Thursday, 31 October 2013

What Doctors Don't Tell You - Like Water For Chemo references

Reference 1:
Frenkel & al, 2010, Cytotoxic effects of ultra-diluted remedies on breast cancer cells, International Journal of Oncology, 36, 395-403 paper here
Commentaries linked below:

Reference 2:
Pathek & al, 2003, Ruta 6 selectively induces cell death in brain cancer cells but proliferation in normal peripheral blood lymphocytes: a novel treatment for human brain cancer, International Journal of Oncology, 23, 975-982 paper here (need to scroll down a bit)

Reference 3:
Stein, R, 2008, Kennedy's Cancer Is Highly Lethal, Washington Post, 21 May 2008
A newspaper report of the cancer that killed Edward Kennedy

Reference 4:
Banerji & al, 2008, Cancer patients treated with the Banerji protocols utilising homeopathic medicine: a best case series program of the National Cancer Insitute USA, Oncology Reports 20, 69-74 paper here

Reference 5:
Yahoo group on Banerji's "interventions".  Need to join to find out what goodies await.

Reference 6:
The website of the Prasantha Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation

Reference 7:
Samaddar, A & al, 2013, The potentized homeopathic drug, Lycopodium clavatum (5C and 15C) has anti-cancer effect on hela cells in vitro, Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies 6, 180-7 paper here

Reference 8:
Page not found.
Searching around did turn up this for the date given in the reference
This has the headline "Homeopathy not a cure, says WHO". Perhaps that's why the web address was incorrectly published in WDDTY.

 From what I can tell, there are some serious deficiencies in some of the citations and others are pretty irrelevant.  If WDDTY thinks this is doing better, I think we can assure them that it isn't.




What Lynne McTaggart doesn't tell you - could it be the truth?

The "suppressed" edition of WDDTY, the cancer special, has hit the newsstands.  I counted 12 copies of it in my local W H Smith this morning and will be back to check how many there are in a fortnight's time to see how well it sells.  By that time I should imagine that the martyr who was St Catherine will have nothing on the martyr who is Lynne McTaggart.

When the first direct to the public edition of WDDTY came out in September 2012, a number of people noticed and commented.  One of those was Simon Singh, TV producer, better best selling author than Lynne McTaggart, possessor of actual science qualifications, who contacted the distributors and pointed out how dangerous the magazine was.  In the intervening time, the baton that Simon first picked up has been taken on by others in the sceptical community.  Advertisements have been adjudicated upon by the ASA, links handily curated by Josephine Jones.

What we do know is that the bastion of free speech that is Lynne McTaggart is keen enough to delete Facebook comments she doesn't like yet, in the editorial of the "suppressed" edition, November 2013, she has the gall to say:
Singh and a small cluster of his Sense About Science associates began a mass email campaign,
bombarding every supermarket and retail group with emails and a hate campaign of trolls on our Facebook
Since I am banned from her pages, I cannot comment to her directly on this.  However, I do know that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a practising Sense About Scientist, although I fully support what they are aiming to do.  And my hateful comments included asking serious questions about what the mendacious Ms McTaggart clearly doesn't actually want to admit.  She is wrong.  Just wrong.

The editorial comments on the Times article of 1 October that got her blood to boil:
The article also said we’d claimed that vitamin C “cures” HIV, that homeopathy  could treat cancer, that we’d wrongly implied the cervical cancer vaccine has killed “hundreds” of girls and that we’d
told parents in our latest (October 2013) issue not to immunize their children with the MMR vaccine.
The problem is, no matter how else you try to read it, a cover blurb that says Mega Cure For The Incurables: Vitamin C fights it all, from measles to AIDS
 and has this at the start of the article:
you could be forgiven for thinking that they actually were claiming it.  So apparently we dreamt it all up.  Shame it is preserved in print and electronic versions.

It's easy to take that one down.  Look at Josephine Jones's page to see what others have done to debunk this woman.  We know that her statement about the journalist at the Times not contacting her is not true.  He tried. 

Oh well.  You can lead a horse to water....

McTaggart concludes her essay into the unchartered waters of ignorance with this:
And that’s how we will continue to publish this title—unafraid to ask the unpopular questions and to publish the inconvenient truths.
She could also have written:
And that's how we will continue to publish this title - unafraid to misrepresent research, use debunked or poor research, ask questions that have already been thoroughly answered in the negative and publish convenient to our advertisers untruths.
 But don't believe me.  Look at the magazine itself and come to your own conclusions.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Anthony Watts guide to conspiracy theories

Methinks Anthony Watts doth protesteth too much.

Is it me or does Anthony Watts, proprietor of the not paid for by the Koch brothers website WattsUpWithThat, certainly gets prickly when the name of the blessed brothers, whose combined wealth is, let's say, more than enough to live on, is mentioned?  It just seems a bit funny, that's all.  If he has no interest in defending them, then why bother.  Are there no more important things to worry about, such as which bit of nonsense is going to plop into the in-box at Watts Towers from, for instance, his eminence Chris Monckton?
Anthony Watts is asked if he wants a Diet Koch

Apparently not.  The spittle is sprayed in this piece at WUWT today.  I leave it to you to read but either Watts is unable to understand the written word or he is adopting a level of ignorance he does not possess for his own literary effect.  I suspect such a tactic is not in his arsenal so actual inability to read for comprehension is the likeliest explanation.

Especially when it is claimed that Fox News uses sock puppets to comment on their own threads.  And the Koch brothers are themselves into climate change denial to the tune of $67million since 1997 (it is alleged - I don't have the money for fancy lawyers).  And again.
Public Enemy # 4,873,590,428

Michael Mann, whose fault is to do some science and come up with an unexpected answer, is a target of Watts.  That's why Watts sarcastically says:
Now watch, someone will alert Dr. Mann to this writing, and he’ll tweet something about it with some added smear, or retweet something from one of his followers along the same lines. It’s as sure as the sun rises in the morning, I don’t even need a computer model.
Well, Anthony.  I shall act as Dr Mann's very own Lamb Chop and say, as sure as eggs is eggs (and you won't understand that one, will you Anthony?), since the Koch brothers are heavily into climate change denial, why on Earth shouldn't anyone smell the expensive after shave of the world's richest brothers (citation needed). 

But while Anthony Watts looks for conspiracies amongst the real climate scientists, he clearly doesn't read the comment threads on his own site.  Or even the articles on his own site.  I won't bother tracking it down but I can't remember how many times I have seen Lord Monckton accuse someone or other in the climate science community of fraud.  That requires a conspiracy because it has to be planned ahead.  And these accusations are repeated ad nauseam on WUWT by contributors and commenters.  How often do you read that it is all about the grant money?  How often do you read that it is about a great hoax?  How often, Anthony, can you accept those kind of comments and not accept that conspiracy ideation is something that many WUWT readers actually share?  It isn't hard to find.  But you do have to open your eyes and learn how to read English.  And that, dear reader, is something Anthony Watts seems to have trouble doing.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Looking for a copy of What Doctors Don't Tell You - keep looking

Did you know that Slimming World magazine sells nearly 440,000 copies each issue?  No, I didn't.  Men's Health sells about 204,000 copies.  Women's Health lags about 100,000 behind the men's version.  There is a market for health magazines.    The best that straight science can offer is New Scientist which sells about 86,000 copies a week in the UK.  Not bad but a long way short of Slimming World.

I mention this because I can't find the circulation figures for What Doctors Don't Tell You.  More importantly, I can't find the magazine itself.  I don't find it in my local Sainsbury or Tesco.  I can find it in my local W H Smith but I wonder how many copies are bought because the stack doesn't seem to change over the course of the month (including the copy of Scientific American I habitually put over the front copy). 

Yet a few months ago it was much more easily.  My local Tesco had a big stack of them.  It had a big stack of them a few days after the edition was published, and it had an equally big stack of them at three weeks later.  Either the pile was constantly replenished, which I know doesn't happen with magazines that I do read, like Private Eye, New Scientist, Mojo and Disney Princesses (all right, I don't read it for me but my granddaughter insists I read it to her).  Get in a few days late and you find a blank space on the shelf which the latest edition once inhabited.

But I don't think I am missing much.  But wait, I am missing the fact that Vitamin C can cure AIDS, which it can't, of course and, to be fair, the magazine has never actually ever claimed that. 

But it does sort of imply that, doesn't it?  It sorts of says MEGA-CURE FOR THE INCURABLES: Vitamin C fights it all, from measles to AIDS.  I would say that, in all honesty, and hedging this around because Lynne McTaggart, defender of free speech and all that goes with it, is just a little twitchy about criticism and has been known to delete Facebook comments that don't support her wishful thinking  evidence based approach to bashing evidence based medicine.
The article on Vitamin C includes this
He [Cathcart] even devised an experiment with around 250
patients who tested positive for HIV. In a letter to the
editor of The Lancet, he wrote that his regime of giving
oral doses of vitamin C close to “bowel tolerance” (see
box, page 60) had “slowed, stopped or sometimes
reversed for several years” the depletion of an HIV
patient’s CD4+ T cells.

Cathcart’s patients also showed rapid reductions
in lymphadenopathy (a disease of the lymph nodes
characterized by swollen nodes and general malaise),
improved tolerability to antibiotics, complete
elimination of malaise and prolonged survival.

I can't read the Lancet letter so I can't be sure that this is a proper description of Cathcart's experiment.  Suffice to say, however, that the front cover promises that Vitamin C cures AIDS, and the heading to the article on Vitamin C itself promises that it can cure AIDS amongst other things and yet the article doesn't support the claim.
What's going on?
Well, I suggest, on no evidence whatsoever, that someone is hyping things up to get readers hooked, then letting them down when they actually read the article inside.  Lots of magazines do it.  But not many magazines are promising on the cover that AIDS can be cured and to do so all one needs to take are large enough doses of a commonly available chemical.  Except, of course, that WDDTY wasn't claiming that at all. 
I use the word hypocrite here a lot because I reckon science deniers of all kinds, those that wilfully ignore evidence, have to be just that.  They tie themselves in knots to make their version of reality fit the evidence.  From what I have read of Cathcart's vitamin C publications, he wasn't much of a scientist and was more likely a science denier himself.  And that's from the references in the article illustrated above. 
Here's what teacake had to say:
17. Med Hypotheses, 1985; 18: 61-77 – Medical Hypotheses has a bit of a reputation. Anyway, this paper offers no evidence, just some hypotheses about vitamin C, including this unevidenced assertion: “I think that most crib deaths are due to acute induced scurvy.” The author offers the view that the more ill somebody is, the more vitamin C they can tolerate, without any more than anecdotal evidence.

Read the entire thing and you will see what he means.  I did.  I wonder if Lynne McTaggart did.  And if she did, I am not sure she understood it.

I shall continue to search for WDDTY in my locality, and beyond when I am farther afield.  If I spot the increasingly rare species, I shall let you know. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Lynne McTaggart deserves an apology - no, really

Please read to the end.

As some of you may know, my father is terminally ill with a suite of cancers.  He was diagnosed with skin cancer in 1991, prostate cancer in 1997, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2006 and adenocarcinoma in 2013. The most recent one is also the most aggressive, beginning in the lungs and having spread before it was even noticed to the liver and the bones.  It may well be that the brain tumours that he was diagnosed with in 2009 were the result of that adenocarcinoma because, apparently, the non-Hodgkin's doesn't usually migrate north of the diaphragm, or something like that.

Don't blame me for my lack of oncology knowledge.  I have plenty of oncology books but I just don't understand all the long words in them.  Besides, most of my understanding of cancer comes from watching Dr James Wilson on House.  But then again, I don't seem to be the only one who struggles with the long words.  Self-proclaimed science journalist of forty or more years, Lynne McTaggart, struggles with them too, if the evidence is to be believed.

McTaggart is head wotsit at the woo journal de nos jours, What Doctors Don't Tell You.  You can buy this glossy magazine at Tesco, W H Smith and other outlets but no longer at Waitrose (unless the local manager is stupid enough not to tell you to go down the road to Smith's) and you can read within it what can only be described as unreliable advice and reporting of matters medical and scientific. 

But don't believe me.  Believe these two true skeptics:


The thing is, as soon as you pretend you are evidence based, someone will check the evidence.  In this day and age, that's not so difficult.  And the difference, as I have said before, between a true skeptic and a fake one is the willingness to chase references and find out where they take the story.  What does the primary evidence say?  And, it would appear, that the story the primary research has to say is not particularly good for WDDTY.  So many references are misinterpreted, so many conclusions reported wrongly, based on samples in the links above and some I have done myself, that you do wonder.

So when The Times broke the story that WDDTY was, let's say, not respected amongst the scientific and medical community, McTaggart got grumpy.  And, bastion of free speech that she is, her response to criticism and crucial questions is to delete them.  That puts her in my list of people who act as if they are hypocrites, up there with Anthony Watts of WUWT. 

My dad is 83.  With the best will in the world, he is unlikely to make 84.  He's unlikely to make Christmas and it will be a great delight for us all if he does.  But his quality of life is declining as the effects of all those tumours takes its toll.  He had the usual treatments but there is an entire sweetshop of alternatives he could have tried.  Except, of course, he would have been pouring his money down the drain more precisely than a coffee enema is administered. 

Some interesting back issues:

Deconstruction of McTaggart's facebook rant about The Times article:

Old interview:

A take down of her pseudoscience book The Field:

Jospehine Jones's compilation of blog posts on WDDTY:

Then there's this:

Rubbishing McTaggart's pseudoscientific books:

I think you get the picture.

She doesn't deserve an apology at all.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Dog eat dog - Spencer v Eschenbach

It is clear to anyone who has watched climate science deniers in their various subspecies for any length of time that there are almost as many varieties of ice cream in an Italian ice cream shop.  That it never occurs to them to wonder why this might be so is one of the great unanswered questions of our times.  Then something odd happens.  A fight breaks out between two climate science deniers.

All right, fight might be a bit of an overstatement, but disagreement is also a bit too weak.  This could lead to a duel to ensure that dignity and pride is maintained and the antagonists are Dr Roy Spencer and Willis Eschenbach.

Spencer is a real scientist, just one who has decided that the argument over the cause of climate change is not worth having because God is doing it.  He signed a bit of paper (all right, online form) that says so.  And he has published a vapid and science free article about how he believes in intelligent design.  So he has form of not being a scientist even while having the necessary bits of paper that prove he is.

Willis is, well, a hotch potch of whatever seemed to interest him at the time.  His bits of paper suggest he could give someone a massage but scientist he is not.  I have bits of paper that say I could be a scientist, but I am not a practising one. 

Anyway, Willis published something or other at WUWT based on satellite data and some correlations.  The sort of thing he enjoys doing.  Spencer, rightly in my opinion, calls out Willis as an armchair scientist who thinks he has made a wonderful discovery when all he is doing is repeating what professional scientists have done and discarded many years ago.  Spencer explains how scientists work, looking at lots of possibilities before honing in on the best explanation. 

But Willis, citizen scientist he, is a tad grumpy at being called out.  So he responds at WUWT and thus a fight has broken out.  In the tradition of British school playgrounds, a circle of people egging the pair on has formed.  No surprises there. 

Having broken that barrier, the climate deniers could be more honest.  Since science examines the evidence and arrives at the best explanation, the fact that evidence is leading the deniers down multiple lines of explanation should invoke Ockham's Razor: the most parsimonious explanation should prevail.  But deniers become wedded to their own favourites and it is clear that they jealously guard their own hypothesis. 

So let the battle commence. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Is this the Reverend Richard S Courtney? (Possibly NSFW)

Richard S Courtney is a frequent commenter at WattsUpWithThat.  He has, in the past, had the letter Dr or PhD appended to his name but neither acronym is warranted.  He has neither.  But he does have some sort of clerical attribution, Methodist in his case, and he has a pretty foul mouth when it comes to what might be called science accepters, those people who look at the scientific evidence for climate change and find it compelling.  If you wish to cross his path, just point out a correct fact on WUWT, or tell him he's wrong.  Actually, you just have to accept AGW and breathe.  Those two things are enough to make his blood boil.

One easy way to show that he's wrong is his connection with the Cornwall Alliance. 

Anyway, can anyone verify that this is actual footage of Courtney practising his WUWT comments:

A challenge to climate science deniers

1859.  What a year for science deniers!

In November of that year a nicely green coloured volume hit the bookstores and just as quickly left them.  Not because it was withdrawn but because its initial print run was sold out on the first day.  It was rapidly reprinted, almost as rapidly went through a number of editions and remains easily available to this day.  Few scientific books are accorded this status but On The Origin Of Species is a bit special.

As science, much of what Darwin wrote has inevitably been superceded. New discoveries have been made that add to the book, ensuring that the central thesis has been strengthened.  In spite of that, many people around the world deny that evolution is a fact.  It is only a theory, they parrot, in the ignorance of what it means to be a scientific theory.

More quietly, but at the moment just as controversially, the Anglo-Irish physicist, John Tyndall, was measuring the behaviour of the constituent gases of the air and the manner in which they absorb infra red radiation.  As we well know, this is the empirical underpinning of our understanding of the role of carbon dioxide in climate change.  If Tyndall could perform the necessary experiments 150 years ago, it is not beyond the wit of the pseudoskeptics to perform the same experiments today and repeat Tyndall's results. 

The point is simple.  It is beyond reasonable doubt that carbon dioxide and water vapour absorb infra red radiation.  Something has to happen to that energy.  Absorbed thermal energy raises the temperature of an object or material.  That bit of physics is undeniable.  So, and here is my challenge: why do deniers think that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doesn't have an effect?

It would be weird if it didn't.  There are few things that can happen to any system when a factor is altered: a dependent variable can go up, go down or stay the same (I realised there are some other possibilities involving curves but initially a curve goes either up, down or remains the same).  So I really would like to know why some climate science deniers think that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doesn't have any effect on temperature.  In fact, I am totally mystified why anyone would think that. 

Now, I understand that a laboratory situation is not a perfect model of the entire climate of the Earth.  I am not stupid.  I can see that.  My point is simpler: how can some climate science deniers continue to deny that increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the air do not have an effect on the energy balance of the world.  If the science of climate change is settled in any arena, the basic physics of the greenhouse effect is surely that.

So if any climate science deniers/fake skeptics etc do pass this way, can they explain their thinking on this matter.  It is clear that carbon dioxide concentrations have increased.  I don't think anyone really denies that.  So there should be an effect on temperatures and, lo and behold, that's what the temperature record says.  No amount of sophisticated (and less than sophisticated) trickery will hide the incline.  It is there.  Even in Anthony Watts's favourite temperature record, BEST, it is there.  [NB. It was Watt's favourite up to and including the moment when the data used by BEST showed that temperatures were indeed rising.]

I realise that I can be countered by those referred to as luke warmers.  These are the deniers who accept that carbon dioxide does what it says on the tin but it isn't a problem.  Sit back and enjoy it.  I'm not interested in that argument.  It isn't relevant to this.  I'd like to know why some people won't accept that global climate change is the result of carbon dioxide increasing because that's what the physics predicts it will do.

Now, over to you.

And while we wait for the deniers to get back to me, here are some of the other highlights of 1859:

Oregon became the 33rd of the United States of America
A Tale Of Two Cities is published
Construction begins on the Suez Canal
Charles Blondin crossed the Niagara Falls on a tightrope for the first time
Big Ben chimed for the first time
Svante Arrhenius was born (he did more work on climate change well before Anthony Watts was a twinkle in Papa Watts's eye)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born
Isambard Kingdom Brunel dies