Category Archives: WWDDTYDTY

News for June 2017

Some of our more assiduous readers may have noticed that the blog has been a little quiet over the last 18 months or so. This is not because The Blessed McTaggart and the rest of the WDDTY magic miracle cure merchants have seen the error of their ways. We wish. If anything, they’re worse than before.

No, we’ve just all had to deal with real life, which includes dodgy servers and people trying very hard to hack the blog. In the latter case: we know who they are, we just don’t know why they’re doing this; therefore (unlike a certain charlatan we all know) we’re not going to point fingers and scream “conspiracy”.

Anyway, we’re still here and we’ll try to at least keep you posted on the latest debunking posts on WDDTY from around the Web. We may even post a bit more ourselves.

We need to warn you that blog taxonomy has been revised, for the simple reason that WDDTY has started numbering their issues from Vol. 01 again. If you can’t find a post, drop us a line in the comments and we’ll dig it out for you.

WDDTY Bingo

We are much indebted to  for finding this little gem and for Chris at osric.com for programming it.

Ladies an’ ginnelmin, we proudly present:

Make your own WDDTY Bingo Cards.

This game can be played wherever sane people foregather to read the latest edition of WDDTY (you seriously don’t expect everyone to buy their own, do you? Even throwing away cash on one copy of this irredeemable drivel breaks our hearts), or watch one of the Great One’s YouTubed speeches, or the latest outpouring on her blog.

HOW TO PLAY

Check over the list of words and phrases and add more if you wish. Print out a set of cards for each player. Decide on how the wildcard square “Blessed Lynne Free Space” should be used. Hit the one person who objects to the majority decision until they shut up.

Read through, or listen to, the immortal prose and cross off the words or phrases as you go.

The winner is the first player to get a full house (card) . What they win should also be decided beforehand, but at worst DIMBLEBOT has some suggestions.

Crying “wolf”

Remember all those tearful posts and editorials about WDDTY being bullied? Well, here’s a crystal clear explanation of what they consider to be bullying.

PS it’s a spoof account, taken over by real human beings when WDDTY – who had been using it for some time – went back to @wddty recently. That is: @_WDDTY is a spoof. The other one is very, very real.

Alan Hunter’s wibble

andrew-neil1Alan Hunter is an obvious crank. He is also a quack trying to horn in on the allergies market. Allergology is a notorious difficult and complex field, which of course makes it an ideal hunting ground for snake oil salesmen of all descriptions.

Hunter is a compulsive spammer who  is now barred from using our email feedback form because he seems unable to comprehend the simple business of comments under blog posts. Unlike Lynne McTaggart, we don’t believe in suppression of speech (mockery is a far more effective way of addressing opposition), so this is a placeholder for a series of his differently-coherent replies copied and pasted from our feedback system.

Apologies for lack of formatting, this is a result of picking them out of the spam bin.

There are contributions here fomr other websites, not just WWDDTYDTY: if you’ve been the “beneficiary” of Alan’s “wisdom”, feel free to send it in. Please include the date and time of receipt (we might, if we can be arsed, track the coefficient of blether against time – it’s noticeable that the posts written after the pubs shut are the least coherent).

Feel free to reply to his tirades in the comments below, especially if you can go one step further than “Ha ha ha! Fuckwit”.

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.

Are West Africans dying needlessly of Ebola for the sake of Pharma profits?

No.

Thanks for reading.

Oh, wait, what? Ah. Rob Verkerk wants to add his peerless insight. Let’s see how that goes. Advance notice: there is a word I am really struggling not to use here. It is a very short word, beginning with C and ending with -unt. Read on, and be prepared to be very very angry.

Visiting Sierra Leone amidst the Ebola crisis is an experience that will remain deeply etched into my memory. The single most outstanding feature is the resilience of the people. Villages like Kigbal have lost about half their population to Ebola, yet the villagers still greeted us with warm, broad smiles-even the now mostly orphaned children. Only when reminded of their loss do the cracks appear and the depth of their loss emerges. One woman has lost four children and her husband to Ebola, while her two remaining children are still fighting for their lives. Despite her pain, she still stood proud and strong, ready for another day.

Rob, one simple question.

What the fuck were you doing in Sierra Leone?

Seriously. What the fuck?

You have no medical qualifications. You are not a doctor. This is a health emergency, and every single person in the area is at risk. Every single Westerner has to be watched and monitored to prevent them bringing the disease back. A westerner who gets infected has to be evacuated, which is a monstrous cost in resources that are already stretched to breaking point.

Have you ever heard of Dr. Martin Salia? Nina Pham RN? Dr. Craig Allen Spencer? Thomas Eric Duncan? Do you read newspapers? Listen to the radio? Watch TV? Do you have access to the internet? Because, and I am really struggling not to shout here, it is blindingly obvious that this is no place to play doctor.

You have gone to a disaster zone, basically as a fucking tourist, and you have gone without the only thing they ACTUALLY NEED: medical skills. You have imposed a cost and a burden on an area already groaning under the weight of a crisis that is barely under control. For what? To boost your own ego and your own profits? Or because you are actually so dangerously deluded that you think your facile remedies for the worried well are a valid intervention?

I am really struggling to think of a third option here, and neither makes you look good.

I also won’t forget the international presence-the logistics personnel organizing medical supplies and protective equipment, the foreign, especially British, army presence, and the fleets of World Health Organization (WHO), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) vehicles and staff.

Indeed. People with, you know, relevant medical expertise. The world’s religions have sent doctors and money. The worlds quacks have sent quacks. And the people of Sierra Leone, assuming good faith, let them in, only to discover that they were there for propaganda.

To the endless credit of the locals, the quacks were not lynched but sent home.

There’s also the sharp contrast between the elaborate foreign aid-built Ebola treatment centres and those built with local money, sometimes with the help of smaller non-governmental organizations. These are often built around vacated schools and community centres, with wooden frames made of tree branches, and walls and ceilings of UNICEF tarpaulin. There are around 200 of these around the country.

Yup. Sierra Leone is dirt poor. Send money, some of the cash you make from the legion of the credulous worried well.

These centres and the logistic operations are the only proven medicine against Ebola so far. They allow people with signs of fever or other symptoms of the deadly virus to be removed from their communities by ambulance, often within minutes of trained health workers-who are monitoring communities continuously-dialing the 117 emergency number on their mobiles.

And let us not forget what a staggering logistical achievement this is, given the infrastructure challenges. It’s a good job no tourists are clogging up the roads. Except you.

Once extracted, these people no longer pose a threat to their community, but are generally facing a 70 to 90 per cent certainty of death if positive for Ebola. Following death, burial is ideally within 24 hours, and a huge countrywide government campaign has been largely successful in re-educating communities to avoid their traditional practices for honouring the dead, which include touching the corpse.

25% to 90% depending on outbreak. Medical care has got survival to around 50/50 in Sierra Leone, which is average for outbreaks with good medical support, thanks to actual doctors (not vitamin pill salesmen, Rob, people with actual medical qualifications).

And the local religious communities have been doing an amazing job training people that this is a bad move, and trying to work out ways of protecting the living while honouring the dead.

Think about that for a minute. Your response is less reality-based than the religious community.

If a person brought to a holding centre tests negative, and has malaria or cholera or even morning sickness from pregnancy-which has similar symptoms to Ebola in the early stages-that person is discharged. Once discharged, though, the sad reality is that the person is now more likely to die of those other diseases or in childbirth, as the country’s healthcare system is stretched to the limits dealing with Ebola.

Correct. That’s why they need more doctors and nurses, not quacks. How many doctors and nurses did you take with you, Rob, and why did you not just send them and stay at home yourself, not being a doctor or a nurse?

Thought not.

Would now be a good time to remind everybody that 365 PEOPLE DIED A BLOODY AND AGONISING DEATH BECAUSE A TRADITIONAL “HEALER” THOUGHT SHE KNEW MORE THAN THE MEDICAL FRATERNITY?

Sorry, I said I wouldn’t shout. But, well.

The care of patients in the treatment and holding centres is largely dictated by the WHO and CDC. But one stunning fact is that their guidelines don’t advocate the use of intravenous (IV) support. This is almost unthinkable, as most Ebola patients suffer chronic dehydration due to severe vomiting and diarrhoea. It’s no surprise that one British police officer who was managing the Ebola patient extraction system and burials referred to these centres as ‘death camps’.

Gosh, I am sure the massive interdisciplinary teams of doctors, nurses, virologists and other medical researchers will be profoundly grateful for your insight, because it’s clear that they won’t have thought about this at all. It’s not as if each health worker has the potential to save a large number of lives, making them a scarce and valuable pool of resource, after all. And there are almost no reports of health workers being infected by needle stick injuries are there?

Frankly, your facile pontifications are about as useful as Matthias Rath in an AIDS epidemic. No, actually less useful: at least he is actually a doctor.

Could more lives be saved? Could more be done to improve outcomes for those struck by Ebola? I believe the answer to both is a resounding’yes’.

No doubt the Nobel Prize is in the post. After all, the WHO only has a few thousand trained staff on the ground. They must be gagging for the input of vitamin salesmen.

The best clinical evidence comes from Sierra Leonean Dr Santigie Sesay, who runs the Hastings treatment centre outside Freetown. After receiving training from the WHO – which recommends no IV in Ebola patients largely because of the risk of needle-stick injuries and cross infection to nursing staff – he and his medical team decided to act otherwise. Given that dehydration is an obvious major issue in these patients, they decided to administer IV dextrose and saline along with broad-spectrum antiobiotics and multivitamins. These simple interventions are consistently saving a further 20 per cent of lives, with the death toll falling from 60 per cent to 40 per cent of confirmed cases of Ebola before and after, respectively, the introduction of these interventions.

They take the risk, they are the ones who may die. I am in awe of their professionalism and dedication. But the average death rate form controlled Ebola outbreaks is only 50%, so it’s a big risk: they are deeply vested in the community and they should be celebrated in the same way as other medical martyrs.

That doesn’t make the WHO advice wrong. There is a reason why we celebrate first responders who enter burning buildings to rescue people. And there is a reason why orders are given against this.

The entire point of a co-ordinated response is to place objective judgments ahead of emotion. And yes, it can look callous, especially to those who have an agenda and don’t bother to think it through.

One can only wonder what would happen if more elaborate nutritional protocols were introduced, ones designed to enhance cellular hydration, modulate the immune system, reduce virus levels in the body and support recovery.

Jesus fucking wept. The period from diagnosis to death or survival is typically a week or so from first symptoms, maybe only a few days from diagnosis, during much of which time the patient is typically  emitting fluids from every bodily orifice.

Do you really think they haven’t thought about the role of hydration?

Seriously?

That is breathtakingly arrogant. Really, monstrous hubris.

Because, you know, there are some pretty smart people on the case. And your “insight” is pretty bloody facile when you consider that the standard of care has reduce fatality from around 90% to around 50% over successive outbreaks. The fatality rate in the Zaire outbreak was 88%, the Sierra Leone outbreak is, as noted, around 50%.

What could they have achieved if only they’d listened to you, eh?

But the current West African Ebola epidemic is as much a health and economic crisis for the region as it is a political tool being manipulated by Western interests. Would it be advantageous for the West to find an inexpensive solution to Ebola that could be administered locally to help break the transmission cycle?

Perhaps they could try talking sternly to it?

Or maybe, you know, they could try something really difficult, like developing a vaccine. And yes, that is staggeringly difficult for this disease.

Because in the end massive multidisciplinary medical teams are not bad at working out the best approach for dealing with a disease, it’s just that delivering the cure or preventative is normally rather harder than sitting in an office writing about it form the perspective of no realistic understanding whatsoever.

Surely not, as the high mortality rates drive fear about Ebola in both West Africa and everywhere else in the world. And bear in mind that GSK’ s vaccine, at the time of writing, is being prepped for release. Is this another example of that well-oiled business model favoured by pharmaceutical interests: first create the problem, then provide the solution? The ultimate travesty is that so many lives are being lost-and many of them perhaps needlessly.

Rob, you are an idiot. A fact-blind, agenda-driven idiot.

Vaccines are not profitable. Vaccines for rare diseases of dirt-poor countries are seriously unprofitable. Two companies have put substantial resources into developing a vaccine that will not make either of them very much money.

Did it not occur to you that they might be doing this because it’s the right thing, rather than for your own motives, profit and ideology?

No, of course it didn’t.

Idiot.

7 ways to a dumber you

This WDDTY article has also been placed in Families magazine (it’s not the first time WDDTY have weaselled their dangerously misleading claptrap into a mainstream family-oriented publication). You might feel motivated to contact the magazine and warn them that they’ve been had.

School’s about to get tougher this September, but you can boost your child’s brain power at any age

This is one of those statements beloved of cranks and charlatans which is, according to the evidence, false. Virtually everything ever sold as “boosting” intelligence, from Omega-3 oils to brain gym, is essentially fraudulent, promoted on the basis of tiny studies run by people selling the product.

[…] WDDTY  has assembled seven of the most important steps you can take to ensure your child can keep up with the new demands on brain power, and five things that are sure to lead to dumbing down. Although many of the steps have to do with nutrients and diet, other practices and environmental influences have measurable effects on the IQ (intelligence quotient) too.

This is the important bit because it asserts that:

  1. These things will have a measurable effect on IQ (let’s not go into why IQ is irrelevant);
  2. These are the most important steps you can take.

What’s the betting they are bullshit? No takers? Oh well.

The good news is that it’s not too late even if your children are already in their teens. Brain research shows that its neural structure is not hard-wired from childhood, as we used to believe, but plastic—or changeable—depending on nutrition and other factors like which parts of the brain are being used.

Brian plasticity is a fertile ground for quacks right now. It is a thing, but the evidence that you can use it to make wholesale changes is weak. Wikipedia has an article that’s probably worth reading: malleability of intelligence.

  1. Give them protein for breakfast and don’t let them leave home without eating

This hardly qualifies as something your doctor doesn’t tell you and may be included in order to get the later conspiracist payload past the editors of mainstream publications.

The evidence is actually not particularly robust, but it’s plausible and most authorities advise a good breakfast before school.

When two groups of children were tested again as adolescents, those who’d been given a high-protein diet as babies had higher verbal IQ scores, and brain scans revealed their caudate nuclei were larger.1

Source 1: Pediatr Res, 2008; 63: 308-14. It would be necessary to unpick other dietary factors. Here’s the paper, which specifically discussed preterm births:

To test the hypothesis that the caudate nucleus could be a neural substrate for cognitive effects of early nutrition, we compared two groups of adolescents, assigned a Standard- or High-nutrient diet in the postnatal weeks after preterm birth.

So, this is of questionable relevance to full term births (preterm infants are a very specific set of children with significant numbers of complications depending on exactly how early they are born).

Suffice it to say that, in the words of Ben Goldacre, “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that”.

Serving a high-protein breakfast makes children more alert because it lowers levels of the brain chemical serotonin.

The source doesn’t say that, as far as I can tell.

Although we tend to load children with processed carbohydrates for breakfast, usually in the form of processed cereals, carbs—which promote the production of serotonin—tend to make you drowsy. If you opt instead for healthy cereals like muesli, add nuts to boost the protein content.

Oooh, processed. No wonder it’s evil. Oh wait: virtually everything we eat is “processed” in some way, even if the only processing is washing or removing a shell.

And make eating breakfast non-negotiable. If your child refuses to eat much, make a high-protein smoothie with yoghurt or tofu.

Yes, a massive confrontation before school is bound to really help.

  1. Make sure they eat their greens (and yellows, reds and oranges)

Again, this hardly qualifies as a thing doctors don’t tell you, and again it’s possible that it’s there to pass the “truthiness” test and get the reader onboard and receptive to the later payload of bullshit.

No doubt about it anymore. New evidence shows that children who eat a diet high in fruit and veg have higher IQs than those who subsist on a diet of processed and sugary foods.

Post-hoc fallacy sensors are twitching here.

Based on data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which tracked some 14,000 children born in 1992 and 1992, a recent five-year analysis showed a direct correlation between eating habits and IQ scores.

J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech.2010.111955.

Conclusion There is evidence that a poor diet associated with high fat, sugar and processed food content in early childhood may be associated with small reductions in IQ in later childhood, while a healthy diet, associated with high intakes of nutrient rich foods described at about the time of IQ assessment may be associated with small increases in IQ.

The relevance of IQ remains questionable, and there is no obvious way of controlling for coincident factors – it is vastly more likely that children of more intelligent, better educated parents, with correspondingly higher genetic predisposition to intelligence, will eat a better diet. The effect is weak enough that listing this at No. 2 seems on the face of it to be hard to defend.

If your children are preschool, it’s the best time to start if you want maximum benefits, although it’s never too late to turn a bad diet around.2

Reference  2: JEpidemiol Community Health, 2012; 66: 624-8, as above. Note how a tentative conclusion with much hedging, passed through the filter of WDDTY’s Ideology-O-Tron, turns into firm and definitive conclusions. It’s like the Daily Mail only worse.

  1. Ditch all dental fluorides

This is (a) complete tosh and (b) actively harmful.

Reducing dental fluoridation will result in one thing, and one thing only: children with worse teeth. Contrary tot he hysterical scaremongering of WDDTY and its fellow travellers, dentists are not, in fact, pursuing a pro-fluoride agenda as tools of their sinister chemical industry paymasters, they promote use of dental fluoride because all the evidence says it improves dental health.

Research shows that fluoride is a neurotoxin that accumulates in brain tissue and affects brain development, yet chances are your children and you are drowning in the stuff. On average, we ingest up to 1,000 times more fluoride than any other heavy metal through fluoridated water, food and dental products that have added fluoride.

This is the “toxin gambit”. If you drink enough water, you’ll die. There is no credible evidence that exposure to fluoride at the levels recommended by dentists poses any risk whatsoever.

The latest evidence from Harvard confirms that high levels of fluoride in drinking water dramatically lower IQs in children, and may even cause or exacerbate learning difficulties in children born with lower IQs. The researchers, who analyzed 27 previously published papers, found a direct link between IQ scores and levels of fluoride in the public water supply. Children living in low-fluoride areas consistently had IQ scores a significant 0.45 points higher than children in high-fluoride regions—a difference that can also have a substantial negative impact on children already at the lower end of the IQ spectrum by causing greater learning difficulties.3

Reference 3 is Environ Health Perspect, 2012; 120: 1362-8; see also the press release, authors’ statement and followup study.

As the authors say,

These results do not allow us to make any judgment regarding possible levels of risk at levels of exposure typical for water fluoridation in the U.S. On the other hand, neither can it be concluded that no risk is present. We therefore recommend further research to clarify what role fluoride exposure levels may play in possible adverse effects on brain development, so that future risk assessments can properly take into regard this possible hazard.

In the hands of WDDTY this morphs into: never let fluoride anywhere near your child, even though there is no evidence at all linking fluoride toothpaste to any of this and all the sources got o great lengths to say that any effect is entirely dependent on dose.

The followup paper makes this clear:

Results: Dental fluorosis score was the exposure indicator that had the strongest association with the outcome deficits, and the WISC-IV digit span subtest appeared to be the most sensitive outcome, where moderate and severe fluorosis was associated with a digit span total score difference of − 4.28 (95% CI − 8.22, − 0.33) and backward score with − 2.13 (95% CI − 4.24, − 0.02).

Dental fluorosis is a condition caused by excessive exposure to fluoride, generally in water supplies with high natural levels, or from dietary sources such as brick tea. Fluorosis from supplies with added fluoride is rare, and no documented fluorosis from toothpaste is evident in the cited sources.

Choose dental products like toothpaste free of fluoride (see page 86 for a good selection). If you’re worried about your child’s teeth, get an electric toothbrush, teach them how to floss properly and opt for fissure sealants for those especially at risk.

For comparison, read the CDC advice on fluoride, which says that once the permanent dentition has emerged, typically around 6 years, fluoride toothpaste should be used. This is in line with the advice of dentists.

  1. Feed them the good fats

Top of this list are, of course, the omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) found in fish oils. Fish oils contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are both omega-3 fats. EPA and DHA have numerous effects that make them superior to flaxseed and other vegetable sources of omega-3s.

Refuted. Follow the money.

Seriously. How hard is it to check well-known debunked claims? If there is one thing WDDTY ought to be able to do, it’s pick out profitable health scams; that is what they set themselves up as doing. But, as always, if the profit goes to their friends, they are perfectly content to promote the scam.

Flaxseed oils contain alpha-linolenic acid (LNA, used by the body to make EPA and DHA), but the amount of LNA converted to EPA can be very low.4

Source 4 is a WDDTY “twofer”: Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 2000; 63: 287-92 and AmJ Clin Nutr, 2006; 83: S1467-76.

Technically sound enough, but of no obvious relevance given that randomised controlled trials show that Omega-3 makes no actual difference to educational performance. (the human body is good at homeostasis: normally if more than the required amount of any essential nutrient is ingested, it is simply excreted, at least up to its toxic dose).

Although it’s always been thought that 14 per cent of LNA is converted to EPA, in one study only 0.2 per cent of the LNA in a flaxseed oil supplement was available for conversion to EPA compared with 23 per cent of the EPA in fish oil available for conversion to DHA.5

Source 5: J Lipid Res, 2001; 42: 1257-65, Physiological compartmental analysis of alpha-linolenic acid metabolism in adult humans. Which concludes that “dietary eicosapentaenoic acid may be well utilized in the biosynthesis of 22:6n-3 in humans”.

Great news, but how is it relevant to children’s educational performance? The answer is, of course, that the evidence showing that Omega-3 makes no odds, means that it is not relevant.

I’d be frankly astounded in the WDDTY editors understood that paper, incidentally: it’s extremely difficult for a non-specialist to read, I didn’t understand it, but unlike WDDTY I don’t mind admitting that.

Copious research confirms that fish-oil supplements can dramatically accelerate learning.

No, it really does not. In fact, randomised controlled trial evidence directly refutes it.

In one small study, after just three months of taking two supplements a day of  VegEPA, which contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, children were a year ahead of their peers in reading ability, and demonstrated far neater and more accurate handwriting.

“One small study”. Versus a large RCT.

Brain scans also showed far higher levels of NAA (N-acetylaspartate), a biochemical indicator of brain development, an improvement normally seen only after three years of growth. The study children were also encouraged to cut down on fast foods and fizzy drinks, and to exercise more.6

That’s what they call “confounders” in the trade. Source 6 is a BBC News article from 2007 parroting the claims of Omega-3 advocates.

Why cite a 2007 study which alludes to a trial without then quoting the results of the trial?

Despite the wide range of cognitive and behavioural outcome measures employed, only three significant differences between groups were found after 16 weeks, one of which was in favour of the placebo condition. Exploring the associations between changes in fatty acid levels and changes in test and questionnaire scores also produced equivocal results. These findings are discussed in relation to previous findings with clinical populations and future implications for research.

So, the studies showing that Omega-3 levels can be boosted, are not contentious, but they are begging the question. The idea that this has any meaningful effect, is not supported by the latest and best available evidence.

[…] when omega-3s are consumed, they interfere with the triglyceride process and reestablish healthy nerve growth.7

Source 7: Br J Nutr, 2013; 109: 1573-89 . A study looking at neurogenesis in obese adults, nothing to do with cognitive performance is mentioned, but potential modifiers for behaviours related to obesity are: “Exploration of the effects of nutraceuticals on neurogenic brain regions may encourage the development of new rational therapies in the fight against obesity”.

This paper is not obviously relevant to the claims it is being used to support.

And don’t shy away from fish. Although concerns have been raised about mercury levels and other pollutants in fish, researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health believe that the goodness in fish outweighs any dangers from the methylmercury they absorb from swimming in polluted waters. Also, two servings of oily fish a week can protect a child from ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), they say.8

Oh the irony. WDDTY promotes the entirely bogus claim that ethylmercury in vaccines causes autism, but happily pushes methylmercury even though it is a potent neurotoxin (which ethyl mercury is not).

Reference 8: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2012; 166, 1123-31.

Low-level prenatal mercury exposure is associated with a greater risk of ADHD-related behaviors, and fish consumption during pregnancy is protective of these behaviors. These findings underscore the difficulties of balancing the benefits of fish intake with the detriments of low-level mercury exposure in developing dietary recommendations in pregnancy.

Se the word “prenatal”? By the time your child is at school, it’s probably a bit late.

For supplements, nutritional expert Dr Leo Galland, author of Superimmunity for Kids, recommends one 15-mL Tbsp of flaxseed oil or a 5-mL tsp of cod liver oil a day, or 2 Tbsp of walnut oil daily. One caveat: fish oils can lower blood levels of vitamin E (and other fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A), so if you give your children fish-oil supplements, make sure to give them at least 100 IU of vitamin E to counteract this effect.9 Or simply add fish to the diet.

Source 9: another twofer, Am J Clin Nutr, 1993; 58: 98-102 and Br J Nutr, 1992; 68: 163-73. The former study on Healthy men (ages 24-57), the latter on “nine healthy male subjects”.

Supplements to “fix” the effects of other changes you made to “fix” something they don’t fix anyway. How about this for an alternative? Eat a normal, healthy balanced diet and forget the expensive supplements.

Leo Galland reportedly believes that Kathleen Hanna had “chronic Lyme disease” or possibly the real Lyme disease. Make of that what you will.

Don’t overlook saturated fats

Although the received wisdom has it that saturated fats are bad for children and contribute to ADHD, they actually assist in the conversion of EFAs into the long-chain forms the body needs. Saturated fatty acids are mostly present in animal fats, which also carry copious amounts of vitamins D and A, also crucial for brain development (see number 5). In fact, parents who restrict saturated fats like butter and meat in the belief that they contribute to ADHD may simply be making the problem worse. Always choose butter over margarine and full-fat milk over skimmed (and preferably use organic milk that hasn’t been homogenized and, if possible, pasteurized).

Wait, let’s just read that again:

preferably use organic milk that hasn’t been homogenized and, if possible, pasteurized

Thanks to recent tragic events in Australia, the world is now much more aware of the reasons why milk is pasteurised.

This perfectly exemplifies WDDTY’s approach: the triumph of ideology over sanity.

  1. Chuck them outside

Children stay indoors so much these days in front of the TV or computer that nearly three-quarters of American children are low in vitamin D, the vitamin that mostly comes from sunshine, according to new data released by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This translates to up to 58 million American children with an “insufficiency” or downright deficiency of the vitamin, leading to high blood pressure, rickets and unhealthy bones. But the vitamin is also crucial for the health and development of the nervous system, including the brain. As Britain has even less sunshine than the US, it’s likely that the problem is every bit as severe in this country. Researchers blame the problem on sedentary lives spent indoors watching TV or playing computer games together with the overuse of powerful sunblocks.

So here we once again have WDDTY advocating exposing your children to direct sunlight without sunblock. Because, you know, skin cancer is natural.

Vitamin D deficiency does cause rickets. Most Western children do not have rickets, because most Western children are not deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D insufficiency is thought to be more common among older adults living in Northern latitudes, especially those with black skin and poor diets, but that has little to do with kids.

Yes, do let your kids play outside. Encourage it, even. But do it for the right reasons and protect them from strong sunlight.

So make sure that children are out in the sunshine for at least 15 to 20 minutes a day, says researcher Michal Melamed at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University. And unless they burn easily, don’t put sunscreen on them until they’ve been out in the sun for at least 10 minutes.10

Reference 10: Pediatrics, 2009; 124: e362-70, which is at least relevant to children.

What does the paper say about sunscreen? Nothing. That is WDDTY’s editorialising, and we already know that their views on sunscreen are insane, and thanks to Dr. Margaret McCartney, so should they.

  1. Keep metal out of their mouths (and everywhere else)

Get rid of mercury in your own mouth (if you’re pregnant) and don’t allow your children to have ‘silver’ fillings—ever.

Complete nonsense. According to WDDTY mercury in fish is perfectly safe, mercury in vaccines causes autism, and mercury in fillings is toxic. In every case this is the opposite of the truth.

Having amalgam fillings removed may well expose you to far higher levels of mercury than leaving them in situ, and composite fillings have a limited life (think of the X-rays that will be sued before replacing fillings).

Research has found a direct link between levels of mercury in the mother’s hair at the time of birth and the likelihood of the child developing ADHD. One study found that for every 1 mcg/g (microgram per gram) of mercury in the mother’s hair sample, the child was 1.4 times more likely to be inattentive and 1.8 times more likely to be hyperactive by the age of eight.11

Source 11: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2012; 166: 1182-4. A commentary. It would not be a surprise if environmental mercury had this effect, but there is no credible evidence that amalgam fillings do.

Like fluoride, the aluminium sulphate present in our water supply has also been found to cause brain damage.

Once again, the toxin gambit. The dose makes the poison, and when WDDTY says “the aluminium sulphate found in our water supply” they don’t actually mean the aluminium sulphate found in our water supply, they mean much higher concentrations of aluminium sulphate. Remember that the dihydrogen monoxide found in our water supplies is toxic.

After 20 tonnes of aluminium was accidentally emptied into a water reservoir serving 20,000 people in Cornwall, a considerable number of those affected began suffering from problems with memory and concentration, 400 of them even after two years.

Indeed. A shocking accident, and one which, as far as we can tell, is unique, It produced vastly higher levels of aluminium than normal. And when I say vastly higher, I really do mean it.

The maximum recorded aluminium concentration was 620,000 micrograms per litre compared with the maximum concentration admissible at the time by the European Community of 200 micrograms per litre. The normal level is of course below 200μg/l, as that’s the limit.

That’s over 3,000 times the normal exposure, and the effects, though measurable, are not acute, but chronic.

All of which really rather refutes the claim that normal levels of aluminium in water are any danger at all, and strongly supports the safety of the much more conservative limits normally applied.

When researchers examined them further and compared them with their siblings who hadn’t been exposed, they found similar blood concentrations of aluminium, but vast differences on actual test parameters.

Those who’d been exposed to the toxic dumping performed worse on tests measuring motor skills, memory and concentration, suggesting that the aluminium from the accident wasn’t in their blood at all, but had lodged in the brain.

The aluminium also caused elevated levels of sulphuric acid, which in turn caused lead and other contaminants to enter the water supply. WDDTY’s analysis is so facile that it’s really quite hard to anchor it back to reality.

Other studies have shown that exposure to aluminium causes changes in the brain similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease.12

Really? No, not really. According to the Alzheimer’s society:

During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in Alzheimer’s. This suspicion led to concern about exposure to aluminum through everyday sources such as pots and pans, beverage cans, antacids and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.

So, more alarmist claptrap from WDDTY.

Source 12: BMJ, 1999; 319: 807-11 (reliable);    J Orthomol Med, 2000; 15: 21-51 (highly unreliable – orthomolecular quacks are the ones who promote vitamins as the cure for everything – hence it’s not indexed in the PubMeds).

Besides aluminium, children with developmental and behavioural problems may have high blood concentrations of lead. Researchers from the South & West Devon Health Authority examined samples from 69 ‘problem’ children and found significantly higher lead concentrations in their blood than in 136 normal control children; 12 per cent even had toxic concentrations (more than 100 mg/L) of the neurotoxic metal.13

Source 13: Arch Dis Child, 2001; 85: 286-8. Lead is of course a well-known neurotoxin, which is why tetra-ethyl lead is no longer used in petrol.

This finding is neither surprising nor remotely secret. The thing about Devon and the South-West is that it’s an area well known for the mining of lead, tin and other metals. And these make their way into the water. Naturally. If you drink spring water in the South-West, entirely unprocessed, you will almost certainly be exposing yourself to heavy metals. Better stick to tap water, which is tested for excessive levels of these things.

  1. Encourage them to meditate

Meditation appears to permanently enhance brain receptivity. Several studies have tested the effect of meditation on our ability to react to repetitive stimuli like light flashes or clicks. Ordinarily a person gets used to the clicks and so, in a sense, the brain switches off and stops reacting. But studies show that the brains of meditators continue to react to the stimuli—an indication of a heightened perception of every moment.14

Electroenceph Clin Neurophysiol, 1975; 39: 519-22; 1957; Suppl 7; 132-49. Too old to be indexed I think.

 

This may be sound but should be viewed with care, in the same way that studies on yoga have to be carefully assessed to see if there is a difference from any other form of gentle flexibility-based exercise (and guess what? There isn’t: the spiritual component is irrelevant).

We should remember that WDDTY’s editors have a tendency to believe in new age mumbo-jumbo, so treat any assertions in regard of spiritual earth mother behaviours with at least some skepticism.

Mindfulness meditation (non-judgmental focus on everyday activities with your five senses) helps meditators remain exquisitely sensitive to external stimuli. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital-East using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure minuscule changes in the brain discovered that experienced meditators have a significant increase of signalling in the neural structures of the brain involved in attention. This neural activity evolves over time and increases with meditative experience.15

Source 15: Neuroreport, 2000; 11: 1581-5. An unsurprising result that doctors told you.

 

Never cook with aluminium utensils and opt for an under-sink filtration system that removes all heavy metals like lead from the water supply. If your house is old, check what your pipes are made of too.

This one could have done with a source, but it didn’t get one. Because it’s rubbish.

Myth 4: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots and pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in Alzheimer’s. This suspicion led to concern about exposure to aluminum through everyday sources such as pots and pans, beverage cans, antacids and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.

So unlike WDDTY to peddle a decades-old refuted myth.

And now:

5 kiddy brain killers

1- Junk food

A diet heavy on ‘kiddy foods’ like fish fingers, fast-food burgers and other processed stuff prevents the brain from generating new nerve cells by suppressing hormones that protect neurons and stimulate their growth, while increasing the production of inflammatory molecules and triglyceride fats.1

Source 1: Br J Nutr, 2013; 109: 1573–89. “Relationships between dietary macronutrients and adult neurogenesis in the regulation of energy metabolism”, cited above. See that word “adult”? And the abstract ends:

Exploration of the effects of nutraceuticals on neurogenic brain regions may encourage the development of new rational therapies in the fight against obesity.

Relevance of adult obesity to educational performance in children is not explained.

Moving along…

And most processed foods contain trans fatty acids, which inhibit conversion to long-chain fatty acids like omega-3s.

Aside from lowering your child’s IQ, fast food increases the risk of severe asthma by a whopping 39 per cent in teens and 27 per cent in younger children. Researchers from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) came to this conclusion after surveying 319,000 teens and 181,000 six-year-olds living in 51 countries about the food they ate and illnesses they had. A clear association emerged between eating fast food and immune-related diseases like asthma and eczema.2

Source 2: Thorax. 2013 Apr;68(4):351-60. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202285.

BACKGROUND: Certain foods may increase or decrease the risk of developing asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema. We explored the impact of the intake of types of food on these diseases in Phase Three of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood

CONCLUSIONS: If the association between fast foods and the symptom prevalence of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema is causal, then the findings have major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally.

The relevance to an article purportedly on intellectual performance is not explained. The anti-“processed”-because-natural agenda hardly needs to be pointed out.

It’s almost impossible to ban junk food from children’s diets altogether, but you can make it more difficult by never having it at home.

Sure. But then, this is just a pat on the back for the WDDTY readership because the mag is targeted at middle-class affluent mummies who would not have junk food int he house anyway.

WDDTY does this a lot: hands out “advice” that is blindingly obvious and consonant with the beliefs of its readers, a form of reinforcement that makes it more likely they will believe the gigantic dollops of codswallop that follow.

2-  Fizzy drinks

While you’re at it, keep soft drinks out of the kitchen larder too. You may pop a teaspoon of sugar into your tea or coffee every morning, but every time children drink a 330-mL can of any soft drink, they’re swallowing some 10 teaspoonsful of sugar, which will certainly not help the learning go down.Get them into the habit of drinking water and juice at home.

Source 3: J Epidemiol Community Health, 2006; 60: 750, a paper on the role of sugar consumption in childhood obesity.  Full text on the net, no mention of learning at all.

So this is another of WDDTY’s standard techniques: a finding (in this case a well known and obvious one) cited as a “reference” to an assertion that it simply does not support.

3-  Wheat

Wheat (as well as soy, barley and rye) has high levels of glutamic and aspartic acids, which can affect the brain’s neurons, causing overactivation of the nerve-cell receptors and possibly leading to nerve injury.4

Source 4: “Ji S. The Dark Side of Wheat—New Perspectives on Celiac Disease & Wheat Intolerance; available online at www.greenmedinfo.com”. Absolutely not a reliable source (in fact, promoting glutenbollocks).

As covered in our June 2013 issue, wheat is toxic to the brain because each grain of wheat contains a substance called ‘wheat germ agglutinin’ (WGA), which is highly toxic and inflammatory to the heart, brain and immune system.And the antioxidant agents in wheat called ‘phytates’ interfere with vital minerals (calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium) that are essential for the growing brain.

Source 5: Brain Res, 1986; 393: 169–75. Scarcely exciting new research, more like dumpster diving through the literature in order to support a hypothesis. And the title: Wheat germ agglutinin inhibits nerve fiber growth and concanavalin A stimulates nerve fiber initiation in cultures of dorsal root ganglia neurons. What happens when you try to transfer this finding in cultures, into human bodies? Tumbleweed. Yes, this was covered in June 2013. It was bollocks then as well, but we’ll have to get back to that when time permits.

Maybe WDDTY also hope that readers see “dorsal root ganglia” and think “BRANES“. They’d be wrong. These are spinal cord nerve ganglia.

4-  Chinese takeaways and kiddy sweeteners

The flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, the artificial sweetener in diet sodas, are considered ‘excitotoxins’, which are lethal to children’s brains.

orly

Monosodium glutamate is a much-maligned chemical. It is entirely natural (the clue being the fact that we have a taste, umami, which specifically relates to glutamates. Far from being “lethal to children’s brains”, MSG is “generally recognised as safe“. The idea that MSG is bad apparently stems back to a single observation, but a 2006 study found:

Despite a widespread belief that MSG can elicit a headache, among other symptoms, there are no consistent clinical data to support this claim. Findings from the literature indicate that there is no consistent evidence to suggest that individuals may be uniquely sensitive to MSG.

A comprehensive report by FASEB found no credible evidence of toxicity at normal levels, no evidence of impact on chronic health, and – well, basically, the medical equivalent of an entry in Snopes.

The Mediterranean diet so beloved of WDDTY is likely to contain tomatoes, parmesan cheese, mushrooms and many other ingredients which contain MSG.

Not only is MSG as safe as anything else we eat, it’s arguably a good deal better for you than its competitor in the sodium salt business, sodium chloride.

Aspartame, too, is widely claimed to be a toxic and dreadful thing, but without benefit of actual evidence.  It genuinely does have its own article on Snopes.

It is one of the most thoroughly tested food additives in the world, and every single test reaches the same conclusion: it is safe. Safer than saccharin (marginally: saccharin is now known to be pretty safe too), safer than sugar.

In case it was not obvious by now, WDDTY’s claim here is nonsense on stilts, with a large floppy cap and a big red nose.

According to Professor J. Timothy Greenamyre, a neuroscientist then at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, “Glutamate has neurotoxic properties and can produce ‘excitotoxic’ lesions reminiscent of human neurodenegerative disorders.”6

Source 6: Arch Neurol, 1986; 43: 1058–63, does not suggest any useful effect in children, it is concerned with glutamate modification as a possible source of treatment for neurological disorders. See above re the safety of MSG.

These can disrupt certain brain pathways, causing memory loss and other cortical ‘disconnections’ like those found in Alzheimer’s.7

Source 7: Another WDDTY twofer: Cerebrovasc Brain Metab Rev, 1993; 5: 61–94; and Neurobiol Aging, 1989; 10: 593–602. If your child does not have Alzheimer’s, these findings are not obviously relevant: both are concerned with cognitive deterioration in dementia patients.

As for aspartame, another excitotoxin, there is evidence that the side-effects of artificial sweeteners tend to be exacerbated in children, causing hyperactivity, low intelligence, poor school performance and irritability.8

Source 8: Roberts HJ. Aspartame (NutraSweet): Is It Safe? Philadelphia: The Charles Press, 1989. Not in any way a reliable source, part of the cottage industry of anti-aspartame conspiracism, robustly contradicted by vastly better science (see above). And also not obviously relevant in context.

Watch out for sweetened items like kiddy vitamins, gum or juice drinks. And whenever you order a Chinese, ask them to hold the MSG.

Rubbish, as shown above. The best reason for avoiding excessively sweetened and seasoned foods for children is that it’s much better to educate their palate to prefer healthier foods, especially fruits.

Selling sound advice on completely irrational grounds is another hallmark of WDDTY, of course.

5-  Mobile phones

Some 200 or more studies now confirm the damage to the growing brain caused by mobile phones. In addition to facing a greater risk of brain tumours,children and teenagers who grow up using mobile phones will very soon start suffering from learning difficulties, attention deficits, sleep problems and memory loss, according to Russian research.

Source 9: BioInitiative 2012, follow the money. Yet more “nutritionists” selling yet more supplements.

Mobile phones have been classified, after furious lobbying by people of extremely dubious sanity, as a “possible” carcinogen. As in: it might cause cancer, but we don’t know yet because despite the fact that billions of mobile phones are in use around the world and many have been intensively used for decades, the possible carcinogenic risk amounts to a small increase in a small risk, and is unlikely to be detectable without very large and very long-term epidemiological studies.

The bit of the WHO report that EMF cranks never cite is:

A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.

Got that? WDDTY say that “200 or more studies now confirm the damage to the growing brain caused by mobile phones”, but the World Health Organisation says that “to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use”.

Who to believe? A review of relevant qualifications might be in order. Oh, wait, WDDTY have none. But Lynne McTaggart does believe that we can make things happen by wishing, because quantum.

OK, snark is all well and good, but this is really shoddy reporting. An alarmist “count the papers” promotion of fear mongering, when there is an immensely thorough review of all the relevant science by an international body made up of genuine credentialed experts which is studying the risk, just in case, even though to date – and I will repeat this –  no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.

At some point you just have to say: shut up, you idiots, not only do you very obviously have no idea what you are talking about, you are spreading fear and driving people into the arms of charlatans.

The Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection has appealed to governments and manufacturers to consider either restricting the amount of time children spend on mobile phones or developing new and safer technology that takes into account children’s developing brains.10

Source 10: http://www.emfacts.com/2008/04/881-rncnirp-warning-on-children-and-mobile-phone-use/

Who are EMFacts?

EMFacts Consultancy, founded in 1994 by Don Maisch, has produced a wide range of reports and papers dealing with various health issues related to human exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation. […]

EMFacts Consultancy also offers a range of advisory services. 

Follow the money, Lynne, follow the money.

It’s almost impossible these days for any parent to avoid giving their preteen or teen a mobile phone, but you can try to limit their use or encourage them to text instead, to keep in touch with their friends via Facebook and to hold the phone away from their heads when they’re using it and never keep it next to them when they’re sleeping.

I will close here with a paraphrase from Billy Madison:

Ms. McTaggart, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

What Zombies Don’t Tell You

What Zombies Don't Tell You
What Zombies Don’t Tell You

You know, it’s a mystery why this title did not occur to us sooner.

Be that as it may, @GezBlair alerts us to the NHS Choices response to the life-after-death story: Questions about life after death remain unanswered.

We mention this for completeness and because it’s a timely reminder that NHS Choices is the perfect antidote to WDDTY, offering balanced analysis of health news from a reality-based perspective.

Incidentally, for those who think that there is something extraordinary about resuscitation victims showing some evidence of brain activity going through periods of clinical death, we’d like to draw your attention to the remarkable story of Anna BågenholmW, one of many fascinating cases discussed by Dr. Kevin FongW in his book Extremes, which shows again and again that life is plenty weird enough without recourse to making shit up.