Friday, October 24, 2014

Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield complain to the CDC about its vaccine research. Everyone yawns.

By Orac, via Science Blogs
The antivaccine movement and conspiracy theories go together like beer and Buffalo wings, except that neither are as good as, yes, beer and Buffalo wings. Maybe it’s more like manure and compost. In any case, the antivaccine movement is rife with conspiracy theories. I’ve heard and written about more than I can remember right now, and I’m under no illusion that I’ve heard anywhere near all of them. Indeed, it seems that every month I see a new one.

There is, however, a granddaddy of conspiracy theories among antivaccinationists, or, as I like to call it, the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement. That conspiracy theory postulates that “they” (in the U.S, the CDC) have known for a long time that vaccines cause autism, but “they” are covering it up. In other words, the CDC has, according to this conspiracy theory, been intentionally hiding and suppressing evidence that antivaccinationists were right all along and vaccines do cause autism. Never mind what the science really says (that vaccines don’t cause autism)! To the antivaccine contingent, that science is “fraudulent” and the CDC knew it! Why do you think that the antivaccine movement, in particular Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., went full mental jacket when Poul Thorsen was accused of financial shenanigans (i.e., fraud) with grant money from the federal government? It was a perfect story to distract from the inconvenient lack of science supporting the antivaccine view that vaccines cause autism. More importantly, from the antivaccine standpoint, it was seen as “validation” that the CDC studies failing to find a link between autism and vaccines were either fraudulent or incompetently performed. Why? Because Thorsen was co-investigator on a couple of the key studies that failed to find a link between the MMR and autism, antivaccinationists thought that his apparent financial fraud must mean that he committed scientific fraud. They’re the same thing, right? Well, not really. There were a lot of co-investigators, and Thorsen was only a middle author on those studies, as I explained multiple times.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lessons from the dubious rise and inevitable fall of green coffee beans

By Scott Gavura, via Science-Based Medicine
News this week that a randomized controlled trial of green coffee bean (GCB) has been officially retracted from the medical literature signals what is hopefully the end to one of the most questionable diet products to appear on the market in years. Plucked from obscurity and then subjected to bogus research, it’s now clear that the only people that actually benefited from GCB were those that profited from its sale. GCB had some powerful boosters, too. Once it became one of Dr. Oz’s “miracle” weight loss cures, sales exploded following two hype-filled episodes. Oz even did a made-for TV clinical trial with GCB, ignoring the requirements for researchers to obtain ethical approvals before conducting human subject research. Oz’s promotion of GCB was so breathless and detached from the actual evidence that his actions were subsequently eviscerated by Senator Clair McCaskill during televised hearings on weight loss scams. It’s a long, sordid, ugly and yet entirely predictable story.

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This isn't jihad, this is schizophrenia

By Peter Wheeland, via Cult MTL
Martin Couture-Rouleau
The tragic death on Monday of Canadian Forces Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, run over by a recently “radicalized” 25-year-old from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, was not an act of terror as much as it was an indictment of our ineffectiveness in dealing with mental illness.

Martin Couture-Rouleau, who up until two years ago was a normal pseudo-Catholic Québécois kid, a recent father struggling to keep his new pressure-washing business afloat, changed seemingly overnight into someone obsessed with the illuminati and conspiracy theories, one friend told La Presse.

It was in that period he converted to Islam and underwent such a significant personality change that it was his own father who reported him to the RCMP as a possible threat. Put on a federal watch list, he was prevented from carrying out his plan to travel to Turkey when he was arrested last summer and had his passport taken away.

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Study finds drugs still in recalled supplements

By Lindsay Tanner, via AP

CHICAGO (AP) — Dietary supplements containing potentially dangerous prescription drug ingredients may still be for sale even years after safety recalls, a study found.

In supplements bought online, researchers detected hidden steroids, similar ingredients to Viagra and Prozac and a weight loss drug linked with heart attacks.

They tested 27 products promising big muscles, sexual prowess, weight loss and more. Of those, 18 contained ingredients not approved for over-the-counter use; 17 still had the same drug that prompted the recalls.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gran spends nearly £4,000 to protect her house against wi-fi and mobile phone signals

By Flora Thompson, via The Argus
Stefanie Russell with the device that detects wireless signals and in the background, a workman painting the house
A GRANDMOTHER has spent thousands of pounds making her home wi-fi proof to protect her health.

Stefanie Russell, 72, from Steyning, claims radiation from wi-fi internet and mobile phone signals give her headaches and nausea which make it impossible for her to be near some types of technology.

She believes her symptoms are caused by electro-sensitivity, which makes her so ill she cannot travel on buses because of the number of portable devices being used.

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L.A. council to weigh ban on growing genetically modified crops

By Soumya Karlamangla, via Los Angeles Times
Activists paint a sign calling for the labeling of GMOs. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Facing pressure from groups both inside and outside of Los Angeles, city lawmakers moved forward Tuesday with plans to regulate the growth of genetically modified crops.

The City Council voted to ask city staff to draft an ordinance banning the sale and growth of seeds and plants bearing genetically modified organisms within city limits. The law would be largely symbolic because there is little agriculture within the city.

But the proposed ban received heavy support, especially from advocates of a failed 2012 California ballot measure that would have required the labeling of GMO food products.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What naturopaths say to each other when they think no one’s listening

By David Gorski, via Science-Based Medicine
"The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching."

— John Wooden

Regular readers might have gathered from reading this blog that we are not particularly fond of naturopaths. Actually, naturopaths themselves might be perfectly nice people; rather it’s naturopathy we don’t like, mainly because it is a cornucopia of quackery based on prescientific vitalism mixed with a Chinese restaurant menu “one from column A, two from column B” approach to picking quackery and pseudoscience to apply to patients. Indeed, Scott Gavura features as an excellent recurring series “Naturopathy vs. Science,” which has included editions such as the Facts Edition, Prenatal Vitamins, Vaccination Edition, Allergy Edition, and, of course, the Infertility Edition. Of course, as I’ve pointed out, any “discipline” that counts homeopathy as an integral part of it, as naturopathy does to the point of requiring many hours of homeopathy instruction in naturopathy school and including it as part of its licensing examination, cannot ever be considered to be science-based, and this blog is, after all, Science-based Medicine. Not surprisingly, we oppose any licensing or expansion of the scope of practice of naturopaths, because, as we’ve explained time and time again, naturopathy is pseudoscience and quackery.

A couple of weeks ago, over at my not-so-super-secret other blog, I was “celebrating” (if you will) Naturopathy Week. During that week, one of my readers brought to my attention something that, more than anything else, shows the truth of the quote with which I started this post and another similar quote by J.C. Watts that goes, “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.” I’m referring to the contents of a subreddit posted by a user going by the ‘nym “Naturowhat,” Read what naturopaths say to one another. Conclusion: manipulative, poorly trained, and a threat to public health. Now, I’m not a big fan of Reddit, largely because I can’t figure out how to find things easily, and I hate the sheer ugly and user hostile format of it. However, beggars can’t be choosers; so Reddit it was to examine what naturopaths say to each other when they think no one is looking. I hadn’t planned to comment on this again, but Jann Bellamy thought that our readers would be interested, and who am I to question Jann’s judgment, particularly on a weekend when I was deep into grant writing?

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