Category Archives: 2. WDDTY on…

Pages tagged WDDTY on… are lists of WDDTY coverage of a specific topic. In each case there are links to the stories on WDDTY and if you have a specific area of interest and want to get involved, you may find these lists helpful.

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Debunking “The doctors case for homeopathy” by WDDTY: A case study in critically evaluating internet articles | The Logic of Science

I want to explain the problems with an article found in What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY) titled “The doctors’ case for homeopathy.” This piece is full of misinformation, and it serves as an ideal case study of what I’ve observed to be WDDTY’s typical behavior. Here’s the full list of problems I found with the article, which I will elaborate on below…

Source: Debunking “The doctors case for homeopathy” by WDDTY: A case study in critically evaluating internet articles | The Logic of Science

WDDTY on the anti-vaxx band-waggon

WHAT DOCTORS DON’T TELL YOU (WDDTY) is probably the most vile publication I know. It systematically misleads its readers by alarming news about this or that conventional treatment, while relentlessly promoting pseudoscientific non-sense. This article , entitled “MMR can cause skin problems and ulcers if your immune system is compromised” is a good example (one of a multitude)…

Source: WDDTY on the anti-vaxx band-waggon

Deconstructing Homeopathy Propaganda – Science-Based Medicine

I was recently sent a particular piece of pro-homeopathy propaganda, from a website whose very name is highly biased and misleading, What Doctors Don’t Tell You. The name implies that the medical profession is hiding information from their patients and the public for some nefarious purpose, but the plucky band of rebels who run this website will give you this secret information…

Source: Deconstructing Homeopathy Propaganda – Science-Based Medicine

Electro-pollution sensitivity and computer mice

Now this is an interesting situation.  We found two posts entitled “Electro-pollution sensitivity” on the WDDTY webshite that start with the same question. Even more curious: both posts are incomplete.

Notorious quackery promotion site Healthy.net to the rescue! We leave you to savour their presentation of the merits of WDDTY and the fuckwittery therein contained on a regular basis:

“The informed consumer is a safer consumer”
The acclaimed monthly publication, What Doctors Don’t Tell You scientifically reviews both conventional and alternative medicine and tells you the truth about both. Below you can search over 5,000 articles by subject from 16 years of WDDTY archives, either alhabetically (sic) by subject or by keyword or phrase.

You may also access key WDDTY articles under “Informed Consumer”, “Special Reports” and “Drug Safety” in the right hand column. Archives include 1991-2006.

It’s alright, you can stop laughing uncontrollably now. We don’t have the issue numbers according to WDDTY’s official Volume/Issue count, but this loonbaggery appears to date from early 2004. Eleven years in science is even longer than a week in politics, but quackery never changes.

Here is the original question:

This woman feels pain in her palm after about a minute of using her computer mouse, and is wondering if she’s experiencing a sensitivity to the electronic impulses, or electro-pollution. Has anyone had a similar experience? Suggestions on how to handle this would be appreciated.

It’s not complicated, is it? We’ve got an obvious case of RSI. How does one cope with RSI?

  • See your doctor, if only to rule out all other possibilities.
  • Take frequent breaks. You should be doing this anyway.
  • Make sure you’re sitting properly. A lot of problems are due to bad position/posture.
  • Try using forearm/wrist supports
  • Explore alternative mice (trackballs, touchscreens…). This includes a mouse that fits your hand properly. Shop around.
  • Explore alternatives to mouse clicking (touchscreens, touchpads…)
  • Try using adjustable keyboards. Sometimes changing the typing angle is all that’s required.
  • Try using other types of alternative keyboards: Dvorak, curved…

AND IF ALL ELSE FAILS  or the doctor starts muttering about surgery:

  • Don’t touch the computer at all

So, what sage advice does WDDTY have for us? Let’s start with the first reply. Sit tight, because there’s some remarkable dumbfuckery  going down:

What Doctors Don’t Tell You © (Issue 179)
Regarding EMF sensitivity, a Q-link necklace can have some benefit…

I looked up Q-link and my immediate reaction was: “obvious frauds”. How else can one respond to such claims as: “(Sympathetic Resonance Technology™) is an array of proprietarily identified frequencies that support and enhance the efficiency and performance of various organic and inorganic systems” and similar Quantumbo-jumbo? Hugely overpriced magic talismans for rich idiots.

Try to minimise things like metal beds, which tend to attract electromagnetic fields. You may need a comprehensive approach of shielding and abatement if there is a lot of sensitivity.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but mice rarely resemble metal beds, even in a darkened room after a night on the tiles. None of this has any bearing on what the poor woman actually has. Quacks aren’t interested in that, of course; they’re interested in trying to sell her as much guff as possible for what she thinks she might have.  This “comprehensive approach” – on top of the ruinous magic amulets, bracelets and… USB keys??? – includes an instruction to:

Check out Roger Tolce’s website.

Roger Tolce is a fully paid-up conspiraloon who claims, for a price, to clear your premises of electronic bugs and wiretaps. He is convinced that voice-to-skull technology is a Thing, which possibly tells you more than you wish to know about his mental health.

However, WDDTY is broad-minded enough not to forget that there are less conventional views out there:

A few readers felt that this problem is more likely a result of mechanical strain, especially if other electronic devices (mobile phones, land phones, hair dryers, etc.) don’t cause a problem.

So what does WDDTY advise for “mechanical strain”, aka RSI?

In that case, take vitamin B complex (this is good for stress too).

Bollocks. Complete and utter bollocks. That’s like telling someone who breaks a bone to eat plenty of oranges. The B vitamins help you digest food properly and contribute to making red blood cells. End.

An osteopath recommends trying another “rodent” – a pointing device that isn’t a mouse, such as a trackball or joystick. The action of gripping the mouse between the thumb and little fingers while moving other fingers on the buttons can often cause a strain, especially if your posture is incorrect, the mouse is too far away, or there is not enough room on your desk.

Stone me: good advice – as far as it goes, which isn’t nearly far enough (see list at top of post for details). Extra minus points for the word “osteopath”.  You’d get the same advice from a systems administrator, and she isn’t a qualified medical professional either. Scrub that, the sysadmin would probably give better advice: it’s a professional injury for her.

There will now follow a short reading from the Second Reply, because it’s frankly insane and unbearably funny.

What Doctors Don’t Tell You © (Issue 181)
A progressive kinesiologist recommends Jane Thurnell-Reads book about Geopathic Stress, which explains how to De-Gauss the body. This is beneficial for people experiencing static shocks, electro-magnetic pollution, headaches and general fatigue, and not only helps with electric type problems such as computers and Playstations, etc. but is also great for people sensitive to plastics. And we live in a world full of plastic and petrochemicals!

Note for the incurably gullible: degaussing is the process of removing/reducing  a magnetic field. Magnetic fields require iron. Our bodies do not contain sufficient iron to be degaussable. Plastics contain no iron at all.

I cannot believe some people think plastic can be magnetic.

Now then, not only should you ensure your mouth is free of drinks or foodstuff while perusing the next part, but we strongly advise you to empty your bladder as a precautionary measure.

To De-Gauss: Use an electric hairdryer, switched on. Run the dryer against your own body, going along the arms, back, front, legs and head, taking care not to get your hair pulled into the motor!

I’m not sure I want details of the unconventional way this person uses a hairdryer, which… Yes, quite right, miss, a hairdryer produces a weak electromagnetic field.

Do this for about five minutes. Wearing special ‘shields’ can also help, but do not suit everyone.

Tinfoil hat

It may sound weird but it is very effective and you feel great afterward. This should be done weekly. Use of the mouse can also aggravate the carpus of the wrist, so wearing your watch strap on that hand and ensuring it is quite tight will also help this problem, as it releases the radius and ulna from spreading with wear and tear and trapping the tendon, which causes pain right up to the neck and into the fingers.

I’m pretty fucking certain that a tight watch-strap would make things worse. You’d be increasing pressure on the median nerve, not relieving it.

You may also want to look into Compensatory Magnetic Oscillation (CMO) by Tecno.

CMO-TecnoI couldn’t find Tecno’s website, but I did find what they sell. It looks like the thing on the right. Apparently it creates a sort of invisible bubble 11 metres across that shields you from Electromagnetic Waves.  All in all, it’s a snip at €99. No evidence required!

More seriously: all in all, this is a litany of stupid and expensive “advice” which could lead to real harm. Surgery for carpal tunnel is neither fun nor cheap, and it carries its own risks, as does any major surgery.  It’s the ultimate resort, when no other treatment is possible,  and it’s a risk you really shouldn’t run when the use of your hand is involved.

This isn’t health advice, in spite of WDDTY’s labelling. It’s health sabotage.

WDDTY: Sick or elderly person could be taking 30 drugs almost every day

This headline appeared recently on WDDTY’s appalling webshite:

Sick or elderly person could be taking 30 drugs almost every day

That’s an incredible amount, yet some people could be, although I doubt many young(ish) people fall into that category. Nevertheless, what’s surprising about the WDDTY headline is that it’s partly in the rough vicinity of the truth. It’s quite common for the very elderly (i.e. geriatric) to be on a staggering number of medications per day, and it’s a known problem that not only costs the State money but could also be shortening their lives.  Let me explain briefly and simply. There are several things to take into account, including:

  • The more medicines you take, the greater the risk of an interaction between them and the less chance there is of spotting it because, well, where to start?
  • As you grow older, your body becomes less efficient at eliminating substances. What was the proper dose for a chronic ailment at 50 may be an overdose at 80.
  • Some drugs – statins spring to mind as the most obvious example – are used to prevent health problems that may arise far in the future. There’s no point in giving someone a drug to prevent a heart attack or stroke in 20 years’ time when they’re 90.

The claimed source is “Daily Telegraph, 8 July, 2015”. This may well be, but not only is the Torygraph  quite definitely not a repository of peer-reviewed literature, I can find no article with that headline on its website. The rant below was, in fact, lifted from a story entitled:

Warning of ‘a nation of pill pushers’ as figures show 55 per cent rise in prescriptions

Which isn’t exactly the same thing. Now – bearing in mind that WDDTY promotes homeopathy, vitamin supplements and other forms of snake oil aimed at the healthy, thereby perpetuating the pill-popping culture – read on.

A sick or elderly person could be taking upwards of 30 different prescription drugs, often to treat conditions that could just as easily be managed by lifestyle changes.

The original article does not mention 30 different drugs a day at all, nor does it focus specifically on the elderly, except to state that 60% of prescriptions in 2014 were for patients aged 60+. Hence my clarifications above re the known problem of overprescription for geriatric patients.  Could the reworking and gratuitous augmentation of the text possibly be to twist it to the WDDTY agenda? Rumour has it that ursine excrement has been discovered in forested regions.

In all, UK doctors wrote one billion prescriptions last year for conditions such as depression and heart problems, costing the taxpayer £9 bn.

This is deliberate misrepresentation of sources. According to the Telegraph, the correct formulation should be “1 billion prescriptions… including drugs for conditions such as depression, diabetes and heart problems…”

Prescribing has increased by 55 per cent over the past decade, with the biggest rise in prescriptions for statins, for lowering cholesterol, which have doubled, followed closely by prescriptions for antidepressants, which have risen by 98 per cent.

No, statins more than doubled, while antidepressants rose by 97%, not 98%. You can’t even copy off the back of the cereal packet properly, can you?

The trend has been highlighted in a report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which suggests that 20 prescriptions were issued to each person last year.

20 prescriptions on average. Incidentally that’s not 20 drugs a day, nor is it 20 pieces of paper with (possibly) several drugs on them. A prescription is one line on that piece of paper the doctor just gave you. I personally think it’s a bloody stupid definition to use, if the Telegraph got it right.

Example: I’m in my mid-50s. Say I see my doctor once every 3 months, excluding acute illness, and he gives me a quarterly prescription covering an allergy (2 items: tablets & eyedrops, or ointment), a HRT for a dodgy thyroid and … I dunno, let’s say an anxiolytic or something like that. That’s 4 lines, 4 times a year, which counts as 16 prescriptions, according to the official reckoning. If I only go twice a year for my chronic problems (it can happen), there would only be 8 prescriptions, even though the number of drugs consumed daily doesn’t change.

All I need now is to catch a cold which degenerates into bronchitis (they often do), or contract some other acute condition. Or even get an attack of shingles (increasingly likely as you age).  A dental abscess, requiring antibiotics & painkillers. A sports injury…

It doesn’t take much to get to 20, let’s face it.

As many people do not take any prescription medication,

This does not appear in the original article, certainly because it’s irrelevant. Healthy people tend not to visit the doctor and therefore won’t be included in the statistics. We are concerned only with people who do take prescription medicine. Because we’re talking about prescriptions. Practically the only medicine you give to people who aren’t sick is vaccines, you moron. Only quacks try to medicate the healthy. Of course prescription medication is for the sick. There’s no treatment for old age either. Medicine is supposed to alleviate the ills that come with old age.

the actual numbers given to the sick and elderly will be far above that average.

WTF? Do you even Truth? This is another piece of bullshit tacked onto the original report to deliberately distort the reader’s conclusions: PEOPLE WHO GO TO DOCTORS ARE PUMPED FULL OF DRUGS THEY ARE ALL GOING TO DIE BUY OUR ADVERTISERS ILLEGAL BULLSHIT INSTEAD.

Fuckwittery, and vicious fuckwittery at that. Take a statistic, add on 50%, replace “quarterly” by “daily”, and then claim, with no evidence whatsoever, that the reworked “figures” are in fact horribly understated.  Hamlet once denounced someone as having “the lie in th’teeth as far back as the lungs”. This lot have the lie in the teeth as far back as the arsehole.

In 2004, the average was 13 prescriptions per person.

And here, as with the Torygraph article, is the nub of the problem. While nobody disputes that there is overprescription of certain drugs –  especially to the very old (who may no longer need them) and to those whose psychological and/or behavioural problems would respond better to therapy – all other factors are being (deliberately?) ignored.

For example, is the increase in prescription for ED medications purely due to men wanting to show off, or are people now less inhibited about discussing the problem with their partners and doctors? What about all the new drugs that only came onto the market in the last decade, treating ailments that were previously neglected? There is a prescription drug in the process of being authorised in a number of countries for use as a prophylactic against HIV transmission between partners. We could only dream of it back in 2004.

Addendum: Many of these prescription items will also not be drugs at all. Incontinence pads and dressings are also covered, as are some gluten-free food staples for those diagnosed with coeliac disease.  Some prescriptions are for supplements, not drugs: those with osteoporosis or osteopenia will typically be prescribed calcium and Vitamin D. We’re shocked – shocked! – to see WDDTY engaging in such simplistic anti-medicine rhetoric. – Ed.

The UK is fast becoming a nation of pill pushers, says Katherine Murphy, of the Patients’ Association, who believes that prescribing is now “out of control”.

That is not the meaning of the original text, which runs:

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the public’s increasing reliance on pills was becoming “out of control”.

My emphasis. In other words, Murphy, unlike WDDTY, is not blaming the doctors. Funnily enough, WDDTY carefully omit every single reference to the horrified reaction of the medics themselves to the problem. And I quote:

Earlier this year, the medics – who represent all 21 medical royal colleges in the UK – said too many patients were being given treatment and tests which could do more harm than good.

The senior doctors are currently drawing up a list of medical treatments which should no longer be routinely offered, in a bid to halt over-diagnosis and needless treatment.

Prof Bailey said: “Doctors and patients should all recognise that resources aren’t unlimited in the NHS and we must all work together to be good stewards of the resources we do have. “Doctors and their patients should always discuss whether a particular prescription is really necessary and reach the decision together,” she added.

So in fact this overprescribing problem is something the doctors have already told us about. Not that it stops WDDTY smearing them by omission and implication. And we finish with the standard quack assertion that what they consider to be a proper diet will cure everything:

Instead, doctors should be advocating lifestyle changes, such as an improved diet and exercise.

… which we compare and contrast with what was actually reported in the Torygraph:

She said far more needed to be done to encourage people to eat more healthily and take regular exercise.

Woman who died from measles had been vaccinated

WDDTY headline with obligatory scary needle shot.
WDDTY headline with obligatory scary needle shot.

The Holy Trinity of anti-vaccinationists runs thus:

  1. Vaccines are dangerous.
  2. Vaccines don’t work.
  3. Vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t serious anyway.

And when one is rebutted they move to another, frequently in rotation, perennially moving the goalposts.

What WDDTY Don't Tell You about infectious disease.
What WDDTY Don’t Tell You about infectious disease when there is no vaccination.

Still, deaths from preventable disease are the anti-vaccinationist’s worst nightmare. Their narrative can only succeed in an atmosphere where the realities and consequences of preventable disease are a distant memory. We do recommend you watch The Vaccination Chronicles by Australian skeptic and all round good egg Richard Saunders.

Provable deaths in the newspapers are the ultimate heresy to the antivax cult. You need only look at the torrent of vile abuse heaped on the parents of Dana McCaffery by Australian antivax whackaloon Meryl Dorey. Your child died of vaccine preventable disease? Off-message. STFU.

So it is with the recent death of an American woman from measles.

The first death in 12 years from measles was reported last week from the USA, which had doctors emphasising the important of vaccination. However, what doctors didn’t tell you was that the woman who died had been given the MMR vaccine.

What they did tell you, however, was that she was immunocompromised, and thus in the high risk group for exposure to measles, a highly contagious disease. Hilariously, WDDTY try to spin this as an anti-pharma angle:

It’s believed the woman caught measles when she was in hospital, and she died because her immune system had been seriously compromised from too many pharmaceuticals.

Let’s get this straight, Lynne: you have no fucking clue why she was immunocompromised. She was on immunosuppressant drugs, there are a number of reasons for using these including transplants, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, control of severe allergic asthma.

The immune system is a complex beast and when it works against you, as it does in autoimmune disorders, you can suffer dramatic and life threatening symptoms.

All in all it’s just as well that all those products you pimp for “boosting your immune system” do no such thing. If they could, they would be dangerous.

Doctors at the hospital in Washington state, where she died, confirmed she had had the MMR vaccine when she was a child. One, Dr Jeanette Stehr-Green, also said on local TV that the woman had been taking medication that had interfered with her immune system, and made her more vulnerable to the measles virus.

Right, so you assumed that she was actually taking “too many pharmaceuticals” when actually you (and we) have no idea at all of her health history or the reason she was on immunosuppressant therapy. But you assume… What? That the doctors put her on it on a whim? Fatuous.

The hospital has refused to reveal the age of the victim, but have said she was not elderly.

Indeed. Measles kills indiscriminately, including years after the event due to subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Odd that something as natural as measles turns out to be a real bastard. And don’t pretend you don’t know about SSPE: in October 2007, WDDTY said:

Latent infections also lie at the root of a number of serious chronic diseases that are dependent upon the immunological response, including progressive multifocal leucoencephalopathy, a rapidly progressing neuromuscular disease, and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, a rare progressive brain disorder caused by an abnormal immune response to the measles virus. In fact, the latter is thought to be triggered, in some cases, by the MMR vaccine.

You cited this source: Latent Virus Infections. See where it mentions immunisation as a source of SSPE? Me neither. Of course nobody has ever checked this, have they? Oh, wait, yes they have:

For situations where cases of SSPE occur in vaccinated individuals who have no previous history of natural measles infection, the available evidence points to natural measles infection as the cause of SSPE, not vaccine.

WHO, Jan 2006.  And while it might be charitable to attribute your ignorance of the falsity of your claim, it would also be incredibly naive.

Mind you, that’s pretty tame. In September 1994 you said:

Besides causing dangerous mutations like atypical measles, the measles portion of the [measles] vaccine has been associated with numerous side effects, including nerve deafness, encephalitis, epilepsy, febrile convulsions, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a paralysis) and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a fatal wasting disease rarely associated with measles .

That was characteristically inaccurate, in that these things have “been associated” primarily by anti-vax cranks.

What does the reality-based community say? Two thirds of people with Guillain–Barré syndrome have experienced an infection before the onset of the condition, usually gastroenteritis or a respiratory tract infection. Vaccines can prevent some causes of these. In many cases the exact nature of the infection can be confirmed: approximately 30% of cases are provoked by Campylobacter jejuni bacteria, which cause diarrhea. A further 10% cases are attributable to cytomegalovirus (CMV, HHV-5). Despite this, only very few people with Campylobacter or CMV infections develop Guillain–Barré syndrome (0.25–0.65 per 1000 and 0.6–2.2 per 1000 episodes, respectively).[1] The strain of Campylobacter involved may determine the risk of GBS; different forms of the bacteria have different lipopolysaccharides on their surface, and some may induce illness while others will not.

While rare cases of GBS have been reported following flu vaccination, a link with measles virus is explicitly ruled out in “Pediatric Guillain-Barré syndrome”. Current Opinion in Pediatrics 25 (6): 689–693. doi:10.1097/MOP.0b013e328365ad3f

On we go:

She was receiving hospital treatment for several health problems when she caught measles from another patient. As her symptoms worsened, she was taken to the University of Washington Medical Centre in Seattle, where she died from pneumonia due to measles last spring.
Doctors did not establish the cause of death until the autopsy was carried out, as the woman did not display any of the usual symptoms associated with measles, such as a rash.

Yup. Rare, but not unheard of especially in the immunocompromised. It’s quite likely that there have been other deaths that were never identified as being due to measles, because these patients are by definition very sick anyway.

No other patient developed the disease, and the hospital is confident the outbreak has been contained.

Good, but it should never have had to be contained.

Measles cases showing uptick due to antivaccinaitonists.
Measles cases showing uptick due to anti-vaccinationists.

Measles vaccination rates declined due to anti-vaccination activists and especially the fraudulent work of Andrew Wakefield. As rates dropped below the levels required for herd immunity, measles infection rates rose.

Antivaxers are responsible for the greater prevalence of measles. Antivaxers are responsible for its return from near-eradicated status in the 1990. Antivaxers are responsible for the fact that the virus can circulate among a larger pool of people who are not immune. The unvaccinated are much more likely to contract measles than the vaccinated.

Family launching enquiry into mysterious death of anti-vaccine doctor

WDDTY is part of the counter-factual counter-culture that is the anti-vaccination movement. An antivax doctor kills himself as the feds move in on his fraudulent empire? It must have been black helicopters.

Mystery surrounds the sudden death of Dr Jeff Bradstreet, a high-profile anti-vaccine campaigner who treated autistic children. His body was found in a river in North Carolina, with gunshot wounds to his chest, a week after his clinic had been raided by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agents.

Mystery? Not really. While there is ample documentation of conspiracist rumours following his death, there’s no real mystery. He used real therapies with real possibilities of harm – including unlicensed stem cells, chelation and hyperbaric oxygen – on the basis of muddle-headed beliefs entirely divorced from the scientific evidence. His office was raided by the FDA and Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, he had already been caught out promoting pseudoscience in the autism omnibus trial and there was apparently an outstanding complaint against him by the parents of a child he had treated. Continue reading Family launching enquiry into mysterious death of anti-vaccine doctor

Painkillers are behind most murders and mass killings, say researchers

Painkillers are behind most murders and mass killings, say researchers

Researchers, eh. What are they like?

Pharmaceuticals are often behind the mass horror killings in schools and public places, a new study has confirmed. But it’s not the antidepressants that are likely to make you a killer, as everyone suspected: the real culprits are painkillers and the benzodiazepines for anxiety and insomnia.

TL;DR version: At no point do the researchers claim, still less “confirm”, that drugs, of any kind, are “behind” any violent crimes at all.

What they actually say is that people with a history of violent crime should be carefully assessed when prescribing painkillers, because there is an increase (of between zero and two-thirds) in their chances of committing a subsequent violent crime while taking painkillers.

Not dramatic enough, so WDDTY decided to make some shit up. As ever.

First, some perspective. In the UK in 2013 (the last year for which figures are available) there were 8,416 deaths due to a single drug, 2,955 deaths due to all other drugs combined. The larger figure is, of course, for alcohol. The drug that killed Charles Kennedy is still legally on sale in every high street.

But this is not about deaths due to drugs directly, it’s about homicides and spree killings – A tiny number in comparison, at least in civilised countries. Mind, Lynne McTaggart (aka Chief Shitting Bull) is American by birth and has never really seemed to understand the differences between the US and the UK.

This study covers the period 2003-2011 in Finland, during which time there were 1,091 homicides (and 3,549 road traffic fatalities, an undocumented proportion of which involved drug use of some kind).

So what did the new study “confirm”?

Most of the available studies are case reports that only suggest a coincidental link between violence or homicide and antidepressants  or benzodiazepines, while very little is known about the association between antipsychotics and homicide. Two recent ecological studies found no support for a significant role of antidepressant use in lethal violence in the Netherlands or the U.S., although data on individual offenders were not available.

In fact it was a specific and detailed investigation of psychotropic drugs, and the conclusion is:

These results – which may probably be generalized to other developed and stable societies that have a low to medium homicide rate, although not necessarily to countries with higher rates of organized and premeditated crime – imply that the use of antidepressants should not be denied to either adults or adolescents due to a presumed risk of homicidal behavior. The surprisingly high risk associated with opioid and non-opioid analgesics deserves further attention in the treatment of pain among individuals with criminal history.

This is science not pseudoscience, so the investigators published the finding despite it contradicting their original hypothesis. Yes, the researchers actually did not confirm anything, they disconfirmed their original hypothesis.

Did WDDTY lead with “antidepressants not linked to violent behaviour”? Don’t be silly.

The highest risk was among people who were aged 26 or younger and who were taking an opiate painkiller; they were four times more likely to become a killer, and the risk almost doubled if they were taking a benzodiazepine.

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

The median age of offenders and controls was 36.3 years (range 13.3-88.0 years). A total of 849 (88.5%) offenders were males, and 42 (4.4%) had more than one victim, 761 (79.4%) were intoxicated by alcohol and 51 (5.3%) by illicit drugs during the offence (as confirmed by the police).

So when we read that:

The results of this prospective study show that antidepressant use per se was associated with an only modestly increased risk of committing a homicide, with borderline statistical significance. Benzodiazepine and analgesic use was linked with a higher risk of homicidal offending, and the findings remained highly significant even after correction for multiple comparisons.

What we are actually seeing is a combination of these drugs with alcohol. And in some cases illicit drugs as well.

So does that mean there’s a causal link, as WDDTY imply? No, it does not. But “Being off your tree on alcohol and drugs, plus painkillers, is behind most murders and mass killings, say researchers” is not quite so on-message. Get with the programme: it’s always the DRUGS.

Sorry that should be DRUGS!!!!!

But the risk was almost as great in any age group if they were taking an anti-inflammatory painkiller, some of which are available without a prescription; the drugs quadrupled the risk of someone becoming a killer.

That word risk. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

Correlation does not imply causation.

 

Researchers from the University of East Finland made the connection between the drugs and homicidal activity after they analysed the drug-taking history of 959 people who had been convicted of murder. They looked at their drug-taking before they had committed a crime and again afterwards.

They did indeed, and they found that:

The results of this prospective study show that antidepressant use per se was associated with an only modestly increased risk of committing a homicide, with borderline statistical significance. Benzodiazepine and analgesic use was linked with a higher risk of homicidal offending, and the findings remained highly significant even after correction for multiple comparisons.

Which is interesting but doe not prove causation and absolutely cannot be extrapolated to the population of normal people, rather than those recently released from prison for violent offences.

Surprisingly, the expected suspects—the antipsychotics and antidepressants—seemed to have only a minimal effect. Of the real culprits, the benzodiazepines seemed to have been prescribed in high doses for long periods, and they can weaken our ability to control impulses. Painkillers affect emotional processing, say the researchers

Really?  Search the full text of the article, see if you can find the claim that painkillers affect emotional processing.

What it does say is this:

These results – which may probably be generalized to other developed and stable societies that have a low to medium homicide rate, although not necessarily to countries with higher rates of organized and premeditated crime – imply that the use of antidepressants should not be denied to either adults or adolescents due to a presumed risk of homicidal behavior. The surprisingly high risk associated with opioid and non-opioid analgesics deserves further attention in the treatment of pain among individuals with criminal history.

See the qualifications? ” deserves further attention in the treatment of pain among individuals with criminal history”

So: no need to stop taking the painkillers unless you have a history of violent crime. The headline should in fact read:

Most pissed-up violent offenders who commit subsequent violent crimes, are also on painkillers, say researchers.

Homeopathy improves fatigue and pain of cancer patients ten-fold

Few fields demonstrate the exercise of the pseudoscientific method more consistently than homeopathy. Any half-competent editor of a health magazine will be well aware of the red flags, and will steer clear of the junk studies that define the field.

You’ve already spotted the problem, haven’t you? Yes, the editor would have to be half competent. And also they would have to give a shit about facts, rather than their advertising sales.

Homeopathy dramatically improves the mental and physical well-being of cancer patients who are being treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, a major new study has discovered.

Really? I wonder who would produce such a study, and where it might get published?

Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2015; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2015.03.004. A low impact factor (2.2) SCAM-specific journal.

“Influence of adjunctive classical homeopathy on global health status and subjective wellbeing in cancer patients – A pragmatic randomized controlled trial”

The word “pragmatic” is a red flag with homeopathy studies: it means that they are engaged in benefit finding, and have deliberately chosen not to try to eliminate many common sources of bias.

Half the 410 cancer patients, who were prescribed individual remedies, reported “significant improvements” in their levels of fatigue and pain, and had better appetites, than those who weren’t given the remedies. Improvements ranged from seven to 14 times in those taking homeopathy, say researchers from the Medical University of Vienna.

Did they indeed. So a group of people who received amateur talk therapy and magic sugar pills, reported subjective benefits, but no objective measures were used. This tells us precisely nothing that we did not already know.

Here’s something else we know: users of SCAM fare worse when they get cancer.  They delay treatment, trying worthless SCAM remedies first, so they present later and with more advanced disease, and even after controlling for that, they still die sooner.

With that in mind, one wonders why the Medical University of Vienna’s IRB approved this trial. Would they approve one on voodoo?  Maybe they would, it would not be the most unethical thing the university ever did, as Prof. Ernst reveals in his excellent A Scientist In Wonderland.

All the patients, who were being treated for stages 3 and 4 cancer, were interviewed every week while they were taking the remedies, and the improvements in the homeopathic group was very noticeable compared to the group who weren’t taking homeopathy.

According to a bunch of homeopaths. Of course the rigorous blinding that ensured that neither patient nor experimenter was aware of which group they were in, and the use of a carefully selected placebo (including controls for the homeopathic “consultation”, which another study shows is the only part of the whole charade that matters).

Oh, wait, no, they don’t appear to have done any of that.

Improvements in overall health were 10 times greater in the homeopathic group over the three weeks the remedies were taken.

Amazing, isn’t it? You wonder how such a striking finding could come out of a decently designed study given that three separate government reviews of homeopathy (Switzerland, UK and Australia) have failed to find a single condition for which it is provably effective.

There are two possibilities here:

  1. All the previous research is wrong, especially that showing that positive results are more likely when the study design is sloppy and less likely when it’s robust; most of physics is wrong; there are two complete parallel systems of action in human biochemistry, one of which has never been identified by scientists; and there is a form of energy that has never been detected or measured, but which has profound effects on human health.
  2. This is another badly-designed study by True Believers seeking to proselytise their faith.

Which is more likely? Answers on a razor please.