Seralini – Scientist or Reanimator?

So for those not in the know, Giles-Eric Seralini is a man who is vying very hard for the title of “Andrew Wakefield of the anti-GMO movement”. His seminal work, a 2012 paper titled “Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize”, was published in a mid-tier journal and sparked a firestorm of outrage when Seralini previewed it to the popular press under an embargo which ensured that it would receive no criticism. The paper was shit. Total, utter, unmitigated shit. It was a paper that tried to show a substance as being toxic but contained no dose-response – an absolutely fundamental issue in toxicology. It also had tiny sample sizes, used a breed of rat known for having incredibly high cancer rates, contained no statistical analysis, did not present raw data but rather provided us with virtually illegible graphs… I could spend all day talking about how shit this study was. Thankfully, I don’t have to. Oh, and I kinda already did. Criticism of the study is almost impossible to miss online, because it is so fucking bad. In fact, as previously stated:

The study was really, really, really, really bad. It belongs under the general banner of “Scopie’s Law” – that is, if you cite it as a valid source to support your conclusions (unless your conclusions are “look at how dishonest anti-GMO advocates are”), you are no longer worth taking seriously. Throw it on the pile with NaturalNews and Age of Autism.

Anyone who holds up this paper as good research has either failed on a fundamental level to understand the field they’re talking about, or hasn’t read the fucking paper. Fun fact – the only statistically significant result to be found in the data set is that drinking straight RoundUp makes male rats live longer. (more…)

Lions and Tigers and Propylene Glycol, Oh My! The Toxins Gambit

Here’s a truism that is lost on all too many alt-med or “public health” advocates: “The dose makes the poison”. I would feel somewhat remiss at this point to not remind you people that “truism” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a common statement that is obviously true”, and wikipedia goes a step further in implying that it’s so obvious that it need only be brought up as a rhetorical device.

So, with that in mind…

CHICKENS CONTAIN ARSENIC!!! (more…)

Personal Experience: N = 1

What is it with personal experience? I hear this time and time again from people (usually older than me to a degree where I’m just “some young whippersnapper”) – “Well you have your facts and figures and published peer-reviewed papers and scientific authorities and fundamental understanding of the subject, but you’re still wrong because my personal experience says so!”

“Sure, it may be geometrically impossible, but my cousin swears he made one in wood shop the other day!”

The most common topics, of course, being things to do with medicine that just ain’t so. For example, I had a riveting conversation with an in-law the other day about whether or not the flu vaccine gave one of her friends the flu. (Pro tip: it really didn’t.) When I pointed out that no, the flu vaccine does not give you the flu, she quite literally said “you have your facts and figures, but I know real people who this happened to”. Guys, pro tip. “Something which is scientifically impossible happened to my friend” is not a good argument. (more…)

Duesburg and the Vax-Antivax Study

Meet Peter Duesburg.

 

He’s kind of an asshole.

 

…Okay, that’s not fair, let’s start over.

Meet Peter Duesburg.

He doesn’t believe that HIV causes AIDS. He’s a gigantic cunt who is at least partially responsible for the death of over 330,000 people in South Africa.

 

…Shit, that didn’t come out right. One more try.

Meet Peter Duesburg.

He’s kind of an asshole.

 

…Hmm. As far as invective goes, that appears to be as low as I’m physically able to go when describing Duesburg. I’d ask my editor to give it a once-over, but honestly, I’m fine with characterizing him as an asshole.

 

Anyways. Asshole is not convinced that HIV causes AIDS. He wants to perform a double-blind study examining the effects as follows: take 4000 people, randomly separate them into 2 groups, then in accordance with double-blind procedure, infect one group with blood tainted by HIV, and give the other group a placebo blood infusion. Then, he will examine the propensity of those in either group to develop AIDS. He demands this study because no other study can truly establish whether or not HIV causes AIDS, and because he’s still not convinced.

…Anyone see the problem here? Anyone? Maybe you, Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist?

…Oh no. Sarah agrees with Duesburg and sees absolutely no problems with performing the study. I guess this is what happens when you have no understanding of ethics, medicine, prior probability, and suffer from a Dunning-Krüger complex the size of a small planet, you moron.

(more…)