Article Archive for February 2008

Does Woo Work?
By jdc325
Posted in , , , syndicated on 29 February 2008
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I have previously asked “What’s Woo Worth?“. My earlier post looked at the profits to be made from herbal medicine, homeopathy and supplements. This post takes a quick look at the evidence for the same categories of woo.
The evidence for alternative medicine is slim-to-none. That’s why it’s alternative. If a treatment worked (i.e., “was demonstrated to have curative properties [...]

True-life Time Travel
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 29 February 2008
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A refreshingly honest look at time travel from Buttersafe. Be sure to follow the link for the punchline.

 

Patrick Holford and His Alternative to Anti-Depressants
By dvnutrix
Posted in , syndicated on 28 February 2008
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Professor Patrick Holford frequently accuses healthcare workers, scientists and researchers of concealing research or failing to report it accurately. Holford seems to have failed to noticed some relevant nuances about the Kirsch et al meta-analysis of anti-depressants and is promoting his unproven nutritional advice as an appropriate alternative with ‘conclusive evidence’ for some elements. Holford overstates the evidence for tryptophan and 5-HTP.

Too stupid, even for the ‘Answers in Genesis’ Journal.
By Lave
Posted in syndicated on 28 February 2008
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This is quite entertaining and if you often find yourself battling fools on the internet, it’s could even come in useful. If even the dullards at AiG thinks your arguments are bullshit, then you’ve got to be wrong. Their webcomic makes their aims clea…

Antidepressants redux part deux (updated)
By pj
Posted in syndicated on 28 February 2008
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Rather than writing the systematic review I’m supposed to be doing, following on from a suggestion made by Cyril Hoschl regarding the PLoS study, here’s another back-of-the-envelope forest plot, this time using the final Hamilton depression score and …

Quote for the Day
By ambrielle
Posted in , syndicated on 28 February 2008
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Something quick but timely, considering my current interest in woo.
I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true.
Carl Sagan
[...]

Antidepressants redux
By pj
Posted in syndicated on 28 February 2008
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For people interested in this sort of thing I’ve done a back-of-the-envelope forest plot of the PLoS study - the data is derived from their Table 1 and isn’t 100% accurate (due to the way I derived the SD from the confidence intervals), and I’ve used a…

The first earthquake of spring
By Paul Wilson
Posted in syndicated on 27 February 2008
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Last night, the largest earthquake since 1984 struck Britain. There I was, sleeping, like any good scientist should be at that time of the day (unless they’re writing a PhD) when I was woken by the bed shaking. Sometimes this is because of the enthusia…

Misrepresenting science
By pj
Posted in syndicated on 26 February 2008
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Further to the discussion below on the PLoS Medicine paper on antidepressants versus placebo, I’ve noted what I think is a strange way of reporting the paper that ultimately traces back to the authors themselves and the PLoS summary.From the authors:”…

Antidepressant manufacturers sound a bit like homeopaths
By Paul Wilson
Posted in , syndicated on 26 February 2008
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The papers today are full of the news of the meta-analysis of clinical trials of anti-depressant drugs (including Prozac) that shows such drugs only have a clinically significant effect for a very small subset of the most depressed patients. The author…

The drugs don’t work?
By pj
Posted in syndicated on 26 February 2008
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Interesting study looking at antidepressants out in PLoS Medicine. It does a meta-analysis:”from the FDA all publicly releasable information about the clinical trials for efficacy conducted for marketing approval of fluoxetine, venlafaxine, nefazodone,…

My Sweet Ant Farm
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 26 February 2008
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Part of the the haul of sweet birthday loot I received last week was this neat ant farm - funnily enough, I was about to buy myself one. It’s one of those filled with “space age gel”, which I suspect is really just blue agar, but perhaps some ant farmer reading this can tell [...]

And Today’s Daft Idea…
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 25 February 2008
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…is from Dylan Williams of the Institute of Education for his idea that, according to today’s Metro, “Millions of pounds could be saved on educational spending if a ‘traffic light system’ showing pupils’ understanding was used”.
To be fair to Dylan Williams I tried to find more about this, given the tabloid press’ ability to get [...]

The Empire of Homeopaths Strike Back
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in syndicated on 25 February 2008
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We know it is going to be a fun year for watching Homeopaths. The fight is well and truly on for who gets to pretend to regulate the profession. The beleaguered Society of Homeopaths have today gone on the offensive for total and unyielding control.

The year started off with Prince Charles and the Foundation for Integrated Health announcing the arrival on the scene of the government backed

The Empire of Homeopaths Strike Back
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in syndicated on 25 February 2008
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We know it is going to be a fun year for watching Homeopaths. The fight is well and truly on for who gets to pretend to regulate the profession. The beleaguered Society of Homeopaths have today gone on the offensive for control of the profession.

The year started off with Prince Charles and the Foundation for Integrated Health announcing the arrival on the scene of the government backed

GMO ciąg dalszy
By Modne Bzdury
Posted in syndicated on 25 February 2008
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Tak jak obiecano Wyborcza kontynuuje dyskusję o GMO. Dzisiaj opublikowano tekst prof. Tomasza Twardowskiego i prezentuje się on znacznie lepiej niż artykuł prof. Piotra Węgleńskiego. Oto wybrane fragmenty:
Dramatyczny wzrost cen artykułów rolnych, głównie zbóż na rynkach światowych w ubiegłym roku, pokazał, jak iluzoryczne są nagłaśniane w mediach nadwyżki w rolnictwie. Z danych Instytutu Ekonomiki Rolnictwa wynika, że mimo nadwyżek w pewnych asortymentach jesteśmy jako kraj importerem netto żywności. Oznacza to, że wzrost wydajności i obniżanie kosztów produkcji będą w dalszym ciągu decydowały w walce konkurencyjnej. Zakaz wykorzystywania w rolnictwie odmian i produktów GMO dopuszczonych przez UE rodzi nie tylko konflikt z prawem unijnym, ale pozbawia też polskich rolników ważnego elementu podnoszenia efektywności produkcji.

Obawy związane z użytkowaniem GMO w rolnictwie, które legły u podstaw restrykcyjnych klauzul zawartych w polskich ustawach o paszach i nasiennictwie, najkrócej i najbardziej rzeczowo skwitowała Komisja Europejska. W stanowisku opublikowanym 19 stycznia br. Komisja uznała, że polski rząd nie przedstawił żadnych danych merytorycznie uzasadniających obawy przed GMO i modyfikowaną genetycznie żywnością, które zostały dopuszczone do uprawy i obrotu przez kompetentne organy UE.

Należy podkreślić, że przepisy UE dotyczące GMO, a szczególnie modyfikowanych roślin w rolnictwie, są bardzo restrykcyjne. W konsekwencji przed dopuszczeniem do obrotu lub uprawy każda nowa transformacja, a nie tylko rodzaj organizmów, jest szczegółowo badana pod każdym względem.

Wyborcza zapowiada następne artykuły.

Life’s 4 Living: bizarre energy-medicine ‘cure’ for MS
By jonhw
Posted in syndicated on 25 February 2008
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Life’s 4 Living is conducting a healing programme for children and young adults with Multiple Sclerosis. Holfordwatch has some concerns about the evidence-base of the treatment modalities and whether or not it might unjustifiably offer the promise of a cure for this chronic condition.

Debata o GMO w Wyborczej
By Modne Bzdury
Posted in syndicated on 24 February 2008
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Wyborcza opublikowała w ciągu dwóch dni dwa artykuły dotyczące zasadności wprowadzenia na Polskie rynek GMO. Pierwszy głos zajął obecny minister środowiska prof. Maciej Nowicki, który jest sceptycznie nastawiony do tego pomysłu. W swoim tekście przedstawia powody, dla których Polska - jego zdaniem - powinna pozostać krajem wolnym od GMO. Nowicki opiera swoje stanowisko na argumentach natury zarówno zdrowotno-ekologicznej, jak i ekonomicznej. Na artykuł ministra odpowiedział prof. Piotr Węgleński, dyrektor Instytutu Genetyki i Biotechnologii Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. Wyborcza chyba słusznie napisała, że tekst Nowickiego zdenerwował Węglańskiego, gdyż odpowiedź tego drugiego pozostawia wiele do życzenia. Jest ona nieco chaotyczna, momentami emocjonalna i choć odpowiada na niektóre wątpliwości Nowickiego, to wiele kwestii pozostawia bez odpowiedzi.

Dyskusja na łamach Wyborczej ma być kontynuowana i jutro będziemy mogli zapoznać się z artykułem prof. Tomasza Twardowskiego z Instytutu Chemii Bioorganicznej PAN. Mam nadzieję, że będzie to głos merytoryczny i bardziej przemyślany niż ten Węgleńskiego.

Patrick Holford and His Appropriate Title
By menefreghismo
Posted in syndicated on 24 February 2008
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Have you ever felt like you were not really wanted? It looks as if the University of Teesside is making the best of a bad situation by some belated attempts to introduce damage limitation as to just how much Patrick Holford can claim about his association with them.

Patrick Holford and Humour in South Africa
By dvnutrix
Posted in syndicated on 24 February 2008
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The South Africa Sunday Times is asked about quinoa, a grain that is heavily recommended by Patrick Holford. They give an opinion that tells it like it is and follow-up, rather charmingly, with a recipe for deep-fried ice-cream balls.

A Quack and a Crank
By andrew
Posted in syndicated on 24 February 2008
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…in which I start to suspect that there is no concept so fundamental, obvious and basic that nobody will be stupid or paranoid enough to question it.

They’ll none of ‘em be missed
By David Colquhoun
Posted in , , syndicated on 23 February 2008
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This afternoon I went to the Coliseum to see a revival of Jonathan Miller’s 1986 production of the Mikado. It was beautifully done, and the song of Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner of Japan, begged for a version that deals with anti-science. The serious post comes next. Meanwhile here’s a go [...]

Say Goodbye to Your Liberty
By jaycueaitch
Posted in syndicated on 23 February 2008
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The front page headline of today’s Guardian:
Government wants personal details of every traveller
“Passengers travelling between EU countries or taking domestic flights would have to hand over a mass of personal information, including their mobile phone number and credit card details, as part of a new package of security measures being demanded by the British government. [...]

World religions together in peace, love and unity…..against the gayers
By Dr* T
Posted in syndicated on 23 February 2008
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Compare and contrast three of the major world religions’ representatives’ points of view (ignoring the bits about loving your neighbour etc):Jewish:Israeli MP blames quakes on gaysChristianFloods are judgements on society, says bishopsMuslimMuslim Alli…

If it quacks at the duck……
By Dr* T
Posted in syndicated on 23 February 2008
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Hoorah! Black is back.Find out the whole story of Obi, Netcetera (losers) and Positive Internet, with regards to the one duck’s quack attack:http://www.quackometer.net/

Dr Organon’s Dietary Advice
By jdc325
Posted in , , , syndicated on 23 February 2008
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What is it about woo-meisters that makes them think they are the best person to give advice on anything health-related? I can (just about) understand why a homeopath would think they were able to advise on homeopathy, but what makes them think they are qualified to, say,  diagnose or to give advice on diet? There is a homeopathy [...]

Netcetera are Recreant Milquetoasts and Poltroons. Positive Internet Stand Tall.
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in syndicated on 23 February 2008
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So, the Quackometer has been up and running for 24 hours now and most systems have been restored. A bit more to go though. For the technically inclined, this has involved a move from cuddly cotton wool children’s Microsoft servers to grown up, open source, Apache/Unix servers where a missed semi-colon can kill faster than a homeopath dishing out malaria pills.

It’s been a bit of a bother, but I

Life’s 4 Living, The Energy Clinic, Claire Sutton and Sarah McCrum
By dvnutrix
Posted in syndicated on 22 February 2008
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Holfordwatch was unaware of the chequered history of Barefoot Russell in his dealings with his clients. However, it now looks as if if some vulnerable young people and their families are invited to accept treatment and support from an organisation that is staffed by people who believe that their energy therapy can treat and mitigate cancer, Aids, Cerebral Palsy and a variety of chronic or terminal illnesses as well as disabilities. And who are willing to work with people such as Barefoot Russell who manifest a shaky sense of appropriate sexual boundaries with clients and vulnerable people.

Glug glug glug … why those eight glasses a day don’t HAVE to be water (or eight).
By draust
Posted in , syndicated on 22 February 2008
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The super successful campaign to persuade people to drink vast amounts of bottled water really has two parts.
One part, which we have already talked about, is to persuade people that tap water is dirty and harmful, while bottled water is clean, pure and healthy – not to mention aspirational.
The other part is to persuade people [...]

Ofgem Get Their Act Together
By jaycueaitch
Posted in syndicated on 22 February 2008
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This isn’t about woo but I am angry about it and what the hell, it’s my blog.
If you go here and scroll down to “The Great Gas Bill Rip-Off” you will find I was sounding off on 9 January last year about the fact that whenever the wholesale cost of energy went up, so did our [...]