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Up all night

The last couple of nights, I guess, have proven that Orac is not quite as durable as his namesake. Having been up nearly all night working against a deadline for my Komen Foundation grant application and only gotten a couple of hours of sleep each of the last couple of nights, this morning, I’ve got nothing. I overslept by over an hour and came flying into work all late and discombobulated. (Fear not. Thursday is not my O.R. day. My patients are safe.)

So what does a blogger do in this circumstance, when he’s all tired and has zero time to produce a substantive post? What else? Open thread! Have at it!

Tomorrow, it may be time to address the Huffington Post issue again. Or not. I haven’t decided. Whatever I write, it’ll probably be either more entertaining or more incoherent than usual (or both) because I’ll be sleep-deprived.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

38 replies on “Up all night”

Considering the recent Salon article and the lady herself apearing on TV saying she wouldn’t give her children flu vaccinations (since her children are grown, that can only mean one thing), I would love to see some fiery insolence. At least that’s my vote; get some sleep. 🙂

And here I was expecting a post about Rhonda Shear or Gilbert Gottfried…

Ranson, that’s awesome. Rhonda Shear…there’s a name I haven’t thought about for a long time. “USA _UP_ all night…”

In other stuff…

If you’ve never made freezer jam before, you should do it. It’s quick, easy, and delicious. Locally, strawberry season has basically passed, but raspberries are starting to come in, so I picked some up last night (black raspberries, to be specific) and whipped up a batch of jam. You need about 3 pts of fresh berries (about 2 lbs), which, when you get the stems out, turns into about 3 cups of mashed berries. The recipe is in the box of Sur-Jell (get the yellow box – the artificially sweetened ones (pink box) don’t work as well). It took me about an hour last night total, and that includes the 10 minutes it took me to drive to the convenience store to get some sugar and the 20 minutes I spent cleaning/stemming the berries.

Keep an eye on your local fruit/veggie stands for good fresh berries.

I see in the store that blueberries are coming in big now, but I’ve never tried blueberry jam. Probably will be my next adventure.

Glad to be of service, Pablo.

Also, blueberry jam is awesome. We get some at the local farmers’ market, and my son tears through it faster than any other.

Well, while we wait for Orac’s Next Dose of Insolence, why not check
out the Skeptics’ Circle?

Don’t worry, I was going to post a plug later around lunchtime, when I have the time to do it.

Because I like to laugh, I often check to see what new species of nonsense is being spewed at NaturalNews.Today,the HealthRanger presents a story he says you would expect from some “fringe blogger”(as though he’s the Mayo Clinic),but it’s from CNN(right,like it’s C-Span),neither is it conspiracy theory(so then why is it at *NaturalNews*?).Be that as it may,he “informs” us that the military will “‘assist'” if a pandemic occurs.Adams then spins a tale involving knocks on doors, armed military *in camo*, and forced vaccination.OMG teenagers wielding hypodermics, aimed at YOU!

Be that as it may,he “informs” us that the military will “‘assist'” if a pandemic occurs.

That can happen…in the video game “Pandemic III”, anyway.

@Ranson-of course *video games*! Where else do you suppose Adams got his “reasoning” skills?

That video game also allows the government to nuke heavily infected cities. Not that I want to imply that such a thing would happen in real life…ah, crap, some nutjob is going to take that and run with it.

Dammit. I apologize for the next round of conspiracies, folks; my bad.

First of all, I’m mentally passing you a can of Mountain Dew 🙂

Second of all, just thought I’d post (since it’s open and whatnot) that the trial of the father whose daughter died of untreated diabetes (b/c of their religious beliefs) is going on right now. The mother was convicted earlier this year – their trials were split apart. There’ve been some real doozies of quotes so far – the mother and some family friends have testified, and the father is supposed to be testifying today. The trial is being liveblogged here .

I realized something. Here’s why I think woo is winning and science is losing.

In Apocalypse Now, the thing which forges Kurtz’s monstrous character is when he witnesses his men administering shots to Vietnamese village kids. The village elders, fearful and suspicious, promptly lop off the injected arms of the children and put them in a pile. At first Kurtz cries “like some grandmother” but grows to respect them because their fear makes them hard. Harder than the idealistic American grunts.

I just had an argument with a friend of mine who’s totally into woo. As in, medical woo is a centerpiece of her life style. I tried pressing the issue of logic and scientific evidence but she fought back with: “Allopathic (sneer) medicine almost killed me. Natural medicine saved my life. I’ve watched too many people I love die — die! due to allopathic medicine for my mind to be changed on this.”

These people are harder than us. Their fear makes them hard.

The man in search of truth has nothing to fear — except an angry mob of idiots with torches and pitchforks.

Actually there is an interesting question, if fear makes people act in irrational, dumb, and outright dangerous ways, why did we evolve it as it is? Is it because the running-away-from-things-with-teeth part is so useful that the side effects of irrational behaviour are massivly out weighed by the benifits? Would a form of fear reaction that encoureged more logical behavour have gotten our ancestors killed during the thinking time? And for that matter how much of our fear response is hardwired and how much is from our upbringing? I’m going to have to go do some reading now….

Roseanne Barr Dressed as Hitler Bakes Burnt ‘Jew Cookies’ (Jul 30, 2009)

She’s a comedian. I guess that makes the Adolf Hitler moustache and swastika funny? She’s pictured taking burnt gingerbread “Jew Cookies” out of an oven. Sight gag right?

Well, it was a photo shoot for Heeb Magazine.

Maybe next she can bake a The Final Solution German Chocolate Cake

@Militant agnostic #24 Thanks for the link, all this reading about fear is facinating I never realised how much there was too it.

So far the most disturbing thing I’ve come accross is the incredibly unethical little albert experiment- – using conditioning to make an 11 month old child scared of a lab rat. (I keep coming accoss these old studies and I can’t help but wonder how the doctors involved managed to justify their actions. For tommorow nights reading I think Medical Ethics). Little albert was taught to fear the lab rat by associating its appearence with a scary sound (striking a metal bar with a hammer) so that the child conflated the two things. This is probably the same reason Jeff Read’s friend thinks ‘allopathy’ is synonomus with death, only instead of an unethical reasercher we find a naturopath (would an unethical naturopath count as a tautology?).

Actually there is an interesting question, if fear makes people act in irrational, dumb, and outright dangerous ways, why did we evolve it as it is?

Because, in average, it works. Correlation is not causation, but it’s adaptive to see correlation as causation. It’s a large numbers sort of thing. Inevitably, a lot of people will believe all sorts of things that are probably mistaken, but derived from their personal experience.

JKW, #3

The Wikipedia article on USA’s Up All Night is drastically incomplete. Along with the bad movies and skits the show also featured old cartoons and other items as interstitials. Very often old animation that hadn’t been seen for a very long time, or versions of old cartoons originally shown in unusual circumstances.

One Warner Bros Porky Pig I recall was the version shown at military bases overseas during World War II. In one scene Porky is stumbling over the Phrase “Sun of a bbbbb….” He finally ends up saying, “Son of a gun!”

In the version shown on American television the short goes on from there. In the original version, made for a military audience, Porky looks out at the audience and says, “I bet you thought I was going to say “Son of a bitch”, now didn’t you?”

This is probably the same reason Jeff Read’s friend thinks ‘allopathy’ is synonomus with death

There’s a bit more to it than that. She had GDM which turned into type 2 diabetes post-partum. Her endocrinologist (she went to see a real one) was baffled. But one thorough Chinese herb cleanse later and the parasite which the muscle-testing had found eating her pancreas was gone! — no more diabetes.

So that means Evil Allopathy is both unwarrantedly dangerous and useless.

Somebody correct me if I’m wrong (I do pediatrics,not OB) but the progression to DM from GDM is not unheard of though not common;I’d be baffled by an endocrinologist who was baffled. The other more obvious possibility is misdiagnosis based on borderline testing, in which case *poof* magically gone in time to be called a cure by ‘natural’ medicine.

@29, The other thing that this speaks to is the fact that in medicine if I’m being honest with my patients(and I should)I’m dealing with uncertainty;error range for any given test, relative risk for each form of treatment, therapeutic index for each modality,percentage of patients that may not respond to therapy, and I owe it to the person I’m recommending these things to make them aware of at least a few of these variables, because it affects them(and these are just a few of the considerations that keep my blood pressure up and keep me sleepless). I can appreciate that to a patient these considerations can be overwhelming added to the stress of having to make the decisions regarding their health in general generates.As has been stated previously by many other posters on Orac’s site,there is none of the perceived ‘uncertainy’with alt med on the part of the patient because it’s ‘defintely a parasite’ and ‘I definitely have the cure’ is ultimately what a patient wants to hear( I know I would). Oh yeah, and no side effects. The strength of the evidence for either the treatment or the cause need not be discussed because it would worry the patient unduly. I fall deep onto the side that I am ethically obligated to give all relevant information so that an informed decision can be made. It’s my impression sometimes with some(not all) patients that this isn’t really what they want;and it’s not necessarily reflected by what they say they want,the body language of some tells you they would prefer a more paternalistic ‘everything’s going to be all right’ approach which I think we’ve been better off moving away from.The best of us balance as much of the truth as manageable without denying hope, and that’s sometimes the toughest part of the job from my standpoint.

@Jeff Read #29
She claims to have cured type2 diabetes by killing off pancratic parasites, detected with muscle testing (possibly applied kinesiology or something similar?), with chinese herbs? Really? Perhaps fear is not the problem after all…
This does sound alot like those testemonials from self-diagnosed cancer survivors, the “I found a lump and homeopathy made it disappear so it does cure cancer” ones.

Possible thought, if the endocrinologist was baffeled it could have been a misdiagnosis caused by failure to fast before testing coupled with the standard lie-to-the-doctor-and-say-you-did-what-you-were-told routine. It’s my undersanding that eating anything with sugar in it before the test can screw the results making a false positive more likely.

Okay, this might be a good place to ask a question that I’ve been wondering for a while: when was the last time that “HIV-is-not-the-cause-of-AIDS” was a reasonable if minority scientific opinion? I mean, there obviously once a time when the data wasn’t all in; just as obviously, the data that has been amassed today is so overwhelming that someone who tries claiming that HIV has been shown to not be responsible for AIDS obviously has some sort of malfunction going on. But when did the data become overwhelming?

(I’m wondering because I recently borrowed a book of literary analysis published in 1993, which at one point makes a startling turn into HIV-denialism, portraying those who believe that HIV is indeed the cause of AIDS as simple-minds seduced by the profit motives of Big Pharma and myths absorbed from the culture (“viruses are fashionable in medical research these days”) and I’m wondering if it sounded as stupid then as it does now.)

Antaeus Feldspar, go to your local library and check out Denying Aids by Set Kalichman. He has a table of the predictions, science findings based on reality, and the denialist misinterpretation.

I am presently midway through Chapter Two, which is about Peter Duesberg.

The HIV virus was first discoverd in the early 1980’s, within a few years it was known beyond reasonable doubt. so “when was the last time that “HIV-is-not-the-cause-of-AIDS” was a reasonable if minority scientific opinion”? About 20 years ago.

@ Antaeus Feldspar- Seth Kalichman has a blog about AIDS denialism (“Denying AIDS and other oddities”) which also points you to *other* bloggers who are trying to effectively counter the AIDS denialists.(BTW, I like your ‘nym -so “earthy”)

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