How Monsanto Controls the FDA: 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Have you guys ever heard of the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? The idea is simple: aside from a handful of distant, isolated tribes or individuals, virtually every human on the planet, and certainly every human in the western world, is separated by no less than 6 connections. That is, you can always draw a line that looks like this: You -> Person 1 You Know -> Person 2 Person 1 Knows -> Person 3 Person 2 knows -> Person 4 Person 3 knows -> Person 5 Person 4 knows -> Person 6 Person 5 knows -> Person 7, your goal, who knows person 6. Or shorter – in my social computing lecture, I heard that 3 degrees of separation is enough to connect almost every single person in Germany. In Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, you limit it to actors, but there are many variants based on things like number of handshakes between you and some long-dead president, or sexual partner links between you and Elvis, or the “Six Degrees of Forever Alone” game, which I happen to be quite good at.

 

But with that in mind, guess what I have to say about this image:

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No points for guessing that it ain’t gonna be flattering.

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An Open Letter to Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

Hi, Mike. You probably don’t know me (why would you, I’m just some random nut with a blog and a chip on his shoulder), but I know you. At least, I know of you. And I know about a certain letter you sent to a journalist recently, after there was some talk of you suing a different blogger for calling you nasty names and whatnot. The whole thing can be found here for those who don’t know about such things. Now, you say a lot of things there, but I’d like to focus on one in particular. About you not liking people calling you anti-science, and your attempts to turn over a new leaf as a real scientist. Bravo! I would love to see that. No snark, I’m being completely serious. You’ve said previously that your website gets something like upwards of 7 million pageviews per month, and getting these people onto the science train would be a great step forward.

 

So… What would you need to do? Well, I have a few things that come to mind. My first piece of advice: publish. I’ll be the first to admit that you’re going to run into a lot of bias. Bias against you. Many scientists are liable to look at you, think, “That guy? Ugh” and ignore your work. I’ll discuss why a bit later. But at the same time, you have the resources to do important research, and if you are earnest about it, you could try to team up with someone else, or publish under a pseudonym. The important part is to get a foot in the door. Do real scientific research with real results, and sooner or later people will have to take you seriously.

 

The second thing I can say is going to hurt a bit. You need to stop selling everything on your website which has not undergone clinical trials for efficacy. Everything. Every last item where you cannot point to a clinical trial and say, “This is incontrovertible evidence that this works” has to go. This is partially to minimize the bias against you in publishing. As said, I’ll get to that later. But for now, you need to start looking serious. Science-based medicine has a methodology that we use not because we want to but because anything else is utterly lacking. So things like the “Immune Cannon” have got to go. Want to keep selling them? Well, you’re the scientist – perform clinical trials to show that they work. This will have the double effect of improving your standing in the scientific community (after all, you’re risking some of your business by exposing it to criticism) and making your product more well-established. Indeed, anything with the so-called “Quack Miranda Warning” should probably get the boot as well. This is to make it clear that you’re serious about science, and following the evidence where it leads.

 

See, Mike, here’s the thing. You have no good faith left among skeptics and rationalists – the type of people who generally are scientists. None. Nada. Zip. Diddly squat. These people have watched your website and your actions and think to themselves, “Wow, this guy has the balls to call himself a scientist after the crap he pulled?”. Indeed, “Scopie’s Law” is generally extended to your site. Case in point, you say in your letter:

 

I’m finding this scientific route to research very rewarding and eye-opening. Yet when people like Mr. Entine learn that I have embraced a scientific discovery methodology, instead of being welcomed for pursuing scientific research, I am unfairly mocked for it. In Entine’s case in particular, I believe he referred to my laboratory work as “a joke.”

 

Yeah, Mike, you’re going to get that a lot. The one piece of research I’m most aware of from your laboratory was you looking at a chicken nugget under a microscope and calling what showed up weird. That’s not exactly groundbreaking research (have you looked at Vodka in a microscope? Now that’s trippy!), and you have that stacked up against your whole reputation as a quack, a charlatan, and nutcase.

 

…Yeah, I said I was going to get to this.

 

Mike, I hope you realize that in saying “I’d like to get into science” what most of us hear is “I’d like to completely turn over a new leaf”. At least, I sincerely hope that’s your goal. Because up until now, you haven’t been much of a scientist. You haven’t been doing science. You’ve been doing bare-bones, dishonest tabloid journalism for personal profit. After the naiveté wears off, what we hear is “I’d like to cover my bullshit in a veneer of respectability”. I want to believe you’re serious, I really do – if you would stop writing misleading and dishonest articles, about anything from Vaccines creating “zombies” to straight-up lying about what the Süddeutsche Zeitung said about Monsanto’s policies (the article referenced is probably here; it does NOT say what you claim it says), then the world would be a much better place. But it’s really hard to believe that after your track record of being basically Gary Null crossed with Alex Jones. So please – either make good on your word or stop pretending that you’re trying to be Mr. Science. Or at least stop pretending to support science while simultaneously pushing crap like this.

 

Sincerely,

-Angry Science

Dear Gun Nuts: Please Stop Violating My Second Amendment Rights

Time for some current events. You guys remember the latest James Bond movie, right? Skyfall? Man, that was a good movie. One thing that I remember fondly from that movie was Bond’s handgun. Nothing too flashy, just a simple gun that would only fire if it recognized that he was carrying it. A smart gun, in other words. You know, the kind of thing that would really make guns, on the whole, safer, more effective, and generally better. Well, apparently, now you can buy one.

 

…Or rather, you might have been able to if it weren’t for some jumped-up paranoid douchebags. To those people, I ask: why are you trying to abridge my 2nd amendment rights? Cut that shit out. (more…)

“Things Exist Outside of Science” – or: Science as a Panacea

I often get into somewhat heated debates about the role of science. Specifically, one thing I hear relatively often is that science does not have all the answers. That science is “limiting”, and that there are things that exist outside of what the scientific method can observe. To which my response would be: what things?

 

I googled “God Photshop” and was not disappointed.

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The Shotgun Effect

Imagine you want to spend time investigating whether being around stupid people causes medical conditions. So you set up a trial with two epidemiological groups – one for people who live near homeopathic clinics, and one for people who live on college campuses away from homeopathic clinics (as a control). Then you check these groups for all manner of illnesses. You examine them for leukemia, lung cancer, measles, multiple sclerosis, Ebola, AIDS… all in all, over 1000 serious health conditions. Your tests are designed for between 95% and 99.9% certainty. In the end, it turns out that those who live near homeopathic clinics are statistically more likely to have shingles, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C. So can we conclude that homeopathic clinics cause shingles, tuberculosis, and hep C?

 

 

God, I wish. Because given how many homeopaths either buy into studies that fall prey to this kind of error or abuse it themselves, a study like this could lead them to shutting down clinics for the sake of public health. Have I mentioned that I don’t like homeopathy?

 

Seriously, guys, it’s just water.

 

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An Exercise in Critical Reading

Okay, science pals, I’ve got a fun little exercise for you. Let’s see how many of you can spot where this paragraph goes wrong:

Merck and the CDC have determined that 1 out of every 912 who received Gardasil in a large study,  (see page 8) died. Yet, the cervical cancer death rate is only 1 out of every 40,000 women per year. In other words, girls are better off not taking the shot because the Gardasil shot kills the girls in greater numbers than does the disease it purports to treat.

Obviously, if you don’t click on the link to the study, you don’t spot the error. So let’s do that. The first thing you should do in a case like this is look to what’s cited. In this case, it’s page 8 of a safety assessment where the paper does in fact offer a number of people in their study who died. What was the largest cause of death among those who supposedly died of Gardasil? Acute respiratory failure? Negative reaction to aluminum leading to organ failure? Car crashes?

…Wait, what?

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Things I read on facebook: Monsanto and Bt

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Source: Vegiheal.com on facebook

 

 

Getting information about anything from infographics on Facebook is a bad idea. This should be obvious. What should also be obvious is that getting information about medicine, nutrition, or food from facebook is an even worse idea, because there is a massive grassroots campaign of hippies (hey, they don’t call it grassroots for nothing) who generally mean well but unfortunately will share almost anything that perpetuates the idea that everything natural is good and everything to do with technology is dangerous or toxic. The end result is that if you’re friends with a lot of old-school hippies (like I am) you stand a very good chance of seeing a lot of really bad science in your news feed. (more…)

150+ Medical Doctors Who Are Morons

So here’s an argument you might hear with regards to vaccines.

 

there are actually quite a lot of MD’s against vaccination, though their voices are not widely heard as they are sidelined by the MSM. This article links to a list of 150+ MD’s (no google degrees here) who have spoken out:
http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/doc…ampaign=buffer

I guess they’re all crazy…

 

The short, sweet, and simple answer to that is, “Yes, yes they all are crazy”. (more…)

“But It’s Been Warmer In The Past!”

Here’s an argument you’ve probably heard n times already:

 

“It was warmer in the past than it is now without CO2 being as high, therefore CO2 cannot be the cause of our current temperature high!”

– Forum troll, ca. 2014.

 

So, now that you’ve heard that argument n+1 times, without any indication of mathematical induction kicking in… (more…)

Letters From My Crazy Uncle, Part 1

So I have this uncle, and he’s possibly the most interesting person I’ve ever met. He’s quite well-read, educated, and quite an eloquent speaker. He speaks his mind in a very brash way that many people find somewhere between uncomfortable and offensive, but my family and our tight-knit group of friends rarely took issue with that. He’s also a grade-A conspiracy theorist. Like, 9/11 was an inside job, big pharma is conspiring to kill us all, airplanes are dousing us in chemtrails, GMOs are designed for mass murder… You get the point. I didn’t think much about this in the past; I sort of ignored it. After all, most of what he said was fairly innocuous – JFK assassination stuff that I didn’t know was wrong at the time, 9/11 conspiracies that I used to also believe… (more…)