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Treating the symptoms (4/9/2010)
I must be told on a weekly basis that real doctors only treat symptoms and that alternative, holistic medicine men treat the underlying causes of disease and therefore provide cures, unlike real doctors. (Strangely and apparently inconsistently I have been told that there can be no disease or illness in the absence of symptoms, and when I mention four medical conditions that are close to me (type 2 diabetes, multiple myeloma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma) and point out that all can exist without exhibiting any symptoms at all I usually get a response which consists of a pause followed by a repetition of the "fact" that symptoms tell the story.)
I have alluded to the inconsistency that says that symptoms are all that there is but real doctors only treat symptoms and are therefore bad. Of course, out here in the real world we know that doctors always address the underlying cause of medical conditions and only treat symptoms in the case of self-limiting complaints (antipyretics for the fever associated with colds and flu, ...) or to reduce distress (painkillers, salves and creams for rashes, ...). Treating the symptoms is just the first step before getting on with the real job of fixing the problem.
Strangely, the form of quackery which is usually proposed as the best example of treating the underlying condition rather than just the symptoms is homeopathy. When it is pointed out to true believers that symptom treatment is all that there is to homeopathy they divert to rants about memory of water and Brian Josephson's Nobel Prize (for Physics in 1973, and I don't know what "theoretical predictions of the properties of a supercurrent through a tunnel barrier" have to do with medicine) and how the word "allopath" means real, bad doctor. They do not like it being pointed out that according to the person who invented the term "allopath" it means people who practice medicine according to the theory of four humours (and there aren't a lot of those people around today) and, coincidentally, everyone who is not a homeopath. Do chiropractors, acupuncturists and naturopaths include themselves in the set of "allopaths"? They should. Here is what Samuel Hahnemann, the inventor of both the term "allopath" and the "science" of homeopathy had to say:
Medicine as commonly practised (allopathy) knows no treatment except to draw from diseases the injurious materials which are assumed to be their cause. The blood of the patient is made to flow mercilessly by bleedings, leeches, cuppings, scarifications, to diminish an assumed plethora which never exists as in well women a few days before their menses, an accumulation of blood the loss of which is of no appreciable consequence, while the loss of blood with merely assumed plethora destroys life. Medicine as commonly practised seeks to evacuate the contents of the stomach and sweep the intestines clear bf the materials assumed to originate diseases.
Yeah, today's real doctors do a lot of those things, don't they? But let's get back to treating symptoms. We know that the inventor of homeopathy was against purging, cupping and other such practices (only carried out today by alternative "medicine" practitioners, who should properly be known as allopaths), but this was because he held the philosophical position that nothing should be done to treat any underlying condition. Here is what you see on the first page of Hahnemann's masterpiece, The Organon of Medical Arts (and not just anywhere on the first page - it is the very first paragraph):
The physician's high and only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is termed.
His mission is not, however, to construct so-called systems, by interweaving empty speculations and hypotheses concerning the internal essential nature of the vital processes and the mode in which diseases originate in the interior of the organism, (whereon so many physicians have hitherto ambitiously wasted their talents and their time); nor is it to attempt to give countless explanations regarding the phenomena in diseases and their proximate cause (which must ever remain concealed), wrapped in unintelligible words and an inflated abstract mode of expression, which should sound very learned in order to astonish the ignorant - whilst sick humanity sighs in vain for aid. Of such learned reveries (to which the name of theoretic medicine is given, and for which special professorships are instituted) we have had quite enough, and it is now high time that all who call themselves physicians should at length cease to deceive suffering mankind with mere talk, and begin now, instead, for once to act, that is, really to help and to cure.
So there you have it. According to the inventor of homeopathy, no attempt should ever be made to do anything about any disease other than to treat the symptoms. Remember that the next time someone says that real doctors only treat symptoms. And remember that when someone calls real doctors "allopaths" in order to denigrate them that the only people practising allopathy today are the ones doing cupping, colonic irrigation, detoxification and other standards of the art of quackery.
And of course I have been told that Hahnemann's book has been suppressed by the Rockefeller medical cartel. That must be why I was able to read it here.
I can do vacuous too! (4/9/2010)
During the week I was referred to a quack web site in order to show me how much I didn't know. The particular page I was sent to contained an article titled "How and When to Be Your Own Doctor". A sensible person in the forum responded by saying "There is so much wrong with what that site spews I don't even know where to begin...", and I replied "The spelling and grammar seem to be correct, and the words are arranged in syntactically-correct sentences".
I decided to set myself a challenge. I would try to write something which made grammatical sense but contained as much semantic content as the article I had been told to read. Here is my effort. Note - I mentioned unicorns because, after all, writing in an alternative medicine forum does require a touch of fantasy.
The greatest natural enemy of the pink unicorn is the Burragorang Sabre-Toothed Bogan Moth. As the weather warms in March with the coming of spring to the Blue Mountains, millions of the moths hatch and leave their breeding caves in the limestone pinnacles near Katoomba and Leura and go in search of food.
The unicorns generally come out of hibernation about two weeks before the moths start hatching, giving them adequate time to feast on the newly-sprouted Wollemi Pine seedlings and then migrate south to their breeding grounds in the Weddin State Forest near Hornsby on the New South Wales-Victoria border. Stragglers, unicorns with illness or injury and the old and weak provide a feast for the moths, but in most years the majority of the herd arrives safely at their destination, which is beyond the flight range of the moths.
In 2005 a change in weather pattern brought on by global warming disrupted the life cycles of both animals, with the moths hatching a few days before the delayed awakening of the unicorns. It is estimated that only 5% of the unicorns managed to make it to safety. This caused a massive crash in moth population in the following two years as there was little for the young moths to eat.
The massive slaughter of unicorns caused extensive environmental damage. One example is an infestation of Wollemi Pine which, with its natural predator reduced in numbers, is threatening to suffocate the mangrove population of the Jamison Valley. The most significant, however, is that the blood pouring into the tributaries of Lake Burragorang severely polluted the lake. Remediation required the closure of Warragamba Dam as a source of water for Sydney and Brisbane, with both cities being placed on severe water restrictions and having to rely on the Bilpin desalination plant for 80% of their water supplies. Lake Burragorang had to be drained, but heavier than usual snowfalls in the Mount Gambier and Mount Tom Price regions over the last two years have meant that the storage contained by Warragamba Dam is now at about 55% of total capacity.
The shortage of water had one unexpected result, when it was found that criminals had ceased using water to irrigate marijuana in plantations in the St Ives and Northmead areas as it was more profitable to sell bottled water than the drug. Another casualty was an attempt on the world water speed record, which had to be moved from the lake behind Warragamba to the Clarence River at Cowra.
With both unicorns and Bogan moths approaching the status of endangered species, both major parties contesting the 2010 federal election promised significant funding into research and recovery of the species. The University of Western Sydney has established an Institute for Bogan Research which has been promised almost $400 million over the next four years to create a gene bank and a breeding program. A professorial chair has been endowed by the Lowes clothing store chain, with the chairman saying that he had been interested in Bogans for a long time and would like them to survive and prosper.
Vocational training of virgins to locate and count unicorns will be undertaken at Lithgow TAFE, exploiting the experience of the teaching staff at locating, identifying and counting the local elusive panthers. The building containing the TAFE's current gymnasium, lyric theatre and recording studios will be renovated to provide office, laboratory and dormitory space, with the existing facilities relocated to new buildings currently under construction at the Tarana campus.
This episode should be enlightening to people who deny climate change or who suggest that its effects will be isolated to the submerging of waterfront properties at places like Glenbrook and Mudgee. The delicate balance between just three species, unicorns, Bogan moths and Wollemi Pine was broken in a single year and might take decades to recover, and only then with an extensive and expensive process of management. If the moth population had fallen to a level where it threatened the survival of the Grose Valley snapping turtle then the entire ecological food chain of eastern Australia could have been placed in danger to a point where the whole country's agricultural industry could collapse. With an economy significantly dependent on exports of bilby meat and farmed dolphin, a moth not flapping its wings in Warrimoo could lead to a tsunami wiping out the stock exchange.
People not familiar with Australia might like to estimate how long it would take to check the "facts" in this story in order to either support or disprove it. Those who believe everything told to them by quacks (and that very much includes the person who referred me to the original quack site) would have to just assume it was all true.
If anyone is interested, there is actually one real, true fact in the story and I invite people to tell me what it is. Of course, using the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle so beloved by believers in all sorts of nonsense, the presence of even the slightest amount of truth negates any amount of error and nonsense in the rest of the article.
AVN begging again (4/9/2010)
Yet again, Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network is asking people to give her money. This time it's for the $150,000 that some lawyer needs to mount a case against the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. You can read Ms Dorey's plaintive cry for funds here. You will notice that she mentions two previous occasions on which the HCCC was apparently found to have been operating in a manner which did not meet with her approval, or as she puts it "seems to have a long history of being partial to the medical profession whilst coming down hammers and tongs against those in the natural health arena".
She then goes on to give two examples which she describes as "The Walker Inquiry into the HCCC - available here; and the inquiry into the HCCC's botched investigation of Graeme Reeves - found here, are but two examples".
I have for a long time called for a dump truck of salt rather than a pinch when assessing anything said by Ms Dorey, so I can safely report that the "Walker enquiry" was not "into the HCCC", but was a "Special Commission of Inquiry into Camden and Campbelltown Hospitals". The HCCC certainly came under criticism, but it was not for "being partial to the medical profession" and had absolutely nothing to do with "those in the natural health area". The legislation covering the HCCC was subsequently changed to clarify how the Commission should act in similar circumstances in the future. Strike one.
The "botched investigation of Graeme Reeves" again had nothing to do with "those in the natural health area" and the criticism of the HCCC was simply that they had acted according to the law as it stood at the time and had not taken any action against Dr Reeves because he had already been deregistered. Strike two.
In summary, Ms Dorey didn't like the way that the HCCC followed up a whistleblower complaint by going after the source of the problem, the poor management staff and systems of hospitals, rather than attacking individual doctors working within the system, and she didn't like the way they couldn't take action against a deregistered doctor. There was no protection of real doctors and no mention of alternative "medicine" practitioners. If those are the best cases against the HCCC she can find then she might need a lot more than $150,000 to pay lawyers to take them on.
Of course, she could always just run the requested (not ordered) notice on her web site for a few weeks and then get on with the business of harming children, but that would not fuel the conspiracy claims and paranoia.
Another thing she might like to do is be a bit more specific when she cites court cases. Justifying the $150,000 she says:
In speaking with many other organisations and seeking out the best possible legal advice, we have discovered that this is not the first time the HCCC has stepped outside of its jurisdiction to persecute a non-profit organisation. There is another group who was in our situation less than a decade ago.
They fought against the HCCC - all the way to the Supreme Court. And they won! It cost them $150,000 - but they got every cent back and more because the court found that the HCCC had acted outside of its jurisdiction when they tried to prosecute this organisation.
I don't know which Supreme Court she might be talking about, but I checked the records of cases with the HCCC as defendant in the New South Wales Supreme Court, and there doesn't appear to be anyone who won against the HCCC, let alone " got every cent back and more because the court found that the HCCC had acted outside of its jurisdiction when they tried to prosecute this organisation". In fact, there were no cases involving any organisation, all were cases involving individual doctors. Could Ms Dorey be mistaken? Could this be Strike Three?
AVN borrowing (or is that stealing?) (4/9/2010)
This week's newspaper story about the Australian Vaccination Network doesn't concentrate on those pesky government departments like the HCCC or the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, or even those annoying "septics", and not even the kids catching preventable diseases because of the AVN's activities. This story started off by saying:
Copyright breaches land group in trouble
September 1, 2010
An anti-vaccination group is under fire for allegedly breaching copyright laws by selling newspaper and medical journal articles online without permission from the authors.
The Australian Vaccination Network, which was the subject of a public warning issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission last month, withdrew 11 information packs from its website yesterday after complaints from authors.
The packs, which were selling for up to $128, included home-made books filled with articles photocopied from journals around the world, information on drugs taken from MIMS, the medical guide used by doctors and nurses, and copies of brochures inserted in medication boxes by pharmaceutical companies.
You can read the rest of the story in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Oh, and this is the first thing you see when you go to the AVN's web site, right at the very top of the first page:
What's that word I'm looking for? That's right - hypocrisy.
I thought that Ms Dorey might need some cheering up, so I sent her an email:
Dear Ms Dorey,
I noticed in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning that you and the AVN have fallen foul of people whose work you republished in your information packs without asking their permission. I realise this must have been an oversight, much like the way you forgot to respond to the OLG&R last week.
If it helps, all my work on The Millenium Project is covered by Creative Commons, so you are welcome to republish everything at https://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/avn.htm, provided of course that you acknowledge the source.
On another matter, a lawyer friend of mine has suggested that it is unproductive for you to continually accuse the HCCC of corruption. You won't win any friends there doing that.
This week's update is short, and next week's will be missing completely. I have to do some work on my company's accounts at the request (order?) of the tax authorities, including going back and editing the figures for the 2008-2009 financial year, so there's lots of boring bookwork to do. The good side is that it looks like I should get a refund for overpaid tax so the effort will be worthwhile, but unfortunately real life sometimes has to take precedence over doing important things like maintaining hobby web sites.
Remembrance of things past (11/9/2010)
Someone has taken to reminding me on a daily basis of the anti-vaccination activities of ex-Dr Rebecca Carley as evidence that vaccines are dangerous. I say "ex-Dr" because the crackpot's licence to practise medicine in the state of New York was revoked in March 2004 as a result of her insanity. What amazes me is that anyone anywhere can take this lunatic seriously. Whenever I am referred to her I always ask the fan if ex-Dr Carley still spreads urine and excrement on herself. You can read some history about this here.
It greatly saddens me to report that the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital will shortly cease to exist. Actually, it will still be there but will be called the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, and will continue to dispense magic and nonsense while pretending to be a part of the real medical establishment. While this might make the place more respectable in the eyes of people who don't know any better and will allow it to offer a wider range of woowoo than just magic water there could be difficulties ahead. The "Royal" and "Homeopathic" were very useful marketing tools in the far-flung parts of the old Empire like India, where the perceived regal endorsement of quackery gave it a veneer of respectability. I suspect, however, that it will be business as usual at the "hospital" and that its clientele will still consist of the walking suggestible.
There is of course the worry that the homeopathic Principle of Infinitesimals might apply, and as the amount of homeopathy dispensed becomes more and more diluted by other forms of quackery the power of the homeopathy will increase. If they manage to dilute it down to the point that no homeopathy is done in the place at all then the homeopathy might become so powerful that people can be cured of imaginary illnesses simply by walking past the building.
The Earth is not moving (11/9/2010)
That's right, folks. We have been deceived by the so-called "scientists" into thinking that the literal truth of the Bible can be challenged. Does it not say in Psalms 93:1 "The world also is stablished that it cannot be moved"? Do you not read in Job 26:7 "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing"? Just look at the picture and think - could God not have done the same thing with the Earth as happens with this child's entertainment object?
I have found a web site called "The Earth Is Not Moving" that explains it all. This is what it says about the levitating globe.
"An electromagnet and computerized sensor hidden in its display stand cause the Earth to levitate motionlessly in the air." Could God have engineered something like that for the real Earth? The Bible and all real evidence confirms that this is precisely what He did, and indeed: The Earth is not rotating...nor is it going around the sun. The universe is not one ten trillionth the size we are told. Today's cosmology fulfills an anti-Bible religious plan disguised as "science". The whole scheme from Copernicanism to Big Bangism is a factless lie. Those lies have planted the Truth-killing virus of evolutionism in every aspect of man's "knowledge" about the Universe, the Earth, and Himself.
Big Bangism! I have been looking for the correct terminology for this for a long time and now I have found it. It stands beside "evolutionism" as a perfect description of those godless heathens that think that the universe works the way the universe works. I'm really glad I found this site and could use it as an antidote to the visit I paid during the week to the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum at Bathurst, where I was temporarily awed by seeing evidence that the Earth is very, very old and encouraged to think that reality is far more impressive than fantasy and superstition.
Oh, Timmy. What have you (not) done? (11/9/2010)
Patrick Timothy Bolen, spokesturd for cancer quacks, patient-molesting dentists, insurance cheats and other fine citizens of alternative medicine world has recently been trying to climb onto a gravy train where a pack of crooks called Doctor's Data (Motto: "There's nothing we can't produce a positive test for") is suing Dr Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch. Doctors' Data would be a perfect client for Bolen as they share his sense of ethical behaviour and his commitment to deceiving gullible people about the dangers of medicine and the value of snake oil.
Patrick (or Tim as he likes to be called over the objections of his cousin Tim who doesn't like the family being brought into disrepute) runs his businesses from a post box in a small shopping centre. (In 2004 Pat threatened to serve me with all sorts of legal papers if I turned up at this "office", but alas when I got there he wasn't in, so all I could do was sit outside and read the paper.)
Now it seems that Pat has fallen foul of the authorities because he has "forgotten" to pay his taxes and file all the necessary business forms. This is not surprising, because when Pat was being deposed for a court case (he was representing some crooks who were suing an insurance company for not paying out on fraudulent claims) he had much difficulty remembering where he lived or where he received his education. He has since said that he was just toying with the lawyer for his own amusement, a tactic which is highly inadvisable to employ when under oath.
Here are a couple of notices from the office of California's Secretary of State:
And what does "Suspended" mean? This definition is from the SoS web site:
So it looks like Pat is going to have to keep "forgetting" where he lives. (You will notice that the "Agent Address" for both organisations is the same post box as the business.) Pat likes to sign himself off as "Amused in California" whenever he is abusing someone in email or on Usenet. I guess that he should now change his signature to say "Out of business in California", but he won't. That would be the actions of an honest man.
If you don't like what I have to say about you please sue me, Patrick. You haven't threatened that for a couple of years and I need a good laugh.
I'm on the wireless (25/9/2010)
On September 20 I appeared with Tony Pitman on the Reality Check radio program on JOY 94.9FM in Melbourne. The topic was the problem of quackery receiving celebrity endorsement by a former President of the Australian Medical Association. It's bad enough when anonymous doctors go over to the dark side but the potential for damage is much greater when the doctor in question is not just photogenic television material but has been at one time accepted by doctors as the person to publicly represent them as a group.
Another victory for common sense (25/9/2010)
In August I mentioned that I had notified the Health On the Net Foundation about an anti-vaccination liar web site that was displaying the HONcode symbol in clear violation of HONcode principles. I had managed to get the vermin to remove a previous claim to certification, but as liars do they tried again. Here is an email I received from HON.
Subject: In response to your complaint regarding the site : http://www.wisvic.orgbr>Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2010 15:45:22 +0200
We would like to thank you for contacting the Health On the Net Foundation (HON) regarding the site : http://www.wisvic.org we apologize the delay of this response.
We are taking care of your complaint. A member of the HONcode team has contacted this site about this matter.
Thank you for contributing to the improvement of the quality of health related web content. Please do not hesitate to contact us again in the future.
The HONcode team.
Why won't this woman shut up? (25/9/2010)
Newspapers like to have these weekend magazines to justify paying twice as much for the Saturday paper as you pay during the week. Sometimes these magazines actually justify buying the paper just for themselves, but last Saturday's Northern Star coming out of Lismore NSW was an exception. The cover story in their weekend magazine was about Meryl Dorey, erstwhile president of the Australian Vaccination Network. This was a bit of a surprise, as the Star has been running articles critical of Dorey and her campaign to endanger children for some time now, so it looks like the magazine has different editorial policies to the paper itself.
The article pretended to present two opposing points of view, Dorey's and the mother of a child who died as a result of the local success of Dorey's actions. The heading on the page said "The immunisation debate" as if such a debate really existed. There is no debate, just a pack of science-denying loons telling people that vaccinations are dangerous and arguing against real doctors and scientists who know what they are talking about. It is just as much a debate as the ones about geocentrism or creationism - it is the demented versus reality.
Ms Dorey managed to repeat the lie that she has been subjected to death threats. As the people she accuses are easily identified, why has she not gone to the police with her claims? She again abused the memory of Dana McCaffrey by suggesting that the child didn't die of whooping cough. (Ms Dorey tried to get a copy of Dana's medical records the day before the baby's funeral.) She drags her perfectly healthy twenty-year-old son into the argument by whining about a rare but recognised effect of a particular vaccine, a reaction from which he completely recovered to a vaccine that is no longer used. At least she didn't deny that pertussis can be fatal, a claim she bizarrely made in a television show about Dana's death. (That's right - in a show about a death from pertussis she said that nobody ever died of pertussis!)
The last two paragraphs of the article show the writer's bias. "Amid the propaganda, vested interests and conflicting information on both sides, there must be an absolute truth. But how can we know for sure, until all the information is put on the table?"
There is an absolute truth - vaccinations save lives. There is another absolute truth - the people who oppose vaccination tell lies. The information is on the table, but unfortunately so is a pile of misinformation coming from outfits like the Australian Vaccination Network. And that pile stinks like the ventilator on a cesspit. Another absolute truth is that children will be safer when the only publicity given to organisations like the AVN is the ridicule they deserve.
The Northern Star removed the article from their web site, but you can see it here.
Missing the point? (25/9/2010)
I can understand why this lady is worried about jackhammer noise interfering with her baby, but surely the power lines in the street with their huge EMF emissions are a greater threat? And what about the phthalates leaching out of those plastic traffic control daleks across the road? Wait a minute, what's that thing in her hand ...?
Wash your dirty liver (25/9/2010)
I was thinking about diets this week and that reminded me about about an excellent article written a few years ago about one particular diet. I dug the article out of my comprehensive filing system and you can read it here. One thing that has changed since that time is that the author of the diet book no longer uses the "MD" after her name. Getting her to remove the degree she doesn't have from the covers of her books was one of my little victories over the years.
I have been invited to attend a couple of conferences. The first one could be a bit crowded, as it seems that everyone in the world with an email address has been invited to the Jerusalem International Conference on Integrative Medicine. I have received several invitations myself, and I know other people who have received their share as well. If everybody turned up then not only would accommodation in Jerusalem be strained but the entire country of Israel would be packed solid with delegates and late registrants would find themselves staying in hotels in Beirut, Damascus and Cairo.
So many people have been emailed invitations to this event that even my email program has become tired of seeing the messages, and when I clicked on a link to see the English version of the conference web site my mail program said:
I think I might stay home for that one and just wait for the 127 copies of the proceedings to turn up in my inbox.
The second conference is much more interesting, because it is going to reveal matters which have been hidden for generations.
That's right - the "first annual Catholic conference on geocentrism". Now, you might think this is a joke, but when they start asking for money to attend you have to think they are serious. There are books, mugs, t-shirts and all the other trappings of conferences, the hotel venue actually exists, and the book by the main speaker is actually for sale at Amazon. You know that there is going to be real science discussed because the second author of the book "Robert J. Bennett, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in General Relativity from Stevens Institute of Technology".
No, this has nothing to do with Galileo, but Henry Gantt went to Stevens and I like Gantt charts.
Here is what the conference is about:
Galileo Was Wrong is a detailed and comprehensive treatment of the scientific evidence supporting Geocentrism, the academic belief that the Earth is immobile in the center of the universe. Garnering scientific information from physics, astrophysics, astronomy and other sciences, Galileo Was Wrong shows that the debate between Galileo and the Catholic Church was much more than a difference of opinion about the interpretation of Scripture.
Scientific evidence available to us within the last 100 years that was not available during Galileo's confrontation shows that the Church's position on the immobility of the Earth is not only scientifically supportable, but it is the most stable model of the universe and the one which best answers all the evidence we see in the cosmos.
Well, I'm convinced. How could someone with a PhD in General Relativity from a real university be involved with something unscientific? My only problem is that I have something else planned for that weekend (those gutters don't clean themselves) so I will just have to wait until the research gets published in Nature.
For some reason I feel an overpowering urge to say that if I went to this conference I wouldn't sit down, but instead would stand on a chair to avoid drowning in the bullshit. I don't know why I have this thought. Perhaps the Devil, that author of the heliocentric "theory" (which is only a theory, of course), is tempting me with cynicism.