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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 11:15 AM
Original message
Thank you, Cecil!
Edited on Fri Mar-10-06 11:17 AM by Orrex
Excerpt:
As soon as you begin to list toxins, however, it's obvious the detox regimens you describe aren't apt to be much good at getting rid of them. Better you should stop smoking, eat and drink less (and exercise more), and quit driving that SUV. But how much fun is that? It's more entertaining to spend a few days and sometimes a pile of money on a water fast, an herbal diet, chelation or "ayurvedic" therapy, or some other form of new-agey hokum, after which you can resume your wicked ways.

Another excerpt:
the current consensus is that chelation is effectively snake oil.

Read all about it here.

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RedOnce Donating Member (519 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 11:38 AM
Response to Original message
1. NIH - Chelation Therapy Study
Survivors of Heart Attacks Being Sought
03-07-06

Heart attack survivors age 50 and older are being recruited for a national study of chelation therapy and high-dose vitamins as possible tools for treating dangerously narrowed arteries.

The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, is scheduled to involve about 2,000 volunteers and 100 medical providers nationwide. The list includes Hematology-Immunology Consultants in Memphis, 767-1011.

The treatment uses an artificial protein component to pull metals from the bloodstream so they can be excreted in urine. It is approved to treat lead poisoning, but not heart disease. Volunteers will be randomly assigned to receive either chelation therapy or an inactive solution and either high-dose vitamins or inactive pills.


http://search.lef.org/cgi-src-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=0&p...



More information about the study is available at the NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine's - Chelation Therapy Web site; http://nccam.nih.gov/chelation /

The NIH is one of eight agencies under the Public Health Service (PHS) in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Good info
The problem is that people (some even in this forum) embrace chelation therapy to treat autism, cardiac disease, and a range of other unrelated conditions, and they base their choice on personal testimony or on faulty or nonexistent science.



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RedOnce Donating Member (519 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Good point! But...that is their right. Also, their courage may lead to..
the advancement of science.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Only if they adopt practices consistent with the scientific method
Which currently they do not, in the main.

You're right, though--great advances can require considerable courage. But they must maintain strict intellectual and scientific discipline. The twin slogans "what can it hurt" and "I think it makes me feel better" have no place in serious scientific inquiry, but they're the two main pillars of the "alternative" "medicine" industry.
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RedOnce Donating Member (519 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 02:01 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I agree, but I was thinking more along the lines of...
the anecdotal evidence from those with courage may motivate someone with the scientific rigor and financial backing to actually do the study.

Just because it hasn't been proven (yet) doesn't necessarily mean it won't work.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 03:05 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Sure, but...
Many of the most popular alternative practices have been thoroughly debunked or else have never been borne out through scientific testing. In these cases, the jury is no longer out--the verdict is in, and many "therapies" are nonsense.

Of course, people still shell out billions annually for them. The entire alternative medicine industry is based on the principle that you spell out:

Just because it hasn't been proven (yet) doesn't necessarily mean it won't work.

Intellectual honesty should compel the consumer to recognize that a product alleged to have medicinal value must meet a higher standard than "no scientific support but also hasn't been disproven yet."
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RedOnce Donating Member (519 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 04:20 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. If they were actually disproved scientifically, I agree.
Otherwise, in my opinion (and apparently in the opinion of the FDA), the jury is still out.

I'm not at all sure what the phrase "thoroughly debunked" actually means.

"never been borne out through scientific testing" makes them highly suspect in my book. But,there are still many unanswered questions. Were we testing and measuring the right parameters? In other words - did we understand the true mechanism of their action? Was our measuring equipment sensitive enough to separate the data from the background noise? Etc., etc.

I'm not very concerned for the consumer. He/she will spend far less and be far, far safer with his alternative choices than he will with either Big Pharma or Big Medicine.

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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 09:06 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Those are the standard claims of "alternative" "medicine" practitioners
I'm not at all sure what the phrase "thoroughly debunked" actually means.

Generally, it means either that the claim has been shown to be overwhelmingly inconsistent with observed reality (eg. chelation therapy can reverse cardiac deterioration), or that the claim is fundamentally worthless (eg. mercury is toxic so anything that has any mercury in it, in any form, is equally toxic). A non-falsifiable claim is likewise worthless.

"never been borne out through scientific testing" makes them highly suspect in my book. But,there are still many unanswered questions. Were we testing and measuring the right parameters? In other words - did we understand the true mechanism of their action? Was our measuring equipment sensitive enough to separate the data from the background noise? Etc., etc.

Well, then it's up to the proponents of these magical therapies to come up with a strict and repeatable test that can empirically demonstrate them to be effective. It is not up to the establishment to prove or disprove every new kid on the block. The new kid has to make its case convincingly, or else it can't responsibly be accepted as a legitimate medical treatment.

Incidentally, I used the term "magical" because any statements about phenomena "too subtle to be detected" are by definition statements of faith and have no place in scientific investigation, when the phenomena that they describe can be explained through existing means.

I'm not very concerned for the consumer. He/she will spend far less and be far, far safer with his alternative choices than he will with either Big Pharma or Big Medicine.

That's likewise a statement of faith, and it's hardly true in all cases. Many people (the late Coretta Scott King, for example) forego actual treatment in favor of bogus feel-good, new-agey procedures, and they wind up the worse for it.

Someone at this point usually will ask me "who are you to say that they don't have the right to make their own medical decisions?" The answer, of course, is that they clearly have the right to make those decisions, but the charlatans and hucksters who make a buck (or who simply wish to further an anti-AMA/anti-FDA crusade) clearly do not have the right to defraud people who are desperate for a cure.
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RedOnce Donating Member (519 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. I doubt that anything can be "thoroughly debunked"...
without some scientific testing.

Complementary and Alternative approaches are not required to be "empirically demonstrated to be effective", that is something that you seem to be demanding. They are not currently regulated and the "establishment" already allows and even supports complementary and alternative approaches.

For example here is the National Institutes of Health's "National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine" (NCCAM) http://nccam.nih.gov /

Phenomena "too subtle to be detected" is nothing new, it has been a common story throughout the history of science. New "discoveries" are often made following recent improvements to the measuring methods and/or equipment.

How many people are killed or injured by allopathic medicine? Here is just one example: 1.3 million people are injured annually in the United States following so-called "medication errors http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 11:18 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. Oh boy.
Edited on Mon Mar-13-06 11:21 AM by Orrex
I doubt that anything can be "thoroughly debunked" without some scientific testing.

Totally untrue! If a claim is logically false, nonsensical, or non-falsifiable, then the claim is debunked from the moment that it's made. Also, a claim that is a rehashing of but substantially identical to a previously debunked claim (eg. "I can psychically hear the voices of dead people") does not require a brand new process of debunking. The same is true of "alternative" "medicine" claims which are simply rephrasings of claims already debunked.

Complementary and Alternative approaches are not required to be "empirically demonstrated to be effective", that is something that you seem to be demanding. They are not currently regulated and the "establishment" already allows and even supports complementary and alternative approaches.

In this passage you are equating "currently regulated" with "scientifically sound," and I submit that this is a dangerous and inaccurate equation.

In matters of healthcare, I demand a high degree of correlation between the results of scientific analysis and the claims of the proponents of a given treatment. The fact that "alternative" "medicine" (and, by the way, "complementary" "medicine" is simply a euphemism for "alternative" "medicine") is not regulated is hardly a glowing endorsement of its efficacy. Instead, it indicates that the industry is a
no-man's-land of snakeoil peddlars and poorly-informed consumers.

And I need to take issue with a particular part of your post. Here's what you wrote:
Phenomena "too subtle to be detected" is nothing new, it has been a common story throughout the history of science. New "discoveries" are often made following recent improvements to the measuring methods and/or equipment.

Now please reread what I wrote:
Incidentally, I used the term "magical" because any statements about phenomena "too subtle to be detected" are by definition statements of faith and have no place in scientific investigation, when the phenomena that they describe can be explained through existing means.

See the difference? I'm not claiming that "too subtle" phenomena have no place in science. Instead, I'm pointing out that "too subtle" phenomena are poor choices to use as explanations for an effect when existing phenomena can explain the effect. And if observed phenomena can not explain the effect, then one may posit that a "too subtle" phemonenon exists, but one absolutely can not summarily declare that the "too subtle" phenomenon exists and is responsible for the miraculous reported effect. Incidentaly, this simple fact decimates the entirety of the "energy healing" cult including Reiki, therapeutic touch, traditional acupuncture, traditional chiropractic, etc. Practitioners of all of these assert that they can detect "energy" undetectable by any science or instrument, yet they, with their mere flesh-and-bone, can discern the patterns of chi and whatever. Sorry, but that's a religion, not science.

Incidentally, I encourage you to examine this thread as well, wherein some people express fears about "the medical profession," but those fears are anecdotally based, poorly supported, and in general demonstrate the emotion-over-reason approach people often apply to this discussion.
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RedOnce Donating Member (519 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 12:53 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. I think you took my comment to literally...
Let's use an example to better understand what I was getting at:
Please "thoroughly debunk" the claim "Milk is healthy for you." or, If you prefer, the exact opposite "Milk is unhealthy for you." without using any scientific testing as evidence.

You state; "In this passage you are equating "currently regulated" with "scientifically sound," and I submit that this is a dangerous and inaccurate equation." This is simply not true, re-read the passage. I am saying that the "establishment" (as you called it) not only allows, but actively supports alternative approaches and I offered this government website http://nccam.nih.gov as support.

With regard to your definition of "phenomena too subtle to be detected", please scientifically explain placebo effect, nocebo effect and spontaneous disease remission.

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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Well, meet me half-way
I may have taken you too literally, but that's how it goes. Proponents of "alternative" "medicine" are making definitive claims about unverified medical and quasi-medical procedures. Therefore it is up to them to prove them; it is not up to me (or the AMA or the FDA) to debunk them.

Let's use an example to better understand what I was getting at:
Please "thoroughly debunk" the claim "Milk is healthy for you." or, If you prefer, the exact opposite "Milk is unhealthy for you." without using any scientific testing as evidence.


That claim is not relevant to my argument. I took your post to mean that every asserted claim must be tested scientifically before it can be considered to be debunked. I countered that some claims are false or meaningless from the moment that they are made.

But if we must cling to your example, then I propose this: perform a study of some large number of individuals of similar baseline health, diet, genetic type, and economic standing. From one third of these (determined randomly) withhold milk, substituting it with an indistinguishable placebo. Provide milk to another third as part of their routine diet, and let the other third consume milk in whatever quantity they desire. After some extended period (a year, five years, ten years, whatever) evaluate the relative health of each sample group and compare the results. If a discernable pattern is visible, and if the consumption of milk is the only variable at play, you'll have some good data in support of (or maybe contradicting) your hypothesis.

I should, at this point, underscore the problem of non-specific claims, which are so deliberately vague as to be scientifically worthless. "Acupuncture has benefits" is a good example of such a worthlessly vague statement.

and I offered this government website http://nccam.nih.gov as support.

I'm not going to read the whole website, nor should I be required to do so. Since you are apparently familiar with the site's contents, why don't you give me a specific, quoted excerpt wherein the NIH speficially endorses unverified and unverifiable "medical" practices. Absent this, please provide the quoted excerpt that inclines you to conclude that the NIH supports "alternative" "medicine."

With regard to your definition of "phenomena too subtle to be detected", please scientifically explain placebo effect, nocebo effect and spontaneous disease remission.

I don't understand the question. Are you asserting that some outside force is at work in these cases? Or are you asking me to define the precise mechanism of each? Sorry, but that's not a reasonable request to make. I could as readily ask you for an equation that specifically defines the functioning of chi or some other hokum.

If you're asking how I think they work in general, I would offer that the first two take advantage of perception, rather than affecting the underlying condition that they're intended to treat or induce. Any effect upon the underlying condition is secondary to the alteration of patient perception, and the effects are usually pain- or comfort-related in any case. For example, no one has ever taken a sugar pill and enjoyed instantaneous healing of a fractured leg.

Spontaneous disease remission is likewise well-documented but poorly understood. Therefore science makes no specific claims about it, other than to declare that it appears to occur. Alternative practitioners leap on this as "proof" that their particular brand of snakeoil is therefore proven to be effective, but that's clearly baloney. It harkens back to the pseudoscientific adage: if you can't specifically disprove the phenomenon in which I believe, then you have proven it. Garbage, but it is the foundation of "alternative" "medicine."

It is foolish to support any belief that a lack of scientific understanding is the same as an endorsement of a pseudoscientific claim. That's simply a reformulation of the centuries-old (and debunked centuries ago) God-of-the-Gaps argument for the existence of God. Sorry, but it's nonsense.
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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 01:51 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. I have a simple question
Do you feel that people who sometimes make decisions partially using their "gut feelings" and intuition as succombing to "magical thinking"? And that it is best to avoid such type thinking and guard against using this in any decision whatsoever? This is a philosophical question................



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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 02:21 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Not quite as simple as it might appear, I think.
Do you feel that people who sometimes make decisions partially using their "gut feelings" and intuition as succombing to "magical thinking"?

Well, it depends, doesn't it? If their "gut feelings" incline them to rely upon supernatural phenomena, then I'd say that, yes, they're succumbing to magical thinking.

If their "gut feelings" incline them to make a hasty decision based on incomplete information regarding the subject of the decision, then it may or may not be "magical thinking," depending upon the nature of their ultimate decision. Exception: if they ascribe some kind of "higher" or more "primal" wisdom to their "gut feeling," then they are definitely succumbing to magical thinking.

And that it is best to avoid such type thinking and guard against using this in any decision whatsoever? This is a philosophical question.

I can answer only according to my experience, of course.

I have never encountered (first-hand or otherwise) an occurence or event that was more completely explained by verifiable supernatural phenomena than by verifiable natural phenomena. I find it frankly irresponsible to conclude that the supernatural is responsible for any phenomenon, since I have never heard or read of any convincing evidence in support of such a claim.

Does that answer your question?
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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. yes it does
I go by intuition and gut feelings a lot and it serves me well. Don't know where it comes from. Just proves we are not on the same page at a very basic level.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. Fair enough--but a question
Do you conclude that there's a supernatural component to your "gut feelings?" If so, then on what basis do you conclude this?

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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 03:37 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. supernatural?
I don't really believe in the "supernatural" but probably many things that you would put in that category I would say is just unproven science, or currently unknown. One example might be so called subtle energies. I mean, there is a reason for everything. But some of the stuff that goes on is so confounding that it boggles the mind (unscientific term). So.....it is a mystery. There is mystery all around us, and I live with mystery, but that does not equate to it being supernatural.

My gut feelings are probably a mixture of a lot of things--some rational thinking I don't have spelled out, a little emotion, and some mystery. I don't try to break it down.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. More things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy
Or something like that. I have no problem admitting that science isn't able to explain everything, but I maintain this view: If a thing in nature can in principle be explained, then it can be explained through science.

Belief in "subtle energies" is problematic, because it's a term that has been co-opted by new age gurus to explain everything from sympathetic resonance to the heartbreak of psoriasis. Any new age use of the word "energy," by the way, is almost guaranteed to be nonsense, and it invariably puts human perception on a pedestal above any "mechanical" detection method.

But I like this part: But some of the stuff that goes on is so confounding that it boggles the mind (unscientific term). So.....it is a mystery. There is mystery all around us, and I live with mystery, but that does not equate to it being supernatural.

That's an intellectually honest position. There is nothing wrong with admitting the existence of an unknown, as long as we don't thereby conclude that a supernatural phenomenon is at work.

And this part is significant, I think: My gut feelings are probably a mixture of a lot of things--some rational thinking I don't have spelled out, a little emotion, and some mystery. I don't try to break it down.

I suspect that anyone's "gut instinct" can be almost totally explained in terms of rational thought, impulse, and emotional response in varying proportions. We can call that variance "mystery," but we should recognize that it's then a term of shorthand, and it shouldn't signal the end of inquiry into the subject. What is that nature of the mystery? What governs it? Etc.
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RedOnce Donating Member (519 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-13-06 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. It looks like you designed a pretty good Milk study!
NCCAM was established by Congress in 1998.

NCCAM is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals.

From: http://nccam.nih.gov/about/aboutnccam/index.htm

Here is one of the feature articles from their Newsletter that you might enjoy titled: A Closer Look at Ayurvedic Medicine

http://nccam.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2006_winter/ayurve...


With regard to placebo effect, nocebo effect and spontaneous disease remission, my point is that medicine/science observes these things routinely, but we do not understand how they work. So, let's acknowledge that we don't know everything and have a little respect for the possibility that there maybe other things that we don't know as well.

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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 12:38 PM
Response to Original message
4. HAHAHA!! And the puchline:
"In short, you're quite right--the human body has its own highly evolved mechanisms for eliminating toxins that, under normal circumstances, you don't need to enhance with anything more elaborate than indoor plumbing and a good magazine. By the same token, if you're overtaxing your liver and kidneys, you don't need a water diet, you need to rethink your life."

I'm bookmarking Cecil. He's a gem.
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