# The previously undiscovered organ known as the “interstitium” revisited: The Deepak Chopra connection

Yesterday, Orac discussed a widely hyped new scientific finding of a “new organ” known as the interstitium, , in which the Neil Theise and his co-authors suggested that their findings might “explain” acupuncture. Today, Orac realizes that the woo goes much, much deeper. Deepak Chopra, anyone?

Yesterday, wrote about some rather interesting science that’s already been invoked as a potential mechanism by which acupuncture can work. I’m referring to the “interstitium,” which was the subject of a number of stories last week about how this finding represented the discovery of a hitherto unknown new organ. I, of course, was less than impressed.

If you want the details of just what the interstitium is and how it was discovered, check out yesterday’s post. The CliffsNotes version is that the interstitium is a network of fluid-filled spaces in various organs that appear to communicate with the lymphatic system and could serve as the conduit for immune proteins and cells, a repository for “third space” fluid, a potential “shock absorber” for cells, and even a route for cancer cells to metastasize. However interesting this discovery is, it is a stretch to call the interstitium a new organ, however. At the time, I thought that the person responsible for the “interstitium as a previously undiscovered new organ” narrative had to have been some PR flack at NYU who promoted that narrative in a press release, even though no mention of a new organ is found in the actual paper reporting the discovery of the interstitium. Maybe, I speculated, Neil Theise, the pathologist whose observations sparked the study, had been played and just decided to go along with the study. Partially arguing against that was his invocation of his discovery as a potential mechanism by which acupuncture might work, but I gave Theise the benefit of the doubt.

That was a mistake, as I discovered when a friend pointed me in the direction of some more information and after Kavin Senapathy published an article in Slate yesterday showing that Theise is very much into New Age nonsense, to the point of apparently being tight with, of all people, Deepak Chopra. But, first, his Twitter feed:

That’s right. There’s Dr. Theise on the very same day his study was published online by Scientific Reports, touting the claim that he and his team had discovered a new organ. Not only that, but he tagged Deepak Chopra and Menas C. Kafatos, who co-authored You Are The Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters, as well as Carolyn Rangel, President of Deepak Chopra LLC, and Rudy Tanzi, who’s co-authored multiple books with Chopra, including Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being. He also tagged the Twitter feed for Science & Nonduality, whose website demonstrates some serious woo. I also note that Dr. Theise tags these people a lot. A lot.

Interestingly, this Twitter feed for someone going by the handle of Interstitium was created in March 2018 and, as of the time I wrote this last night, only 18 Tweets. All of them are about the “interstitium” as described in Theise’s paper. This Twitter feed almost certainly must belong to Theise as well. In a way, I’ll give the guy credit. Some of the Tweets are kind of funny:

Theise is also touting his paper on his own Twitter feed:

He also describes himself as a “consciousness theorist,” which to me is a red flag for major woo:

Indeed, in May Dr. Theise is scheduled to speak at the Sivanada Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas, where he, along with Chopra’s co-conspirator Menas Kafatos, along with Debashish Banerjee and Swami Brahmananda will “further explore the intersection of consciousness, or Brahman, and human perception,” as well as:

• How universal awareness gives rise to the universe through the experiencing process
• How different states of consciousness create different realities
• How consciousness will inform the future of medicine, technology, and social well-being
• Qualia-based medicine such as Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, qigong, and energy healing
• The relationship of qualia to subtle energy fields, the chakras,  the Buddhist wheel of awareness, and sacred geometry
• Shared resonance of qualia through community.

That’s some serious woo there. I also discovered a whole lot of other woo. Indeed, seeing Theise’s Twitter feed and doing some searches on his name revealed a whole lot. I also learned in this report:

What’s next for Theise, Carr-Locke, and Benias? They’re bracing for feedback, but looking forward to the as-yet-unexplored, boundary-pushing potential of the interstitium. Theise said their team had submitted their paper to eight different journals (one sending the feedback that a new organ was “not of interest to a general audience”) before finally being accepted by Scientific Reports.

I wondered in my last post why, if this finding were so groundbreaking, it had been published in Scientific Reports, an open access journal published by Nature Publishing Group that has been known for a propensity to publish dubious studies promoting New Age nonsense and even antivaccine pseudoscience. Now, I will admit to some articles that I have submitted to more than one journal before they were finally accepted. However, eight is a whole lot. My personal record for the number of journals I’ve submitted the same manuscript to before it was accepted is only four, and after that I swore I would never bother to submit to that many journals again, given how much of a pain that it was. I can only wonder which journals they submitted to and how far down the scale they had to go to get into Scientific Reports. On the other hand, in terms of impact factor, Scientific Reports is not too shabby at 4.259. Be that as it may, much is explained by this observation, namely that a lot of journals either weren’t interested or found serious deficiencies in Theise’s manuscript.

I also learned from Senapathy that it wasn’t just Science Friday or The Cut that included Theise’s musings on how the “interstitium” could explain acupuncture and other alternative medicine modalities. It was CNN and Business Insider too. She also confirmed what I started figuring out by looking at Theise’s Twitter feed:

Theise is a liver pathologist and stem cell researcher. He has long been interested in legitimizing alternative medicine practices. He’s collaborated with alternative medicine and New Age movement mogul Deepak Chopra on articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos, even speaking at a Chopra Center seminar. In 2003, he wrote in Tricycle, a western Buddhist perspective magazine, on how his meditations helped him discover “the synergy between dharma practice and scientific inquiry.”

I started perusing some of the links I found about Theise, and this is an understatement. For instance, Theise has a website. His biography asserts:

Subsequently, while continuing laboratory and clinical research, he has extended his work to areas of theoretical biology and complexity theory, defining a “post-modern biology.” These ideas suggest that alternate models of the body, other than Cell Doctrine, may be necessary to understand non-Western approaches to the body and health.

Uh-oh. He believes that there has to be some sort of special pleading in the description of human biology, an alternate model of the body, to understand “non-Western” approaches to health. A perusal of his CV shows that he’s long been giving talks on various similar topics. He’s been a Zen Buddhist for a number of years, and it’s become apparent that his religious beliefs are very much intruding into his science. He’s featured on the Chopra Center website, and that’s never a good sign as far as a person’s attitude towards woo goes.

However, I was curious just what Theise meant by his assertion that alternate models of the body might be necessary to understand “non-Western” approaches to the body and health. It didn’t take me long to find his 2009 article, Beyond Cell Doctrine: Complexity Theory Informs Alternate Models of the Body for Cross‐Cultural Dialogue. The first part of the article starts out with a bit of an exaggeration, representing “cell theory” as the be-all and end-all of “Western” medicine and biology, citing multiple papers in which he argues that stem cells and our newer understanding of cellular plasticity somehow means that cell theory is “incomplete.” Cell theory, of course, is the theory that all organisms are made up of cells, that they are the basic structural and organizational unit of all organisms, and that all cells come from preexisting cells. The modern version of cell theory takes into account newer discoveries in science since the time cells were first identified and cell theory solidified a couple hundred years ago, such as the ideas that energy flow occurs within cells, heredity information flows between cells, and that cells have the basic chemical composition.

Theise’s basic idea seems to be that stem cell plasticity, the trafficking of cells between organs, recent insights regarding stem cells, repression and de-repression of gene expression, and the application of Complexity Theory to cell and molecular biology all call for the reevaluation of cell theory. In his paper on cross-cultureal dialogue and how alternative models of the body could allow us to “understand non-Western medicine” he starts out making some provocative, but not too out there, observations. For instance:

What if the technology had been different? What if the first structures visible with the new technology had been the nuclei, not cell walls or membranes? Then, a very different answer to the ancient debate would have been conceived. The body would indeed look like an endlessly divisible fluid, only with small little globes suspended in it. Twenty years later, with the advent of histochemical staining to demonstrate cell membranes, the fluid theory of the body would not have been jettisoned; rather, the new structures perhaps would have been described as semi permeable partitioning of the fluid continuum.

This is an interesting speculation, but it doesn’t really tell us how this alternate model of the body would have changed medicine. Yes, it’s true that what the body looks like will change depending upon the scale we chose to use, as Theise argues:

Changing scale will also yield other possible models. A nanoscopic view of the body is quite different than a microscopic view. Cells cease to exist at that finer scale level; indeed the body itself ceases to be apparent. The body’s functions become dominated by quantum effects very different from effects seen at higher scale, some of which even clearly manifest at higher levels. Examples of biologically relevant quantum effects include the importance of quantum tunneling for the energy requirements of some enzymatic action23, 24 and the above described role of Brownian motion in providing energy of movement for interacting single molecules as described above.

Quantum. Yes he went there. No wonder he likes Deepak Chopra so much. He also takes the simple observation that the structure of the body looks like at different levels of scale, and how cell theory is not a useful model molecular scale, and tries to apply it to “Eastern” medicine by portraying such “non-Western” medicine as looking at the body from a different scale, like looking at it as a fluid interrupted by membranes or at a subcellular level. it does not go well. First, after stating that prejudice against acupuncture isn’t the only thing that makes it difficult to study in the West, but a very simple other observation. Basically, he admits that there is no anatomic correlate for acupuncture points or meridians. Because of that:

To explain it in Western terms, we must identify what is going on structurally at the acupuncture points. Yet if one dissects these areas, one does not find an underlying anatomic structure that is readily described by our standard categories: there are no nerves, lymphovascular structures, tendons, fascial planes, or muscle fibers at these points or along the meridians. If they cannot be described in terms of our standard gross anatomy, they cannot be described by cells, the building blocks of that anatomy. Thus, it appears that the model of cell doctrine is, at least to date, inherently incapable of explaining acupuncture. While it is a consistent model and thus successfully produces hypotheses concerning many observable bodily phenomena, which can be tested and refined, it is also an incomplete model.

That’s right. Because “Western” medical models like cell theory can’t explain acupuncture, to Theise these models must be incomplete. In other words, if there are no structures in whatever model in “Western medicine” you like to choose that can explain acupuncture, he’ll just accept the non-evidence-based models postulated by quacks:

Tibetan medicine speaks of different “bodies” which co‐exist within our single body: a coarse body, a subtle body, and an energy body. Previously, these phrases always conjured in my imagination overlapping, superimposed “bodies” that were independent of each other and probably only metaphorical (my typically Western bias).

However, when discussing how the body might function or appear at different levels of scale in small groups of American and Tibetan doctors and scientists, the possibility that there was more substance to these terms became apparent. Is it possible that “other bodies” of the Tibetan and other systems actually correspond to our bodies at different levels of scale? If so, can we appreciate medical philosophy and science of other cultural systems, such as the Tibetan system, not as naïve metaphor, but as poetically expressed, yet still precise approaches to considering how the body is put together and might be repaired if injured?

Various changes in perspective and scale of observation lead to alternate possible models–also incomplete but possibly also of great use–that may reveal the accuracy of some Asian models, despite the seemingly metaphorical terminology employed in those systems (from a Euro‐American perspective). Limiting ourselves to cell doctrine means that some bodily phenomena may remain resistant to cell‐based hypothesis formation and testing.

In other words, it science doesn’t support acupuncture, change the models science uses until it does. Notice the assumption here, which is that acupuncture works and that if acupuncture works there must be some mechanism that explains it. If “Western” medical models, like cell theory, do not provide an explanation for acupuncture, then they must be incomplete. That is the crux of Theise’s argument. Again, Theise is wrong in his very premise. Acupuncture doesn’t work. As I like to say, it doesn’t matter where the needles are placed. It doesn’t even matter if the needles are placed. Indeed, twirling toothpicks against the skin produces the same effect. Basically, acupuncture is nothing more than a theatrical placebo. It does not work any more than placebo. He even tries to invoke a bastardized version of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which he calls “cellular uncertainty”:

When we first proposed this principle, the reference to Heisenberg (“cellular uncertainty”) was intended to be more metaphorical than real. However, we now see that, as with elementary particles, “cellular uncertainty” is not an artifact, a limitation of our incomplete technological abilities to study the cell. Rather, a cell’s existence is contingent on the level of scale at which the body is observed. Without inherent, scale‐independent existence the cell is by definition “uncertain” precisely in the meaning of Heisenberg: by examining the cell we change the cell.

I can sense the physicists in my readership grinding their collective teeth. Basically, Theise seems to be making the common mistake of confusing the uncertainty principle, which states that there is a limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, known as complementary variables, such as position x and momentum p, can be known, and the observer effect, which notes that measurements can’t be made of certain systems without changing something in the system. Here’s the thing. The observer effect can be quantified. By itself, that the observer effect exists for a system doesn’t mean the model that system represents is incomplete. I do so love bad analogies to physics, and I suspect my physicist readers will have more to say, maybe even to tell me I got it all wrong. Hey, I’m just a simple surgeon, but I suspect I understand these things better than Theise does. Let’s just put it this way. Theise seems to be going even beyond confusing the uncertainty principle with observer effects. The changes in the cells and other biological structures that occur from our observing them are really artifacts of the technology we use to measure them, such as the need to fix cells for histology or isolate DNA to sequence it. I’ll point out that he has published the same sort of argument on the Chopra Center website and here.

If you don’t believe how far down the rabbit hole Dr. Theise has gone, take a look at some video interviews he did with Deepak Chopra. First, here he is in a preview of a longer interview (which requires a subscription to Curiosity Stream), going deep into Choprawoo about evolution and the “sentient universe” in which the two ask if consciousness is the driver of evolution:

“There is sentience at all levels, from ultramicroscopic to galactic”? Ugh. What’s being peddled in the video is basically just warmed over intelligent design creationism, substituting the “sentience of the universe” as the guiding force for evolution instead of God. It’s the sort of drivel that Chopra is known for, given that Chopra detests the idea that evolution could be a random process (he also hates the idea that behavior can be deterministic), and has spewed many times over the years. No wonder Theise and Chopra are buds.

Here he is in 2016 being interviewed by Chopra for Sages and Scientists:

In this, we learn that Theise is heavily into “nonduality” and consciousness. For some reason, most of the video is blackscreen after the first four minutes or so. If you want the full effect of Theise’s views, though, check out this appearance at Chopra’s Sages & Scientists in 2013:

And here he is at Chopra’s conference in 2014, in which he talks about liver transplant recipients who have memories from the donor, as though the donor’s liver somehow transfers memories its previous owner to the recipient:

Michael Shermer tries to add some skepticism to this whole discussion, but he’s mostly outnumbered, the token skeptic. That year, Chopra also apparently wanted evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, but Coyne rebuffed him. Be that as it may, clearly Neil Theise is tight with Deepak Chopra. He seems to show up at Chopra’s conferences almost every year.

After learning all that I have about Neil Theise, I’ve been thinking about his “discovery” of the “interstitium.” Knowing what I know now about how he views “cell theory” to be incomplete because it doesn’t provide a means of explaining acupuncture, I can’t help but view the “interstitium” as he describes it in a different way. Specifically, I’m a hell of a lot more skeptical that this is a real finding that will stand up to scrutiny by other scientists. After all, a close relationship with Deepak Chopra does not exactly imbue me with confidence that Neil Theise is dedicated to rigorous science. In fact, I now strongly suspect that Theise “discovered” the interstitium because it is the sort of discovery that confirms his preexisting beliefs and provides him a means of “explaining” how acupuncture and other alternative medicine can supposedly produce systemic effects from local manipulation, because, above all, he believes that acupuncture works even though it is only a theatrical placebo. Indeed, until I see other scientists not associated with Deepak Chopra reproduce some of Theise’s key findings, I’m just going to file this “discovery” of the “interstitium” in the “unproven and probably false” category.

## 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]

## 57 replies on “The previously undiscovered organ known as the “interstitium” revisited: The Deepak Chopra connection”

Leigh Jacksonsays:

Given where he’s coming from his “discovery” is likely to prove to be nothing worth writing home about, or simply nothing at all. I am not holding my breath. He’s just another mystically minded quantum loony. Some big name physicists have also been so. One can’t entirely blame non-physicists for jumping aboard the magical quantum mystical tour. Heisenberg himself suggested a plausible physical reason for measurement uncertainty when the measuring instrument is a photon. Nothing at all to do with observation. Nothing at all to do with the observer. There’s physics and there’s mystics. The two do not fit together well.

Grahamsays:

I did notice in one of Theise’s tweets they were linking it to ‘Science’ which is a species of postmodernism, there is a good video series b y King Crocoduck covering just how postmodernism, which started out as literary criticism has metastasized throughout most Universities resulting in things like this happening.

As a Marxist myself.I agree with many of the ideas put forth by Dr.Harding,and others who have latched on to her teachings,and others like her.Especially in the area of intersectionality.Scientists are human.and can’t help but bring their biases about the outside world into their research.I detect a strong right-wing bias in the videos you posted.

Marx and Engels both greatly admired Darwin,and his work,something the videos you link to fail to mention.Marx himself said Darwin’s ideas greatly mirrored his own ideas of class struggle,but Marx did see limitations on Darwinism.

Trofim Lysenko is a man largely ignored in modern (neo) communist circles,if he is discussed at all.Admiring Stalin and Mao,does not mean agreeing with everything they did.The videos here fail to mention,after Stalin’s death,Lysenko’s teachings fell into disrepute,in the USSR,were discredited,and pretty much wiped from the collective memory,by Khrushchev’s reforms.Also we must view Lysenko in the light of what science knew about genetics in his time,not by what we know now.Lysenko is viewed as a revisionist of Darwinism,whose ideas are seen as failed and discredited by most modern socialists and communists.

Old Rockin' Davesays:

Trofim Lysenko was well aware of Gregor Mendel’s work and more; he just chose to ignore it all.
As for his fall from grace, Kruschev came to power in 1953 and kept Lysenko in his power. It took until the mid-’60s for physicists to call him out; physicists, because he had left no credible bioscientists standing.
I disagree when you say “Admiring Stalin and Mao,does not mean agreeing with everything they did.” Yes, it does. Nothing they did, nothing they were, was admirable. When someone is as awful as they and their sycophants and yes-men were, you have to throw out the little good they did along with the vast amounts of evil they did. To do less is to make yourself into one of those sparrows picking through horse manure for undigested seeds.

mdfinfersays:

I regret that I seem to have been excessively kind yesterday in trying to explain this entire affair. I think it is clear now that the press release probably originated, at least in part, from Neil. I was not aware of his “other side.”

sirhctonsays:

It looks like Theise (and possibly Wells) successfully gamed the generally poor state of current science reporting. Lots of publicity at first, with a few, and hopefully more, reports catching up to the details. We can only hope the situation causes at least some mild re-examination and reform by those that got played. I am not sanguine about it, though.

Tibetan medicine speaks of different “bodies” which co‐exist within our single body: a coarse body, a subtle body, and an energy body. Previously, these phrases always conjured in my imagination overlapping, superimposed “bodies” that were independent of each other and probably only metaphorical (my typically Western bias).

However, when discussing how the body might function or appear at different levels of scale in small groups of American and Tibetan doctors and scientists, the possibility that there was more substance to these terms became apparent. Is it possible that “other bodies” of the Tibetan and other systems actually correspond to our bodies at different levels of scale? If so, can we appreciate medical philosophy and science of other cultural systems, such as the Tibetan system, not as naïve metaphor, but as poetically expressed, yet still precise approaches to considering how the body is put together and might be repaired if injured?

Various changes in perspective and scale of observation lead to alternate possible models–also incomplete but possibly also of great use–that may reveal the accuracy of some Asian models, despite the seemingly metaphorical terminology employed in those systems (from a Euro‐American perspective). Limiting ourselves to cell doctrine means that some bodily phenomena may remain resistant to cell‐based hypothesis formation and testing.

Maybe it’s weird but the notion that the exotic Far East may have had this right all along but only Theise, as an enlightened Westerner, can explain how it is correct seems a little condescending to me.

JustaTechsays:

More than a little condescending, not to mention arrogant and at least a little racist. Ugh. (Theise, not you cosmicaug.)
Why does this have to be a thing? Why does it have to be all mystical and … stuff? Why can’t it just be cool science?

In his profile he forgot to include “narcissist” and “egomaniac”.

His argument against “cell doctrrine” is against a straw man. As if modern human biology does not know about DNA, mitochondria, blood flow, ion channels, etc etc. There is no “doctrine”.

I wish I still had my Tibetan cookbook.

Renatesays:

#LGBTscience! MD, Liver pathologist, anatomist (new anatomy of “the interstitium” of every human organ SOON), stem cell biologist, philosopher of science (Godel anyone?), consciousness theorist. Breaking social/science boundaries x30! Queer science is thinking outside the box!

This gives me some weird feelings. LGBTscience? Is that in some way different from real science? Please count me out. My defenition of science is not different than the ordinary defenition of science. Queer science? Again count me out. Thinking outside the box, doesn’t mean making things up. Producing BS has nothing to do with being queer.

Old Rockin' Davesays:

LGBT science? But is there an LGBTQ approach to science? Of course not, no. Either something is science or it is not.
But there is another meaning that needs to be differentiated. As someone in the LGBTQ community, I can confirm that some LGBTQ science is needed, although not in the sense that they mean it. We have been dismissed and passed over for too long in the “human” sciences. Much of what has been accepted doctrine, past and present, has been assumption and assertion based on bias and/or ignorance than scientific approaches like investigation, experimentation, or reverting to that ancient technique called “just f***ing ask us!”

Renatesays:

That’s a different kettle of fish altogether. But in this tweet I don’t think your defenition is ment. I’m a member of the LGTB community as well and that tweet annoys me.

It strikes me as quite odd for a Zen Buddhist to be blathering about “the subtle body” (tinsb). “Tibetan Buddhism” is a syncretic blend of Mahayana and Bon, not Zen.

Terriesays:

In my experience, these types think all “Eastern” concepts are basically interchangeable.

Anonymous Pseudonymsays:

To borrow a phrase from Richard Feynman.. He’s not even wrong.

Welcome to reality being what you want it to be. Can we arrange for Deepak Chopra to never be heard from or of again?

The physical system Theise reported is kind of neat however. So partial points for exposing it, and negative a million points for misusing it for crap science.

That’s Pauli, not Feynman.

mdfinfersays:

But now we all have to question whether or not it is real. I get the feeling that he went out looking for an explanation for acupuncture. When you do research with that sort of attitude, you open yourself to finding things that are not there.

The paper was reject eight times. There must be a reason.

If this were a truly significant finding, I think it would have appeared in a better quality journal.

We need to wait and see if others can replicate this.

I also wonder about the other investigator. Is she also a woo master, or was she taken for a ride?

I’m with you. I’m wondering if, in his eagerness to eliminate what he saw as an artifact of fixation, he created another artifact of his processes and now thinks it’s a new organ. Maybe that’s why Theise had so much trouble getting his paper published and tried seven journals before getting it published in Scientific Reports. Maybe the peer review at the other journals saw major flaws in his methodology. I’m not a pathologist and I’m not familiar with his technology; so I couldn’t see the flaws, but maybe someone else can. I’d love to see the reviews and email exchanges, although going through them for eight journal submissions would be a lot to read. I also can’t help but note that, even in the version of the paper published in Scientific Reports, nowhere is it claimed that the interstitium is a new organ. My guess is that even the apparently lax peer review atScientific Reports wouldn’t let Theise claim that.

I did a bit of Googling on his main partner in woo (for this paper, at least), and I didn’t find any connections between her and alternative medicine, although there is someone with a very similar name at Wake Forest (IIRC) who is into integrative medicine.

Leigh Jacksonsays:

When your mind is as wide open as Theise’s, invariably your brain falls out and you end up seeing and believing what you devoutly wish to see and believe. Acupuncture does not work.

mdfinfersays:

I finally had a few minutes to look at the paper and the images myself. I have no experience with the methods that were used to preserve the interstitium, or with interpreting probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy images, so it is difficult for me to comment on them. It has also been a very long time since I have looked at an electron micrograph. I do have a few questions:

When comparing the frozen sections to the paraffin sections, why are the spaces that seem to be preserved in the frozen sections not just freezing artifact? If those spaces are real, why are they not just part of the lymphatic system?

There are a number of images of tumor cells involving the interstitium that were also found in other sites like a lymph node. First of all, I think that the pattern of invasion around collagen fibers is a pattern that I see all the time. Why is that pattern evidence of the interstitium and not just a manifestation of how difficult it is for tumor cells to destroy collagen? We sometimes see tumors grow around things that are difficult for them to destroy. I am particularly thinking of cartilage. Tumors will tend to grow around cartilage because it is a very resilient structure. Why is the pattern of growth around collagen fibers in the images different from that?

I think more of an effort needs to be made to characterize the CD30, D2-40-positive cells. Are the electron micrographic findings really enough to say that they are not just endothelial cells? How extensive an effort was made to find those features? How sure can we be that the staining is real? I sometimes see lots of artifact in tissue that is rich in collagen.

I suppose I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

I know that there is at least one other pathologist here. I’d be interested in any further comments.

I think that “Not even wrong” was from Enrico Fermi, when asked about someone’s “alternative” theory of physics……. Dr.Theise is deluded and angry. He wants to show that his professional peers are all wrong and that he is all right.

TBrucesays:

As a Pathologist, I feel obligated to put on the Brown Paper Bag of Shame.

I know the feeling.

mdfinfersays:

I’ll second that.

Let’s revive The Gong Show. I’ll appear as the Unknown Pathologist!

Eric Lundsays:

You understand the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as well as I could expect any layman to understand it. The relationship between the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the observer effect is that the former sets a hard limit to how small you can make the latter, no matter how good your measuring equipment is. Real life observer effects can be many orders of magnitude larger than the Heisenberg limit.

Also, Brownian motion is not a quantum effect. Per Wikipedia, it was discovered in 1827, a century before the theoretical underpinnings of quantum theory was developed. It is the result of fluids consisting of molecules of finite size and temperature, and the interactions between those molecules.

As for submitting articles to multiple journals: The most I have ever submitted a given paper to is two. Having your paper rejected by two different journals is usually a sign that the paper either cannot or should not be published. Submitting a paper to no fewer than eight different journals before ending up in a bottom-feeding publication like Scientific Reports is a red flag.

Leigh Jacksonsays:

Glad you made the point about setting the lower limit. I regretted not doing so in my comment.

Not only that, but he tagged Deepak Chopra and Menas C. Kafatos

As I noted yesterday (IIRC), he and Kafatos have coauthored a paper.

Denice Waltersays:

I’m not a physicist and I’m trying hard to not grind my teeth.

Also, “consciousness theorist” and “sentience of the universe”…oy vey!

-btw- wasn’t there a similar “discovery” of ” channels” to the brain that the anti-vaxxers were all jumping on a year or so ago to explain how autism came about from vaccines?
I forget what they called it.

Smut Clydesays:

I’m not saying that this “glymphatic system” has been known for decades. Just saying, I’m surprised that Narad didn’t go into Fritz Zwicky mode.

Ve haff known about zis for zee past 30 years!

Jamie Gegersonsays:

I like to refer to him as Deepquack Chopra.

Rannsays:

“sentience of the universe”………….. I want to know what he was smoking while watching the last couple Star Wars movies! Sounds almost like they are having Jedi Master envy

Denice Waltersays:

Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing about the sentient universe from woo-meisters for years and I doubt that they ever smoke anything ( they’re too pure) – it comes from all natural, internal chemicals not drugs.
Recent Star Wars films seem like docudramas in comparison to the crap I’ve surveyed ( Sheldrake, F. Capra etc)

Examples of biologically relevant quantum effects include the importance of quantum tunneling for the energy requirements of some enzymatic action23, 24

Oh, right: those two references are this and this, in case anyone wants to take a look. I suspect that he’s jumping the gun, but that’s going to take a while to assess.

I think I’m just going to go with this item from Annual Reviews.

Yah, he’s grossly overreaching with that one. It’s not even clear to me where the “energy requirements” bit comes in, but I’m certainly not a chemist. The issue appears to be kinetics.

And dear L-rd, try to figure out what \textnormal is for (Eqs. [4] and [5]). Look, it’s easy:

$\textnormal{F.C.term}_{0,0}$

Smut Clydesays:

Like Narad says, the literature is all about how quantum tunnelling can speed up some enzymatic reactions (and how it can make a big difference between plain hydrogen, deuterium and tritium). Nothing to do with “energy requirements”. Theise is just calling out Worship Words here.

Grossly overreaching!

Dangerous Baconsays:

As a pathologist, I am also profoundly embarrassed at being a member of the same profession as Theise. Beyond the dubiousness of the claims made for the interstitium*, this guy has an enormously inflated ego of the sort I’ve seen previously associated with “star” forensic pathologists.

*Pathologists do not believe the submucosa is “dense connective tissue” devoid of pathologic significance, and it is highly questionable that acupuncture needles wind up in the Interstitium. More likely they’re stuck in the subcutis or dermis.

mdfinfersays:

Hey, at least he’s not trying to drum up business like Kevorkian did. THAT was an embarrassment.

Stenger must not have paid much attention to history if he thought The Tao of Physics “set the stage for a movement that became known as the ‘New Age.'”

Timsays:

-btw- wasn’t there a similar “discovery” of ” channels” to the brain that the anti-vaxxers were all jumping on a year or so ago

Perhaps this, Denice Walter?

We literally watched people’s brains drain fluid into these vessels,” Reich says. “We hope that our results provide new insights to a variety of neurological disorders.

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/brain-cleaning-system-uses-lymphatic-vessels

I don’t know why I can’t reply to a poster directly or why I only see the latest blog post with the rest being a blank page (though, I can run the mouse around the blank page until it turns into a ‘hand’ and then click there) or why ‘search and explore does nothing’. I’ve tried removing all script blocking and I’ve tried two different browsers (Pale moon 26.3.3 and firefox 48.0.2).

Timsays:

Ohh, never mind; k-meleon_75.1 works except for the reply button.

Denice Waltersays:

No, it was quite recent research where something something lymphatic something brain ( or suchlike)- in the last year or two?

Anti-vaxxers were using it to explain “vaccines’ effects” on the brain resulting in ASDs.

Someone here will fill in the blanks most likely.

Timsays:

trying again: k-meleon 75.1 all works except the ‘reply’ button.

Without inherent, scale‐independent existence the cell is by definition “uncertain” precisely in the meaning of Heisenberg: by examining the cell we change the cell.

Grind my teeth is right.

Other people have hit the nail on the head about as well as I could. I would add one very important point: Quantum mechanics is tremendously scale dependent. If you get away from the scale that matters, “uncertainty” in the quantum mechanical sense is effectively certainty. Cranks always always always flat out ignore Planck’s constant (6.63×10^-34 J*s…. note, _-34_ exponent.) If Avagadro’s number kills homeopathy, Panck’s constant kills quantum woo.

Murray Gell-Mann, onr of the founders of quark theory, called stuff like Theise’s twaddle “Quantum Flap-Doodle”.

Aarno Syvänensays:

Quantum effects happen when the mass is so small that Planck constant is not negligible. Essentially, this means electron. Even proton weighs too much. Biomolecules are much heavier than proton (thousand times and more) so there cannot be quantum efects here.

Quantum effects happen when the mass is so small that Planck constant is not negligible. Essentially, this means electron.

Nah, one can go bigger.

Even a protein molecule could undergo quantum tunneling but the chance that any of them would do so is so small that its occurrence could not have any biological significance… The papers cited in some of the comments appear to be about the magnitude of the contribution of tunneling by hydrogen ions or atoms to some chemical reactions that occur in organisms. Certainly nothing about quantum effects on entire cells!