Mmmm, pesticide cut with baking powder, yum!

Matt Cahill is pretty much unqualified to do anything.

Cahill said he had been pursuing a program in exercise physiology, but when questioned by attorneys he couldn’t remember taking any courses in chemistry or pharmacology. He never received any degree. Before the accident, his job experience after high school involved working as a condominium lifeguard and at an ice rink.

But, he said,

“I had a scientific background in school, I just don’t have a degree.”

That’s all it takes to be a hack who markets supplements…supplements that cause liver damage, blindness, or kill. As it turns out, all those companies selling magic pills have a loophole: call it a dietary supplement, and the federal inspectors are mostly incapable of doing anything about it, short of the pill actually killing people with cyanide or something obvious.

But Matt Cahill can cut insecticide with baking powder and sell it as a “weight loss supplement”. It actualy works — low grade poisoning will tend to make you shed pounds. His pills killed a young woman, a crime for which he served a two year sentence, and as soon as he got out he was packaging marginal chemicals as “herbal supplements” for body builders and raking in $30,000/month.

a href=’http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/25/bodybuilding-supplement-designer-matt-cahill-usa-today-investigation/2568815/’>Read the whole disgraceful story (warning: autoplay video at link!).

Department of Completely Unqualified Politicians Given Responsibilities for Which They Are Ill-Equipped

The UK Health Secretary, the man in charge of the National Health Service, is a fellow named Jeremy Hunt. He believes in homeopathy. Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to a constituent, defending homeopathy.

I understand that it is your view that homeopathy is not effective, and therefore that people should not be encouraged to use it as a treatment. However I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on this issue. Homeopathic care is enormously valued by thousands of people and in an NHS that the Government repeatedly tells us is "patient-led" it ought to be available where a doctor and patient believe that a homeopathic treatment may be of benefit to the patient.

Santa Claus is enormously valued by millions of young people, so I guess we ought to start subsidizing him. I believe that a vacation in the Bahamas would be of benefit to my heart condition, therefore my insurance ought to pay for it.

Notice that his response to an argument that the evidence shows that homeopathy doesn’t work is to rely on the subjective claim that people “value” or “believe” in this quackery. Belief should not be enough — it should not be prioritized over empirical evidence.

Oh, well, schadenfreude to the rescue. Ha ha you Brits, maybe your health care will be as sucky as ours soon enough.

Deadly woo purveyor out of prison

Cultural appropriationist and charlatan James Arthur Ray, under whose watch three people died of hyperthermia in a for-profit 2009 sweatlodge “ceremony” in Sedona, AZ, just walked out of prison after 20 months.

From that CNN story:

The 55-year-old son of an Oklahoma preacher, Ray built a multimillion-dollar business as a best-selling author and motivational coach. His book, “Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want,” made him a New Age star. He was was riding high as he planned his October 2009 Spiritual Warrior weekend at the 70-acre Angel Valley retreat outside Sedona.
According to testimony at his trial, acolytes who flocked to Angel Valley’s red rock foothills were willing to shave their heads, meditate in the desert for 36 hours without food and water and then symbolically die and be reborn in the sweat lodge ritual.
Fifty-five people followed Ray into the sweat lodge; three died from overheating and 19 others were hospitalized after they collapsed, vomited, had trouble breathing, hallucinated, foamed at the mouth or fell unconscious.
Ray was convicted of negligently causing the deaths of Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, New York; Lizbeth Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minnesota; and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee. Ray was found negligent, but acquitted of manslaughter charges that could have sent him to prison for 30 years.

Here we have an unusual example of skeptics and practitioners of Native religions on more or less the same side: I learned of Ray’s release from Native friends who have been commenting on desecration of their culture for profit. Traditionally, sweatlodge ceremonies run for far less time, include far fewer people, and are conducted in structures made of breathable materials — not plastic tarps — and run by people who’ve had eight years of training. There’s still plenty there to trip a skeptic’s trigger, of course, but at least people don’t fucking die from sweatlodge ceremonies run that way.

Ray should be watched like a hawk. It’s clear he’s learned nothing and regrets nothing. Gullibility is a shame, but it shouldn’t be a death sentence.

And for fuck’s sake, don’t ever go 36 hours without water in the desert, even if you’re not going to be crammed into a sauna with 60 other people for several hours by a negligent charlatan afterward.

Stasia Bliss: Disgraceful phony, fraud, and quack

Stasia Bliss is the Senior Editor of Health and Science at The Guardian Express on-line Newspaper. Keep that in mind. Senior Editor of Health and Science.

We encountered Ms Bliss yesterday, when I was criticizing that ghastly Newagey article on cystic fibrosis that she authored, and which the Guardian Express later withdrew. She babbled some nonsense about genes from host tissue somehow migrating into lung transplants, and then went on about how cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease, is somehow caused by bad emotions. It was total garbage, through and through.

Remember, she is the Health editor for this online newspaper, and her head is full of pseudoscientific quackery.

She’s also supposedly the science editor. She’s full of shit there, too. You must read her piece on DNA and evolution. She knows nothing about biology — she’s reduced to spewing nonsensical crap right from the beginning.

Inside each and everyone of our cells is an amazing blueprint containing all of the information to create you again. Scientists have identified 2 strands of these amazing building block storage containers of life and call them DNA or Deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecules containing all the genetic information and instructions for your being. So, what about these other strands which scientists have not identified as useful…the one’s commonly called ‘junk’ DNA and now refer to softly as noncoding DNA? Did you know that somewhere around 98% of all human DNA fits into the category of noncoding DNA? Only 2% accounts for the genetic functions and life-building codes we are familiar with. We do know that some of that 98% has functions such as translation regulation of protein-coding sequences, but what is the rest for? Is it possible our DNA contains within it codes for our evolution as a species? Is it possible that by activating our noncoding DNA we would start to experience reality very differently?

Your first clue that she doesn’t have the slightest grasp on the concepts is when she tries to tell you that there are 2 strands called DNA that contain all the genetic information, and there’s…these…other strands? That are junk DNA? WTF?

I want to give her a test. A very simple test that I’m confident that she would fail miserably.

Draw the 2 strands of DNA. Just a rough sketch, no deep details needed, I’ll even grade generously. Show me that she knows what the hell she’s talking about when she says “strands”. And then I’ll ask her to point on the sketch to where the junk DNA lies.

This isn’t hard, and I’m not expecting a lot. For example, James Watson was asked to give a simple drawing of what he thought was an important formula or principle, and here’s what he came up with.

watsonDNA

See? Easy! I don’t think Stasia Bliss could do it. Especially when you consider the next paragraph of her essay.

Many mystics, philosophers and spiritual teachers agree that the key to our evolution as a species lies within our DNA. If all strands of DNA were active, we would have 12 strands. According to some, each strand correlates with a different dimension of consciousness, or a different perspective by which we can experience this reality. Those who study and practice DNA activation techniques say the 2 basic DNA strands keep us at a very dense, physical structure and perspective of reality, but as we activate more DNA, our bodies change to become less dense and more ‘full of light.’ This state can be recognized in beings known in spiritual and religious traditions as ‘ascended masters’ with glowing halos and radiant skin. As evolution in consciousness occurs, and DNA ‘turns on’ it is speculated that this would mean a transformation from a carbon-based matter body, to a silica-based, and finally a crystalline liquid-light pre-matter state body, where the body would glow with light. According to sources, most of us have approximately 3-3.5 strands activated, allowing for the experience of only three dimensions of reality.

Hey, did you just feel something sticky and damp? Sorry. That was my brains, blood, bile, and colon contents exploding forcefully and spewing debris through my screen, up the ethernet line, out in a misty cloud of pulverized organic matter contaminating the interwebs, settling into your ports and dribbling out onto your keyboard. Sorry.

First order of business, Stasia: FUCK mystics, philosophers and spiritual teachers. You’re supposed to be a goddamn science editor, and these are your vaguely cited sources? Some mystic somewhere, who you can’t even name?

For that sin alone, Bliss ought to be fired. She is grossly unqualified for a position with that title.

At the end: “According to sources”. WTF again? According to who? She is unqualified to have a position in journalism, period. Fire her.

Next test: Draw a picture of 12 strand DNA. I double dog dare you. Be prepared: a squiggle like Watson’s above is only a preliminary answer, and if you manage to make up something coherent at that level, I will also drill down further and ask about the interactions of the nucleotides in your model.

I’ve encountered this “12 strand DNA” bullshit before: it’s a money-making scam from a quack who promises to show you how to activate your psychic powers if you buy his videos. It’s a fucking fraud. And here’s Stasia Bliss parroting it as if it’s reasonable science.

If this is symptomatic of the Guardian Express’s attitude towards science, that they’d hire this wretched incompetent buffoon to be their science editor, I hope their bankruptcy is imminent. It’s disgraceful.

Cystic Fibrosis is all your fault

Cystic Fibrosis is a serious genetic disorder caused by the inheritance of a defective transporter protein. It leads to an accumulation of mucus and fluids in the lungs that can cause progressive scarring and damage to the tissue, and eventually loss of so much lung function that respiration is inadequate, and the victim dies. It’s a terrible disease, and it’s in the news today because a ten year old girl just received a lung transplant to deal with CF.

If you want to learn more or do more, read the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website. That’s a reasonable source of public health information.

But do not read the Guardian Express.

The Guardian Express has published an article that suggests lung transplants aren’t the best option for CF. I just want to say…lung transplants are a last-ditch effort when no other recourse is available; nobody would suggest casually getting a transplant when other precedures are available for amelioration and maintenance. You get a lung transplant when your lungs are on the verge of failing to function.

So this article is talking nonsense from the title onwards. And then you discover why they’re arguing against transplants.

The problem is, after receiving a lung transplant, the new lungs do not have CF, but Cystic Fibrosis still exists in the sinuses, pancreas, intestines, sweat glands and reproductive tract, which may find their way to the new lungs eventually.

Let that sink in. CF is a genetic disease. This article is giving out medical advice, written by an author who thinks genes migrate out of the sweat glands into the lungs.

And what does this author suggest in lieu of a transplant? Oregano oil, yoga, rubbing essential oils on your skin, and herbs.

You may be thinking this all sounds terribly ineffective in the face of a disease that destroys the tissues of the lungs. But you’d be wrong. It’s an emotional disease, believe it or not.

According to metaphysics and those who study the relationship between our emotions and the body have found a correlating belief for nearly every physical manifestation in form. Often these beliefs are passed down to us from our parents and we aren’t even aware we are carrying them. In those with what is known as cystic fibrosis, this could be the case – as more often than not, individuals are born with this condition.

Louise Hay, a famous proponent for linking emotional causes to physical ailments has written several books on the subject (You can Heal your Life; Heal your Body) after healing herself from serious health problems by addressing her thoughts and emotions. The correlation she places for those suffering with cystic fibrosis is that they have a ‘thick belief that life won’t work for them.’ In order to combat or heal this belief, she offers the daily affirmation: “Life loves me and I love life. I now choose to take in life fully and freely.” If this is a condition you or someone you love is dealing with, perhaps it would be beneficial to look at the emotions behind the dis-ease. We are a whole being, not just a body, and when we can address our problems more holistically we have a greater chance at success.

Holy crap … I thought the article was a solid wall of garbage until that point, but when they stoop to victim blaming and telling people that cystic fibrosis is a “choice”, I suddenly find myself sympathizing with those people who believe in a Hell, because I want this person to go there.

But don’t worry! They include a disclaimer at the end!

(Information in this article is not intended to diagnosis, treat or cure and is not medical advice, but rather the researched opinion of the journalist. Please discuss options with your health care professional)

The article is full of medical misinformation and medical advice. The disclaimer fools no one, Stasi Bliss, you ignorant fraud.

It’s not just this one author, though. The Guardian Express regularly publishes tripe, such as this one about “Organ Transplants Cellular Memory Proves Major Organs Have Self-Contained Brains?”.

Organ transplants cellular memory is a premise which exemplifies that our brain is not the only organ that stores personality traits and memories because major organs may have self-contained brains. This is not a new theory because imaginative writers have already written about this concept in the 17th century, which is long before organ transplants were even believed possible.

In our modern culture, cellular memory was first studied in heart transplant recipients when the patients displayed strange cravings, change in tastes, cravings and mild personality. Major organs like the heart, liver, kidney, and even muscles are known to contain large populations of neural networks, which are self-contained brains and produce noticeable changes. Acquired combinatorial memories in organ transplants could enable transferred organs to respond to patterns familiar to the organ donors, and it may be triggered by emotional signals. Science discovered evidence that nervous system organs store memories and respond to places, events, and people recognized by their donors.

When your ideas are supported by 17th century fiction, you have a problem. They do cite one contemporary source: Gary Schwartz, the life-after-death charlatan from Arizona.

These cancers aren’t curing themselves! Nurse, more radioactive lead atoms on whirling rays of light!

This guy, Ramachandran Lyer, has been spamming my email pretty much nonstop today. He’s very excited, I guess — he thinks he has discovered a cure for cancer. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Radioactive lead can cure Cancer- Mechanism: My view

The human body is made of atoms. Every cell, in Skin, bone, nerves, veins is the compound of various atoms. The deficiency of a particular mineral will result in diseases. For example iron deficiency results in thrombasthenia, hemophilia and anemic.

Not so fast! This is an amazing preface. So the justification for your treatment begins with the fact that we’re made of atoms? Oh my god, that’s true! I can’t argue with that at all!

And yes, mineral deficiencies can cause health problems! Ramachandran is like an oracle speaking nothing but truth — sweet incontestable truth. This has been established in his very first paragraph.

For curing this we are injecting blood and platelet. The blood transfusion, if often carried out will weaken the walls of veins and lungs. If the same iron/ Hb is eaten by cancer cell, the iron cannot be replaced by more blood as the mound will suck the Hb and cancer cell grow and block the way.

Wait, curing “this”? What is the referent here? Cancer, I presume, from the title?

But we don’t cure cancer with blood transfusions. We don’t even try. Well, I suppose we try to address leukemias that way, but isn’t it more to keep the patient alive than to actually treat the cancer? I’m getting confused, Ramachandran. Your aura of infallibility is fading.

So, cancer is a mound that sucks iron away from healthy hemoglobin. OK, that’s novel. Do you know anything about cancer biology, Ramachandran? Because it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

To prevent this cancer cell from sucking the iron, we are to coat/ laminate the iron with lead, and lead cannot be sucked by the cancer mound. This lamination on Hb will stay for 2 to 3 days and comes out through motion.

Whuzza…laminate the iron with lead? Just like that? But the iron ions in hemoglobin are all bound up in this lovely heterocyclic ring — how do these lead molecules fit? How do you “laminate” the iron without disrupting its respiratory function? And what does this have to do with cancer?

The physical atom of lead or any metal cannot be broken as astral atoms.

I do not know of these astral atoms.

But if the same atom is sent in to the body as whirls of light rays, in the form of vibrations (here is a theory the air / aether carry the light rays) created by lighting herbal oil which produce/ let out lead, on heat, penetrate in to the body through skin, as ascorbic acid, forms amino acid in bile, mix with blood and laminates the haemoglobin and prevents cancer cells from sucking the iron as it’s nourishment.

I knew vibrations would have to come into play somewhere in here, but Ramachandran also tosses in aether and herbal oils! Bravo!

I guess I see how Ramachandran’s planning to laminate the iron with lead, with a kind of photonic airbrush, with whirling light rays swooshing out of burning herbal oils. That could be dramatic, but I’m not convinced that Ramachandran actually has any evidence that he can do that.

The blood that produced heat due to friction of cells will create vacuum in the blood compound/ components. This vacuum should be filled with aether immediately which has the attraction power to pull the light rays created by the oil lamp lit with herbal oils that is filled with other minerals along with lead and resins in the same herbal. This heat created by vacuum, if not filled will shrink and to adjust itself, will suck hydrogen from the blood for neutralizing and oxygen is eaten by Cancer mound, and patient needs more oxygen and water. The heat shows the blood is acidic, and we feel the increase in pH with salt water may give some relief to the patient.

OK, now that’s just crazy talk.

My dear friend Ramachandran is a graduate of the Utkal University of Culture, which does not have a medical or scientific program of any kind. I haven’t quite been able to figure out what they teach or do there, but they do have a kind of mission statement.

Culture in its essence is viewed here as ways of loving together.

Odisha has a unique distinction of acting as a confluence of diverse faiths by striking harmony amongst religious faiths from animism, fetishism, shamanism, ancestore worship to highly evolved froms of religions like Brahminism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam, Chiristianity and Mahima Dharma.

Vaishnavism, Saivism, Saivism, Sakta , Ganapatya, Sour-all forms of Brahminic worship are conceived in the wonderful matrix of the great and grand cult of jagannath that embraces in its grandeur quintessences of different religions signifying world-view. The Oriya literature contained this world-view in its essence;

“Let my lie rot in hell”
But be the world saved’’ –(Bhima Bhoi)

These lines of the saint poet Bhima Bhoi express sentiments of self-sacrifice and selflessness for the well-being of the world at large. Through centuries, the state retained its cultural identity within the mainstream of pan-India culture. Odisha is a land of rich and diverse artistic achievements. Its ageless art and flourishing cultural are the products of a long historical process.Spiritual, philosophical, professional and human dimensions are merged into the process to yield finest efforts of cultural life. Against this background, Odisha Justifiable pioneered the establishment of the first ever University of culture of the country.

Well, alrighty then! They teach word salad and oogley-boogley piety. Ramachandran certainly is a fine product of his education.

Anti-vaxxers are as bad as creationists

In Australia New Zealand:

It started when seven-year-old Alijah got a small cut on the bottom of his foot in December 2012.

"Of course we didn’t think it was too serious, it was just a little cut but a couple of days later he started getting symptoms like a stroke on the side of his face," Mr Williams says.

"A couple of days later during the night he started to get cramps across his face. His face would contort and he was in a lot of pain."

After 24 hours in Auckland’s Starship Children’s hospital, the doctors diagnosed Alijah with tetanus, and he was taken to intensive care.

His parents didn’t get him a tetanus shot because they were afraid of vaccines.

In California:

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has claimed the 10th victim in California, in what health officials are calling the worst outbreak in 60 years.

Since the beginning of the year, 5,978 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of the disease have been reported in California.

All of the deaths occurred in infants under the age of 3 months, says Michael Sicilia, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health. Nine were younger than 8 weeks old, which means they were too young to have been vaccinated against this highly contagious bacterial disease.

"This is a preventable disease," says Sicilia, because there is a vaccine for whooping cough to protect those coming in contact with infants, and thereby protect the infants.

However, some parents are choosing to not vaccinate their children. In other cases, previously vaccinated children and adults may have lost their immunity because the vaccine has worn off.

Ignorance kills, and we’ve got people promoting ignorance.

People like Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. likes to talk. When he calls you to discuss vaccines, he talks a lot, uninterruptably. He called Keith Kloor after Kloor wrote a story for Discover about RFK Jr.’s keynote address to a convention of people who think vaccines cause autism. You can read about their conversation at Kloor’s blog. Phil Plait wrote a story about RFK Jr. for Slate last week, pointing out that the idea that vaccines cause autism is a crackpot theory that has been thoroughly debunked, that it is dangerous, and that RFK Jr. is one of its most effective proponents.

Kennedy claims that thimerosal, a preservative used in some vaccines, causes autism. No, it doesn’t. This has been tested out the wazoo, and there’s no connection between autism and thimerosal, or autism and vaccines, for that matter. In order to back up his claim, Kennedy is reduced to completely misrepresenting the scientific evidence.

For a guy whose family has such a distinguished record of public service, Kennedy says some pretty awful things about government employees: “The lies that you are hearing and printing from the CDC are things that should be investigated.” He spoke to one scientist (he named her but I won’t spread the defamation) who, he said, “was actually very honest. She said it’s not safe. She said we know it destroys their brains.”

I asked the scientist about their conversation. She said there is in fact no evidence that thimerosal destroys children’s brains, and that she never said that it did.

There’s a pattern here.

When RFK Jr. challenged the university scientist about a study of the biological activity of thimerosal in vitro, which “everybody accepts because journalists hadn’t read it,” the scientist said, “ ‘Oh, yeah, you’re right about that.’ He backpedaled.” That’s because “now he was dealing with somebody who wasn’t afraid to read science.”

I talked to the scientist, who would prefer I not use his name because he gets death threats from unhinged anti-vaxxers. He said, “Kennedy completely misrepresented everything I said.”

I don’t know why Kennedy is bothering to misquote scientists and trying to get scientific authority to back him up, though, because he doesn’t believe in scientists anyway. He’s got a gigantic conspiracy theory in which all these scientific organizations are lying.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s elaborate conspiracy theory is just as delusional and dangerous. Rather than accepting the findings of the Institute of Medicine, the National Institute of Mental Health, or the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kennedy says the scientists are lying. He says vaccine-makers are intentionally poisoning kids and giving them autism. Only he and his fellow activists know the truth because journalists, although they may report aggressively on the National Security Agency, Defense Department, and Central Intelligence Agency, are cowed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Apparently hereditary political lineages are a really bad idea. The UK has Prince Charles, and the US has Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Louisiana replaces science with voodoo

witchdoctor

Literally. A number of intelligent people have been trying to get the Louisiana Science Education Act repealed, a law that opens the door to teaching creationism in the public schools. The efforts have been stymied, though, and the Louisiana Creation Science Miseducation Act is still in effect.

One of the people who acted to kill the efforts offered an, ahem, interesting rationale.

Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, said he had reservations with repealing the act after a spiritual healer correctly diagnosed a specific medical ailment he had. He said he thought repealing the act could "lock the door on being able to view ideas from many places, concepts from many cultures."

"Yet if I closed my mind when I saw this man — in the dust, throwing some bones on the ground, semi-clothed — if I had closed him off and just said, ‘That’s not science. I’m not going to see this doctor,’ I would have shut off a very good experience for myself," Guillory said.

“in the dust, throwing some bones on the ground, semi-clothed”…that’s how I’m going to picture Louisiana legislators from now on.

I do wonder about one thing in Mr Guillory’s story, though. How does he know his witch doctor “correctly diagnosed” his ailment? Did he, perhaps, see a real doctor?

Cupping is a thing? Really?

Taslima points to celebrities who are actually getting cupping done. It makes me wonder if they’re also getting bled, and whether they prefer leeches or the lancet. It’s medieval nonsense and total quackery.

I was wondering if there were any good analyses of this stuff, though, and my search turned up an unsurprising fact: WebMD, that popular website for Americans who can’t afford to go to a real doctor, is embarrassingly uncritical of cupping. In fact, they’re generally very woo-ish — I am once again made conscious of my class privilege, because when I feel sick I walk down the street to see a real doctor at nominal cost, because I’ve got good health insurance. Which makes me wonder some more — maybe universal health care would be a more effective means of curbing quackery than trying to educate everyone to be good skeptics. Sometimes, being skeptical is only an option when you can afford to question.

In case you ever doubted that Dr Oz was a quack…

Take a look at the “advertorial” featuring Oz. Just the word “advertorial” should chill you, but there’s more! “Fat-busting”. Seriously, if ever there’s a phrase that should make you recognize that a diet pill is garbage, it’s that one. Then, in the video, Oz promises that this dietary supplement will make you lose weight with “no exercise, no dieting, no effort”, and to prove it all, he has his assistant pour a pitcher of milk and sugar into a balloon, and then he prances in front of a video wall which has animations of blobby cartoon fat cells shriveling away.

The man has no shame at all. He’s a quack pitchman for fat pills now.