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Fan Mail from an ASEA Supporter

We have an active comments section on our blog, but for some reason some people prefer not to comment there, but to send personal e-mails to authors when they disagree. Some of them make me laugh. Some of them make me despair. We can carry on our struggle better if we know what we are fighting; and in that spirit, I want to describe a recent e-mail exchange.

If an e-mail is filled with angry CAPITALS and abusive language, I know there is no point in responding. But I still get suckered in by the ones that start out sounding as if a productive dialog might be possible; unfortunately, discussions almost always degenerate. In this case, it started with a polite request for my opinion about a specific study.

Note: I have not corrected the many spelling/punctuation/grammar errors in my correspondent’s e-mails. Why is it that so many of scientific medicine’s critics can’t or won’t bother to write proper English? In case you are wondering, English is this woman’s native language and she is a college graduate.

Act 1

The initial e-mail was in response to the article I wrote about ASEA, a diet supplement described as a “life-changing” health aid. The email said:

Have you seen this?

Just was wondering if you think he is not telling the truth?

2. Summary of North Carolina Research Institute double blinded study plus significant new research results(17 min):  http://vimeo.com/asea/review/50788371/b2d2c857e8

I  very much appreciate your opinion.

The video was from an ASEA company meeting/pep rally; a researcher was describing his unpublished research.

I told her I wouldn’t waste my time on a video but would wait until he published his findings in a peer-reviewed journal. I said I would assume he was telling the truth as he sees it. I explained that even published findings are wrong about half the time, and that if ASEA is effective, it will take an accumulating body of well-designed research with replications to convince me and the scientific community.

Act 2

She responded:

I believe he is very well know guy and only does  research as he is head of the  Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University.

http://www.ncresearchcampus.net/partners-and-research/latest-research/asu-peaking-human-performance

Do you think he can afford messing and lying???

Do you ??  he will lose his job. !

Where do you work?

I should have realized at this point that it would be a wasted effort, but I tried to answer her questions. I pointed out that I did not think he was “messing and lying.”  I explained that even the best scientists do studies whose results are overturned by better studies by other researchers. I explained the collaborative process of peer review, replication, and eventual consensus. I pointed out that scientists who only report their results in videos are bypassing that process.

I told her I was a retired family physician and warned her against the appeal to authority fallacy. It doesn’t matter who a person is; what matters is what they say.

Act 3

Thanks again

However I feel that your site is very negative,  and your commenst are based on no facts nor science either.

You do not acgnolage the fact that there is a good company with a good product which is trying to get all the necessary research they need to exactely get to that point . And as you pointed out below that will take time;  but they will get there.

In the menatime the product is sold well as it obvioulsy helps, otherwise it would not sell so well and it does not need scinetific proove to work well does it? .

Getting back to your first email however I felt that your respons was ignorant and sarcastic.

And that’s why  I did ask … where do you work. ?  Simply to compare your excpertise with such from  the head of the  North Carolina Research Institute !

Simply as I did not see a response coming from a creditable source.

However your last response I can very well live with and I very much thank you for such.

I responded: How would you feel about a drug company selling a pharmaceutical before they had done any research? The FDA doesn’t allow that. Why should there be a double standard?

And the idea that the product “obviously helps” may well be a false conclusion — the history of medicine is full of things that seemed to help but really didn’t. For instance, for centuries people believed that bloodletting “obviously helped,” until testing showed that it did more harm than good. Paul Ingraham has a good list of other strange medical treatments that were popular until proven useless or dangerous.

Act 4

Her agenda became more clear with her next e-mail:

Dear Hariette [I was intrigued that she managed to insert three spelling errors into my name at one fell swoop, dropping an r and adding both a t and an e.]

Well how many of the so called medicine is harmful and is still being used? And not removed from the marked.  How much was used and created damaged children in Mothers’ wombs.

However everything that comes out of a large Pharmaceutical company seems to be ok in the eyes of everyone. To me everything that is natural does help,  plants are very intelligent and all we need is in front us even growing at our doorstep,  but the big “guy “ want the money so they change it around.. Remember the case in south’s Africa where farmers where able to grow their own medicine for aids then the big guys come along and want to sell the expensive version made by them, they also arranged to forbid framers to keep growing the natural version. Would you support such behaviour?

Dr Nieman has found that ASEA is less toxic than water, what type of medicine can make that statement! In addition the bovis amount was measured and is also is very high.

Just look at GMo food

Click on the video or the link to watch http://geneticroulettemovie.com

+ microwaves its harmful to us and the environment but still on the market,  so how can I trust the so called testing institutes?

In addition I have three doctors that have tested the ASEA well for me… that’s why I am taking it.  With a method you would not approve but the only one I do accept. Called applied Kinesiology and a computer that works on your meridians. I am using my body to tell me what is good for me or my cat, as they can be trusted.

In Russian hospitals they heal people from cancer with Grabovoi and Petrov methods,  but would your institute approve.?

Look at the vaccine,  your institutes allow stuff in vaccines that are  very harmful to children e.g. vaccine grows on cancer cells and GMO cells.  How will the children’s children  who got the GMO vaccines look after their birth ? As you know there is also Mercury in the vaccine does your institute take it out? No ? Why? Cause they are too scared going against the big guys.  As they have the money..

Look at the vaccine study about mercury … the first study said its harmful,  the pharmaceutical company said to the guy:  no not good do it again. He changed it w, but as still not good enough and the third one which said Mercury is actually good for children was published.   That doc was promoted to a high job in Brussels. In similar cases where the docs don’t do what they are told, they have lost jobs….   So you want to tell me I can trust your testing methods   ?

And bloodletting can be good,  its depending on the problem you have and what type of person you are again,  again you need to ask your body computer for what’s best to you. .

Medicine is every person responsibility.  Do not just trust some test manipulated you also need to trust your body.

Please excuse my long email but I feel you are taking this matter from a single point only which often is manipulated by the big guys.

Blessings

Act 5

At this point I knew there was no chance of reaching her with science or reason. She is obviously a true believer in several areas of nonsense and misinformation. Our readers will readily recognize the many things wrong with her thinking, but I’ll highlight just a few:

  • Paranoia and conspiracy theories
  • Wrong facts (for instance, vaccines don’t contain mercury and are not grown on GMO cells, and the statements about AIDS in Africa are blatant lies).
  • The natural fallacy (“plants are intelligent”?!)
  • She completely fails to understand the need for scientific studies. My example of bloodletting went right over her head.
  • She doesn’t trust “your testing methods” yet she cites ASEA tests done by those methods as trustworthy.
  • Her “doctors” have tested her response to ASEA with applied kinesiology  and a computer that works on your meridians!
  • She believes it is already established that ASEA works and that it is OK to market it before scientific testing. She expects the research to prove to the satisfaction of others that it works; she sees no need for research to ask if it works. She didn’t respond to my point about the double standard. Would she accept a prescription drug on the basis of the kind of evidence available for ASEA? I suspect not.

This time I didn’t answer her. I would have had to write a book-length answer to address all her errors adequately, and even then she would probably not be able to understand — or would not want to understand. Her worldview is just too different from mine.

Then she sent me an “FYI” e-mail with a link to an article claiming that microwave cooking is killing people. It isn’t. And even if it were, that would hardly be any support for the effectiveness of ASEA.

People who are gullible enough to fall for applied kinesiology and meridians and electrodiagnosis with biofeedback machines are not likely to listen to any arguments from science or reason. ASEA is salt water, but she wants to believe it is something more.  She is an educated woman, with a diploma in engineering; but she is hopelessly ignorant about medicine and science. We can’t hope to give people like her a complete education in science and critical thinking; we are not writing for the handicapped: the “true believers” who lack critical thinking skills. I can only hope she will keep reading SBM and eventually start to question some of her beliefs. I am not optimistic.

Science-based medicine is chipping away at a mountain of ignorance, misinformation, and misunderstanding. Like Sisyphus, we laboriously push the boulder of science and reason up the hill only to see it roll right back down again. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

 

 

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603 thoughts on “Fan Mail from an ASEA Supporter

  1. ZenMonkey says:

    “vaccine grows on cancer cells and GMO cells” —–> fatal measles outbreaks and California’s Prop 37.

    Sisyphus indeed. But hey, I got my flu shot today.

  2. kathy says:

    I’m not a psychologist, Dr Hall, but the jumbled writing and paranoia makes me wonder if perhaps something has gone wrong with her mentally since her student days. In which case you would indeed be wasting your time and effort using reason with her.

    “She is an educated woman, with a diploma in engineering.” Anecdote coming down the line – warning! I had a contemporary at university, a bright sensible good-natured guy who qualified in virology. Some 12 years later I met up with him again and he tried to get me involved with an anti-Catholic group he wanted to start. He was sure that the Catholic church was trying to take over the world, rhubarb, rhubarb.

    The weird things he said and the even weirder look in his eye were just not the nice young man I used to know when we were both university students with all our lives before us. Changes happen to people, and they are sometimes very sad changes indeed.

  3. nybgrus says:

    I am hard pressed to believe this person graduated with a degree in engineering. But then again, as Kathy pointed out things do happen.

    In fact, I am willing to give the idea a chance (sadly) because just this past weekend I had an… interesting… experience.

    I was out at a local bar listening to some live music with friends and one of my classmates brings in her significant other (whom is, apparently, new and nobody has met). They showed up late (i.e. a few cocktails into the evening) and we all started mingling. Mr. New Boyfriend and I start chatting and through a tangent I cannot recall started talking about science and… alternative medicine. I won’t bore with the details, but suffice it to say he continually and vehemently argued using the fallacies of antiquity, authority, and naturalism. I was unbudging in my critique of this and then he decided to drop the bomb on me. He informed me that he, yes he, was a scientist and therefore he knew what he was talking about. He clarified that he was a physical oceanographer and that he most certainly knew how to do science. A little more claim that placebo effect is legit, huge, and alters objective outcomes, trying to convince me acupuncture was legit even though he couldn’t answer a single question about it except to say “it works.”* I ended the conversation by saying that I’m sure he operated well in his little niche, but he most certainly did not know the fundamentals of doing good science.

    I found out a couple of days later that he ended up making the classmate cry by going off and trying to pick up on some other girl for a while and then still ended up going out with the group later that evening (after I had gone home… they stayed out till 5am and I was tired after a week of pediatric surgery).

    So not only a self professed scientist who really didn’t know the fundamentals of the scientific method, argued without any reading, let alone understanding of the relevant evidence, but was a douchebag to my classmate on top of it all. I can’t imagine a scenario that would get under my skin more.

    *When I cited a sytematic review of reviews from the journal Pain noting that there was no evidence for the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of pain, his response was “well, it works for other stuff!” “What stuff?” I ask. His response? That I was amazingly arrogant and how dare I write off an entire healing modality that has worked so well for so many people for so long. And yes, I cite systematic reviews of reviews when moderately intoxicated. It’s how I roll. lol. :-P

  4. rork says:

    I wasn’t really educated in school as a scientist (though I’ve seen pretty much chem, physics, anthro, philosophy, logic), but statistics does teach you about learning, and the 50 ways to fool yourself and others. I note in some PhD’s (and MDs) an astonishing lack of scientific or critical thinking and ask, in what venues are they actually supposed to learn that? Being drilled in what is true (not by proof either), even forever, may not provide much armor against error. We really might need classes about how to spot bullsh|t. This blog helps.

    Considering that makes me less shocked that many other people have serious problems with clear thinking. Nobody really showed them how, and they don’t read any serious things.

    To be fair: Math or Stat folks around me seem more likely to have religion than the biologists. I have lots of speculation I won’t bother you with, likely none of it original.

  5. rork says:

    Oh, I have a depressing example to relate. Pertussis in a recent article in my local rag. Two commenters noted that since in some example town 75% of infected people had been vaccinated (at some point, perhaps decades ago, or perhaps young and not fully vaxed yet, but wait for the real whopper), that common sense showed being vaxed made you 3 times more likely to acquire the infection. Clearly something in the vax helps you get the disease. I recommend it as a teachable moment about bad math for what, our 7th graders?

    Underlying this digbatry might be Mike Adams, trying his best to help you make that error. Apr 4 2012 – easy to see via web search, but I’m not recommending it.

  6. mousethatroared says:

    Are we sure that English is the e-mailer’s first language? It’s just that the language sounds awkward…like someone who’s translating.

    I’m sure we all get drawn in by folks like this. But I do think that it’s possible to change people’s minds. I feel like I have learned alot from this site and that it’s because some regulars here were willing to treat me decently and explain their thoughts rather than dismiss me as a incorrigible altie*.

    So while it might seem like Sisyphus, maybe not completely. Although one would definitely needs a hearty dose of Camus to get through.

    *which I am in some ways, particularly grammatically and phonetically

  7. tgobbi says:

    This series of exchanges reminds me of a stunt I pulled years ago. It concerned (no surprise) a chiropractic discussion group that I joined as a troll using a fake Hungarian name and writing as if I’m not originally an English speaker. At no time did I flat out claim to be a DC but I hinted that, at the very least, I was familiar with the field. In my posts I admonished the participants in the group (all true-believer, subluxation-based types) against making their extreme claims known to the general public because of a potential public relations disaster. I was amazed at the enthusiastic way that they continued the dialogue with me and the passion with which they defended their views. My veracity was never questioned.

    One or two of the DCs insulted my assumed unfamiliarity with the language, but by and large the exchange, which must have lasted a week, was taken very seriously. I only wish I had saved the posts for future reference.

    Harriet, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that your correspondent is playing fast and loose with you the way I did with the chiropractors.

  8. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Nybgrus, it sounds like your bar “friend” wasn’t aware of the Hawthorne effect. If you ever see him again (my sympathies if you do) ask him if waves blush.*

    Training in one field of science leaves you woefully unprepared to enter a second field.

    *In university, I encountered a succinct summary of the Hawthorne effect as “bacteria don’t blush”; the Hawthorne effect is an acknowledgement of the fact that merely observing humans changes their behaviour.

  9. windriven says:

    “she is a college graduate”

    Apparently a college degree ain’t what it used to be.

    And never forget: 50% of people are dumber than the average guy.

    The several stories relating conflicts with ‘scientists’ is depressing. How is it that the same organ that in one skull divines the basic framework of evolution, in another argues that homeopathy is anything more than magic water? Is this sort of aggressive ignorance genetic? taught? or is it the result of complete intellectual laziness?

  10. elburto says:

    What kind of university allows someone to even enrol
    (never mind graduate) with such an appalling grasp of language?

    You’d fail Key Stage 2 with those “skills”, here in Blighty. The KS2 SATs occur at age 11, and the language component tests the student’s spelling, grammar and punctuation. The contents of those emails would result in a big, fat fail.

    I’m imploring FSM to reveal a troll, by using some noodly sleuthing. I can’t bear the thought of the author being any sort of graduate.

  11. siwhyatt says:

    I think that possibly some of my plants are actually slightly more intelligent than the author of those emails…

    In all seriousness however, I think a lack of both grammar and critical thinking skills are the norm nowadays rather than the exception!

    It is for this reason that there is such a huge market for products such as ASEA and the myriad of other snake oil type products out there.

    One has to consider that if the emails are genuine, at least they did at least think to (almost) question the claims by contacting you/reading your original post (even if they refused to listen to any of your answers).

    Think on all the huge numbers of ASEA customers that just watch the video unquestioningly and guzzle down the tablets!

    NB Elburto – I’m also from Blighty, graduated Uni in 2001, and I can tell you there were plenty of my contemporaries that had little grasp of the English Language!

  12. UncleHoot says:

    “plants are very intelligent” http://discovermagazine.com/2009/jan/071

  13. Harriet Hall says:

    Of course I have no way of knowing that the e-mails are “genuine,” but they are typical of many, many other exchanges I have had, and I see no reason to doubt them. My correspondent listed her name, occupation, and place of employment and Googling that organization verified that such a person exists.

  14. windriven says:

    A quick trip to the ASEA homepage suggests that Dr. Hall’s correspondent might have a motive other than scientific interest. A whole series of submenus are dedicated to the ‘network marketing’ aspects of the product. Could it be that the young lady is an ASEA distributor? This begs the question: why is an engineer spending her time hawking snake oil to the rubes? The US has a serious deficit of qualified engineers. Maybe I’ve answered my own question.

  15. Calli Arcale says:

    As an engineer myself, I can completely believe this woman graduated with a degree in engineering. We aren’t necessarily great skeptics, and we tend to have an inordinate affinity for personal fiddling over rigorous scientific exercise, and tend to regard the outcome as positive as long as the thing appears to work; understanding why it works is good, of course, but not as important and will often get skipped so that we can get on to the next cool design project.

    I have met engineers into all sorts of woo, fundamentalist Christianity, crazy political conspiracy theories, the works. Most of us are more literate than this individual appears to be, but all that said, the stereotype of engineers who stink at English class is not entirely unearned. I’m an engineer with an English degree, but I’m the exception, not the rule.

    One thing that struck me was her insistence on wanting to know where Dr Hall works — even after Dr Hall indicated that she is retired, and therefore does not work. Reading comprehension is clearly not her strong suit. She’s the sort who wants to get on in there and do. I doubt she’s been an especially successful engineer, though she may have found a niche somewhere and fitted in there long enough to be secure.

  16. windriven says:

    @WLU

    “Training in one field of science leaves you woefully unprepared to enter a second field.”

    But the science part should precede the specialization. Science is a philosophy and a series of methods that can be applied to a number of fields. My area is physics. That doesn’t prepare me to enter virology. But it does prepare me to begin to learn about virology within a scientific framework.

    How can someone understand, say, chemistry in a truly scientific way and yet argue that reiki or homeopathy deserves serious attention?

  17. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Sure, science is philosophy. I took courses on epistemology and methodology. But they were far, far, far outweighed by the number of courses I took on specific topics. The emphasis on knowing specific facts is far greater than knowing the process to establish those facts. And within a field, knowledge of those facts is important. Knowing enough science to approach virology in a structured way isn’t the same thing as knowing facts about specific species of viruses and therefore whether vaccination will work, whether a disease has an animal reservoir that precludes smallpox-style elimination or the specific fatality rates associated. While anyone can criticize lacking a control group, that’s nowhere near the level of knowledge required to know if an experimental protocol should involve sprague-dewey mice versus naked mole rats.

    Physics might actually leave you worse off when you’re talking about medicine, because in phyics you generally don’t have to consider human factors like placebo effects or observation bias – which could give you the impression that medicine is easy and you don’t need randomized trials. I’m not saying it is, but mastery of one field doesn’t automatically give an advantage in another. Even skeptical thinking, which isn’t taught but rather accumulated, probably doesn’t help in all fields – just the woo-prone ones. Maybe, I can’t say for sure.

  18. I certainly have no doubt the correspondence was genuine and earnest. My own skeptical articles also provoke a lot of strange email, and clearly one side of the bell curve is over-represented. People with every kind of psychological problem are out there, and not only do they write email, they write more of it (and SHOUTIER!) than anyone else. The Dunning-Kruger Effect: the least informed people will usually be the most obnoxious.

    I’ve always been particularly bemused by the hate mail I get about Epsom salts (because of this article). I never dreamed anyone could get so unhinged about salt baths!

  19. UncleHoot says:

    To be fair, my best guess is that this person was communicating via their smart phone. Many people do not hold themselves to the same standard of professional communication when typing into their phones, perhaps because they are more rushed. I’m not suggesting that it excuses her spelling and grammatical errors, but it may help explain them.

    Nevertheless, like Calli states above, I know many engineers with horrible written communication skills. In fact, I would say that excellent communication skills are often the exception, rather than the rule. In my experience, the problem seems to be getting worse with each new year of college graduates.

    Regardless, I’m not entirely sure I understand the purpose of this post. Was it simply to get a few laughs at her expense? Or is this more of a case-study? Granted, it certainly points to many logical fallacies, not to mention that she seemed less interested in asking Dr. Hall’s opinion, than actually hoping she would agree. If the point was that educated people sometimes believe off-the-wall claims, well, I don’t think that’s news.

  20. windriven says:

    @WLU

    I think I may not have expressed myself well. I do not at all disagree with your assertion. My point was that someone trained in any science should at least have the structural framework on which to hang information about another field outside their own expertise. That is to say that as a physicist I would approach virology from a perspective that did not begin with ‘evil humors.’ All of this vis-a-vis correspondents who self identify as scientists but whose every assertion betrays their lack of scientific patterns of thought.

  21. Quill says:

    WLU noted: “The emphasis on knowing specific facts is far greater than knowing the process to establish those facts.”

    This has been a problem in education for years but seems especially problematic in the sciences, where the process is in some ways more important than any set of facts since some of the facts tend to change while the basic process does not. So if the way of knowing & process isn’t fully understood then it follows all sorts of mischief can creep in and someone with an engineering degree can find faith in magical salt water.

  22. daughternumberthree says:

    I am happy to report that Dr. Hall’s original post on ASEA comes up second on a Google search of the term.

  23. BillyJoe says:

    Here is a page from the website of a local medical practitioner.

    http://www.healthwiseinstitute.com.au/skeptics

    This person spent six years in medical school!
    Obviously, his medical schooling taught him facts rather than the process towards those facts (thanks WLU)
    I suspect all medical schools are the same which is why SBM is having so much trouble getting heard.

  24. Harriet Hall says:

    @UncleHoot,

    “I’m not entirely sure I understand the purpose of this post.”

    The primary purpose of this post is explained in its first paragraph.
    Another purpose was to stimulate a discussion, which it has done.
    Another purpose was therapeutic – venting my frustrations by writing rather than tearing my hair out. :-)

  25. Alia says:

    What bothers me the most is her mention of Grabovoi, the “miracle worker of Beslan”. One of very few people I treat with utter contempt and I would gladly spit in the face, if I only had the chance. And I’m basically gentle and mild-mannered.

  26. Regarding Act V: typical flaws: My fav is this: the intervention works on everything, and marketing is based on appealing to a broad audience concerning astounding efficacy for a broad range of symproms and conditions.

  27. LovleAnjel says:

    “I am using my body to tell me what is good for me or my cat, as they can be trusted.”

    She’s as good a cat owner as she is a critical thinker.

  28. Amalthea says:

    This raises two more questions in my mind.
    I was told many years ago by a physician that if I had a very mild infection at the base of my toenail that soaking my foot in warm water with hydrogen peroxide and Epsom salts would help. Now and then I’ve ended up doing just that and it seemed to work.
    1:Now I’m wondering if it was just the peroxide which helped?
    2:Are the Epsom salts a bad idea for me as I have an acquired allergy to Sulfa drugs?

  29. Ahriman says:

    I went to a school for undergraduate that was top-notch for engineers, and we non-engineering folk (I majored in economics) had to take some pretty tough basic science courses to complete our freshman requirements. The engineering students, on the other hand, took what we dubbed “English for Engineers.” The joke was that the aim of the course was to ensure they could write a complete sentence by the end of the semester. Engineering students were notoriously terrible writers, as brilliant as some might have been at their science, math, and engineering coursework. I found it really unfair that I was thrown into their “weed out” courses while they got to take the equivalent of “Rocks for Jocks” for their humanities requirements. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I am glad for the push I got in the rigorous science courses now.

    In any case, since we are venting, I also wanted to add that I have a friend who is a epidemiologist at a prestigious institution and is into acupuncture. She insists that if science doesn’t have an answer to a personal medical problem, then your “higher self”/ personal experience is your best and truest teacher. She in no way sees the contradiction in steering people away from poorly designed studies or ones in dubious journals on the one hand, and giving the advice to do “whatever works for you” on the other. I find it irritating and odd. And I don’t care for the fact that her altie or on-the-fence friends take this sort of talk from her as legitimizing (or at least legitimizing the tolerance of) any number of pseudoscientific claims.

  30. ConspicuousCarl says:

    ASEA is a mixture of 16 chemically recombined products of salt and water

    Wow, 16 different ways to combine only 2 ingredients? ASEA is the Taco Bell of medicine.

  31. Janet says:

    I have read some part of this–the part after the link to the video in Act 4–before, but cannot for the life of me think where, except that it must be here, ORAC, or possibly recently on the long comments section I’ve mentioned a couple of times recently that was in response to the Mayor of Portland’s post about the newly decided fluoridation of Portland’s water. There were a lot of very grammar-challenged people in those comments.

    My mother is a high school graduate (it took her an extra year), has never done any work requiring writing skills, is science-illiterate, and believes dinosaurs walked the earth with people (and that men have one less rib than women!), but I have to credit her for being able to write a coherent paragraph or two with few or no spelling or grammar mistakes.

    I wrote to you, Dr. Hall, the other day and tried to keep it brief and to the point, feeling that you must be busy and not in need of a lot of email. You graciously replied and I was pleased and appreciative. I am stunned to think that you get mail such as the example you have presented here on a regular basis. Although I don’t know anyone who writes quite this badly, I have known a lot of people who THINK (not yelling, just don’t know how to do italics) the same way–several of them are nurses and a couple are MD’s.

  32. UncleHoot says:

    @Harriet Hall

    “Purpose” was probably a poorly chosen word. “Motivation” may have been a better choice, but it’s irrelevant. We all have our motivations, so if it’s therapeutic, well, that’s good enough for me. ;-) I think if everyone is honest, this site is a type of therapy for like-minded individuals. Yes, there are exceptions…

    Regarding the OP, we all want shortcuts. I’ve always told people that losing weight is the easiest thing in the world to do. You simply burn more calories than you consume. It could not be simpler. Unfortunately, most of us have a really difficult time with that. Taking a pill or eating acai berries is tempting. We want those solutions to work so badly that we allow ourselves to be blinded.

    Like the Epsom salts that Paul Ingraham noted (very interesting!), I often wonder how often bad science or lack of science exists in modern medicine. I recently read a medical paper where the author recognized that experimental modelling appeared to disprove his hypothesis, but instead of accepting the results, or perhaps modifying his hypothesis, he made the analogy to science’s former inability to explain insect flight. Do I even need to go further with that? Indeed, he uses that analogy as part of his standard presentation. (I can cite that, but I’m drifting OT already.)

    Personally, and yes I’m being honest, I have yet to notice the positive effects of aspirin on pain. Sometimes I take aspirin and feel better, other times I don’t take aspirin, and I still feel better. Most of the time, I don’t truly notice a difference, even though I believe that it works. Good luck getting the placebo effect to work on me… ;-)

  33. Lytrigian says:

    What the hell is a “redox signaling molecule”?

  34. Amalthea says:

    Sounds like many of you here will not be surprised at my example of this sort of behavior. My mother is a retired RN who is what I’ve come to think of as a “Card carrying member of the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Cult”. For someone who’s mind is a logical and cause-and-effect oriented as mine this is very distressing and frustrating.

  35. Sialis says:

    I inquired about obtaining a sample of ASEA water after a local physician began holding seminars advertising it treat a variety of chronically illnesses. The physician is advising patients with serious illnesses such as RA or Type I Diabetes to stop taking all of their prescription medications, as all pharmaceuticals are “toxic”. Instead, he suggests they purchase ASEA water from him, and undergo other treatments with supplements and some bizarre hocus pocus involving dangling objects over the patients head. His very expensive ASEA water treatments got my attention, so I wrote the company requesting a free sample. A product sample costs a whopping $30. Forget that! ASEA was kind enough to offer me the following statement of assurance as to their products efficacy.

    There is almost nothing on earth as safe for the body as ASEA. It’s safer than tap water, spring water, or alkaline water. More than $5 million has been spent to test ASEA and its foundational technology, and all results show that ASEA is safe to all tissues, organs, and systems of the body. These studies tested for dozens of adverse effects, including endotoxicity, cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, reverse mutation, chromosomal aberration, and acute toxicity.

    This rigorous testing of a finished product is something unheard of in the world of dietary supplements. Why? Because it’s expensive! Who wants to spend $5 million or more in safety studies?

    ASEA does.

    We want you to know that every bottle, every serving, and every sip of ASEA brings you powerful benefits while remaining completely safe to your body.

    One would think that if they had spent over $5 million dollars to test their product, they would be willing to publish their findings.

  36. ConspicuousCarl says:

    Sounds like they invented the labor theory of evidence.

  37. Robb says:

    I find it odd that a company would claim to spend $5 million on testing water but then balk at giving out free samples of it and try to charge $30 (unless that’s part of their plan to recoup research costs). That’s some expensive water and salt!

    “I am happy to report that Dr. Hall’s original post on ASEA comes up second on a Google search of the term.”

    Not to knock Dr. Hall, but this is because Google targets your search/web habits and tailors results accordingly. Someone who’d never visited SBM would not see her post at #2.

  38. ConspicuousCarl says:

    “this is because Google targets your search/
    web habits and tailors results accordingly. ”

    I googled for ASEA with IE and Firefox (neither of which I ever use), and it still comes up #2.

    I also did it from my phone with two newly-installed browsers I have never used (Dolphin Mini and TextOnly, which can’t access my Opera history or Google account), and those also result in Hall’s article being the second result.

  39. Sialis says:

    Well, well, lookey what we have here…

    I didn’t just receive the one email from ASEA, but several. One of them was from an individual named Brandon. Brandon was kind enough to sign the email with his full name and address. I cross-referenced his address and found myself at a river outfitter’s business in Texas. Cross reference them, and a nice long list of charges by the Texas Attorney General’s office comes up. Apparently, Brandon has a history of misleading advertising.

    I hope the Attorney General’s office is going after ASEA, the parent company, as well. It seems this group of people, which includes Brandon, has a history of deceptive advertising. In October 2011, they had the following judgment and permanent injunction against them by the State of Texas. It seems like Texas needs to open another case against these people.

    https://www.oag.state.tx.us/newspubs/releases/2011/102111olson_afj.pdf

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:EQlAfDoShvUJ:www.oag.state.tx.us/newspubs/releases/2010/120610olson_pop.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgPyuBAdROdwOPzlXBT5kfd7bManYoHC8pkDiD1yiW23LkzGfV8wjr6FJjqR2PG0GJjnVRl4D-yuuEZct7m9VkRHQBkTaYStu7vKHjdgcFowZlleGZ8EX7fGofnjoSBGrvK33wy&sig=AHIEtbRFpSdl3XuhhT3VAJlTSHRFvAmIag

    The following is is Brandon’s misleading email. The email was subject “Heal Yourself Natutally with ASEA. My Story…”, from RedoxHealth.net “brandonolson@teamasea.com”

    ASEA is Native to the Body, which means it is already in your body. The problem is, your body makes less and less Redox Signaling Molecules the older you get. In a bottle of Asea are trillions of stable Redox Signaling Molecules, native to the body. These molecules are responsible for triggering healing at a cellular level. If you want a healthy heart, you need healthy heart cells, if you want healty lungs, you need healthy lung cells, etc.. This is why it works for everyone!

    Here is my Story.
    My Name is Brandon Olson, Im a lifetime asthma sufferer. I have relied on an inhaler to control asthma attacks for my entire life. I went thru at least one inhaler per month, 1-2 doses per day. Normal activities would trigger an attack. (Cold Weather, Dust, Jogging for even short periods, Smoke, cut grass, and the list goes on…) After using the ASEA product, I no longer need the inhaler. I have my life back. I really noticed a difference while remodeling our house. I installed sheet rock and worked in extremely dusty conditions for hours. Not only did I not have an asthma attack, but I noticed that I had ZERO muscle soreness the following day. ASEA has changed my life. It can change yours too.

    Asea is not designed specifically for asthma. It is designed for healing at a cellular level. No matter what your condition, you need healthy cells to begin to feel better. Thats what Asea does!

    Asea has a 100% money back guarantee if you are dissatisfied for any reason.

    Watch the videos on our site to see testimonials of regular people, not paid for their review of what Asea does for them.

    Thanks

    Brandon Olson
    http://www.BrandonOlson.net

    664 S Seguin Ave, 78130, new braunfels, TX 78130, USA

  40. jack-anderson says:

    Finding the posts on the ASEA product very interesting dialogue at a level of Medical and Chemistry far exceeding my own. As an ASEA user I am quite interested in thoughts and or understanding if there is potential that this product would be degrading or dangerous to my health even though I am impressed with its impact on my Athletic performance and health?

  41. nybgrus says:

    @jack-anderson:

    It certainly won’t be detrimental to your health since it is nothing but salt water. However, it won’t actually help anything at all.

    You mention atheltic performance. Subjective analysis can be deceptive. When I was first learning how to train for serious endurance cycling I recall performing quite well. Then I learned more and found out it would be beneficial to increase my cadence (the RPM’s at which I spun my legs to crank the wheels). My “natural” cadence was around 65RPM. I forced myself to go up to 100RPM which is what the top atheletes did (and the science supported). I felt extremely tired doing this and it seemed like so much more effort. If I only had myself to go by, I would have stopped doing it and returned to what seemed more efficient and effective (my 60RPM). However, I had a very nice GPS enabled cycle computer which gave me unequivocal data that despite feeling like I was doing less and putting in more effort, I was, in fact, sustaining a higher average speed and was able to do so for longer. After about 4-500 miles of cycling this way, it no longer felt like more effort and now I do the higher cadence without thinking about it. But I had to learn the science and force myself to do it before hand. Having a convenient way to objectively verify the results was certainly critical to my acceptance of this amazingly counterintuitive to my experience phenomenon.

  42. jack-anderson says:

    Thanks, (Nybgrus) I really appreciate the insight as I also have been an active athlete for some time. I train with an Eco-Endurance Challenge team of 10 athletes of whom I have the greatest respect in their abilities to obtain qualitative results. Based on my results using the ASEA product I worked with the team trainer to implement product trials with the team of 10. The teams high cyclical stress level does not afford the risk of subjective analysis when adding a new supplement to their training regimen. Please do not take this in a litigious way as I utilize the expertise of the SBM blog members to understand the potential of ASEA as “salt water” to make a significant impact on athletic performance or degrading to health and performance. Is the contrasting statement “salt water has the potential to make a positive impact on athletic performance” a paradox? I do not see how this could be possible, but the subjective results prove otherwise.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      @jack-anderson,

      You speak of “product trials.” Are they placebo-controlled?
      “Salt water has the potential to make a positive impact on athletic performance” Yes, of course it does, because athletic performance varies with effort, suggestion, and expectation. Give an athlete any kind of placebo and tell him it will make him perform better, and his performance will improve. It will also improve with lucky underwear or a rabbit’s foot. At least ASEA spares poor little bunnies.

  43. ConspicuousCarl says:

    Harriet Hall on 16 Nov 2012 at 10:20 pm

    At least ASEA spares poor little bunnies.

    Non sequitur, Dr. Hall; the absence of dead rabbits in the end product does not necessarily mean that the rabbits are being spared. For all we know, the freaks over at ASEA could be bottling water and then murdering rabbits on their lunch break for no reason.

  44. jack-anderson says:

    Thank you Dr. Hall for your reply;
    Nybgrus wrote “…..since it is nothing but salt water. However, it actually won’t help anything at all”
    Your insight opposes that of Nybgrus as you wrote “salt water has the potential to make a positive impact on athletic performance.” With the Nybgrus subjective statements and our team’s quantitative data, it would be a paradox. Your insight leads me to believe it is not a paradox, as your insight subjective, qualitative or quantitative agrees in such that ASEA as salt water could indeed have a positive impact on athletic performance. I shall continue with some of the details of the product trials as you requested performed by the team of 10. I must first agree with Nybgrus to the point that my personal trials of the product would be considered subjective as they were simply on-off cycles of the product with quantitative data but no placebo side by side comparison and perhaps I did have my “lucky underwear?” Based on my results using the ASEA product I worked with the team trainer to conduct 4 (on-off cycles) with 21 day wash out intervals between equally designed endurance sets for the group of 10. Each load cycle was 14 days with 5 athletes loading ASEA and 5 athletes loading a Placebo with the reverse of athletes on the next loading cycle. The same training set at the end of the 14 day load cycle was used to collect the quantitative data as well as some qualitative recovery scale ratings which are a continual standard practice for the team to gauge potential of chronic stress. At the end of the four split-group cycles; two cycles were added with all 10 on placebo and then all 10 on the ASEA.
    It is also standard practice after the endurance set (always an external environment) all blood and urine markers were collected and then an (internal environment) controlled burn out session followed with no fueling or supplementation. This protocol by the team trainer is not new and has been used for several years to define performance results of many new products selected as potential candidates for the team’s training regimen. The quantitative data (13 markers) reflected significant positive (above base line linear analysis) results in use of ASEA and minor or slight degradation below the performance base line using the placebo. Just to clear up the “rabbit’s foot” issue, results were not skewed by “lucky rabbit’s feet” as the athletes endurance set was 8 hours running on the trail with 13 to 18 pound packs depending on gender. Pretty certain none were carrying rabbit’s feet as packs are check carefully before each training session. Thoughts on these performance levels
    as ASEA did not compare to the placebo?

  45. The Dave says:

    She didn’t literally mean carrying a rabbit’s foot. She was describing more of a phenomenon. Part of it is self-fulfilling prophecy. Kind of like Dumbo’s magic feather. If you *think* something will work, it will potentially increase your confidence in your own abilities and you will be able to squeak out just a little extra effort. I would be willing to bet that if you gave your athletes regular water and told them it was ASEA, they would experience just as much benefit as the actual ASEA, but would save yourself a lot of money.

  46. Harriet Hall says:

    @jack-anderson,

    “Thoughts on these performance levels as ASEA did not compare to the placebo?”

    I’m not going to waste any thoughts on these results until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal with sufficient details to evaluate properly. I think it is far more likely that the study results are somehow flawed than that salt water has objective effects on performance or that ASEA contains 16 chemically combined perfectly balanced redox signaling molecules.

  47. jack-anderson says:

    Thanks to Dr. Hall for her reply:
    Dr. Hall’s statement of “….waste any thoughts” as she prefers to await a published peer-reviewed journal is fair and shall be accepted as “no-comment” under the condition her Medical advice far exceeds my own perspicacity on peer reviews. However the fact that she thinks the study results are “somehow flawed” is opinion and subjective in which my own knowledge and review of the study transcends the topic. The conditions and objectives for which the team study was designed would not administer to a published peer-review as confidentiality and competitive advantage of the team would surmount. I regress to my original query for the SBM alliance of “ASEA as salt water” with potential impact to my health within the context of 2.2mg of salt water per day?

    An additional inquiry for “The Dave” & “Nybgrus”
    Not quite sure the context of your statement? “….more of a phenomenon. Part of it is self-fulfilling prophecy. Kind of like Dumbo’s magic feather.” I struggle with your contention as verity; “The Dave” is willing to bet that a “phenomenon” is justification for a team of Ten Highly Trained Professional athletes competing at an extremely high level of endurance will stand at the start of a Seven-Day Adventure Race believing not only will they finish but they will exceed their own expectations because they were told a glass of water would help them? If the bet was raised to include two Olympic teams currently utilizing the product would you “call”, “raise” or “fold”. This “phenomenon” you speak of; has it been studied and results published in a peer-reviewed journal? Help me to understand.

  48. pmoran says:

    jack_anderson: I regress to my original query for the SBM alliance of “ASEA as salt water” with potential impact to my health within the context of 2.2mg of salt water per day

    That would be neither here nor there, allowing for the body’s ability to adjust to an extremely wide range of NaCl intake e.g. 500mgm to 9000mgm.

    If, however the company’s claims are correct, and the product contains “signalling molecules” with a wide range of important metabolic effects, then it is perhaps about as equally likely that long term use would be harmful as beneficial.

    The company has certainly not established any rationale for interferring with the body’s redox system long term. The fact they don’t seem to have considered this before marketing the product is worrying.

    So, FWIW, I share the view of others — it looks dodgy.

  49. The Dave says:

    “has it been studied and results published in a peer-reviewed journal? Help me to understand.”

    It has been studied. I learned about it along with other cognitive biases while working on my bachelor’s in psychology.

    Self fulfilling prophecy is when you think something is true, so you non-consciously cause it to come true. Kind of like an extension of the placebo effect. Wikipedia has a good article on it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self_fulfilling_prophecy

    In addition to self fulfilling prophecy, Confirmation Bias might play a role in your observed results as well.
    Confirmation Bias is remembering only the positive hits and forgetting the negative ones, making you think that something is working, even if its not. The is exactly why Testimonials from sCAM websites/providers are worthless. Not only is it a simple forgetting of the times it doesn’t work, they deliberately filter out any negative reviews/testimonials so you only see the positive ones. That is why the maxim “the plural of anecdote is not data” holds true. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

  50. Harriet Hall says:

    @jack-anderson,

    “However the fact that she thinks the study results are “somehow flawed” is opinion and subjective in which my own knowledge and review of the study transcends the topic.”

    No, the fact that I think it is likely that the study results are “somehow flawed” is not just subjective opinion. It is an informed judgment based on the established fact that half of all published studies are wrong, and that studies of improbable treatments are even more likely to be wrong, and on a knowledge of all the things that can go wrong in studies and an extensive knowledge of the foibles of human psychology. And based on a knowledge of basic science and physiology.

    Listen to what you are saying: “I have evidence, but it’s a secret.”
    Listen to the double standard: you wouldn’t accept that from a pharmaceutical company.

    Here’s a hypothetical: you do a similar study and get similar results, but in this case you test saying “Constantinople” twice after breakfast against a control of saying “Istanbul” twice. Would statistically significant results lead you to adopt saying “Constantinople”? I submit that that would be superstition, not science; and I submit that that’s essentially what you are doing.

  51. nybgrus says:

    @pmoran:

    welcome back, hope all is well.

    @ Dr. Hall:

    Istanbul or Constantinople? A submit that is nobody’s business but the Turks.

    @jack-anderson:

    In brief, what we here are trying to say is that there is no convincing evidence that ASEA actually does anything particularly useful, that there is no basic scientific of physiological basis for which it would, that conducting scientific trials is always a tricky business which someone not specifically skilled in doing so can easily make mistakes in, that a sample size of 10 is meaningless beyond a pilot study to generate a hypothesis no matter how well done it is, and that there are numerous well studied, clearly identified, and well known factors that can easily account for the results you are seeing which are much more likely to be the explanation rather than ASEA having any intrinsic efficacy.

    If you wish to further understand why this is so, Dr. Hall and The Dave have given you a very good start and reading through old posts and continuing to read here will shed some light on it as well. Normally I am always happy to offer my views and knowledge as well, but in this case I have just succesfully finished my third year and need to run some errands and see some friends before departing for a well deserved and long awaited vacation.

  52. nybgrus says:

    That should be “I submit….”

  53. Harriet Hall says:

    Off-topic useless trivia:

    I’m partial to the name Constantinople because it allows a delightful tongue-twister in Spanish:

    El arzobispo de Constantinopla se quiere desarzobispoconstantinopolizar; quien le desarzobispoconstantinopolice, buen desarzobispoconstantinopolizador sera.

    Translation: the archbishop of Constantinople wants to dis-archbishop-Constantinopolize himself; whoever dis-archbishop-Constantinopolizes him will be a good dis-archbishop-Constantinopolizer.

  54. PernilleN says:

    Qetzal commented in your original post that this stuff was originally developed as a drug. I found the patent, which is held by a dr. Robert E. Morrow in Medical Discoveries ltd. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5,674,537.PN.&OS=PN/5,674,537&RS=PN/5,674,537

    Morrow seems to be a medical doctor, orthopedic surgeon, who has also dabbled a little at homeopathy.
    http://www.holladayphysicalmedicine.com/clinic/drmorrowcv.htm

    MDI-P is described as a hydrolyzed saline solution. The hydrolyzing process results in the formation of ozone and hypochlorites and hydrochlorous acid. Morrow was planning to use it for in vivo and in vitro microbial infectionsalong with cardiomyopathy and MS and certain infections. It was supposed to be given IV, along with neutralizing agents.
    Apparently, it never got that far, and the two studies I can find about MDI-P is an in vitro study http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0196655300405766 with toxicity on mice, and a mouse study for sepsis: http://www.biospace.com/news_story.aspx?NewsEntityId=15491120

    In other words, if ASEA and MDI-P are the same, this isn’t just salt water. I haven’t been able to find out the concentrations of ozone and hypochlorite – aren’t they supposed to declare that? – but this is absolutely potentially harmful!

  55. jack-anderson says:

    First; Thanks to “The Dave” for providing explanation and Wikipedia links to provide support of the aforementioned phenomenon and theories behind the self-fulfilling prophecies. I shall indulge my inquisitiveness as deep as my graduate level understanding of psychology will allow.

    Second; Thanks to “Nybgrus” for replying with the confident contention:
    “……..there is no convincing evidence that ASEA actually does anything particularly useful, that there is no basic scientific of physiological basis for which it would.”
    I shall take your advice to read other points on the SBM blog reflecting updates to shed some light on the contentions of Dr. Hall and “The Dave”. I was not familiar other areas of the blog contained information on the topic.

    Third: Special Reply to Dr. Hall. Thank you again for your updates.
    In response to your “Listen to what you are saying” comments.
    It is apparent you have confused your request of me to provide you with an understanding if a placebo was used in the Teams product trials, assuming that my response was supplying some form of evidence? It was not my intentions to bring forth evidence. I was simply supplying the information you requested concerning placebo and how the placebo was designed into the study for the team product trial. I am not quite clear why you bring forth the contrast of an “Athletic Team Product Trial” against the information provided or expected of a Pharmaceutical Company or the fact that after reading a brief summary of the team’s product trial you are most certainly convinced it is flawed based on your contention which follows? I shall read in depth the SMB blog posts on the product to gain an improved understanding of your contention proposed as fact:
    “…….established fact that half of all published studies are wrong, and that studies of improbable treatments are even more likely to be wrong,”

    I shall return after further reading of the data presented in this SMB blog. It is assuring there is some sense of agreement on the SMB blog of “ASEA as saltwater” has no impact on degrading health, with contentions that saltwater does have potential of improving athletic performance from psychology point of view and from a medical point of view. So your contentions posted concerning efficacy of ASEA rise to a level of high interest for me.

  56. Harriet Hall says:

    @jack-anderson,

    “It was not my intentions to bring forth evidence.”

    And yet you seem to be using the evidence of that trial as a justification for the team to use ASEA.

    Hmm… if you did not intend to bring forth evidence, does that mean you are not basing your use of ASEA on evidence, but only on personal anecdote and superstitious belief? Please help us to understand your thinking.

  57. jack-anderson says:

    In reply to the question of Dr. Hall;
    ‘………if you did not intend to bring forth evidence, does that mean you are not basing your use of ASEA on evidence, but only on personal anecdote and superstitious belief?

    @Dr. Hall;
    I must tell you the wording of your question did indeed set me back into some puzzlement as to review the basis on which I must have wrongly communicated? It was most unfounded and “off the cuff” of you to bring forth the language of “personal anecdote” and “superstitious belief” as to imply my sole reliance on such. In review of the verbiage I have set forth I find no leading that you would infer such reliance. So surely you jest? May I be as bold to ask; “Why do you ask such a leading question with implications of “superstitious belief” in my approach to enhancing my health or physical performance?

  58. Harriet Hall says:

    @jack-anderson,

    Let’s review. I wrote about ASEA showing that it is nothing more than salt and water and that the claims for it are unsupported by evidence and highly improbable (if not impossible).
    You told us you are taking it and think it is benefiting you.
    Then you told us that based on your personal experience you helped set up a trial for a team that showed statistically significant benefits for ASEA compared to a placebo. You said the trial was not going to be submitted to peer review because it was confidential and would reveal the competitive advantage of the team.
    And now you deny that your response supplied any form of evidence.

    I can only conclude that you do not care about scientific evidence but are willing to base your acceptance of ASEA on personal experience and belief. Superstition is an irrational but usually deep-seated belief in the magical effects of a particular action or ritual (like drinking a small quantity of salt water before exercising). I think your approach is far closer to superstition than to science. If I am wrong please clarify your thinking, as I have already asked you to do.

  59. cloudskimmer says:

    Dr. Hall,
    I’m very sorry that people send you abusive emails. You have responded very courteously to my occasional questions, and I very much enjoy your articles.
    How interesting that jack-anderson has showed up to illustrate your point, ignoring your questions and responding with poorly stated comments. He keeps claiming that he will read the earlier article about ASEA, but has obviously not done so. In addition, he goes from your statement that the claims for it are unsupported to believing that it “has the potential of improving athletic performance… from a medical point of view.” Wow! What a wild and unsupported leap from what you said to what he wants to hear. The similarities make me wonder if he is the same person who wrote to you, though his spelling is better.
    Did you ever find out if your correspondent was selling ASEA, or had some other link to the company? It appears she was just looking for support for her viewpoint–just like jack-anderson–and became offended when you declined.
    Thank you for your articles. Please keep writing. As a good friend of mine used to say, “Illegitimi non carborundum.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegitimi_non_carborundum)

  60. Harriet Hall says:

    @cloudskimmer,

    No, I did not find out if my correspondent was selling ASEA, but the video she sent me was from some kind of ASEA company convention, and the fact that she is taking ASEA would mean she has at least been influenced by an ASEA salesperson. After she told me she had been diagnosed by her doctors via applied kinesiology and a meridian machine, I decided any further communication would be useless.

  61. PernilleN says:

    Am I the only one having problems understanding what jack-anderson is saying? It sounds like a mixture of a government form and Google translate.

  62. Sialis says:

    @Cloudskimmer, I hold the same opinion of Dr. Hall. She has always responded very courteously to requests for information. She is thorough in her explanations and writes in simple terms so that even lay people can understand the subtleties being debated.

    Jack Anderson does indeed have a writing style with a unique and inflammatory flair. It reminds me of the quote, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullsh!t.” This in itself is fine, the problem is when such people advertise and sell their bogus products to others. ASEA water is being marketed to treat chronic illness. Regardless of any effects salt water may have on athletic performance, the very expensive product is being targeted toward a vulnerable patient population. It is shameless, exploitative advertising and sales – no other excuse for it.

  63. Sialis says:

    @PernilleN,

    Am I the only one having problems understanding what jack-anderson is saying? It sounds like a mixture of a government form and Google translate.

    I noticed the same thing. It reminds me of the Nigerian email and Craigslist scamsters. Jack seems to misuse the “?”, and makes other mistakes which give me the impression of someone who has difficulty with the English language. My grammar, spelling and editing could certainly use improvement, but his writings do not match up with his apparent position. A Google search reveals a person with his name in Maryland as being an insurance broker, who also appears to be an athlete in the same exact sport as discussed by the person posting here.

    In the past, I have frequently come across people who have assumed the name of another in order to market a fraudulent item or gain financial information for seemingly criminal purposes. It would be interesting to know if this Jack is being impersonated or if he is the real deal. I wonder if SBM can see the ip address of the originator, or compare their email addresses. What I usually see are people assuming someone’s name and opening a Yahoo, or Gmail account under that name. For example, Jac**nderson@yahoo.com. If this were the case, this real Jack, may want to know that his name is being misused.

  64. stratt says:

    It’s like Homer Simpson trying to sound intelligent, or that episode of friends when Joey replaces every single word in a letter he writes for Chandler and Monica:-

    Monica: It doesn’t make any sense.
    Joey: Of course it does. It’s smart! I used a thesaurus!
    Chandler: On every word?
    Joey: Yep.
    Monica: All right, what was this sentence, originally?
    Joey: Oh. “They’re warm, nice people with big hearts.”
    Chandler: And that became, “They’re humid, pre-possessing homosapiens with full-sized aortic pumps”

    Stratt

  65. jack-anderson says:

    In direct reply to the SBM Bloggers;
    I start with my original post:
    Nov 15, 8:08 p.m. …..“Finding the posts on the ASEA product very interesting dialogue at a level of Medical and Chemistry far exceeding my own. As an ASEA user I am quite interested in thoughts and or understanding if there is potential that this product would be degrading or dangerous to my health even though I am impressed with its impact on my Athletic performance and health?”

    Within a short duration of the past hours it is obvious posts are now interjected to create and steer the premise of my original post in a direction it was not intended. I come seeking education on a quite simple premise. In explanation and intent I thought to be standing on the same side of the fence. Now obvious in retrospect it was decided by the “We” within the blog that I should be sent to the opposite side of the fence in order to create what I believe to be controversy on the efficacy of ASEA. So as not to “baffle them with bullsh!t” as “cloudskimmer” posts. I will be perfectly clear.
    I am not a part of ASEA business. I am not an ASEA associate. I do not sell the product. I am not
    advertising or selling the product to others or making bogus claims that the “We” of this blog have now conjectured based on the texture and format of my writing. I have not researched ASEA to its entirety and I am not empowered to debate the efficacy of ASEA. Dr. Hall has not offended me with her questions, again I must believe another conjecture created to spark the controversy the “We” so desire. I shall continue to read the remaining posts within this blog on the topic. I stated I would read through the blogs only one time. I did not state this several a times as “cloudskimmer” posted on Nov 19th only a mere nine hours after I stated it as such. After review of the posted information and review of this blog trail I will answer the question asked of me by Dr. Hall concerning Superstition and Science. I must accept her conclusion on the topic in all fairness until the point of my answer. I do have a day profession to attend to at this moment; which is credible, sorry to disappoint. I shall return after these items I speak to are complete and after review my writing to assure it does not appear to be “unique and inflammatory flair”. To conclude in true jest; cloudskimmer you misspelled “bullsh!t” and show improper use of the exclamation point.

  66. Harriet Hall says:

    @jack-anderson,

    “I am quite interested in thoughts and or understanding if there is potential that this product would be degrading or dangerous to my health even though I am impressed with its impact on my Athletic performance and health?”

    OK, let’s start over from scratch. There is no reason to think ASEA would be degrading or dangerous to your health. There is also no reason to think it actually has any impact on your performance and health other than as a placebo and a psychological crutch. There are many well-known psychological factors that explain how people can fool themselves into thinking that a bogus remedy is effective.

  67. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    To me, Jack reads like someone who doesn’t want to get banned for rudeness, but very much does want to convey an anecdote that ASEA helps with athletic performance. I feel like I’m getting strung along with a series of superficially polite but incoherent word salad replies with no real goal besides having a large volume of them appear in the comments.

    I smell a robot…

  68. Sialis says:

    ASEA may or may not in itself be dangerous to one’s health, but when it is promoted as a treatment for medical conditions, it can have the effect of deterring patients from proper care, which can indeed be dangerous to one’s health. Furthermore, the exorbitant amount of money being charged for ASEA, especially with the misguided hope of treating disease, can cause enough of a financial burden to some patients so as to result in their not being able to afford necessary, evidence-based medical care, or other things which could more directly improve the quality of their life.

    So as not to “baffle them with bullsh!t” as “cloudskimmer” posts.

    @Jack, you can find the name of the author of each comment listed above each comment, and to the left of the date. When you read the symbol “@”, it indicates that the comment is being directed “at” someone. The “@” symbol in this case carries the same meaning as the word “at”, or “to”. For example, “@Dr. Hall” would be read as “To Dr. Hall”, as in the comment is being directed “at” Dr. Hall.

  69. PernilleN says:

    Since there are reports about people feeling sick and vomiting the first few days they are taking it, and the company says that’s a sign of the body being “detoxified”, I’m not so sure it’s harmless.

  70. jack-anderson says:

    Glad to be back.
    Busy reviewing both blog threads on the information concerning the ASEA product.
    @Dr. Hall.
    Could you clearify the link referencing Dr. Steve Novella, it is currently linked to an article
    on scam products in regards to the Olympics. Looking for his reference you sited on 50% of all studies
    are incorrect. Thanks Jack.

  71. nybgrus says:

    @jack:

    Read about John Ionnidis. The linked article is the most relevant to what you are asking for.

    And to be clear, it isn’t so much that they are “incorrect” in the common interpretation. In my experience (which may well be wrong, of course) most lay people tend to think an “incorrect” answer is because we didn’t do the process correctly or there is some intrinsic flaw to how we are trying to get the answer; e.g. if you solve a math equation and get the “incorrect” answer, that is because you solved it wrong and you need to learn how to do it better. While this is certainly true for a number of studies – mostly on CAM, but certainly many bad study designs in robust medical science exist – but moreso it has to do with how statistics work and how we should actually interpret results. In other words, doing the process absolutely correctly, with every single aspect perfectly correct would still yield incorrect study outcomes 5% of the time (this is called alpha-error). The point is that no study can be perfect in every way, and many studies have flaws that simply can’t be avoided whether it is due to financial limitations, population limitations, ethical considerations, etc. Combine that with studies that are actually poorly designed and you find that a large proportion of them are simply “incorrect.” It is not an indictment of the process, but a warning to realize that this does happen. Ionnidis simply quantified as best he could what the true alpha error is (which, of course, must also be taken with a grain of salt, but quibbling over whether it is truly 50% or 30% or 60% doesn’t negate the underlying principle that Dr. Hall has been trying to explain).

  72. Harriet Hall says:

    @jack,

    I don’t know what you mean about a link referencing Steve Novella. The 50% refers to the article by Ioannidis in the link supplied by nybgrus. He has explained it quite nicely.

  73. jack-anderson says:

    @Dr. Hall
    I was referring to the link you posted on August 7, under “ The Research”

    “Not a single placebo-controlled study. Worse, these studies were “in house” studies that were never published in a peer-reviewed journal. Steven Novella recently pointed out the unreliability of such studies.”

    In the interim I shall read the John Ionnidis information.

  74. Harriet Hall says:

    @jack,

    Steven Novella’s article was about the unreliability of in-house research rather than about Ioannidis’ claims. The correct link is:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/olympic-pseudoscience/

    I don’t know what happened, but I went back and fixed the link in the original article.

  75. Amalthea says:

    nybgrus said: “It is not an indictment of the process, but a warning to realize that this does happen. Ionnidis simply quantified as best he could what the true alpha error is (which, of course, must also be taken with a grain of salt, but quibbling over whether it is truly 50% or 30% or 60% doesn’t negate the underlying principle that Dr. Hall has been trying to explain).”

    I think that reading this gave me a better understanding of how some people can turn to the sCAM stuff.
    Would I be correct in thinking the problem is partly the fact that in math classes in school you either do the process correctly and have the right answer or incorrectly and have the wrong answer, thus if there’s something wrong with your numbers you must have made a mistake? Since science sometimes yields “incorrect” answers then they turn to people who assure them that what they are doing is “correct”.

  76. jack-anderson says:

    @ Dr. Hall;
    The quest of which “Cloudskimmer” and “Nybgrus” requested of me to review the information posted to justify their numerous accolades of confidence supporting your original contention of ASEA as simply saltwater leads me to believe no more or less than when I began. For within this thread beginning on November 13th evidence to support such confidence is slightly short of puerile.
    The other ASEA thread beginning with your post on August 7th ironically sits on a foundation of your own bias which you supported by cited “test-bias” studies from the highly qualitative psychology sciences domain with little comparison to the engineering statistics used on the 10 Athlete product trial which I briefly described to support your questioning of placebo. It is a quite interesting umbrella application or approach in which if it’s true with “apples” it must therefore be true to “oranges”. Apparently you believe this an acceptable approach in psychology sciences. However stretching the use of “test bias” to all tests, data sets, experiments, science and engineering statistics may be logically acceptable to conclude in “doubt” on such topics, but certainly not to conclude in “confidence”; supporting my suggestion of your own review and reasoning bias which has been accepted by the “WE” of the SBM blog as gospel.
    I conclude my reasoning to support ASEA as positive impact on athletic performance is not rooted in superstition or some deep-seated belief in magical effects as you suggested. The fundamental quantitative data and engineering statistics used to reach my conclusion far exceed the confidence factor of the qualitative “test-bias” psychology studies you cited to justify your conclusion on the product.

  77. Harriet Hall says:

    @jack-anderson,

    There is no SBM “gospel.” There is simply an unwillingness to accept a claim without adequate evidence, an appreciation of the importance of prior plausibility, and an understanding of the imperfections of research design and of the powerful factors that can lead people to conclude that something works when it really doesn’t. We’re not just talking about placebo responses here.

    You tell us that you have reached your conclusion based on “quantitative data and engineering statistics,” but you are unable to share that data with us. In other words, “I have evidence but it’s a secret,” and you expect us to take your word for it. Sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it.

  78. jack-anderson says:

    @ Dr; Hall;
    Very good point to make “there is no SBM gospel”. Would you explain how the psychology “test bias” studies you cite; “it is common knowledge 50% of all studies conducted are incorrect” are sufficient to make a 100% accurate statement that ASEA is Simply Salt Water after a review of one VO2 Max study, one In-process Control Verification Procedure and on one Antioxidant Enhancement experiment. The high bar you set for others is obviously not applicable to your own review. Sorry, but your 100% confidence contention of which the SBM bloggers accept as gospel does not cut it, cannot have it both ways. I would understand your doubt in the data but not 100% confidence.
    “Gospel” as defined by Merriam Webster “something infallibly or absolutely true”

  79. nybgrus says:

    @jack:

    Nobody is claiming 100% certainty of anything. Please find anywhere that is stated by anyone here.

    We are discussing the concept of prior probability, fallability of studies, cognitive biases, and basic knowledge of physiology and biochemistry. By taking all these things into account, ASEA claims do not pass muster and, as we stated here before, is most likely not doing anything at all upon consumption. Since the way science works is by accepting the null hypothesis (ASEA does nothing) in the absence of evidence to reject the null, we say that ASEA does not do anything intrinsically useful. The evidence for ASEA does not meet the requirements to reject the null hypothesis. That is our only claim. Also note that we do not accept the alternative hypothesis – we reject the null and provisionally accept the alternative until better evidence tells us otherwise.

    The remainder of the conversation is to answer your questions as to why it would seem to be that there is evidence of efficacy for ASEA when in fact there is not. You are conflating the two topics and then further putting words in our mouths about “gospel” and 100% confidence.

    Furthermore, the “study” you cite is simply not proper evidence. You are the one claiming certainty based on an ad hoc study of your own, unpublished and unverified, and expecting us to accept that as sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis. This is not how science works and is not something we can accept. Even moreso, if we were to accept your unpublished and unverified results as completely true, it would still not be sufficient evidence to reject the null. This is why we can be so confident (but not 100%) that ASEA does nothing, despite what you see as evidence to the contrary.

  80. Scott says:

    Let’s also observe that even in the most charitable interpretation – where ASEA is considered merely unproven, as opposed to extremely unlikely to do anything at all – it’s still highly inappropriate to sell it.

    Even the makers and sellers of ASEA do not actually know that their claims are true, based on the available evidence.

  81. Harriet Hall says:

    ASEA contains only salt and water: it says so right on the label. If there are really “stabilized redox signaling molecules” in it, why doesn’t the company identify them by name and list them on the label as required by law? I think I can be close to 100% confident that their claims are incompatible with their labeling. I will gladly change my opinion of ASEA if shown credible evidence, but jack hasn’t offered any.

  82. jack-anderson says:

    @ Nybgrus:
    As you requested Dec 06, 10:46 pm;
    “Nobody is claiming 100% certainty of anything. Please find anywhere that is stated by anyone here.”
    Here are the SBM claims from both blog threads:

    “…Bottom Line ASEA is Salt Water…Another Expensive way to buy Salt Water….You can make your own salt water at home for much less than a dollar an ounce.. ….And ASEA is nothing but salt and water….That’s a neat trick, DS, proving that salt water is better than salt water…..Oh, I see. Salt water from Utah sold by Mormons…..ASEA is salt water, but she wants to believe it is something more……I wrote about ASEA showing that it is nothing more than salt and water….ASEA is salt water, but she wants to believe it is something more…..I wrote about ASEA showing that it is nothing more than salt and water……”

    Really don’t see any of these statements claiming; I doubt it , almost certain or almost confident?

  83. Harriet Hall says:

    The company must be 100% sure ASEA is nothing but salt and water, since that’s all they list on the label.

  84. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Given these questions, consider prior probability.
    * Is ASEA anything but salt and water?
    * Do we know how the body handles salt and water?
    * Given salt and water consists of two atoms and a simple molecule, can you manipulate any in such a way that they would behave differently if consumed?
    Since the answers are no, yes and no, there’s no real reason to expect ASEA to do anything different.

    Given these facts, consider possible alternative explanations.
    * The Hawthorn effect is a well-know, well-studied psychological effect. People who are watched change their behaviour.
    * The observer-expectancy effect is a well-known, well-studied psychological effect. Researchers can unconsciously influence experimental subjects.
    * Social facilitation is a well-known, well-studied psychological effect. Simple tasks (like athletic performance) are easier when observed.

    So if there is a choice between an effect being due to salt water having hitherto-unknown (and dramatic) effect on performance, or the results are due to a failure to properly blind subjects results in a series of well-known psychological biases can make people not just think, but actively perform better, the latter seems more likely.

    If ASEA has a genuinely profound effect on performance, it should be easy to demonstrate with proper experimental controls. Make sure the person keeping track of performance doesn’t know what the subjects got. Make sure the subjects don’t know if they got the placebo or not. Have a convincing placebo – ask subjects if they think they got the control or the active condition. Use objective measures. Have more than 20 subjects per group. Until you do all this, you’re not going to convince a skeptic. It’s simply too easy for people to fool themselves. In fact, if you want to pursue this route, I would suggest drafting an experimental protocol and circulating it on a variety of skeptical message boards for suggestions and improvements. Again, if it’s a real effect, such improvements will make your evidence even more convincing.

    That, in sum, is why skeptics are skeptical of your claims. Nobody says you have to convince the skeptics by the way. If you think ASEA helps you perform, keep buying it. If nothing else, you’re contributing to the economy (but you may want to consider the parable of the broken window).

  85. The Dave says:

    Dear Jack,

    If you are going to refute our conclusions about ASEA, please enlighten us: How exactly does one “recombine” water and salt to make 16 different products?

    Their scientific claims are wrong, their understanding of chemistry and biology are wrong, their experiments were poorly performed, etc. We reject it, not because of some underlying SBM “gospel” but because we don’t want to waste our money that has been shown to be utter bulls-.

  86. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Note link. SBM needs a preview function!

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

  87. nybgrus says:

    @jack:

    different claim. I stated nobody here has said with 100% confidence that there was absolutely no intrinsic utility to ASEA. We are pretty confident it is just salt water, since that is what the manufacturer says and would otherwise be a in violation of federal law. Even then, I think most people here would agree that there is a very small but non-zero chance something else may be in there illegally since there is precedent for that (and hey, surreptitiously slipping in some amphetamine will make you perform better athletically!).

    Granted, as WLU stated, we are also pretty darned certain it has no intrinsic effect either. It is just that nobody around these parts (well, certain trolls and neophytes aside) would ever claim 100% confidence in anything. That is just not how science works. We just round up for convenience sake when it is so close to 100% (like this is) that we may as well call it 100%.

    To further distinguish and add some nuance, we also are specifically confident in the specific claims made by the manufacturer. Once again, as WLU stated, we know enough to say that the proposed putative mechanism of how ASEA is supposed to work makes no sense and is almost certainly not correct. We are a little less certain that ASEA itself has no intrinsic efficacy by some other mechanism (like slipping amphetamine into the concoction or some other heretofor undefined mechanism).

    I strongly suggest you read caerfully what WLU wrote and before going any further make sure you understand the principles behind what he says and how and why it applies here. He is absolutely correct in his statements and you would be benefited by truly understanding them. But it seems to me like you already have your mind made up and find a way to rationalize away the myriad solid and evidence based rebuttals we have. We would actually love it if ASEA really did what it claimed. Why wouldn’t we? But the difference is we need robust evidence before we accept a claim and we know enough about all the relevant topics to realize that this fits in well with the pattern of snake oil and not the pattern of a legitimate therapy or intervention.

  88. Andres says:

    Are you sure mercury is not currently used in vaccines? Thimerosal contains mercury and it seems is still used in vaccines. Am I wrong?

  89. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Thimerosal is used only in certain influenza vaccines, which are not part of routine childhood immunizations (which is a pity since children are more vulnerable to influenza than adults). The absence of thimerosal in vaccines is also somewhat of a pity in and of itself; at the doses found in vials it had never been associated with any harm – but meant that multi-dose vials could be used, reducing the cost of the shot and amount of packaging required.

  90. Chris says:

    Andres, what does that have to do with salt water being promoted as a medical treatment?

    But that is neither here nor there, but you could answer a couple of questions:

    1: Which vaccine on the current American pediatric schedule is only available with thimerosal? Do not include influenza, because about half of those do not have thimerosal.

    2: What evidence do you have that the thimerosal in multi-dose vials are harmful to adults? Has there ever been a case of an adult becoming autistic because of getting a vaccine? Do provide the title, journal and date of that PubMed indexed case report.

    3: What gives more mercury to a grown adult: getting a vaccine with thimerosal or eating a tuna sandwich?

  91. Chris says:

    Okay, so I re-read the article. It seems the salt water fan ranted about vaccines and mercury. This is the second time this week I have seen folks freaked out about thimerosal for adult vaccines. It is like they only get their science through sound bites, and really don’t know it was a “Think of the children!” bit of fearmongering.

  92. Andres says:

    Thanks for the clarification. Nevertheless I would much prefer vaccines without mercury for my children (yes, my two daughters have received the usual vaccines here in Spain), specially after reading the wikipedia page about thimerosal. Yes, I will concede a little sane paranoia on my part.

    About the flu shot, after reading the Chochrane review (“We could find no evidence of effect on secondary cases, lower respiratory tract disease, drug prescriptions, otitis media and its consequences and socioeconomic impact.”) it doesn’t seem effective enough, specially in comparison to vitamin D supplementation. Nevertheless my father (77 y.o.) still does both, vaccine (just in case) plus vitamin D.

  93. Andres says:

    @Chris:

    1.- No idea.

    2.- I don’t have any. Nevertheless I don’t see the logic supporting the use of substances such as mercury or methanol (aspartame) if there are alternatives.

    3.- I will be more at ease eating the tuna sandwich, since it carries the antidote (selenium) side by side with the venom. Same reasoning with methanol/ethanol in juices.

    I am not going to buy salted water any time soon, though.

  94. nybgrus says:

    @andres:

    There has never been any evidence that any thimerosol in any vaccines has ever caused harm. It is not the kind of mercury that is known to be particularly toxic and it is in such miniscule quantities it is negligible. The poison is in the dose, after all.

    @chris:

    That said, I once actually sat down with all the best data I could find (this was in 1st year of med school) and determined that in fact, the amount of mercury in a single can of tuna was still technically less than the total amount in the old vaccine schedule which did contain thimerosol. I don’t have my work handy and I don’t have the time to replicate it at this moment, but I do remember being surprised at the outcome myself. Perhaps I didn’t use the correct numbers or maybe I did my math wrong, but I thought you would be keen to know that said old pro-vax trope is actually incorrect.

  95. Chris says:

    Point taken, nybgrus. It would be interesting to see a tuna sandwich compared to a single influenza vaccine. The most in one vaccine is 25 micrograms. And that is only four of the fourteen rows in that table. When I had a weekly lunch with my mother-in-law a few years ago, I was guaranteed a tuna sandwich once a week. Now they make me gag, but I still have salmon, cod and seared tuna much more often than I get a flu vaccine.

    Andres, that Cochrane was a review article that admitted it had limited data. It also has nothing to do with this year’s flu vaccine, since it was not available when it was published. According to recent CDC news there is a good match this year:

    While it’s early in the season, it’s encouraging to see a well-matched vaccine so far. That bodes well for how well this season’s vaccine will protect against illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

    So I would not depend on Vitamin D to prevent influenza based on the tiny study of under 500 children that you linked to. It showed only any difference with Type A Influenza, not Type B. From the previous link, while it Type A is the most common, it is also more severe:

    Most of the viruses characterized so far this season have been H3N2 viruses; which are typically associated with more severe seasons. The good news is that most of the viruses characterized at CDC so far this season are well-matched to the vaccine viruses.

  96. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Indeed, dihidrogen monoxide is a constant hazard at both high and prolonged-low doses.

    Andres, it is rational to be concerned regarding toxic doses of mercury that accumulate in the body. However, the doses of thimerosal found in vaccines were a) not toxic and b) did not accumulate in the body. Be concerned over large doses of methyl mercury spewed out by coal burning power plants and accumulating in the bodies of top predator fish. Be much less concerned over the much more rapidly excreted doses of ethyl mercury found in some influenza vaccines. Also, perhaps be a little skeptical of that particular meta-analysis (see here and here). And keep in mind that those vitamin D supplements may very well protect you, your grandfather and your children from influenza (though the former two are questionable since this single clinical trial was done exclusively on children – not to mention even within that study some of the kids receiving supplements still got influenza), they may asymptomatically shed viral particles that go on to infect people who can’t get the shot or can’t benefit from the shot. The influenza is as much, or more about protecting people who don’t respond to the vaccine as it is protecting the person who gets the vaccine. Getting the shot will help prevent your 77 year old father’s 77 year old friends, whose children do not give them regular vitamin D supplements, from catching influenza.

    It’s a low risk preventive agent that protects far more than just you.

    Gah that vitamin D study is annoying me. Yes, supplementation may have prevented some children who were defficient in the first place and come from Japan (an extremely genetically homogeneous population that is quite different from Caucasian populations found in Spain) from getting one type of influenza. But it was not a panacea – 10% of those receiving the supplement still caught influenza, and in sunny Spain where a tan is a sign of health (unlike Japan where a lack of tan is highly valued) I would expect vitamin D levels to be considerably higher, thus not benefiting from further vitamin D supplementation. Meanwhile, the influenza vaccine is something like 95-99% effective at preventing infections from well-matched strains, to the point that it may actually shift the strain circulating through the environment during a season. Vitamin D is not equivalent to a vaccination.

  97. nybgrus says:

    VitD does not help prevent or alleviate the common cold or flu

    Also, Chris – yes, in my math if one assumes an average consumption of tuna it very quickly does add up to more than that received in vaccines. I was merely looking at the old canard of “a single tuna fish sandwich” which is just not true. I used the EPA (IIRC) tables on contents of mercury in various foodstuffs and even played around with using maximum values versus average and still couldn’t get 1 sandwich to have more mercury. I cant recall where the breakpoint was but it was somwhere in the 10-20 sandwich range (or at least on that order). It also doesn’t take into account the difference between ethyl mercury and other forms as WLU points out.

    Also, the role of selenium in mercury ingestion is not quite as straighforward as toxin/antidote.

  98. Chris says:

    Thank, nybgrus. I recently saw someone use a study from Brazil that analyzed the fish consumption of Amazonian tribes, and then argued that the vaccines with thimerosal (which are still used in certain countries) seemed to be the tip it over the edge. Apparently the author, Dorea, does not like vaccines, so he did not account for other sources of mercury like contamination from mining (from another commenter on that thread).

    And we are not safe here in North America, apparently there is mercury in California fog. I now wonder if I breathed it in as a kid when my dad was stationed in Ft. Ord, CA in the mid-1960s. Of course that was when I was getting full doses of thimerosal in my vaccines, including a full course before we moved to South America a couple of years later.

  99. Sialis says:

    I would like to express my appreciation for the work you are doing here on Science-Based Medicine. ASEA in particular is being advertised extensively in the city where I live. It is noteworthy that the local physician’s selling this product are heavily promoting it to hospice patients and house pets as a life-extending treatment. It is despicable to sell expensive salt water as a life-extending treatment to a hospice patient. Clearly, these appear to be predatory medical practices that bank on the fears of our most vulnerable patients, the elderly, disabled and even worse, those in hospice.

    You can watch these videos for yourself and realize that the average patient would not be able to interpret the slide images of the live blood microscopy cells being wielded by these ASEA promoters as proof of their product’s efficacy. I note that in this video link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuOYhUubJ-g&feature=share , Kerr claims that within minutes after consuming only 2 ounces of ASEA, the patient’s blood circulation and oxygenation significantly improved. He points to the live blood microscopy slides as evidence and attempts to compare the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ slides. Unfortunately for the viewers, Kerr conveniently explains that the ‘Before’ images of his comparison slides were mistakenly taken home by the patient, and thus currently unavailable for his presentation. This seems like a classic snake-oil sales excuse akin to ‘the dog ate my homework’.

    Kerr states that live blood microscopy using a drop of blood from a fingertip pin prick is a viable tool to assess one’s overall function. This same deceptive usage of live blood analyses has already been exposed by Mark Crislip here on SBM. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/live-blood-analysis-the-modern-auguries/ as well as on Quackwatch, http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Tests/livecell.html

    ASEA attempts to discourage consumers from purchasing other manufacturer’s products. They feature a health-conscious pet owner claiming success with ASEA when another commonly touted alternative treatment from Germany failed her. This consumer demonstrates ASEA being used as a mist to be sprayed in the face and mouth of her 16 1/2 year old dog. She explains how ASEA’s cutting edge Redox Signaling molecules improved the elderly dog’s vision, restored the pet’s gum health, and seemingly cured it’s incontinence. All of these claims serve to guide the unwitting consumer towards buying ASEA. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4XPXZX1BtqM

    ASEA claims not be a vitamin or an antioxidant, but “a Quantum Chemistry”. They claim to give your body’s antioxidants “an unheard of 500% improvement”. ASEA claims their product “Increases Ventilatory Threshold by 12%. Some reported a 30% increase”, yet they have provided no references to any of their studies. They claim that “More than $5 million has been spent to test ASEA and its foundational technology”, yet again, they provide no references.

    Thank you again for helping to educate and protect the public from wasting their money on product’s like ASEA.

  100. weing says:

    “Nevertheless I don’t see the logic supporting the use of substances such as mercury or methanol (aspartame) if there are alternatives.”
    methanol=aspartame? If you want methanol poisoning, drink a glass of methanol. A glass of diet coke, etc, will not get the job done.

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