that brings him profit and fame.
A new low. However, in the woo-esphere record lows are surpassed all too frequently .

@Spectator – strangely, Mr Woo is very okay with antibiotics and some vaccinations. He kind of rides the fence, though, on the whole vaccine/autism debate, especially with a grandson on the spectrum. He hears a lot more about the whole “vaccines are poison” thing, though, on the alternative sites, too. Strangely, when I think about it, a lot of alternative sites, except for counseling yogurt, etc., to replenish good bacteria after antibiotics, don’t actually have a lot bad to say about antibiotics. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough. They do encourage “colloidal silver” as an alternative, assuring you that there can’t be antibiotic resistance to it. They of course neglect to tell you that you’ll join the grey people if you choose to use it too much.

When I got sick I had to do an elimination diet and bought a book about it written by a registered dietitian who also has the same illness. She pretty much pointed out a food is always better than a supplement, and it’s what I learned years ago dieting and weight training, too – food is better than supplement, whole food is better than juice, etc. A coworker who was more obsessed with bodybuilding than I was finally did permanent kidney damage with all the protein supplements he ingested in his pursuit of the perfectly balanced, well-muscled physique.

As most who are enamored with woo, Mr Woo seems to believe that only alternative practitioners have the “right” diet or the “best” diet. He completely espouses the “all the white stuff – refined sugar, white flour, white rice” are bad for you – except for milk and dairy. He loves his milk and cheeses (farm boy again), so he ignores that part of the “white” rule that so many in alt-med seem to love. He completely ignores the fact that doctors have recommended balanced diets, maintaining reasonable caloric intake, regular exercise, etc.

With my illness I am sometimes one big experiment, or at least it is easy to feel like one. It’s pretty common for most of us patients though. 10% of the patient population end up with disease that is either far enough progressed at diagnosis or just difficult enough that it doesn’t respond to treatments and ends up classified as refractive. I was taught to shrug off a lot of things (anything involving abdominal or pelvic pain, mostly, because women were just supposed to put up with that kind of stuff), and when I was diagnosed I was already in end stages and could look back and see early symptoms in high school. I pretty much will try anything evidence based that costs less than $1000 in copays right now. Not sure if that’s a fair way to be or not. When I am told I have at most a 40% chance of improvement, and improvement can be anything from 10% to a complete elimination of symptoms in their definition, I just don’t feel like spending more than that right now. I guess I”m not desperate enough?

So I’m done experimenting at the moment, to be honest. Waiting for something that sounds more promising.


Is that the altie version of every time you clap your hands a fairy is born?

Given the behavior of faeries in traditional folklore this would be a good reason to avoid clapping your hands.

@Denice Walter
The thing about these conspiracy theories is that it doesn’t matter if there is no possible benefit to “them” from the tragedy. They just have to try to capitalize on the tragedy so they can seem important and convince their sheep followers that they are in the know. We should have expected it.

I understand the theater shooting is a little off topic, but since it was brought up, here’s my take.

I was in a dark theater in January of 1997 when there was shooting in the lobby area. It took us a moment to figure out what was going on. My wife called out loudly to the other patrons, “This is real. Get down.” Later, I saw someone interviewed on America’s Most Wanted, who was initially confused like the Colorado patrons, and he mentioned hearing the “get down” comment and then “hugging the floor.” After killing one man and shooting a 19 year old girl, the shooter then entered the auditorium part and fired two more rounds, one down a row of seats, narrowly missing several people (one of them told me “I felt the wind.”), and the final round from the front, directly over our heads. This all happened so fast, and the information available to us was so limited, that it would have been difficult if not impossible to react with force, even had there been an armed police officer in the front row who had the proper training. It is dark, and it all happens so fast.

I have utter contempt for the macho typists who like to brag about what they would have done in a similar scene. Their very braggadocio proves how little they actually know about the use of firearms, much less the use of firearms in the dark (a special kind of training, to be sure) and at a moving target. It’s not like in tv shows. I doubt that these braggerts know how they actually would react if someone was firing real bullets at them. Being on the receiving end puts you in a different mental state.

We have a special kind of craziness here. Every human society has strange people and insane people — it comes with the developmental genetics — but not all societies offer assault rifles and high caliber pistols for sale in the local sporting goods store.

For us average people without training in emergency medicine or police work, dealing with the aftermath — the dead and the wounded — is a continuation of the original trauma. It is a continuation of the stress and adds additional burdens, like what to do for someone who is bleeding from a gunshot to the chest.

“You might like to draw Mr. Woo’s attention to Aristolochia. Used by generations of herbalists and called Birthwort, among other things, it’s toxic to human kidneys, is a potent carcinogen and is 100% natural”

Yeah? Well, what about all those Big Pharma drugs that are toxic? And medical mistakes kill billions! Reports about birthwort are biased and produced by pharma shills. If it’s so bad, how come the Chinese used it for eons without problems? Westerners were just doing it wrong.


Sorry, just channeling the woo again. There must be a herb to prevent that…

@ Dangerous Bacon:

Supposedly *Camellia sinenis* is the drink for intellectuals, which was the opinion of one Thomas de Quincey, who is more well known for other substances he enjoyed.

Post-enlightment era coffee houses that were the scene of lively sceptical discussion served coffee, amongst other beverages.

(@ Bob G: Amen.)

As I survey Adams and other alt med proselytisers, I have become very disturbed over the past few years ( starting c. 2008, IIRC) because they began to expand their venue from health and diet advice ( most of it abysmal and unrealistic) to include economic and political topics: an intrepid foray with new areas of in-expertise ready to conquer.

Adams, in particular, has taken up libertarian- survivalist notions which allow him to sell e-books and courses/ Inner Circle events with his cronies who preach total societal collapse and “preparedness”. They also sell products for the end-times that are just around the corner: trusty flashlights, preserved organic foods, heirloom seeds, water filtration systems et al.

He claims that his lifestyle is self-sufficient and sustainable. He has gone into great detail about how he raises chickens and vegetables, has learned how to stitch up wounds ( on chicken meat) AND has become profficient at self-defence – both martial arts and using sophisticated weaponry.

Like Null ( aided by trendcaster Celente), he often prescribes investments for followers- including buying land and moving away from cities into rural areas which will be less affected by the fast-approaching societal/ economic meltdown. Both tell their enraptured audiences that one shouldn’t trust the government / public servants( all corrupt), corporations ( in league with the devil), as well as their media lackeys and professionals of all metiers ( in service to the aforementioned soul-less oligarchs). You are on your own, Mister ( Ms), but fortunately for you, you have *their* wisdom to guide you. As well as their alternative media approach to the news of the day. And their life saving products.

If you should browse through Natural News or the Progressive Radio Network, you’ll find that much of the head honchos’ ostentatious pseudo-intellectual verbal onanism- EVEN when it is about health and nutrtition- veers political in the same manipulatitve fashion that they usually apply to fear tactics about illness (e.g. ” You’ll get CANCER!”). Now it’s “Gangs will attack you in the suburbs”/ ” Starving people will steal the vegetables you raised on your land”/ ” Your money will be worthless!”

I think that it is truly pathetic that these prevaricators have large audiences and manage to sell products that bring them extremely high profit. If followers ACTUALLY follow their leads, it’s tragic.

Then, their rhetoric and mindless approach to problem solving societal issues trickles down to the tyros at sites like AoA, TMR , the Canary Party and others.

Mrs Woo
July 21, 11:08 pm

Well, sounds like you’re doing good for each other! That’s a rare and pleasant thing.

@Denice Walter 11.20 am

The survivalist/doom thing has been around for quite some time. The clever thing here is for the woofolk to know when it’s time to ride that wave again and figure out how to make bank, fame, and adulation from it.

They have a pretty smart business model, essentially turning nothing (herbs/vitamins/junk you could buy cheaper from many other sources) into a little empire.

Sure beats doing something they’re qualified for, such as selling aluminum siding.

@ Spectator:

I sometimes feel, that due to the wide dissemination of their demagoguery via the internet, that over the years, I haven’t only been observing the success of a business model BUT the growth of a cult as well.

You don’t need great verbal ability, subtle mathematical analysis or finely honed social finesse in order to manoeuvre yourself into a position of leadership by manipulating people’s emotions as well as creating mis- information to toss about.

People were/ are quite frightened during the latest ( and continuing) financial instability we’ve experienced,making them very vulnerable to those who wish to prey upon them.

@Mrs Woo
How does Mr Woo respond to the repeated failures of Celente’s etc predictions. Perhaps this is a “way in”.

Do you think the failures of the woo meisters’ economic advice is causing them to lose credibility with their flock? I now confirmation bias is powerful, but losing money tends to be a powerful lesson as well.

@ Militant Agnostic:

I think that they phrase things so that it looks as though they’re correct all the time: like Nostradamus’ prophecies, vague enough to be interpretted various ways and then, the future is always pushed forward- it may have been predicted that the total collapse will arrive in ” 18 months to 2 years ” in 2010 BUT that gets pushed forward ( see Gerald Celente’s website). Also there is such a continuously flowing stream of predictions and dire warnings, who can keep tract? Probably only a few devotees go whole hog and buy the entire package deal.

There are other purposes to this: it gets followers to believe that the woo-meister is LOOKING OUT for them- and ain’t it great to have such brilliant and powerful allies?-
AND if you’re fearful of the future, shouldn’t you at least make sure your health is perfect so that you can survive the great struggle before you? You can’t trust doctors or the government to assist you.

Again, “Oh what a tangled web…”

@Militant Agnostic – recently I was pointing out that Celente predicted the end of our economy two years ago and it still hasn’t happened. He insisted that Celente did not actually give a date back then (I know he did) and that he just said things were getting worse and they have been.

There is a knee-jerk defense when your beliefs (especially once they are ingrained enough) are challenged. No one wants to be wrong, so we immediately throw out the first defense and refuse to hear anymore – a psychic version of hands over the ears shouting “nah nah nah not listening!”

I get so angry when these people go on and on on radio, etc., like they are the ultimate authorities spreading speculation and innuendo like it is fact. I get the most angry when Mr Woo is lying awake for hours at night, trying to figure out how in the world to avoid the doom that they are preaching.

I realize it is the best thing they can do for their sales. I have to wonder if they have any conscience sometimes. How can you use manipulation like that to make people buy things?

I’m reading a book someone recommended on one of these threads about critical thinking. Since Mr Woo rarely reads many books cover to cover and this one is in electronic format, I’m considering going back and outlining it chapter by chapter and pulling out quotes of the highlights – at the very least it might get him interested. If I’m really lucky, he might actually be willing to read it on his computer and think a bit more about the dubious claims that he trusts so easily.


WRT Columbine, I lived in Denver at the time and worked in Littleton. I spent most of that day on the phone calling parents, relatives and friends. That and Jon Benet Ramsey were the two biggest news events during my time there. Both were awful in their own ways. Klebold and Stiles were bullied, Ramsey was little more than a show dog. Nobody really knows what happened and why in either case.

@Mrs Woo

Hemlock is natural, too. If your husband’s alt-med practitioner suggested he take hemlock supplements, would he do it?

@ Natural News, today:

Not content to rest upon his laurels**, Mike Adams presents three (!) more articles about the tragedy in Colorado.

** that is, if laurels are currently given for abysmal as well as superlative performance.

@Bad Poet – I would hope he wouldn’t – he has some medical knowledge (an LPN) – though it often makes me wonder why he isn’t more skeptical. My ex’s current wife just finished her BSN and assured me that I have “no idea” how little real medicine/science LPNs are actually taught.

I lived in Wheat Ridge during that time, by the way. My cousin is a pastor of a large church in Littleton and some of the Columbine students were members there. It really hit close to home for my family.

I reflect back, though, and bullying didn’t create those kinds of reactions 30 or so years ago. I was miserable and terribly alienated. At times I considered ending my own life or running away, but never considered taking out how miserable and alienated I felt by getting even and killing other people. I don’t know what has changed in our values that that kind of “getting even” is something that some consider and execute more readily now.

Oh – and more of the alternative crowd are declaring “false flag” or “handling” in this. Mr Woo listed three different places (can’t remember which ones) that he had now heard more speculation about it. Why is it more comforting to imagine secret forces making someone do this than one person who is obviously outside of normal human behavior? What makes people “go” there?


Ah Minion Woo,
“Why do they go there?” As the “there” in your aforementioned quote, this question is of considerable interest to me. What’s so appealing about me and my cohorts. Very well, it could be argued that my sleek, powerful body, covered with iridescent viridian scales would hold some appeal. And of course there are those ever poplular species traitors, the Rothschilds. Their endless and nefarious machinations in the name of the Elders of Zion would certainly appeal to the powerless as a target of fascination. And then there’s dear Egg-Queen L’izz and her bumbling, pampered brood. You’d think they’d do the human teeth better than that.
Well, I suppose I’ve answered my own question haven’t I? You monkeys can be so helpful to an Overlord in a (rare) moment of self-doubt.

Carry on, then. The first Minion to produce a lock of Mike Adams’ hair at this year’s Glaxxon PharmaCOM Phuntime Pharma Jamboree in Sedona shall win a customized Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé. I trust we’ll be seeing you all there and remember, all team members in the “three-legged races” must be bipedal. Cheaters never prosper, right?

Lord Draconis Zeneca VH7iHL
Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Subjugator General of Terra, World’s Greatest Chef (I was awarded the apron, remember?)

Glaxxon Terrabase DIA


Ah Minion Woo,
“Why do they go there?” As the “there” in your aforementioned quote, this question is of considerable interest to me. What’s so appealing about me and my cohorts. Very well, it could be argued that my sleek, powerful body, covered with iridescent viridian scales would hold some appeal. And of course there are those ever poplular species traitors, the Rothschilds. Their endless and nefarious machinations in the name of the Elders of Zion would certainly appeal to the powerless as a target of fascination. And then there’s dear Egg-Queen L’izz and her bumbling, pampered brood. You’d think they’d do the human teeth better than that.
Well, I suppose I’ve answered my own question haven’t I? You monkeys can be so helpful to an Overlord in a (rare) moment of self-doubt.

Carry on, then. The first Minion to produce a lock of Mike Adams’ hair at this year’s Glaxxon PharmaCOM Phuntime Pharma Jamboree in Sedona shall win a customized Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé. I trust we’ll be seeing you all there and remember, all team members in the “three-legged races” must be bipedal. Cheaters never prosper, right?

Lord Draconis Zeneca VH7iHL
Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Subjugator General of Terra, World’s Greatest Chef (I was awarded the apron, remember?)

Glaxxon Terrabase DIA

Denice Walter, I was driving out to Sebastopol the other day for band rehearsal when I spied a glorious 1948 MG TC in the turning lane ahead of me. Meticulously original, from it’s patina, I could tell it was no trailer princess, though it was in fabulous condition. It was resplendent in moss green lacquer with a buff toneau cover neatly buttoned around the cockpit and driver. The driver’s face was not visible to me, but I could see a lovely Hermés horsey sort of scarf peeking out from under a broad brimmed straw hat. Waiting in the heat for the light to change, the driver was spraying Evian mist all about her person with no small amount of gusto whilst Mahler blasted from her tinny radio. Then the light changed and she double-clutched and blasted off down Hall lane, no doubt intent to motor about west county with a surfeit of style (and no small amount of daring considering the marque and the heat).

For some reason, I thought of you.

Motor on! Pareidolius

@ Pareidolius:

How do you know that i spray myself with *water* (not Evian, please!) when it is too warm? I hate heat.

But I would never do Hermes. Or straw hats.
I am currently ( mostly) driving a black jeepish thing. And wearing 11 mm pearls dangling on fine chain earrings.
But it’s all attitude.

There’s a certain company that is posher than posh… last I visited, not seeing a silk scarf I really liked on display, I asked the service person if I could rummage through the drawers where they kept the extras. Of course, I was allowed and found something perfect amongst the 100+ extras present there ( imagine the sum total price of that hoard- might buy a vintage car or two). Subtle shadow-plaid grey on blue and lavender.

Recently I have discovered that I have admirers where I buy groceries. And I never wear scarves or pearls there.


Most awesome Lord Draconis – thank you so much for your encouragement and insight! I will have to see if there’s an easy way to get a lock of Mike Adam’s hair for you. I’m certain he has to get his hair cut somewhere… most human males do. A vehicle upgrade would be most useful. You could downsize, though, and just get me a new 4×4 pickup truck – I’m a rural type of minion and ever practical!

We are a perplexing sort of species – always on the brink of self-extinction but never quite getting there. More filthy lucre for the Rothschild’s, Rockefellers, Illuminati, and all. Mr Woo, in his horrifying discovery of our plans, however, has assumed that destruction is imminent. He does not realize that he is much more valuable creating and consuming than he ever would be turning into fertilizer.

@Denice – I just got the most adorable straw hat – it even has a lovely black bow. The bow, and the fact it fit my overly large head (a family curse) were what made me insistent on purchasing it. It tends to make me too warm, though, so I haven’t worn it as much as I had hoped.

I could be bathing in Evian, twice a day….if only His Lordship’s bookkeeper was current on my filthy lucre payments. (Good “help” is so hard to find).

I was *reduced* to purchasing four cases of Pellegrino water ($3 off/case in July). I had to *dress down* for my shopping jaunt at Costco… sans pearls…in favor of dungarees, T-shirt and sneakers.

DW, That’s the problem with our cyberselves vs. our meatspace lives. For me the association was the driver’s confident, iconoclastic, style and joie de vivre (plus the mystery of not being able to see a face) that reminded me of your digital self. All of which reminds me of the classic New Yorker cartoon back at the dawn of the internet age . . . on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog (or in my case, a lizard).


@ Pareidolius:

In Rl, I have always been concerned with fashion : my style might be a bit different from what you envision but it is stylish nevertheless. My father always said that people seemed to like us on first impression because we have “nice faces” so why not gild the lily?

I consider my fashion to be TransAtlantic Trad,/ Minimalist/ menswear-influenced/ Pre-Raphaelite/ post-punk and I have twisty hair which usually looks better uncombed. Not for work, though.

I have been in Sebastopol however. A building had a fake Tour d’Eifel in front. And there are refuse-sculptures.

@jkrideau – the link didn’t work. They would have been just wonderful for Mr Woo!

My sense of style is “If it’s comfortable I’m probably wearing it.”

The refuse sculptures are done by a wife and husband of French Canadian extraction and are quite delightful. I do hope you toured Florence Street to see them. As for the sad Tour Eiffel crouched on the Purple Citroën, c’est la vie, but Baby Seal Club does rock the occasional show there. Let Miss Flinders know next time you’re in town and the BF and I will buy you an amazing dinner at Forchetta/Bastoni.

@ Pareidolius:

I will certainly consider your gracious offer. Yes, I saw Florence Avenue. I liked the waitress sculpture most.

@ Krebiozen:

Rather awful, isn’t it! Although it might be educational for small children to scare them off of careers in engineering or architecture..
There is more refuse sculpture near Pareidolius – a bicycle parts obelisk in Santa Rosa, to be exact.

-btw- how are you planning to avoid the Olympics? My cousins want me to assist them in that endeavor by declaring ‘Open House’ at my place. Here. Just what I need, more drinkers who like to go shopping- life as usual.


Thank you, now I got it 😀 But, I thought massages were good for some back pains, weren’t them? It depends on how you do it, I suppose…


Sadly, I also think she would do well. She really believe that kind of things 🙁 Sigh.

Well, I caught up here, felt kind of bored and googled “chirpractic cures” (sometimes it’s fun to read things like that when it doesn’t make me mad, and it looks like I’ve got plenty of time yet). I was fascinated to see the very first entry, “World Chiropractic Association,” itself put the word “cure” in quotes in the following paragraph under the heading, “Helping the Body Heal Itself”

When the flow of nerve energy is restored, the body is often able to heal itself. Hundreds of thousands of patients report that chiropractic helped “cure” them of headaches, sinus problems, high blood pressure, ear infections, leg pain, arthritis, and many other illnesses.

Just amusing to me. Maybe I’m overtired? Maybe it’s the weather. To me, quotes insinuate that it isn’t meant to be considered in the normal definition, i.e., chicken soup “cures” the common cold…

I missed this earlier:

how are you planning to avoid the Olympics?

I can’t really, as it intrudes on my daily life whether I like it or not, so I will embrace it as best I can. I was alarmed by explosions and police sirens after midnight a couple of nights ago which turned out to be the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony. Police (and police horse dung) everywhere, ground-to-air missiles on top of local buildings, hundreds of Nigerians one day and Japanese the next. It is quite exciting despite my natural cynicism, I plan to have a wander around the outside tomorrow and take some photos.

@ Krebiozen:

I am still trying to wrap my head around how it will transpire- such a brilliant idea, have hundreds of thousands of visitors descend upon a place where there are already millions, congestion, traffic,
Well, it might help the economy.


If you grow roses, take a sack with you!

Some of it may end up in our compost bin! A couple of days ago I was treated to the bizarre sight of a man in a road sweeping vacuum cleaner thingy going backwards and forwards over some still moist horse dung, which as you might imagine was not entirely successful.

I will be amazed if it all goes off without something going badly wrong, our public transport system is creaky at the best of times. It may help the economy, it certainly needs it after yesterday’s negative growth figures, but all the money is going into the pockets of big business, and local people will get very little benefit. Same as it ever was really.

I also meant to add that Roman Abramovich and BIll Gates’s enormous yachts have just arrived in the Thames. McDonalds has monopolized food at the Olympic Park with a big iron clown fist – no other food allowed in, and a friend said it cost him £20 (about 40 bucks) for a sandwich and 2 cokes. Our Victorian sewage system is also creaking under the additional strain so there is a malodorous stench hanging in the air (so I’m told, I’m currently anosmic) – the Thames flows west to east getting filthier as it goes, which is why east end of London has always been the poor smelly end.


@ Krebiozen

A couple of days ago I was treated to the bizarre sight of a man in a road sweeping vacuum cleaner thingy going backwards and forwards over some still moist horse dung, which as you might imagine was not entirely successful.

They should have found what the City of Calgary uses. They have several such units interspersed in the Stampede Parade (lots of cowboys on horses, Indians on horses, politicians on horses etc.).

@Militant Agnostic,

They should have found what the City of Calgary uses.

Foresight doesn’t seem to have been the organizers’ strong point. They forgot to include a police station in the Olympic village so they have built a huge temporary one on some green space a couple of miles away. I took a stroll around it early this morning. This means the police horses have a two mile trot to the Olympic village and back (past my apartment) every day, leaving the inevitable in their wake. Normally I only see police horses when West Ham are playing at home.

@ Krebiozen:

I’m sure I’ll hear awe-inspiring reports from the cousins not fortunate enough to have escaped. I think that you are closer to ground zero. Good luck with the inevitable horse issue and transport.

The only experiences I have with international sporting events all involve Grand Slam tennis which is probably very different : you wear nice clothes, eat refined,over-priced food, have lovely, over-priced drinks and meet odd people from all over the globe. Last year at the US, I spent an hour- in the shade- with a Japanese woman about my age whose English as nearly as abysmal as my Japanese, discussing various participant ladies’ newly debuted tennis outfits. Then someone from Eastern Europe ( I think) asked me out. I swear, it’s a hard life.

-btw- the Olympics’ tennis involves players well-known from the Grand Slams- altho’ I’ve just heard that Herr Federer is out. Good to watch. On television.

Talking of refuse sculptures,I just discovered that the Olympic ArcelorMittal Orbital sculpture, a javelin’s throw from where I type this, is made out of old washing machines and cars. Unfortunately it looks like it.

Holy cats. It’s like one of John Christopher’s Tripods gone horribly awry.

Denice, did you used to pose for those Mont Blanc pen ads? I think I want to be you when I grow up…

@ Krebiozen:

I now hear Roger’s still in…

@ Narad:

You know, I used to think that Bad Art could be good but then I saw Jeff Koons’ Balloon Animal Sculptures.

@ Shay:

I ‘m on the right track, I was born this way**. I am descended from a long line of middle class business- types who ‘clean up’ spectacularly well and are usually mistaken for the posh. Apparently, it comes through in writing. My father said it was really about what we looked and sounded like more than what we did.

-btw- I’m not that old.

** my apologies to Ms Gaga

I need to work on my presence then. The only people who ever ask me out are overweight TSA screeners who invite me back to their apartments to watch Dr. Who.

@ Shay:

But Dr Who is a sign of taste!
Although I get asked out etc by interesting and exotic men ( most recently a South American), I don’t follow through because I have an ex and SO- who are enough trouble. Vaguely like older but partially dependent siblings always in need of something. Can you fix this, D? WIll you be around later so we can talk? Will you drive? It’s endless.

@Denice – sounds kind of like my life – I am “technical support” for Mr Woo, and the ex weaseled quite a bit out of me over time and used to have a bad habit of borrowing tools and power tools from me. That ended when I bought a table saw. I had assembled, it, etc., and was really quite excited to get to use it. He announced that he had to “show me” because they are so dangerous. First thing he did was remove or flip away all of the safety features. On the first cut he managed to take of a good size chunk of thumb (and I learned that that makes an entirely different noise than the whine of saw blade through wood). Ended up having to get him to the ER on that – told him on the way there that he was done ever getting to use my power tools anymore. Too much liability. 😉

@ Mrs Woo:

Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with power tools.
However, there have been other interesting injuries such as putting sports tape on burned skin and later ripping off a piece large enough that most people which become alarmed and assume they required medical attention and using heat-damaged ( stored in car) asthma inhalers that produced no effect and then avoiding medical services. The other one is depressed.

@Denice – the funniest thing about the ex is he has been asking to borrow that same table saw for almost two years now – he apparently does not believe me when I say, “you may never borrow my power tools again,” even though he hasn’t been allowed so much as my cordless drill since the table saw incident.

Nothing is more frustrating than when people cause their own problems and then run to someone for help some days… sports tape on burned skin, heat-damaged inhalers… ~sigh~

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