Oh, yeah, why I’m here on New Year’s Eve

After reading a post at “dKos”:http://www.dailykos.com saying something to the effect of “if you’re reading this, chances are you’re having a lame ass New Year’s Eve,” I thought “well, yeah, I am.” And it occurred to me that something horrible happened to the post that explained why, so, since I’m having, well, a “lame ass New Year’s Eve,” why not tell the whole sick saga.

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ARGH, post eaten

Unfortunately, my 7×7 meme post got eaten. So here I try again, below the fold. No guarantees they’ll be the same as I posted before.

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FDA regulation of homeopathic remedies

The FDA “regulates”:http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/#q6 homeopathic remedies the same as OTC drugs. (See also the rest of the “NCCAM page”:http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/ on homeopathy.)

(Note: please see my “new post”:http://www.randomjohn.info/wordpress/2006/01/04/final-thoughts-on-homeopathy-before-i-leave-it-for-a-while/ to clarify this. Homeopathic remedies are not subject to the same clinical development regulations as pharmaceuticals.)

As I drink a glass of water

So I’ve recently been bothered by the out-of-hand dismissal of homeopathy as a fancy and placebo effect, much like “drinking a glass of water”:http://oracknows.blogspot.com/2005/12/more-evidence-that-alternative.html, and I’ve decided to do a little more digging on my own.

First, let’s start with a “definition”:http://skepdic.com/placebo.html

bq. The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health not attributable to treatment.

If you are to believe the source and the quotations within, the placebo effect requires the belief that a treatment will make you better. Taken further, this suggests the care of a trusted practitioner, although some theories suggest natural improvement over time or “regression to the mean”:http://www.visi.com/~thornley/david/philosophy/thinking/mean.html.

If, for the sake of argument only, we assume that homeopathy acts mainly through the placebo effect (and I will question this assumption in a minute), then most theories of the placebo effect suggest that even then homeopathy is not the same as “drinking a glass of water.” Drinking a glass of water doesn’t involve the care of a trusted practitioner, and in most prevailing theories, does not equate to the placebo effect.

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Data please: holding quackbusters to their own standards, Part II (Orac, you know)

On to the goods. Let’s start with the title: “More evidence that alternative medicine boosters don’t really want scientific evaluation of their therapies”:http://oracknows.blogspot.com/2005/12/more-evidence-that-alternative.html. Pretty heady title. Looks like we have a hypothesis here: “Alternative medicine boosters don’t really want scientific evaluation of their therapies.” And, presumably, what Orac presents is “evidence” in favor of this “hypothesis.”

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Data please: holding quackbusters to their own standards, Part I (Prometheus unhinged)

First up is Prometheus.

bq. Seeing how some people have turned these “renegade” physicians (e.g. “Joseph Mercola”:http://www.mercola.com/forms/testimonials.htm [also see “here”:http://www.casewatch.org/fdawarning/prod/2005/mercola.shtml%5D, “Jeff Bradstreet”:http://www.icdrc.org/Bradstreet.html, “Andrew Wakefield”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3513365.stm, “Rashid Buttar”:http://antiagingconference.com/spring/speaker/bios/rashid_buttar/, “Andrew Weil”:http://www.drweil.com/u/Home/ and “Deepak Chopra”:http://www.chopra.com/) into saints (occasionally martyrs), gurus and even saviours has left me wondering. Clearly, these physicians have tapped into a unmet need in the people they……. I suppose the polite term would be “treat”.

Interesting twist. Because _some_ people turn aforementioned alternative medicine practicioners into elevated figures, it somehow must be the practitioner’s fault? However, perhaps unintentionally, this paragraph does point out that conventional medicine is lacking. (Good and often excellent, as was evidenced by the fact that I used conventional medicine practitioners last night to diagnose and treat a nasty case of pneumonia, but often lacking.)

bq. *These people have all had a scientific education – with at least a passing familiarity with scientific method – and should know that what they are saying is, at best, untested and, at worst, known to be false.* (his emphasis)

Here Prometheus is accusing “these people” (perhaps the ones mentioned above) of professional and scientific fraud, and provides NO DATA whatsoever to back up this claim. No links, no examples of claims made by each of these authors, no supporting data whatsoever. Now, I could probably Google his site and find such data (and I certainly whenever possible do research on my own when I visit _any_ new doctor), but if you’re going to question the personal and professional integrity of a large group of doctors, the very least he can do is link to previous discussions on the topic, preferably ones that have examples of false statements made by each of the practitioners along with a discussion of why it is false or untested. As a bonus, if he wanted to score bonus points, he could even link to discussions of the harm that this claim has caused. After all, it is the standard that quackbusters claim to apply to other’s claims.

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Things that bug me about parenting

This was just hanging around in my draft queue:

I love having children, but face it, there are parts of it that just get under my skin. Here are just a few:

  • Conflicting “expert” medical advice
  • Not knowing why the baby has been screaming for the last hour despite all my best measures (including all that have worked before)
  • All the nonexpert, unsolicited advice
  • Drop this crisis, attend to the one that just popped up
  • Schedule? Well, I knew that would be a lost cause anyway, but when it’s hard to get the older toddler to the doctor, that’s ridiculous.
  • Last but not least, overzealous diaper tabs