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Aluminum, autism, Alzheimer’s

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2019/06/18

In earlier posts I referred to a number of studies reporting harmful consequences associated with aluminum compounds used as adjuvants in some vaccines (Adjuvants — the poisons hidden in some vaccines; Aluminum adjuvants, autoimmune diseases, and attempted suppression of the truth.
Measurements of aluminum in human brain-tissue have shown the presence of highly elevated levels of aluminum in individuals diagnosed with autism and with Alzheimer’s disease:
Mold et al., “Aluminium in brain tissue in autism”, Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 46 (2018) 76-82;
Mirza et al., “Aluminium in brain tissue in familial Alzheimer’s disease”, Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 40 (2017) 30-36.

The reference work, Trace Elements in Human Nutrition and Health (World Health Organization, Geneva, 1996; ISBN 92 4 156173 4), notes that while “There is no substantiated evidence that aluminium has any essential function in animals or humans”, there is considerable evidence that aluminum can be harmful. Encephalopathy (brain disease or damage) in people undergoing dialysis because of kidney failure was “attributable to the high aluminium content of some water used for the preparation of dialysates. Aluminium levels in the brain and in other tissues of affected subjects were consistently elevated. Excess aluminium also affects the skeleton by markedly reducing bone formation, resulting in osteo-malacia [weakening of bone through de-mineralization]. A further pathological manifestation of aluminium toxicity is a microcytic hypochromic anaemia not associated with iron deficiency. Such problems have practically disappeared since the use of aluminium-free de-ionized water for dialysis became routine”
(p. 221 in WHO manual).
“The risk of aluminium toxicity is greatly increased in persons with impaired kidney function” . . . “the use of aluminium cooking utensils with acidic foods may increase intake [of aluminum]” . . . “By far the most important contribution to aluminium intake comes from antacid medications that can provide several grams of the metal per day” . . . “Locally increased concentrations of aluminium occur in the brain of patients with Alzheimer dementia” (p. 222).

All this makes increasingly plausible the possibility that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines may contribute to the development of autism in some individuals.

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Pseudo-science of ADHD at FDA

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2019/05/27

Attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder, ADHD, is diagnosed on the basis of an entirely subjective scale which is also irrational,  for example in postulating different criteria at different ages (The banality of evil — Psychiatry and ADHD).

The diagnostic criteria for ADHD are purely behavioral, since no physical basis for ADHD has ever been established. Of course, ADHD is far from alone in that respect among the disorders catalogued in psychiatry’s “Bible”, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), now (since 2013) in its 5th edition (DSM-V or DSM-5).

Despite the lack of  any proven physical basis for mental disorders, psychiatry has experimented with such physical treatments as lobotomy and shock treatment (nowadays described as electroconvulsive therapy, ECT).

Psychiatry’s latest venture into treatment of ADHD Is the application of electrical stimuli based on what can only be described as guesswork about a possible physical basis for ADHD and further guesswork as to whether the stimuli could accomplish anything useful. “Guesswork” because this extraordinary intervention has been approved by the FDA on the basis of a ridiculously limited clinical trial (FDA permits marketing of first medical device for treatment of ADHD):
“62 children with moderate to severe ADHD were enrolled in the trial and used either the eTNS therapy each night or a placebo device at home for four weeks”.
The results were anything but spectacular, indeed not very convincing at all:
“the average ADHD-RS score in the active group decreased from 34.1 points at baseline to 23.4 points, versus a decrease from 33.7 to 27.5 points in the placebo group.”
Bearing in mind that these scores come from subjective assessments, one might conclude that the trial results might — at best — serve as a basis for continuing research.
Or perhaps one might conclude more cautiously, indeed more sensibly,  that further research might not be warranted since the treatment has undesirable side-effects:
“The most common side effects observed with eTNS use are: drowsiness, an increase in appetite, trouble sleeping, teeth clenching, headache and fatigue. No serious adverse events were associated with use of the device.”
Not all parents might agree, after all,  that it is of no serious concern that children have difficulty in sleeping and experience headache, fatigue, and teeth clenching, particularly as there is no guarantee of any benefits.

So far as the ADHD-RS is concerned, note how easily a total score could change by 10 points or more, when rating on a 0-3 scale such behavior as

1. Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless
mistakes in schoolwork.

or

2. Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

Ponder the full scale of 18 items, yielding scores between 0 and 54, so an average of 27:         ADHD-RS -IV


Words fail me. For an appropriate critique, see Michael Cornwall,
DA Approves Using Electricity All Night Long on Children’s Brains, 21 May 2019

 

 

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Science: Sins of Commission and of Omission

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2019/04/21

What statisticians call a type-I error is a scientific sin of commission, namely, believing something to be true that is actually wrong. A type-II error, dismissing as false something that happens to be true, could be described as a scientific sin of omission since it neglects to acknowledge a truth and thereby makes impossible policies and actions based on that truth.

The history of science is a long record of both types of errors that were progressively corrected, sooner or later; but, so far as we can know, of course, the latest correction may never be the last word, because of the interdependence of superficially different bits of science. If, for instance, general relativity were found to be flawed, or quantum mechanics, then huge swaths of physics, chemistry, and other sciences would undergo major or minor changes. And we cannot know whether general relativity or quantum mechanics are absolutely true, that they are not a type-I error — all we know is that they have worked usefully up to now. Type-II errors may always be hiding in the vast regions of research not being done, or unorthodox claims being ignored or dismissed.

During the era of modern science — that is, since about the 17th century — type-I errors included such highly consequential and far-reaching dogmas as believing that atoms are indivisible, that they are not composed of smaller units. A socially consequential type-I error in the first quarter of the 20th century was the belief that future generations would benefit if people with less desirable genetic characteristics were prevented from having children, whereby tens of thousands of Americans were forcibly sterilized as late as late as 1980.

A type-II error during the second half of the 19th century was the determined belief that claims of alleviating various ailments by electrical or magnetic treatments were nothing but pseudo-scientific scams; but that was corrected in the second half of the 20th century, when electromagnetic treatment became the standard procedure for curing certain congenital failures of bone growth and for treating certain other bone conditions as well.
Another 19th-century type-II error was the ignoring of Mendel’s laws of heredity, which were then re-discovered half a century later.
During the first half of the 20th century, a type-II error was the belief that continents could not have moved around on the globe, something also corrected in the latter part of the 20th century.

 

Science is held in high regard for its elucidation of a great deal about how the world works, and for many useful applications of that knowledge. But the benefits that society can gain from science are greatly restricted through widespread ignorance of and misunderstanding about the true history of science.

Regarding general social and political history, Santayana’s adage is quite well-known, that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. That is equally true for the history of science. Since the conventional wisdom and the policy makers and so many of the pundits are ignorant of the fact that science routinely commits sins of both commission and omission, social and political policies continue to be made on the basis of so-called scientific consensus that may quite often be unsound.

In Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth (McFarland 2012), evidence is cited from well-qualified and respectable sources that the mainstream consensus is flawed on quite a number of topics. Some of these are of immediate concern only to scholars and researchers, for example about the earliest settlements of the Americas, or the extinction of the dinosaurs, or the mechanism of the sense of smell. Other topics, however, are of immediate public concern, for instance a possible biological basis for schizophrenia, or the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, or the possible dangers from mercury in tooth amalgams, or the efficacy of antidepressant drugs, or the hazards posed by second-hand tobacco smoke; and perhaps above all the unproven but dogmatic belief that human-generated carbon dioxide is the prime cause of global warming and climate change, and the long-held hegemonic belief that HIV causes AIDS.

The topic of cold nuclear fusion is an instance of a possible type-II error, a sin of omission, the mainstream refusal to acknowledge the strong evidence for potentially useful applications of nuclear-atomic transformations that can occur under quite ordinary conditions.

On these, and on quite a few other matters * as well, the progress of science and the well-being of people and of societies are greatly hindered by the widespread ignorance of the fact that science always has been and will continue to be fallible,   committing sins of both omission and of commission that become corrected only at some later time — if at all.

On matters that influence public policies directly, policy-makers would be greatly helped if they could draw on historically well-informed, technically insightful, and above all impartial assessments of the contemporary mainstream consensus. A possible approach to providing such assistance would be the establishing of a Science Court; see chapter 12 in Science Is Not What You Think: How It Has Changed, Why We Can’t Trust It, How It Can Be Fixed (McFarland 2017).

 

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*    Type-I errors are rife in the misapplications of statistics in medical matters, including the testing and approval of new drugs and vaccines; see the bibliography, What’s Wrong with Present-Day Medicine
      For a number of possible type-II errors, see for instance The Anomalist  and the publications of the Society for Scientific Exploration  and the Gesellschaft für Anomalistik

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Aluminum adjuvants, autoimmune diseases, and attempted suppression of the truth

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2019/03/24

An earlier post (Adjuvants — the poisons hidden in some vaccines) described the danger that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines pose, including that they may indeed be associated with a risk of inducing autism. A recent book, How to End the Autism Epidemic,   underscores that risk and exposes what should be the crippling, disqualifying conflicts of interest of one of the most prominent accepted experts on vaccinations. I had learned about this from a splendidly informative article by Celeste McGovern at Ghost Ship Media (Prescription to end the autism epidemic, 17 September 2018).

It turns out that animals as well as human beings have experienced tangible harm from vaccines containing aluminum adjuvants: in particular, sheep. Celeste McGovern has reported about that in other recent posts:
Spanish sheep study finds vaccine aluminum in lymph nodes more than a year after injection, behavioural changes, 3 November 2018; Vaccines induce bizarre anti-social behaviour in sheep, 6 November 2018; Anatomy of a science study censorship, 20 March 2019.

This last piece describes the attempt to prevent the truth about aluminum adjuvants from becoming public knowledge, by pressuring the publisher, Elsevier, to withdraw an already accepted, peer-reviewed article in one of its journals: “Cognition and behavior in sheep repetitively inoculated with aluminum adjuvant-containing vaccines or aluminum adjuvant only”, by Javier Asína et al., published online in Pharmacological Research before being withdrawn. Fortunately there are   nowadays resources on the Internet that make it more difficult for the censors to do their dirty work. One invaluable resource is the Wayback Machine, which too few people seem to know about. In the present case, a PDF of the Asína et al. article, as accepted and published online as “In Press” in Pharmacological Research, is available at ResearchGate.

Elsevier publishes thousands of scientific and medical journals, including in the past some that were actually advertisements written by and paid for by pharmaceutical companies, presented dishonestly and misleadingly as genuine scientific periodicals: Elsevier published 6 fake journals); Elsevier had a whole division publishing fake medical journals).

Elsevier had also engaged in censorship on earlier occasions, in one case to the extent of emasculating a well respected, independent publication, Medical Hypotheses (see Chapter 3, “A Public Act of Censorship: Elsevier and Medical Hypotheses”, in Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth).

If the shenanigans and cover-ups about aluminum adjuvants make an insufficiently alarming horror story,   please look at yet another article by Celeste McGovern: Poisoned in Slow Motion, 1 October 2018:

“Immune-system disease is sweeping the globe. . . . Autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants, or ASIA — a wildly unpredictable inflammatory response to foreign substances injected or inserted into the human body . . . . The medical literature contains hundreds of such cases. . . . [with] vague and sundry symptoms — chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairment, skin rashes and more . . . that . . . share the common underlying trigger of certain immune signaling pathways. Sometimes this low-grade inflammation can smolder for years only to suddenly incite an overt autoimmune disease. . . . Chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as myalgic encephalitis), once a rare “hypochondriac” disorder, now affects millions of people globally and has been strongly associated with markers of immune system dysfunction. . . . One in thirteen American children has a hyperactive immune system resulting in food allergy,4 and asthma, another chronic inflammatory disease of the immune system, affects 300 million people across the globe.5 Severe neurological disorders like autism (which now affects one in 22 boys in some US states) have soared from virtual nonexistence and are also linked to a damaged immune system.”

[4. Pediatrics, 2011; 128: e9-17
5. Global Initiative for Asthma. Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. 2008.
6. Eur J Pediatr, 2014; 173: 33-43]

******************************************************************

These particulars offer further illustrations of the general points that I have been making for some time:

 Science and medicine have become dogmatic wielders of authority through being co-opted and in effect bought out by commercial interests. Pharmaceutical companies are perhaps in the forefront of this takeover, but the influence of other industries should not be forgotten, for instance that of Monsanto with its interest in Genetically Modified products; see Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth, Jefferson (NC): McFarland 2012

 Science, research, medicine, are very different things nowadays than they were up to about the middle of the 20th century, and very different from the conventional wisdom about them. Media, policy makers, and the public need an independent, impartial assessment of what science and medicine are said to have established; needed is  a Science Court; see Science Is Not What You Think: How It Has Changed, Why We Can’t Trust It, How It Can Be Fixed, McFarland, 2017

Posted in conflicts of interest, fraud in medicine, fraud in science, legal considerations, media flaws, medical practices, peer review, prescription drugs, science is not truth, scientific culture, scientific literacy, scientism, scientists are human, unwarranted dogmatism in science | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Adjuvants — the poisons hidden in some vaccines

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2019/03/12

Everyone knows that vaccines are ingeniously devised to work very precisely against certain unique threats, in particular to prevent infection by viruses. Preventing infection by a virus is especially important because there are no really satisfactory ways to cure a viral infection, whereas most bacterial infections can be treated quite successfully by means of antibiotics.

Every vaccine is engineered to work against the unique threat posed by a particular virus — measles vaccine protects specifically against measles, for instance, but offers no protection against mumps or whooping cough.

On the other hand, many vaccines contain, as well as the biologically specific agent, something called an adjuvant. According to the Centers for Disease Control , “An adjuvant is an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response in people receiving the vaccine”.

The adjuvant stimulates the immune system in a non-specific way. It arouses the immune system because the adjuvant is toxic, poisonous, something that the immune system wishes to guard its host against. The theory behind this practice seems to be that an immune system aroused by a non-specific poison is more likely to generate the uniquely specific antibodies which the biologically specific component of the vaccine seeks to create.

The trouble is that adjuvants are wide-rangingly non-specific poisons that can cause harm in a variety of ways. As the CDC itself points out, “Adjuvanted vaccines can cause more local reactions (such as redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site) and more systemic reactions (such as fever, chills and body aches) than non-adjuvanted vaccines.”

In most of the public arguments over the safety of vaccines, proponents and opponents all too often fail to focus specifically on the possible influence of adjuvants.

Among the most common adjuvants are compounds containing aluminum. There is strong published evidence that these compounds are capable of damaging brain cells and may well be associated with such conditions as autism and dementia.

For details of fairly recent research on these matters, see the presentation on YouTube by Professor Exley: “Systemic Toxicity of Aluminium Adjuvants: Prof. Christopher Exley”  and the article in a mainstream, peer-reviewed journal, “Aluminium in brain tissue in autism” by Matthew Mold, Dorcas Umar, Andrew King & Christopher Exley, Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 46 (2018) 76-82.

The dangers posed by aluminum adjuvants — or for that matter any adjuvants — are obviously relevant to the Wakefield warning that simultaneous multiple vaccinations are capable of bringing on autism. Moreover, the vaccines against HPV (Gardasil and Cervarix) have been reported to be associated with some very severe brain-associated damage to some individuals; see for instance “The truth is out: Gardasil vaccine coverup exposed”, by Kelly Brogan, MD .

Some of the vaccines that contain aluminum adjuvants are listed at “Vaccine Ingredients – Aluminum”, albeit with text that downplays the associated risks of harm.

 

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Vaccination, HIV, and a reminder that we are all fallible

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2019/01/27

A favorite family stories: On a road trip in an unfamiliar country, I had taken a wrong turn that sent us tens of miles in a wrong direction. When I discovered that and confessed to my passengers, my nine-year-old daughter pointed out that “No one’s perfect, not even Daddy”.

I was reminded of that once again after reading a book review by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, who has a great deal of good things to his credit.

“HENRY MARSH studied medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in London, became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1984 and was appointed Consultant Neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley’s/St George’s Hospital in London in 1987. He has been the subject of two documentary films, Your Life in Their Hands, which won the Royal Television Society Gold Medal, and The English Surgeon, which won an Emmy, and is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Do No Harm and NBCC finalist Admissions. He was made a CBE in 2010.”

Nevertheless Marsh too is fallible even when he appears to speak with authority. In his review of a book about vaccination, Between Hope and Fear by Michael Kinch, there are some seriously misleading comments:

“Dr. Gordon Stewart went on to maintain that AIDS was caused not by H.I.V. but by homosexual behavior. His view had a major influence on the South African president Thabo Mbeki, whose AIDS policies were subsequently estimated in a report by the Harvard School of Public Health to have resulted in 365,000 avoidable deaths” (Henry Marsh, “ Protecting the Herd”, New York Times Book Review, 9 September 2018, p.17).

In reality, AIDS is indeed not caused by HIV [1]. Stewart had observed the symptoms of AIDS resulting from drug abuse in New York City and New Orleans during 1968-71, long before “AIDS” came on the scene; John Lauritsen [2] pointed out from the beginning that what was common to the first AIDS victims was drug abuse, not homosexuality. Stewart’s insight enabled him to project correctly future official data on AIDS in Britain, whereas official projections based on HIV theory were dead wrong. As to “avoidable deaths” in South Africa [3], it was not a “report by the Harvard School of Public Health” but simply an article whose authors happen to be employed at that Harvard School, moreover an article that has been thoroughly debunked [4].

 

Marsh’s review also refers to the “false claims” of Andrew Wakefield. It is by no means established that Wakefield’s observations were incorrect, namely, that in some cases vaccination at an early age by the multivalent MMR vaccine appears to be associated with the appearance within a few weeks of symptoms of autism [5].

Altogether, controversies over vaccination and “anti-vaxxers” are badly flawed in several respects. Most notably, at the very beginning of any argument about “vaccination”, distinctions ought to be drawn between such long-established vaccinations as against smallpox or polio by comparison with the flurry of new vaccinations being produced by the pharmaceutical industry as it exhausts the possibility of marketing new prescription drugs for newly invented diseases; thus the vaccines (Gardasil, Cervarix) widely touted as preventive of cervical cancer (as well as other cancers) have never been demonstrated to do what they are supposed to do even as they have been demonstrably responsible for serious harm to a significant number of individuals [6].

There are sound general reasons why new vaccines should be tested to the utmost degree and with the greatest caution:

Ø     Vaccines are intended to make the immune system do new things, but the immune system remains far from completely understood

Ø     Reports that an autoimmune disease has set in following vaccination are therefore not implausible

Ø     Vaccines are touted as being entirely specific, yet they commonly include so-called “adjuvants”, which are entirely non-specific toxic substances intended to arouse the immune system

Ø     For commercial and not scientific reasons, vaccines often include preservatives, which are biologically active toxins

Ø     Since vaccination is intended to stimulate the immune system in some manner, it seems quite plausible that employing several vaccines simultaneously could cause adverse reactions, at least in some individuals

Ø     Officialdom has admitted harm from vaccinations in some instances by the fact that about $4 billion over a 40-year period have been paid to people harmed by vaccination, by the US National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program , including “$5,877,710 dollars to 49 victims in claims made against the highly controversial HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines. To date 200 claims have been filed with VICP, with barely half adjudicated” (“U.S. court pays $6 million to Gardasil victims”)

 

To return for a moment to the issue of AIDS: Why is it that after 35 years of intensive efforts, there has yet to appear the vaccine against HIV that Robert Gallo had promised to produce within a few years of 1984? Perhaps there really is no exogenous “HIV” retrtovirus?

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[1]    See The Case against HIV  which cites ~900 articles and dozens of books

[2]    John Lauritsen, “CDC’s tables obscure AIDS-drugs connection”, Philadelphia Gay News, 14 February 1985; reprinted (ch. 1, pp. 11-22) in The AIDS War, New York: ASKLEPIOS, 1993.

[3]    Pride Chigwedere, George R. Seage III, Sofia Gruskin, Tun-Hou Lee & M. Essex, “Estimating the lost benefits of antiretroviral drug use in South Africa”, JAIDS 49 (2008) 410-5

[4]    Peter H. Duesberg, Daniele Mandrioli, Amanda McCormack, Joshua M. Nicholson, David Rasnick, Christian Fiala, Claus Koehnlein, Henry H. Bauer & Marco Ruggiero,AIDS since 1984: No evidence for a new, viral epidemic — not even in Africa”, Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, 116 (2011) 73-92.

[5]     Officialdom and its groupies continue to maintain that the charges against Wakefield were correct (see e.g. Do Vaccines Cause Autism?), but he also has strong and informed defenders, for instance VAXXED: From Cover Up to Catastrophe or Andrew Wakefield’s Theories about MMR Vaccines and Autism

[6]    Sacrificial Virgins: Homepage: “How young girls are being seriously damaged by the vaccine with the highest reported adverse reactions of any existing vaccine” [emphasis added]
See also, for example, The Truth is Out: Gardasil Vaccine Coverup Exposed
The Gardasil Vaccine—Bad Science, Great Promotion, Dangerous

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The Case for a Science Court

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2019/01/24

I mentioned the concept of a Science Court in a previous post on this blog: “Who guards the guardians? Who guards science?”

and I’ve mentioned it in a number of other places as well. Sometimes those mentions have brought comments on a variety of blogs. Some raised objections to the idea, unfortunately most commonly individuals who have not read my full discussion of the concept, which comprises the 20 pages of chapter 12 in my latest book, “Science Is Not What You Think”  (see reviews of it).

Obviously I cannot reproduce here the 20 pages of that book chapter. Here are the salient points:

Ø     Nowadays, science is almost universally taken as the ultimate authority on knowledge about the natural world

Ø     Media, pundits, policymakers, and governments accept as reliable knowledge what science says

Ø     “What science says” is taken to be the contemporary “scientific consensus”, the mainstream view, the view held by the contemporary elite group of experts on the given topic

Ø     The history of science is unequivocal, that any given contemporary scientific consensus has been quite often significantly mistaken

Ø     History also records that contemporary experts who dissented from the scientific consensus sometimes — though by no means always — turn out to have been closer to the truth and then the consensus was

Ø     Society at large, and policymakers in particular, would benefit from an impartial independent assessment of the evidence respectively for and against the contemporary consensus. The aim of a Science Court would be precisely to facilitate such an impartial independent assessment.

The need for such an institution is nowadays quite pressing because on a whole host of topics there is no substantive, open, public, debate between proponents and challengers of the contemporary consensus. Many of those topics are of little or no immediate practical public significance, say, what the mechanism is of the sense of smell, or what caused the extinction of dinosaurs, or some other matters discussed in my earlier book, Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth (2012) .

However, there are also some topics of prime human, social, political importance on which informed and qualified experts have offered strong evidence that the contemporary consensus is dangerously flawed: HIV/AIDS, human-caused global warming and climate change, the role of prescription drugs in preventive medicine. On those, the popular media illustrate well enough that official institutions accept the scientific consensus and dismiss all challenges as “denialism”, no matter how eminent are the challengers. Something like a Science Court would seem to be the only conceivable mechanism by which the consensus could be forced to confront openly and substantively the challenges to its hegemonic, dogmatically held, view.

In my chapter-length discussion, I consider also the following:

Ø     The formal structure, sponsorship, authority and powers of the Science Court

Ø     Staffing of the Court: permanent and also ad hoc as appropriate to each specific topic

Ø     The choice of advocates for and against, on each particular topic

Ø     The choice of which issues are to be considered by the Court

My chapter discusses the benefits the Science Court would bring on questions concerning prescription drugs, climate change, and HIV/AIDS. It also describes the history of the concept of a Science Court, which dates back half a century to qualms about the potential safety of generating power in nuclear reactors, when equally qualified experts were arguing both sides of the issue. In more recent times, several legal scholars have argued that a specifically Science Court would be of considerable benefit to the judicial system in general and as a whole, since that system is called on increasingly to decide cases in which central questions involve scientific evidence and the qualifications of expert witnesses.

The pressing need for a Science Court nowadays arises because the scientific consensus cannot be relied upon to deliver the benefits that “science” supposedly brings, namely, the best available impartial, objective, unbiased assessment of what is actually known, what “science” has established.

Science did indeed bring those benefits for the first several centuries of what is generally called “modern science”, beginning around the 16th/17th centuries or so with the Reformation and the subsequent Enlightenment. What has not yet been widely enough recognized is how different scientific activity is since the middle of the 20th century, by comparison with those earlier centuries of modern science. Those differences are described in considerable detail in chapter 1 of my recent book; in a nutshell:

The circumstances of scientific activity have changed, from about pre-WWII to nowadays, from a cottage industry of voluntarily cooperating, independent, largely disinterested ivory-tower intellectual entrepreneurs, where science was free to do its own thing, namely the unfettered seeking of truth about the natural world; to nowadays a bureaucratic corporate-industry-government behemoth in which science has been pervasively co-opted by outside interests and is not free to do its own thing because of the omnipresent conflicts of interest. Influences and interests outside science now control the choices of research projects and the decisions of what to publish and what not to make public.

Aspects of that change were noted by John Burnham in his book, How Superstition Won and Science Lost (1987), and by Jacques Barzun in his magisterial From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (2000).

Science nowadays plays much the same societal role as the Roman Catholic Church did in Western Civilization before the Reformation and the Enlightenment. The Church had become corrupted through bureaucracy and self-interest and the dysfunctions that arise inevitably as a result of human failings when an activity becomes too big and too powerful. It became obvious that the Church’s policies and actions had grown seriously at variance with its founding ideals. The Reformation and the Enlightenment brought and demonstrated the benefits of empirical, rational, evidence-based, pragmatism in the search for reliable understanding, by contrast to taking for granted what the authorities said.

Today’s scientific activity has become similarly dysfunctional through growing too big and too influential; something like a Science Court is needed to bring society the benefits of empirical, rational, evidence-based, pragmatism in the search for reliable insights.

 

Please note that I am far from alone in noting the dysfunctions of contemporary science and medicine: consider the many books, articles, and reports listed in these bibliographies:
http://henryhbauer.homestead.com/CRITIQUES_OF_CONTEMPORARY_SCIENCE_AND_MEDICINE.pdf
http://henryhbauer.homestead.com/WhatIsWrongWithMedicine.pdf

Posted in conflicts of interest, consensus, denialism, global warming, media flaws, medical practices, politics and science, prescription drugs, science is not truth, science policy | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

HPV, Cochrane review, and the meaning of “cause”

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2018/10/27

HPV does not cause cervical cancer; HPV vaccination can be deadly mentions that Peter Gøtzsche had been expelled from the Cochrane Collaboration, causing some resignations from the Cochrane Board. For more about that, see what psychiatrist Peter Breggin has written about Gøtzsche: THE REFORM WORK OF PETER GØTZSCHE, MD
and what Gøtzsche himself has written: Disagreements in interpreting the Cochrane Spokesperson Policy https://breggin.com/G%C3%B8tzsche/G%C3%B8tzsche-Reply-from-Peter-G%C3%B8tzsche-to-Cochranes-law-firm-66-pages.pdf.

The Cochrane review of HPV vaccines, Prophylactic vaccination against human papillomaviruses to prevent cervical cancer and its precursors states, “Persistent infection with high-risk human papillomaviruses (hrHPV) types is causally linked with the development of cervical precancer and cancer. HPV types 16 and 18 cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers worldwide”.
But that has never been proved. The belief that HPV — or rather that a few of the 150 or 200 strains of HPV — cause cervical cancer is based solely on a statistical association, which — how often must this be said — never proves causation.
As I pointed out in HPV insanity,
“the risk of developing cervical cancer if infected with HPV is roughly 12,000 out of ~40 million . . . In what sense can it be said meaningfully that HPV causes cervical cancer, if that happens to one HPV-infected woman in every 3000?”
To a (one-time) chemist like me, the notion of attaching the label “cause” to something that happens once in 3000 attempts seems utterly absurd.

Another way of looking at this would be to say that 3000 women or girls need to be vaccinated to avoid one case of cervical cancer. In other words, the number needed to be treated, NNT, is 3000; whereas for any desirable medical intervention, NNT should be a small number. That generalization acknowledges that every medical treatment comes with a certain degree of risk that harm rather than benefit will ensue. In this particular case, “reports of adverse effects now total more than 85,000 worldwide. Nearly 500 deaths are suspected of being linked to quadrivalent Gardasil or Gardasil 9” (HPV does not cause cervical cancer; HPV vaccination can be deadly).
Since there exists no systematic, mandatory, global system for reporting adverse events resulting from medical treatment, the number of adverse events and of actual deaths are likely to be considerably higher. As the claimed benefit of the vaccination has never been demonstrated, the risk-to-benefit ratio would indicate that HP vaccination is not a good idea; see my earlier post about NNH and NNT for HPV vaccination, HPV vaccines: risks exceed benefits.
On the basic question of whether any strains of a HPV do actually cause cervical cancer, a serious supporter of the vaccines illustrates the supposedly causal process in this way:

That perhaps makes a bit clearer, why only about 1 in 3000 HPV-infected women ever experiences cervical cancer. Infection may clear; progression may be reversed by regression; and lesions do not necessarily lead to invasive cancer. There are, in other words, at least four distinct processes here, and there are presumably reasons why each of these happens or does not happen. In these circumstances, how could it be legitimate to identify HPV as the cause of the cancer?
In everyday talk, to say that A causes B is usually understood to mean that when A occurs, then B always follows — in other words, that A is a sufficient cause of B; and also, when B has occurred and we want to know why, and we hear that A can be a cause of B, we often jump to the conclusion that only A can cause B, in other words that A is a necessary cause of B.
However, in the matter of HPV and cervical cancer, HPV has not been demonstrated to be either a sufficient or a necessary cause of cancer.

Surely it is misleading to proclaim, as official agencies do and the meda parrot, “HPV causes cervical cancer”.

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HPV does not cause cervical cancer; HPV vaccination can be deadly

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2018/09/16

Evidence continues to mount that the presumed connection between HPV and cervical cancer is no more than a statistical association, not a causative relationship:

The Gardasil controversy: as reports of adverse effects increase, cervical cancer rates rise in HPV-vaccinated age groups 

Annette Gartland

“The Gardasil vaccines continue to be vaunted as life-saving, but there is no evidence that HPV vaccination is reducing the incidence of cervical cancer, and reports of adverse effects now total more than 85,000 worldwide. Nearly 500 deaths are suspected of being linked to quadrivalent Gardasil or Gardasil 9.
As Merck’s latest human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil 9, continues to be fast tracked around the world, the incidence of invasive cervical cancer is increasing in many of the countries in which HPV vaccination is being carried out.”

Once again independent scientists without conflicts of interest are maltreated by bureaucratic organizations with conflicts of interest to commercial interests, drug companies in particular:

“This article was updated with information from the AHVID on 14/09/2018.
Update 15/9/2018:
Peter Gøtzsche has been expelled from the Cochrane Collaboration. Six of the 13 members of the collaboration’s governing board voted for his expulsion.
. . . . .
‘This is the first time in 25 years that a member has been excluded from membership of Cochrane. This unprecedented action taken by a minority of the governing board . . . . ‘
In just 24 hours, Gøtzsche said, the Cochrane governing board had lost five of its members, four of whom were centre directors and key members of the organisation in different countries.
Gøtzsche says that, in recent years, Cochrane has significantly shifted more to a profit-driven approach.
‘Even though it is a not-for-profit charity, our ‘brand’ and ‘product’ strategies are taking priority over getting out independent, ethical and socially responsible scientific results,’ he said'”.

 

 

Posted in conflicts of interest, fraud in medicine, fraud in science, medical practices, prescription drugs, unwarranted dogmatism in science | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who guards the guardians? Who guards science?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2018/06/24

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? This quotation attributed to Juvenal describes the inescapable dilemma as to how societies can be governed .

Today’s guardian of reliable knowledge is science. It is the acknowledged authority on the natural world, on what exists in the world and on how those things behave. Most governments accept as reliable, as true for all practical purposes, whatever the current scientific consensus is: on matters of health, the environment, the solar system, the universe. The mass media, too, accept that scientific consensus; and that largely determines what the general public believes, “what everyone knows”.

Nowadays in that category of “what everyone knows” there are literally innumerable things; among them that the universe began with a Big Bang; that ghosts and Loch Ness Monsters do not exist; that HIV causes AIDS; that hypertension causes heart attacks and strokes; that carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels is causing climate change and bringing more frequent and more extreme and more damaging events like hurricanes; etc., etc.

But what guards against the scientific consensus being wrong?

Nothing and nobody.

That really matters, because the history of science is crystal clear that contemporary science, the contemporary scientific consensus, has almost invariably been wrong until further progress superseded and replaced it.

That steady improvement over the centuries gave rise to a comforting shibboleth, that “science is self-correcting”. At any given moment, however, the scientific consensus stands possibly uncorrected and awaiting future “self”-correction. One cannot justifiably assert, therefore, that any contemporary scientific consensus is known to be unquestionably true. It is not known with absolute certainty that the universe began with a Big Bang; that ghosts and Loch Ness Monsters do not exist; that HIV causes AIDS; that hypertension causes heart attacks and strokes; that carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels is causing climate change and bringing more frequent and more extreme and more damaging events like hurricanes; etc., etc.

Nevertheless, contemporary society treats these and other contemporary scientific consensuses as true. This amounts to what President Eisenhower warned against: that “public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite” [1]. Science can indeed mislead public policy, as when tens of thousands of Americans were forcibly sterilized in the misguided belief that this improved the genetic stock [2]. Science is far from automatically or immediately self-correcting [3].

I’ve wondered how Eisenhower could have been so prescient in 1960, because the conditions that conduce to public policies being misled by science were then just beginning to become prominent: the massive governmental stimulation of scientific activity that has produced today’s dysfunctional hyper-competitiveness, with far too many would-be researchers competing for far too few reliably permanent positions and far too little support for the resources that modern research needs [4]. Moreover, the scientific consensus is guarded not only by the scientists who generated it, powerful societal institutions are vested in the correctness of the scientific consensus [4]: It is virtually inconceivable, for instance, that official bodies like the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the like would admit to error of the views that they have promulgated; try to imagine, for example, how it could ever be officially admitted that HIV does not cause AIDS [5].

SUGGESTION TO THE READER:
Reflect on how you formed an opinion about — Big-Bang theory? Loch Ness Monsters? Ghosts? Climate change? … etc. etc. Almost always it will not have been by looking into the evidence but rather by trusting someone’s assertion.

Who has the interest, time, and energy to study all those things? Obviously we must take our beliefs on many matters from trusted authorities; and for a couple of centuries the scientific consensus has been a better guide than most others. But that is no longer the case. The circumstances of 21st-century science mean that society needs guardians to check that what the scientific consensus recommends for public policy corresponds to the best available evidence. On many issues, a minority of experts differs from the scientific consensus, and it would be valuable to have something like a Science Court to assess the arguments and evidence pro and con [6].

I’ve had the luxury of being able to look into quite a few topics because that was appropriate to the second phase of my academic career, in Science & Technology Studies (STS). Through having made a specialty of studying unorthodoxy in science, I stumbled on copious examples of the scientific consensus treating, in recent times, competent minority opinions well within the scientific community with the same disdain, or even worse, as that traditionally directed towards would-be science, fringe science — Loch Ness Monsters, ghosts, UFOS, and the like.

In Dogmatism in Science and Medicine [7], I pointed to the evidence that the contemporary scientific consensus is wrong about Big-Bang theory, global warming and climate change, HIV/AIDS, extinction of the dinosaurs, and more, including what modern medicine says about prescription drugs. The failings of the scientific consensus in modern medicine have been detailed recently by Richard Harris [8] as well as in many works of the last several decades [9]. That the scientific consensus is wrong about HIV and AIDS is documented more fully in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory (McFarland, 2007). Why science has become less believable is discussed in [4], which also describes many misconceptions about science and about statistics, the latter bearing a large part of the blame for what’s wrong with today’s medical practices.

But my favorite obsession over where the scientific consensus is wrong remains the existence of Loch Ness “Monsters”, Nessies. It was my continuing curiosity about this that led to my career change from chemistry to STS, which brought many unforeseeable and beneficial side-effects. My 1986 book, The Enigma of Loch Ness: Making Sense of a Mystery [10], showed how the then-available evidence could be interpreted to support belief in the reality of Nessies but could also be plausibly enlisted to reject the reality of Nessies. However, the book’s chief purpose was to explain why seeking to “discover” Nessies was not a sensible task for organized science.

Now in 2018 quite proper science, in the guise of “environmental DNA”, has offered a good chance that my belief in the reality of Loch Ness “Monsters” may be vindicated within a year or so by mainstream science. I plan to say more about that soon.

—————————————————————–

[1]  Farewell Address to the Nation, 17 January 1961
[2]  “Bauer: Could science mislead public policy?”
[3]  Science is NOT self-correcting (How science has changed — VII)
[4]  Science Is Not What You Think — how it has changed,
why we can’t trust it, how it can be fixed
(McFarland, 2017)
[5]   “OFFICIAL!   HIV does not cause AIDS!”
[6]    For a detailed history and analysis of the concept of a Science Court,
see chapter 12 in [4]
[7]    Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth (McFarland, 2012)
[8]    Richard Harris, Rigor Mortis — How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions (Basic Books, 2017)
[9]    What’s Wrong with Present-Day Medicine, a bibliography last updated 17 April 2017
[10]  The Enigma of Loch Ness: Making Sense of a Mystery, University of Illinois Press, 1986;
in Cassette Book format, RC 25592, narrated by Richard Dorf, 1988;
U.K. edition, Stirling (Scotland): Johnston & Bacon 1991;
re-issued by Wipf & Stock, 2012

Posted in conflicts of interest, consensus, funding research, global warming, media flaws, medical practices, peer review, politics and science, prescription drugs, resistance to discovery, science is not truth, science policy, unwarranted dogmatism in science | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

 
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