Mike Adams: Fighting Strawmen for $10,000

I had heard of Health Danger Mike Adams’ challenge a while back and thought nothing off it (just another Big Pharma conspiracy theorist). Mike is one of those people who gets celebrity status amongst some people – without them really knowing what he’s about. He promotes Health, which in itself is great – but they don’t notice where he gets all crazy and deluded – and that’s where the problems begin. Sort of like when the Shorty Awards (A twitter-based award) came about and as a result of losing, started blaming “Big Pharma” and the votes being rigged, despite an investigating finding that a large component of his votes were from Twitter User Accounts specifically set up to vote. – Orac covers this one awesomely.

Not the First Time

And yet, surprisingly (or not) while looking up information about this very post I stumbled upon Mike Adams’ “challenge” regarding vaccines. Yes, he’s a Vaccination Nut too. Thankfully, A Drunken Madman looks at Health Dangers’ challenge and explains why it’s a bullshit campaign to make it look like he’s a “ranger”.

The James Randi Educational Foundation

Now, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has a standing offer of $1,000,000 to anyone who can PROVE any of a number of paranormal claims. e.g. ghosts, physic abilities, homeopathy, etc.

The tests administered are there to prove an objective claims, and are agreed to by both parties. The rules are pretty simple. Prove the claim. That’s it.

Of the challenge, the JREF has this to say:

The Foundation is committed to providing reliable information about paranormal claims. It both supports and conducts original research into such claims.

At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the “applicant” becomes a “claimant.”

Notice the language used; the formal, reasoned nature of the challenge. It doesn’t harp on. It’s succinct.

NaturalNews’ Mike Adams

And here we have Mike “Health Ranger” Adams and his obnoxious, self-righteous “challenge“. Either he is too stupid to understand medicines, willfully ignorant and refuses to learn, or he has specifically set out to create a false challenge to protect his money.

On behalf of the natural health community and all the free citizens of our world who have had their health freedoms stolen from them by a corrupt, dishonest and utterly criminal pharmaceutical industry, I hereby challenge the drug companies to produce a single medicated person who can beat me in a contest of strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination and adaptability.

I’m offering $10,000 to any drug company that can produce a single person taking eight “health enhancing” pharmaceuticals (see below) who can beat me in the competition described here. If they beat me, I write them a $10,000 check out of my own personal bank account. On the other hand, if I win, they have to donate $10,000 to the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center, where I will direct the funds to be spent on providing nutritional supplements for low-income expectant mothers.

The drug companies, you see, claim that the more drugs you take, the healthier you become! Cardiovascular drugs, they say, improve the health of your cardiovascular system. Antidepressant drugs improve the health of your brain, and blood thinning drugs improve the flow of blood through your veins, they insist. So shouldn’t a person taking five, six, or even eight drugs be healthier than a person who takes no such drugs?

According to the messages broadcast in Big Pharma’s television ads, I should be the least healthy person alive today because I take no drugs whatsoever: No prescription drugs, no over-the-counter drugs and no recreational drugs. If you believe Big Pharma’s position that drugs make you healthier, then it should be a very simple matter for Big Pharma to come up with somebody who has better cardiovascular health than myself, right?

Think about it: There are over 300 million people in America. More than half of them take prescription drugs. That’s over 150 million people from which Big Pharma can choose in order to beat one guy (me) in a contest of physical health.

And yet, as you’re about to find out, there is no person on these medications who exhibits excellent physical health. They simply don’t exist. And why? Because drugs make you sicker, not healthier, and the more pharmaceuticals you take, the sicker you get! http://www.naturalnews.com/023476_health_drug_drugs.html

Before he has even got to the details of his “Challenge”, it is clear he is making a convoluted series of Straw Man arguments. However, it’s in the “Rules”, that we see the most irresponsible, and ignorant thing that he demands from its participants – that the challengers be multiple given drugs, regardless of whether they are appropriate or not for them – and not just for a short period, but at least a year.

My challenge is extended to any pharmaceutical company with more than $250 million in annual sales. Subjects selected for the competition must be taking the following pharmaceuticals (and must have been taking them for one full year in order for the “health effects” to fully kick in):

• COX-2 inhibitor (anti-inflammatory)
• Blood thinner drug (like Coumadin)
• Blood pressure drug (like Toprol)
• Statin drug (anti-cholesterol)
• SSRI drug (antidepressant)
• Sleep drug (like Ambien)
• Hypertension drug (like Norvasc)
• Antibiotic (like Amoxicillin)

Furthermore, subjects cannot be taking any nutritional supplements or eating superfoods, since these are precisely the things that conventional medicine insists have no health benefits whatsoever in the human body. So I’ll be taking all the nutritional supplements, and the drug company participant will be taking all the medications.

Participants will have to sign a full disclosure relieving me of any responsibility for their own death, since the level of physical exertion in this competition may very well be enough to cause a medicated person to die of a heart attack or stroke. (After all, these drugs kill 100,000 people a year, and most of those people aren’t even exerting themselves…)

Furthermore, given the overwhelming advantage of allowing the drug companies to select any person from among 150 million drug-taking American consumers, I’m giving myself the relatively minor advantage of choosing the five events of the competition, which will be revealed when the challenge begins.

To prove they are serious in this challenge, any participating pharmaceutical company must deposit $10,000 with the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center, which will keep their deposit if they lose the competition. If they win, the Consumer Wellness Center will return their deposit, and I will personally write them a check for an additional $10,000.

Challenge participants can be of any age over 18. Yes, at the age of 38, I will gladly compete with challengers half my age, as long as they are on the required medications.

If any participants have the gumption to show up, this event will be filmed and broadcast on NaturalNews.com, YouTube, Google Video and other online video outlets. Further details of the participation requirements and legal contract are available by contacting NaturalNews through our feedback form: http://www.naturalnews.com/feedback…

There are quite a few other details to this, such as travel arrangements, who pays for the blood tests, video broadcast rights, and so on, so if any drug company seriously wants to step up to this challenge, contact us for full legal details. – http://www.naturalnews.com/023476_health_drug_drugs.html

Do you like the part where he slips in that wants his challengers to be taking a Sleeping Drug? Or where rather than escrow, he opts to have the money deposited in to the coffers of the “Consumer Wellness Center”, of which he is the Executive Officer and founder?

And aside from the obvious Naturalistic Fallacy, It’s is blatantly clear to those with an informed, basic knowledge of medicine that he has no good understanding of what medicines are, or how they should be used.

The only thing to do is to ensure others’ have the capacity to see through bullshit like Adams’ through reason and logic.

An arduous task.

Andrew Wakefield: Fraud – The Facts

Over on the “Stop the Australian Vaccination Network” (AVN) Facebook page, this got thrown up; a 15-page comic looking at the epic fraud by Andrew Wakefield, the money he gained from it, the money he stood to gain, and the implicit media and politicians who had their heads so far up their arses they literally had shit for brains.

Darryl Cunningham has put together a brilliantly illustrated book with an interesting use of real media in the comic that brings the comic down to earth – perhaps long enough for you to realize the sobering fact that children have died because of the personal greed of Andrew Wakefield and Richard Barr.

Perhaps long enough to realize that it didn’t just affect the children of the parents who were too scared to vaccinate because they believed the misinformation from Andrew Wakefield, Richard Barr, Jim Carrey, and Jenny McCarthey; it affects EVERYONE.

So, check out “The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield“:

Darryl Cunningham Investigates

The final page really makes the same point as I, and others have been wanting for a long time:

Informed Journalism.

Alternative Labelling: “Untested”, “Unproven”, or Just Plain “Bullshit”?

It seems today’s dawn could herald in the TGA making a move to be pro-active in ensuring consumers are informed about the products they are purchasing.

Under “active consideration” is a new disclaimer that will be required to be used on at least, “alternative” remedies.

Contrary to popular belief, the TGA does not assess the efficacy of products that are “AUST L” labeled, in fact, “Sponsors” – That is, Distributors or Manufacturers are only required to declare they “hold evidence”.

They do not need to show it to anyone.

Further, there is a legal loop-hole that allows many products to be sold without being listed on the Therapeutic Goods Register. “Sponsors”, in this case, includes advertises and private practitioners, such as Homeopaths and “Traditional Chinese Medicine” practitioners may produce and sell products simply by declaring “Traditional Use” – again, no evidence required.

Marketing has played a huge part in encouraging Australians to buy unproven products; claims like “It’s Natural” spring to mind. It has been a tag-line that’s been exploited because of its “feel good” ring to it. Natural does NOT always mean good, and it certainly does not mean it works.

There is of course then, then use of “Weasel words”, subtle wording that make it appear that they make a claim, when legally, they do not. This is a popular way many “Alt-Med” advertisers get away with pushing nonsense to the public.

An article in today’s The Age (Push to label most alternative medicines as ‘untested’) states:

The TGA development follows the release this week of a report by the Australian National Audit Office which revealed surveys showing the agency had failed for several years to counter effectively widespread use of deceptive and misleading advertising of complementary and alternative medicines.

In 2003, a survey found that about 52% of Australian Households use some form or alternative medicines, products or services regularly; There are over 10,000 “Alternative” and “Complementary” products on the register, and almost none of them scrutinized for efficacy.

It’s not surprising then, that an Industry that was worth $800m in 2003 and is now estimated to be worth over $2 Billion Annually is strongly opposed to the new labels. An enforced “Untested” label is a great way of encouraging people making claims about their products to back it up with evidence.

Each year there is a massive amount of money being literally pissed away as more and more “Alternative” remedies find their way on to shelves (like Coles Supermarkets) by what seems to be an endless sea of bullshit claims.

This proposal is a welcomed potential win for Reason.

WHAT?! — What’s the Harm?!

Quantifying the damage.

What’sTheHarm is designed to make a point about the dangers of not thinking critically. Namely that you can easily be injured or killed by neglecting this important skill.  – At last glance, the casualties, injuries, and cost of not thinking critically came to:

368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages

The website is operated by Tim Farley, who also does a segment on the Skepticality Podcast on History relevant to skeptics.

It’s a number that can only get bigger, and is far from exhaustive – I would suggest that it barely scratches the surface. Check out the topics available:

Medical

Acupuncture
Alphabiotics
Alternative dentistry
Alternative medicine
Applied kinesiology
Autism denial
Ayurvedic medicine
Chelation therapy
Chiropractic
Colloidal silver
Colon cleansing
Cranio-sacral therapy
Cupping
Detoxification
Ear candling
Energy medicine
Escharotics
Folk remedies
Herbal remedies
HIV/AIDS denial
Holistic medicine
Home childbirth
Homeopathy
Iridology
Naturopathy
Osteopathy
Ozone therapy
Psychic surgery
Vaccine denial
Vitamin megadoses

Supernatural & Paranormal

Astral projection
Curses
Exorcisms
Faith healing
Ghosts
Magick
Psychics
Vampires
Voodoo
Witchcraft

Religion

Breatharianism
Christian Science
Cults
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Religious fundamentalism
Scientology
Transcendental Meditation

Fears

Apocalypse fear
Metal toxicity fear
Satanic ritual abuse
Terrorism fear

Pseudo-Science

Astrology
Attachment therapy
Dowsing
Dream interpretation
Evolution denial
Expert witnesses
Facilitated communication
Feng shui
Hypnosis
Numerology
Reparative therapy
Repressed memory therapy

Misinformation

GPS navigation systems
Internet misinformation

Miscellaneous

Child vegetarianism
Conspiracy theories
Holocaust denial
IRS denial
Moon landing denial
Multi-level marketing
Nigerian emails
Rituals
UFOs

Manly Daily Submission: Unsupported claims about Homeopathy don’t go unnoticed

Fran Sheffield, operator of HomeopathyPlus.com.au has been handed down a raft of sanctions by the Therapeutic Goods Administrations’ Complaint Resolution Panel at a Meeting held 16 June 2011, over an advertisement on her website about a Homeopathic “Flu-Stop” product. The sanctions included a Withdrawal of representations, Withdrawal of advertisement, and a Publication of a retraction.

The TGA CRP found that the product advertisement:
– Did not contain balanced evidence,
– Did not contain adequate evidence for its clams,
– Were likely to arouse unwarranted expectations of the product,
– Abused the trust of consumers,
– Exploited the lack of knowledge of consumers,
– Illegally claimed it was safe,
– Did not present evidence in an accurate manner,
– Did not publish evidence that identified the researcher and financial sponsor,
– Was misleading in its portrayal of a comparison product,
– Referred to serious diseases and conditions without prior approval by the TGA, and
– Failed to include mandatory health warnings on the label of their product.

HomeopathyPlus.com.au

The Retraction that MUST be displayed

The website has 14 days to comply with the recommendations or the matter may be referred to the Secretary for further action. However, this isn’t the first time she’s fallen foul of the law. Despite fines of $55,000, in early 2010 Fran refused to comply with sanctions imposed by the TGA because she ‘disagreed’ with their findings.

The discussion of Homeopathy in the public has recently increased due to deaths in Australia including a cancer sufferer that featured on ABC’s Australia Story who was told to cease her conventional treatment, and a child who’s Homeopath parents refused to administer conventional treatment and attempted to treat the child’s skin disorder with Homeopathic Remedies.

Commercial Homeopathic Remedies are sold through many Health Food Shops and Pharmacies along the Northern beaches, despite Homeopaths insisting that this can not be done – as they claim that remedies are “made for the individual” to match their emotional state, and the medical history. Homeopaths also claim that by shaking an ingredient into a solvent like alcohol or water and diluting it over and over again, (most past the point where there is not a single molecule of the original ingredient) the water remembers what is described as a “vibration” from the original ingredient.

While most preparations include some kind of plant or animal such as wild duck liver or belladonna, some Homeopathic ingredients sold to consumers include the Berlin Wall, Dog Feces, Feline AIDS, and the Colour Indigo.

Despite convoluted descriptions of how a Homeopathic Preparation should be prepared, or handled repeated attempts to demonstrate an effect beyond placebo under robust methods of investigation have failed. It’s a point that some skeptics refer to as a PRATT – Point Raised A Thousand Times. It is well established that as more controls are introduced to prevent researcher, homeopath, or patient bias the apparent effect of Homeopathy swiftly disappears.

Skeptic activism has played a large role in bringing to light the flaws about Homeopathy, both in how Homeopaths  claim their remedies work, and in exposing the exploitation of low quality or irrelevant studies in an attempt to support their practice.

Skeptics argue that it wouldn’t matter if science understood how Homeopathy worked, or how the remedies should be made – If a patient were getting better it is something that can be measured, and it can measured against a placebo to determine it’s efficacy.

During a Lateline segment in 2010, the then Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mark Butler said about the Therapeutic Goods Administration “The Australian community is entitled to expect that an advertising complaints system will be timely, transparent and have teeth and I’m not sure we have that at the moment.

We’re now in a position I hope in the near future – as I have indicated to those players – of publishing options for reform that we think will address all of those issues in one fell swoop.”

Skeptical Activists are still waiting for these reforms, but until then they’re promising to report more breaches they find to the TGA and also to the ACCC, and it’s through the ACCC they hope there will be more traction and willingness to ensure that those who are instilling wrong beliefs in to peoples’ minds are brought to justice.

You can learn more about what advertisements have been found to breach the Therapeutic Good Advertising Code at: http://www.tgacrp.com.au/index.cfm?pageID=13&displayYear=2011

Interesting things include:
Ion Bracelets,
Detox Foot Spas,
SensaSlim’s Weightloss Spray,
Ear Candles, and
Toothpaste products.

Damage Control: Chiropractic Association of Australia

CAA in Damage Control

The CAA (Chiropractor’s Association of Australia) is the “peak body representing chiropractic” – and has been in Damage Control Mode after a recent article featuring Warren Sipser and his dangerous infant manipulations.

The outdated mentality of Traditional Medicine and Therapies was to “Use it because it seems to work” and was surpassed decades ago by Modern Medicine as critical thinking and statistical analysis has come to the forefront in the investigation of medicine, technology, and the understanding of the world around us.

Widespread acceptance of “therapies” only two centuries ago involved standing in a circle around a tree and being “mesmerized” and sitting around a bathtub full of iron filings to feel better. To their proponents, these “seemed to work”. You may laugh, and rightly so, but this is a result of accepting “Direct Experience” as good evidence. Direct Experiences gives us nothing more than an indicator on which to further investigate critically.

Remembering where we parked the car is “Direct Experience”. This doesn’t prove we parked it where we thought, it only gives us a basis on which we can further investigate. How many times have you forgotten or misremembered where you parked the car?

Direct Experience can be misleading, and Memory is a fallible human function.

It is therefore concerning that in response to customer inquiry, chiropractic practioners are being instructed by the CAA to validate their profession through appeals to tradition, popularity, and introducing safety as a red herring to side-step questions of efficacy – throwbacks to the “use it because it seems to work” age of fallacious reasoning.

The CAA encourages their members to use weasel words such as “regulated” when speaking with customers, as if by virtue of invoking this magical word they are to be accepted as “doing the right thing”, or indeed “have a clue about medicine”. And yet, many of those involved in the running of Chiropractic Associations provide financial support to one of the most dangerous misinformation groups in Australia – The AVN – a group whose work are having real effects on the health and safety of infants, children, and adults alike.

It’s good to see that the CAA coming under the scrutiny it deserves – still far from the level of scrutiny other medical professions are under, but scrutiny none the less.

It seems odd that while the rest of the medical community regularly scrutinises each other (an act that promotes evidence-supported best practice), the CAA is vehemently against such scrutiny of their profession – defending their outlandish beliefs with evidence garnered from poorly controlled studies, research using inappropriate method of investigation or analysis, or with an outright absence of critical thinking.

That being said, I find it amusing – if it is true, that the CAA should then be so afraid of the endeavors of “one particular individual”. Surely, if they are in possession evidence supports the claims their Chiropractors make, there should be no problem!

While not having access to the document in question, I have these points about the CAA’s interpretation of the much of the criticism towards the Chiropractic profession, and the CAA’s failure to effectively regulate their industry.

These types of criticisms:

  • are borne out of a proliferation of practitioners who make claims that are unsubstantiated by robust evidence,
  • are of Chiropractic practitioners who insist on advocating pseudo-scientific theories for mechanisms;
  • who insist on making outlandish extrapolations of unrelated data to support their theories, and
  • who practice methods of manipulations that are not evidence based to treat indications when there is no robust evidence to support its use.

The CAA needs to ensure its members:

  • understand that Chiropractic as a profession must FIRST demonstrate a method is effective for a particular indication then bring it in to practice, and
  • are acting appropriately

While the CAA’s Code & Guidelines has resounding rhetoric, the CAA has proven itself either impotent in addressing those that do not follow them or they are demonstrating they do not care to do so.

The CAA needs to step up to the modern standards of medical practice and ensure their members do too.

Skeptics in (or from) Australia: Contact your MP

Something has got to give.

I’m asking that we each take 15-30 minutes to put together a quick e-mail about Homoeopathy and send it to our local MPs – You can look up your local MP via the ABC’s “Find Your Local MP” webpage.

I recommend outlining the absurdity of the therapy, as some MPs may not be aware of Homoeopathy or may have been misinformed about what it is, what it contains, or the principles underpinning it.

It would be great time to include the fact that the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has drawn up a draft statement about Homoeopathy stating:

“it is unethical for health practitioners to treat patients using homeopathy, for the reason that homeopathy – as a medicine or procedure – has been shown not to be efficacious.”

I recommend outlining these key points:

  1. The proposed mechanism is scientifically implausible and unsubstantiated.
  2. The claimed efficacy is not substantiated by any robust study of homoeopathy.
  3. Systematic Reviews of Systematic Reviews of the evidence for Homoeopathy consistently find it is a product with no effect beyond placebo.

You may wish to bring up issues surrounding homoeopathy such as the harm that can be caused by turning a blind eye to non-efficacious treatments for conditions with potentially serious consequences. For instance, ailments like insomnia and snoring can lead to anxiety and depression disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Both of these can be treated with science-based medicine, yet it is common to find Homoeopathic Remedies for them – and now, even in supermarkets where staff are ill-equipped to inform customers as to what Homoeopathy is.

It may be worth pointing out that:

  • “positive” studies for Homoeopathy almost always comes from within the profession and are generally surveys of how people “feel” rather than actual trials of a treatment;
  • it is common for homoeopaths to cite literature in defence of Homoeopathy, however when scrutinized, they are investigations of poor quality or do not support homoeopathic principles at all;
  • these “positive” studies are treated counter to how science-based medicines are scrutinized; instead of being peer-reviewed by professionals who seek to uncover flaws in testing methodology to encourage best-practice, they are generally published in niche pseudo-journals (or books) with little to no professional credibility.

You may also wish to point out the success of the recent world-wide 1023 campaign launched by the Merseyside Skeptics Society to bring attention to Homoeopathy, and the 2010 conclusion by the Science and Technology Committee (From the UK House of Commons) that the evidence provided by homoeopaths did not support their own claims.

If you are open to it, offer your MP the opportunity to contact you for more information. Do not feel you *have* to answer questions you do not know the answer to; if you feel overwhelmed ask your MP to write an e-mail with their concerns so that you may address them appropriately. If needed, get in contact with someone who you think CAN give them the information they are looking for.

You SHOULD include what kind of OUTCOME you would like to see from your MP, this may be by asking your MP to:

  • Raise the issue at a Party Meeting,
  • Raise the issue with the relevant Minister, Shadow Minister or Portfolio Holder,
  • Discuss the issue with their colleagues, or
  • Request a change in party policy.

You may want to urge your MP to Move a Motion in parliament along the lines of:

National Health Care should be a service that provides only science-based treatments; taxpayers should not be required to pay for, or subsidise the costs of unproven or dis-proven therapies.

Who could reasonably argue against that?

You may decide to be specific, perhaps about the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which despite its comprehensive review will continue to accept products for AUST L listing under a flawed self-assessment programme even though – according to the TGA’s own data – 9 out of 10 products  don’t do what they say they can. [this is a lengthy subject]

And lastly, I recommend inviting your local MP to a local Skeptics in the Pub/Cafe/Meet-up/Event where they can engage in discussions regarding critical thinking, education, reason, and science. This can help in strengthening a relationship to work closer in skeptical activism or outreach campaigns in the future.

 

If you have some time after that, check out:
FISHBARREL – The Quick way to report Quacks!

An Open Letter to Coles Supermarkets regarding the sale of Homeopathy

To whom it may concern,

It is with shock and disappointment that I came across the sale of Homeopathic products at your Warringah Mall Store in Brookvale on the 10th of June 2011.

So-Called Complementary Medicine

I would hope that the decision to sell Homoeopathic products was not one of “consumer choice” as most customers do not know what a Homoeopathic Product is – often believing that homoeopathy uses “natural” or “herbal” ingredients. This is in contrary to the use of such homoeopathic ingredients as the Berlin Wall,

Mobile Phone, Dolphin Song, and The Colour Purple – all carrying the same claims of efficacy.

Customers are also generally uninformed of how ingredients are listed on packets of Homoeopathic Products, often mistaking X or C as the potency of an ingredient, as opposed to its actual indication of dilution.

Proponents of Homoeopathy will attest that they believe that serial dilutions of an ingredient will leave a “vibrational energy” – essentially, they believe that the water they shake it in will have a memory – This belief is deluded and has no basis in reality.

It is with shock and disappointment that Coles Supermarkets would sell homoeopathic products because:

  1. The proposed mechanism is scientifically implausible and unsubstantiated.
  2. The claimed efficacy is not substantiated by any robust study of homoeopathy.
  3. Systematic Reviews of Systematic Reviews of the evidence for Homoeopathy consistently find it is a product with no effect beyond placebo.

British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2002 December; 54(6): 577–582
doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2002.01699.x
Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1874503/

Homoeopathy has recently been in the news because of deaths attributed to it. In both instances Homoeopathy was used to treat an ailment for which a conventional treatment exists.

Customers may be attempting to self-medicate a potentially serious ailment or disease with deadly consequences by using these products.

Insomnia and Snoring problems are conditions that can lead to anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and sufferers are categorically at higher risk of being in an automotive accident because of their conditions; of which the use of Homoeopathic Medicines may increase their risk factors to them.

In late 2010 the UK Science and Technology Committee:

  • Recommended no further clinical trials of homeopathy.
  • Stipulated that the evidence shows homeopathy doesn’t work.
  • That the explanations for why homeopathy works are “scientifically implausible.”
  • And that the Committee views homeopathy as placebo.

Brauer, the particular manufacturer from which Coles Supermarkets purchases homoeopathy was recently featured on Today Tonight in Adelaide. You may have not seen the segment, but you may watch it at this link:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bYAgR71NBY

Damning of all, is that the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released a draft statement about Homoeopathy stating..

“it is unethical for health practitioners to treat patients using homeopathy, for the reason that homeopathy – as a medicine or procedure – has been shown not to be efficacious.”

The desired outcome is simple – that Coles Supermarkets, in its’ endeavour to sell products to its customers that are effective, reverses its decision to sell homoeopathic products.

 

Kind regards,

Bayani Mills

Name that Fallacy: The “Dr. Oz” Edition!

First of all, it’s apparent from asking friends of mine, not many know who Dr. Oz is — So if you want to know – Google him. 😀

That being said, Steven Novella from the SGU Podcast (and of course the Neurologica Blog) was invited on to his show recently. And what WAS the video being from that show on YouTube was removed due to Copyright Violations.

And so, I will post what I completed as my draft when I WAS going to play “Name that Fallacy!”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6kn-JJ2HiU

00:00-00:15 – Fallacy of Presupposition

The Introduction comprises of rhetoric that includes “Why your doctor is afraid about Alternative Health!”. This is a Fallacy of presupposition as it is not proven, or agreed to that Doctors are afraid of “Alternative Health”.

Additionally, Dr. Oz asks Dr. Novella a question, which he answers. Right after Dr. Oz answers, the introduction cuts to a scene where two women are nodding. To me, they appear much more surprised than what I would expect given Dr. Oz’s statement – So, what I am suggesting that the clip was not an actual reaction to Dr. Oz’s disagreement, but to a different statement all together.

02:27 – False Attribution

“You’ve Shown You’re not Afraid..” – The audience’s opinion – the public in general – is irrelevant; The General Public is not qualified, nor an authority on Alternative Medicine, or Medicine.

02:28 – Appeal to Antiquity

“Time honoured Traditions of Alternative Medicine” – Asserting that Alternative Health is correct because it was long held to be true.

02:37 – Appeal to Emotion via Appeal to Gender

In practice rather than rhetoric, the very fact that Dr. Novella is juxtaposed against a FEMALE Cardiologist who uses Alternative-Medicine will appeal to the emotion to some women. Dr. Novella will be portrayed as oppressive – As is a common notion in this segment. I’m giving it the name of “Appeal to Gender”.

03:55 – Fallacy of Composition / Ad Hominem via Poisoning The Well / False Analogy

Dr. Guarneri stated that “And certainly, I don’t think today we could call Nutrition, Alternative Medicine; or Exercise, Alternative Medicine”. By phrasing her argument in this way, Dr. Guarneri invites the audience to commit a circumstantial Ad Hominem on anyone who considers Nutrition or Exercise Alternative Medicine. However, this is largely irrelevant — because it is a false analogy.

Neither Nutrition or Exercise are considered Alternative Medicine. However, two of the other modalities she mentioned are – Acupuncture, and Prayer.

So, what does Dr. Oz say: “Well, that was a pretty compelling argument”.

Seriously?! – That wasn’t an argument at all, Dr. Oz. Dr. Guarneri made a statement about her job, said she suggested Alternative Therapies to her patients, and implied Dr. Novella thought that Nutrition and Exercise was Alternative Medicine.

If anything, I should be adding a Fallacy of Composition to her list, as it is fairly evident that she believes that because most of the advice she passes to her patients is, hopefully, is good & evidence-based advice, that ALL advice she gives is good & evidence-based advice – Actually, I will.

04:52 – Red Herring / Appeal to Emotion via Pragmatic Wishful Thinking

Dr. Oz makes it clear why he uses Alternative Medicine:

“it gives folks, my patients, me – a customized tool, that I can use, that benefits me.”

It is crystal that Dr. Oz uses Alternative Medicines on the basis that he, and his patients BELIEVE they gain something from a “customized tool”, not that they ARE gaining efficacious results from doing so.

07:13 – Straw Man

Dr. Oz responds to Dr. Novella with “I totally disagree  – that these have not been studied, and some evidence found to support them”.

This was not the position of Dr. Novella.

Dr. Novella make it clear that his opinion was with the evidence, and that the evidence demonstrated through research (studies, trials, etc) that many oral Alternative Medicines do not work for the ailments they are commonly suggested use.

07:30 – Red Herring / Appeal to Emotion via Appeal to Motive.

Dr. Oz changes the topic from evidence of Oral Alternative Medicines towards what he considers to be the “bigger” problem Doctors have with Alternative Medicine. The way Dr. Oz frames the statement implies that doctors feel they do not have complete control over their patients healthcare and therefore is this is their motive for being against Alternative Medicine.

10:28 Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Dr. Guarneri concludes via Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc that because her patients used Acupuncture and reported feeling better that acupuncture needles were causal in her patients’ relief.

10:40 – Ad Hominem via Poisoning The Well

Dr. Guarneri completes her statement that Poisons the Well “That’s the Hippocratic Oath”. Again, anyone opposing her viewpoint is implied to not agree with this statement where this is not necessarily the case.

10:42 – Oz Just being an Ass.

I found it unnecessary for Dr. Oz to pass the commentary on to Dr. Novella, only to AGAIN interrupt his response.

11: – Strawman

Dr. Oz (never got to finish due to removal of video)

11:45 – False Attribution

Chinese Medicine (never got to finish due to removal of video)

12:00 – Strawman

“Can’t Possibly Work” (never got to finish due to removal of video, though from memory Steve Novella gives an awesome fallacy-smackdown to Dr. Oz, making the point that he DID NOT SAY that alternative medicines CAN’T POSSIBLY WORK, and continued pointing out that he said he had carefully reviewed the evidence.)

14:10 Ad Hominem

Dismissive (never got to finish due to removal of video)

 

References:

Home

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

 

Fall on your sword with honour, Merck!

April 10th is the birthday of the creator of Homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann; and in celebration of it Homeopaths have decided now is the time to promote awareness of Homeopathy!

A campaign was launched today called the “Worldwide Homeopathy Awareness Week” (Twitter #WHAW). However, in Australia this will be in May.

Quite honestly, I’ve enjoyed this – and it’s only the first day!
With the massive success of the 1023 Campaign, this awareness week provides logic and reason another platform on which to make a stand and a difference.

It offers amateur skeptics like myself an opportunity to learn more about the pseudo-science we may be trying to tackle locally — or globally.

Which brings me to Merck, an undeniable “Big Pharma” entity, it is a chemical and pharmaceutical company founded in 1668 with global revenues totalling around EUR 9.3 billion in 2010 (via Merck Australia) Continue reading →