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185 thoughts on “Naturopathy for allergies

  1. pmoran says:

    “Gina’s “physico-chemical differences” are a weak attempt to prop up an untenable, somewhat circular, argument.

    —–
    LOLOL!! More brave talk from an anonymous poster who knows as much about science as Glenn Beck does about, well, anything.”

    I am hardly anonymous, and it is obvious which one of us is avoiding debate.

    Peter Moran

  2. BillyJoe says:

    sarkeizen,

    “Can you have science without a quantified error-bound?”

    That’s not fair.
    How can Gina be expected to give an answer when she doesn’t understand the question.

    GinaPera,

    “Sark — the answer has to be NO.”

    But she can certainly have a guess at what the answer MUST be. :D

  3. BillyJoe says:

    Alison quoted: “This leads to a perverse result where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding.”

    micheleinmichigan responded: “If I think I know something I probably don’t. If I think I don’t know something, I probably do? These kind of things kill me. It’s a paradox..”

    You are probably kidding, but for Gina’s sake, I will explain…oh, hold on, that’s not going to work, is it?

    :D

  4. BillyJoe says:

    Anyway…

    For what it’s worth, here is Gina Pera’s reasoning:

    What is a normal magnesium level for one person is magnesium deficiency for another person. Therefore, it is impossible to test for magnesium deficiency. Therefore it is impossible to obtain any patients for a proposed double-blind placebo controlled trial of magnesium supplements in the treatment of allergic symptoms due to magnesium deficiency.

    Therefore, the solution is to treat individual patients who have allergic symptoms with magnesium supplements and see if they respond. If they do respond, their allergic symptoms are due to magnesium deficiency regardless of what their actual magnesium level might be

    But the fallacies have already been spotted by many of the posters responding above to the high priestess of the telling anecdote, Gina Pera.

  5. Dionigi says:

    Been a vegetarian for all my life. Still have sneezing fits for no reason. I don’t have allergies but I still react to dust in the air.
    Maybe I’m allergic to meat and just don’t know it.

  6. billyjoe – I am kidding and not kidding, kinda it’s funny cause it’s true. I’ve always kinda envied folks like Gina Pera, seems it would be great to go through life blissfully without compulsion to self-analyze or question their conclusions.

    But then, maybe I am one of those people and I just don’t know, because I’m not self-analyzing enough…grrr.

  7. As to allergies and magnesium deficiencies, I see no reason that science could not observe and study the effects of magnesium on allergies regardless if there is a standard test for magnesium levels.

    I believe that thyroid disfunction diagnoses and thyroid hormone replacement was brought about in medicine well before there where standard blood tests for thyroid function.* It was all done symptomatically. There was probably more error, but it does not mean it can’t be studied by science.

    *feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, weing ;). I recall reading that but don’t have time to google it. The kids want breakfast.

  8. Bogeymama – thanks for clarifying. Since the article was about allergies I thought you where talking about allergy type symptoms alongside behavior issues.

  9. Gina,

    Nobody’s bullying you. They are trying to teach you how to think about science and medicine and you are being really, really obnoxious.

    If you worry about anonymity, many commenters link their screen names to urls. If you like, you can follow the url and discover that they are either not in the least anonymous, or partly anonymous in that it’s quite easy to discover who they are.

  10. sarkeizen says:

    “ta da blah blah, Sark. Keep reading that paragraph.”

    How about you explain it to me…perhaps your writing skills are the bigger problem here. I confess that I really don’t know much about the world of journalism so it’s possible that your hand-waving arguments are considered adequate there. In the world of science, and especially math…not so much.

    Again, no dodges – no big sighs about the ardor of pushing the big heavy keys on your keyboard. You run on at the mouth enough – how about directing some of that into making your argument rather than pretentiousness and invective.

    It’s also pretty interesting that I’m still waiting on your error information with regard to clinical effect of Mg. You seem pretty ready to pronounce some things (and people) as not being or performing science (and imply other things – including clinical effect info about Mg – to pronounce them as “science”). As this is identified – BY YOU – as a crucial piece of information in order to be recognized as science. It follows that you must have read and understood the error information about all of these topics. It follows that you refusing or failing to provide said info undermines your position – since if we – the readers of a science blog – it stands to reason that we would expect a scientific argument. Which by your own logic, you have not provided.

    QED.

    …and once again no dodges – no claims to having already provided said info, no pointing to some large block of links and stating the answer is there or complaints about the workload.

    State the error figure(s). State the source. I’m waiting.

    @BillyJoe “That’s not fair. How can Gina be expected to give an answer when she doesn’t understand the question.”

    That is what remains to be seen. Just how much and how deeply she understands that question.

  11. sarkeizen says:

    “could you please site where exactly I wrote this? Is it a reading-comprehension issue or willful distortion? It’s one or the other.”

    Argument by false dichotomy – just sayin’

  12. squirrelelite says:

    @GinaPera,

    ” Juliet:
    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.”
    Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2) ”

    Since it’s important to you, I thought I would look up your name.
    and got this link:

    http://ginapera.com/biography.html

    Is this you? I will assume so for the moment, but please correct me if I am wrong.

    In closing, how do you distinguish between a fair question or an honest rebuttal and a bullying attack?

    Just looking at this comment thread, I suspect the tone degenerates to the latter when commenters don’t get a clear and direct response to the former.
    Are you still a “Consulting editor to Shape magazine”?

    As someone who presumably knows more about web design and html than I do, you might suggest to their web programmers that their search engine could use some work. It doesn’t support searches for names! I searched for your name and got no hits. I searched for Kim Kardashian who was on one of the front page articles today and didn’t get a hit. I got 17 hits for magnesium, one of which was written by Julie O’Hara but when I looked for her name I didn’t get a hit either.

    And, as an “Editor with 25 years experience”, wouldn’t you agree that something was missing in this sentence?

    “Studies show you need about 4,000 mg of potassium (found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and yogurt) a day to keep blood low.”

    Oh no, sounds like an ancient Roman suicide procedure. I’m pretty sure I saw a scene in a movie, maybe Spartacus, where one of the Roman senators (I think he was played by Charles Laughton) was caught conspiring against Crassus and forced to commit suicide or be executed. He chose to commit suicide by cutting open his veins and slowly bleed to death.

    No thanks, I want to keep my blood if you don’t mind.

    On the magnesium articles, most of them didn’t have even a pseudonym attached to them. Should we just ignore them?

    One of them puzzled me though.

    What is “energy-producing magnesium”?

    I was especially struck by this one.

    http://www.shape.com/healthy_eating/nutrition_101/healthiest_nuts

    It lists pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and Brazil nuts.

    I like nuts. Personally I’ve always had a fondness for pecans because my grandfather had a huge pecan tree in his back yard. But, I don’t like Brazil nuts and am especially leery of them because they are very high in radioactive radium 226. In fact if you eat the 1 oz mentioned in the list every day, you will ingest 1-7 nanocuries of radium every month!

    Here’s the link:
    http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/natural.htm

  13. squirrelelite says:

    Oops,

    I have a comment in moderation.

    I had the cursor in the wrong place and inserted my 2 closing paragraphs in the middle of the comment.

    Me Bad !! ( :) )

  14. Harriet Hall says:

    GinaPera said
    “I never offered evidence that magnesium is effective for allergic rhinitis. I did, however, refer you to the work of magnesium researcher Mildred Seelig, who explains how this might work.”

    You most certainly DID offer anecdotal evidence that magnesium was effective. I was trying to find out if you had anything more substantial than that one anecdote. You could have just said “no.” Instead, you offered the speculation of someone who has an idea how it “might” work and you seemed to be saying that that speculation should convince me that it “does” work. And you insulted me.

    I asked you to be polite, but you are still insulting my reading comprehension, my ability to do research, and my entire profession.

    You seem to be advocating a less rigorous scientific standard for medicine, while the whole tenor of this blog is that we should be more rigorous. Perhaps you would like to clarify what standards you think we should be following. I accept that your anecdote and the theoretical speculations suggest that magnesium be tested as a treatment for allergies. That is a valid point, and I don’t think anyone here would argue with that. But we do not accept that doctors should prescribe untested remedies on the basis of anecdotes and theoretical speculations. Do you?

  15. Chris says:

    GinaPera:

    Sorry Chris. I have no idea. Perhaps you should ask a nickel or chromium scientist — or a metallurgist.

    Finally an honest admission about your expertise in allergies.

    Unfortunately, it further reveals your lack in knowledge when you tell me to consult a materials scientist instead of a person with medical training in contact dermatitis.

    Allergies to nickel are fairly common, especially in women (due to wearing more jewelry, my allergy stemmed from ear rings and wedding ring set, plus my sewing hobby — if you look you will see gold plated tapestry needles due to the allergy being common with needle workers). It is not really an allergy to nickel itself, but due to a reaction with the contents of perspiration from the skin.

    It is most likely genetic, and there is no cure. I have something in my DNA that has decided that the proteins in my sweat combined with nickel requires an immune response. Consumption of some mineral, vitamin or magic potion will make me be able to wear regular gold jewelry. Though with time I may have a reduction in sensitivity.

    So if you have learned anything here, it is about the vast array and variation in allergies. In other words: it is complicated, and your simple little treatment will not work for most people.

  16. GinaPera says:

    The psychopathology on this thread is staggering. Are you all Glenn Beck fans?

    Truly, there are medical treatment strategies for these conditions other than badgering and being obtuse and sadistic. And the strategies are based on science.

    And Harriet, you still have not read in good faith what I’ve written. Plenty of physicians do understand what I’ve tried to communicate. The fact that you won’t even try speaks volumes about you, not me.

    So long, bullies. You can find a new target for your self-medication.

  17. sarkeizen says:

    “So long, bullies. You can find a new target for your self-medication.”

    I don’t even understand how anyone here can be a “bully”. To me, anyway a “bully” is someone who uses a strength to compensate for reason…or perhaps more generally someone who uses a strength in one “arena” to attain victory in an unrelated “arena”. So if for example Gina’s comments were getting edited by the moderator that would be a fair label of “bully”. However that gives me pause, because here – apart from are words. What possible advantage can we have over Gina.

    Here’s another definition of bully – and I’m almost quoting Ayn Rand here – Someone who expects you to accept argument or criticism on something other than rational or evidential grounds.

    Who does that sound like?

    Oh and Gina…

    I note that you still haven’t got me any kind of error data on your alleged clinical benefits of Mg on allergies and from your parting shot I shall assume you won’t post in this thread again (until you want some more attention I guess). Ergo by your own definition you have left out something from your arguments without which they can not be “science” and you seem surprised that people aren’t receptive.

  18. BillyJoe says:

    Gina, I’m afraid you don’t understand SBM at all.

    Back to your original post:
    (because you seem not to have moved beyond it!)

    After years of suffering allergies and allergists giving me shots (useless) and pills (who wants to take a pill 24/7 for three seasons each year?), I found myself in the middle of a severe cat allergy and had no antihistamines.

    A nutritionist at this event mixed for me a drink of juice, magnesium, and B vitamins. Not wanting to be impolite, I drank it, fully expecting to keep sneezing convulsively. To my surprise, the allergic reaction stopped immediately.

    That is an anecdote.
    Anecdotes are NOT science.
    Anecdotes may raise questions but…
    …they are NOT the answers to these questions.

    Do most physicians even know why magnesium offers some allergic people this benefit? No, but the good ones do. That’s because they actually understand basic physiology, including the role of minerals and vitamins, and can apply it to their patients’ various conditions. They don’t rely solely on double-blind studies and drug reps for all of their knowledge and thus they can integrate treatment.

    Similarly, basic science may raise questions but…
    …it cannot answer these questions!
    The answers come through SBM via the double-blind trial.

    Frankly, I’m shocked at what you’re calling “science-based medicine” here. There are some huge gaps in your “science.”

    And, frankly, I am shocked that after 25 years of writing on the subject, you still do not understand that anecdotes and basic science do not constitute Science Based Medicine.

    I am shocked that you still do not understand that anecdotes and basic science are only the starting of points of Science Based Medicine, a process that ends with sytematic reviews of double-blind trials which attempt to answer the questions posed by your anecdotes and the basic science.

  19. overshoot says:

    What is “energy-producing magnesium”?

    Go buy a spool of magnesium tape. Light it. You will achieve enlightenment.

  20. GinaPera says:

    Finally, because we seem to have another difficult-reading problem”:

    Squirrel — I looked up Mildred Seelig’s reference that you cited as a “helpful source for you regarding magnesium and allergies”. It looked like a summary article about a book she had written about chronic fatigue syndrome and magnesium. It talked mostly about CFS and a few other conditions but didn’t seem to mention asthma or allergies.


    I guess you don’t know how to do a term search?

    As for the rest, you really are a silly, silly person. Imagine having nothing better to do with one’s time.

    I haven’t seen so much cognitive confusion, antisocial personality disorder, and blame-placing since I wandered into an anti-psychiatry forum…… wait, maybe this one is mislabeled?

  21. KB says:

    I really wish I were a betting person, because every time someone announces they’re not coming back to a thread, they always come back.

    GinaPera:

    If you want to claim superiority to anti-psychiatrists, you should not throw around personality disorders as insults. Some people truly suffer from them and it belittles their experience.

    If you want to claim superiority to the commenters in this thread, you are doing it all wrong. Nobody is trying to personally attack you. Everyone simply disagrees with your statements. No one is going to change their mind by being compared to Glen Beck, and no one has called you any names for disagreeing with them, either. The more you try to belittle people, the more apparent it is that being told you’re wrong hurt your feelings, and it does not come across as fiery righteous indignation as much as you’d think.

    Sorry I didn’t have anything actually useful to bring to the discussion, but all the name-calling got to me.

  22. squirrelelite says:

    @overshoot,

    Actually I was thinking of the opening sequence in the 1951 version of The Thing where they find the alien space ship and its magnesium hull goes up in flames in the Earth’s oxygen atmosphere.

  23. squirrelelite says:

    One of the things I really appreciate about SBM and Respectful Insolence (I don’t notice it as much on a couple other blogs I regularly follow because the threads are not usually as long and disputatious or else I just don’t have time) is how much effort the commenters will put into explaining scientific and medical processes in careful detail to even the most obtuse and perverse commenters. I have learned a lot from reading those comments even if the people to whom they were directed too often refused to read and learn and understand.

    It is quite a contrast with GinaPera’s approach to questions which seems to alternate between complaints about “reading comprehension” and simple name calling.

    I guess she got as far as the fourth paragraph of my 12:02 am comment which she responds to with the following:

    “I guess you don’t know how to do a term search?

    As for the rest, you really are a silly, silly person. Imagine having nothing better to do with one’s time.

    I haven’t seen so much cognitive confusion, antisocial personality disorder, and blame-placing since I wandered into an anti-psychiatry forum…… wait, maybe this one is mislabeled.”

    The first part shows she didn’t get as far as the fifth paragraph where I stated:

    “I also looked up the NIH fact sheet on magnesium. I copied it into a word processor and did a word search for “allerg” which should cover allergy, allergies, allergens, etc. No hits.”

    or the seventh paragraph:

    “I also went to PubMed and did a search on magnesium and allergies and got 528 references.’

    And, in my 12:10 pm comment I noted:

    “As someone who presumably knows more about web design and html than I do, you might suggest to their web programmers that their search engine could use some work. It doesn’t support searches for names! I searched for your name and got no hits. I searched for Kim Kardashian who was on one of the front page articles today and didn’t get a hit. I got 17 hits for magnesium, one of which was written by Julie O’Hara but when I looked for her name I didn’t get a hit either.”

    Oh yes, reading comprehension <> that explains everything!?!?!?

    I guess I was stubborn enough to go back to the CFS article she referenced and used the built-in google search engine to look for asthma. I got 10 hits. One of them was to pubmed where I found the Dead Sea water study I had mentioned. One mentioned intravenous magnesium sulfate which I also mentioned. Another was a summary which gave several other cross-references. And another was the Mildred Seelig article which offered this little gem:

    “Whether allergies in CFS patients and abnormal response to antigenic challenge are results of low Mg remains to be proven.”

    ( :) )

    Oh yes, reading comprehension!

    The comment about “a silly, silly person” reminds me of a game my son liked to play with me. He would point to something and try to direct my attention to it and when I looked he would say “gotcha”. In other words, by paying attention to Gina Pera’s comments and trying to respond to them, I lose. Oh well, so be it. I write mostly for my own amusement anyway although I sometimes hope others will find them interesting or useful.

    The third comment about “cognitive confusion etc.” just leaves me cognitively confused because I can’t tell if she is referring to me alone or everyone on this blog thread or what.

    Oh well.

    I guess I shall never learn if the GinaPera on this comment thread turns out to be the Gina Pera I linked to or not to be that person. I may even wait to die without learning so, but I don’t think it will make it hard for me to sleep. Perchance I shall dream of a world without journalists like Gina Pera! Ay, there’s the back rub that makes for a good night’s sleep.

    I think Gina Pera qualifies for the Henry Cavendish response (the 18th century British physicist who discovered hydrogen and measured the gravitational attraction between lead balls using a torsion balance). I found this little tidbit in Wikipedia:

    “The contemporary accounts of his personality have led some modern commentators, such as Oliver Sacks, to speculate that he had Asperger syndrome, though he may merely have been painfully shy. His only social outlet was the Royal Society Club, whose members dined together before weekly meetings. Cavendish seldom missed these meetings, and was profoundly respected by his contemporaries. However his shyness made those who “sought his views… speak as if into vacancy. If their remarks were…worthy, they might receive a mumbled reply.”"

    Gina Pera, I haven’t seen any of your remarks that are worthy of even a mumbled reply, so I shall not trouble you with any more. Welcome to the Jake Crosby club.

  24. KB says:

    My previous comment probably should have read, “Nobody is trying to attack you except for me in this comment.” I accidentally proved myself wrong.

  25. squirrelelite says:

    @KB,

    C’est la vie!

    Perhaps the name-calling got to me too. Mostly, though, it completely failed to contribute to an interesting and informative discussion.

  26. BillyJoe says:

    Gina,

    “As for me, I am really a silly, silly person. ”

    Yes you are…
    …because you haven’t learnt a thing.

  27. Hmm -Insomnia strikes and I’m trying to remember a particular quote or saying about insults. It went something like insults are for when you have run out of reason…but it sounded much better. Anyway had to google search and although I did not find that saying I did find these tidbits.*

    First
    “The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.” -Sigmund Freud
    So we should be happy she didn’t throw a rock at someone.

    Then
    “Insults should be written in sand, compliments should be carved in stone”–Arab Proverb
    not sure where the internet lays between sand and stone.

    Or
    “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.” –Oscar Wilde
    Make a note, don’t offend Oscar Wilde. Should be easy.

    On handling insults, Moliere said“A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behavior is patience and moderation.”

    But, Thomas Jefferson said“One insult pocketed soon produces another”

    And Shakespeare wrote “Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.”

    But I have to say for this situation my favorite is
    “To be insulted by you is to be garlanded with lilies”–Aristophanes

    *It’s a hobby. Some people collect clown figurines. So it could be worse, possibly.

  28. squirrelelite says:

    Thanks, Michelle!

    A great way to start the day!

  29. overshoot says:

    Since we’re quoting:

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act on them” — Thomas Jefferson

  30. BillyJoe says:

    I can only assume micheleinmichigan’s quotes are intended for Gina, and overshot’s quote is intended for the rest of us. :)

  31. GinaPera wrote:

    Do most physicians even know why magnesium offers some allergic people this benefit? No, but the good ones do. That’s because they actually understand basic physiology, including the role of minerals and vitamins, and can apply it to their patients’ various conditions…

    BillyJoe replied:

    …basic science may raise questions but…
    …it cannot answer these questions!

    BillyJoe, you were too nice. There is nothing in basic physiology to predict that ingesting more magnesium than usual “offers some allergic people this benefit.” That was the point of my previous comment, which GinaPera answered with a complete non sequitur.

  32. Wolfy says:

    Sounds like she had an interesting and productive life:

    http://www.jacn.org/cgi/content/full/24/5/305

  33. sarkeizen says:

    After watching and participating in these exchanges I think it’s pretty obvious what Gina is:

    She’s obviously self-educated and her knowledge is ankle deep on the things she decided to lecture on. According to her self-written biography she holds a BSc in Journalism (I’ll try to avoid shaking my head at how Journalism is a BSc and not a BFA). So she simply doesn’t have the tools to talk about the details of a study or even what constitutes good evidence.

    Her opinions, while possibly rational are not “transparently rational” i.e. she doesn’t clearly state her conclusions and her evidence for supporting them. This says two things to me. She isn’t confident in her beliefs and she isn’t capable of learning anything (by talking here that is, not in general).

    So I think, perhaps that she somehow enjoys conflict (something on her site she attributes to a ‘self-medication’ that ADD sufferers user). Perhaps we don’t do her much of a favor by indulging her in this masturbatory exercise.

  34. sarkeizen – “According to her self-written biography she holds a BSc in Journalism (I’ll try to avoid shaking my head at how Journalism is a BSc and not a BFA”

    Umm – BFA speaking here. Firstly, there’s no way she could last through a project critique without having a melt down. Temper Tantrum’s are the professor’s prerogative, not the students’.

    Secondly, How do you think that someone who throws around mental health diagnoses like pejorative’s is going get along with a bunch of “tortured” artists?

    Thirdly, we do not accept journalist in art school because we are honest about the fact that we are making everything up. We (generally) do not pretend that the squishy purple canyon is reality.

    Fourthly, cause, we don’t want her, she’s a complete buzz kill.

  35. But, I’m in the midwest. I can’t speak for LA or NY, maybe they’ll take her.

  36. KB says:

    Hey, LA is not volunteering–we’ve already got an oil spill. (Unless you meant Los Angeles, that might be OK.)

    I hear Alaska has some nice people, dontcha know? And apparently she’s a fan of Republicans, so she’ll fit right in!

  37. KB says:

    And no, I wasn’t aware of any high road, as a matter of fact.

  38. Chris says:

    # sarkeizenon:

    According to her self-written biography she holds a BSc in Journalism (I’ll try to avoid shaking my head at how Journalism is a BSc and not a BFA).

    At my local university it is simple BA in communications with a journalism specialty.

    Her behavior here makes me think that she is inflating her qualifications.

  39. Chris says:

    Ack… blockquote fail!

    This is the response: At my local university it is simple BA in communications with a journalism specialty.

    Her behavior here makes me think that she is inflating her qualifications.

  40. squirrelelite says:

    If she is the Gena Pera I linked to, (she didn’t confirm that, either) it looks like she shuttles back and forth between San Francisco and San Diego.

    I happened to be out shopping and saw a copy of Shape magazine on the shelf and opened it to skim the credits, but I didn’t see her name as a “contributing editor”. Perhaps she didn’t contribute to that particular issue or maybe that one of her current activities isn’t so current anymore.

    Shape magazine is pretty much Sunday supplement/waiting room table level stuff, but at least a few of the bits I looked at mentioned possible negative effects like drug interactions.

    I still think it’s funny that they picked Brazil nuts as one of the “healthiest” nuts!

  41. KB says:

    In Gina Pera’s defense, I looked on her website, and under “Portfolio” she says she was “consulting managing editor for the launch of Shape’s new Fit Pregnancy magazine,” so maybe it was a temporary position. She does list it under projects that “have included,” suggesting the past tense.

  42. squirrelelite says:

    I think you’re right KB.

    I should have clicked over there to double check, but I was in the middle of writing the comment and didn’t want to lose my work. It doesn’t seem to be happening as much lately, but several months ago I lost a few comments I had spent some time on by clicking in the wrong place or bumping my palm on the touch pad, so I’m a little nervous about that.

    Her main current project seems to be writing a book.

    The Summary page is a little confusing because it starts with July 1993-Present and then lists “Projects have included:”

  43. KB says:

    Squirrelelite: Yeah, it would have been clearer if she’d listed an ending date like all the other categories, but I don’t think she wants our advice on organizing a resume. : )

  44. Scott says:

    I have to wonder what potential employers would think, were they to Google GinaPera and find this thread. I can’t imagine it would be good.

  45. Scott – I have to point out, unless the personality of the Gina Pera on the website seems similarly provocative to the one posted here, there is the possibility of a malicious co-worker, ex-friend, ex-significant other posing as Gina Pera to create mischieve for her.

    One of my old co-worker’s had a stalker for awhile who would do such things.

  46. KB – I meant Los Angelos and New York City, two cities were aspiring artist go to “make it big.” Sorry for the confusion. We won’t be so heartless as to foist GP on you right now.

  47. Scott says:

    Quite true. Such things are, however, unfortunately effective.

  48. Fifi says:

    Bogeymama – “Thinks like a journalist”…oh please, how lame and inaccurate! You do know that it was journalists that cracked Watergate? Sure there are quacky journalists but there are also ethical and very hardworking ones (they’re just not as employable by the mainstream media), just as there are quack doctors. No doubt there are quacks in whatever profession you practice as well…guess we should assume that you’re a quack too? What this person thinks and talks like is a supplement salesperson or a quack MD pushing pseudoscience (spot the difference!)…or a creationist.

  49. Fifi says:

    Ah, right, just another person pimping a product with an anti-medicine slant. Just more pop pseudoscience and self promotion! More bias and vested financial interest in perpetrating pseudoscience…this is to journalism what naturopaths are to medicine…

  50. Fifi says:

    Of course, like all unscientific and quackery based attempts to push mega-dosing on supplements, there’s a total lack of knowledge about what science has actually show us about how vitamins and minerals work. (And we have a lot more research to do still.) What’s always the most hilarious is that these people obviously have no understanding of the holistic and synergistic manner in which most vitamins and minerals work! (We really do have to reclaim these words from the idiots in CAM that clearly don’t actually understand what they mean.) Magnesium, calcium and vitamin D work together – you screw with one and you’re effecting how your body can access and use the others. This simplistic and binary thinking – all good vs all bad (which is equally reflected in the childlike medicine=evil, CAM=good silliness that doesn’t reflect the complexity of reality) – is a sign of intellectual and emotional immaturity. It’s like a child that really, really wants to be a grown up and taken seriously but is obviously (still) incapable of doing more than playact and mimic adults (or, in this case, science and reasoned argument).

  51. Fifi says:

    She also sounds like she takes her talking points and style from Scientology….which is not surprising considering how involved in both promoting and creating supplement quackery, and selling supplements, Scientology is.

  52. overshoot says:

    Bogeymama – “Thinks like a journalist”…oh please, how lame and inaccurate! You do know that it was journalists that cracked Watergate?

    Fifi, if you want to impress people on this blog you would do better to point out that the made-of-awesome Brian Deer is a journalist.

  53. Hey Fifi! Missed you.

    Interesting about the Scientologisms. (I’m quite impressed with your journalistic acumen: I couldn’t distinguish
    any talking points, Scientological or otherwise, among the foam.) I don’t know enough about it to make a link.

  54. nord says:

    Anybody know much about hookworm treatment for allergies?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19128351

  55. Nord – I’ve read something like that before and Dr Novella mentions something similar (except auto-immune disease) in the article “Evolution and Medicine. ”

    “The authors also provide examples of how evolutionary principles can direct future research. They reference new research looking into the role of intestinal parasites and autoimmune diseases. The research is based upon the premise that humans co-evolved not only with our intestinal flora, but with certain parasites, such as intestinal worms. Now we live in a largely hygienic environment, and have even taken steps to eliminate parasites. This may have unintentionally deprived our immune systems of needed stimulation, resulting in poor immune regulation, and subsequent increase in auto-immune diseases like asthma and multiple sclerosis.”

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=3637

    I guess it may be just like they say “everything in moderation” even intestinal parasites.

  56. Good to see you back, FiFi. I agree about journalists, like other professions, some are excellent and some not so much. I tend to think the thoughtless, market driven business model of many news outlets has caused much of the poor quality we see today. Those are executive decisions, not those of the journalists.

  57. sarkeizen says:

    “sarkeizen – “According to her self-written biography she holds a BSc in Journalism (I’ll try to avoid shaking my head at how Journalism is a BSc and not a BFA”

    Umm – BFA speaking here. Firstly, there’s no way she could last through a project critique without having a melt down. Temper Tantrum’s are the professor’s prerogative, not the students’. ”

    Hey Michelle,

    Loved the comment. BFA was a typo I meant BA – the idea being a general degree (which may well have components in the sciences) and not a specialized science degree.

    I also hope it was clear that I mean no disrespect for the Fine Arts – I work for a BFA granting institution and I have nothing but kudos for the students who make it through crits each year.

  58. sarkeizen – no worries on my part, I thought you were using BFA to say that this particular journalists gets too creative with the facts.

    But I was just taking the opportunity for a bit of humor.

  59. Calli Arcale says:

    Bogeymama:

    Of course, allergies can cause acute GI symptoms. Notice the use of the word “acute”. I’ve been puked on enough times to know this. Chronic GI symptoms are a result of intolerances, which are a chemical reaction in the gut – not a result of an IgE-mediated allergy. Bothersome, yes. Dangerous, no. That’s what makes this distinction so important.

    I know your focus on allergies and asthma, but you shouldn’t dismiss intolerances so casually. My cousin has a severe case of celiac sprue — gluten intolerance. Unlike the mythical gluten intolerance that some blame for autism, real gluten intolerance does more than make a person cranky. It actually can kill, and if left untreated in any more than a very mild case, that is its likely outcome, eventually.

    Celiac sprue is not like most intolerances; the immune system has a genetic defect which makes it incapable of distinguishing between a “kill me now!” signal and the alcohol that is produced by the digestion of gluten and a few related molecules. The result is that if the affected person eats food containing gluten, their immune system will promptly spring into action (without needing to be sensitized first, which is another way it differs from allergy) and go medieval on the cilia. Diagnosis hinges upon seeing the destroyed tissue on a biopsy of the intestine. My cousin was lucky; hers was diagnosed when she was only 6 months old (after her first experience with grains), after several agonizing weeks in the hospital. Her digestive tract had shut down; she had an ileus. Others, who go undiagnosed for longer or have less dramatic symptoms, manage to do considerable damage to their GI tracts. They may end up needing a bowel resection to prevent the ultimate complication: a ruptured intestine and acute peritonitis.

    So it may not be an allergy, but that doesn’t mean it’s less serious. In fact, it’s *more* serious, because there isn’t a damn thing you can do to help the person once the gluten is in their system. Benadryl doesn’t help. Epi-pens are useless. You can’t use desensitization therapy (allergy shots), because there’s no sensitization in the first place. The only treatment is complete avoidance of gluten. And I do mean complete. Gluten and gluten-derived molecules are in a lot more things than a lot of the GF/CF pushers realize.

    I don’t mean to dogpile on you or anything. I entirely, 100% agree with and share your frustration with the people who want to blame all psychological and behavioral problems on allergies, and who conflate allergies and intolerances. I just want to be sure you don’t run into trouble down the road when you find someone with celiac sprue, and assume it is not really serious since it’s “only” an intolerance. If my cousin gets a tiny bit of gluten, she will require hospitalization until it clears (which could be a while, as she’ll likely get an ileus again). By contrast, my friends with severe food allergies can generally get ambulatory ER care and go home the same day. Sure, the allergy can kill much faster — but it’s at least treatable after it starts.

  60. Calli – I’m curious, steroids are used for some auto-immune disorders, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, to supress the immune response. Do you know if they are at all effective for celiac sprue?

  61. Calli Arcale says:

    As I understand it, cortisone may help in the short term, but depending on the severity of the case, it is not usually sufficient. Basically, it depends on how aggressively the person’s immune system is attacking the cilia. My cousin has the most extreme form of it; suppressing her immune system would still leave enough of a response to do serious harm to her intestines.

  62. Thanks Calli, good to know.

  63. DanaUllman says:

    If you wish to maintain your own ignorance and misinformation, please do not read the review of clinical research on the homeoapthic treatment of respiratory allergies at:

    http://altmedrev.com/ (see Article #6, in the April 2010 issue).

    For the record, this review highlights the research primarily published in high impact journals, and it makes reference to which studies have been deemed to be “high quality” studies by independent parties in meta-analyzes published in the BMJ and the Lancet.

    Warning: If you want to keep your mind closed as a steel trap or if you want to maintain your own misinformation about homeopathy and high quality research, you are not recommended to read this article…

    You will now have to admit that you’re simply “deniers” and medical fundamentalists. I have too high of a regard for the term “skeptics” (and sadly, there are not many skeptics at your site here)…but you dinosaurs do like to roar.

  64. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Hi Dana,

    It’s funny (in the sense of both amusing and curious), and indicative, that your article cites only a single word of the 2006 Cochrane Review CD001957 (available at http://www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD001957/frame.html) on influenza and homeopathy. The word you cite is “promising”, but the full quote is:

    Though promising, the data were not strong enough to make a general recommendation to use Oscillococcinum for first-line treatment of influenza and influenza-like syndromes. Further research is warranted but the required sample sizes are large. Current evidence does not support a preventative effect of Oscillococcinum-like homeopathic medicines in influenza and influenza-like syndromes.

    Note “the data were not strong enough to make a general recommendation to use Oscillococcinum for first-line treatment of influenza”, “the required sample sizes are large” (meaning the effect is so small, it’s hard to detect at all), and “Current evidence does not support a preventative effect of Oscillococcinum-like homeopathic medicines in influenza and influenza-like syndromes”. Pulling the single positive word out of that review and eliminating the rest of the context is pretty much the definition of egregious cherry-picking. That’s like me summarizing your post as “[H]omeopathic treatment of respiratory allergies…[a]re…dinosaurs.”

    In other words, you can’t claim this paper as vindication that homeopathy works; the best legitimate claim you can make is, more research is required to truly test if it works because to date it is not conclusive.

    So after 200 years of research, the outcome is still “more research”. After 200 years of research and a complete lack of mechanism (which is it, information? Or quantum theory? If the former, how is it conveyed, how does the system know how to “read” it, and how is only “good” information conveyed? If the latter, how does it avoid being smeared-out once it reaches molecular and larger sizes, since quantum effects aren’t expected to be seen at anything larger than a single atom?) the difference between homeopaths and scientists is scientists are willing to say “no, that’s enough research”. The only other topic which is still being discussed without progress after 200 years, is theology. A comparison I consider funny (in the amusing sense) and instructive.

  65. DanaUllman says:

    William,

    Thanx for proving my point(s). First, the article above is on ALLERGIES…and the article to which I linked is on ALLERGIES. So far, so good. You’ve successfully kept your mind closed (no surprise). And you’ve successfully avoided any reference to research on homeopathy and respiratory allergies.

    Secondly, you’ve acknowledged that you’ve read the Cochrane Report on the flu, and thus, you now KNOW that this research confirms that there IS a difference between Oscillococcinum and placebo in the treatment of the flu. You (and anyone else) can no longer say that there is “no research” that confirms the efficacy of homeopathy.

    Try harder to keep your mind closed…and try harder to never admit any benefit from homeopathy. You let one slip. Thanx…

  66. Harriet Hall says:

    I don’t suppose it matters to believers in homeopathy, but there is no such thing as Oscillococcinum. That word was coined by a man who looked at duck liver through a microscope and saw little vibrating particles and thought he had discovered a new bacterium. No one else ever found it. Turns out he was confused by Brownian motion. Pretty funny, actually.

    And now they use duck liver and dilute the duck out of it. What about the law of similars? Does duck liver produce the symptoms of colds or flu? None of this adds up, especially since all the molecules of duck liver are diluted out of the remedy, leaving nothing but the quack.

  67. Chris says:

    The article Ullman recommended: A Review of Homeopathic Research in the Treatment of Respiratory Allergies Dana Ullman, MPH; Michael Frass, MD

    The only response to that is The Dull-Man Law.

  68. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    “Thanx for proving my point(s). First, the article above is on ALLERGIES…and the article to which I linked is on ALLERGIES. So far, so good. You’ve successfully kept your mind closed (no surprise). And you’ve successfully avoided any reference to research on homeopathy and respiratory allergies.”

    Oh, I’ll read it. I have already read part of it, checked a reference, and found a flaw within five minutes of opening the pdf. That’s not keeping my mind closed, that’s weighing the evidence – in this case the evidence that your referencing appears questionable.

    “Secondly, you’ve acknowledged that you’ve read the Cochrane Report on the flu, and thus, you now KNOW that this research confirms that there IS a difference between Oscillococcinum and placebo in the treatment of the flu. You (and anyone else) can no longer say that there is “no research” that confirms the efficacy of homeopathy.”

    Oh good Lord. I know the Cochrane Review didn’t find a clear difference, and also that it didn’t recommend use of the remedy as either a preventive or treatment agent. That you took the single positive word out of the review, and ignored the rest, is precisely what underscores my previous point. Your ability to parse a source or argument is not being enhanced here, nor is your defence of the arguments for homeopathy – where is the information? What stores the information? What receives it? How do quantum effects influence more than a single atom?

    “Try harder to keep your mind closed…and try harder to never admit any benefit from homeopathy. You let one slip.”

    Based on the evidence, I have changed my mind on acupuncture from “utter nonsense” to “some use for pain and nausea” and actually recommended it to someone who had no other effective treatments to draw upon. Because there is evidence. Attempting to call me to task for failing to accept the extremely dubious evidence for homeopathy, when you’ve never shown the slightest evidence of ever wavering in your support, is hypocritical. I’m open to homeopathy being proven more than placebo – all I’m waiting on are multiple well-designed trials converging in a common finding that homeopathy is effective. It happened for lots of other drugs, vaccines, surgery, vitamin deficiencies, so what’s the problem with homeopathy? Again, 200 years and still an evidence base best described as “questionable”. That’s not science, that’s religion.

  69. weing says:

    William,
    He illustrates, quite nicely, the barriers to acceptance of science posted recently.
    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1994

    He’s also flagrantly promoting his own article.

  70. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    @weing

    I did notice that he was an author of the paper. Some amazing subtlety there, though were I the author I wouldn’t necessarily brag about it.

    The link you posted, I will probably check out a lot sooner.

  71. JStan says:

    Hello,

    I would like to bring up something that it seems only a few Naturopaths or MD’s would recommend called Beta Glucan 1,3 it is a long chain polysaccharide found in mushrooms and yeast. Properly prepared extracts no known toxicities, side effects or drug interactions.

    “Alleviation of seasonal allergic symptoms with superfine beta-1,3-glucan: a randomized study”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19994586

    “Effects of glucan treatment on the Th1/Th2 balance in patients with allergic rhinitis: a double-blind placebo-controlled study.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15941684

    Beta glucan 1,3 binds with the Dectin-1 and Compliment Receptor-3 (among others) on Macrophages, Neutrophylls and NK cells.
    “Pattern recognition: recent insights from Dectin-1″
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19223162

    This describes the mechanism by which the Dectin-1 receptor controls the Th1/Th2 balance in allergic response.
    “Dectin-1 directs T helper cell differentiation by controlling noncanonical NF-kappaB activation through Raf-1 and Syk”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19122653

    This really isn’t new, it has been known in Chinese medicine for a few thousand years that the hot water extracts or tea from a multitude of mushroom sources does something to help the body cope with disease in general. We now know that there is a real physiological effect on the cells of the innate immune system, via the receptors. Mushroom BG 1,3 products are widely prescribed for cancer in Japan and China, some of the popular brands are Maitake D-Fraction and Lentinan from shitake. The research is very interesting and I know of at least one BG1,3 pharmaceutical preparation called Imprime PGG for use with monoclonal antibody treatment. It is in Phase 2 trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC.
    http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/2270.cfm?IRBNO=09-052

    “Combined yeast-derived beta-glucan with anti-tumor monoclonal antibody for cancer immunotherapy.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19454271

    “Yeast beta-glucan amplifies phagocyte killing of iC3b-opsonized tumor cells via complement receptor 3-Syk-phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16849475

    “A phase I/II trial of beta-(1,3)/(1,6) D-glucan in the treatment of patients with advanced malignancies receiving chemotherapy.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2570358/?tool=pubmed

    The research really doesn’t stop at cancer and allergies, here is a decent free review.
    “Beta Glucan and the Immune System”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17895634

    Please take the time to look at some of the research cited above, there are at least a thousand more studies on PubMed. Other studies have shown efficacy in reducing cholesterol, inflammation, aid in surgical and burn wound healing, speeding recovery from radiation, helping to prevent post surgical infection and as an adjunct therapy for HIV/AIDS. I am extremely skeptical in general, but there really is quite a lot of published research on this, from every corner of the globe, showing a positive direction against a broad array of challenges.

    Do not be fooled into thinking I am saying this is a cure all, I am in no way saying that, it just seems to give the immune system a strong push in the right direction, which is why it is interesting as a possible adjunct therapy for many treatments. It is relatively cheap and with no side effects, toxicities or drug interactions, it does not seem that many things this positive come our way often, natural or synthetic.

    I am interested to know what people think of this research,
    Take care, Jason

  72. DanaUllman says:

    Harriett shows incredible disdain for randomized double blind trials when they do not give her a result that supports her own point of view. How typical.

    And Weing asserts that I am “flagrantly promoting” my own article. Jeeez, don’t you hate it when someone promotes a review of research primarily drawn from high impact journals, especially when independent researchers define these studies as “high quality”? Don’t you hate it when your own point of view is dissed?

    Don’t you hate it when “science based medicine” has become simply “deniers of science” and “medical fundamentalism”? Don’t you hate it when it become so obvious? Yeah, I hate it too.

  73. weing says:

    “Don’t you hate it when your own point of view is dissed? ”
    Can’t stop talking about yourself, can you?

  74. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Dana, the issue is that you consistently fail to show any evidence of considering the flaws of the research you cite and promote, as well as ignoring results that are critical of homeopathy. You show every evidence of ideology driving your decision making rather than experimental results. The best research, the highest quality trials, and the highest-impact summaries of the research all point to homeopathy being little more than placebo – the results are so equivocal, even if homeopathy does work it has almost nothing clinically meaningful to offer. What use is a treatment that improves symptoms 1% faster, that makes your cold go away 2 hours earlier, that alleviates pain by some miniscule fraction, particularly when compared to aspirin which actually does so in a noticeable way? If homeopathy was really as powerful and effective as it is claimed and promoted, why is it so hard to see these results? Why is it so difficult to show that unbiased observers can distinguish, on an ongoing basis, between homeopathic remedies and simple water? Why is there still a fight over the basic existence of the phenomenon? These are all reasons why scientific investigation of homeopathy is seen as futile; even if it exists, what’s the point? Yet it’s still presented to the public as if it were adequate treatment for HIV, cancer, malaria, let alone the common cold. This is why people want homeopaths to stop promoting, and start doing good research. Good research isn’t hard in principle – high-quality blinding, control groups, adequate randomization, meaningful population sizes, and publication of all results, even if negative. You’re giving people pills and liquids, all you need to do is run a trial where people get the exact same treatment, right up until the remedy is handed over; split the groups so one gets simple water or sugar, and the other gets a homeopathic remedy. Blind the test, and you’ve got a rigorous trial. Not hard!

  75. Harriet Hall says:

    DanaUllman said “Harriett shows incredible disdain for randomized double blind trials when they do not give her a result that supports her own point of view.”

    Harriet (not Harriett – please dilute out the excess t) did not even mention randomized double blind trials in her comment. She merely revealed that Oscillococcinum is the name of a bacterium that does not even exist, and questioned how the homeopathic law of similars applied to duck liver and flu/colds.

    If Oscillococcinum were a rationally chosen remedy according to homeopathic principles, Dana could have educated us instead of offering this nonresponsive misinterpretation of my comment.

  76. weing says:

    Notice how he complained that the article dealt with allergies and accused someone of being closed minded about it. Then he sings the unwarranted praises of Oscillococcinum. I guess what’s good for the goose is bad for the gander.

  77. DanaUllman says:

    Wow…Harriet, I’m impressed that you’ve (again) proven your embarrassing ignorance of homeopathy…and of Oscillococcinum.

    Ummm, have you ever heard of the “bird flu.” Is it really possible that ducks are birds? Do you NOT understand that Oscillococcinum is taken from the heart and liver of ducks? Do you NOT understand that biologists and epidemiologists have long recognized that ducks are reservoirs of various flu viruses?

    Does it REALLY not make sense to you to give small doses of a pathogen in order to augment an immunological defense to that pathogen? The fact is that four large double-blind and placebo controlled trials have consistently found a greater benefit from taking Oscillococcinum as compared with a placebo. The fact also is that you’ve developed a very cynical view of science, unless it supports your limited view of the world (and of health). Yikes.

    Do you have no respect for biology, epidemiology, and immunology? Wow, you’ve take cynicism to a new depth. It is impressive how much your rational mind contorts to blind yourself and to try to maintain your point of view…but THAT is what happens when you adopt medical fundamentalism.

    I hope that EVERYONE here learns from Harriet’s mistakes. Such behavior is an embarrassment to medicine and science.

    Harriet, you’re good when you talk and try to convince the uneducated masses…but when you run up against someone who is a bit knowledge, your ignorance shows…

  78. weing says:

    If what you are babbling about you call knowledge, then I prefer ignorance.

  79. Harriet Hall says:

    DanaUllman,

    Thanks for explaining. Now I understand. Your syllogism is:

    Some birds carry bird flu.
    Ducks are birds.
    Therefore diluted liver and heart taken from any duck will immunize us against flu.

    This is really an epic sillygism. You don’t really believe this makes logical sense, do you?

    I don’t understand the vaccination analogy. Oscillococcinum comes as a 200C dilution, so there are no duck particles left. Immunization requires the presence of actual antigens. After vaccination, people are protected from getting the disease, but Oscillo is recommended for treating symptoms – repeatedly, in successive illnesses. And why would a “vaccine” against flu also protect from other flu-like illnesses and colds?

    Ducks act as reservoirs by carrying the virus in their intestinal tract. See http://www.adb.org/BirdFlu/faqs.asp
    So why do homeopaths choose to use liver and heart?
    Why do they use an unselected duck rather than a bird that has been diagnosed with bird flu?

    Please, educate me further.

  80. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Hi Dana,

    “Does it REALLY not make sense to you to give small doses of a pathogen in order to augment an immunological defense to that pathogen?”

    Well, for one thing, homeopathy doesn’t involve giving small doses of a pathogen. That would be vaccination. Homeopathy involves giving sugar pills, splashed with water (or sometimes water or alcohol) that has zero doses of a pathogen. For another thing, not all influenza is “bird flu”. There are three influenza viruses (A, with several serotypes, as well as B and C) and only influenza A is found in an avian reservoir. So Oscillococcinum would, if it’s based on a real understanding of biology, first of all not work because there is no pathogen involved, and second would not work in all cases because 2/3 of the types are unrelated to birds.

    Regarding the four trials that purportedly demonstrate Oscillococcinum is effective, may I remind you the actual findings of the Cochrane Review found that Oscillococcinum research was promising but couldn’t be recommended for prevention or treatment. So apparently those four studies were not sufficiently convincing for the most respected research body on the planet to support its use. Only further research.

    It’s also funny that you accuse someone of lacking an understanding of biology, given how homeopathy, if it is actually effective, violates so many laws of biology.

    Also, I’ve been reading the study you are responsible for – I’ve not yet finished the first page, but checking the references so far, you’ve already overstretched Linde et al 1997 by failing to mention that in 1999 they essentially withdrew their findings. Your two references to Frass 2005 (being effective for sepsis and bronchial secretions in COPD) are both small-N pilot studies with questionable findings that haven’t been independently replicated. I’ll keep you updated as I continue to check your references. You don’t have a slam-dunk here, I haven’t even finished the introduction and lit review and I’ve already found reason to question your ability to reference.

  81. DanaUllman says:

    Oh…that is right…what was I thinking…why oh why should I have ever mentioned that there have been four large trials showing positive results in the treatment of the flu? You folks are NOT interested in science based medicine! How foolish of me.

    And gosh, the subjects of biology, epidemiology, or immunology are even more foreign to you all. How foolish of me to bring these boring subjects into this mix.

    I mentioned the source of Oscillococcinum because Harriet thought that it was very strange to use a duck as a medicine. Perhaps it would be better to use a mold (penicillin) or the piss from a pregnant horse (like Premarin), or an explosive (like nitroglycerin). Who is the witch now?

    And I love it when Harriet says that homeopathic manufacturers use “unselective” ducks…what foolishness…she just pulls things out of the air to sound smart…but she does make me laugh…

    Yeah…slam dunk.

  82. Harriet Hall says:

    Dana,

    You have not answered my criticism of your sillygism: can you possibly believe that logic makes sense? You have not answered my criticism of your vaccine analogy. You have not answered my questions. I’ve seen you do this before: you don’t have an answer so you try to divert our attention and go on the attack. I won’t be distracted by your insults. Answer my questions, please.

    I was not even talking about the studies. I was trying to understand why homeopaths had chosen duck liver. It’s not that it seems strange to use a duck for medicine; it’s that it seems strange to pick a medicine without any good reason. I understand perfectly well why doctors chose to use penicillin, Premarin and nitroglycerin. I don’t understand the rationale for choosing duck liver. I asked why homeopaths would use an “unselected” duck (not “unselective”) that had not been tested to see if it carried bird flu, instead of a bird that had documented bird flu. I asked why they would choose liver and heart over the parts of the duck that were known to be reservoirs for the virus. I asked how protection against bird flu could protect against other flu viruses and colds. Answer my questions, please.

  83. weing says:

    I still don’t understand what duck liver has to do with allergies. And we are interested in science based medicine. We are not interested in fantasy based quackery.

  84. Chris says:

    weing, it is a silly bit caused by not knowing about Brownian Motion. Peter Lipson wrote about it: “Petit canard, grand canard

  85. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    “Oh…that is right…what was I thinking…why oh why should I have ever mentioned that there have been four large trials showing positive results in the treatment of the flu? You folks are NOT interested in science based medicine! How foolish of me.”

    Sarcasm just underscores that you haven’t addressed any of these substantive points. For instance, as I have said twice now, Oscillococcinum isn’t recommended by the Cochrane Review you claim as evidence. The Cochrane Review, by aggregating evidence, actually produces better science than single studies, and their conclusion was that Oscillococcinum could not be recommended. Are you going to address this?

    “And gosh, the subjects of biology, epidemiology, or immunology are even more foreign to you all. How foolish of me to bring these boring subjects into this mix.”

    We all find these subjects quite fascinating, part of the reason we read this blog. You haven’t invoked any of them, you have used the words, but when challenged, have not been able to justify how biology, epidemiology and immunology actually intersect with homeopathy at all. What is the biological mechanism by which homeopathy works? How does homeopathy activate the immune system in humans? What experimental trials, replicated and extended, support your claims?

    “I mentioned the source of Oscillococcinum because Harriet thought that it was very strange to use a duck as a medicine. Perhaps it would be better to use a mold (penicillin) or the piss from a pregnant horse (like Premarin), or an explosive (like nitroglycerin). Who is the witch now?”

    Mold, pregnant horse urine and nitroglycerine all have well-understood, well-measured, purified components that are biologically active in the human body. They are produced in measurable quantities, with tested, verified purities that exhibit dose-response curves in empirical testing. Penicillin is the byproduct of molds that inhibit bacterial replication – these chemical pathways are known. Premarin contains equine estrogens which when consumed are converted to human estrogens in the body, and estogens have well-studied effects. Nitroglycerine is a potent vasodialator, useful in heart attacks. Again, tested, replicated, in bench and human studies. Homeopathy can not claim an equivalent research base, or even a theoretical base.

    “And I love it when Harriet says that homeopathic manufacturers use “unselective” ducks…what foolishness…she just pulls things out of the air to sound smart…but she does make me laugh…”

    Since homeopathy and Oscillococcinum is often at the 200C level, homeopathic manufacturers actually don’t use any duck, since there is no “duck” left in the remedies. Belittling and making fun of people who are actively trying to engage with your points does nothing to support your claims. It just makes it look like you can’t justify your claims so instead you try to divert the argument with ad hominem attacks – and that’s a well-known logical fallacy.

    ‘Yeah…slam dunk.”

    Slam duck? Tee hee…

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