Saturday, June 20, 2009

So Many Experts - So Many Opinions!

By Rich Kozlovich

Who to believe? We absolutely KNOW that PhD’s cannot be trusted. Grant money and the desire for prestige has contaminated their ranks to the point that everything they say must be questioned. De omnibus dubitandum, (doubt everything) is supposed to be the basis for all that a true scientist does. It has become my personal motto and should be adopted by everyone else because entirely too many “scientists” doubt only those things that will stop the flow of grant money.

Those true scientists who stood against the “science” regarding anthropogenic global warming were virtually ostracized by their peers. Many lost positions and had their grants revoked, very often those two situations go hand in hand….no grant money….no job! As the years go by the grant money flowed faster and faster to promote all things green. Unfortunately they didn’t necessarily promote all things scientific. Because of the internet we see can now clearly see just how untrustworthy “scientists” can be and who the untrustworthy ones are. We can also see who can be trusted.

We now have access to all the arguments, both pro and con, on any given subject. Unfortunately many of the scares really are nothing more that con jobs that help make sure that the grant money keeps right on flowing into their corrupt hands, and that has consequences.

Once someone has made their mind up to really research information they find themselves in a quandary, where do I go to read the truth. It is difficult to know right away who to read and who to trust. It took me some time and a great deal or reading to find those worth reading. I now know who to go to in order to find out the truth on any matter in which I am interested, and that list grows every year.

I have been re-reading Steve Milloy’s book, Junk Science Judo. Milloy discusses statistics and epidemiological studies extensively in this book and how this information is manipulated and misrepresented. Really boring and complicated stuff, but in order to know what everyone is talking about you must understand how statistics, which has been described as an arcane art of the occult, actually works and how that data are molded.

Having said that I will come to the point! The last chapter of his book is entitled, “Know Your Friends” and one of them that he lists is the American Council on Science and Health, headed up by Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. They don’t always agree with one another, and for that matter I don’t always agree with them, but both recognize the intrinsic integrity in each other’s work, and so do I. They’re only concerned with the facts and each is prepared to follow the facts no matter where they lead.

As a member of the American Council on Science and Health I get an update called the “Morning Dispatch” which outlines the latest news scare or latest junkscience being presented to the public through a corrupt and lazy media, and they may even agree with the latest media blitz.

I have decided to write a weekly outline on stories that interest me that ACSH sends to its members. I will share their views, with my take on it on a weekly basis because I believe that much of what they have to say isn’t being seen by enough people. Many times the story will extend over a week or a month, so I will try to condense the story each week into a few paragraphs.

Swine Flu

Each week since the swine flu made its appearance on the world scene the ACSH has been a steady voice of moderation. When it appeared that the media had the world in the grip of a disastrous worldwide plague, the ACSH outlined just how many cases there were and how many deaths actually occurred. It turned out their view that this was more hype that disaster was correct. “Dr. Henry Miller of ACSH’s Board of Trustees and Stanford University's Hoover Institution is a molecular biologist and former flu researcher who argues in the Washington Times that the swine flu pandemic was labeled as such too readily.” Part of the problem is the WHO doesn’t follow its own rules for these kinds of determination.

The latest scare is that “Brazilian scientists reported on Tuesday that they have identified a new strain of the H1N1 virus”. Dr. Gill Ross states that “Influenza viruses are notoriously plastic. They change quite readily,” explains Dr. Ross. “If you analyze the genome of the currently circulating flu virus you’re going to find variability. So if the swine flu virus does mutate to become more virulent, it will most likely still contain many of the same antigens. The vaccine being developed and produced for this new H1N1 variant should still provide substantial protection, and it should still prevent a lot of cases.”

Dr. Ross likes that idea that that CDC under Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has decided to offer vaccinations against this virus right in the schools next year. Noting that “It’s a convenient location, and giving an intramuscular flu shot is a straightforward procedure. School nurses are more than qualified to do it.” Also, the FDA has been targeting websites that peddle fraudulent swine flu prevention and treatment products.

Many of you may too young to remember polio because Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine to prevent it in the 1950’s. However, he created his vaccine from dead cells, which the epidemiological world hated because he violated their first law….all vaccines had to be created from live cells. Later the Sabin vaccine was developed (from live cells) and was introduced to the general population …for free as I recall….in sugar cubes at schools. I remember the long lines and I also remember that these efforts eradicated polio…except for those few who contracted it from the live cells vaccine. There never was a case from the Salk vaccine, which I took early on. I found them to be three very painful shots, which made the Sabin vaccine much more popular….but no cases of polio from it.

Zicam

Homeopathic treatments apparently don’t need FDA approval and therefore they don’t go through the testing as would be expected of pharmaceuticals. Matrixx Initiatives, the manufacturer of Zicam has been ordered to stop selling intranasal cold remedies after more than 130 reports of people who lost their sense of smell after using the zinc-based, homeopathic products. “A public health advisory posted on the FDA website said the products “have all been associated with long-lasting or permanent loss of smell” and “have not been shown to be effective in the reduction of the duration and severity of cold symptoms.”

Stier says that “This is a problem because homeopathic supplements are like other diet supplements under the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994 in that they don’t need to be proven effective or even safe. This law’s deferential treatment of dietary supplements is based on the unscientific notion that ‘natural’ cures are somehow safer.” ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross would like to know just how dangerous is this product? If this was a pharmaceutical the activists would be screaming to the heavens….but not a peep when it is “all natural”. And you wonder who can be trusted.

ADHD

Here is an area in which I have some personal concerns. ACSH agrees with this judgment. Regulators have advised parents to continue medicating their children for ADHD despite the risk of sudden death suggested by a study that used questionable methods. I have some personal experience with this issue of children being drugged for “acting” up. I have heard accounts of these drugs working wonders on children, and I believe these accounts. I have heard the opposite, and I believe those also. I also question the way it is determined whether treatment really is necessary. Maybe that is the real issue. Those who really need treatment versus those who are just difficult! I also have misgivings as to what these drugs do to them as they hit their teen years. I hate saying this, but If children are being prescribed drugs when they don’t really need them (which I believe is an ongoing problem with this issue) what are the long term effects.

Fortified Foods

The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday examining the latest trend of fortifying foods with extra nutrients. ACSH’s Dr. Ruth Kava adds: “There are no daily requirements established for many of these added compounds, so there’s no way for a consumer to know if the amount in a particular food will be too little, just right, or excessive.”

For more information, see ACSH’s publication on functional foods.

Anti-Aging Hormones

Recently I linked an article in Green Notes that highlighted the Oprah Winfrey show and her “expert” guests (who she apparently agrees with) promoting all sorts of unscientific horsepucky. Their only real qualification is that they are celebrities who are paid huge sums of money to mouth other people’s words while pretending to be someone else. When are people going to stop listening to this woman?

“At their annual meeting in Chicago on Monday, the American Medical Association echoed ACSH staffers’ assessment that there's no scientific evidence to justify the claims of anti-aging hormones, including the so-called “bio-identicals” touted by celebrity non-expert Suzanne Sommers. These hormones are not just ineffective for their touted purpose, they can also be dangerous when used without medical direction.” says Dr. Ruth Kava.

Integrity Exemplified

This story is rich in irony. The Center for Science in the Public Interest accused the American Council on Science and Health of being a shill for those who support and donate to them. Dr. Elizabeth Whelan told them that if they really think that donating money to ACSH will change their views, then they should sponsor them and see what happens. They never did send a check and here we have the ultimate irony. CSPI is threatening to sue “Bayer Healthcare if it continues to claim its One-A-Day vitamins for men reduce the risk of prostate cancer” and ACSH says that they will “join CSPI in criticizing Bayer “ in spite of CSPI’s claims of bias…which is really the pot calling the kettle black. And just think……CSPI never sent a check! Of course when all you are concerned about is the facts the decision is an easy one.


Ejeta Wins World Food Prize

Ethiopian geneticist Gebisa Ejeta of Purdue University was honored with the 2009 World Food Prize for developing strains of sorghum that are resistant to drought and the parasitic weed Striga. “This is something that people across the spectrum from the left to the right should be celebrating,” says Stier. Even so, ACSH staffers doubt that we'll hear any endorsements of this lifesaving research from the anti-chemical activists at Greenpeace and similar groups.” Let’s face it….they are not about saving lives…that is the shtick they use to convince everyone to adopt practices and policies that will actually cause disease, squalor, misery, suffering and death.

Dangerous Side Effects, Dangerous Labels

If you really read the potential side effects of everything that goes into your mouth you wouldn’t eat. The same can be true of drugs. According to an Associated Press article on Friday,“After fifteen months of investigation, the Food and Drug Administration said Merck & Co. Inc., AstraZeneca, and Cornerstone Therapeutics will have to raise label warnings about psychiatric problems reported by a handful of patients taking their [asthma] drugs.” Potential problems include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and insomnia.

“Hopefully, this won’t follow the trend of counterproductive and unanticipated effects of excessive black-box warnings from the FDA,” says Dr. Ross. “Some people correctly read them as alerts that there can be these effects, but some doctors and parents of sick children will be so fearful that they won’t give kids the medication they require.” “The most effective solution to a problem like this is for parents and doctors to pay attention to possible effects that a medication might be having on their child,” says Dr. Kava, “but of course, that’s true for any medicine.”

For more information, including asthma treatment options, see ACSH’s publication on asthma.

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