Saturday, July 30, 2005

Echinacea is still NOT working on colds

Yet another well prepared and controlled study is showing that the herbal remedy Echinacea doesn't help to prevent the common cold though it has been promoted as a proven treatment.

The study is published in New England Journal of Medicine, July 28:

An Evaluation of Echinacea angustifolia in Experimental Rhinovirus Infections
(Ronald B. Turner, M.D., Rudolf Bauer, Ph.D., Karin Woelkart, Thomas C. Hulsey, D.Sc., and J. David Gangemi, Ph.D.)


Background Echinacea has been widely used as an herbal remedy for the common cold, but efficacy studies have produced conflicting results, and there are a variety of echinacea products on the market with different phytochemical compositions. We evaluated the effect of chemically defined extracts from Echinacea angustifolia roots on rhinovirus infection.

Methods Three preparations of echinacea, with distinct phytochemical profiles, were produced by extraction from E. angustifolia roots with supercritical carbon dioxide, 60 percent ethanol, or 20 percent ethanol. A total of 437 volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either prophylaxis (beginning seven days before the virus challenge) or treatment (beginning at the time of the challenge) either with one of these preparations or with placebo. The results for 399 volunteers who were challenged with rhinovirus type 39 and observed in a sequestered setting for five days were included in the data analysis.

Results There were no statistically significant effects of the three echinacea extracts on rates of infection or severity of symptoms. Similarly, there were no significant effects of treatment on the volume of nasal secretions, on polymorphonuclear leukocyte or interleukin-8 concentrations in nasal-lavage specimens, or on quantitative-virus titer.

Conclusions The results of this study indicate that extracts of E. angustifolia root, either alone or in combination, do not have clinically significant effects on infection with a rhinovirus or on the clinical illness that results from it.
Orac know that studies don't matter to those who believe. My guess is that they will persist in their belief using irrational arguments like "Echinacea works for me" or "I've been taking this for years and I am one of those people that Echinacea does work on".

Using the "I have seen it work" argument as the foundation of believing that something is working is a subjective impression. There's a great chance that one might be operating on superstition rather than on trustworthy knowledge.

If somebody is saying: "I'm a big believer in herbal medicine and it makes me feel good", then it's the placebo effect that make them feel good, - nothing else.

The fact that people have been using a remedy for centuries doesn't prove the effect of doing it.

"I started to feel like I was getting a cold ...... but my symptoms only lasted two days because of Echinacea"

"Symptoms would be much worse if not eating Echinacea..."

So how will anyone prove that?

Let's just face it - the reason for feeling better could be - not Echinacea, but the naturally fluctuation course of mostly colds that only last a few days.

The only way to prove this would be to set up a double-blinded test, where you will not know if you're having Echinacea or a placebo. Then follow them out for a couple weeks and see if it works, you will be able to tell which you are taking based on the results - if Echinacea is more than placebo.

Suggested readings: Vitamin C May Not Fight the Common Cold

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Skeptical books, Websites, Blogs and Sources

I thought of recommending some of the good Skeptical Sources available on the internet - and books too - for your enjoyment, while I will be off-line a couple of days -:

Skeptical books by Michael Shermer:

The Woodstock of Evolution

The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

Skeptical Sources on the net:




Some "classic" skeptic books:

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions by James Randi

Follies & Fallacies in Medicine by P. Skrabanek

Skeptical Blogs, that I recommend:

Hokum-balderdash Assay
espousing: skepticism, naturalism, critical and scientific thinking

Bad Astronomy Blog
The Good, the Bad, the Astronomy

Confessions of a Quackbuster
about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic quackery, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Critical thinking for an irrational world -

Visit some of the links in my Sidebar
plenty of good blogs about Anti-Quackery, Medical Misinformation, Skepticism and Science.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Talk about Bad Science every Thursday

Read Bad Science every Thursday at

This week Bad Science was written by Ben Goldacre from The Guardian and it's called Party Hard, published July 21.

It's a piece about the the Public Misunderstanding of Science, a neglected area:

· In our eagerness to focus on the supply side of pseudoscience - the dismal outpourings of flaky humanities graduates in the media and the bogus pseudoscience of people with products to sell - we've neglected an important area of study: the impact on the end market. Take this from reader Richard Neville, last weekend, who was simply trying to get a drink: "I was at the bar buying a round," he begins. "'Grapefruit and soda please.' I said. The barman adopted a pained expression. 'I should point out to you, sir, that this juice is 100% pure organic and, therefore, I don't like to add chemicals - you see, I don't know what's in soda water.' 'Well,' I said, 'I think it's mostly water - which, of course, is a chemical plus a little bicarbonate of soda and added carbon dioxide.' He didn't look happy, while I just looked thirsty and persisted: 'Well,' he warned, 'if you'll take full responsibility ...'"

· So it occurs to me: if I have a grandiose delusion, it is that we're engaged in a useful project here, the study of the Public Misunderstanding of Science. And this is uncharted territory. So I'm asking for qualitative research; I'm asking for your help in a grand experiment, with the widest possible sampling frame, that is: you. Only you can help me to document the stupidity that's out there.

· I'll get the ball rolling. Last week, I was at a party and somebody starting telling me that the theories produced by science would be different if it had been done by women. I asked her whether she thought Newton's three laws of motion might have turned out differently if he had been a woman, and she said yes, of course. I asked her how, exactly, she thought that Newton could single-handedly change the fact that acceleration of a body is proportional to the force acting on it, divided by its mass? And she walked off. Chalk up one to the nerds; and this is only the most stupid thing I've heard this week. Perhaps someone has tried to tell you that "science, you know, it's kind of a belief system, like any other religion," in a way that made you want to slap them particularly hard. Perhaps you did slap them. Perhaps they told you scientists say we're all energy so nothing is real. Perhaps they told you that the stuff they believe is "outside of science". Perhaps they told you that science wants to reduce their life to simple laws. Forget the media, we know we've lost there. I want to know: what's the most stupid thing anyone has ever said to you about science at a party?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Isn't that how Science is supposed to work?

Over at they've published an article called: Third of study results don't hold up - Wednesday, July 13:

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- New research highlights a frustrating fact about science: What was good for you yesterday frequently will turn out to be not so great tomorrow.


That means nearly one-third of the original results did not hold up, according to the report in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
It would be strange if medical studies always got the same result, because there will always be some differences that can't be controlled, and isn't that how Science is supposed to work?

Explained over at the Talk Origins Archive:
"All scientific statements and concepts are open to re-evaluation as new data is acquired and novel technologies emerge."

Contradicted and Initially Stronger Effects in Highly Cited Clinical Research

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Orac is hosting this week Skeptics’ Circle no. 13

Something is in the air and you'll have to check it out over at Orac's place. It's the thirteenth meeting of the Skeptics' Circle filled with good skeptical writing and this sad news, so get out of the swimming pool....

Will that Rife Machine 2005 Plus Model G designed by Royal Rife do any good to your health???

I've been cached over at Alternative Healing - a website called the best Hulda Clark information available - as one of their located Hulda Clark possibilities.

A long time ago I wrote a piece about parasites, Hulda Clark and Michael Kastberg. I find it kind of amusing that I am listed there amongst all their quacky links - I wrote it in Danish - but what do computers know about language - nothing apparently....

They also cached my entry about Kylie Minogue's alternative cancer therapies (no. 47 on their list).

It took me a little while to find the link, so I decided to look around and see what else to discover:

That brought me to the "Rife Machine 2005 Plus Model G designed by Royal Rife" - it sounds like a car don't you think? - But it's NOT.

It's a microscope designed by Royal Rife who claimed that he could electronically destroy and kill pathogenic micro organisms with it.

Rife asserted that using natural light sources and powerful magnification, he could see bacterium change over the course of their life. He believed that bacterium goes through 4 phases before they become what he identified as a cancer bacterium.

Rife didn't come up with any evidence and no one since then has been able to see those bacteria. Obviously it hasn't prevented any number of quacks from providing their own versions of what this Rife device is able to do. Claiming to blow up bacteria and viruses like Hulda Clark and several others claim to do is medical fraud. Is this method useful for cheating death?

Many, many alternative cures are based on the belief that diseases like cancer are caused by parasites. And if you kill the parasites, you'll also stop the disease.

Here's an edited version of a speech given by Peter Bowditch about Quackery and the statement from Hulda Clark, that both Diabetes and Cancer can be cured. Follow the theories of Hulda Clark, Royal Rife and Robert Beck - use the Zapper, the Magnetic Pulser, the Brain Tuner, they are all devices using electricity, sound and magnetism and if you are really, really lucky you can cure cancer and AIDS by using them. Or get back to reality.

I would like to request some evidence........

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Common believed nutrition Quackery

Over at there's an article from July 11 about how to Avoid nutrition quackery.

They mention some of the common believed nutrition quackery that promotes false cures and remedies.

Believing in nutrition quackery may be expensive and in worst case they could be harmful to you health.

The myths are:

1. THE BEST WAY TO REDUCE BLOOD CHOLESTEROL IS NOT TO EAT EGGS. Eliminating eggs will not automatically reduce blood cholesterol. Reducing the amount of dietary fats and saturated fats has a more significant effect on blood cholesterol levels.

2. FOR WEIGHT LOSS, ONLY EAT FOODS LABELED LOW-FAT OR FAT-FREE. Fat-free and low-fat foods may contain high amounts of sugar and calories. Remember, fat free doesn’t mean calorie free, and in weight loss calories count, too.

3. SALT RAISES HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. For people with high blood pressure, reducing salt intake may lower blood pressure, but studies have shown other factors may play a more significant role in blood pressure control. Losing weight, exercise, eating more fruits and vegetables for the magnesium and potassium and eating low-fat dairy products for the calcium can help manage blood pressure.

4. SUGAR CAUSES OBESITY. Obesity is usually a result of excess calorie intake and too little physical activity. Sugar can contribute to the problem, but it alone does not cause it.

5. BUTTER CONTAINS MORE FAT THAN MARGARINE. Butter and margarine contain equal amounts of fat and calories per tablespoon. The difference is butter contains cholesterol and more saturated fat.

6. VITAMIN C PREVENTS THE COMMON COLD. Vitamin C supplements will not prevent a cold. It may reduce the severity of the cold symptoms.
The egg myths are several. What about that white eggs are less healthy than brown ones. Most people assume that eggs from hens eating greens are healthiest because they feel more comfortable with the thought.

The salt debate is running high. Salt is what makes our food taste good and we can't avoid it as it's in all processed foods. But no scientific research has been able to conclude that salt is the only cause of high blood pressure.

I've often heard people saying that eating a mega-dose a Vitamin C should prevent colds and reduce their severity. In this article from Quackwatch called "Vitamin C: Do High Doses Prevent Colds?" - they conclude "If you choose to supplement when a cold strikes, there is no reason to take more than 250 mg per day". If you "have" to eat ascorbic acid you might just as well drink some fruit juices.

Creating a myth is done to help oneself understand what might be going on. They are preserved by skilled story tellers and delivered to the younger through oral communication.

The power of the myth arises when it's believed and deeply held as true.

Don't believe everything that is said....

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Believers in healing rejected the falsifiability of God's power

The Lancet has published a study with an interesting outcome. The well prepared study showed no medicinal power of prayer, and having someone praying for you from a distance is useless. Music or touch didn't produce any effect on the outcome either.

Data from a pilot study suggested that noetic therapies—healing practices that are not mediated by tangible elements—can reduce preprocedural distress and might affect outcomes in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. We undertook a multicentre, prospective trial of two such practices: intercessory prayer and music, imagery, and touch (MIT) therapy.

748 patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention or elective catheterisation in nine USA centres were assigned in a 2×2 factorial randomisation either off-site prayer by established congregations of various religions or no off-site prayer (double-blinded) and MIT therapy or none (unmasked). The primary endpoint was combined in-hospital major adverse cardiovascular events and 6-month readmission or death. Prespecified secondary endpoints were 6-month major adverse cardiovascular events, 6 month death or readmission, and 6-month mortality.

371 patients were assigned prayer and 377 no prayer; 374 were assigned MIT therapy and 374 no MIT therapy. The factorial distribution was: standard care only, 192; prayer only, 182; MIT therapy only, 185; and both prayer and MIT therapy, 189. No significant difference was found for the primary composite endpoint in any treatment comparison. Mortality at 6 months was lower with MIT therapy than with no MIT therapy (hazard ratio 0•35 (95% CI 0•15–0•82, p=0•016).

Neither masked prayer nor MIT therapy significantly improved clinical outcome after elective catheterisation or percutaneous coronary intervention.

(Source: The Lancet - you need a free registration to log in)
It is a widely held superstition that therapies such as prayer and homeopathy can help a person to heal or keep in good health.

Believers in healing are saying that God's influence is beyond the reach of scientific validation.

- I will rather say that the hypothesis of healing isn't falsifiable. This study won't give us more or less reason to think the hypotheses is true or not after doing the experiment, than we did before. I can't think of any way to scientifically test God. Can you?

Did anyone think of

- How to measure the "dose" of prayer?

- How to measure the possible effect of family and friends praying for patients on their own?

- How will we know if the distance healing will hit the selected person?

- How can we know whether prayers from different religions have different effects?

- And what about individual differences, some prayers might be less skilled than others?

As the study concluded no medical power of healing we must acknowledge - as the researchers did - it is impossible to make any firm conclusions.

Further articles on the subject:

Washington Post: Prayer's Power to Heal Strangers Is Examined

BBC News: Prayer "no aid to heart patients"

Skeptics's Circle no. 13 will soon be here

Next Skeptics' Circle will be held over at Orac's place. He's calling for submissions to the Skeptics' Circle here, so if you're skeptical blogger and you haven't submitted anything yet - you'll have to get started right away. Time is running out.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Unscrewing the Inscrutable is up again

The new Unscrewing the Inscrutable has been up officially since July 13.

The presentation is here, you'll have to check it out as soon as possible:

Unscrewing the Inscrutable is your Free Thought Forum and includes lots of scientists, science students, skeptics, theists, deists, and atheists/agnostics ... Not only do we encourage you to share your opinions (And hopefully your reasoning backed with extensive references and plausible lines of thought) whether you agree or disagree with us or anyone else, we consider ourselves fortunate to have members who do exactly that. Just as anyone is free to write what they fancy (Within liberal limits outlined further below), anyone is free to criticize that content.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Update on the Tom Cruise and Scientology

Over at Slate Michael Crowley wrote a piece called L. Ron Hubbard - Scientology's esteemed founder, posted Friday, July 15, 2005:

Our summer of Tom Cruise's madness and Katie Holmes' creepy path toward zombie bridedom has been a useful reminder of how truly strange Scientology is. By now those interested in the Cruise-Holmes saga may be passingly familiar with the church's creation myth, in which an evil, intergalactic warlord named Xenu kidnaps billions of alien life forms, chains them near Earth's volcanoes, and blows them up with nuclear weapons. Strange as Scientology's pseudo-theology may be, though, it's not as entertaining as the life story of the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
Continue reading his life story.....

His motive was money and it became available by starting a religion.

It seems that Scientology try to strengthen their credibility by recruiting celebrities like Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, Isaac Hayes, Bart Simpsons and others.

I am glad that Shields fired back at Cruise after he suggested her vitamins instead of drugs and therapy to cure her depression.

Nobody will take drugs with pleasure, but drugs can correct chemical imbalances when needed, - vitamins won't do that.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

An uncritical piece on the healer named Adam (a.k.a. the Adam Dreamhealer)

I came across a shockingly uncritical piece on the healer Adam Dreamhealer.

The piece is called The teenage miracle worker and it was written by John Goddard in the Toronto Star on July 10.

Goddard took it for granted that this 18-year-old (?) could do what he claims without any kind of questions.

Adam Dreamhealer is the kid who claims to possess an extrasensory X-ray vision that helped him to cure the legend Ronnie Hawkins of terminal pancreatic cancer.

The mysterious distance healer has become a minor sensation, after Mr. Hawkins issued a press release to announce his recovery.

There's doubt about whether the singer had cancer in the first place. In Ronnie Hawkins: Still Alive and Kickin and in this film they didn't mention how this cancer was first suspected. It seems that his alleged cancer was never confirmed after a number of biopsy attempts. To explain the singer's survival either Ronnie did have a small cancer and for some reason it has resolved (and THAT would be a miracle) or there was no cancer.

It is interesting that Adam and his parents sought out Ronnie Hawkins for a healing.

Adam takes credit for Hawkin's recovery, but in the film Hawkin's doesn't give Adam that honor. Hawkins used many methods and remedies in addition to Adam's healing and many other circumstances could have done the job for Ronnie. Hawkin's gives credit to his doctors and especially he gives credit to the "Big Rocker up there."

Adam (will we ever know his real name?) wants privacy, but conducts interviews and has workshops as he did with Goddard. He no longer meets people in person, but has the client send a colour photo and "money" along with a signed disclaimer and the "healing" is done.

To explain his powers, Adam often cites quantum physics, the theoretical science of subatomic matter. It sounds like a retake of Edgar Cayce known as one of America's greatest psychics. His followers maintain that Cayce was able to reach some higher consciousness to get his "psychic knowledge."

In the recent film What the Bleep Do We Know? they turn on quantum physics theory too, arguing that people control their own spiritual and physical destinies. Next month, Adam is to appear with some of the film's scientific personalities at Simon Fraser University for a What the Bleep Do We Know? (when it comes to money he needs less privacy).

It is truly remarkable that he can heal unconfirmed cancer from thousands of miles away and yet doesn't want his true identity revealed. Telling people what their condition is over the telephone and then telling them that you are going to treat it is nothing more than health fraud.

James Randi has challenged Adam Dreamhealer (another Adam), but strangely Adam has decided not to apply for the JREF million-dollar prize. In other words when asked to prove what he does is real, he refuses to be tested. It's rather pointless when the claimants won't allow their claimed diagnostic and healing skills to be tested out.

John Goddard didn't come up with any new information in his article on Adam Dreamhealer as he didn't present any evidence or basic facts and the claims that Adam Dreamhealer has cured anyone have never been proven.

He failed to identify Adam Dreamhealer by name – and as Goddard had treatments from Dreamhealer, he is not the right person to report on the subject.

Then one might wonder how such a story filled with misinformation would be allowed to be published by the Toronto Star. Goddard's reporting wasn't accurate and fair and Goddard throws discredit on the Toronto Star by writing this nonsense.

It's scary that someone calling themselves a journalist could believe in this nonsense without one single question.

Most people with a little sense of critical thinking would shake their heads.

More research on Adam Dreamhealer: I think you probably will find the best information on Adam Dreamhealer over at Healthwatcher.

UPDATE: Dreamhealer - the real story

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A remarkable conclusion to make

Astrologer Sues NASA Over Comet Mission Tue Jul 5

NASA's mission that sent a space probe smashing into a comet raised more than cosmic dust — it also brought a lawsuit from a Russian astrologer.

Marina Bai has sued the U.S. space agency, claiming the Deep Impact probe that punched a crater into the comet Tempel 1 late Sunday "ruins the natural balance of forces in the universe," the newspaper Izvestia reported Tuesday. A Moscow court has postponed hearings on the case until late July, the paper said.

Bai is seeking damages totaling $300 million — the approximate equivalent of the mission's cost — for her "moral sufferings," Izvestia said, citing her lawyer Alexander Molokhov. She earlier told the paper that the experiment would "deform her horoscope."
She had probably no idea that Temple I even existed and the ruining of "the natural balance of forces in the universe" is a remarkable conclusion to make.

I wonder how astrologers account for the comets not visible with the naked eye.

Did she ever hear of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy crashing with Jupiter?

The Russian Astrologist Planned to Crash NASA’s Independence Day and Pharyngula made an entry to the subject earlier as he felt a great disturbance in the force

Whether or not she has her chance to win - it's a ridiculous claim that has no basis in reality simply because some idiot believes in astrology.

I rest my case.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Testing my Multiple Intelligences

Testing my multiple Intelligences:

You scored as Logical/Mathematical. You like to work with numbers and ask questions. You learn best by classifying information, engaging in abstract thinking and looking for common basic principles. People like you include mathematicians, biologists, medical technicians, geologists, engineers, physicists, researchers and other scientists.














The Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences
created with

The difference between Science and Proof

There seems to be a difference between mathematicians and biologists and as Pharyngula writes:

"Scientists don't talk about "proof", period."
A mathematician is a person whose area of study and research is mathematics and there are differences:

Mathematicians differ from physical scientists such as physicists or engineers in that they do not typically perform experiments to confirm or deny their conclusions; and whereas every scientific theory is always assumed to be an approximation of truth, mathematical statements are an attempt at capturing truth.
Unlike physical theories, which may be expected to change whenever new information about our physical world is discovered, mathematical theories are "static" - once a statement achieves the lauded position of a theorem, it remains true forever.
(Source: Wikipedia)
Over at the Talk Origins Archive I found a good explanation of what is meant by scientific evidence and scientific proof:

In truth, science can never establish "truth" or "fact" in the sense that a scientific statement can be made that is formally beyond question. All scientific statements and concepts are open to re-evaluation as new data is acquired and novel technologies emerge. "Proof", then, is solely the realm of logic and mathematics.
Everyone uses the word proof from time to time and in most cases everyone knows exactly what they mean and what proof means. "Evidence" and "proof" have become almost synonymous to most people.

But in the sense of Science those two words can't be associated too close.

The strict sense of the word "proof" is that it implies certainty and completion. When we say something has been "proved" we often mean just that evidence has been produced which is sufficient or adequate to support it.

But the Scientific method does not offer proof - it offers understandings of observations and reasons to not rationally doubt those understandings. The scientific inquiry is never completed. If we claim proof of a scientific inquiry - the theory is only as strong as the opposite theory allows.

If you are serious about the The scientific Case you will not use "proof" when you mean "evidence," especially when talking about matters of science. So if "proof" means "evidence" in other contexts, (by example in law the word "proof" is often used as a synonym for "evidence.") it's not legitimately interchangeable in science, and if people write about science they should use the right words.

Scientific Evidence may support a conclusion, but not strongly enough to establish proof.

And proofs are only for mathematicians.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The 17th Carnival of The Godless is up

A close gathering of the 17th Carnival of The Godless is up over at Tobias S. Buckell's blog.

Enjoy everyones posts.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Skeptic's Circle Saloon is up at Annex Blog

I couldn't locate the Old-West Saloon - until I realised it had moved toward Fort Annex.

The 12th meeting couldn't be held at the old residence because of the gun-shooting last week that caused a lot of damage to the Old-West Saloon.

I showed up JIT to participate in the conversations with the cowboys at the Skeptic's Circle Saloon, -that interestingly continued all night long and turned out to be very entertaining.

It was a nice cool ride to get there and as I finally arrived at the Saloon I tried to push the door open, but it was locked. No matter how much I tried I couldn't get inside and I even used my lady gunfighter. I looked through the windows to see if anyone was there yet and then the sheriff came by and told me that it was the wrong door.

I never found the entrance to the Saloon and as I read about the excellent meeting in today’s newspaper, I realised that the meeting was held one day earlier than expected.

I guess, I will see you in two weeks at Orac's Place instead.

Brent, I hope your nice "Western Saloon" will be reestablished ASAP.

The Skeptic's Circle Saloon is a place to see how the real west was....and still is.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Enter the Sham Acupuncture

Despite a lack of scientific support, acupuncture is used in the treatment of depression, allergies, asthma, arthritis, smoking, migraines and so on.

It's a quack treatment that seems to be accepted by a fairly large number of otherwise rational people.

The general attitude is that as long as an explanatory model "works" it is irrelevant to criticize it and ask Does acupuncture really work?. The "good" advice is that it works and if you're good you won't be ill.

Some common claims about acupuncture are:

Needles were stuck in my ear and after that I quit smoking
Acupuncture may not help smokers kick the habit

Comments: The conclusion from the study is that acupuncture works by expectation of the patient and the the physical distraction of actually placing the needles in the body. There may be more effective methods to quit smoking.

After two months of acupuncture treatments I became pregnant (Acupuncture for fertility: Doctors say, "Why not"?)

Comment: People are spending thousands of dollars for getting pregnant by using acupuncture and that’s a dilemma because it’s an unproven treatment. As acupuncture is considered relatively safe doctors are deciding that it's OK to add it to the mix. If you become pregnant or not it's just the placebo effect, who cares?

This Study sticks a pin into the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy, the original research is to be found at JAMA (Acupuncture for Patients With Migraine ):

A new research finds the ancient remedy offers no greater pain relief than sham treatments.

Acupuncture proved no more effective than sham treatments for pain from a common chronic condition, according to a new study.
The study concluded that adding acupuncture to other treatments the patients were already using provided no greater pain relief than sham acupuncture treatments, according to the Tuesday issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
In the study, patients in all the groups improved, but very early, after only one or two treatments — far earlier than most acupuncturists would expect an improvement — and then remained at the same level for the rest of the study, Buchwald said.
This study suggests that the locations of where the needles are placed on the body may not be relevant but rather the act of needling itself confers benefit compared to no treatment.

Inserting needles at the "wrong" places has been tested before and with the same result: It has the same effect as inserting the needles at the "right" places.

This says that acupuncture theory is wrong.

In another recent study researchers said they have separated out the placebo effect. Acupuncture "more than a placebo" was published in the BBC News 30. April 2005:

The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to see what was happening in the brains of people having acupuncture treatment for arthritis pain.

……Professor Henry McQuay, professor of pain relief at the University of Oxford and member of the Bandolier group that looks at the evidence behind different medical treatments, said: "The great bulk of the randomised controlled trials to date do not provide convincing evidence of pain relief over placebo.

"Some people do report that acupuncture makes them feel better.

"But it is extremely difficult, technically, to study acupuncture and
tease out the placebo effect."
I don’t know what the PET changes represent, but I think this must be of importance:

Were patients asked whether they thought, they were having sham or "real" acupuncture? (i.e. was the study effectively blinded?)

Were the needles thrust deeply enough to stimulate the nerve system and affect parts of the brain?

How do we know that the brain area was not activated just because of the practitioner's belief in the treatment?

How long did the effects last?

Is it a temporary effect on pain or on the brain that are of little clinical relevance?

Well, -now I am lead to the conclusion that it doesn't matter if the needles are inserted at the "meridian" points or simply placed at random. Benefits gained from acupuncture are merely down to a person's expectation that the treatment will work and it's deeply affected by the the placebo effect.

And acupuncturists is not just sticking needles into people as most people think when they say it "works".

Those who practice acupuncture claim they are unblocking chi and helping to balance yin and yang and this is a process that cannot be measured empirically.

By the above reason you couldn't say whether acupuncture "works" or not ( - if -acupuncture by accident turn out to be an effective medical tool by stimulating the release of endorphins or by taking advantage of the Mysterious Placebo Effect).

As long as acupuncturists claim that it only works at specific meridian points, then acupuncture remains health fraud.

Surprise Finding on Acupuncture for Migraine

Acupuncture treatment no more effective than sham treatment in reducing migraine headaches

The Skeptic's View: Acupuncture

Acupuncture Watch

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Tom Cruise Website

A new satirical website about a mizguided zealot.

Cruise site gets to the nut of the matter

Monday, July 04, 2005

How to be a modern skeptic

Randi knows How to be a modern skeptic and he's for decades used his knowledge to debunk levitators, psychic surgeons, dowsers and astrologers.

Especially Uri Geller, who claimed, among other things, that he had the ability to soften metal and move a compass needle with his mind in the 70's.

I just saw how Randi exposes Uri Geller and Peter Popoff and how Uri Geller's paranormal powers failed to appear. When the host asked him to perform he couldn't. His paranormal power is nothing than duplicate tricks. Hilarious.

The clip also include the performance of the healer Peter Popoff (a fraud too).

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Girl Pirates on the High Seas

Via Corpus Callosum and Pharyngula:

For as long as ships have sailed the seas there have been pirates. And for as long as there have been pirates, some of those pirates have been women.

Help me find out What kind of pirate I am. You decide

What kind of pirate am I? You decide!
You can also view a breakdown of results or put one of these on your own page!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

Friday, July 01, 2005

How can someone who believes in E-meters get off calling ANYTHING pseudoscience?

Cruise follows the Scientology movement which is against psychiatric medicine and now Tom Cruise admits to alien belief , saying it would be "arrogant" to think that extraterrestrial beings did not exist.

First he said "Psychiatry is a pseudo science" and recommended vitamins, not anti-depressants, for Brooke Shields:

"These drugs are dangerous. I have actually helped people come off," Cruise maintains to Bush. "When you talk about postpartum, you can take people today, women, and what you do is you use vitamins. There is a hormonal thing that is going on, scientifically, you can prove that. But when you talk about emotional, chemical imbalances in people, there is no science behind that. You can use vitamins to help a woman through those things."
I consider Cruise's beliefs to be religious. They aren't compatible with the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence on the matter of mental illness. There's enought evidence to prove that antidepressants and talk therapy can restore health to the brains of depressed people and even may help against future episodes of depression. In the Experts, actor clash on cause of mental ills Dr. Charles Conway, who is a medical director of inpatient psychiatry at St. Louis University, pointed out that:

Scientists have identified some genes that clearly play a role in causing mental illnesses such as depression, said Dr. Joseph Coyle, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Harvard University School of Medicine.
Vitamines and healthy living will not help anyone out of depression affected by genes.

And if you don't know the The E-Meter - "Scientology Secret" - it's a "electro-psychometer" called E-meter, a kind of lie detector used by Scientology auditors (counselors) to examine a person's mental state. John Travolta swear to it and you know: "The E-meter is never wrong. It sees all; it knows all. It tells everything" (nonsense said by L. Ron Hubbard). Scientology claims that the E-meter can measure higher level of physical energy or "mental energy". Here you will learn the truth about this device.

I wonder how will someone who believes in E-meters get off calling ANYTHING pseudoscience?

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