Under attack? Try smearing someone who had absolutely nothing to do with it.

The best defence, they say, is a strong offence. Lynne McTaggart’s clearly taken this to heart, as she’s decided to hit back at the people who defaced her webshite by attacking someone who not only didn’t do it, but expressed disapproval of the vandalism.

I’m sure there’s some sort of logic behind that, but I’m glad I don’t understand it.

Was Changed to
How do you solve a problem like a cyber lynch-mob? How do you solve a problem like Maria?
 What better way to take the moral high ground when accusing others of pursuing a personal vendetta, than to personalise your own vendetta against the reality-based community? Awesome.
I was fascinated to see that among those offering support that the perpetrators get caught was Maria MacLachlan. Maria and her husband Alan Henness are effectively the Nightingale Collaboration, a tiny organization that was given seed money by Sense About Science in order to spend a prodigious amount of time reporting advertisers and practitioners of alternative medicine to the UK’s The Advertising Standards Authority. I was fascinated to see that among those offering support that the perpetrators get caught was Maria MacLachlan. Maria and her husband Alan Henness are effectively the Nightingale Collaboration, a tiny organization that was given seed money by Sense About Science in order to spend a prodigious amount of time reporting advertisers and practitioners of alternative medicine to the UK’s The Advertising Standards Authority. And many of the ads they’ve tried to stop are the ones that appear in the pages of our magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You.
 Yes, many of the adverts we, the skeptic community, have stopped (successfully, most of them are no longer published in their prior form) are indeed in WDDTY. And many aren’t. The campaign against fraudulent advertising by quacks pre-dates the campaign to get WDDTY to stop being dishonest. What Lynne has never understood, is that we challenge false advertising wherever we see it. I’ve challenged false claims in ads for finance companies, insurance companies, lobby groups and quacks. I have had two complaints upheld against adverts by groups with which I was involved. We changed the copy in one, and successfully challenged the adjudication in the other. It is not personal. It only seems that way because virtually every word in WDDTY, and much of the advertising, promotes fraudulent products and practices. When everything you do is promoting fraudulent nonsense then challenging the fraudulent is the same as challenging everything you promote. The obvious solution is to stop promoting fraudulent nonsense.
 What knowledge this is is not apparent as the couple appear to have no background in evaluating or studying medicine or alternative medicine (Henness reports his former employment as R&D manager for Honeywell Security and Customer Electronics).  What knowledge this is is not immediately apparent as the couple appear to have no background in evaluating or studying medicine or alternative medicine (Henness reports his former employment as R&D manager for Honeywell Security and Customer Electronics).
Ah, right, so identifying the expertise requires you to actually check your facts a tiny bit. I can see why that would present an almost unsurmountable problem for you.
From now on, I’m going to call this kind of ‘do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do’ activity ‘the Maria Problem.’Simon Singh has also got a Maria Problem. He has styled himself as the champion of free speech in science, but has been busy for nearly three years encouraging ‘book burning’ in the form of pressurizing and campaigning for stores and distributors to stop stocking What Doctors Don’t Tell You.
 This never gets any truer, however often it’s repeated. Simon has not “styled himself” as a champion of free speech, he is a champion of free speech. Unlike WDDTY, who supported Wakefield’s suppressive lawsuits, also supported Chris Woolams in using legal thuggery to suppress dissent and said nothing about Peter Wilmshurst, Simon has not only fought off a suppressive libel suit, he has actually helped to change the law – even the kind of shit WDDTY and Lynne McTaggart print about people is now marginally less likely to end up with the tawdry rag bankrupted. Commercial speech is not protected. Your right to say something does not confer any obligation on others to sell it for you. And all you have to do, in order to stop the critical backlash, is to stop printing lies and promoting health fraud.
This has nothing to do with free speech. They are free not to like my magazine and to publicly say so. But that is a far cry from encouraging people to interfere with our free trade or sending cyber attack dogs to abuse me online. This has nothing to do with free speech. They are free not to like my magazine and to publicly say so. But that is a far cry from encouraging people to interfere with our free trade or sending cyber attack dogs to abuse me online. That kind of activity is a threat to freedom and to a free, multi-cultural society.
 Wait, are you accusing Simon of racism here? Simon Singh? The well-known British Asian scientist and author? Who has collaborated with Edzard Ernst, the well-known German-born naturalised British scientist?The sound you can hear may sound like the incoherent screeching of a deranged harridan, but apparently it’s actually Lynne’s fingernails frantically scraping the bottom of the barrel in the hope of finding something underneath the barrel itself, to allow her to go still lower.
There have been ‘Master Lists’ kept by husband and wife combo Michael and Laura Thomason, writing as ‘Josephine Jones’ (he a database developer, she a coffee shop supervisor) and passed around from skeptic to skeptic as though we are engaged in behavior that must be monitored, blow by blow.  There have been ‘Master Lists’ kept by husband and wife combo Michael and Laura Thomason, writing as blogger ‘Josephine Jones’ (he a database developer, she a coffee shop supervisor) and passed around from skeptic to skeptic as though we are engaged in behavior that must be monitored, blow by blow.
 You are engaged in behaviour that must be monitored blow-by-blow. You relentlessly promote health fraud and attack critics. If you want to escape constant scrutiny, stop doing these things.Oh, and you could also stop telling belittling lies about people, especially after the facts have clearly come to your attention. It does rather undermine your umbrage about the original incident…
Encouraging the kinds of targeted bullying that have been directed against me and WDDTY is exactly how things do escalate and finally get out of hand. The only way to stop a lynch mob is to stop creating targets of hate. Which goes back to the Golden Rule. And that, Maria, is how you solve a problem like a cyber lynch mob. Encouraging the kinds of targeted bullying that have been directed against me and WDDTY is exactly how things do escalate and finally get out of hand. It’s how ordinary, law-abiding Germans were finally incited to go on a rampage, smashing windows and looting the property of Jewish shopkeepers during Kristallnacht.The only way to stop a lynch mob is to stop creating targets of hate. Which goes back to the Golden Rule, being tolerant of people whose beliefs are different from yours.And that is how you solve this cyber-bullying problem, Maria.
 Oh yes, because refusing to sell a magazine that promotes health fraud and risks public health by spouting anti-vaccine bullshit is exactly like the Endlösung. Remind me again, did they set fire to your offices? Drive you from your home? Beat you? Steal your property? No.

So: Lynne responds to critical commentary by doubling down, cranking the paranoia up to eleven and attacking someone who not only wasn’t responsible, but actually condemned those who were.

Think about that for a moment. The first thing Lynne thinks about when her webshite is defaced, is: how can I make this about restoring my profits, and, how can I turn it into an attack on the people I hate, even though they are plainly not responsible?

How do you solve a problem like a cyber Lynne mob?

Loon “Lynne” McTaggart has the whole martyr complex thing off to a T: it’s all about her, and her exaggerated sense of entitlement. After all, who could possibly have any valid objection to her pimping black salve, a bogus cancer cure that just happens to eat away your skin? Surely the excruciating pain, weight loss, anaemia and cost experienced by her reader are vastly better than a surgical procedure under general anaesthetic.

Thank you all for those lovely statements of support after I wrote that our Intention Experiment website – a website devoted to healing the world’s ills through group prayer – got hacked into and threats on me, my family, my business, even my car were put in its place.

Really? McTaggart’s definition of “threats” is open to question, so I would not take it on her say-so. Still and all, threats are nasty, as those of us who have experienced them will testify. I have never seen any skeptic threaten anything other than Lynne’s profits, I am happy to say.

Happily, I can save you a lot of time and effort. The effect of prayer has been tested, it doesn’t work.  We’re happy to have saved you wasting any further time and effort repeating this failed experiment; I suggest you devote your time instead to studying concepts such as the laws of thermodynamics and conservation of energy, which show why any effect from prayer would require us to throw away pretty much all of human knowledge. Continue reading How do you solve a problem like a cyber Lynne mob?

A salve for a tumour

This article plumbs new depths, even for WDDTY.

Let’s look at the infobox for a second.

The essential points

DO:

  • Work with a qualified practitioner who has his own reliable source of Black Salve
  • Use it sparingly and make sure any wound that remains is properly and hygienically treated
  • Anticipate excruciating pain and long periods of exhaustion and incapacity, when work may not be possible
  • Make sure you have the full support of family and friends. If the growth is on the back of the body, you’ll need someone prepared to apply the salve who isn’t squeamish.

DON’T:

  • Buy the salve off the internet or attempt to self-medicate without the guidance of a regulated and qualified health practitioner

  • Start salve therapy without having your eyes fully open: read and research, and become a Black Salve expert before you start

  • Use Black SaIve if you have diabetes or poor circulation

  • Start unless you have a powerful and effective pain reliever  available.

Got the message? It’s excruciatingly painful (because it is BURNING YOUR SKIN, Jesus, how dumb are you people?). You must not be squeamish, because it’s BURNING YOUR SKIN and that is messy as well as incredibly painful. Even the Daily Mail recommends against it.

Go to a qualified, registered and regulated health professional? That is spectacularly delusional. Any regulated health professional in the UK found using black salve would be unregulated pretty damned quickly.

Still, as Michael Baum said, you wouldn’t want to consult a fake charlatan would you?

There’s a genuine question here: if anybody follows the WDDTY advice and ends up scarred, as so many users do, would they sue?

As the article meanders on it throws up some gems:

It was while reading WDDTY that Dave came across an article about Phil and Rosa Hughes and their ‘alternative’ cancer-screening clinic, which was close to his home. They offer a technology called ‘thermography’, a less invasive and more sensitive alternative to mammography…

Thermography is not approved for cancer screening, for the rather obvious reason that it doesn’t work. Tests how it misses 75% of cancers. It’s Russian roulette with five barrels loaded. The Hughes’ website claim that thermography is “medically approved”, conveniently forgetting to mention that it is not medically approved, or effective, for breast screening.

What is quite interesting is that the patient, Dave, had received chemotherapy as a child for brain cancer. His visceral rejection of chemo when a tumour was diagnosed near the base of his spine – his fourth cancer diagnosis, incredibly – was based on this experience. Presumably he did not listen when the doctors told him of the advances in chemo in recent years, and the fact that not all chemotherapies are equal. So he “read books” (safe to assume they were not reality-based), studied WDDTY (BAD idea!) and went to the Gerson clinic (substantially worse idea). You have to wonder why these so-called “doctors” bother with five years of university followed by up to ten years of postgraduate work to become qualified, when they could just read some shit off the internet and become experts overnight.

What a shame that in all that reading he never encountered anything on confirmation bias.

In the pages of WDDTY he found an advertisement (possibly masquerading as an article) for Phil and Rosa Hughes’ “alternative” cancer screening clinic. Why he wanted alternative screening is a mystery since he already had a diagnosis.

The article claims in a callout that Rosa had “reversed her breast cancer through diet and lifestyle changes”.  Where have we heard that before? As it turns out, Rosa refused a biopsy, so she (and WDDTY) have no idea whether she actually had cancer or not. This is not a small matter: a lot of the patients used by quacks as success stories turn out never to have had biopsy confirmed disease. WDDTY seem to think that people who reject evidence-based diagnosis and treatment are making a bold and excellent choice, yet time after time they reveal that the choice is influenced by charlatans selling snake oil, in this case someone selling breast thermography services. Breast thermography is wrong in about 3/4 of cases, according to current evidence.

Worryingly, only one of the people at the Hughes’ clinic has any medical qualifications at all: a registered nurse. Phil Hughes is a “registered homeopath”, so is not just medically unqualified, in fact pretty much everything he thinks he knows about health and disease is provably wrong.

Following surgery to excise the tumour and his rejection of adjuvant chemotherapy, Dave adopts a standard-for-quackery restrictive diet, in this case vegan and dairy-free. The tumour, unsurprisingly, returns (cancer, unlike cancer patients, is not easily fooled by the blandishments of diet shills).

Dave decides on black salve. Because, you know, reasons.

A callout says:

Don’t buy just any salve off the internet, and don’t try to self medicate without seeing a qualified therapist

Qualified? How can you be qualified in batshit insane treatments? And if it’s not safe to buy any old black salve off the internet, how come it was safe to take any old shit off the internet as advice? Nobody, literally nobody, with any actual knowledge of cancer, will prescribe this stuff. WDDTY present Mohs surgery as if it validates the claims, but fails to note that Mohs excised the tissue surgically after 24 hours, rather than continuing to use the caustic paste as the sole or primary treatment. If anything the history of Mohs surgery refutes the claims of black salve advocates, since the salve is no longer used in clinical practice.

Eventually, he found a herbalist, whose clinic was fairly close to his home, who was prepared to see him and treat him with Black Salve. (The herbalist doesn’t wish to be named.)

If I was a medically unqualified “alternative” practitioner treating cancer patients with a dangerous and implausible treatment I probably wouldn’t want to be named either.

The herbalist admits he has never treated a sarcoma before, states that this is the biggest cancer he’s ever treated, but nonetheless gives a confident estimate that it will take 14 days for black salve to “expel” the tumour from the body. You have to love the confidence of ignorance.

The treatment was so painful that Dave passed out several times, he lost four stone in weight, and felt cold most of the time (presumably due to anaemia). That sounds a lot worse than chemo to me, but of course cognitive dissonance would never permit Dave to think this.

Black salve is dangerous. Really dangerous. It’s a caustic. Yes, it might be able to remove cancerous tissue, but it is indiscriminate and will take out everything else as well. Most importantly Dave’s tumour has already regrown once, and there’s no reason to think that it will not regrow again. By speaking to him so soon after treatment WDDTY risks presenting someone with a hidden malignancy as “cured” in order to promote a particularly barbaric form of cancer quackery.

Available now from all bad newsagents!

The May 2015 issue of WDDTY has, like the steaming turds emanating from Her Majesty’s guards’ horses, hit the streets. And it’s a cracker. It looks as if they are playing pseudo-medical Limbo, a game of “how low can you go?” After flipping through it several skeptics are now looking sadly at the smoking ruins of their WTF meters, overloaded by the unprecedented outpouring of bollocks between the covers.

Tapping: Money for old rope.
Tapping: Money for old rope.

Remember the bullshit that is Emotional Freedom Techniques? Astonishingly the lunatic charlatans have reinvented it as a miracle cure-all. WDDTY followed the money just long enough to establish it was headed towards their bank and gave it the front page.

This month’s obligatory anti-MMR rant claims that 100 people died from MMR vaccine and none from measles, proving that however often you point out to Lynne McTaggart that every single publication around VAERS points out that correlation is not causation, she will always stick her fingers in her ears and chant “precious bodily fluids” until the cognitive dissonance goes away.

A bonus anti-vaccine piece is based on the refuted antivax meme that flu vaccine benefits only 3% of people.

Then we have “radiotherapy increases risk of thyroid cancer”, which should deter all those people who engage in recreational radiotherapy but won’t help people with cancer much because a chance of cancer down the road is a bit less pressing than real cancer, in your body, killing you, right now.

Zoë Harcombe, uncredentialled diet woo-peddler and Britain’s sole calorie denialist, gets a plug in a piece claiming that fat doesn’t cause heart disease. In other news, onions cure diabetes, which rather invites the question of why nobody found this out and saved the lives of millions of diabetics before insulin was identified and synthesised.

There’s a long and inexplicable rant claiming that “breast is best” is accepted by “everyone except top doctors and obstetricians” – palpable nonsense as any recent parent will know. It turns out that this ridiculous twaddle was caused by someone being so determined to feed that she could not accept what was then considered the best, most cautious advice during treatment for a heart problem. Never let it be said that WDDTY would succumb to nuance, or even the blindingly obvious, in this case the fact that a drug given to the mother might get to the baby through breast milk, and this might legitimately inspire caution. It’s reminiscent of the recent story claiming that babies undergo an average of 11 painful procedures , which turns out to apply only to babies in intensive care.

The old myth is trotted out that use of CBT for chronic fatigue syndrome means doctors think it’s all in the mind (not so: CBT is a coping strategy that has provably helped many patients to avoid self-reinforcing behaviours).

Statins – sorry, statin DRUGS!!!! – get the usual kicking, there’s the ritual promotion of magic water, some anti-fluoride activism (so last century) and then we move onto what must be a hot contender for the title of most irresponsible story ever published in WDDTY: an extended and entirely uncritical piece pimping black salve as a cancer cure.

Black salve.

If you don’t know about black salve, I urge your NOT to google it unless you have an extremely strong stomach.

Black salve does not cure cancer. It does, however, eat away skin, including blemishes that people self-diagnose as cancer, and occasionally an actual biopsy-confirmed cancer, usually a basal cell carcinoma which is amenable to surgical excision, often as a day case. As the piece begins:

Type the words ‘black salve’ into any search engine and the results
will open a new door onto Hell. Graphic and stomach-churning
images of people without noses and holes in the side of their face appear in the first few articles. Pretty quickly, you get the idea that Black Salve-also known as an escharotic (corrosive) or as the product Cansema – is the worst form of quackery, one that maims and harms.

There is a reason for that. Bear in mind how prominent the quackery shills are.  Google Mike “Health Danger” Adams, Doctor Oz and the like. Black salve bucks the trend only because the harm is so serious and the literature demonstrating it so extensive.

Using black salve instead of surgery for cancer is akin to using a flamethrower on yourself.  Only a crackpot or a charlatan would propose it as a reasonable course of action. So that’s exactly what WDDTY do.

With luck, people will write to the few remaining shops that still stock WDDTY and send them a copy of the article on black salve along with a few of the pictures on the internet that show what it really does. Because, you know, it really does eat away your face.

I have not the words.

Newborns do feel pain (quick, tell the doctor)

This is an article which appears to conflate several disjoint issues into a single article. I say conflate: they have been forced together with a crowbar.

The issues are:

  1. There are some who claim infants do not feel pain. Most of this seems to come from those who promote non-medical infant circumcision.
  2. There are good reasons not to use general anaesthesia on neonates, some of which are discussed below.
  3. Premature babies may require surgery, and the risks of anaesthesia are much higher in these infants because their brains are at an earlier stage of development.
  4. WDDTY is vehemently opposed to the use of “painful procedures” on infants. By “painful procedures” they mean, of course, vaccinations.

The result is a diatribe that is unusually unhinged even for WDDTY.

Continue reading Newborns do feel pain (quick, tell the doctor)

Autism is linked to gut problems (so sorry, Andy Wakefield)

Of all the persecuted Brave Maverick Doctors in WDDTY’s pantheon, none is more Brave or indeed more Maverick than Saint Andrew of Wakefraud.

Put simply, WDDTY desperately wants Wakefield to have been right, and will miss no opportunity to rewrite history in the service of this delusion.

As much as the medical community likes to discredit Andrew Wakefield for his theory about the MMR link to autism, research keeps supporting his central argument: autism is somehow related to the gut.

The medical community doesn’t like to discredit Wakefield. It doesn’t like discrediting anybody. Wakefield is discredited because he published fraudulent research with an undeclared conflict of interest, and because he conducted invasive tests on vulnerable children without proper ethical approval.

These are not small things. In any other doctor, they would cause WDDTY to lead the march with pitchforks and burning torches. Wakefield gets a free pass for these gross ethical violations only because his research serves the anti-vaccine agenda of WDDTY.

The latest has discovered that children with persistent gastro-intestinal (GI) symptoms are more than twice as likely to be autistic.

While this may be accurate, it is evidence of correlation not causation and it does not validate Wakefield’s fraudulent research, because Wakefield’s fraudulent research was designed to provide support for a legal action claiming that the MMR vaccine was the cause of autism, whereas the new research has nothing to do with vaccines.

The purported link between vaccines and autism – “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years” – is refuted. This paper not only doesn’t overturn that, it doesn’t even address it.

It is extremely unlikely that any new research will prove a causal link between gut problems and autism, because autism has a strong genetic component, so gut problems are more likely to be co-morbid.

The risk dramatically increases in children who suffer from regular constipation, or food intolerance or diarrhea between the ages of six months and three years, say researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Did you notice how this refutes the Wakefield claim that autism is caused by “measles enterocolitis” due to the MMR vaccination? The first MMR dose is at 12-15 months.

WDDTY “forgot” to mention that. They also “forgot” to mention that the paper has no mention of measles.

Although the connection is apparent, not all children with GI problems will go on to develop autism, any more than autistic children will necessarily have gut issues, cautions lead researcher Michaeline Bresnahan.

Well, duh. Most children will have at least brief periods of GI symptoms at some point, after all.

In this large prospective cohort, maternally reported GI symptoms are more common and more often persistent during the first 3 years of life in children with ASD than in children with [typical development] or [developmental delay].

No mention of a causal relationship, even speculatively.

Nonetheless, it was one of the key discoveries of Andrew Wakefield, who surmised that the MMR vaccine could be triggering the GI problems in the first place.

It wasn’t a “discovery” and this paper doesn’t say it’s a trigger.

Even Faux News did better, with the headline “frequent gastrointestinal issues may be early sign of autism”.

But you know WDDTY: any facts have to be beaten into compliance with their editorial agenda.

(Source: JAMA Psychiatry, 2015; doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3034)

Note that any substantive finding of a causal link would not come form a psychiatry journal.

86 per cent of children with measles had been vaccinated

If there’s one thing guaranteed to fuel the build-up of spittle on the WDDTY editors’ computer screens, it’s positive coverage of vaccines. WDDTY is, to quote Ben Goldacre, “viciously, viciously anti-vaccine” – and this is one of the things which elevates their tawdry health fraud advertorial to the status of public health menace.

The MMR vaccine is back in the news. Australian parents will lose their welfare benefits if they don’t vaccinate their children, while up to 86 per cent of children who caught measles during the ‘Disneyland outbreak’ in California last December were vaccinated, a new study has revealed.

Logical fallacy: non-sequitur. The two are not connected, and not even in the same stories, in general. The 86% figure is mentioned only in order to make the evidence-based Australian policy look unreasonable.

WDDTY do cite a source, though returning to their former practice of obfuscating the reference to make it hard to track down. Why would they do that, I wonder?

Oh, wait:

An analysis of publicly available outbreak data suggests that substandard vaccination compliance is likely to blame for the recent measles outbreak linked to Disneyland in California, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

I can see why they wouldn’t want you to find the original source.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will lose up to $11,000 of welfare benefits. Parents can opt out of vaccinations on medical or religious grounds, or because they are “conscientious objectors”.

But, from January next year, the conscientious objection opt-out will be removed in Abbott’s new “no jab, no pay” policy. Religious exemptions will also be tightened, and will apply only to religious bodies “approved by the government”.
The Australian government reckons that 39,000 families could lose their rights to welfare benefits.

Indeed. And the reason for the specific wording about religious bodies approved by the Government, is that Australian antivaxers invented their own church – the “Church of Conscious Living” – as a deliberate ploy to allow them to continue recklessly endangering the health of their children and those with whom they come into contact.

Their weaselly ploy has failed, and they are no doubt crying into their homeopathic beer about it.

US health authorities are also looking to tighten up on exemptions after the measles outbreak last December, in which around 140 children were infected. It is thought to have started at Disneyland in California.

It’s almost as if antivax sentiments evaporate when people are faced with the reality of preventable disease, isn’t it?

Which is of course why vaccines are not a hard sell with the postwar generation.

But a new study reckons that up to 86 per cent of the infected children had received all their MMR jabs. “Given the highly contagious nature of measles, vaccination rates of 96 per cent to 99 per cent are necessary to preserve herd immunity and prevent future outbreaks,” say the researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When WDDTY reports the study as showing “up to” 86% of victims were vaccinated, they are being disingenuous. It actually says:

The authors estimate that measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates among the exposed population where secondary cases occurred might be as low as 50 percent and likely no higher than 86 percent. Because measles is highly contagious, vaccination rates of 96 percent to 99 percent are necessary to preserve herd immunity and to prevent future outbreaks, according to the study.

According to Wired,

The vast majority of the infected were unvaccinated against the disease, including kids who were too young for the shots and anti-vaxxers who chose against them. That’s how you get an outbreak. But six of the cases got their measles-mumps-rubella vaccine—the MMR shot—and still managed to get infected.

Wired also give a great description of how the Disneyland outbreak spread even to the immunised:

So how does that explain what happened in Disneyland? If you have a group of 1,000 people concentrated in a small space—like oh, say, hypothetically, an amusement park—about 90 percent of them will be vaccinated (hopefully). One person, maybe someone who contracted measles on a recent trip to the Philippines, moves around, spreading the virus. Measles is crazy contagious, so of the 100 people who aren’t vaccinated, about 90 will get infected. Then, of the 900 people who are vaccinated, 3 percent—27 people—get infected because they don’t have full immunity.

So WDDTY say “up to 86%” but other sources say closer to 10%. Why would WDDTY inflate the figure? We know why: to accurately report the case would require admitting that the MMR vaccine is around 97% effective, and that the figure they quoted was a discussion of the dangerously low level of vaccination that reduced herd immunity to the point that the outbreak could take hold.

And one thing WDDTY will never do is admit that the MMR vaccine works. Saint Andrew of Wakefraud would never forgive them.

 

Proof of prayer

Lynne McTaggart runs the “healing intention experiment”, an exercise in wishful thinking designed to show that “wishing makes it so”.

The problem with this, of course, is that it is the same as intercessory prayer, and that has been tested and found not to work.

No wonder WDDTY were delighted when a meta-analysis by “scientists at Northampton university” (funded, it must be said, by the Confederation of Healing Organisations, an umbrella body for wishful thinkers) found a small but significant – or, to use WDDTY’s phrase, “pretty solid” proof – positive effect:

Do you believe in prayer or spiritual healing? Well, now there’s proof that distance healing works, and the evidence is pretty solid.

Explore journal. Looks sciencey!
Explore journal. Looks sciencey!

The evidence is in the form of a study by the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes and run by psychologist and parapsychologist Chris Roe. Psychology is not one of the more robust sciences, and has an inglorious history of peddling complete nonsense, and Roe is a Board member of the Parapsychological Association, edits the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research and is on the board of the European Journal of Parapsychology.

The paper was published in Explore, a fringey journal of “Science and Healing” with an impact factor of 0.935. Not convinced? Take a look at this masterpiece. Mmmm! Quantum!

By contrast, the STEP study, a rigorous prospective double-blinded trial funded by the Templeton Foundation, found:

In the 2 groups uncertain about receiving intercessory prayer, complications occurred in 52% (315/604) of patients who received intercessory prayer versus 51% (304/597) of those who did not (relative risk 1.02, 95% CI 0.92-1.15). Complications occurred in 59% (352/601) of patients certain of receiving intercessory prayer compared with the 52% (315/604) of those uncertain of receiving intercessory prayer (relative risk 1.14, 95% CI 1.02-1.28). Major events and 30-day mortality were similar across the 3 groups. (Benson et. al., 2005)

So, a believer in the paranormal analysed papers on the paranormal and came to the conclusion that the paranormal is real, in contrast to the robust findings of reality-based medical scientists.

That’s literally never happened hundreds of times before, has it?

Why is Roe’s conclusion so far at odds with the consensus of reality-based researchers? It’s not even necessary to invoke Ioannidis. You need only to look at the list of studies. Reality-based studies tend not to include publications from the The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (IF 1.5), the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, the Journal of Parapsychology, the wholly worthless Journal of Scientific Exploration (“original research on consciousness, quantum and biophysics, unexplained aerial phenomena, alternative medicine, new energy” etc. – new energy? really? And unexplained aerial phenomena, as in UFOs!). Other cited sources include a book, an “unpublished manuscript retrieved from http://www.southwoodhealing.info/p_d_f/scientificpaper/pdf” and so on.

Even Dean Radin gets a mention as a cited source.

So: the reason this comes to a different conclusion from mainstream medical analyses of distant healing, is that it includes sources that are typically excluded because they are credulous and not medically or scientifically robust. And, unsurprisingly, these are the ones with the most positive results.

Even then, it only finds a weak positive statistical effect: not one single slam-dunk proof of efficacy, not one single objectively repeatable phenomenon.

This, according to WDDTY, whose editor has a vested interest in the field, is “proof”. But there is a nod towards the reality-based contingent:

Not that we expect any of this to make much difference. The believers never needed such proof in the first place, while there will never be enough evidence to convince the non-believers. In fact, it doesn’t have a prayer’s chance to the sceptic.

dragon2The first part is true: belief never does require evidence, though believers often expend a prodigious amount of effort in the pseudoscientific pursuit of this chimaera.

As to sceptics, they will be persuaded as soon as suitably robust proof is provided.  We don’t believe that the proponents of reiki, “intention”, prayer and other forms of distant healing, with its manifest lack of any credible physical mechanism, have a dragon in their garage. They won’t persuade us with a pile of dodgy studies that concludes there’s a slightly elevated probability of a dragon, they could persuade us with a single well-designed, well-controlled, robust proof of a dragon.

Here’s what the conclusion of such a study might look like:

To our knowledge, no other objective, quantitative study involving more than a few (Therapeutic Touch) practitioners has been published, and no well-designed study demonstrates any health benefit from TT. These facts, together with our experimental findings, suggest that TT claims are groundless and that further use of TT by health professionals is unjustified.

It’s not difficult to design suitably objective tests of these claims. In fact, a nine-year-old could do it. And did.

Rife with confusion, falsehood and dangerous nonsense

WDDTY have excelled themselves again. The latest form of abject quackery to be given a boost by them is the Rife machine,  a quack device from the Golden Age of Science Fiction which makes sense only in the context of the time. WDDTY describe this as “space age”. Space cadet might be closer to the mark.

Reality-based information on Rife machines:


The Rife Machine is indeed straight out of Dan Dare or a book by L. Ron Hubbard. WDDTY’s story is written by Cate Montana, last seen pimping piss therapy. This is worse. I know that’s hard to believe.

The story is actually a rambling and only marginally coherent mish-mash of a number of mutually contradictory quack claims whose common factor is only that their proponents believed “frequencies” to be some kind of magic. These days of course nobody believes a word of that: it’s quantum that allows you to invent any old bollocks you like.

Quotes are direct form the article, edited for brevity.

This is the story of a space-age healing technology with roots 80 years in the past. Commonly known as ‘Rife technology’ because Dr Royal Raymond Rife is the most well-known scientist associated with electromagnetic healing.

Royal Rife was not a doctor or a scientist. He was an inventor and entrepreneur.  He gained a patent for high-magnification time-lapse micrography and, like advocates of live blood analysis, appears to have misidentified an artifact in his films and run off down a rabbit hole with it.

Jimmie Holman and his company Pulsed Technologies in Dallas, Texas, produce an electronic frequency generator that creates electronic signals that he claims can be precisely tuned to the specific cellular frequencies of any given bacteria, viruses and other pathogens to disrupt their ability to cause disease. These specific frequencies are known as the ‘mortal oscillatory rates’ (MORs) for that group of pathogens.

These “cellular frequencies” are at the core of not only Rife’s claims but (as we see below) those of several other quacks.

It is true that you can disrupt the structure of bacteria using electromagnetic radiation. The process is known as microwave cooking, which usually uses a frequency of 2.4GHz (domestic) or in some cases 915MHz (commercial). There’s an erroneous belief that this is the resonant frequency of water and/or fat molecules, but water’s resonant frequency is of the order of 1THz. In fact proteins often have opposite charges at their ends, and act as charged dipoles; the alternating magnetic field causes them to rapidly move from one orientation to another, and the energy expended in doing so manifests as heat.

Can you kill pathogens by applying their resonant frequency? It’s highly unlikely. For a start, pathogens tend to be made of proteins, which are really rather complex. DNA has been measured as resonating between  0.5-4.5THz – and this may mean nothing at all because pathogens are not a single protein.

In fact, the proteins that comprise pathogens are largely the same ones that comprise healthy tissue. That’s another challenge. There’s no credible evidence that the frequencies for healthy tissue have all been elucidated and removed from the devices. In fact this is another case where it’s probably just as well that the quacks can’t do what they claim.

There’s no credible evidence that these machines can selectively kill pathogens, and in fact none (that are legally saleable) are likely to be capable of penetrating the epidermis, the energies are far too low. Just as well: you know how microwave cookers work.

The machines supposedly work by sending electronic signals into the body through electrodes.[…] The only claimed side-effect is an occasional toxic reaction that arises as pathogens are ‘neutralized’ and the body works to flush the devitalized cells from tissues and organs. Does this sound far out?

The active term here is “supposedly”. And yes, it does sound far out. Because, you know, it is far out. Even the purported side-effect is pure wishful thinking.

If yes, the reason is because the medical industry and schools worldwide remain stuck in the rather basic view of the human body as a biochemical machine. But the ‘body electric’ is fact, not fiction—as are the body photonic and the body quantum.

Hilarious!

Let’s be absolutely clear here: this is a device that dates back from a “lone genius” with zero medical training in the mid 20th Century, and yet the “medical industry” and “schools worldwide” remain “stuck in the rather basic view of the human body as a biochemical machine”.

It’s almost as if the writer has been living in a commune in the California hills for forty years and hasn’t realised just how much we have learned about the human body in that time.

This sounds more like the “electric universe” wibble than a coherent explanation of anything. The body electric? Body photonic? Body quantum? What do those even mean, aren’t they just sciencey-sounding escape hatches to evade questioning?

Here, have a quick look at this:

Fast forward to 40:00. Does that look simplistic to you? Now go forward to 52:30 and marvel. In fact, I urge you to watch all of James E. Rothman’s Nobel acceptance speech: his acknowledgment of his debt to prior work is a marvellous demonstration of the falsity of the WDDTY mantra of medical science as a field devoted to fending off the advances of quacks, and the talk overall shows how someone who really understands a topic can explain it to an educated lay audience in a way that does not resemble Chopralalia.

The “medical industry” is a contributor to a world of medical, biochemical and physiological research that intertwines clinical and academic, theoretical and practical, everything from quantum physics to classical anatomy. Rothman trained as a physicist before moving into biochemistry.

We’re intended to believe, then, that all these people, any one of whom could have scored a massive lead in a fiercely intellectually competitive world by simply pretending to have discovered this “truth” in isolation, all of them, whether funded by charities, governments, corporations or whoever, would rather deny the “truth” than accept it. That they lack the wit, the integrity or the determination to pursue something they know to be a profound truth and a route to curing the most intractable diseases.

The alternative explanation is that Rife was wrong.

Which seems more likely? Seriously?

The conspiracy theory is utterly irrational and not even remotely plausible. Hundreds of thousands – millions – of intelligent, motivated, resourceful people would, as a body corporate, have to either deny the facts or fail to spot them in their own experimentation, and conspire to keep this hidden, thus leaving the field to quacks and charlatans alternative healers.

Researchers have established that endogenous direct-current (DC) electric fields are involved in all sorts of bodily processes. In the 1960s, many researchers, most notably orthopaedist Robert O. Becker, professor at Upstate Medical Center at the State University of New York, Syracuse, and director of orthopaedic surgery at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Syracuse, experimented with using electric currents to assist the healing of bone fractures and wounds.

Robert Becker was a genuine pioneer: he made discoveries that contributed meaningfully to understanding of the effects of electrical potentials on biological systems. Unfortunately the author is sufficiently ignorant of physics and medicine that she fails to spot the difference between piezoelectricity and – well, magic.

What’s never made clear is how the disconnect between the experts cited from mainstream medical science, and the quack claims, is supposed to have arisen. If we are to believe WDDTY, the switch is flipped as soon as any part of a chain of discovery is made by someone outside the establishment – at which point the establishment immediately ceases any and all investigation and declares the field nekulturny. Science not only doesn’t work that way, it can’t work that way – there are too many actors. Every single one of the breakthroughs WDDTY champions would have to be studiously ignored by a diverse group of vast numbers of highly intelligent people with a bewildering variety of backgrounds and motivations, all because the discoverer was not “one of us”.

The only remotely close parallel I can think of is phage therapy, and even there the reason is closely tied not to conspiracy or ideology, but to the checks and balances required in modern medicine: phages are so specific that it’s really hard to run properly controlled trials. And with antimicrobial resistance, even that barrier is being chipped away.

Most recently, increasing evidence shows that electric fields guide and regulate normal developmental cell processes such as embryogenesis, while extremely low-frequency (ELF) oscillations play a role in the synchronization of neurons in the brain, circadian rhythms and biochemical (stress) reactions.

Sounds sciencey! Did you see the bit where she showed how this is relevant to Rife machines?

No, neither did I.

The body’s innate energy fields (‘biofield’) may even be involved in self-healing. “You’ve got to understand that all chemical reactions are also electrical,” says Dr Steve Haltiwanger, an independent researcher and former practitioner of orthomolecular neurology and environmental medicine […]. Cells in the body are basically crystal radio sets . . . cell membranes possess electrical potential and transport energy . . . you have proteins which are semiconductors. The body is electronic in nature down to the smallest level—like a series of nested energy fields.”

Wait, “innate energy fields”?

Energy is measured in Joules. Fields are quantifiable, they obey certain laws, their flux is measurable and their effect can be predicted mathematically.

Haltiwanger is not a physicist, not a scientist at all actually, he is a psychiatrist – and a Rife quack. “Orthomolecular” is vitamin quackery, “environmental medicine” is also quackery. The term “independent researcher” almost always means crank. It is semantically equivalent to “lay activist”.

Cells are not radio sets. Rothman’s lecture shows the extremely complex mechanism by which cells transmit charge. There is no parallel between cell membrane potential transport and the operation of a crystal set, which requires, apart from anything else, crystals, very simple structures that have coherent modes of vibration, making them useful for things like elementary radios.

Proteins are not really semiconductors. Semiconductors are essentially crystalline, the physics of semiconductor behaviour would break down in an amorphous solid or in a complex chain like a protein.

That paragraph makes as much sense as an explanation of “quantum” by Deepak Chopra.

All the words make sense, just not in that order.

Many researchers, notably the late German physicist Fritz-Albert Popp, have demonstrated that all living things, including us humans, emit tiny currents of light […] believed to be central to intercellular communication.

You can’t have a “current of light”, photons are essentially uncharged. You can have a biophoton, a very low magnitude form of bioluminescence, but it doesn’t do much.

And no, they are not essential to intercellular communication, as Rotheman’s Nobel talk shows. V.P. Kaznacheyev thought they were, but failed to persuade the rest of the scientific community, and subsequent work has added a great deal to our understanding.

When Ms. Montana says they “are believed”, she engages in a classic crank gambit of failing to qualify who believes it. The answer, of course, is that it is believed by those who have a vested interest in believing it, and pretty much nobody else. These are things which, if true, would show up in numerous other lines of research. But they don’t.

Haltiwanger frequently lectures on the complex properties of the cell communication that takes place through light and quantum processes.

I bet his lectures would be hilarious to anyone who actually understood the field. They can “resonantly absorb energy as well as information”, eh? Well I never. And I bet their neutrinos have mutated as well.

So, not only are electronic signals capable of affecting and disabling pathogens, says Haltiwanger, but there are also very specific frequencies that can help the body to heal by strengthening cell membrane conductivity and overall cellular function. Which is how Jimmie Holman (co-founder of Pulsed Technologies) got into the picture.

It is probably just as well that these quack devices can’t strengthen cell membranes, or the delicate mechanisms that transport nutrients around the body would stop working.

Making a better TENS

The second of two car accidents in the early 1990s—both caused by uninsured drunk drivers—had brought Holman’s 25-year freelance electronics research career to an abrupt close. A year of almost daily conventional physical therapy had failed to reduce the excruciating pain and debilitation. He couldn’t sleep except in a straight-backed chair or on the floor. He couldn’t walk without a cane—and this, he was reassuringly told by his doctor, “was as good as it would ever get”.

Nothing is more compelling than an N=1 study told by someone profiting from a quack device.

I say nothing, but obviously the average school student’s excuses for not handing in homework are substantially more plausible…

Even though transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy—which uses low-voltage electrical currents from electrodes placed near the injury sites—did give temporary pain relief, by the time he got home from the doctor’s office, the pain was usually so bad he had to resort to medication.

Well, yes, that’s about right: TENS is short term and low strength, so medication is what you need for long term relief.

[I]ntrigued by the short-term effectiveness of the TENS device and asked his doctor how it worked. The doctor had no idea.

Really? The clue is in the name: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. An electrical current is used to block pain signals to the spinal cord. OK, a simplistic explanation, but no doctor could fail to have any idea of how it works. That’s an approximation : last time I looked it was not clear precisely how it works, or even how much of its effect is real versus placebo.

At that point, desperate for relief and disenchanted with conventional medicine’s approach, Holman started looking for alternative ways to not just endure his situation, but actually to heal. Seeking out a local chiropractor was his first step.

Ah yes, chiropractic. The bastard child of massage and mesmerism. So here we have the classic Damascene conversion of the quackery cultist.

Like his doctor, she also used a TENS device as well as other therapies and, one day, Holman asked her the same question. “She had no hesitation answering,” he said. “The TENS created [electronic] ‘noise’ that interferes with pain signals being sent to the brain. It doesn’t do anything to heal. It just effectively masks the pain.”

A first: medically sound advice from a chiro. Irrelevant to the bogus claims to kill pathogens, of course…

Because of his background in government surveillance systems using exotic signals and supercomputers for domestic and foreign governments, figuring out the technicalities of the TENS device was child’s play. Within a couple of days, Holman had duplicated the device from equipment lying around the house. He also made some improvements, including a programme that ran through a wide range of high-frequency signals.

Electronics 101, then. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that nobody else with a background in electronics has done the same thing? It is, after all, child’s play. He just invented the frequency generator, basically, and most electronics labs have one of those.

After a few days of using his souped-up TENS, he noticed a difference. Not only was he enjoying significant pain relief, but he could tell something else was happening. His body was actually starting to heal.

And how did he know his body was starting to “heal”? Because he believed he had improved the TENS device, in a way that the people who actually devised the TENS device (and have massively much more relevant experience) apparently couldn’t. The thing about neurological pain is that there is very often no directly observable physiology, so it’s hard to say when something is really better rather than the patient merely feeling better; it’s also well established that even the illusion of control can reduce the symptoms of chronic pain.

Two things are infinite: the universe, and the human capacity foe self-delusion.

This was the beginning of what for Holman has been a 20-year sojourn into the realm of energy healing and a new technology with potentials so vast that he likens it to space exploration.

It’s like space exploration only without the involvement of multi-disciplinary scientific teams, and the occasional real-world test of whether your rocket actually flies or not.

So, not like space exploration at all.

A difficult path

Growing evidence suggests that Holman’s and Haltiwanger’s devices have a solid basis in science. Published research reveals that biological cells have electrical properties, certain biomolecules acting like superconductors may be involved in nerve growth, and “biological systems in general exhibit non-local, global properties which are consistent with their ability to function at the quantum level.”

This is only true if you believe that dumpster-diving through the literature looking for superficially supportive statements is the same thing as testing your hypothesis.

The “growing evidence” line is a repeated feature of Montana’s writing and also seems common in WDDTY more generally. What it means is simply that the quacks have not given up trying to prove their beliefs. There’s “growing evidence” for homeopathy, all of it worthless, all of it soundly contradicted by much more robust science. Volume of evidence is not the same thing as weight of evidence.

There are even studies revealing that “short, sharp, magnetic-field pulses of a minimal amplitude” as treatment “are fasting-acting, economical and in many instances have obviated surgery” (italics ours). There is also a mountain of testimonials from patients and practitioners (see boxes, pages 55 and 56). Nevertheless, there continues to be resistance within the research community against investigating the potential implications these discoveries suggest and tremendous reluctance within the medical community to investigate electromagnetic (EM) healing.

The boxes and the article generally list a number of sources. Some are mainstream, but don’t support the Rife thesis. Others are supportive of the Rife thesis but are published in journals like Frontier Perspectives and Explore, with a long history of publishing abject nonsense.

The resistance among the research community is easy to explain: there is no remotely plausible reason to think these devices should work, such objective tests as have been conducted show them not to work, and the fact of something being widely believed by the coherently-challenged has never scored highly among the review criteria used by ethics committees. In order to test a device on human subjects there has to be a good reason to think it will work, and here, there is none.

And this really is the heart of the problem: the various frequency generators being promoted here, have no plausible mechanism. The fields they generate are too weak to have the effects they claim, the effects they claim are in any case entirely speculative, and the explanations of how they purportedly work are incoherent.

‘Black-box’ technology fares even worse than most complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in the eyes of conventional medicine. The suppression of electrical engineer Antoine Priore’s EM therapy machine, funded by the French government and developed during the 1960s and early 1970s, is probably among the more recent and telling examples.

Prioré’s machine wasn’t suppressed, it was exposed. He did have the advantage of using fields strong enough to have a plausible effect, but it turned out that his research methods were dubious and his results were not independently replicated.

The fact that Prioré was funded by the French government is actually a point against the conspiracy theories. He was given every opportunity to prove his case – and failed.

After demonstrating “conclusive, total remissions of terminal tumours and infectious diseases in hundreds of laboratory animals” by using a mix of multiple EM signals, Priore’s work was suppressed because of threats from the conventional oncology community, a change in France’s government and, as described by nuclear engineer Thomas Bearden, a proponent of energy medicine, a “complete inability of the physicists and biological scientists to even hypothesize a mechanism for the curative results”.

That might be how  a proponent of “energy medicine” describes it, but that doesn’t make it true. Why is it that WDDTY’s habitual appeal to vested interest is never applied to those who have a vested interest in the quackery they peddle? Answers on a postcard, please…

In science, “inability of the physicists and biological scientists to even hypothesize a mechanism” is really quite a strong point against you. In science, it is perfectly legitimate to ask “oh yes, how does that work then?” and to refuse to take the person seriously until they have at least a marginally plausible answer.

You have a thing, you insist it works, your research methods are dodgy, and you can’t come up with a plausible mechanism. Only in the world of quackery does a failure to license this device constitute “suppression”. In science, the onus is always on the proponent to prove their case to a legitimately sceptical audience. That is how science works. That’s why quantum theory has become dominant in particle physics: despite its weirdness and implausibility, it fits the observed facts far better than any other explanation, it has persuaded the sceptical.

Aside from scepticism, a major lack of funding and the threat this technology represents to the pharmaceutical industry, there is another reason the technology hasn’t caught on. Some CAM enthusiasts with little or no electronic background jumped on the bandwagon and started marketing equipment that, while based on Rife’s work, produces low-frequency audio-range signals as low as 15,000 Hz—despite the fact that the vast majority of pathogens function at frequencies over 300,000 Hz, says Holman.

This is purest conspiracist claptrap. There is no conflict between medical devices and drugs, many companies make both or have cross-holdings, but even if there were, there are so many medical scientists around the world who are independent of the pharmaceutical industry that suppression would be impossible.

We’re expected to believe that when the pharmaceutical industry says not to tough that thing which, it it worked, would cure cancer and make your reputation and probably an untold fortune, that all doctors, scientists, government regulators and the like, meekly obey.

How likely is that, really?

Now to the question of the “frequencies” at which pathogens “function”. Says who? According to what objective measurements? How and why? Who independently verifies the findings? Where’s the proof these are distinct from the frequencies that apply to healthy tissue? Where are the figures?

Oh, wait, no, I see now: these are POOMA numbers. And that’s why it’s a really good thing that these devices don’t do what the quacks claim, because they have no idea at all what they would do to healthy tissue.

The most popular argument for why these low-frequency devices can still be effective is that they make square waves—frequencies that jump from one fixed value to another, spending equal time at each, so producing a wave pattern like a Norman castle’s crenellations—which automatically create harmonics with frequencies that can reach many hundreds, even thousands, of times higher than the original base frequency.

Popular with whom? Quacks? The most plausible explanation is that all the devices, whatever the frequency, whatever the waveform, are equally bogus.

But we can check that by reference tot he objective tests used when the curative claims were submitted to licensing authorities, as every medical device must be.

What? Oh.

It turns out that most of these boxes are either unlicensed or licensed as TENS machines, and any curative claims are made either illegally or using astroturfing so that regulators can’t pin them on the device maker.

This is actually pretty remarkable, because if you could objectively prove some of the curative claims they make, then you could get licensed for those indications, and you would become very very rich.

I know this is much harder than making a TENS machine and then claiming that Big Pharma are suppressing a cure, while quietly selling the device with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink based on the hyperbolic claims of websites and delusional books. It is, however, the only ethically defensible route to market, as well as being the only legal one.

And remember, as the article notes, that the Fourier series shows exponentially decreasing magnitude for these harmonics.

That’s where the energy medicine quacks generally fall down: they talk about frequency, but rarely about amplitude, still less attenuation. One of these devices will work on a pathogen in your body about as well as a DAB radio will work at the bottom of a mineshaft, because the signal will be absorbed by all the water, fat and proteins between the surface of the skin and the actual pathological problem..

There is also a tremendous lack of frequency accuracy, but there’s no way for the consumer to know this unless he hooks his device up to an oscilloscope, a lab instrument used to analyze the waveform of electronic signals. In addition, few marketed devices are able to fine-tune the signal enough to hone in on the specific MORs of pathogens—which can and do frequently alter their internal frequencies in an attempt to “dodge the bullet”, says Holman—just as bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.

That’s really funny. The idea of pathogens evolving resistance to quack devices! The thing is, while a bacterium can evolve resistance to an antimicrobial, physical properties such as resonant frequency are inherent. You can’t change them without changing the physical or chemical structure of the organism.

What he’s selling, then, is the New! Improved! quack device. A quack device that does its quackery more accurately than any previous quack device.

Holman claims his company Pulsed Technologies, which he co-founded with software developer Paul Dorneanu, and now has labs in Texas and in Romania, builds equipment that can generate pure signals reaching up to a million hertz, with over 980,000 pulses per second, and alter the shape of the waves produced by fine-tuning individual frequencies down to thousandths of a decimal point (see www.pulsedtech.com).

I hope the elctrosmog folks and the energy medicine folks never turn up to the same pub on the same night, there would be a hell of a set-to.

I’m almost in awe of this guy. He has put a prodigious amount of work into doing something entirely worthless, very accurately indeed.

The human body has an astonishing ability to recover from disease when given a chance, and normal healthy cells typically run at around 85–100 microvolts—which, for a single cell, is an enormous amount of voltage. But because of our modern toxin-laden stress-filled lifestyles, most people’s cells lack sufficient energy. When we’re unhealthy, our cell membranes may be as low as 50 microvolts, says Haltiwanger. (A cancer cell carries a charge of about eight to 15 microvolts, he says.)

This is almost entirely meaningless. The Volt is a unit of potential difference – a cell can’t have a “charge” of anything in Volts, charge is measured in Coulombs, dimensionally these are Ampere-seconds. Cells would have to have a potential of microvolts with respect to something else. The language sounds like batteries, with which readers will be familiar, but there is no meaningful sense in which you can say that normal cells “run at” any voltage.

As Haltiwanger says, you can get a potential difference across a cell membrane, due to the ion concentration gradient. This is a result of the behaviour of the cell wall itself, and artificially increasing the potential would result in only a short term effect before equilibrium was restored. However:

according to these bioelectricity pioneers, applying the correctly tuned waveforms can allow cells to reenergize and revitalize. The technology also helps in the delivery of supplements and medicines at the cellular level.

Well, that’s pure technobabble.

Another application with enormous potential is molecular emulation, or copying, especially of the signaling molecules that assist cells in repairing tissues and protecting chromosomes from the deterioration believed to contribute to ageing.

Hence the interest of the “Life extension”charlatans.

The nick of time?

If the practitioners making use of this technology are to be believed, the possibilities with the use of EM signaling are endless for health and healing.

Indeed. What a shame that they are not to be believed.

Given the recent rise of resistant superbugs, resulting from the overprescription of antibiotics and the overabundance of antibiotics in our foods, it would seem this technology has finally arrived on the medical horizon none too soon.

It’s been around since the 50s. It was quackery then, it is quackery now, it will always be quackery.

[anecdotes of reality-based docs describing antimicrobial resistance]

And now we come to the point where a real health or science journalist’s spidey-sense would be twitching like crazy.

For most people, this news must border on the terrifying. Yet, for scientists like Haltiwanger, Holman, Payne and dozens of others in the EM healing field, there is also a definite upside. The current poor batting average of conventional medicine and the proliferation of doctor-caused illness and death are prompting many to take their health into their own hands.

Yup. What they see is a market. A big market. A market made of desperate people who will pay anything for a cure that medical science can’t deliver. By the time they find out the energy medicine cranks can’t deliver either, it will be too late.

And remember, this is really about the US. In the US, if you get cancer you’re likely to die broke. Is it any wonder that quacks resent the doctors’ monopoly on raiding the retirement funds of terminal patients? Of course they want a piece of the action! They always have wanted it, they always will.

All Holman needs now is for some independent laboratories to test and confirm what many practitioners are claiming for his Rife-inspired machines

Yes, all he needs is what we in the reality-based community call “credible evidence”. If you’re selling something that only works when you test it, not when others do, you are a quack.

[The balance of the article is more testimony from the faithful, and an uncritical history of the life of Royal Rife]

Cate Montana is an author, editor and freelance writer specializing in health and science

Cate Montana is a credulous shill for quacks, frauds and charlatans, specialising in sciencey-sounding bullshit which she clearly does not understand.

Holman and Haltiwanger have a business selling these fraudulent devices. Follow the money.

Regulation: it’s only good when we like the outcome

April 2015’s issue of WDDTY opens with an editorial worthy of David Icke.

The editorial sets the scene with a laudatory description of the “grass-roots campaign” that led to the US Dietary Health and Supplements Education Act (DHSEA) – in reality an astroturfing job coordinated by industry figures such as Gerald Kessler, CEO of supplement maker Nature Plus, in support of a bill sponsored by Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin. Hatch is deeply vested in the supplement industry and Harkin was the sponsor of what was originally called the Office of Alternative Medicine, which became NCCAM and then, following the Orwellian trend of branding the mixing of bullshit with science as “integrative”, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if “Big Pharma” ever tried to do anything this brazen, WDDTY would be marching on Washington (Lynne keeps forgetting she lives in England) with pitchforks and burning torches. The DHSEA gave “Big Herba” carte blanche to market pharmacologically active products with no evidence of safety or efficacy. The free pass given to anything branded as natural is precisely the reason that Ernst Krebs branded the quack cancer cure laetrile – “the slickest, most sophisticated, and certainly the most remunerative cancer quack promotion in medical history” –  as “vitamin B17″.

But with WDDTY, every verb is irregular. They exploit, you cleverly bend the rules, I am a persecuted visionary.

This is merely stage dressing, though, for the thing that’s really got WDDTY’s goat this month: a raid on the factory producing the unproven “miracle cure” gCMAF. WDDTY fulminates against the “flak jackets” who confiscated 10,000 vials of the “naturally occurring” substance. Space was obviously insufficient to note that the substance “naturally occurs” in blood, and was being prepared in an unlicensed facility from blood products clearly marked “Not to be administered to humans or used in any drug products“.

Imagine what WDDTY would say if they found a drug being marketed without proper approval, in an unlicensed and sub-standard facility, using  raw materials marked unfit for human use.

You do have to imagine it, because this pretty much never happens outside the world of quackery.

Next, WDDTY lays into the killing of the Saatchi Bill, which claimed to protect patients by allowing responsible innovation but in fact would only have protected those engaging in irresponsible maverick acts, from any consequences. It was opposed by every major medical research body, by doctors, by lawyers who defend doctors, and in fact by pretty much anybody who actually knew what they were talking about. Needless to say WDDTY thought it was a marvellous idea: it would have protected the likes of Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield, who they have previously supported, and probably would have spared Dr Sarah Myhill much angst.

In fact, it is remarkable how rarely even the most egregious quackery is shut down by the GMC.

The editorial concludes with a thought about creating a “DHSEA-style grass-roots movement” and putting the support of unproven quack remedies natural medicines on the political map in the UK. Of course they already are, but no doubt WDDTY columnist and supplement profiteer Rob Verkerk will be right there watering the grass.

In the real world, whether a thing is natural or not is of no consequence. It’s either a medicine, in which case it should be regulated, or it’s not, and should not be sold as one.

What "What Doctors Don't Tell You" Don't Tell You

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