Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

Discussion in 'Human Potential, Self Discovery' started by Udarnik, May 1, 2015.

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  1. Udarnik

    Udarnik Gold Meritorious Patron

    Here's another article I found on his main premise, which he's been pounding on since 1999:

    Do I think the cumulative lifetime effect of mitochondrial free radicals might have a place in a theory of aging? Sure. Is it even the major part? Probably not.

    It's interesting to note that SENS still has his 1999 book on the subject on its website. I would not bother to read a 16 year old book on biology. A paper, yes. If it was a seminal one. But a book? That was in production for over a year, maybe 2, and references older material because of that? No way.

    Most of my literature searches have a cutoff of 5 years. Sometimes 10, but rarely. Science moves faster than that, and the primary means to disseminate scientific thinking is the journal article, not books. Books take too long to produce. The review article is a much better way to communicate the current thinking in a broad subject.

    The fact that they still have that book out (especially when the link between telomeres and aging was only a few years old and not well-accepted when it went to press) makes my Laffy-guru radar beep like crazy.
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
  2. Churchill

    Churchill Gold Meritorious Patron


    I'm curious if you have heard of this: www.zuckermaninstitute.columbia.edu

    My reason for asking is that I noticed a promo piece copied on Mike Rinder's blog about

    Elaine Siegel, an OSA big-shot, delivering a "briefing" at the Harlem Org which is just up the street about this "Frankensteinian institute."

    (Among other things Zuckerman owns the NY Daily News which has been hammering our little cult)

    Apparently Siegel will be fulminating (in the non-scientific meaning) against the Institute, casting it as an evil establisment

    intent on introducing psych-inspired abuses to the Black community, a la the infamous Tuskeegee experiment.

    Also I do not expect the Nation of Islam to overlook the fact that Mortimer Zuckerman

    has gifted $200 Million to endow this facility. They have this thing about wealthy Jews, I hear.

    So it's a two-fer for this retrograde duo!
  3. Udarnik

    Udarnik Gold Meritorious Patron

    It's totally legit. It's Columbia University fer cryin' out loud.

    And they have a non-crank Nobel Laureate running the thing.

    Only a tiny part of the research extends to psychiatry. I think the Co$ is afraid it will dispel for good some of the more ludicrous things that Laffy said about the mind.
  4. Churchill

    Churchill Gold Meritorious Patron

    Yes, but I think this is what really got Elaine Siegel's panties in an uproar: (From the website www.zuckermaninstitute.columbia.edu)

    "The Zuckerman Institute will make its home in the Jerome L. Green Science Center...Engagement with the surrounding community is intrinsic

    to the mission of the Institute and hardwired into its new campus. The ground floor of the Greene Science Center will include the Center for Education and Outreach, a public education center

    dedicated to brain science, offering a variety of programs on the brain, mental health, and neuroscience for K-12 students, teachers, and the general public. A street level screening facility

    will serve as a first stop for area residents with concerns about brain and mental health."

    (This is like a declaration of war to Scientologists, who, like Tom Cruise, believe they are the only people who can help, LOL)
  5. Teanntás

    Teanntás Silver Meritorious Patron


    A group of statistical researchers investigated the relationship between pharmaceutical advertising and articles regarding dietary supplements in medical journals. The analysis revealed that:

    Journals with the most pharmaceutical ads published significantly fewer major articles about dietary supplements per issue than journals with the fewest pharmaceutical ads (P < 0.001).
    The percentage of major articles concluding that dietary supplements were unsafe was 4% in journals with the fewest pharmaceutical ads and 67% among those with the most pharmaceutical ads (P < 0.005).
    The percentage of articles concluding that dietary supplements were ineffective was almost twice as high (50%) among journals with more pharmaceutical ads than among those with fewer pharmaceutical ads (27%).
    The researchers concluded that increased pharmaceutical advertising is associated with the publication of fewer articles about dietary supplements and more articles with conclusions that dietary supplements are unsafe.99

    A major reason why many conventional doctors are biased against dietary supplements is that the journals they read seldom publish the favorable studies. Dietary supplements compete directly against prescription drugs in many disease categories. When dietary supplements are properly used to prevent disease, demand for expensive pharmaceutical agents is diminished. It is thus in the financial interest of pharmaceutical companies to encourage negative studies to be published in influential medical journals.

    It seems more than a coincidence that mainstream medical journals publish negative editorials against dietary supplements at times of the year that garner the most media coverage. Life Extension has long argued that the billions of advertising dollars spent by pharmaceutical companies influences media bias against dietary supplements. This latest study reveals that drug money may also be corrupting medical journals that have a significant impact on professional and public opinion.

  6. Teanntás

    Teanntás Silver Meritorious Patron

    On to psychiatry - major woo

    The Spurious Chemical Imbalance Theory is Still Alive and Well

    by PHIL HICKEY on APRIL 27, 2015

    On April 5, 2015, Scott Alexander, MD, a trainee psychiatrist, posted an article titled Chemical Imbalance on his website Slate Star Codex. (The writer tells us that Scott Alexander is a blog handle and not his real name, but for convenience, I will refer to him as Dr. Alexander.)

    Dr. Alexander begins by noting that there have been a number of articles recently that have criticized psychiatry for “botching the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory.”

    “According to all these sources psychiatry sold the public on antidepressants by claiming depression was just a chemical imbalance (usually fleshed out as ‘a simple deficiency of serotonin’) and so it was perfectly natural to take extra chemicals to correct it.”

    “This narrative is getting pushed especially hard by the antipsychiatry movement, who frame it as ‘proof’ that psychiatrists are drug company shills who were deceiving the public.”

  7. WhatWall

    WhatWall Silver Meritorious Patron

    Interesting that no one responded to this post, especially considering its relevance to the subject. I'm adding Bauer's book to my library.
  8. Cat's Squirrel

    Cat's Squirrel Gold Meritorious Patron

    Udarnik's the one to ask about this since he has actually worked in the field (the pharmaceutical industry) and AFAIK still does.
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
  9. WhatWall

    WhatWall Silver Meritorious Patron

    If he has the time, perhaps he will respond since the book referenced in Teanntás' post specifically touches upon both the subject of this thread and Udarnik's professional experience.

    From the Amazon.com review of the referenced book, Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth by Henry H. Bauer:
  10. Udarnik

    Udarnik Gold Meritorious Patron

    I work with Pharma, but not for them, anymore. It's a much nicer place to be, not because they don't do good science, but because of the bean counters. :p

    Angell's a twit who got fired from the NEJM and has been blacklisted by her academic colleagues. She had some good, valid points when she started, but she went off the rails, just like Dr. Oz. Stuff like the quote about invalid medical research is just so demonstrably falsifiable, it got her fired.

    The piece about nutritional supplements is demonstrably stupid if you know how Academic and scientific publishing works, which I will get to a bit later. The short of it is: OF COURSE mainstream therapeutic journals have less nutritional supplement article submissions, not because Pharma is trying to silence them, but because they don't work all that well and are not tied to basic molecular understanding of the diseases, either, which is what those journals specialize in. Before I hear any nonsense about suppressing the effectiveness data on supplements, ask yourself this: if nutritional supplements actually worked all that well in major disease, what kind of conspiracy theorist would think real doctors would not be using the hell out of them? Doctors still take the Oath, last time I checked, and most of the do take that seriously. Nutritional supplements do work well in healthy people to keep them healthy, and guess what? The journals dedicated to nutritional health are chock full of supplement ads. Why would anyone reasonably aware of how business works think otherwise? You don't put advertisements for Hummers in Mother Jones.

    And OF COURSE Pharma doesn't advertise in those nutritional journals. Where would be the bang for the buck, there? What's left out of that analysis, from an "alternative" website that takes tons of money from supplement advertising is glaring: why was there not a similar analysis trying to paint the supplement companies in a similarly bad light, because I guarantee you they advertise heavily in the nutrition journals. And that's OK, unless you think those print ads have too much influence. I don't think they do, but if they didn't work at all, they wouldn't be there. Reasonable people can disagree on that one, but editorial content is not influenced by advertising dollars, or I, personally would be 3 publications richer, because three of my pubs were rejected as not being novel enough to publish. We, obviously thought differently, especially when the journal continues to elect to publish dinky studies by academics that raise more questions than they answer.

    I'm not opposed to a ban on all Pharma and Supplement advertising. Especially DTC. But a natural products touting website bashing Pharma advertising is just too much.

    The rest of it, especially the increasing placebo effect idiocy in Wired (whose editorial staff should have known better, but once again a corollary of the Salem Hypothesis led them to publish a piece by a reporter who obviously knows nothing about the subject), will get a also proper nuking when I have the time.

    Our Assertive friend on this thread holds lots of contradictory ideas at the same time without examining them. For example: if the placebo effect is getting greater (not true, but the bar for a positive result in a clinical trial is getting higher) - how are those failed studies getting published, and why is the FDA not approving those drugs based on that "false" data, assuming that Pharma-sponsored research is so biased you can't even believe most of the medical literature anymore (to Pharma's benefit, of course)? Does that mean those drugs were actually successful, and those miracle cures are being hidden from the public? Ehhh..... no.

    I will get to this, but I'm going to give it a thoroughly footnoted thrashing, and I haven't even finished the Epigenetics part of the thread yet. :biggrin:
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
  11. Udarnik

    Udarnik Gold Meritorious Patron

    Henry Bauer is enough of a crank that he's got his own entry in American Loons.

    He's an HIV denialist.

    I'll let that one sink in for a bit.

    I've never read the book, so it might be amusing, as this is one of my hobbies, to buy it, find what valid points there are in it, and debunk the rest. I'm going to nuke the Wired article first, because it's a classic example of why "I do my own research" in the health field is so fraught with Dunning-Kruger type perils.
  12. Cat's Squirrel

    Cat's Squirrel Gold Meritorious Patron

    Wasn't there an HIV denialist a while back who got himself injected with HIV to "prove" that it doesn't cause AIDS, and then died of the disease? He may have been a fool but at the very least I take my hat off to his courage and his willingness to live or die by his beliefs - I would have nightmares at the very thought of putting my money where my mouth was in that way.
  13. Udarnik

    Udarnik Gold Meritorious Patron

    Never heard of that. Wow. I can't find it in myself to admire that kind of stupidity, whatever kind of bravery it entailed. Saw too many mangled limbs and burned bodies back in the 70s in the rural South from the "hey y'all watch this" mentality to respect brave, but willful, stupidity.

    Not sure if the story is true, but there are a number of denialists who have died after getting infected the normal way and then refusing treatment.
  14. Cat's Squirrel

    Cat's Squirrel Gold Meritorious Patron

  15. oneonewasaracecar

    oneonewasaracecar Gold Meritorious Patron

  16. IVisitor

    IVisitor Patron

    If you found that funny so far,
    maybe you'd even have more fun with a video of the event. (?)

  17. Cat's Squirrel

    Cat's Squirrel Gold Meritorious Patron

    I've read this now and found it very thought-provoking. The article makes some telling points against the idea of living forever, which I found persuasive. Here's an extract (before I start, this makes no attempt at being a representative selection of the points made in the article);

    Life as we know it

    Imagine if it worked. Life becomes a cruise instead of a race. No panic over ageing (300 is the new 30) and no need to stress with an eternity of tomorrows. It would be glorious, but we don’t want it.

    To find out why, I decided to start as close to my home in the North East of England as possible: Ian Ground, senior philosophy lecturer at Sunderland University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning. We sit down in his office. He says he just gave a lecture on immortality and the arguments are fresh in his mind. Perfect. He says the world would become a worse place. The population would rise dramatically and basic resources would be scarce. Inequalities would increase. Dictators would live indefinitely (the Church of England’s medical ethics advisor also uses the same argument, saying mortality is good because it limits “the amount of evil” a person can do). And, of course, we’d be old.

    “Typically people get more conservative as they get older,” says Ground. “They could become resistant to change, so what’s going to happen to innovation? There are questions about society stagnating. Most of us wouldn’t want the world to be run by our grandfathers.”

    Then come problems for the individual. Things don’t get any perkier.

    “Scientists think we can go on discovering things about the universe forever,” he continues. “Maybe we can, but what we aren’t envisaging is just becoming knowledge-acquiring machines for the rest of our lives. We need feelings and relationships, not just work.

    “We’re used to the idea of birth, growth and development, a period of maturity, gradual tailing off, and hopefully a dignified retirement and death. We don’t know what happens if we plateau. We have no idea whether the human mind can survive that. It may be that we just get profoundly bored.”

    Never-ending story

    Boredom is a frequent fear with deathists. But would you get bored? Surely life would become infinitely more interesting? Every decade you could have a gap year.

    You’d have a list of ex-girlfriends like the Domesday Book. And if it got that bad, you could just throw in the towel. But journalist Bryan Appleyard, author of How to Live Forever or Die Trying, says ennui would set in.

    “Some gerontologists say ‘If you’re bored why don’t you learn quantum mechanics or learn to speak Arabic?’” he tells me. “Well I don’t want to learn Arabic. Just because I’m 200 years old won’t make me more keen on doing those things.

    “I think there’s a point that the immortalists don’t understand, and it’s that one exhausts one’s own personality over a certain period. It’s a weird idea that you would go on and on, still being interested in being yourself. I don’t think anyone would. I think you’d get excruciatingly bored of being yourself.”
  18. cleared cannibal

    cleared cannibal Silver Meritorious Patron

  19. Teanntás

    Teanntás Silver Meritorious Patron

    "And OF COURSE Pharma doesn't advertise in those nutritional journals." The article clearly says that these are MEDICAL journals.

    But ALL is well because doctors take the Hippocratic Oath :eyeroll:

    Myth: No one is deficient of essential nutrients.

    Truth: According to the "USDA's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals", a major amount of people do not consume enough essential vitamins and minerals in their diets compared to the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs). Below are some statistics from the survey which list the percentage of people (age 20 and over) who do not meet the RDAs for:

    Vitamin A:
    Males: 60.9%
    Females: 59.6%
    Vitamin E:
    Males: 64.4%
    Females: 73.0%
    Vitamin B6:
    Males: 52.6%
    Females: 64.2%
    Males: 55.4%
    Females: 78.0%
    Males: 65.7%
    Females: 75.7%
    Males: 67.6%
    Females: 82.6%

    "Three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, the so-called "sunshine vitamin" whose deficits are increasingly blamed for everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes, according to new research. "


    Now take a look at your most recent blood test and see if there was a test for Vitamin d

    But, why worry, we are protected by the medical Hippocratic Oath.

    Last edited: May 14, 2015
  20. Teanntás

    Teanntás Silver Meritorious Patron

    A word on that obscure site americanloons . It is ranked 1,484,000 globally. It has about 9% of the visitors that our little site here has.

    BTW,does this sound like science to you?

    Dr. Mark Wainberg, president of the International AIDS Society, has called for jailing AIDS dissidents, whom he calls “HIV deniers” (his explicit analogy to “Holocaust deniers”). John P. Moore of Cornell University advocates even more violent measures, stating:

    This IS a war, there ARE no rules, and we WILL crush you, one at a time, completely and utterly (at least the more influential ones; foot-soldiers like you aren't worth bothering with). (Letter from John P. Moore, PhD to AIDS-dissident Michael Geiger, 27 January 2007, 10:24)


    "But it’s clear that the “Encyclopedia of American Loons” isn’t really interested in being truthful. It’s interested in well-poisoning. I guess if you’re going to take public iconoclastic positions on the internet, you should get used to it. So in a way, I’m honored to be so important to them. I just wanted to mention, for the record, this “encyclopedia” entry is dishonest, and it would make me question anything written by or about anyone else on it. But hey, at least I’m honored to be noticeable and prominent enough in their eyes to merit an article."

    Last edited: May 15, 2015

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