Who can quack the loudest?

Over the years this blog’s been in existence, I’ve fallen into a habit in which I tend to like to finish off the week taking on a bit of science (well, usually pseudoscience) that is either really out there, really funny, or in general not as heavy as, for example, writing about someone like Stanislaw Burzysnki. Indeed, for nearly two years, I even turned into a feature, Your Friday Dose of Woo. Eventually, I got a bit tired of being straitjacketed into having to find something kooky or wacky every Friday, and I let the feature lapse. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still deliver an occasional Friday Dose of Woo, but now I do it on my schedule and when I feel like it, rather than having forced myself into doing it every single Friday. Things are much better that way.

This week, there were two candidates for doing another Friday Dose of Woo, “inspiring” me to want to do one. The problem was, I couldn’t pick. Think about it. Which one of these would you pick? There was a post talking about Gian Paolo Vanoli, who is apparently a 70-year-old Italian scientist, journalist and, unfortunately, antivaccinationist. What brought Vanoli attention outside of Italy is is apparent belief that vaccines turn you gay. No, I kid you not. That’s really what he has said and really the view he promotes:

The vaccine is introduced into the child, the child then grows and tries to find its own personality, and if this is inhibited by mercury or other substances present in the vaccine which enter the brain, the child becomes gay. The problem will especially be present in the next generations, because when gays have children, the children will carry along with them the DNA of their parent’s illness. Because homosexuality is a disease, even though the WHO has decided that it is not. Who cares! The reality is that it is so. Each vaccination produces homosexuality, because it prevents the formation of one’s personality. It is a microform of autism, if you will. You will see how many gays there will be in the next generation, it will be a disaster.

That’s right. According to Vanoli, not only are vaccines so powerful that they can turn a child gay, but they apparently rewrite the child’s DNA to produce heritable changes that lead to the gayness being passed on to any children the vaccinated child goes on to have when he or she grows up. There’s so much wrong in the paragraph above that it goes beyond black hole density when it comes to wrongness. I realize that that’s not possible for matter, but such amazing stupidity is capable of doing things that matter cannot, and one of those things is to become even denser than the densest black hole. Indeed, if Vanoli had the least bit of quack savvy, he would have invoked the alternative medicine magic of epigenetics to explain everything (and, remember, in the world of quacks, epigenetics, just like quantum, can do anything), but apparently he’s too ignorant to do even that.

First off, the amount of mercury in childhood vaccines is at most trace amounts these days. Second, even if significant quantities of mercury were in vaccines, there’s no evidence that mercury exposure is in any way associated with homosexuality. But even that’s not enough for Vanoli. He seems to view homosexuality as a form of autism, again without evidence. The phrase “so wrong he’s not even wrong” comes to mind. Or it would, at least until Vanoli “surpasses” himself:

“But we have to say that it’s an illness, something that does not respect the order of life,” he told the outlet. “One of the main causes is represented by vaccines, which go against life, disturbing our mind and our spirit. The proof of that is the big increase in the number of homosexuals. Since mass vaccination began, this is the result.”

Of course, there is no evidence that the prevalence of homosexuality has been increasing. There is, however, evidence that gays are more accepted and therefore more of them are “coming out,” which can give the appearance that there are more homosexuals. Maybe Vanoli would prefer it if gays were still all in the closet! Whatever the case, Vanoli is as antivaccine as any American or British antivaccinationist. In this article in Italian (which I perused, thanks to Google Translate), he rants against vaccines, claiming to be an “expert on vaccines,” saying, “One of the worst things you can do to the immune system is to vaccinate a child. The vaccine suspends the formation of the immune system.”

Uh no. Not even close.

As I said, though, Vanoli is an all purpose quack. In particular, he is enamored of urine therapy, claiming that it can cure any disease, even cancer.

However, on this particular Friday, Vanoli, as nutty as he is, was outdone. He was outdone in a big way by an old “friend.” I’m referring of course to that all-encompassing crank extraordinaire, that New World Order conspiracy theorist and antiscience loon, Mike Adams. Not content with his usual antiscience rants, Adams decides he needs to publish not one, but ten such rants under the umbrella title of Top ten ways humanity is being murdered in the name of ‘evidence-based science’.

The first thing I can’t help but mention is that “evidence-based science” is rather redundant. Science, by its very definition, is evidence-based. The only reason that the term “evidence-based medicine” was coined is because medicine is not, strictly speaking, a science, hence the use of the term to emphasize that medicine should be based in evidence. However, there are other considerations, such as each patient’s unique situation, that can impact the application of evidence to individual patients. The same is true of science, when the term science-based medicine was coined. In any case, the ten items in Adams’ “Top Ten” list of medical evils are the usual suspects. I’ll “cherry pick” my favorites (based, of course, on my usual blogging propensities) and let you, my readers, have some fun with the rest of Adams’ list, which he introduces thusly:

Of all the threats to humanity today, none is more destructive than modern-day “evidence-based science.” And by the word “science,” I don’t mean the humble pursuit of knowledge using genuine scientific methods. What I mean is the dogmatic, corporate-driven brand of distorted science based on falsified evidence, bribery of gatekeepers and corruption of government regulators.

That “science” is killing us all with hormone disruptors, hidden food chemicals, heavy metals, genetic engineering and neurological disruptors. The pushers of this corporate-driven “evidence-based science” claim to be aiding humanity, yet their actions prove they are only destroying the health of the population and the future viability of the life-sustaining ecosystem as well.

The most amusing thing about this little introductory screed is how Adams apparently views himself as a judge of what is and is not good science. Now there’s some chutzpah! This is, after all, a man who never met a form of pseudoscience he didn’t like, parrots every lie about vaccines that the antivaccine movement can come up with, and portrays the evidence-based use of chemotherapy as Nazi-like doctors marching women into concentration camp-like structures to be forced to be injected with “poison.” Basically, if Adams supports a treatment, chances are it’s the purest of pure quackeries, all justified with a heapin’ helpin’ of conspiracy theories. First up, not surprisingly, are genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Adams is not known for subtlety or logic, and he maintains that reputation here:

Given the deadly results of consuming GMOs, every “scientist” who pushes GMOs is an indirect murderer. To push this dangerous technology without any long-term safety testing whatsoever is a violation of the “precautionary principle” that used to be honored in scientific circles. But caution has been abandoned in favor of corporate profits, and now it’s all about selling more food, seeds and chemicals, regardless of how many men, women and children are killed or damaged in the process.

When you see a “scientist” arguing in favor of GMOs, think to yourself, “That’s a homicidal maniac” because widespread death is the ultimate result of their irresponsible, dangerous actions.

I guess I must be Hannibal Lecter, then, because I consider the furor over GMOs to be overblown. Indeed, I laughed when Adams used a particularly bad recent study to justify his rant. I covered that study in depth back in September. Suffice to say that it was some of the worst science I have ever seen. No wonder Mike Adams likes it so much. But, then, what do I know? I’m obviously a homicidal maniac.

Next up, unsurprisingly, are vaccines. The only thing that surprised me, in fact, was that vaccines weren’t the first on Adams’ hit list. After all, any good crank believes that vaccines are the root of all evil and disease, not to mention the cause of bad breath. Adams’ bit on vaccines consists of the usual antivaccine tropes, right down to the particularly vile claim by antivaccinationists that the “shaken baby syndrome” is a misdiagnosis for vaccine injury, but one caught my eye, as I was unfamiliar with it:

Over 145,000 children have been murdered by vaccines over the past two decades. Babies that receive the most vaccines are also the most likely to be hospitalized (or die). Furthermore, when pregnant women are injected with flu shots, it results in a 4,250% increase in fetal deaths.

When you encounter a doctor, a nurse or a pharmacist recommending a vaccine and telling you it’s “perfectly safe” with “no side effects,” think to yourself, “That’s a lying child killer!”

And remember, vaccines are pushed in the name of “evidence-based science.” It’s all “scientific,” they say, to inject your child with mercury and watch as they experience convulsions, comas or death. Yet there is actually no science whatsoever to demonstrate that vaccines improve the health outcomes of children. The vaccine pushers are terrified of comparing vaccinated children against non-vaccinated children, because they know the non-vaccinated children are far healthier. So the studies are never done, and the vaccine myths are pushed via propaganda instead of real evidence.

I guess I’m not just a homicidal maniac, but a lying child killer, too. Well, if Adams thinks I’m one, I’ll wear the mantle proudly, because being called a child killer by Adams is a mark of honor for anyone with a science-based perspective on medicine—or life, for that matter. In the meantime, I couldn’t help but notice that Adams’ claim that babies who receive the most vaccines are the most likely to be hospitalized is based on a truly bad study that I already blogged in detail a mere three months ago by Neil Z. Miller and Gary S. Goldman, two antivaccine “researchers” who think they know what they’re doing but in reality epitomize the arrogance of ignorance. What about the claim that flu shots result in a massive increase in fetal deaths? Nonsense, of course. Isn’t it funny how I’ve already covered most of the pseudoscience and quackery that Adams is laying down? No, it’s not.

Some of the other things Adams attacks include, not surprisingly fluoride and, of course, pharmaceuticals. Indeed, of pharmaceuticals, Adams says:

Every drug-dealing doctor who pushes statin drugs, ADHD drugs, blood pressure drugs or antidepressants is a criminal co-conspirator of the drug cartels. Every one of them should be indicted for poisoning their patients with deadly chemicals, yet under the label of “science” this mass poisoning continues.

Hyperbole, much, Mikey?

Particular bile is reserved for chemotherapy, which is a frequent target of quacks because, well, it works, and quacks hate that. Mikey is no exception. He starts out with a Godwin, talking about mustard gas derivatives that produced the first chemotherapy drugs and then saying that the “Nazis got their hands on the technology.” Never mind that these drugs’ use as chemotherapies wasn’t actually appreciated until the postwar period. The number of lies and the sheer quantity of misinformation in this brief article is truly astonishing. I’ve covered most of it before, including the distortion that most physicians refuse to undergo chemotherapy themselves, which is completely untrue. Meanwhile, he cites a study that shows that tumor cells can secrete a protein (WNT16B) that can increase the growth and invasiveness of surrounding cancer cells. Of course, he neglects to note that this was a preclinical study and didn’t actually show that this happens in humans and that it generated hypotheses to test to increase the efficacy of chemotherapy.

All of this leads Adams to say:

Cancer clinics need not show ANY positive results from their treatments. If a patient dies from the chemo, everyone says they “died of cancer.” If the patient lives, they are heralded as a “cancer survivor,” after which they have a 95% chance of the chemo causing new cancers, resulting in yet more revenues for the cancer centers. No cancer center blames patient deaths on the poisons being dripped into their veins.

First off, as usual, Adams is wrong when he says that cancer survivors have a 95% chance of their chemotherapy causing new cancers. It’s nowhere near that high. Moreover, oncologists do not hide or deny the risk to patients. They lay it on the line and are very honest about the possibility. Indeed, there are multiple publications (like this one) that estimate the risks (which are more on the order of single digit percentages than 95%), and the frikkin’ American Cancer Society even has a large and detailed web page on the subject.

When it comes to One Crank To Rule Them All, there’s only one right now that I can think of, and it’s Mike Adams. Poor Gian Paolo Vanoli. He didn’t have a chance. In a war of woo, he only has a few weapons, such as urine therapy and claiming vaccines cause homeosexuality. Adams has mastered every form of quackery and crankery. Few are in his league, and we should be grateful for this.