Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm not a doctor on TV

I saw my dentist yesterday for a chipped crown. As he whirred away polishing the rough edges of my tooth, I tried to imagine what a visit to a holistic dentist would be like.

But before I could conjure any kind of mental picture, he was done and I was on my way. Bloody efficient man.

Who may trace the limits of the set named CAM? It includes prayer, tai chi, smelling nice things, listening to nice music, etc. Who would deny the humans such pleasures? I say, let the humans seek out experiences exotic or familiar that might provoke good feelings and hope for the future.

Seriously, I don't mind any of the hobbies. It's the pretention that the hobby will measurably improve some defined medical condition that I can't abide. We're just not allowed to pretend-play like that, even though it might be fun.

If we lower our evidential standards so marginal effects due to noise are good enough, we'll soon find ourselves overwhelmed with art. How will we cope? We'll likely divide into sects. Some will needle; some will trance. Some will like country. Some will like rock 'n roll.

Aren't we busy enough keeping up with the journals? Why can't we leave the theater to the artists? Must we do everything?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Your Daily Rant: "Wellness Model"

There's something in the language typical of healthcare debates that makes a lot of people zone out. I sense a pervasive attitude of, "wake me when they get to the part about keeping insurance affordable."

Confusion comes in two flavors: the kind that prompts you to ask a question and the kind that makes you feel so lost and stupid you don't dare say anything --i.e. "please clarify" verses "totally over my head."

Healthcare issues provoke a lot of the latter. Some topics are quite technical --e.g., stem cells, anti-retrovirals, cancer risks. If you don't have a basic familiarity with the science, it's probably best for all concerned if you STFU.

However much of the confusion lately can be chalked up to vague or meaningless verbiage. Speakers often go on for paragraphs saying nothing at all to an audience apparently listening respectfully. Truly amazing to behold.

Case in point:

There are many physicians working at the front lines of health care delivery that embrace both the wellness model and clinical outcome based science. In many cases they have chosen their specialties because they consider understanding medical science an essential part of their professionalism and hold ethical decision-making a higher priority than financial profit. Seems obvious, but it may inform arguments that consider the middle ground in this debate negligible. Certainly, generalization, sensationalism and vilification of physicians is less likely to lead to the improved health status all parties seem to want to argue for.

Reading the above you might think to ask, what does the speaker mean by "wellness model"? But estimating the odds that the answer will bore you to tears while leaving you none the wiser, you probably won't bother.

Here's my model: we figure out the risks and benefits of some intervention, then base our recommendations on that.

I call it the "what is true" model. It kicks the wellness model's ass then steals its lunch money.

No Unibrows

Magnet Power: Dirk's Accident

Not for the squeamish.

That Sunday night I placed one of them a bit in line with one of the others but still within a safety distance (I thought) !!!

When I rotated the magnet the other raised itself upwards due to the same poles. I know that I thought (ooops ... take care) and before I knew it the one that raised itself upwards turned around and within a split second the two magnets collided to each other with the top-part of my finger between them. Due to the brutal force my finger was splashed and pushed out between the magnets leaving skin and my complete nail between the two magnets. The collision was so strong that on the carpet I found only some drops of blood spread around the magnets. Like you smash a hammer on a frikandel (is a Dutch snack, a sort of minced-meat hot dog).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Vitaminista Master Plan for World Domination

It's a 150 page PDF so clear your schedule: Bravewell-Harkin-Vitaminista master plan for world domination. My favorite bit from a table on page 12: Impact: IM [integrative medicine] is not fully accepted as equal but it is no longer seen as quackery; national research grants and studies on efficacy and science are quieting the critics.


Spirituality is a form of entertainment. I'm very pro-entertainment so the spirit-minded have nothing to fear from me. I merely hope for some small considerations:

1. That I not be taxed to fund my neighbor's amusing hobbies. Let him pay for his CAM from his own damn pocket.

2. That my neighbor's imagination not be made the boss of me. Government + spirituality = totalitarianism and I want no part of that.

As I read this Bravewell strategy paper, I suddenly felt suffocated by the boomer generation ahead of me. I know they're not all bad. But Jesus, so many seem oblivious to their own crappy taste in everything. I wish they'd stop trying to wallpaper the future with transformative moments.

People into creating their own reality by mutual agreement suck the dog's balls.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Federal Funds for CAM Research

Advocates for complementary and alternative medicine (aka "CAM") often say, "It's not our fault we don't have scientific evidence to support our claims. We don't get zillions of dollars in research grants like mainstream medicine."

This is a crappy argument for two reasons.

Firstly, the "we" of CAM represents no coherent explanatory model of reality. Chelation for vague toxins, the law of similars, and ground rhinocerous horn for male impotence fit together about as well as the Holy Virgin, Vishnu, and the prophet Mohammad (pbuh). In fact the only commonality linking the hodge-podge of contradictory health claims and practices marketed as "CAM" is an alliance of political convenience --i.e., "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." No one in the CAM arena can be held to account for the harmful nonsense of his CAM buddies. No one even cares.

Because CAM is not a coherent idea or set of ideas, we've no means of guessing the cost of effectively "studying CAM." We've no way to judge whether we're spending an appropriate amount of our research dollars on CAM taken as a whole.

Secondly, just off the top of my head I can imagine ways to study a number of CAM claims on the cheap. A little blinding, video recording, and some skeptical eye witnesses don't have to cost millions. So I don't buy the "we's so po" line. Show me the CAM research proposals unfairly rejected by an institution or funding source. Stack 'em up on my desk.

The pro-CAM lobby research strategy:

Phase 1: Get government money for research using emotional appeals and fallacious arguments.
Phase 2: Use money to sex up quacky schools, for scholarships to said schools, and to fund marketing campaigns masquerading as education.
Phase 3: ????
Phase 4: Profit!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Integrative Medicine: Can We Truly Integrate Care?

My question: How do I collaborate with someone who feels vaccines are poison, autism is caused by thimerosal, and chelation is the answer?


Sunday, March 22, 2009


Interesting article by Dr. Atwood at Science Based Medicine: Naturopathy and Liberal Politics: Strange Bedfellows.

This bit among the comments stuck with me: Nazis were attracted to naturopathy because they viewed it as more volkish and “German,” in contrast to that “Jewish,” “non-holistic” scientific medicine.

LOL. The stupidity of "Jewish science."

Cults require an enemy. There's no in-group without an out-group. That's how human beings are.

Medicine is too Jewish. That's why we must have NCCAM, THE MOAR VOLKISH ALTERNATIVE!


Oh, I am lolligaggin'.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


No there aren't, you moron.

And fix yer caps lock.

Bernard Osher

Bernard Osher and his wife, Barbro Sachs-Osher are respected philanthropists who have donated millions to worthy causes.

They've also infused many millions into the wooly headed notion of "integrative medicine." Their donations helped to found centers of integrative medicine at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, at Harvard Medical School, and at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

My pal Google told me a little about the Oshers. They seem like nice people. It's my impression that they have a soft spot for the underdog.

I wish I could sit down with the Oshers for a chat. Seriously. Biddeford's not far for me nor is San Francisco.

My patients are the under-doggest of them all. And "integrative medicine," sadly, isn't helping.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Why NCCAM Reminds Us of Tampons

Women older than, say, fourteen will recognize this scenario:

You're off to school or getting ready to meet friends at the mall or are otherwise engaged in something consuming every ounce of your attention. Suddenly the metaphorical phone rings. It's Aunt Flo! She's letting you know she'll be by a little sooner than expected. You make a quick search of your bags and the bathroom only to realize that you're out of Aunt Flo's favorite euphemisms. So it's a mad dash to the grocery store ASAP.

Standing before a wall of pastel colored feminine protection on isle three, you grab the box you want and head for the checkout.

But wait! Strangely, everyone in the store seems to be glancing in your general direction. A voice overhead announces, "Attention shoppers. Look 'n LOL on isle three. Eighth grade girl getting her period. OMG, how embarrassing! HAHAHA!"

Ok, maybe that part doesn't actually happen.

You have a plan. You put the box of tampons back on the shelf and get a shopping cart. You grab a loaf of bread, a roll of paper towels, a bag of candy, and that box of tampons.

Ah, so much less obvious now. Clearly you're not necessarily getting your period. You might just be picking up a few things for the house.

Homeopathy, subluxations, and energy healing are nutty ideas. Standing up for these notions in a room full of scientists should provoke a sense of mortification, not unlike the embarrassment of a young teen holding onto a box of tampons in public.

Little wonder then, that the CAM proponents of NCCAM defined their scope of practice as somehow including a number of reasonable therapies alongside the wacky bits. Herbal remedies, dietary supplements, relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation are examples of the more reasonable topics commandeered by NCAAM.

Yes, much to the irritation of the pharmacognozy, nutrition, and medical psychology communities, history has been re-written such that none of this stuff was ever studied pre-NCCAM.

How depressing.

The recent NCCAM debates around the blogosphere fit this pattern:

1. Someone says NCCAM causes more harm than good by promoting quackery.
2. Someone else says that lots of Americans spend money on alternative medicine, so we ought to be studying it.
3. The first party feels the second party doesn't get it.

What's going on? Why is communication so difficult?

I think that awful word "alternative" is to blame. It's defined in such a ways as to mire us all in confusing equivocations. It's defined by what it is not: something called "conventional medicine." And conventional medicine is defined as those therapies with evidence of safety and efficacy. But this dichotomy doesn't really work.

Are all therapies lacking evidence of safety and efficacy "alternative"? No, for that huge set would include everything from novel chemotherapy strategies to new surgical devices and more.

Are all treatment decisions by medical doctors based on evidence of efficacy and safety? Not entirely. There's a tremendous amount of trial-and-error within medicine. Group data apply imperfectly to individuals. Even so, the process of starting and stopping trials can be justified rationally, or not. And irrational justifications are very much frowned upon on the conventional side of the fence.

So what separates the conventional world from the alternative world? Not herbs or yoga or meditation or dietary supplements. No, the real fight is more fundamental. The real fight concerns how we set the boundary between that which is plausible and that which is implausible. One side sees this as a political question. The other sees this as a function of the scientific method.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dr. Camwoo's Grant Renewal

Dear Federal Agencies,

Please send more millions for this research into the beneficial effects of the wild goose liver.

The other millions were tremendous. We built a new wing at the Wild Goose Institute and hired many new staff members. We upgraded the computers with Windows Vista and we got a nice color copier as well. You would not believe the large fish tank in the waiting room, which delights the visiting children.

Of course it is for the children that we work so very hard. Children get sick, yes. And many get better after taking the liver of the wild goose.

For centuries the duck liver cure has eased the course of influenza. Sadly duck liver alone is not tasting like pâté but very bad. So we are grateful to the wise healers before us who found that only a tiny amount was needed for the benefit.

Wild goose is much like duck but its liver is greater. This is why we seek it.

There is a narrow-minded prejudice against our simple cure because it puts no money in the pockets of large pharmaceutical corporations. Keep this in mind if you go on the Internet to places like Science-Based Medicine. These people pretend to be scientific but they are really bigots who oppose research.

To quote Dr. Dean Ornish (who has been on Oprah): "...the science I love is curious, inquisitive, and unfettered by a priori certainty of what is true and what is not."

This great man is exactly right. A true scientist keeps chasing after the wild goose. The chasing can be lonely, as in the case of Galileo. But the true scientist never stops seeking a real answer to his question no matter what.

Your many millions do a lot to keep this wild goose chase going, and we thank you very much.


Dr. Camwoo
CEO and Medical Director
Wild Goose Institute

Monday, March 16, 2009

Unproven Quackery MANDATED for US Vets!

H.R. 1017:
"To amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 and title 38, United States Code, to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and to expand access to such care and services."

This bill mandates the coverage of "periodic and preventative chiropractic examinations and services."

I wonder, How periodic? And what do these services prevent? And, uh... evidence?

Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] (introduced 2/12/2009)
Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] - 3/4/2009
Rep Chandler, Ben [KY-6] - 3/4/2009
Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] - 3/4/2009
Rep Gordon, Bart [TN-6] - 3/4/2009
Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] - 3/4/2009
Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 2/26/2009
Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 3/4/2009
Rep Walz, Timothy J. [MN-1] - 3/4/2009
Rep Young, C.W. Bill [FL-10] - 3/9/2009

Latest Major Action: 2/12/2009 Referred to House subcommittee.
Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

Here's an idea, Mr. Legislator:


Why allow a certain anti-MD, anti-vaccination cult a means of bypassing the rules of evidence that others must respect?

Legislating the notion that a medical claim about the body is true, or that some intervention has been proven safe and effective --when the evidence simply isn't there-- is a form of Lysenkoism. Lysenko's example illustrates how political interference in the scientific process can profoundly cripple a scientific community for decades.

Your health, my health, and the health of all Americans deserve no less than medical therapies tested according to sound scientific methods.

Please don't blur the boundary between medicine and pseudo-medicine. Please support the nascent but growing science-based medicine community in the United States by opposing H.R. 1017.

If you enjoy Whack-A-Mole-ing nonsense, do visit the Library of Congress. More:

Title: To require the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a plan to provide chiropractic health care services and benefits for certain new beneficiaries as part of the TRICARE program.

This bill includes language to limit chiropractic services to chiropractors. Not that I care, but there are some medical doctors and osteopaths out there willing to crack your back, so this might matter to them.

Rep Rogers, Mike D. [AL-3] (introduced 1/13/2009)
Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] - 1/13/2009
Rep Aderholt, Robert B. [AL-4] - 1/13/2009
Rep Bachus, Spencer [AL-6] - 1/13/2009
Rep Barrow, John [GA-12] - 3/5/2009
Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6] - 1/13/2009
Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] - 1/13/2009
Rep Brady, Robert A. [PA-1] - 1/13/2009
Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] - 3/2/2009
Rep Gordon, Bart [TN-6] - 2/26/2009
Rep Harper, Gregg [MS-3] - 2/3/2009
Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] - 1/13/2009
Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] - 1/13/2009
Rep Latham, Tom [IA-4] - 2/12/2009
Rep Latta, Robert E. [OH-5] - 3/9/2009
Rep LoBiondo, Frank A. [NJ-2] - 1/13/2009
Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] - 3/5/2009
Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] - 1/13/2009
Rep Paulsen, Erik [MN-3] - 3/5/2009
Rep Wamp, Zach [TN-3] - 3/5/2009
Rep Young, C.W. Bill [FL-10] - 3/6/2009

Latest Major Action: 2/6/2009 Referred to House subcommittee.
Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dear Medical Students: You've Been Had

AMSA, or the American Medical Students Association does not represent your interests. Look at this: http://www.amsa.org/naturopath.

Your "medical" organization is promoting naturopathy, that credulous crowd of anti-science, anti-vaccination, anti-pharmaceutical loons. Now what do you think about "PharmaFree"?

From where I sit, PharmaFree looks like a marketing project designed to discredit MDs and "BigPharma." The parties behind this conspiracy-mongering campaign are not disinterested. And, I suspect, they are not your friends (ok, that's conspiracy mongering on my part, but click the link!).

Why do drug manufacturers pay for research? Why do they pay for educational lunches? Because the onus is on the drug or device maker to prove that their product is safe and effective. It's always been thus and will be thus.

If drug company money for post-graduate education dried up, I have no idea who would pay for it. Think about that. And remember: the biases we can't see are the most dangerous.

Take a few pens. Eat a turkey wrap. Then go care for your patients. No one is stupid enough to believe that a ballpoint will corrupt you, for fuck's sake.

Note the politics promoted by AMSA. You're asked to support the expansion of primary care, so all Americans have access to good health care. You're asked to support preventive health care, to help keep costs down.

Just FYI:
1. "Expanding primary care" is sometimes code for: "mandate that health insurers recognize chiropractic and naturopathic physicians as primary care physicians."

2. "Preventive health care" is sometimes code for, "mandate that health insurers cover the cost of dietary supplements."

Read the fine print.

Once upon a time, there was an organization known as the "Cult Awareness Network." It was established by friends and family members of people suckered into cults, and served to provide information about some of the dubious activities of these groups. Then one day, the Church of Scientology bought the organization.

Addendum: As usual, Orac is way ahead of me.

Walking on Water

Yesterday's sunset, standing on the pond. Webbed tracks --probably a seagull.

Bacteria Tree

Very cool. Can't remember where I found it.

Note that it makes little sense without evilution.

Science vs. Faith

Found this at Two Blue Crabs, a site that is impossible to navigate and NSFW. Maybe 1/20 pics are amusing. More are unpleasant. You have been warned.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

AMA Med Students for Teaching Evolution

From the AMA-Medical Student Conference held in Orlando Nov 6-8 2008:

"Most controversially, the medical students passed a resolution calling for the AMA to support the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools. Though many students supported the theory of evolution as an integral component of scientific thought, this resolution was debated extensively before it was passed, as critics questioned whether this resolution was in the scope of the AMA’s mission."


Doctors give orders. For that to work, they must be granted status and authority.

In a third world country, the status may be enough. But in civil, democratic society, people need to understand the rationale behind the order --not entirely, not in all its details, of course. But they need a means of deciding, "that makes sense" verses, "I should get a second opinion."

There must exist a certain level of scientific literacy within a community else it will be overrun with pseudo-doctors and pseudo-science. Concepts fundamental to the biological sciences, such as genotypes, phenotypes, genomes, gene frequency, natural selection, and epidemiology, are part of that basic literacy. An awareness of the scientific process and an appreciation for the difference between a scientific consensus and a political consensus are other components of basic science literacy.

Presently, the time allowed for doctors and patients to communicate is hardly sufficient for real medicine. Add to that the need to debunk competing pseudo-medicine and the job becomes impossible.

Science literacy among our patients is relevant to the practice of medicine. So good on the AMA medical students!

Integrative Medicine: Just Like Medicine, Only Better!

In a previous post I explained my objection to "integrative medicine": if some CAM therapy works, why not prove it and so remove the need to "integrate" it with the set of proven therapies we call "medicine"?

Lately in my trolling runs 'round the intarwebs, I've noted a shift in the meaning of "integrative." Instead of the original meaning, "integrating conventional and alternative therapies," it appears in many contexts to mean, "integrating both mental and physical factors in our understanding of disease and wellness." The new science of integrative medicine is allegedly more wholistic and less reductionistic.

Alas, the Tufted Titmouse still must poop on "integrative," even though the newer spin is less irrational than the original definition. Why? Because "integrative" poops on Dr. Titmouse, and what goes around comes around.

Dr. Integrative, do you seriously believe that doctors didn't notice that patients had feelings and existential concerns before you came along and helpfully pointed that out?


Well then. Allow me to helpfully point out that you're a complete wanker.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Have You Overdosed on Pork Yet?

I sure have. My retinas are bleeding.

We do not want Senator Harkin drafting American healthcare policy. He's owned by the liars and crooks trying to cheat the rules of evidence.

Jesus you stupid Republicans. Here's some serious business you might sink your teeth into. Do I need to go up on the Risperdal?

The Other BigPharma

From Medical News Today 5-2-2008.

I submit that if this shit worked, all this advocacy would be unnecessary. Look at the bills these guys want. They want parity with prescription and OTC drugs, stuff proven to work. But these products would be OTC drugs if proven to work.

Industry Members Rally In Washington, D.C. For The Natural Products Association's 11th Annual Natural Products Day

More than 175 natural products industry stakeholders from 35 states and the District of Columbia gathered on Capitol Hill for the Natural Products Association's 11th annual lobbying event, Natural Products Day. Natural Products Association members representing every component of the natural products industry educated members of Congress and their aides about the association's legislative priorities, all of which promote consumer access and awareness of natural products.

"Nothing is more important that face-to-face meetings to establish relationships and a dialogue about the importance of natural products to the health of all Americans," said Debra Short, president of the Natural Products Association. "I'm pleased to report that we once again had a series of productive meetings with legislators and staff and a capacity crowd on hand at our Congressional Champions Awards Reception."

Short was referring to a packed evening reception where nearly 500 legislators and staff were able to sample a wide variety of natural products including health and beauty aids, dietary supplements, natural pet products and natural snacks and beverages, all donated by industry members (complete list of sponsors follows). The highlight of the reception was the presentation of the Natural Products Association's Congressional Champion Awards. On hand to receive their Industry Members Rally In Washington, D.C. For The Natural Products Association's 11th Annual Natural Products Day

As in past years, the event consisted of an early morning briefing session and breakfast before participants adjourned to attend pre-arranged meetings with various congressional leaders. Attendees then spent the afternoon in meetings with lawmakers and key staff members from their districts and states.

During their meetings with House members, the constituents asked legislators to support Rep. Edolphus Town's Dietary Supplement and Healthy Meal Replacement Tax Parity Act, H.R. 1107, which would ensure that natural products are given the same tax treatment as drugs and over-the-counter medications. Attendees also asked legislators to support H.R. 1363, introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, which would raise the standards for school lunch programs. In addition, participants also asked lawmakers to oppose H.R. 1249, a bill to ban the safe, effective supplement DHEA.

In their meetings with senators, Natural Products Association members asked lawmakers to support S. 771, a companion bill to H.R. 1363 proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin, which would raise the standards for school lunch programs, and S. 770, a bill that would allow disadvantaged individuals to purchase dietary supplements with their food stamps. The members also emphasized the importance of defeating S. 762 and S. 2470, bills that would restrict or prohibit the use of DHEA.

Also this year, the association offered a "virtual march on Washington" for members and allied groups. Participants who could not come to Washington were encouraged to contact their members of Congress by phone, by mail, or by e-mail, and to create and post videos on YouTube. Allied organization Seniors Coalition collaborated with the association on H.R. 1249, encouraging their members to join association members in contacting their representatives and senators.

Sen. Tom Harkin Speaks in Support of Herbal Supplements

Yet more evidence that Senator Tom Harkin is not the appropriate person to lead healthcare reform, if "evidence" matters.

Copypasta from some propaganda piece. Can you find the enthymemes?

If you attended the Herbalife Extravaganza*, you had the opportunity to hear Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) speak on the status of preventive healthcare in the U.S. One of the principal authors of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, which gave Americans the freedom and choice they enjoy in buying our products, and a long-time friend of Herbalife and Mark Hughes, Sen. Harkin recently spoke to Herbalife regarding his beliefs about the need for continued access to products like those made by Herbalife.

Q: Senator, our Distributors were very excited by your appearance in New Orleans. Why do you feel such a strong connection to Herbalife?

A: I strongly believe in helping people help themselves, and that’s what Herbalife’s all about. I’m also a long-time champion of preventive healthcare and good nutrition. I believe that by helping people take charge of their health, we’ll save lives and cut costs. Nearly half of the almost trillion dollars spent treating sickness annually goes toward helping people recover from illnesses that could have been prevented! We can all play a role in turning that around.

Q: As one of the chief architects of DSHEA, what do you see as the major challenges and threats facing our industry?

A: DSHEA, which passed both the Senate and House unanimously in 1994, has been crucial to protecting our access to healthful vitamins and nutritional supplements. It prevents the government from requiring Americans to get a prescription before purchasing the products they want and requires that all claims made on supplements be truthful. Unfortunately, there are people and organizations actively working to undermine support for DSHEA and supplements.

Q: DSHEA has come under attack at recent Congressional hearings. Doesn’t Congress understand the benefits of supplements and the safeguards DSHEA provides?

A: This points out how much work we have cut out for us in educating our elected officials. Supporters of natural healthcare and supplements must get involved in the process. Did you know that there are more highly paid lobbyists for the big drug companies than there are members of Congress? That’s more than 535! Clearly we need a grassroots effort on behalf of natural products. Without one, we’ll see a return to more paternalistic government policies that limit our freedom of choice.

Q: Do you have any words of advice for our Distributors as they pursue their dreams of building their businesses and improving their health?

A: Let me tell you something about my background because it has a lot to do with why I support who you are and what you do. My father was a coal miner, and my mother was an immigrant. She died when I was young. My family never had much money, but we were rich in values. The values my parents taught me helped me get ahead so I know the importance of opportunity–the kind of opportunity that Herbalife provides. I want to get rid of any obstacles in your path that keep you from climbing that ladder and reaching the American dream.
*LOL. Can people actually talk about their "extravaganza" without feeling silly?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ACA Biggest Winner 2002 US Elections

Dynamic Chiropractic 1-14-2003 (link taken down; available in Google cache.)

The Republican Party regained control of the U.S. Senate and gained more seats in the House of Representatives in November's midterm elections, but the biggest winner may have been the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). Of the 109 political races in which the ACA was involved, candidates endorsed by the ACA won 100 of those races - a victory rate of nearly 92 percent.

Among the winners on election night were Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Tom Harkin (D-IA). The ACA purchased radio ad spots for Harkin and Johnson, and played a crucial role in the re-election of both candidates.

"While I enjoyed support for my reelection from a broad range of organizations and individuals from around Iowa and the country, the support and counsel of the American Chiropractic Association and its members throughout Iowa were especially critical to my re-election victory," acknowledged Sen. Harkin. "I look forward to building on our strong friendship and working together to ensure fairness and equal treatment for doctors of chiropractic throughout the country."

Sen. Harkin is a longtime supporter of complementary and alternative medicine. Among his legislative accomplishments, he helped draft the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, and played an important role in the creation of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which now has an annual budget of over $100 million. He was also the first senator to officially support Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day (October 24, 2002).

"We are not only delighted at the prospect of continuing our friendship with Senator Tom Harkin, but we are thrilled to have a number of new friends in Congress with whom we will forge relationships as well," observed ACA President Daryl D. Wills, DC.

Sen. Johnson, while not as well-- known as Sen. Harkin, has been no less of an advocate of the chiropractic profession. He is a supporter of patients' rights - including the right of a patient to see a doctor of chiropractic - and has worked with other members of Congress to gain support for the inclusion of a chiropractic provision in the Medicare system.

In other states, the ACA sent targeted mailings to voters showing their endorsement for candidates with strong records of support for the chiropractic profession. This tactic proved successful in Missouri, where Republican candidate Jim Talent, who has led efforts to increase the availability of chiropractic care in the military, defeated incumbent Jean Carnahan (D-- MO) by more than 20,000 votes to win a seat in the Senate.

ACA's political action committee, ACA-PAC, spent approximately $250,000 on the 2002 congressional elections, with $90,000 directed toward pro-chiropractic Senate campaigns and $160,000 toward campaigns in the House.

The election victories for the profession come on the heels of the passage of the Health Care Safety Net Improvement Act, which includes doctors of chiropractic in the National Health Service Corps' student loan reimbursement program. President Bush signed the act into law on October 26.

Harkin Chiro Pork Party '98

From Dynamic Chiropractic – March 23, 1998, Vol. 16, Issue 07

Palmer College Will Headquarter Research Consortium
Nat'l Institutes of Health Cofunds

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin: " ... it is important that the federal government also spend money in chiropractic research as well, and we will continue to try to increase that funding."

Gary Mohr, Palmer's executive director of institutional advancement: "This is one of the biggest legislative victories this profession has ever had."

The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research will be the hub of a five-year, multi-institution, $2.7 million program to research chiropractic care.

The National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) and the National Institute for Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) have teamed up to co-fund a five-year, $2.7 million dollar grant to fund the establishment of research program designed to study the effectiveness of chiropractic care.

The grant brings about the formation of the Consortial Center for Chiropractic Research (CCCR), which along with Palmer College, is comprised of Kansas State University; the University of Iowa; Los Angeles College of Chiropractic; National College of Chiropractic; Northwestern College of Chiropractic; and Western States Chiropractic College.

The establishment of the Consortial Center for Chiropractic Research makes it the 11th specialty research center funded by the NIH's Office of Alternative Medicine.

The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research has been named the headquarters for the program. The foundation of such a program marks a substantial and historical achievement for the chiropractic profession.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a longtime supporter of chiropractic, announced the establishment of the study. "I am pleased to have played a role in this center that will bring recognition not only to Iowa, but also to the chiropractic profession, both on a state and national level."

Senator Harkin applauded the efforts of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges and the ACA for their roles in helping the federal government recognize the chiropractic profession. He added: "Because the federal government spends $13 billion on medical research in national institutions, it is important that the federal government also spend money in chiropractic research as well, and we will continue to try to increase that funding."

"This is one of the biggest legislative victories this profession has ever had," said Gary Mohr, Palmer's executive director of institutional advancement. "It's not just the funding. It's the first time the NIH will be spending their money on an ongoing basis to recognize the value and significance of chiropractic."

The CCCR's position is unique among the other research centers supported by the NIH in that it will be the only one focused on a system of care, rather than a disease or condition. The Consortial Center will examine the effectiveness of chiropractic health care and assist chiropractic researchers in developing high-quality research projects and significant scientific projects worthy of independent funding.

The CCCR aspires to achieve:

- establish a linkage of academic centers along with a network of chiropractic clinicians and investigators;

- develop a program to provide clinical, scientific and technical assistance to potential chiropractic investigators;

- offer research workshops, seminars and educational materials;

- be the focal point for training in research methodology, bioethics, biostatistics, clinical trial design, epidemiological and health services studies, and basic laboratory methods;

- link investigators to the technical expertise necessary to achieve research goals;

- evaluate the feasibility of using data from practicing chiropractors for research projects; and

- develop a review mechanism for scientific and technical merit of research proposals and implementing those proposals selected.

Before formation of the CCCR was officially announced, key investigators also met and drafted a list of priority criteria specific to the center's mission and goals. Key among those are the needs of the patients, clinical capabilities, and scientific methodology. This list will add support to chiropractic research that advances the profession's knowledge base, promotes patient health and recovery, and fosters chiropractic research that can hold up under close scrutiny.

Dr. William Meeker, who led a team-written proposal to establish the CCCR, will be the Consortial Center's principal investigator. Co-investigators include Cheryl Hawk, DC, PhD; Cynthia Long, PhD; Alan Adams, MS, DC; Gert Bronfort, DC, PhD; Gregory Cramer, DC, PhD; Maria Hondras, DC, MPH; Joel Pickar, DC, PhD, Joanne Nyiendo, PhD; and Malcom Pope, PhD, Dr. of Medical Science.

"This is for the entire profession," said Dr. Meeker, who directs research for the Palmer colleges through the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research. "It is housed at Palmer, but all the other institutions are integral to the success of it. The individuals involved all bring expertise in their areas. We're all gearing up to do a lot of training and seminars."

Ok. Anyone know what this pork party aka "research" produced?

The ChiroVoice Initiative

Science asks, "what is true?" not "what do you want?" Advocacy has no role in determining what is true.

Subluxations do not exist. Sorry. Writing your congressman won't change reality. Although it can fuck up US Healthcare for a generation.


With the prospect of health care reform making news headlines, chiropractic leaders from across the nation recently gathered in Washington, D.C., to meet with Congressional leaders and to stress the importance of chiropractic’s role in effective patient care. The group came together for the American Chiropractic Association’s (ACA) National Chiropractic Legislative Conference (NCLC).

Almost 600 doctors of chiropractic, students and supporters converged on the nation’s capital Feb. 25-28 to hear speeches from government leaders, to receive advocacy education and training, as well as to urge elected officials to support pro-chiropractic measures and provide patients with direct access to the essential services delivered by doctors of chiropractic.

“I’m proud to report that during this year’s NCLC, ACA representatives visited virtually every congressional office here in Washington. During these visits, our doctors presented a specific statement on national health care reform that emphasized the essential role chiropractic should play in any health care reform plan,” said ACA President Glenn Manceaux, DC. “ACA will continue to urge Congress to make the necessary investments to put America on the path to a health care system that maximizes chiropractic’s potential to provide high-quality, patient-centered care, while at the same time, saving the system money.”

Throughout NCLC, a recurring theme was the power of grassroots lobbying and the positive impact of patient voices. ACA leaders called for chiropractic offices nationwide to actively support the ChiroVoice initiative, the association’s national database of chiropractic patients and supporters. Launched in January 2009, ChiroVoice will allow ACA to mobilize coordinated campaigns to lobby Congress and the new administration on issues vital to patients’ access to chiropractic services.

“ACA’s campaign to create a national, secure database of patient contact information is active and growing. Thousands of patients have joined, but this is only the beginning,” Dr. Manceaux said. “The best way individual doctors of chiropractic can add momentum to ChiroVoice is to personally discuss the program with their patients and ask them to join at www.ChiroVoice.org.”

Keynote speaker and famed political consultant Paul Begala echoed the importance of leveraging the influence of chiropractic patients and grassroots lobbying efforts. He advised attendees to be visible, vocal, and accessible to their Congressional representatives.

“We have plenty of very good lobbyists who come with statistics and charts. Don’t do that. Tell stories about what [your] constituents are getting from you and your services,” Begala advised. “Facts tell, but stories sell.”

Known for his role on CNN’s “Situation Room” and other political programs, Begala predicted that major health care reform will happen during the Obama presidency—possibly in the first year. He commented that unlike in 1993, the insurance industry seems ready for real reform, which may speed the process on Capitol Hill.

Sharing similar sentiments was longtime chiropractic supporter Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who noted that the prospect of true health care reform was music to his ears. “But friends,” he said, “I can’t win this fight all by myself. I am going to count on ACA to mobilize its members and share three simple messages with every member of Congress.

“First, we need to replace the current sick care system with a genuine health system. We need a health care system that integrates the very best scientifically-based medicines—whether conventional or alternative. And, we need to end the discrimination against chiropractic,” Sen. Harkin asserted.

Several other members of Congress visited with NCLC attendees, including: Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La., Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Maine), and Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.).

ACA House of Delegates Meeting
Each year, NCLC is held in conjunction with an official business meeting of the ACA Board of Governors (BOG) and ACA’s House of Delegates (HOD).

“During these challenging economic times and as we face the likelihood of unprecedented changes to health care, the ACA Board of Governors remains committed to providing leadership not only for ACA, but the entire chiropractic profession,” said ACA Chairman John Gentile, DC. “The Board will continue to place a high priority on expanding chiropractic services within Medicare and ensuring chiropractic inclusion in any health care reform plan, and we will work with the Chiropractic Summit and other chiropractic organizations to present a united front on the issues of grave importance to our viability.”

The HOD portion of the event included a presentation by Christine Goertz, DC, PhD, about the importance of DC participation in the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI). Dr. Goertz explained that the intention of the PQRI is to enhance the value of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries. Specifically, the PQRI authorizes a financial incentive for eligible professionals who voluntarily report on quality measures.

Calling PQRI “an amazing opportunity” to level the playing field, Dr. Goertz warned that, “if no one participates, [chiropractic will] fall further and further outside the health care delivery system.”

In other business:
More than 380 Student ACA (SACA) members from all 18 colleges attended the Student Leader Meeting.
Prominent women from the chiropractic profession offered their unique perspective to students through the SACA Women’s Forum.
As part of the State Association Roundtable, ACA shared its perspective and efforts on health care reform with representatives from more than 20 state associations.
Additional coverage of both NCLC and the House of Delegates meeting will be available in the April 2009 issue of ACA News, the association’s flagship publication.

Harkin Commissions Chiropractors in Armed Forces

A concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Defense should take immediate steps to appoint doctors of chiropractic as commissioned officers in the Armed Forces.

- Whereas the urgent needs of military personnel in the field of operations include access to the widest possible range of health care options, especially in the area of care of the spine and related structures of the body;

- Whereas providing military personnel in the field of operations with access to chiropractic care will increase the cost effectiveness of military health care expenditures by taking advantage of the conservative, drugless, and non-surgical care option offered by chiropractic care;

- Whereas back injuries are the leading cause of lost service time and disability in the Armed Forces;

- Whereas military personnel in the field of operations or on shipboard can access chiropractic care only through commissioned chiropractic officers;

- Whereas access to chiropractic care through commissioned chiropractic officers will enhance the combat readiness of military personnel by offering a non-pharmaceutical option for the health care needs of such personnel;

Now, therefore, be it Resolved: That the Secretary of Defense should take immediate steps to establish a career path for doctors of chiropractic to be appointed as commissioned officers in all branches of the Armed Forces for purposes of providing chiropractic services to members of the Armed Forces.

Source: S.CON.RES.75/H.CON.RES.294 08-SCR75 on Apr 10, 2008

What If Other Parts Of Life Were Like Healthcare?

From Better Health.
The Grocery Store

Upon entering the grocery store, you notice something odd. There are very few different brands of items stocked on the shelves. Your choice is limited to only the brands that have struck the best deal with the grocery chain. These brands have to send the grocery store a large “rebate” check because they are carried exclusively in this store.

When you go to the meat counter and ask for some steak, the butcher asks you if you have first tried the ground beef. You may not purchase steak unless you have first tried and disliked the ground beef. The ground beef, of course, is actually ground turkey, but the butcher says that these two are basically interchangeable and so the substitution is permitted.

The grocer can’t post prices because all customers have different negotiated prices. Posting prices, in fact, would be considered collusion since other grocers could find out exactly what this grocer is charging. Some congressman in California decided that grocers are all crooks and should not be allowed to share what they charge for things.

You go to the cash register to pay. The total is $380, but the cashier informs you that your negotiated price is only $150. A poor person behind you has not had the chance to negotiate a price and so must pay full price for everything.

There are a few people in the store who don’t have to pay anything. They have had the price negotiated for them by the government, and so will come to the store very often. They sometimes come for real food, but are often coming for candy and cigarettes - all paid for by the government.

This experience leaves you more tired and confused, and so you decide to go home.

Tom Harkin Addresses Chiropractors

Tom addressing the American Chiropractic Association

10-26-2006 Meeting of the American Chiropractic Association.

Of course MDs do not know everything. And it does seem that chiropracters can help people with certain back problems.

But we can't decide what works and what does't work based on anecdotes and recollections. If that's our standard, we'll be spending a lot of federal funds on E-meters and cow urine next year.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tom Harkin for Evidence-Free Healthcare

Senator Harkin Champions Natural Health Care at Northwestern Health Sciences University

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, visited Northwestern Health Sciences University on Jan. 18 2008, to encourage students, staff, and faculty to continue their dedication to natural health care, and promise his support on a national level.

Harkin has been a longtime supporter of natural health care, making several references to his personal experiences – and success – with chiropractic and acupuncture care.

In addition, Harkin said one of his friends in Congress was diagnosed with cancer in the late 1980s, and although the outlook was bleak, he survived and attributes his victory to the help of natural health care.

Harkin said he was prompted to look at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget and discovered not one penny was going into alternative health care. Harkin went on to tackle this issue, and passed legislation to allocate $2 million to natural health care annually through the NIH.

“I’m pursuing a broader legislative agenda, focusing on disease prevention and wellness,” Harkin said. “There are very few incentives to keep you well.”

Nearly 50 to 60 percent of chronic disease paid for by Medicare is preventable, Harkin said, mentioning that billions are spent on pills and surgeries, treating symptoms instead of the causes of illness.

“One definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over, yet expecting different results,” Harkin said. “By that definition our health care system in America is truly insane. It’s uneconomic, unwise and unstable. (Natural health care) is good for the physical health of America and the fiscal health of our government.”

Mark Zeigler, DC, president of Northwestern, introduced Harkin with a warm welcome and appreciation of his work in Washington D.C.

“Senator Harkin is working on a bill to guarantee the coverage of preventative services,” Dr. Zeigler said, agreeing with Harkin’s assessment that America has a sick care system instead of a health care system. “You rarely find that kind of commitment on the Senate floor,” Dr. Zeigler said of Harkin’s efforts.

Harkin said while his role is to try and reduce as many barriers for natural health care practitioners as possible, it is the responsibility of practitioners and patients to communicate with their congressmen about the need for natural health care programs.

Northwestern Health Sciences University offers a wide array of choices in natural health care education including chiropractic, Oriental medicine, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, human biology, and integrative health and wellness. The University has more than 900 full-time students on a 25-acre campus in Bloomington, Minn.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dr. George Lundberg for Surgeon General

Dr. Val likes him. Her write up is reassuring.

Maybe the woo-pocalypse can be averted.



I just sent this letter to the White House:

Dear President Obama,

Please consider Steven Novella MD, a neurologist on faculty at Yale University, for the position of US Surgeon General.

You may find out more about Dr. Novella at his web site, Neurologica (http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog).

Although I've never met Dr. Novella and have no direct relationship with him, I know him from his regular podcast, the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, which you may download from this site:


Dr. Novella's communication skills are excellent. He's particularly good at maintaining emotional objectivity while weighing the evidence concerning controversial issues.

Thank you for your time,






I Googled "Tom Harkin chiropractic." I started to make scheduled posts on what I found. But it's a giant fucking mountain of pork. Pork pork pork. Pork as far as the eye can see.


No, that wasn't what I wanted to say...



Oh, the humanity. Oh, the travesty, the corruption of science.

I can't take it.

Harkin Serves up Pork for Chiropractic College

From Today's Chiropractic March 2002

Palmer College of Chiropractic

PCC has received its second $1.7 million federal grant to assist in the expansion of its library and learning resource facilities, following previous $1.7 million in funding that came in December 2000. Both allocations were authorized by the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations subcommittee, and both fundings were secured by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the ranking member of the subcommittee.

“There are 20 million Americans receiving chiropractic care (yearly), with half a million of those patients in Iowa,” noted Senator Harkin. “I’m pleased that I was able to secure funding for expansion of this important Iowa institution.”

“To our knowledge, this total is the largest-ever appropriation from the federal government for a single building project on the campus of a chiropractic college,” said Palmer Chancellor Michael Crawford, alluding to the combined funding of $3.4 million for the expansion of the Palmer library and learning resource facilities.

In addition to the library improvements, the $3.4 million grant will go to improving the conference center; the chiropractic research data center; the federal government depository; the distance learning center; the chiropractic archives and special collections; and work areas for the faculty.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Senator Tom Harkin, Chiropractic Champion

Senator Tom Harkin, Chiropractic Champion of the Year

From a 1996 ChiroWeb article.

"I have been especially privileged to carry the chiropractic banner for you in Washington," Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told the Iowa Chiropractic Society in a speech this past summer. And indeed he has carried chiropractic's banner.

Senator Harkin has been such an important advocate of chiropractic in the nation's capitol, that this year our traditional "chiropractor of the year" award has metamorphosed into the "Chiropractic Champion of the Year." Senator Harkin is that champion.

Senator Harkin has, among other chiropractic issues, recently zeroed in on two fronts: 1) to have the National Institutes of Health specifically focus on chiropractic research, through the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM), by creating a Center for Chiropractic Health; 2) to get funding for a program for chiropractic research and training.

Both of these objectives were met when President Clinton signed into law on Sept. 30, 1996 the 1997 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act (see Nov. 18, 1996 DC).

The act gave chiropractic:

- Nearly $1 million for continuation of the four-year chiropractic demonstration grants, an increase of $110,000 from the amount appropriated for 1996.

- More than $4.1 million for continuation of the "rural health interdisciplinary training program," an improvement of $445,000 over last year.

- A Center for Chiropractic Research within the National Institutes of Health (Office of Alternative Medicine). The funding for the center is expected to be between $250,000 and one-half million dollars the first year, the bulk going to chiropractic research grants.

The ACA, the Assoc. of Chiropractic Colleges, and Palmer University were all active in pushing for these measures, and Senator Tom Harkin was our man in Washington.

Who is Tom Harkin? He is a fourth generation Iowan, born in Cumming, Iowa (pop. 151) in 1939. His father was a coal miner who, like so many other miners, was afflicted with black lung disease from years of breathing coal dust. His mother was a Slovenian immigrant who died when Tom was just 10-years-old.

Tom won a Navy ROTC scholarship and used it to earn his degree in government and economics at Iowa State University. From 1962-67, he was a Navy jet pilot, and served three more years in the active Naval Reserves.

In 1970, as a staffer for Iowa Congressman Neal Smith, Harkin accompanied a congressional delegation to South Vietnam. He was responsible for exposing the inhuman conditions that political prisoners were suffering in the "tiger cages" of a South Vietnamese prison at Con Son Island. Harkin released a detailed account of the conditions in those cages, including photographs.

After completing his law degree in 1972, Tom Harkin looked towards politics. In 1974 he defeated the incumbent to win a congressional seat (Iowa's 5th District). In 1984, he again beat an incumbent to win a U.S. Senate seat. In 1990 he won a second term, and a third term this past November.

Senator Harkin believes that chiropractic care is primary health care, and that "Americans shouldn't be forced to go through any so-called 'gatekeeper' to get it." He continues to fight for Medicare coverage for chiropractic x-rays, and has spoken of that concern to Secretary Shalala. "We're getting closer to finally resolving it, and I'm going to keep fighting until this issue is taken care of in a fair manner."

When Senator Harkin spoke to the Iowa Chiropractic Society in July of this year, he presented a modified "top-7" list of how DCs should go about educating members of Congress and other decision makers about their profession. We think that advice is worth wider dissemination:

- Personalize the issue and share your story.

- Talk common sense economics. Chiropractic is part of the solution to health care inflation.

- Don't underestimate the opposition. We are right doesn't mean we will win.

- Demand answers. Amid all the talk about ending discrimination and promoting fairness in America, why are we still officially sanctioning discrimination against chiropractors in this country?

- Make sure decision makers know the people, their constituents, are on our side. Every day tens of thousands of consumers decide to spend their own money on chiropractic services, even when other medical treatments are available at a subsidized cost, or at no cost.

- Enlist support. Get your patients involved. They've got to contact Congress, too. I can't overstate how important that is, and the kind of difference it can make.

- Make sure they know that you will not go gently into that good night. We're going to keep up the fight for chiropractic care, and we're not going to stop until we reach our goal.

Senator Harkin finished his speech to the Iowa chiropractors with this assertion: "I won't consider the health care battle won until every American can get coverage for chiropractic care, and discrimination against providers is outlawed once and for all." We think you'll agree that Senator Harkin was a good choice for our chiropractic champion award.

On a personal note, Tom Harkin is married to Ruth, a graduate of the same law school as Tom. She is the president/CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. Tom and Ruth have two daughters, Amy, 20, and Jenny, who turns 15 this December.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Adventures of Dr. Camwoo

Dr Camwoo reaches in his pocket and extracts a small vial.

Camwoo: "We have found that goat's urine near the heart chakra helps the patient recover with less stress."

Surgeon: "WTF? You can't put that in my sterile field! Get out of here!"

In a later news interview:

Reporter: "So tell us about integrative healthcare."

Camwoo: "Yes, we now have learned of the integrative sterile field, which combines the sterile with something that is not sterile, so nothing is left out."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I am learning about my complementary and alternative government.
Conventional medicine is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses.
And there you have it: Conventional medicine is what doctors do. Doctors are practitioners of conventional medicine.
CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.
Thus we see that CAM and conventional medicine are different. You can tell because they are in different piles.
The list of what is considered to be CAM changes continually, as those therapies that are proven to be safe and effective become adopted into conventional health care and as new approaches to health care emerge... [my bold]

Integrative medicine combines treatments from conventional medicine and CAM for which there is some high-quality evidence of safety and effectiveness.
Wait. You just said that CAM therapies proven safe and effective become part of conventional medicine. Now you're defining a hybrid category that mixes conventional medicine and CAM, but only the CAM bits shown to be safe and effective.


There are four types of CAM practices:

1. Mind-Body Medicine (meditation, prayer, mental healing)
2. Biologically Based Practices (herbs, foods, vitamins)
3. Manipulative and Body-Based Practices (chiropractic, massage)
4. Energy Medicine (biofield therapies, bioelectromagnetic-based therapies)

That last one may need some 'splainin':
Biofield therapies are intended to affect energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body. The existence of such fields has not yet been scientifically proven.
Hope that's clear: biofielders manipulate something that is not there, apparently.
NCCAM's mission is to explore complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, train CAM researchers, and disseminate authoritative information to the public and professionals.



SCIENCE NO CAN HAZ!!!11!!!1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Shade Grown Coffee

From the Smithsonian:

"Shade-grown" refers to the way coffee has been traditionally farmed. For generations, coffee shrubs have been planted in the shade of tall trees, making these traditional coffee plantations excellent homes for birds and other forest-dwelling wildlife.

Over the past 30 years, more than half of the traditional shade-grown coffee farms in Latin America have been converted to "sun-coffee" farms to increase production. This newer method entails clearing or thinning the shade trees and growing coffee plants under full or nearly full sun conditions. These changes also demand the use of agrochemicals like synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to counter the effects of eliminating the shaded agroforestry system.

The Smithsonian site has some interactive pages that crash Internet Explorer on my puter. Chrome works fine.

Google around and find out where you can buy bird-friendly coffee in your area. The songbirds will thank you.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Integrative Reporting to Keep News Interesting

Statement by Senator Tom Harkin.


"I welcome you to this gathering of the Committee for Serious Business. As you are aware, President Obama has challenged us to draft a bill that might transform the world of journalism. This we shall do, and before the year's close.

"I must thank our committee chair, Senator Kennedy, for allowing me a turn in the comfy seat. Of course we all look forward to his speedy return to the Senate, thanks to our capacity for near-delusional wishful belief.

"I am pleased to co-chair this morning’s hearing with Senator Mikulski. And I am eager to hear our distinguished witnesses’ ideas on using integrative reporting to improve news quality and to reduce journalism costs.

"It is fashionable these days to quote stuff from famous people. And so I remind you now of the seminal words of Big Brother as recorded in 1984:
'The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. To save our country we must disenthrall ourselves, think anew and speak anew, in doublethink and newspeak thusly:
Ignorance is strength.
Unproven is proven.
Fiction is fact.'
"Clearly, the time has come to 'think anew' and to 'disenthrall ourselves' from the dogmas and biases of our present system of journalism. For too long, reporters have suffered under the limitations imposed by mainstream standards of objective investigation. Discrimination against alternative methods of reporting can be seen in the way conventional rules of evidence seem to always favor 'facts' above other parts of a story, such as hearsay, conjecture, rumor, or those little amusing embellishments that can make a dull piece really pop!

"It is time to end the discrimination against alternative reporting.

"It is time for America’s news agencies to emphasize coordination between the dissemination of information and top-notch creative writing.

"And it is time to adopt an integrative approach that takes advantage of the very best reporting, whether of the conventional form with its tedious emphasis on 'reality' or the newer, more inventive style that often feels truer in the reader's heart.

"This is about giving people the pragmatic alternatives they want while ending discrimination against unconventional reporters. It is about improving the output of our news agencies, which, frankly, can be way too boring. And, yes, it is about reducing the cost of journalism. Generally speaking, alternative, fictional accounts of current events are less expensive and less intrusive - and we need to take advantage of that.

"The United States currently spends more than any other nation on news reporting, yet we know less about current affairs than most other developed nations and even some developing countries. We need a paradigm shift that places a much greater emphasis on building an audience rather than merely providing facts to people who'd like to know things. Integrative journalism can help us achieve this goal.

"This has been a priority of mine going back many years. In 1992, at my urging, Congress passed legislation creating the Office of Made-up News. In 1998, I sponsored legislation to elevate that Office to what, today, is the less silly-sounding National Center for Complementary and Alternative Journalism. That Center is sponsoring extraordinarily important reporting. And by 'important' I mean very nearly plausible.

"Since 1992 the field has evolved and matured. Today, we are not just talking about alternative practices but also the integration between conventional and alternative reporting in order to achieve truly integrative journalism. We need old-school journalists and newer, more creative writers talking with each other, collaborating to tell the whole story, including the juicy, made-up parts the public loves to hear. And this is the model we intend to build into our Journalism Reform Bill.

"On several occasions, I have laid down a public marker, saying that if we pass a bill that greatly extends news coverage but does nothing to create eye-popping drama, then we will have failed the American people, many of whom recently dropped a small fortune on Hi-Def TVs.

"Well, this morning, I want to lay down a second marker: If we fail to seize this unique opportunity to adopt a kick-ass, surround-sound enhanced, Blu-ray enabled, drama-llama approach to American journalism, then FAIL CONGRESS HAZ FAIL!!!1!

"...and America... *sigh*... has a sad."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Autism Quackery

Through the Looking Glass: My Involvement with Autism Quackery, James R. Laidler, MD.

Bumped into this nice article I may print for a couple of parents. Excerpt:

The final step in my awakening came during a Disneyland vacation. My younger son was still on a gluten- and casein-free diet, which we both swore had been a significant factor in his improvement. We had lugged at least 40 pounds of special food on the plane with us. In an unwatched moment, he snatched a waffle and ate it. We watched with horror and awaited the dramatic deterioration of his condition that the “experts” told us would inevitably occur. The results were astounding—absolutely nothing happened. I began to suspect that I had been very foolish.

In the following months, we stopped every treatment except speech and occupational therapy for both boys. They did not deteriorate and, in fact, continued to improve at the same rate as before—or faster. Our bank balance improved, and the circles under our eyes started to fade. And quite frankly, I began to get mad at myself for being so gullible and for misleading other parents of autistic children.

Looking back on my experiences with "alternate" autism therapies, they seem almost unreal, like Alice's adventures in Wonderland. Utter nonsense treated like scientific data, people nodding in sage agreement with blatant contradictions, and theories made out of thin air and unrelated facts—and all of it happening happening right here and now, not in some book. Real people are being deceived and hurt, and there won't be a happy ending unless enough of us get together and write one.

My personal journey through the looking glass has ended. I stepped into “alternative” medicine up to my neck and waded out again, poorer but wiser. I now realize that the thing the “alternative” practitioners are really selling is hope—usually false hope—and hope is a very seductive thing to those who have lost it. It is really not surprising that people will buy it even when their better judgment tells them not to do so.