Back in September, I merrily applied a little not-so-Respectful Insolence to the service of deconstructing the overwhelmingly silly fear mongering by a group known as SANE Vax over the alleged discovery of HPV DNA in the HPV vaccine. SANE Vax, as you may recall, is a group founded by a woman named Norma Erickson dedicated to spreading misinformation about the HPV vaccine. If you peruse the SANE Vax website, you’ll see that the common antivaccine tropes are all there; they’re just directed mainly at the HPV vaccine. The hysterial fear mongering over the alleged discovery of DNA fragments of HPV in Gardasil was, as I described, massively overblown. The full explanation is in my post from September. The CliffsNotes version follows.
Basically, a pathologist by the name of Dr. Sin Hang Lee, who appears to have drunk at least a little of the antivaccine Kool-Aid, was hired by SANE Vax to test Gardasil for the presence of HPV DNA. Dr. Lee apparently made his name by developing exceedingly sensitive nested PCR assays to detect various DNA sequences. It was impossible to tell if his methods were valid, if Dr. Lee controlled adequately for the potential of false positives (which increase rapidly with the sensitivity of a test), and if his analysis was convincing because in September he had not published his results in the peer-reviewed literature. A quick search of PubMed the other day failed to find any publications on the topic since September.
In any case, even if Dr. Lee’s analysis was correct and his new, allegedly more sensitive methodology had picked up previously undetected traces of HPV DNA from the plasmids used to make the HPV vaccine, it is still incredibly unlikely that such tiny amounts of DNA could cause problems because, as I explained, it’s incredibly difficult to get naked DNA into cells and making the proteins it normally makes, and, even if Dr. Lee were 100% correct about there being undetected HPV DNA in Gardasil, the quantities involved are many orders of magnitude less than what would be needed to have even a whiff of a wisp of a hope of the DNA getting into cells and making its protein. That’s even assuming it could pass the blood-brain barrier or that the DNA fragments were large enough to contain whole coding regions of genes with a proper promoter in front of them to drive their expression. Ultimately, Dr. Lee’s pursuit of pseudoscience apparently got him into a bit of trouble with the new chairman of the Department of Pathology at Milford Hospital, which is where Dr. Lee worked. Correction: Where he used to work. Basically, he was canned.
Even more basically, the fear mongering about the potential for minute quantities of HPV DNA being in Gardasil was nonsensical and not based on science.
On some level, I rather suspect that even Dr. Lee, Norma Erickson, and Leslie Carol Botha, host of a radio show known as Holy Hormones and, judging by her prominent association with SANE Vax, apparently also a die-hard antivaccinationist, have some inkling how utterly implausible their fear mongering about HPV DNA fragments in Gardasil was. The reason I suspect this is that they’ve latched on to Dr. Hanan Polansky and his “microcompetition” idea as a means of salvaging their fear of the evil HPV DNA that’s supposedly in Gardasil, waiting to make your little girls sick.
With the Oil of Aphrodite and the Dust of the Grand Wazoo
Dr. Hanan Polansky’s apparent coming to the rescue of SANE Vax began two weeks ago, when his Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease issued a press release:
Dr. Hanan Polansky, Director of the Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease, will discuss his discovery of Microcompetition with Norma Erickson, President of SANE Vax Inc. Dr. Polansky will use Microcompetition to explain the biological mechanism underlying the Gardasil adverse events. Leslie Carol Botha will host the event on the Holy Hormones Radio Show. The show will be broadcast on the community radio station KRFC FM in Fort Collins, CO, Monday, February 6, from 6 to 7pm MST.
Dr. Hanan Polansky is the author of the highly acclaimed “Purple” book, entitled Microcompetition with Foreign DNA and the Origin of Chronic Disease. In his book he explains how foreign DNA fragments can cause many major diseases without damaging (mutating) the human DNA. The book has been read by more than 5,000 scientists around the world, and has been reviewed in more than 20 leading scientific journals.
I’ll get to Dr. Polansky’s radio interview and “purple book” a little later. In the meantime, let’s take a look at Dr. Polansky’s background and what he might mean by “microcompetition.” To do this, it doesn’t help to go to the medical literature. A quick search of PubMed this weekend for works by Dr. Polansky reveals only one publication in Acta Oncologica entitled Gene-Eden, a broad range, natural antiviral supplement, may shrink tumors and strengthen the immune system. Remember what I said about how low a bar it is to get a paper published somewhere in the peer-reviewed literature? Let’s just say that this paper is evidence of that. It’s a case report of the use of a supplement called Gene-Eden published as what appears to be a letter to the editor describing how Gene-Eden plus chemotherapy shrank a pancreatic cancer. (Obviously, it must have been the Gene-Eden that worked.) But what is Gene-Eden? According to the Gene-Eden website, Dr. Polansky’s Gene-Eden-VIR supplement contains “five natural ingredients” (Camellia Sinensis Extract, Quercetin, Licorice Extract, Cinnamomum Extract, and Selenium) identified thusly:
Gene-Eden-VIR the the first product of our Science-Based approach. To identify the Gene-Eden ingredients, the scientists at polyDNA used the scientific method developed by Dr. Hanan Polansky. We scanned the scientific literature, analyzed thousands of papers using our proprietary bioinformatics-based computer program, and identified the most effective and safe natural ingredients. Some of the laboratory and clinical studies, which were published in scientific journals, and show that these natural ingredients have a strong antiviral effect, are described here.
The studies listed are, as you might expect, a bunch of cell culture and animal studies. Amusingly, on the Gene-Eden website there is also a table boasting between 913 and 6,753 publications for each ingredient, depending on the specific ingredient. (Take that, skeptics!) There’s that, and, in addition to Dr. Polansky’s single publication listed in PubMed, lots of press releases, for instance about how Gene-Eden-VIR can treat cervical cancer, prevent swine flu, and treat a whole host of viruses.
And ya might not believe this, little fella, but it’ll cure your asthma, too.
In any case, besides apparently shrinking pancreatic cancer, according to Dr. Polansky his Gene-Eden supplement can also help insomnia (which Polansky attributes to “latent viruses”), chronic fatigue syndrome, and a host of other diseases. In fact, Polansky attributes many diseases to “latent viruses,” reminding me of how many supplement hawkers justify the ingredients in their supplements. They cherry pick the literature to find suggestive preclinical or correlative studies for each ingredient that might indicate usefulness for the purpose claimed, with nary a convincing clinical trial to justify the combination of ingredients used at the dose used, because, well, latent viruses cause every chronic health problem known to humans, apparently.
And the rationale for Gene-Eden is based on something that Dr. Polansky refers to as “microcompetition” or the “starved gene hypothesis.” This brings us to how Polansky’s ideas can serve the agenda of a crank organization like SANE Vax. But what is “microcompetition”?
Microcompetition? More like a microhypothesis!
Now here’s where things start to get all “sciencey.” A trip back to the website of Dr. Polansky’s Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease soon leads one to a link to his free book, Microcompetition with Foreign DNA and the Origin of Chronic Disease. It even has an ISBN and everything! But what about Dr. Polansky’s Center? Its address is listed on the website; so I did a bit of Google Maps fun. Even though it’s on a major road, the Center for the Biology of Chronic diseases sure looks as though it’s housed in a private residence to me. Shades of Mark and David Geier doing their antivaccine research in the basement of Mark Geier’s house as part of their “Institute for Chronic Illnesses” (which sounds eerily similar to the Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease)! How well I remember the Geiers’ basement lab, given that shortly after I started blogging for Seed, I came across an issue (back when Seed was actually published in dead tree form) with a credulous “brave maverick doctor” spin on the Geiers (part I and part II, thanks to the all powerful Wayback Machine), complete with pictures of Mark Geier’s basement laboratory, complete with a fume hood. Talk about embarrassment!
Still, just because Dr. Polansky isn’t affiliated with a university or research institute doesn’t necessarily mean his ideas aren’t worth considering. After all, Albert Einstein did some of his best work when he was still a patent clerk. True, Polansky’s selling of a dubious supplement and his apparent belief that latent viral infections are the cause of most chronic illnesses suggest he might be a few bases short of a full coding sequence, but let’s see what he says. Back to the press release about his appearance on Holy Hormones:
The FDA and Merck admit that Gardasil contains foreign DNA fragments. However, the FDA asserts that these foreign DNA fragments pose no risk. In contrast, Dr. Hanan Polansky, in his highly acclaimed “Purple” book explains how certain foreign DNA fragments, at high concentrations, cause major diseases, such as, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and even obesity even when the DNA is broken and not functioning.
Note: “…at high concentrations.” (Emphasis mine.) It’s half tempting to stop right here, point out that, even if there is a tiny amount of HPV DNA left in each Gardasil vaccine vial, it isn’t “at high concentrations” and couldn’t possibly get into any cell in the human body at high enough concentrations to induce microcompetition, thus making Dr. Polansky’s ideas about “microcompetition,” right or wrong, completely irrelevant to SANE Vax’s fear mongering, and leave it at that. However, by agreeing to be interviewed it was Dr. Polansky who voluntarily offered up his idea as tactical air support for the SANE Vax campaign of fear mongering about the HPV vaccine. Besides, you come to SBM for more than that; so more than that I will try to deliver. To do that, let’s head to the source:
Dr. Hanan Polansky discovered that fragments of DNA, called N-boxes, can be very dangerous. When foreign N-boxes enter the body (naturally, or artificially, like through an injection of some treatment), they end up in the nucleus, where they attract scarce genetic resources. It is interesting that many common dormant (latent) viruses have strong N-boxes in their DNA. They include the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Herpes Simplex virus (HSV), Varicella Zoster virus (VZV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and others. In fact, the CMV virus has the strongest N-box known to science. This N-box is so strong that human genes cannot compete with its power to attract the scarce genetic resources.
Sometimes Dr. Polansky compares these fragments of DNA to magnets. Imagine introducing a powerful magnet into the nucleus. What will be the effect of this powerful magnet on the allocation of genetic resources in the nucleus? The weak human N-boxes have no chance. Poor human genes. Poor host.
In the nucleus, “microcompetition” between the foreign N-boxes and the human N-boxes in the human genes can lead to disease. When the foreign N-boxes belong to a virus, microcompetition between the viral DNA and the human DNA can lead to disease even when the virus is dormant (latent), or the viral DNA is broken into pieces and cannot express proteins. As predicted by Dr. Hanan Polansky, many studies found fragments of DNA that belong to these viruses in tumors, clogged arteries (arterial plaque), arthritic joints, and other diseased tissues.
What might come as a surprise to SBM readers is that this is not an entirely implausible hypothesis, at least for some viral infections. What makes it implausible is how Dr. Polansky links it to latent viral infections. Be that as it may, back in the day, way, way back when I used to do a lot of plasmid transfections, we knew about microcompetition, only we didn’t call it that. Plasmids, for those not familiar with them, are DNA circles in which scientists can place whatever genes they want under the control of whatever promoter (DNA sequences that control how much a gene is transcribed into RNA) they want. “Transfection” is a process by which scientists can introduce this foreign DNA into mammalian cells and thereby drive expression of an exogenous gene. For purposes of this discussion, it’s not really that important how the plasmid DNA gets into the cell, only that it gets into the cell.
In the cell, the transcriptional machinery is made up of a number of proteins, among which is a class of proteins known as transcription factors. Transcription factors bind to specific DNA sequences on promoters and activate the transcription of the gene into messenger RNA, which is then used as a template to make protein. The key concept to understand here is that the supply of transcription factors and their protein co-factors in the cell can be limited, which means that there are only so many binding sites that the cell can accommodate. It is possible to “sop up” all of the cell’s supply of a specific transcription factor (or set of transcription factors) by flooding the cell with short length oligonucleotides that contain the correct sequence of nucleotides to bind to the transcription factor. When this happens, the transcription factor supply is tied up and these transcription factors can’t activate transcription of the cell’s DNA. It’s all a matter of chemical equilibrium; if the amount of exogenous DNA binding sequence introduced into the cell is very large relative to the amount of endogenous DNA binding sequences in the genome and the sum total is much larger than what the cell’s transcriptional machinery can accommodate, the transcription of the cell’s genes controlled by that sequence will plummet. This concept is illustrated in a figure from a paper published 12 years ago (click to enlarge).
Note that in this figure a specific sequence of DNA is acting as a “decoy” to tie up the E2F transcription factor. This oligonucleotide decoy strategy is a strategy that’s been studied for at least a couple of decades for shutting down gene activity, with mixed results. It is, however, not a new idea. Nor is it a new idea that certain viruses can do exactly the same thing by flooding the cell with copies of themselves, including sequences that can “sop up” specific transcription factors. This appears to form the basis of Dr. Polansky’s “microcompetition” idea. Indeed, in his book, Dr. Polansky goes way back to the very beginnings of molecular biology and gene transcription assays and points out well-known observations that I was taught in graduate school 20 years ago showing how investigators using pSV2CAT in 1984 showed that two plasmids could compete with each other for the cell’s transcriptional machinery: “taken together, our data indicate that a limited amount of the cellular factors required for the function of the SV40 72-bp repeats is present in CV-1 cells. Increasing the number of functional SV40 enhancer elements successfully competes for these factors, whereas other elements necessary for stable transcription did not show such an effect” (quoted from Scholer et al, 1984). My PhD thesis advisor did studies of this type studying transcription in muscle in the late 1980s.
Right here I should admit that I didn’t read all–or even most–of Dr. Polansky’s book. It is, after all, 427 pages long, not counting indices and the list of references (the latter of which numbers well over 1,000, demonstrating that the number of references doesn’t necessarily correlate with the quality of the science). Much of it is also painfully tedious reading. I’ll do a lot of things for a blog post, but even I have my limits, and trying to slog through 427+ pages of snore-inducing prose prose about a mildly interesting but outdated idea is beyond my limits. That’s why I found this review of Dr. Polansky’s book rather useful, coupled with some careful “cherry picking” of chapters discussing topics about which I’m knowledgeable. Basically, Dr. Polansky zeros in on a DNA sequence known as an N-box, which is also known as the ETS binding site and has a motif that looks like this: (A/C)GGA(A/T)(G/A). This is the core binding sequence of a transcription factor known as GA-binding protein transcription factor (GABP), which is involved in the regulation of transcription of a lot of important genes that regulate important cellular processes. It turns out that some viruses, including the HPV virus, have N-box sequences. Dr. Polansky claims that these N-box sequences in latent viruses compete for GABP and cause disease.
There are, as you might imagine, a lot of problems with this concept, and that’s even before we get to discussing whether this concept has any relevency whatsoever to HPV and its vaccine. For one thing, latent viruses are by definition latent. That means that, although they might still be making some transcripts and proteins, they are not replicating. Remember, the concept of “microcompetition” means that the N-box DNA must be present in high concentrations in order to compete with the N-boxes in the cellular DNA. They aren’t. Yet Dr. Polansky seems to think that this N-box in some viruses has some sort of magical powers to attract all the transcription factors in the cell to them. He uses terms like “magnet” and in his interview with Leslie Carol Botha approves of Norma Erickson’s referring to them as “vampires.” In fact, he more than just approves of the term, he even says, “I love the word ‘vampire’; it adds a lot of flavor to it.” Erickson then carries the analogy one step beyond into the ether when she then refers to the cells as functioning like “zombies.”
He analogizes to sucking the nutrients out of cells (hence the “starved gene hypothesis.” In reality, even if it occurs in reality, microcompetition is nothing more than a chemical equilibrium. For “microcompetition” to be the cause of disease, these latent viruses would have to be churning out N-box sequence at prodigious levels, which latent viruses don’t do because, well, if they were replicating themselves they wouldn’t be latent anymore.
None of this stops Dr. Polansky from saying this about N-box sequences in his interview:
At the end of the five years, we had found something pretty amazing, that many of the major diseases originate from the same source, and the source is basically foreign fragments of DNA and specifically one segment of DNA that’s causing all the trouble. This fragment of DNA is called an N-box, that is basically operating as a magnet and competing with human genes for scarce genetic resources available in the nucleus. Once these foreign DNA fragments are found in the nucleus, then as they arrive in high concentrations [difficult to understand], a disease will start and we see all the symptoms that today are recognized for all these major diseases.
Erickson helpfully chimes in later that this is “starvation at a cellular level,” and Dr. Polansky agrees. If this guy can’t even understand the difference between transcription factors and nutrients, I have a hard time taking him seriously. Even as a metaphor, Polansky’s analogy fails. It gets worse than that, though. Later in the interview, Polansky goes on and on about how regular drugs are “synthesized from scratch” and biologicals (like vaccines) are not, but are rather made using plasmids and recombinant genetic technology. This leads Botha and Erickson to gasp in terror at “genetically modified” treatments. Scary! This is followed by an anti-pharma rant about how much money drug companies make selling…drugs! And they’re shocked–shocked, I say!–that Gardasil, being a vaccine, is classified as a “biological.” Run for the hills!
But how does all of this relate to HPV and Gardasil? I think you know. I’ve already alluded to it, but just for the heck of it, let’s take a look at what Dr. Polansky has to say:
In my book, these DNA fragments are dangerous. They are the cause potentially–it has to be investigated further. But potentially, they can be the source of all the adverse effects, side effects, or diseases that we see with the injection… after the the injection, with the woman being vaccinated.
After Botha expresses her gratitude at having “found” Dr. Polansky (the two deserve each other from where I stand), she rants a bit about how many girls are allegedly sick from Gardasil, regurgitating various antivaccine tropes. The discussion (such as it is) then continues and goes beyond Gardasil, with Dr. Polansky opining:
All the modern vaccines are basically sharing the same process and therefore all of them will have DNA or fragments of DNA that are being injected into the people getting the vaccines. Autism, for instance, was linked recently with the MMR and a lot of debate about it, meaning you can read opinions on this issue. I read somewhere recently that MMR was also discovered to have foreign DNA fragments in it. So that’s the way it’s being done. That’s the manufacturing process and the purification pricess. And the limits of the purification process result in DNA residuals in the vaccines. As I said, the dispute is not whether there are DNA fragments in the vaccine, because nobody will argue that. You go online, you check on Google, and you’ll see that the debate is whether these DNA fragments cause disease. And if you ask the maintream scientist or doctor or pharmaceutical officer whether these DNA fragments cause any harm, they’ll say no. My book argues otherwise. So in a way my book is flying in the face of the entire traditional mainstream biology.
Except that it’s not. As I’ve described before, microcompetition is not a new concept, nor is the concept that viruses can cause chronic diseases. All Dr. Polansky has done with respect to this is to repackage old ideas in a not particularly exciting way. Hilariously, even the die-hard antivaccine Australian Vera Schreiber stated this in the comments of one of the SANE Vax posts about Dr. Polansky. He’s also way behind the times when it comes to genomics and molecular biology in that he doesn’t even consider microRNAs as a mechanism that could explain some of the “anomalous” observations he describes in his book about BRCA1 and breast cancer linked to low BRCA1 in women without BRCA1 mutations.
In fact, as ERV describes, there are a lot of things that Dr. Polansky apparently doesn’t understand about virology and biology, among other things.
Now I understand where microcompetition came from!
Microcompetition as a concept has a modicum of plausibility in a limited fashion for some aspects of cellular behavior. It has not to my knowledge been directly linked to any specific diseases in the 9 years since Dr. Polansky first wrote his book. Certainly Dr. Polansky hasn’t published anything supporting his idea, nor has anyone else as far as I’ve been able to ascertain in my multiple searches of PubMed. As speculation, Dr. Polansky’s concepts are somewhat interesting, but he takes their potential implications far beyond what the evidence can support. Normally, this wouldn’t necessarily be such a horrible thing if it were done as an intellectual exercise. After all, I didn’t mind, for example, the speculative fiction that was Medical Hypotheses until it started providing a platform for quacks to give their ideas a patina of seeming scientific respectability, as it did for Mark and David Geier and their ideas that led to their use of chemical castration with Lupron as a treatment for autism. Besides, sometimes outlandish ideas actually go somewhere.
I consider it higly unlikely that Dr. Polansky’s idea will.
The reasons are numerous. First, his idea isn’t all that new, as much as he tries to labor to represent it as some radical new breakthrough. Yes, I know he’s managed to impress a few doctors and scientists, but that was eight years ago, back when his idea actually seemed mildly innovative. Science has moved on, particularly virology and genomics, the two most relevant scientific disciplines to Dr. Polansky’s ideas. Second, nine years after he proposed it, it hasn’t really gone anywhere. Neither Dr. Polansky himself nor any other scientist that I’ve been able to locate has published any reports linking the concept of microcompetition definitively to a human disease.
Worse, however, instead of doing research to determine whether his idea has experimental evidence to back it up and, more importantly, whether that experimental evidence can suggest strategies to use the concept of microcompetition to intervene in the pathophysiology of any disease, instead Dr. Polansky has devoted himself to selling a supplement that he made up by cherry picking some natural compounds for which he could find a bit of in vitro and animal data supporting antiviral effect and using them to make a supplement that he sells to treat “chronic viral infection.” There’s no clinically acceptable evidence that his supplement works in humans as advertised or that it impacts microcompetition in any way. Not only that, but he’s been warned by the FDA about at least one of his claims for his supplement.
Worst of all, though, now Dr. Polansky appears to have hitched his horse to the antivaccine movement. I don’t know who contacted whom first, SANE Vax or Dr. Polansky. It might have been either. Perhaps the brain trust at SANE Vax saw Dr. Polansky’s website and thought it a perfect way to slap a veneer of plausibility on their utterly ridiculous fear mongering about minuscule bits of DNA in the HPV vaccine, or maybe Dr. Polansky sought out SANE Vax because of their recent “revelation.” Who knows? Does it really matter? Either way, what we have is a crank organization teaming up with a crank to link their respective crank ideas in the service of spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt about vaccines. They’re two nasty crank ideas that taste cranky together.
There’s still one final question, though: Where did he get this idea? The answer to that question, my friends, is perhaps the silliest aspect of this entire sordid story. Although Dr. Polansky explains how he came up with his idea in his interview, it’s easier to go to another of Dr. Polansky’s websites for the skinny:
Wouldn’t you wish to have Einstein working on your medical problem? Imagine someone with his ability to choose the right direction to work on, his talent to recognize meaningful findings, his genius to leap from old concepts to new and more promising ideas. Think how much you would accomplish with Einstein on your team.
Einstein and other great scientists had one overwhelming talent, their superb intuition. This talent led them to discover pathways not charted on any map, and ensured that these pathways would become highways traveled by generations of scientists in their expeditions to uncover the secrets of nature.
We believe that the above proposition is not merely wishful thinking. Our sophisticated computer program, called Computer Intuition, was modeled to show the characteristics of genius intuition, and therefore, to turns us into “Einsteins.”
The basic premise of the Computer Intuition program is that every future event is preceded by hints, and that the key to realizing these events is recognizing the future significance of these hints.
In 1996, Dr. Hanan Polansky completed a prototype of a computer program that analyzes scientific text and assigns a rating to all ideas found in the text. The rating can be interpreted as intuitive intensity, (or psychological intensity, hence, psytensity). The higher the intuitive intensity, or psytensity, of an idea, the more it hints on future discoveries or future treatments. Dr. Polansky modeled the program after the intuition of the greatest minds in science such as Einstein, Newton, Edison and Tesla, and called it Computer Intuition.
Yes indeed, you read it right. Dr. Polansky wrote a “computer intuition program” and used it to scan the medical literature. In his interview with SANE Vax, he stated that he had used his computer program to scan 500,000 publications. This microcompetition idea is what he came up with. I kid you not. You’d think such a seemingly awesome algorithm could come up with something better, but apparently you’d be wrong. I think he needs to hire some decent coders.
82 replies on ““Microcompetition” with antivaccinationists for woo”
*Camellia sinensis*? plus “cinnamomum”, etc? Sounds like Chai masala. Think I’ll go have some.
“Wouldn’t you wish to have Einstein working on your medical problem?”
Not unless he had medical/life science training I’m unaware of.
Your description of the mechanisms involved with the concept of microcompetition was a very nice touch. Thank you.
I think he needs to hire some decent coders.
He needs to hire some alpha testers, as well. He seems to have made the mistake of assuming that his algorithm could be successfully implemented on the first try. It’s a common mistake among scientists who occasionally write code (I have made that mistake myself), but a bit of testing often reveals subtle errors and saves the embarrassment of publishing bad results based on bad code.
Yah, I seem to recall another Nobel Prize winning physicist (heck, he won TWO!) totally screwing up when trying his hand at biology– he admitted he ruined his collaborator’s experiment!
(Another anecdote from the Richard Feynman fan girl, here. ;))
Orac, on his website is this:
“Call us to make a *donation* at 585-200-5546
“We are now collecting funds to hire a writer to translate Dr. Polansky’s highly technical “purple” book into a book suitable for the general public. We believe that everyone should be familiar with Dr. Polansky’s great discovery, not only professional scientists. If you donate more than $500, we will send you a signed copy of Dr. Polansky’s “purple” book.”
Might there be a “business opportunity” for you here. You would have to search your conscience and divest yourself of everything you learned in medical school and in practice, to even consider this “opportunity”. (hint: Do not send him this blog as a proposed book outline)
* He claims to have tax-exempt status…so all donations qualify as charitable contributions for income tax purposes.
* He’s also “washing through” his speaker fees and the “donations” into the “charity” which support him and his research.
Excuse my ignorance, but when I eat a steak, or asparagus, or corn on the cob, aren’t there loads and loads of DNA entering my body naturally? Given the huge amount of DNA present in these foods, isn’t there a high probability that there are some N-box sequences in there? Wouldn’t eating foods like these be very dangerous and likely to induce disease?
Should we all restrict our diets to DNA-free foods? I’m planning on starting a 100%-pure sugar diet tomorrow. My dentist is going to be pissed!
I’ve lost count of the number of times someone here in the UK has quoted from or linked to SaneVax in retelling the story of someone who had a reaction to the HPV vaccine without realising in the UK girls get Cervarix and not Gardasil (though I believe that’s to change)
Could I borrow that paper bag for a while?
I’m all for freedom of speech but this is nasty.
“I’m all for freedom of speech but this is nasty.”
It’s about the most nasty court decision I’ve heard of, in a very long time.
I love Feynman but I have to correct this, Feynman only won a single Nobel prize. You might be thinking of Pauling.
At least this stood up. I guess it is in the hands of Parliament members to write legislation to curb anti-vaxx activities. Good luck with that though.
“Leslie Carol Botha will host the event on the Holy Hormones Radio Show.”
Please tell me you made this part up.
It’s like Monty Python meets Joe Mercola.
Nope! Dangerous Bacon, it was covered here.
@Dangerous Bacon: The reason I stopped reading the Onion regularly, several years ago, was because they couldn’t keep up with what has been happening in the so-called real world. This radio show is a case in point.
For similar reasons, I have never attempted to write fiction. Were I trying to envision an alt-med show with an evangelical take on things, I would never dream of calling it the Holy Hormones Show.
Thanks to Facebook, I am now desperately wanting to “like” your post. This is hilarious. 😀
OMG, Travis (comment 12), you are so right! Thanks for putting me straight on that point. 🙂
On the Australian Vaccine Network’s legal doings, the ruling may be…well, the beginning of the end for AVN. From Australian skeptic Rachel Dunlop
The Australian Skeptics
I also saw some commentary to the effect that the ruling actually will make it easier, going forward, to limit AVN’s activities because of technicalities of the ruling.
@ Liz Ditz: your two comments seem to give hope to the science-based community.
It really is good news that the AVN is no longer the “go to source” for mainstream media and in some media outlets, they are referred to, as a crank organization.
It is a jurisdictional issue, but I still feel sorry for the parents of the infant who died.
Great post Orac.
Unfortunately, after a fairly quick read through it, all my neural axons appear to have shut down upon reading the last couple of paragraphs.
Oh well, I had intended to read it at a more leisurely pace later on anyway.
Gene-Eden-VIR’s natural ingredients( from tea, cinnamon, licorice, quercitin, selenium) sound sickeningly familar: the sort of products sold by woo-meisters as anti-cancer and anti-oxidant slopped together.The tripe about genes keeps the cargo-cult timely; for added dash, he tosses in the names of Newton et al.
Following in the steps of Newton et al, he wisely eschews any pharmacological solutions and goes right to the natural font of life itself- phyto-nutrients! Lord, it sounds like a random splice from the nonsense I survey! There is an audience because people recognise that *needing* pharmaceuticals means that you have a real problem: taking food-like supplements enables them to sweep the problem under the rug, pretending that all is *nearly* well and can be easily fixed. Woo-meisters stake their fortunes on this tendency.
– btw- *psytensity*- is that the worst portmanteau ever?
The icing on the cake, from the snake oil sales point of view, is that the target customer base is even more ignorant of molecular biology and genomics than they are of basic biology, physiology and immunology. Win:Win!
I freely admit that I couldn’t be bothered to read this blether all the way through, but the fact is that every time Orac feels his numbers are slipping he pops in a bit of Gardasil and hopes heartily that Google Alerts picks it up.
Does a lot of rubbish come via the anti-Gardasil crowd? Oh yeah. Does a lot of rubbish come via the pro-vax crowd? Oh yeah. And Orac is the worst.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle, of course. Meanwhile, sneering old Orac is making me yawn and setting back the course of true scientific curiosity a millennium or two.
“I freely admit that I couldn’t be bothered to read this blether all the way through”
And this is where I decided that I couldn’t be bother to read the rest of your comment.
“blether”? Could you be more specific JJ? Or perhaps your content challenged post is just a bit of inane trolling?
“Right here I should admit that I didn’t read all–or even most–of Dr. Polansky’s book.” (Orac) = good. Me not being buggered to read Orac’s posturing = bad. Right?
Not that I honestly care. I’ve read enough of Orac to know that he is more about tearing other people down than being genuinely curious. That’s not good science. If you think it is, have at it.
Then show us what science you have. All I see you doing is complain and insult.
Remind me again why it’s Ok for Orac to make a pronouncement when, by his own admission, he hasn’t actually read the book? Sycophancy apart?
I haven’t, so I’m keeping my mouth shut about it. Orac would be well advised to do the same.
However, observation is a big part of science–and my observation is that mentioning Gardasil is a visitor magnet. As Orac knows. Also, good scientists aren’t quite so obviously into the derision thing. It makes you incapable of siphoning out the odd bit of truth or interesting line of query.
Ah well. As you were.
So you admit you have nothing to add on the science. Good to know.
Yep. Again I freely admit that–because I haven’t actually read the book, any more than you have.
I also freely submit that virtually none of the comments have anything to add to the science which, again, is more than you would admit. I would also respectfully and insolently submit that the truth lies, as I said, between the pro-vax nutcases and the anti-vax nutcases.
However, apparently, here–pro-Orac = good, questioning Orac = bad. Good to know.
Orac has explained and critiqued, in depth, the fine details of the principles underlying Dr. Polansky’s “science” in his post.
It’s not Orac’s fault if you don’t know, or understand, enough molecular biology or genomics to see that.
Travis @12 with apologies if it’s been already been addressed
Paulingâs first Nobel was in Chemistry, and the second was the Peace Prize. None for Physics!
Only four individual people have been awarded 2 prizes: Pauling, Marie Curie (Chemistry and Physics), Frederick Sanger (Chemistry twice), and John Bardeen (Physics twice)
@Sauceress; Seriously? You’d read half a paper or book, or leave halfway through a lecture, and say you’re good, you don’t need to know the rest?
Wow. This explains a lot.
On that note, I will go actually finish a book.
Well there goes one of my new heavy duty irony meters up in smoke!
Great! Then perhaps you could come back and point out where Orac got the science wrong.
I wonder what the book is- ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ ?
JJ, are you using Gene-Eden to help you get through the book? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just have a cup of tea with a cinnamon stick with a snack of black licorice whips and Brazil nuts?
Odd how it is claimed to help with insomnia when one of the ingredients is tea (camellia sinensis extract).
What of the parts you did read, then? I assume you can easily highlight what’s wrong with them?
So…let get this straight…when the tumour I had recently shrunk and was then safely removed it was down to this magic Gene Eden stuff? That I didn’t take. Hmmm…I think I’ll keep giving the credit to the chemo and the wonderful oncologists at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, actually.
I’m also pretty sure that 30 years as a smoker and my genetic predisposition to certain types of cancer were bigger factors than any foreign DNA!
Got any evidence for this assertion?
Does the truth lie halfway between Yaweh created the earth and all life as now is in 6 days and the earth is 4.5 billion years old and life evolved?
Does the truth lie halfway between NASA sent people to the moon and the moon landings were hoaxed?
Does the truth lie halfway between the census of climate scientists at the IPCC and the Koch funded lairs for hire at the Heartland Institute?
Does the truth lie halfway between the mainstream scientific consensus on a subject and people who are informed by the leprechauns in their underpants?
Got any evidence for your assertion that mentioning Gardasil is particularly effective traffic attractor compared to the other topics Orac blogs about?
Life is short, and it is useful to develop a sensitive BS detector. I have abandoned many books and articles part way through when it has become clear that I am wasting my time, and the author is spouting nonsense. I also walked out of a lecture once, when the lecturer claimed that holes in the ozone layer were part of a cosmic plan to admit more positive energy to assist in human evolution. That wasn’t because I didn’t need to hear the rest, but because I didn’t trust myself not to start asking him how malignant melanoma assist in human evolution, loudly and angrily. The lecture was at an outdoor festival loosely based around environmental concerns, BTW, not a scientific convention or suchlike so I suppose I should have known what to expect.
Were Andrew Moulden and/or the Canadian Action Party among the speakers?
I don’t remember – this was several years ago in the UK. It was a bit of a wake-up call for me, as I had previously thought that such nonsense was harmless entertainment; conflating UV with imaginary positive life energy was a new one on me. That was before I had internet access, back in the days when weird and wonderful ideas seemed interesting. Now I come across so many of them they just seem tedious and a bit scary.
I assume you have a telepath with proven powers of mind-reading to testify to this “fact.”
@ Militant Agnostic:
Perhaps people use the ‘averaging’ technique you mention because they fancy themselves arbitrators choosing a *wise* ( -cough-) middle path free of the extremes of partisanship: another mistake alt med sympathisers often make- trying to appear wise.
Ah, the BS detector! I wonder what causes this to develop and what factors influence its appearance. I grew up in the presence of several first-rate instruments and have felt extremely- if you pardon the word- *blessed*. From my studies, I’ve started to believe that it isn’t purely cogition ( abstract thought, logic et al) but the social aspect as well: understanding how others – like woo-meisters or their marks- are motivated, how they “present their case”, understand their audience’s needs and desires, anticipate others’ reactions. Interestingly enough, one social cognitive skill appears to be sarcasm.
Self-contradiction; why are you reading and commenting if you don’t care?
Taking a skeptical, critical look at claims is, in fact, critical to good science.
(And of course, this blog alone represents a high degree of interest and curiosity.)
JJ resorts to the verbosity defense, too. “You can’t criticize someone unless you’ve read every single word they ever wrote”. However, taken to its logical conclusion, this means that 1) anyone can make themselves immune to criticism of their ideas with repetitive verbosity and 2) this would apply equally to quacks; they would never be permitted to criticize mainstream science and medicine, as they have not read everything.
Or even more simply through withholding. According to JJ’s standards, he is qualified to judge Orac when he’s read everything that Orac has written, but if Orac writes a new blog post and waits a couple of hours before putting it up, JJ is powerless to critique Orac during that time, because he has no longer read everything that Orac has written. If Orac writes something and keeps it in a sock drawer, JJ remains unqualified to comment on Orac forever.
If JJ protests that this is not the way it works, I agree, but I point out that he has just affirmed the principle that one can tell from less than 100% of a person’s ouevre that they are mistaken and their claims dubious, and his grounds for accusing Orac of insufficient diligence disappear.
BTW, does anyone else suspect that JJ = carO = pothead troll from London? Just a guess on my part, but the trolling style feels similar to me.
“BTW, does anyone else suspect that JJ = carO = pothead troll from London? Just a guess on my part, but the trolling style feels similar to me.”
It could be Julian Pursell…the pothead…a.k.a. hundreds of sock puppets troll. Right now he is posting on the Ho-Po and other science blogs under “Cannabis for Autism”
“BTW, does anyone else suspect that JJ = carO = pothead troll from London? Just a guess on my part, but the trolling style feels similar to me.”
He’s posting on Ho-Po and on science blogs under “Cannabis for Autism”.
Even his bollocks have bollox.
Pardon my ignorant question, but wouldn’t you sort of expect to find HPV DNA in an HPV vaccine, being as it’s, um, made with parts of HPV in the first place?
I honestly don’t get why these idiots are freaking out about this, other than a) they’re idiots, and b) some people freak out when you mention DNA.
Off-topic but of interest to many regular readers — the great Charlie Pierce reports on a measles outbreak and the rise of religious exemptions and wingnuttery in general.
lilady, you got a problem over at the Huff, you put out some bad science, you might need to back-peddle a bit, perhaps admit you were wrong about that, just to save your credibility for your real mission?
@ palindrom: Todd W. brought the article to our attention. It is great reporting. Todd W. also mentioned that brave maverick Dr. Jay, is tweeting about it.
The MD STate Medical Board just had to issue another “Cease and Desist” order against the Geiers – still trying to practice medicine with a suspended license (Baltimore Sun)….
while reading this and the book review I found myself repeatedly yelling miRNA! miRNA! halloooo miRNAAAA! this just screams miRNA! Any time soon one of my neighbours will come storming in thinking I’m being attacked.
Great article as always Orac and wonderful discourse minions. Great reference to Zappa’s Cosmic Debris, I picture JJ with a newspaper wrapped around his head trying to look as if he is somehow ‘deep’ !!
I am forever grateful to the one that introduced me to killfile. It gets a good workout most days.
@ Lawrence…I’ll be checking out that cease and desist order, thanks.
BTW, Indiana public health authorities have confirmed the 16th case of measles:
@ Lawrence: Here is Maryland’s “Cease and Desist” order:
Take special “note” (#7) in the order…of the drugs he was prescribing for himself, his wife, his son and daughter-in-law.
@lilady: you need to put a NO LIQUIDS warning with the Cease and Desist order….
Dear me, all this stress seems to be having a negative effect on both Mark AND David’s libidos. And looks like he’s wandering into “anti-aging” stuff, too. Hey, can’t do one woo, might as well go to another…
But what an idiot, to write prescriptions with a suspended license. I sincerely doubt they’re paying cash for those meds, and insurance companies FLAG providers with suspended licenses so that prescriptions, treatments, etc don’t get paid for or reimbursed…
OT to Lilady: Do you still closely follow the microcompetition of the LLMDs?
Okay MI Dawn…the next time I link to an article that is certain to evoke a “response”…I’ll preface it with a NO LIQUIDS warning.
When faced with adversity, such as losing your medical license or being prosecuted for practicing medicine without a medical license, the usual advice is to “steel yourself” or “keep a stiff upper lip”.
@ Fred: I am soooo beyond LLMDs…I’ve been retired from public health since 2005. Here is an abstract, full article behind a pay-wall, authored by some of the doctors that I met while working as a public health nurse:
“BTW, does anyone else suspect that JJ = carO = pothead troll from London? Just a guess on my part, but the trolling style feels similar to me.”
Pothead Troll is back. He’s posting on the Ho-Po as “Cannabis for Autism” and here as the “Ho-Po bot”.
@lilady – he also made a brief appearance over at AoA, with about as much success.
Orac, also had meant to compliment you on your superbly appropriate Zappa reference.
“What kind of a guru are you, anwyay?”
You said: “Gene-Eden-VIR’s natural ingredients( from tea, cinnamon, licorice, quercitin, selenium) sound sickeningly familar: the sort of products sold by woo-meisters as anti-cancer and anti-oxidant slopped together.The tripe about genes keeps the cargo-cult timely; for added dash, he tosses in the names of Newton et al.”
This entire argument has been addressed through a very interesting discussion/argument between Dr. Gorski and myself on another blog.
You may wish to peruse it. Some of your opinions may change.
You can view our discussion, here.
Orac, you actually copy-pasted your entire other blog posting.
To this blog?
Why did you do that?
A bit interesting though. Are you opening a new front, one where my annoying posts regarding Dr. Polansky and Microcompetition would hopefully not appear?
The thing is, you appear to just write opinion with little to no evidence to substantiate much of anything you say. Whereas, my postings at the blog mentioned above completely do the opposite.
I never write anything without bringing SOME kind of evidence. I think your readers here would do well to take what you say with a grain of salt unless, or until, you can back what you say and show WHY and HOW you get your opinions.
Because otherwise, they’re just buying a surgeon’s opinion. A smart person needs to know exactly what that opinion is founded upon.
Because he posts on both blogs. It is not an uncommon practice. Are you now going to chastise PZ Myers for doing the same thing?
If you don’t like the responses you received at the other blog, there is no reason to repeat your observations here. Especially with the level of “evidence” you claim is not used (here is a hint: the blue text are links to other websites). Perhaps you should take some “Gene-Ren” to help you comprehend what was written and click the hyperlinks.
Though instead of taking that supplement, it might be cheaper to brew a cup of black tea with a cinnamon stick, and drink it with a snack of black licorice and Brazil nuts.
But be careful, they all contain DNA!
>”Human genes cannot compete with its power to attract the scarce genetic resources”
And probably also its power to sap our precious bodily fluids, I’ll bet! Oh noes! Our scarce genetic resources are threatened by an international Communist conspiracy!
Will — is this the first time you’ve noticed Orac crossposting articles to two blogs? 😉
I wonder how Will feels about Dr. Steven Novella posting on three blogs?
“For purposes of this discussion, it’s not really that important how the plasmid DNA gets into the cell, only that it gets into the cell.”
I think that’s a major point! You know how hard transfections can be, at least for some cell types? Really hard! With chemicals and lipids and electroporation. And those AREN’T the toxins found in vaccines! Or are they?…
And a science did-ya-know: Ever heard of myotonic dystrophy? Really interesting pathophysiology. RNA hairpins (toxic RNA) bind up some specific splicing proteins, leading to misplicing of a whole host of transcripts. I can see where these kinds of things make people’s imaginations get the best of them.
The Gardasil vaccine has been found to be ineffective: “No significant evidence of a vaccine therapeutic effect was observed…” and the vaccine often caused an increase in the presence of HPV strains while failing to clear the viruses in most women.
See: JAMA, August 15, 2007âVol 298, No. 7, available at: https://louisville.edu/medschool/med-peds/residents/journal-club/11-07%20Article.pdf
Witch, as I said in the other thread: that is not a study on Gardisil, plus it was on already infected women.
Next time you post a study, actually read it first.
Just want to thank demandabanana for that post!
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it as long as people keep repeating nonsense about HPV vaccines. Gardasil and Cervarix are remarkably safe and effective. They have been proven to reduce precancerous changes that we know lead to cervical cancer if left untreated, so we can safely say that they prevent cancer.
The “safe vaccine movement” was worried about vaccines containing attenuated pathogens, dead pathogens that might have unexpected effects, vaccines made using cultured human or animal tissues, vaccines made using animals, or containing thimerosal. None of those things are true of Gardasil. It’s made of proteins from genetically modified yeast. How much safer could a vaccine possibly be?
Are the antivaccine brigade happy? Are they hailing the brilliant scientists who came up with this extraordinary discovery that will save thousands of lives and incalculable misery? Of course they’re not.
Witch, perhaps you’ve heard the aphorism “The devil is in the details”?
Next time, I suggest you read the paper before citing it in hopes of supporting your position. You may spare yourself considerable embarassment.
Anyone who would use the “microfascism” paper as support for her arguments is utterly incapable of being embarrassed.
(Boiling “integrative medicine” down to its essence in 34 words – comment 85)