Friday, July 3, 2009

Hilarious gutting of homeopathy

Funny satire that shows really how ridiculous homeopathy and other quack things people rely on really are.

On one hand we laugh at this, on the other, we ignore the fact that these quacks are slowly trying to get more of our people reliant on their 'remedies'


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Supplements: More harm than good?

An article in the Guardian recently talks about supplements and focuses on an example where antioxidants went from being an interesting scientific observation to super miracle supplement in a really short time.

We can understand from the antioxidant story how something 'assumed' can immediately be euphemistically used, mangled and quote-mined in order to make the public feel they are missing out on something grand.

Article is here:
"More harm than good?"

Malaysians in particular, please take heed, as we sure are familiar enough with supplements:
That survey puts the number at 52% of Malaysians.

As the article in the guardian shows: not understanding what you consume could easily make you one of the gullible folks forking out money for hyped up rumours of health, and then shoving them down the throat of your kids, loved ones and yourself... in the process telling them that its OK to pop pills with no effects as its a simple way to feel like you have done yourself some good.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Homeopathy harmless?

These parents I’m sure had their child’s best interest in mind.
…but due to their inability to grasp something as simple as efficacy, they now are charged with the manslaughter of their child.

It must be shitty to lose a child then be blamed for it, but justice certainly has been served here.

This is not the only case, and no more tragic than others, but it was fully avoidable if proper knowledge was promoted.

Things like this explain best my dissatisfaction with pseudo sciences.

Homeopathy is on the rise in Malaysia.
Please keep your relatives, friends and loved ones aware of its danger and false hopes.
Sometimes they really do cost a little more than money.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Garbage Enzyme - Ignorance? or just plain deceitful.

Again, were going to touch on that unhealthy practice - Garbage Enzyme.

No, i don't mean unhealthy like improper eating or things like that.
I mean mentally unhealthy. 

First up, I don't hold anything against people that are lead into thinking that they are helping society by using Garbage Enzyme.
Although misdirected, the intent they carry may be just as honest as mine.

It is the deception involved in that misdirection that i consider the carcinogen in this smoke cloud.

I blame the negligence of those that fervously promote Garbage Enzyme with no care to the underlying science behind it.

They wish to carry authority, but much of the time jump into the 'blissfully ignorant' safety net when unable to answer simple queries like "how does it work", and pointing their fingers to their straw men to fend off the annoying questions.

If you honestly have something as important as the improvement of the environment at heart, please do not choose to ignore the critical questions when they are raised.
The double standards practiced when taking up queries are truly shameful. Take up the responsibility please.

So why do i loathe the attitude of these quacks so much?
It is because they practice deliberate misdirection. Would i be so bold to make this claim?
"Yes"...and let me explain why.

In our correspondence, aside from the testimonial claims and other nonsense, one thing stood out to me:
Dr Joeann and her counterpart in Singapore has never held back the fact that they have done laboratory testing on Garbage Enzyme's efficacy.

Very bold claims when promoting something you don't even understand yourself.

They do however choose to hold back the results from parties with a questioning nature or critical eye. There had to be a catch somewhere.

When I asked to have a look at these "documents" that were being pushed around as proof of efficacy in the Garbage Enzyme circles, i was asked to go down to Singapore, at my own cost, to attend a seminar and let a Russian Enzymeologist whom they refused to name (i am NOT making this up) explain to me the details. Wow.

Anyway, to cut things short, after some talk and explaining how absurd me coming down for this would be when a simple email with the documents attached would suffice, Dr Joeann's counterpart from Singapore asked me to wait a couple of weeks for him to come down to Penang so he could explain the results better to me.

He was even saying how happy he was that there are people like me who are interested in helping others understand.
*//Should'nt those that are promoting this damned thing carry that responsibility in the first place? Bloody hell.//

So, since we were to meet, I asked him to forward the results my way first so that I, or someone more qualified, could read it and come up with the best possible questions for him when he finally comes down two weeks later. He then said he felt that he really needed to be there to explain it. Fine.

A month down the road and neither the test results or the trip to Penang happened.
Correspondence dropped off, and I still had no test results. It seemed the ignorance is bliss safety net button was pressed again. sigh*

I did luck out in the end though, as someone offered me those lab results which were being promoted in Garbage Enzyme workshops.
Ironically it came from someone within their own circles, who over time has begun to question the efficacy of the product.

First up: Mechem Consultancy test result

Description of sample:
"A sample said to be fruit, honey water (concentrated) drink was received" for testing.
The above results are tested as per sample submitted with reference to Singapore Food Regulation(2005) and found to be satisfactory.

Amazingly, there was nothing in the description to indicate that this was Garbage Enzyme, but what is more worrying is the test itself. This was to test if the sample submitted was safe to drink or not... NOT WHETHER IT HAS ANY HEALTH IMPACT.

Then we have the results from Analytical Consultancies (3 documents)

Tested: Green Detergent with Enzyme
Doc #1 looks at a 1:500(quite difficult to read this part) dilution of Green Detergent with Enzyme and compares it with Sewerage and Drainage Regulations (4th column in case unreadable)
Doc #2 tests the 1:200 dilution for arsenic, copper, lead and mercury.
Doc #3 is a microbiological examination

But NONE of them test if Enzyme DOES anything! Not the Mechem tests, or the 3 Analytical Lab ones. All they do is show that this is either meeting fair sewage criteria, or drinking safety criteria. Not a control sample in sight.

If they wanted, they could have just tested Green Detergent without Enzyme vs Green Detergent with Enzyme, or some better controls. Not even a slight effort to prove efficacy.
These documents exist solely for pushers to claim they have lab results.

It is immediately quite clear why i wasn't given the chance to review it even once before he came down, if coming to Penang ever was his intent.

I see this misdirection as a bad attempt to confuse the public.
It is further reinforced by the refusal by Dr Joean to return my emails.

From parents to should be our gift to be able to provide our children the tools that will make them less gullible to simple tricks, instead we propagate the idea that research is not necessary since someone else seems to have done it first.

We should always question the methods of the research, lest we be taken for a ride.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Homeopathy creeping in

Ask anyone you meet about homeopathy and keep track of the responses.
Note how few people generally know what it is in Malaysia. Do you know?

Ever wonder why its usually not explained to people that are not desperate for cures?

I read this article from TheStar. Note what that at the end, the man turns to homeopathy for what? Aids? whoa... must be a super alternative treatment to let you recover from that.

"He said he was now seeking homeopathy treatment, believing that he had a better chance of recovery."

"Recovery" he says.
Poor deluded, misdirected and gullible man.

Homeopaths go around claiming to cure everything from the sniffles to syphilis, but does anyone really know what homeopathic preparations really are?

Homeopathy, by any modern standards used to measure its efficacy, appears to be nothing more than a practice that takes advantage of the placebo effect to trick people into thinking it does something for their problems.

Really, it is just a sugar tablet covered with liquid containing a substance that causes the symptoms it wishes to cure, but so diluted that you would be lucky to even get a molecule of the original substance covering the tablet. 

Again, what they are selling is essentially magic water on sugar pills.

Now, who usually falls for these? well, take the example in the article from TheStar above.
Twice confirmed HIV positive? He is definitely looking for answers.

On one hand, you might use the "what is the harm" argument. He is already out of options so why not try alternative right? This is nothing but a hunt for simple answers for his far-from-simple predicament.

On the other hand is the much uglier face of homeopathy. Having no real science to back it up, do homeopaths have the right to jump in and give false hope to desperate people... at a cost no less? 

Are we honestly not going to put our foot down on such a practice, or do we simply wish to not think about it should we ever need the comfort of a security blanket in the future.
Think hard on that, as the cost for that safety blanket for ourselves is to keep this nonsense around for our kids to fall into. 

Homeopathy seems nothing more than another snake-oil merchant's juice that is targeted at desperate folks looking for a quick or simple answer, and the homeopath looking for a quick and simple buck.

They prey on those who are already at the end of their ropes, giving false hope at a cost.

Don't get me wrong, I can acknowledge that there are those that really believe they are helping others with their practice, but please HONESTLY look at these few issues with homeopathy below:

- The dilutions are usually so dilute there is nothing in it but water. Yet they stick with the "more dilute more effective" theory. There is nothing to prove this theory works.

- "Like Cures Like" is another principle. Give sufferer a homeopathic remedy with the exact same main ingredient that would cause the patients current state... of course you then dilute it later and somehow this is supposed to make it a remedy. Again, no explanation on how that works.

- Homeopaths use a special shake(succussion) when making their dilutions so that the water will "remember" what is in it, even thought there is probably less main ingredient in it than contaminants at some point... yet they claim water knows what to remember. Also, there is no proof of water memory that can do such things.

- When administering a treatment, these quacks refer to and unrevised journals known as the Materia Medicia. Most entries of course were from before germ discovery many years ago. I.e they had cures for microbe caused issues even if they had no idea there were such things... this just means that they have not been reviewed to make sure its up to date with newer medical discoveries etc.

- And to 'learn' new 'cures' homeopaths do 'provings' which require consuming a substance and then monitoring things like subtle simptoms and their dreams etc. The involvement of a 'dream' element should be enough to hint to you that exact science is not really part of their game.

- James Randi runs JREF, an education foundation which offers a 1 Million bounty for proving anything supernatural in proper controlled environments. The bounty has been extended to Homeopathy as well. Here is a great video of James Randi explaining what Homeopathy is with its absurdities. Please give it a go. It is no wonder that the bounty is still unclaimed.

- In 2007, another interesting challenge was from the Andy Lewis of Quackometer to see if homeopaths could tell their own pills apart using any tests they wish came about. No takers.
In 2008, the same challenge was extended to universities offering classes in quack subjects. Still silence. Many of these universities are now dropping these BS classes when made aware of how foolish it was that academic institutes were looking into pseudo-science for courses.

(On a side note, our already degrading Malaysian universities are still dishing out these courses. Ill touch on that in another post)

For now, the main issue is homeopathy creeping into our society.

So, with more homeopathy clinics popping up in Malaysia these days, I think its very important that we take, and encourage others to take, a strong, long and objective look at homeopathy.

We should take the time to do this NOW, instead of later when we are desperate for a cure and everything magical or mysterious suddenly seems possible.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

How hard could it be?

Apologies on the silence. Promise to pick up the pace again when my time is once again my own, and finish up some of the drafted topics Ive set aside.

In the meantime, here is something for us to think about: What makes up an Alt practice.

Looking at it from a different perspective, Le Canard Noir of Quackometer has just published this list. Well worth the read.

I know its a cheap redirect post on someone's article :P
...still, the effort put into it truly deserves having more folks take a peek.

It lets us clearly see why some things about quack practices are a shared trait across the flock.