Red flags of quackery

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Red flags of quackery

Postby TheVat on March 10th, 2019, 12:06 pm 

Great graphic aid....

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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby Serpent on March 10th, 2019, 2:15 pm 

Of course, just because you have had clinical trials administered by accredited MD's, the FDA signed off on it and the announcer says: "Talk to your doctor" at the end of the commercial, I'm not necessarily convinced that the product 1. does what you claim it does 2. is as "affordable" as you say it is and 3. won't kill me and 4. Hasn't been flogged to my doctor by a snake-oil salesman (actually, woman is more likely - youngish, smart-looking, personable, plausible, generous with free trial samples).
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby BadgerJelly on March 10th, 2019, 11:41 pm 

How about the ever lingering “eating fats causes heart disease” nonsense still in the front of many “doctors” minds?

Only about 3-4 years ago I was telling a university student that the whole “good” and “bad” cholesterol had no real evidence to back it up.
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby doogles on March 11th, 2019, 4:57 am 

Badger, I'm assuming you are referring to the November 2017 article on the nutritional values of fats when you say "How about the ever lingering “eating fats causes heart disease” nonsense still in the front of many “doctors” minds?" Yes, even in modern 'western' medicine, we've been on the wrong tram wrt fats for 70 years or so. Quackery is not confined to alternative medicine.

Good subject Vat!

But it won't make any difference to people throwing time and money at such things, and having FAITH in them.

My earliest recall of such FAITH is the vision of an auntie sitting beside the remnants of an open fireside one morning informing me (as an eight- or nine-year old), while biting on a piece of charcoal, of the beneficial effects of charcoal on teeth, as she smiled at me with teeth disintegrating with tooth decay.

The following interesting little study may explain why anything and everything in all types of 'therapies' or even 'life enhancers' are patronised. It suggests that doctors and patients (or the relatives of patients) may be hopeless at subjectively evaluating the usefulness of medications, or maybe even lifestyle regimes; Jachuck et al (1982; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl ... 6-0041.pdf) conducted a simple and interesting questionnaire on The effect of hypotensive drugs on the quality of life. They followed up the lifestyles of 75 subjects who had been on hypotensives for essential hypertension. Attending doctors rated all patients as having improved lifestyles as a result of treatment and that none were worse than when treatment commenced. Of the patients themselves, 36 thought they had improved, 7 thought they were worse, and 32 believed they were no better or worse. But the relatives of these patients had other ideas; only one of these relatives thought that their related patient had improved, and 74 thought that their related patients were worse than when they'd commenced treatment. The relatives' ratings are shown in Tabular form in the article. The authors scored memory, worry, irritability, mood, interest, initiative, energy, activity and hypochondria. Most ratings were poor, but 100% rated their related patients as having deteriorated in energy. You can check this out for yourself; the full text is freely available.

It seems that in therapeutic matters, if you can't measure its effects, you can't objectively assess its usefulness.

And even if we could, being human, the odds are that we will prioritise Faith ahead of objective evidence. Nothing will change of course.
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby BadgerJelly on March 11th, 2019, 6:32 am 

Doogles -

Not wrong for 70 years. The facts were not gathered properly and many protested. Sadly it slipped into mainstream teaching and apparently still remains (at least until 4-5 years ago). Shockkng but true.
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby doogles on March 11th, 2019, 5:16 pm 

BadgerJelly » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:32 pm wrote:Doogles -

Not wrong for 70 years. The facts were not gathered properly and many protested. Sadly it slipped into mainstream teaching and apparently still remains (at least until 4-5 years ago). Shockkng but true.


I remember talk about high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease in the 1950s. So the story has been around for 70 years or so. Here's a 1955 article -- https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abs ... 9561402435
Serum-cholesterol, diet, and coronary heart-disease. An inter-racial survey in the Cape Peninsula.
Author(s) : BRONTE-STEWART, B. ; KEYS, A. ; BROCK, J. F. ; MOODIE, A. D. ; KEYS, M. H. ; ANTONIS, A.
Author Affiliation : Cape Town.
Journal article : Lancet 1955 Vol.269 pp.1103-1108.

The full text was not freely available, but I'm sure that if you bought a copy and looked at the reference list, you would see some 1940s references at least.

It's rather sad that if a school of thought becomes established about any subject, a sort of Conformation Bias seems to come into play supporting the erroneous notions, and that is what appears to have happened with the cholesterol research. It takes generations to reverse the notions.

I notice that the 'red flags' list claims no distinction between 'Western' and 'Eastern' Medicine. Of course none of us would disagree with the notion of Evidence-based and Non-Evidence-based medicine IN THEORY. But unfortunately, there is mounting evidence now that the 'evidence-based' medicine relating to cardiovascular diseases over the last 70 or more years may be based on shaky evidence.

A phenomenon I privately label 'Pharma-medicine' appears to have taken over from independent research now.
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby Serpent on March 11th, 2019, 5:55 pm 

So, then, is there some characteristic difference between Eastern and Western medicine?
It probably doesn't break along a degree of longitude, but there must surely be cultural differences in the practice of medicine, just as there is in the patient population and prevalence of health issues.
I've heard (no hard evidence) that the most common surname among British physicians is Patel.
I wonder how the many Dr. Patels, working in different countries, acquire different attitudes, form different assumptions and expectations, and approach their their patients differently.
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby hyksos on March 11th, 2019, 11:23 pm 

Grey square on the bottom row: "Hostility to Criticism"

That's a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield. He appeared in a press conference and told the BBC cameras that your children are in danger from a triple-does MMR vaccine that causes colitis in young toddlers and perhaps leads to autism later on.

Wakefield then sat in front of cameras in a white lab coat, with a name like "Doctor Wakefield" and told viewers of 60 Minutes that your children are in danger from vaccines. Your average american mother doesn't diligently scan the pages of medical journals, but she may watch 60 Minutes. When you have a man in white lab coat telling you, in a British accent, that your kids are in danger --- well you can imagine the result.

Anyways, we're gonna need a whole thread on antivaxx.
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby BadgerJelly on March 12th, 2019, 12:02 am 

Doogles -

I didn’t say it wasn’t around 70 years ago I said the data to show it was wrong was anout 70 years ago and other scientists were openly warning that it was not based on strong evidence. The pharmaceutical companies likely found a drug they could deevelop and so back the sparse/wrong data to push their product - much like the amount invested in the genome product has made it hard for those companies to drop the idea that all the money they invested is practically useless to them in terms of creating efficient drugs.

Humans are dumb. Once we’re so invested in any idea we’re prone to see it through to the bitter end. I’d say a lot of the so-called “evils” of the world are simply due to this kind of “willful” blind-sightedness. Luckily we’re not COMPLETELY dumb :) ... probably?
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby doogles on March 12th, 2019, 2:07 am 

Serpent, I suppose we all have our own concepts of what is meant by 'Eastern' and 'Western'. My view is generally that practitioners of western medicine are those who spend 8 years at a University and graduate with skills in the principles of surgery, infectious diseases, physiology, anatomy, genetics, psychology, etc etc. Much is sound teaching based on hundreds of years of research now, but a modicum of it embraces a questionable indoctrination into Pharma-medicine.

I regard eastern medicine as embracing the practices of acupuncture and herbalism going back thousands of years, but with a record of being totally unable to cure, halt or manage any of the major infectious diseases that have occurred over the centuries.

Amazing surgical advances, and amazing control of major diseases have proceeded only using the precepts and practices of western medicine. It is generally on the right track. I see eastern medicine as offering a temporary placebo type of comfort to those who patronise it.

Chropractic has some usefulness to my mind.

That Patel story was interesting. This site -- https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/most ... t5pghjdsdf -- virtually affirms what you say about Asians in British medicine, although the surname 'Khan' nips 'Patel' in the bud. 'Smith' and 'Jones' then turn up in the rankings. Our Health Industries in Australia also now employ a high percentage of Asians across all levels of involvement.

Hyksos, That resistance to vaccination also caught on very quickly in Australia.

BadgerJelly, that's good; we're both on the same time frame. I tend to agree with you when you say "Humans are dumb. Once we’re so invested in any idea we’re prone to see it through to the bitter end. I’d say a lot of the so-called “evils” of the world are simply due to this kind of “willful” blind-sightedness. Luckily we’re not COMPLETELY dumb :) ... probably?" We do tend to hang onto our ingrained belief systems as if our lives depended on them.
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby BadgerJelly on March 12th, 2019, 2:39 am 

Doogles -

And our lives do depend on them! Sadly we’re just kept in the dark as to WHICH ONE’S are better to hold onto :D
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby Serpent on March 12th, 2019, 4:28 pm 

doogles » March 12th, 2019, 1:07 am wrote:I regard eastern medicine as embracing the practices of acupuncture and herbalism going back thousands of years, but with a record of being totally unable to cure, halt or manage any of the major infectious diseases that have occurred over the centuries.

But that's exactly wrong. There have been herbs and things in European tradition, in North American and African tradition. Those practices were not all useless, either, and modern scientific medicine owes much of it pharmacopoeia to the herbalists who went before.
Certainly, western medicine - however it claimed to be scientific - has been guilty of some practices far more harmful than acupuncture or pressure. One of its major flaws has been a tendency to rush to any new technology or chemistry. Some very bad mistakes were made in the not-so-distant past, and there has been plenty of deliberate snake-oil sold by white men in white coats, even quite recently. Like last night - that stuff they claim will prevent a cold or lessen the symptoms if you already have it. It does neither, but how do you prove that?

Amazing surgical advances, and amazing control of major diseases have proceeded only using the precepts and practices of western medicine.

And many of those researchers and practitioners are from the East, have been for a century; they study and practice in the East in regular hospitals with beds and scalpels and everything - to the extent that their nations can afford those things.
If you practice in a country with a lot of old people who hold to old traditions, you make the necessary adjustments to their needs. If you come from the same culture, you understand what those needs are - psychological, as well as physical.
One thing Western industrial medicine has not been addressing at all well is the patient's social and emotional condition. The younger doctors are being taught that now, to an extent, and making some improvement in their approach - and I wouldn't be surprised if the presence of eastern doctors hadn't influenced that improvement.

It's insulting and unfair to categorize all superstition and ineffective treatments as "Eastern" while leaving out the failings of "Western" medicine when characterizing as all things effective and true.
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby doogles on March 12th, 2019, 6:10 pm 

Wow Serpent, you do have strong and dogmatic views about some matters. You realise of course that you commenced your contribution to a discussion with the sentence "But that's exactly wrong!" Woops! There goes the discussion.

Please re-read the opening sentence to my last post -- "I suppose we all have our own concepts of what is meant by 'Eastern' and 'Western'. My view …. ".

I must add that what I presented was the way my mind tends to form associations to differentiate the adjectives 'Eastern' and Western' as used in conjunction with the word 'Medicine' in this day and age. I didn't go back to the days of Galen and the global history of medicine. We still have people of Chinese ancestry in this area who exclusively practice acupuncture and dispense herbs.

You've now presented your view. Thank you. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' in a discussion such as this..
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby Serpent on March 12th, 2019, 7:03 pm 

I apologize for the offending sentence.

But I don't agree that looking at industrial medicine with a critical eye is necessarily dogmatic.
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby doogles on March 12th, 2019, 9:41 pm 

Serpent -- "But I don't agree that looking at industrial medicine with a critical eye is necessarily dogmatic."

I don't either.

It's the judgmental use of words such as 'right' or 'wrong' about another's viewpoint that I regarded as 'strong and dogmatic'.

Not to worry. I wasn't in the least offended. At 87, I'm amused by such things.

I actually agree with most of what you said in your post. You seem to have pointed out that in the East (and presumably all over the world), medical teaching is now being conducted along the lines of what I regarded in my view as western medicine. A significant number of papers on various aspects of medical science are now coming from Asia. My view of eastern medicine, and other alternatives, is that they are being practiced to a minor degree when you consider the vastness of the premises and buildings now taken up by western medicine, as I perceive it. See my earlier post.

You also added "It's insulting and unfair to categorize all superstition and ineffective treatments as "Eastern" while leaving out the failings of "Western" medicine when characterizing as all things effective and true." I agree with that, but where did it come into the discussion?
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Re: Red flags of quackery

Postby Serpent on March 12th, 2019, 10:59 pm 

It came into the discussion with a reinforcement of these designations in the public mind.
All things eastern (Asian) are superstitious, primitive and ineffective.
All things western (European) are scientific, progressive and effective.
I'd just like to see a little more nuance and perspective.
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