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An unholy combination of methodolatry and quackery apologia—with jade eggs

Meet Dr. Jason Fung. Dr. Fung is unhappy with skeptics and thinks they’re hypocrites behaving like religious fanatics. Unfortunately for him, his arguments are a combination of the worst methodolatry of evidence-based medicine combined with rants against conventional medicine and a defense of quackery.

One of the arguments used by skeptics regarding alternative medicine that is most understood (at times, it seems, willfully so) is the role of prior plausibility in assessing alternative medicine treatments. Indeed, even some physicians seem unable to comprehend the idea that there are some treatments that are so implausible on the basis of known, well characterized basic science alone—cough, cough, homeopathy, cough, cough energy medicine!—that they can be safely and, yes, scientifically dismissed as impossible just based on what we know about physics, chemistry, and biology, no randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials even required. (I know, I know. What is a placebo in clinical trials of homeopathy, given that homeopathy is basically water?) Not surprisingly, when clinical trials of such magical modalities are actually carried out, their likelihood of being negative is very much correlated with how well designed the randomized clinical trial (RCT) is designed and carried out. Unfortunately the methodolatry of evidence-based medicine (EBM) frequently leads this basic concept to rub physicians the wrong way?

What do I mean by methodolatry? It’s a term I first learned way, way back during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, when Revere taught it to me. Basically, it is defined in medicine (loosely) as the “profane worship of the randomized clinical trial as the only valid method of investigation.” (More generally, the word “methodolatry” refers to focus on a method rather than the totality of the scientific question being answered.) It is the central flaw of evidence-based medicine, at least when it comes to investigating highly improbable alternative medicine treatments (like homeopathy and energy medicine). Indeed, methodolatry is a flaw in EBM that leads normally rational physicians to conclude that, if there isn’t a negative RCT (or, preferably, multiple negative RCTs that can be combined into a meta-analysis), then we can’t ever truly conclude that a treatment doesn’t work, never mind how ridiculous the treatment is from a strictly basic science standpoint. Indeed, this central blind spot of EBM is the reason why the concept of science-based medicine (SBM) was introduced. The idea, at least with respect to highly implausible treatments, was (and is) to consider prior plausibility when evaluating the evidence regarding alternative medicine.

I was reminded of how bad physicians can be at wrapping their head around this very basic concept by an article by someone named Dr. Jason Fung. He’s a nephrologist (I can’t help but think of another nephrologist with whom I’m acquainted), and he’s unhappy with skeptics, so much so that he wrote a screed entitled Debunking the Debunkers. Rather oddly, he chooses a very strange hill to die on, as you will see. But first, we have the mandatory unflattering comparison of skepticism to religion:

The Medieval Crusades were a series of holy wars sanctioned by the Latin Church. It seems incongruous today, but the Catholic religion was used as justification to bring war, death and destruction to thousands of innocent people. The last time I checked, the Bible did not exactly espouse the use of brute force to subjugate other peoples. I don’t recall any passage in there that says “We will save the heathens even if we need to kill them to do it.”

I’m reminded of this same incongruity every time I read about some person in the media trying to ‘debunk’ some procedure or other. The most recent article in the Toronto Star celebrates how people like Tim Caulfield help the public by debunking celebrity culture. They perceive themselves to be ‘myth busters’, but in reality, they are selling the same pseudo-science they pretend they are ‘debunking’.

Of course, I can’t help but note that it isn’t just Tim Caulfield featured in the article that appears to have sparked Dr. Fung’s ire. Yes, I’m in it too. So’s Yvette d’Entremont (a.k.a. SciBabe). All of us explain in the article that, for one thing, skepticism is about a lot more than just “debunking.” Apparently Dr. Fung didn’t read that part. I’m rather amused, though, how Dr. Fung seems to think that we are akin to the Catholic Church during the Crusades, sweeping in and trying to subjugate…who?…by force, complaining, ironically enough that most of the “people online pretending to be ‘myth busters’ are just people who scream for attention and don’t perform any real science” and that they are “simply trying to yell louder than the person they are trying to debunk.”

Now here’s the very, very odd hill on which Dr. Fung chooses to die, scientifically speaking, in the process providing one of the best demonstrations of the concept of “methodolatry” since the H1N1 pandemic that I’ve come across in a long time:

Let’s take the well publicized example of the jade egg sold by Goop, a wellness site promoted by celebrity Gwyenth Paltrow. It sells a jade egg that may be inserted into the vagina for increased sexual energy for $66. There has been considerable controversy about this pseudoscience and many have taken up the role of ‘mythbuster’. So let’s see what real science looks like.

First, is there any evidence that the jade egg works? No. This is an unsubstantiated claim – a claim made without any evidence to back it up. Second, and this is just as important, is there any evidence that the jade egg does NOT work? No. This, too is an unsubstantiated claim. This is not pseudo-science. There is no science at all. Science says that there is no evidence for and none against, so it’s simply unknown. But the ‘debunkers’ claim that the jade egg does NOT work and further may be dangerous. Therefore, these debunkers are engaging in the same unsubstantiated claim slinging as Goop. It is this complete hypocrisy that annoys me. Let me be clear. Do I think the jade egg works? No. But I don’t actually know, so I do not claim it either works or does not work.

I laughed out loud when I read the passage above for the first time. When I stopped laughing, however, I realized that Dr. Fung had provided me with a lovely gift, a “teachable moment” about methodolatry and the differences between EBM and SBM. What Dr. Fung is describing is an EBM paradigm. Prior probability doesn’t matter the least to him if there is no clinical trial evidence to support it. Don’t believe me? Dr. Fung makes my case for me by immediately saying almost exactly that:

What is needed to actually, scientifically debunk this claim? You need to gather a group of, say 100 women, and have half use a jade egg, and the other half use, say, a stone egg of the same weight. You would not let the women or the researcher know which egg they are using and then measure their sexual energy at some later date. If there is no difference, then, and only then, can you claim to have successfully debunked the jade egg.

I can’t help but wonder what sort of tests or instrument Dr. Fung recommends for measuring a woman’s “sexual energy.” The wag in me also can’t help but point out that, if Dr. Fung is really serious about this, he left out a control group, namely a no-egg control. Granted, there could be no blinding of this group, but no-treatment controls are not infrequently used in acupuncture studies; they provide a good baseline against which to estimate placebo effects from the sham treatment. Such a group isn’t necessarily mandatory, though; so I’ll let it slide, albeit not without a little snark and mockery. That’s because, when Dr. Fung gets to the bottom of a hole, he keeps digging:

So, is the jade egg harmful? The debunkers claim that it is potentially harmful and could harbor bacteria. Has there ever been a case in the last 200 years of the worldwide medical literature describing a case report of severe infection from a jade egg? No. Zero. There’s been lots of case reports of this happening for tampons, for example, but not for jade eggs. So, debunkers ignore the need for scientific evidence and instead engage in fear mongering using unsubstantiated claims once again, all the while, believing themselves to be champions of science. That’s hypocrisy.

The origin of the claim that’s so chapped Dr. Fung’s posterior, as far as I can remember, was actually not Tim Caulfield, but rather Dr. Jen Gunter, a real OB/GYN. Here’s what she said about it:

As for the recommendation that women sleep with a jade egg in their vaginas I would like to point out that jade is porous which could allow bacteria to get inside and so the egg could act like a fomite. This is not good, in case you were wondering. It could be a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis or even the potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome.

Notice anything? Her statement is considerably less…definite…than Dr. Fung represented it. Dr. Gunter did no more than make a reasonable extrapolation from what we know about vaginal physiology, pointing out that putting something porous into the vagina and leaving it there is a risk factor for infection, which can range from vaginosis to possibly even toxic shock syndrome. Her basic point was that there is possibly a risk for doing something that has no known benefit. In other words, the claims made by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop in order to sell jade eggs are unfounded and, based on what we know about anatomy, physiology, and biology, almost certainly untrue.

Of course, whether or not jade eggs increase a woman’s “sexual energy” or are a risk factor for toxic shock syndrome is not what Dr. Fung is about. The hilarious thing is that, as he beats a straw man of what skeptics say about woo like jade eggs using the methodolatry that too many proponents of EBM engage in, it turns out that he’s not really that much about EBM at all. Not really. What he’s really about is something very different, which he doesn’t take too long to reveal:

Since there is no evidence either for or against the jade egg, then this question now falls to the clinician, the person who treats people. Here, the main question is not ‘Does this really work’ but instead it is ‘How’s that working for you?’. Remember that there is a powerful placebo effect. If I rub moisturizer on my son’s stomach for his tummy ache (which I do all the time), it will work in 30-50% of cases. The same is probably true for the jade egg. So, what is the risk: benefit ratio? The best thing that will happen is that it works as advertised (30-50% of cases). The worst thing is that you will waste $66 dollars. That’s actually not a bad tradeoff.

Notice that Dr. Fung doesn’t have the least bit of concern over what skeptics are really about here: Consumer protection. Remember, he openly admits that there is no evidence for the claims made for these polished stones. True, he tries to spin that into implying that we know nothing at all about the claims made for jade eggs because there are no RCTs, the height of methodolatry. But then he goes on to say it’s all about the “individual” and “placebo effect.” Moreover, he doesn’t mind that Goop is charging $66 for essentially nothing of value, at least as far as women’s health goes.

He also starts with a rather predictable rant against skeptics and conventional medicine. Basically, he’s trying to paint us as hypocrites:

Compare this to the use of angioplasty for stable heart disease. These stents to open up heart arteries have been used for many decades to prevent heart attacks in patients with closed arteries. It’s an invasive procedure that has real risk of bleeding, infection and perforation/ death. It also was insanely expensive for both the equipment and doctors fees. Recently, several studies have conclusively shown that these procedures for stable patients is completely useless with the first studies being done in the 2007. So, here is a procedure that has scientifically been debunked. We’ve wasted billions of dollars and caused untold side effects over the last 10 years that doctors have continued to perform this largely useless procedure. Where were the debunkers? Wouldn’t this be better to debunk instead of largely harmless jade eggs?

Challenge accepted, Dr. Fung. Challenge accepted. I also point out that skeptics are quite able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

However, Dr. Fung really gives the game away here:

The other thing that fascinates me is why so many people routinely use alternative medicine. Most of homeopathy, naturopathy etc. has little evidence to back up its claims. This does not mean it doesn’t work, it simply means that we do not know if it works or not. But clearly, the general public feels that this is equal to the ‘science’ of conventional medicine, of which I was trained for many years. Why?

With respect to homeopathy, I respond: No! No, we do know whether homeopathy works or not. It doesn’t. For homeopathy to work, huge swaths of well-established science regarding physics, chemistry, and biology would have to be not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong. Yet, in his methodolatry, Dr. Fung can’t come out and say that homeopathy doesn’t work because it can’t work. Clinical trials of homeopathy are, in effect, clinical trials of magic. Indeed, homeopathy is magic based on sympathetic magic whose adherents actually believe that you can treat conditions with saliva from a rabid dog diluted away to nothing. This is the sort of thing about which Dr. Fung claims that we “don’t know whether it works or not.”

Of course, perusing Dr. Fung’s blog, I get the feeling he’s not very good at this science thing. One example that stood out was an article What Medical Research Gets Wrong About Cancer. Let’s just put it this way. Dr. Fung is quite impressed by Paul Davies, the physicist who’s clueless about cancer but sees fit to lecture cancer biologists about what he thinks they’re getting wrong about cancer.

It looks like I have another doctor behaving badly with respect to science to keep an eye on. I do thank him, however, for this “teachable moment” regarding the difference between EBM and SBM and why “we don’t know” is a cop-out when it comes to the claims for phenomena like jade eggs and homeopathy.

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]

84 replies on “An unholy combination of methodolatry and quackery apologia—with jade eggs”

Those people all seem to follow a distinct pattern:
1. They make a unproven statement.
An example would be me saying: children who got into waterfights at ten times a year have a lower risk for various diseases.
2. when challenged, they don’t offer proof or facts to bolster up their statement, but demand their challenger disprove.
I.e How do you know waterfights don’t cure whateveriosis? You have to prove it doesn’t work!
3. when disproven, they ignore evidence and offer a anecdote:
But waterfighting helped my brothers spouses acquaintances girlfriends cousin with …

who heals is right

Three words: burden of proof. If you’re the one making the claim, then the onus is on you to prove the truth of your claim. You cannot turn around on the sceptics and say that they have to prove you wrong!

Even before getting to the first words of the first quote from Fung, my suspicion was that he had some personal stake in some form of quackery.

“Has there ever been a case in the last 200 years of the worldwide medical literature describing a case report of severe infection from a jade egg?”
Huh? They’ve been in use for 200 years?!

They’re similar to ben wa balls.

Essentially, Paltrow is selling sex toys as pelvic muscle toners.

Probably I’d need a team of lawyer to get me out of my hellhole of imagination but Panacea, figure that I’m doing a machining technics in a place where they also teach all kinds of mechanics and electric devices as well as welders.

Just imagine the kind of sex toys we could build there…

Al

Wait, he wants a clinical trial in which things without even an alleged medical benefit (at least, it doesn’t seem like a medical benefit?) and a potential risk, even if he doesn’t see evidence for it, be stuck into women’s vaginas? First, isn’t that all kinds of unethical? Second, I doubt he would be quite as cavalier doing things without evidence of benefit to men’s penises (or am I reading in sexism that isn’t there in his willingness to do this?).

As a side note, if he thinks the bible did not “espouse brute force to subjugate people”, he hasn’t read the Old Testament very closely.

Yes, that caught my eye as well. I seem to recall an awful lot of smiting and smoting in the Old Testament. Even some bit about smashing babies heads against rocks–a bit my precocious youngest son used to like to quote when he was about ten.

He should read some actual history while he’s at it.

The Crusades were a way to deal with restless knights and famine in Europe. There where diverse political issues within the Church, border disputes, and suppression of paganism and heresy at home, more than wresting control of the Holy Land from the Saracen.

In short, the reasons for the Crusades were complex and really didn’t have much to do with pilgrims, holy sites, or any of that.

Orac hasn’t shown any evidence here that Dr. Fung is a sexist pig, but I am also not aware of any evidence that Dr. Fung isn’t a sexist pig. Therefore, by Dr. Fung’s “logic”, it is reasonable to think that Dr. Fung is a sexist pig.

Well, I don’t have any reason to believe that claim, but Dr. Fung thinks that any alt med claim has a “30-50%” chance of “working”. So, using that kind of logic, any claim made about Dr. Fung has a ” “30-50%” chance of being true.

Dr. Fung is just another internet hump trying to portray himself as the paragon of reason and balance whilst pimping his own brand of woo. Same shyster, different day.

Where oh where have I heard woo-meisters scoff at SBM who claim to be adamant supporters of EBM?**

The problem is that what they accept as “evidence” is often the result of self-report studies, poorly done trials and wishful thinking. Similarly, they quote adequate research but stretch the results out of all semblance to reality to support their own cargo cult/ cash cow.

I can recall seeing “research” about energy healing, parapsychology, acupuncture and homeopathy that has no plausibility BUT often is the foundation upon which they bank.

( -btw- I like that the article quoted above mentions that media now consults with sceptics about possible woo-bent stories unlike when they let anti-vaxxers have free rein)

** prn.fm for the last month.

I have to say, if this is an example of his thinking, then Fung is Funky. (to steal from David Bowie)

” The best thing that will happen is that it works as advertised (30-50% of cases).”

Sounds like Dr. Fung doesn’t really understand the placebo effect, either, if he assumes that every alt med treatment “works” in “30-50% of cases”.

I mean, I have no proof that lighting his shoe on fire while he’s wearing them won’t improve his quality of sleep, but I don’t see him signing up to do a study… But, hey, 30-50% chance, right? And I’m sure they’re flame-retardant, so we don’t know for sure it would harm him.

Orac writes,

“teachable moment”

MJD says,

Jade eggs, unlike some vaccine packagings, do not have leachable contaminants.

@Orac,

This is a “leachable moment.” 🙂

I would so love to mail you to Toxicon so they can do and extractables/leachables study on you, but that wouldn’t be fair to some very nice and very busy scientists, so here’s a balloon.

(Are you familiar with the word “fomite” and its use in this context?)

Yes, we skeptics are exactly like the medieval Church. We believe outlandish stories about a man-god. We set out to liberate the Holy Land, and if we’re delayed on the way we kill any Jews we encounter…wait a minute, Fung…sounds Jewish to me. Watch out, Dr. Fung! Confess your heresy now or face our wrath.
Cardinal Biggles, fetch the comfy chair.

@ Old Rockin’ Dave:

Oh I thought that sceptics are the INQUISITION. AS well as being fascists and totalitarians.

Well, that’s what they’re saying at prn.fm.

A question for your esteemed consideration:
what is most loony:
Jade egg defenders, MJD or anti-Wikipedians?

First and third (jade eggs defenders & anti-wikipedians): follow the money. Second (MJD): hell if I know, I can’t parse that kind of theory of mind, ergo, loony MJD 😀

Big Al

Thanks, Big Al.

Q. What precious gem is known to affect reproductive health. (Hint: Not Jade eggs)

A. Diamond ring.

I did mean to imply that we are the Inquisition (You weren’t expecting that.).
“A question for your esteemed consideration:
what is most loony:
Jade egg defenders, MJD or anti-Wikipedians?”
Well, jade egg defenders presumably have a profit motive. Anti-Wikipedians might have that too. I am not sure that MJD makes, or hopes to make, a profit off his loony-tunes missives, and certainly has nothing to gain here, so The Bear of Very Little Brain gets my vote.

Orac,
“homeopathy, cough, cough energy medicine!—that they can be safely and, yes, scientifically dismissed as impossible just based on what we know about physics, chemistry, and biology, no randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials even required. (I know, I know. What is a placebo in clinical trials of homeopathy, given that homeopathy is basically water?) ”

You seem to be completely missing the concept. You have placebo controlled trials being the “gold standard” because there IS a placebo effect.
Homeopathy IS the placebo effect at work. You cannot admit that in public because that will be the end of the placebo effect. So you have a very complicated system of creating placebos (without admitting it). Now, when your treatment IS the placebo effect, there is no way a placebo controlled trial can be used to prove effectiveness.

Talking about placebos, the 26 HPV studies reviewed by Cochrane here used aluminum salts or aluminum salt containing vaccines as “placebo”.

http://cochranelibrary-wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009069.pub3/abstract

Currently, that same Cochrane is studying:
Aluminium adjuvants used in vaccines versus placebo or no intervention
http://cochranelibrary-wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD012805/full

What do you think is an acceptable placebo in the current study, aluminum salts? Scientific CORRUPTOLATRY at work?
When Bill Gates can buy the Cochrane results he wants, that is Corruption Based Medicine (CBM).

MJD says,

Jade eggs, unlike some vaccine packagings, do not have leachable contaminants.

How the fuck would you know? C’mon, Patent Boy, cough up some quantitative data on manufacturing, composition, and solubility under the suggested conditions. Or shove one up your ass, whatever.

Does anyone seriously believe that the suppliers of these vaginal tchotchkes bother sourcing real nephrite or jadeite, which is expensive to obtain and to shape, when the suckers don’t know the difference from “cultured stone” molded composite material?

But you haven’t proven that cultured stone wouldn’t be better because it might eliminate or seal in the dreadful aluminum in real jadeite. Won’t you think of the children?

I don’t really know this, but so far as I can tell the Chinese word for jade refers to a lot of things that we wouldn’t call jade at all. This excellent resource mentions a bunch of things Goop might call jade, but I’m pretty sure that agate is also called jade.

I don’t really know this, but so far as I can tell the Chinese word for jade refers to a lot of things that we wouldn’t call jade at all.

Yoniegg-dot-com does an impressive job of conflating parts of the Mysterious East.

a bunch of things Goop might call jade, but I’m pretty sure that agate is also called jade.

Some of those “jade eggs” are pink. Evidently the definite extends to include rose quartz.

I remember reading (seeing on an episode of Nova) that in Ancient China they had a form of artificial jade, and manufacturing that also created an artificial blue/purple dye. So who knows if real jade is more or less magical than manufactured jade.

Being a fan of the semi-precious, I did some investigating.
Currently Goop is selling two kinds of eggs, black nephrite and rose quartz. Black nephrite is not considered a gem and a big rock of it costs ~$30/lb. it’s black because it contains granite and iron.
Jade is regularly bleached, dyed, placed in resin under vacuum (to forcibly fill in all the little cracks), and of course made from glued together rock dust.
Cheap eggs made of just about every kind of rock are for sale all over the net. There’s many cheap ones that appear to be treated or manufactured stone.

Narad writes,

How the fuck would you know?
Or shove one up your ass, whatever.

MJD says,

Reading between lines, it appears your still suffering from cat scratch fever.

Advice: Antibiotics

MJD says,

Reading between lines, it appears your still suffering from cat scratch fever.

Advice: Antibiotics

You are an imbecile. Seriously, the jabbering of the vinucube appears brilliant by comparison.

Looking at the first goop/ jade egg article that came up, it says nephrite. Because goopers are a bunch of New Age loonies with money, I assume that it is the real deal although I don’t think that that makes it much better healthwise.
If the stones were very well polished, they might be easier to clean but still…not great. Boil a jade egg?

I have seen a woman do this in a Buzzfeed video (I know, super reliable source of information) when she wanted to try the egg (hers was pink) but also wanted to be safe. She boiled her diva cup at the same time. Personally I would be scared to boil a stone egg for fear of it exploding.

You scoff, Christine Rose BUT….

Unfortunately, TCM and New Agey nonsense are so ubiquitous that they are even featured in matter-of-fact fashion on supposedly serious sports documentaries:
there’s currently a show about Serena Williams – who has money and a ( PROBABLY) intelligent partner/ now husband- BUT she was getting cupping treatment!
Ok, she was MOST LIKELY miserable being pregnant but it was CUPPING!**

She’s had problems with blood clots before and again experienced them after a C-section which was also depicted on the show.
I can’t imagine that cupping is a good idea.

** I have personal experience with this arcane practice when I tried acupuncture as I’ve related previously at RI It was awful.

Oh, don’t knock cupping – my grandpa swore by it for his lumbago (whatever that is). Without boring you all with the details, let’s just say he wasn’t a fount of reliable health advice.
If you’ve never seen it done, Lila Kedrova undergoes it in the movie “Zorba the Greek”, and it’s not a special effect or done with a double. By the way, if that makes you want to see the movie, all to the good. It’s one of the very best films ever made.

Unfortunately, TCM and New Agey nonsense are so ubiquitous that they are even featured in matter-of-fact fashion on supposedly serious sports documentaries

When I was in the waiting room for my (public-aid, but great) therapist this afternnon, after the game show on the TV ended, up came a “documentary” proposing that bubonic plague came from an extraterrestrial source, the Grim Reaper was actually an alien, and so forth. As G-d as my witness, I nearly lost my shit.

What, do you mean, “public-aid, but great”? Does the one exclude the other? I have spent enough time learning and working in public hospitals to come away with great respect for the so often dedicated and so often under-appreciated folk who work in them, and other public facilities. Don’t be fooled. Public health care agencies are not employers of last resort for the incompetent; often the scrutiny applicants go through is more rigorous than the private sector, where all too often someone gets hired because they’re the nephew of someone’s sister-in-law’s third cousin.

@ Narad:

Holy crap! Yoniegg,com is some high grade woo! AND not cheap!
They manage to incorporate “healing with gems” woo as well. One of my faves to mock.

re MJD:

You’re correct.
He’s clueless, unfunny and unaware of how he appears to others.

Orac is extremely tolerant to allow him to comment at all.
I think that there’s a hidden instructional purpose in his scenario.

Is anyone still selling those pyramid thingies to sharpen razorblades? Just shows the advance of science – several thousand years ago we needed 5.5 million tons of rock to do the job that a desktop pyramid made of perspex can do now. Maybe jade eggs could be replaced by a capsule toy. A pleasant surprise all round.

Let me introduce you to the glory of “orgonite pyramids”. “Orgonite” consists of random sparky stuff embedded in a pyramidal cast of resin, to focus the orgone radiation, sold to suckers for whom “crystals” are not natural enough.
Apparently they dispel chemtrails.

“Shungite” is also increasingly popular among the scammers who prey on New-Age suckers. Apparently once a piece of molded crap is labelled “shungite”, it blocks the evil 5G rays from cellphone towers, so you can use your cellphone safely.

When I was a small but scientifically oriented child with a chemistry set and a subscription to Things of Science, I read the shocking claims about pyramids. Having no razor blades, I picked up on another claim–that meat would not spoil inside of a pyramid. I hid two pieces of baloney and one pyramid carefully handmade to match the proportions of the Great Pyramid of Egypt on the back of a shelf in the basement.

And waited patiently.

After several weeks there was still no difference between the baloney under the pyramid and the baloney next to it.

This is when I learned that there are people who will with a straight face shout patent nonsense without even trying to investigate.

I wonder what would happen if you tried this with a Twinkie, or some other processed food product rumored to never decompose?

Pyramid power was tested on an early season (2 or 3?) of Mythbusters where they initially had a result that ended up being contamination. At the end of the experiment pyramid power was “Busted” and the presenters begged to not have to do any more “oogie boogie” myths.

Aged baloney looks like an oily poker chip. There may not have been any fresh raw meat around.

I seem to recall bananas as being the canonical demonstration of Pyramid Power in old TV ads.

@ JustaTech:

Though I cannot vouch for Twinkies ™ Someone-I-Know-Not-Me has been known to ingest packaged cakes/ wafers/ chips that have been around for years ( well, all at least for a year) to no ill effect. This has happened several times: I can’t tell if it is a testament to the power of preservatives or uncanny physical immunity but I’m not going to chance it myself.

Twinkies and Cupcakes were popular still life subjects for painting when I was an art student because they were unchanging. They dried out, but their appearance didn’t change which was the important thing. McDonalds hamburgers and french fries had the same property.

My Ph.D. advisor, who was ill suited to the role, had a framed letter from Hostess on his office wall confirming that Twinkies were not in fact extruded.

Narad writes,

You are an imbecile.

MJD says,

Check out these reasonably priced Jade cats, and please calm down my RI friend.

http://www.jademine.com/jade-carvings/cats.html

@ Denice Walters,

After ~ 10 years of commenting on Orac’s posts, subliminal messaging is MJD’s least preferred means of persuasion.

If this approach is aggravating, please convince Orac to release MJD from auto-moderation.

If this approach is aggravating, please convince Orac to release MJD from auto-moderation.

Into the Void, one might hope.

MJD:

I was talking about Orac- not you. The 2nd paragraph discusses Orac ( being tolerant) therefore the he should be understood as meaning Orac. Do you want me to draw you a picture?

I would never presume to tell Orac what to do: it’s his blog.
If it were my blog, I would be tougher on you. He’s nicer than I am. LOTS.

WHY oh why do I even try?

Denice writes,

Do you want me to draw you a picture?

MJD says,

No, thank you.

When you start your blog (Respectable Recipes?), I can’t imagine commenting. :-0

Not only is the worst case a potentially fatal infection, but this clown seems to be taking for granted that (a) if the egg affects the user’s sexual energy, it will increase it, and (b) that the increase will benefit the woman in question.

I think he should consider the 26%-44% chance that the egg will decrease the user’s sexual energy, and the 5-20% chance that it will have affect on some other aspect of her physiology or psychology (he’s not the only one who can invent percentages), as well as the possibility that someone might be happier with however much sexual energy she has now than with an unpredictably larger amount.

Without TMI, I will state that I like sex, and that I also like being able to spend much of my time thinking about and doing other things.

<blockquote.I think he should consider the 26%-44% chance that the egg will decrease the user’s sexual energy

“Sexual energy” is quantum, right? I don’t recall whether the orgone field is vector or scalar.

I think it’s more like qi, which is a funny way of spelling “chee”, and comes from chia seeds,I think, therefore the name. If true, I will never see TV commercials for the Chia Head the same way again.
Just what is “sexual energy” anyway? Will it help cut CO2 emissions? Will it increase other kinds of emissions? Can I run my car on it? Will it help or hurt global warming…or heating?
Or is it more like sexual healing, which Marvin Gaye and Gregory Isaacs told us all about?

Without TMI, I will state that I like sex, and that I also like being able to spend much of my time thinking about and doing other things.

That sounds great (not having it stuck on the brain.) My mind has pretty much been in “teenage boy” mode for the past few weeks, to the point where I wonder if I’m not getting hypomanic (I’ve had a couple of other symptoms also, like being irritable.)

I mentioned it to my therapist, although I had to kind of hem and haw for a minute first, and she was all, “Ooh, we’ve never talked about that! Tell me about it!” And I was all, “NO I am not telling you all about my weirdo sex stuff.”

I’ve mentioned that I had a Freudian once, right? I think he even has three /papers that come up on Pubmed. I mean, he was better than the Rogerian, but I tend to think of my dreams as either garbage collection (in the LISP sense) or elaborately crafted signals from my bladder or bowels.

Fung’s “argument” immediately reminded me of this, from my logic textbook:

The Appeal to Ignorance (Argumentum ad Ignorantium)

In the appeal to ignorance fallacy, someone argues that a proposition is true simply on the grounds that it has not been proven false. For example, suppose a believer in UFOs argues, “It is reasonable to believe in UFOs because nobody has proven there aren’t any.” Or, “I believe in astrology; after all, it has not been disproved.”

We must here state a qualification. In some cases, if something were true, evidence of its truth would exist and be known. In such a case, the absence of evidence for the proposition is indeed evidence of its falsity.

Orac is interested in what instruments and measures of “sexual energy” would be used in a trial but as Old Rockin Dave points out above, no one has offered a definition of “sexual energy”. I suspect, that if a survey were done, people would have marked differences in definitions.
Fuzzy definitions allows the advocates of the woo to dodge any negative study by claiming it did not look at the correct measures, and also incorporate any vaguely related positive study.

Jason Fung: “It seems incongruous today, but the Catholic religion was used as justification to bring war, death and destruction to thousands of innocent people. …”

Not thousands. Millions.

According to a recent post by Dr Fung, “Evidence based medicine is completely worthless if the evidence base is false or corrupted”.

https://idmprogram.com/the-corruption-of-evidence-based-medicine-killing-for-profit/

He has good arguments about the influence of industry on scientific publications and related bias, but then again, he doesn’t seem to realize that pretty much all trials can be biased, even non-industry ones, and that’s why you need to do critical analysis on them. Maybe he never heard about systematic reviews.

And then again, I can’t help but notice that he promotes miracle diets (keto/fasting) for “diabetes reversal” and other diseases using testimonials. So basically, EBM is broken, but anecdotes are… fine ? That’s convenient.

Dr Gorski, I think you summed it up well:

“perusing Dr. Fung’s blog, I get the feeling he’s not very good at this science thing”

The world is safe from the danger of Vinu becoming corrupted by financial support from the Gates Foundation.

The Cochrane Collaboration document all the details of their systematic reviews: the databases they searched, their search terms, and of course the list of studies they find. Anyone who finds gaps or biases in their coverage is at perfect liberty to improve the systematic review and publish his own version.

Alternatively, if he is a gutless credential-faking coward, he could whinge about allegations about Cochrane finances.

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