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Author Topic:   Misunderstanding Empiricism
Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 121 of 185 (432321)
11-05-2007 11:00 AM
Reply to: Message 120 by purpledawn
11-05-2007 10:18 AM


Re: Do They Work?
purpledawn writes:

So does the lack of double-blind studies negate documented results?

No, the fact that a study is not double-blind or placebo-based doesn't negate its findings, but it doesn't give one much confidence in them either. If this were truly a study, then I would say that studies of this nature can at best only indicate when more study might be appropriate. But this wasn't a study, it was a book, and it was likely a book instead of a paper in the technical literature because the paper was rejected or no paper was ever submitted.

McGarey is an advocate of Edgar Cayce. Going to the Edgar Cayce site, here are a few of the main headings on the home page (http://www.edgarcayce.org/):

  • 7 Prophecies that came true
  • Personalized Astrology Report
  • BECOME FULLY PSYCHIC!
  • What is a Castor Oil Pack?

Don't just let your eyes run past that list without reading it. Right there with headings for prophecies, astrology reports and becoming psychic is a heading for castor oil packs. Another McGarey book is The Edgar Cayce Remedies, so evidently he's deep into pseudo-science.

What this tells you is that McGarey pushes remedies that lack proper scientific support. Since science is the only way we have of establishing with confidence what the effects of any remedy are, the most balanced thing one could say about McGarey's remedies is that they are unsupported by scientific evidence.

But such a mild conclusion ignores what we already know about flim-flam. Every two-bit con-artist and his brother are out there trying to bilk you out of a buck by selling remedies or books or CDs or DVDs or whatever, and the proper approach to all such claims is skepticism. Building a circumstantial case for remedies like castor oil packs is infinitely easy, and this is obvious because we see this done all the time in all types of sales channels, whether it's for wheat grass juice or mega-doses of vitamin C or magnetic bracelets or polywater or homeopathy or even just claiming that something is "natural".

In other words, don't minimize the "guilt by association" charge. Someone who's into one form of flim-flam or pseudoscience is likely into a number of them.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 120 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 10:18 AM purpledawn has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 122 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 12:35 PM Percy has responded

    
purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1536 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 122 of 185 (432338)
11-05-2007 12:35 PM
Reply to: Message 121 by Percy
11-05-2007 11:00 AM


Re: Do They Work?
Medical doctors tend to advocate the treatments they like.
Does that negate the results of their treatments?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 121 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 11:00 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 123 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 2:04 PM purpledawn has responded
 Message 124 by molbiogirl, posted 11-05-2007 2:09 PM purpledawn has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 123 of 185 (432353)
11-05-2007 2:04 PM
Reply to: Message 122 by purpledawn
11-05-2007 12:35 PM


Re: Do They Work?
purpledawn writes:

Medical doctors tend to advocate the treatments they like.

Are you saying that you believe medical doctors tend to advocate treatments they like no matter what the evidence for or against those treatments? If so, I couldn't agree that most medical doctors do this. I think most of them probably select treatments from a broad array of alternatives accepted by the medical community because of the evidence from medical studies supporting their safety and efficacy and which also, in their judgment, appear appropriate. Once those criteria are satisfied, then sure, I would agree that they'd select treatments they have a personal preference for.

Does that negate the results of their treatments?

No, of course not. If a treatment works, it works. But how do you know it works? Ah, there's the rub. There are so many variables that can confound the results of investigation, such as the placebo effect and the unreliability of self-reporting, and only replicated double-blind placebo-based studies have proven effective at reliably establishing the effects of treatments.

This means you can have no scientific confidence in the findings that appear in McGarey's book. No matter what patina of science he may have glossed onto the findings he reports in his book, there's a good reason they're in a popular press book and not in technical journals. He apparently abandoned scientific approaches quite some ago, since no paper by him appears at PubMed since he published on acupuncture in 1972, Acupuncture and body energies. Body energies?

PD, what's gone wrong with your bullshit detector?

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 122 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 12:35 PM purpledawn has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 127 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 5:07 PM Percy has responded

    
molbiogirl
Member (Idle past 721 days)
Posts: 1909
From: MO
Joined: 06-06-2007


Message 124 of 185 (432356)
11-05-2007 2:09 PM
Reply to: Message 122 by purpledawn
11-05-2007 12:35 PM


Re: Do They Work?
I read a bit of The Oil That Heals, A Physician's Successes With Castor Oil Treatments William A. McGarey, M.D. on books.google.

On page 21, Dr. McGarey treats a 79 year old man with a hernia.

After a year and a half, Dr. McGarey claims success with the castor oil pack treatment.

A year and a half!

Dr. McGarey also claimed success with a sprained ankle.

Quote: After two days, she appeared at our office, walking normally ... She used an elastic bandage for the few days, walking with a limp but no pain.

How is that any different from a sprained ankle with no castor oil pack treatment?

Medical doctors tend to advocate the treatments they like.
Does that negate the results of their treatments?

In a word, yes.

From these two examples alone, it is clear that these "results" are anecdotal.

In fact, the results are no different from the body healing itself.

Dr. McGarey saw "results" because he wanted to see "results".


This message is a reply to:
 Message 122 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 12:35 PM purpledawn has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 125 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 3:46 PM molbiogirl has not yet responded

  
purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1536 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 125 of 185 (432367)
11-05-2007 3:46 PM
Reply to: Message 124 by molbiogirl
11-05-2007 2:09 PM


Re: Do They Work?
quote:
From these two examples alone, it is clear that these "results" are anecdotal.
Because they were. The first was written in a letter to Dr. McGarey and the other he was relating from his early days.

They aren't part of the 81 cases reviewed.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 124 by molbiogirl, posted 11-05-2007 2:09 PM molbiogirl has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 126 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 4:44 PM purpledawn has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 126 of 185 (432373)
11-05-2007 4:44 PM
Reply to: Message 125 by purpledawn
11-05-2007 3:46 PM


Re: Do They Work?
PD,

I ceased pressing you for reasons why you're skeptical only of traditional medicine and not of quackery when you strenuously denied that that was case, and I assumed that meant I was mistaken and that you didn't feel this way. But you're just resuming the very behavior that led me to these conclusions in the first place. You are treating traditional medicine far more skeptically than quackery. You seem unable to even detect quackery, for McGarey is into it big time.

One of the hallmarks of quackery is the failure to produce scientifically valid evidence. As I stated above in a message you didn't reply to, there are good reasons why the positions of quackery are not supported by scientific studies. One reason is that quacks don't perform scientific studies. Another is that probably little to no scientific evidence would be found by such studies anyway, otherwise hints of the effects would have become apparent and been explored long ago.

Google Books only has a dozen pages or so of the book. Please produce the appendix about the 81 cases here so we can look at them. What we expect to see is subjective self-assessment, subjective assessment (lack of objective criteria), anecdotal evidence, lack of controls, no double-blindness or even single-blindness, and no placebo groups.

The mistake you're making is in thinking that the effects are real, but there just don't happen to be any scientific studies showing it. But most likely the absence of scientific studies indicates there is no effect for many of the claims concerning castor oil. While there are some appropriate medicinal uses of castor oil, the claims of McGarey are wild and extravagant. This is the first paragraph of chapter seven:

McGarey writes:

We still have no explanation why castor oil placed in the ear canal will be so helpful to a child with a hearing problem, or why a pack using this oil will help restore normalcy to a hyperactive child, or speed up the healing of hepatitis, or help to get rid of gallstones, or help help heal abrasions and infection. Perhaps it is to be found int he nature of the human body and the secret healing capabilities of the substances God gave us here on the earth for our use and benefit.

Help hearing problems? Help hyperactivity? Speed healing of hepatitis? Secret healing capabilities?

PD, once again I ask you, what has happened to your bullshit detector?

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 125 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 3:46 PM purpledawn has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 128 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 5:12 PM Percy has responded

    
purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1536 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 127 of 185 (432376)
11-05-2007 5:07 PM
Reply to: Message 123 by Percy
11-05-2007 2:04 PM


Re: Do They Work?
quote:
No, of course not. If a treatment works, it works. But how do you know it works? Ah, there's the rub.
Same goes for Midol. I don't actually know it works for me until I use it.

Children's Cold Remedies Don't Work

The agency did, however, organize a panel of experts in 1972 to review nonprescription cough and cold medications, and the group concluded that there was enough evidence to endorse 35 of the 92 ingredients in the products. But the recommendation was based on studies in adults. So the panel made a crucial decision: recommending in 1976 that doses for children be extrapolated from data from adults.

Edgar Cayce made the castor oil packs popular. He was a psychic.
Dr. McGarey put those readings to the test by interpreting them and using them within his medical practice. He didn't claim to be a psychic or send his patient to a psychic.

The Meridian Institute and A.R.E. have done some tests to try and understand how the packs work.

That's why I asked if scientists wait to see if something works before they try to find out why it works.

What is a reasonable amount of time for people to wait for someone to have enough interest to put up the funding for a rigorous test?

quote:
PD, what's gone wrong with your bullshit detector?
Nothing.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 123 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 2:04 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 130 by molbiogirl, posted 11-05-2007 6:08 PM purpledawn has not yet responded
 Message 131 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 6:28 PM purpledawn has not yet responded

  
purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1536 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 128 of 185 (432378)
11-05-2007 5:12 PM
Reply to: Message 126 by Percy
11-05-2007 4:44 PM


Here's Your Star
Fine you don't want to have a discussion. That makes my day easier.

You're right, he's a quack.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 126 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 4:44 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 129 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 5:37 PM purpledawn has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 129 of 185 (432382)
11-05-2007 5:37 PM
Reply to: Message 128 by purpledawn
11-05-2007 5:12 PM


Re: Here's Your Star
purpledawn writes:

Fine you don't want to have a discussion. That makes my day easier.

You're right, he's a quack.

PD, this is the second time in this thread alone that you've done this. Please drop the sarcasm and the indignance and discuss the topic. A number of issues have been raised about the science behind McGarey's medical claims. It has been explained how one explores the world around us using the scientific method that lead to information that is probably true, and how this approach is far superior to other approaches. Please address these issues or stop posting.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 128 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 5:12 PM purpledawn has not yet responded

    
molbiogirl
Member (Idle past 721 days)
Posts: 1909
From: MO
Joined: 06-06-2007


Message 130 of 185 (432384)
11-05-2007 6:08 PM
Reply to: Message 127 by purpledawn
11-05-2007 5:07 PM


Re: Do They Work?
The Meridian Institute and A.R.E. have done some tests to try and understand how the packs work.

The Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. (A.R.E. ®), is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 1931 by Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), to research and explore transpersonal subjects such as holistic health, ancient mysteries, personal spirituality, dreams and dream interpretation, intuition, and philosophy and reincarnation.

Meridian Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to researching holistic and integrative approaches to wellness and healing. Our research focuses on various modalities and systems including the holistic philosophy of Edgar Cayce, traditional osteopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, mind-body healing, and spiritual transformation. We hope that our research will contribute to the integration of mainstream medicine with alternative medicine and holistic modalities.

Both are Edgar Cayce's Institutes.

Here's the protocol for the ONLY castor oil pack study (all the other castor oil pack "studies" include " dietary changes, colonic irrigations, castor oil packs, spinal manipulations, herbals teas", so they are absolutely useless):

CASTOR OIL PACKS FOR UTERINE FIBROIDS

HYPOTHESIS: Hot castor oil packs are effective in decreasing the size of uterine fibroids.

BACKGROUND: Thirty percent of American women over the age of 30 will develop uterine fibroid tumors, which are benign masses developed from an overgrowth of uterine muscle tissue. Tumors may occur on the inside of the uterine cavity, within the uterine muscle wall, or on the outside of the uterus. The number of tumors present may vary from one to several, and may vary from the size of a pea to larger than a melon. Most fibroids do not cause any symptoms and do not require treatment other than regular observation by a physician. Some women who have uterine fibroids may experience symptoms such as excessive or painful bleeding during menstruation, bleeding between periods, a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen, frequent urination resulting from a fibroid that compresses the bladder, pain during sexual intercourse, or low back pain. Standard medical treatment normally calls for surgical removal. If surgery is elected, some skilled surgeons are adept at removing only the myoma, leaving the uterus in tact, however, in most cases a hysterectomy is performed. McGarey reported success in the use of hot castor oil packs in decreasing or eliminating uterine fibroids (1973; 1984).

DESIGN: This prospective study will be a randomized controlled trial. We will recruit women with uterine fibroids and randomly assign to experimental (n = 30) and control groups (n = 30). We will assess the size and number of fibroids. Symptoms and quality of life will be assessed. We will train subjects in the experimental group in the use of castor oil packs to be used 3 times per week for six weeks. The control group will receive no treatment. We will do a followup assessment after six weeks for all participants.

SETTING: Home of participants (intervention) and local hospital (assessment).

PARTICIPANTS: 60 women with uterine fibroid tumors will be recruited by advertising on television and radio.

INTERVENTIONS: Hot castor oil packs applied superficially over uterus 3x weekly (experimental group only).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Size of uterine fibroids,
Symptoms and quality of life,
Medication required for symptomatic relief.

REFERENCES:
McGarey W. Myoma of the uterus. A.R.E. Journal. 1973; 8(1).
McGarey W. Fibroid tumor of the uterus. A.R.E. Journal. 1984; 19(3): 126.

Here are a couple of things you need to know about uterine fibroid tumors:

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, uterine fibroid tumors are “clinically apparent in 25 to 50 percent of women.” However pathological examinations of removed uteri show that the prevalence of uterine fibroid tumors may actually be as high as 80 percent.

Uterine fibroid tumors are estrogen dependent – they thrive on estrogen. In fact, uterine fibroid tumors never develop before the onset of menstruation and the tumors disappear after menopause.

Most women have tumors and NO SYMPTOMS.

Of the few women who show symptoms, the two most common symptoms are:

1. excessive uterine bleeding that lasts longer than seven days

2. a feeling of pelvic pressure – somewhat like the pressure experienced during pregnancy when the uterus grows larger.

For a castor oil pack to reduce the size of uterine fibroid tumors, or to relieve the symptoms, the supply of estrogen to the tumors has to somehow be interrupted.

This would be a medical feat indeed!

I await the results of Edgar Cayce's minions with bated breath.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 127 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 5:07 PM purpledawn has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 131 of 185 (432385)
11-05-2007 6:28 PM
Reply to: Message 127 by purpledawn
11-05-2007 5:07 PM


Re: Do They Work?
PD,

I'll reply to this message in the hope that a discussion of the topic can develop.

purpledawn writes:

quote:
No, of course not. If a treatment works, it works. But how do you know it works? Ah, there's the rub.
Same goes for Midol. I don't actually know it works for me until I use it.

Of course you don't know if it works for you until you try it. You already know I'm well aware of this principle because I told you that Tylenol doesn't work for me, but I know it works very well for many people.

Everybody's body chemistry is different, and the most familiar example is different blood types. The effect any drug has will vary from person to person, including not only the intended effects but the side-effects.

The mistake you're making in this case is to generalize from your personal experience about drugs whose effects are obvious (e.g., for a cold remedy, either your sinuses clear up or they don't or somewhere in between). You can't generalize from these types of experiences to more subtle effects, such as the rate of healing. For example, you cannot use a castor oil pack on your sprained ankle and then conclude a couple days later when your ankle feels better that it worked, because you have no way of knowing how well your ankle might have healed without castor oil packs.

So, do castor oil packs help sprained ankles heal? The way you find out is to divide a group of people with the same type of sprained ankle into two groups. Both groups use castor oil packs and heat, except that one group has real castor oil and the other does not. And neither the patients nor the doctors know which patients have real castor oil packs and which do not. This is known as a double-blind placebo-based study.

The suspicion we have of McGarey's work is that there were no objective controls, meaning that he never did anything like compare the effect of doing nothing or of using a placebo with castor oil packs. This is obvious even though we can see only the first two pages of the appendix, because he says there are 81 cases but 101 conditions. Unless most of the people in his studies had most of the conditions, he had a very, very small number of patients in each condition category.

We also suspect he used subjective assessment techniques.

So please produce this appendix for us so we can discuss his results. If you can't make them available on the web, just scan them in and email them to me and I'll place them in an accessible place.

That's why I asked if scientists wait to see if something works before they try to find out why it works.

It depends upon what the claims are. I doubt many scientists are going to be interested wasting their time studying the effects of castor oil on hepatitis, and the NIH would be very unlikely to provide funding. Medical research is not entirely empirical. Oftentimes it only makes sense to study something if a possible mechanism can be identified. In the case of hepatitis, no such mechanism can be imagined. Same for sprained ankles.

The Meridian Institute and A.R.E. have done some tests to try and understand how the packs work.

No they haven't. The Medidian Institute's only study was Systemic Aspects of Psoriasis: An Integrative Model Based on Intestinal Etiology, investigated the effects of castor oil packs on psoriasis, not the mechanisms, and they received inconclusive results, suggesting more research was necessary. The paper appeared in the Journal of Integrative Medicine ("integrating conventional and alternative medicine").

A.R.E is the Edgar Cayce site. This is the site that includes personalized astrology reports and advice about how to become a psychic, remember?

quote:
PD, what's gone wrong with your bullshit detector?
Nothing.

You referenced the Edgar Cayce site. You claim you can detect bullshit in the same message where you reference a quack site. PD, come on, make sense.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 127 by purpledawn, posted 11-05-2007 5:07 PM purpledawn has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 132 by molbiogirl, posted 11-05-2007 8:04 PM Percy has responded

    
molbiogirl
Member (Idle past 721 days)
Posts: 1909
From: MO
Joined: 06-06-2007


Message 132 of 185 (432398)
11-05-2007 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 131 by Percy
11-05-2007 6:28 PM


Re: Do They Work?
Percy,

One tiny nit pick.

No they haven't. The Medidian Institute's only study was Systemic Aspects of Psoriasis: An Integrative Model Based on Intestinal Etiology, investigated the effects of castor oil packs on psoriasis, not the mechanisms, and they received inconclusive results, suggesting more research was necessary. The paper appeared in the Journal of Integrative Medicine ("integrating conventional and alternative medicine").

Two things.

One. According to this page, castor oil packs have been used to treat psoriasis, migraines, epilepsy, chronic fatigue, and asthma. However, as I mentioned upthread, these "studies" also used

...dietary changes, colonic irrigations, castor oil packs, spinal manipulations, herbals teas and psycho-spiritual modalities to address the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the disease.

Because a number of modalities are all mixed up, the "studies" are useless.

Two. I looked at the "study" Systemic Aspects of Psoriasis: An Integrative Model Based on Intestinal Etiology. It makes no mention whatsoever of castor oil packs. It does make mention of colonics, diet and herbal teas, so I suppose that's why they brought it up.

Here's the only castor oil pack/psoriasis connection I could find:

In the before/after pictures, Case 1 had major improvement. Her most prominent symptom, the rough, red areas on her hands and elbows, were completely cleared. There was still some psoriasis on her foot. She also showed improvement on the two measures of psoriasis symptoms (Table 1). Her lactulose/mannitol ratio, which had been high at the beginning (.134) was normal after six months (.038).

Regarding compliance with the protocol, she followed the diet "most of the time," and used the herbal teas "almost every day." This is excellent compliance with the diet and the teas. She used castor oil packs "a few times since the conference," had "one to three" colonics after the conference, and only received spinal adjustments at the conference. This is good compliance with the colonics, and poor compliance with the adjustments and castor oil packs.

The before/after pictures of Case 2 revealed substantial healing of his psoriasis. Most notable was the complete disappearance of the white scales on his back. There were still large areas of red, but no scales at all. He also showed improvement on the two measures of psoriasis symptoms (Table 1). His lactulose/mannitol ratio, which had been high at the beginning (.084) was normal after six months (.022).

Regarding compliance with the protocol, he followed the diet "almost every day," and used the herbal teas "almost every day." This is excellent compliance with the diet and the teas. He used castor oil packs "a few times since the conference," had "one to three" colonics after the conference, and had "four or more" spinal adjustments. This is good compliance with the colonics, poor compliance with the castor oil packs, and excellent compliance with the adjustments.

In the before/after pictures, Case 3's improvement was difficult to see. Her before pictures did not reveal much obvious psoriasis; her after pictures did not reveal any psoriasis at all. She showed substantial improvement on the two measures of psoriasis symptoms (Table 1). Her lactulose/mannitol ratio, which was in the normal range at the beginning (.034) was still normal but lower after six months (.019).

Regarding compliance with the protocol, she followed the diet "most of the time," and used the herbal teas "most of the time." This is very good compliance with the diet and the teas, particularly in the light of her comments regarding her diet at the beginning of the project. She used castor oil packs "almost every week," had only the colonics at the conference, and only received spinal adjustments at the conference. This is excellent compliance with the castor oil packs, and poor compliance with the adjustments and colonics.

In the before/after pictures, it was difficult to see any change in Case 4 - his symptoms were barely visible in either the before pictures or the after pictures. He showed improvement on the two measures of psoriasis symptoms (Table 1). The PASI score was zero, indicating no psoriasis symptoms at the follow-up. His lactulose/mannitol ratio, which was in the normal range at the beginning (.047) was still normal, but lower, after six months (.024).

Regarding compliance with the protocol, he followed the diet "often," and used the herbal teas "almost every day." This is excellent compliance with the teas, but only fair compliance with the diet. He used castor oil packs "rarely or never," had only the colonics at the conference, and only received spinal adjustments at the conference. This is poor compliance with the colonics, adjustments and castor oil packs. In his written comments, he noted "The diet is really hard to stay on. Maybe if sample menus could be developed for every day for a whole month, then maybe it might help to keep on the diet."

In the before/after pictures, Case 5 had clearly visible improvement. Her most prominent symptom, the red areas covering much of her back, had diminished in size and redness. She also showed improvement on the two measures of psoriasis symptoms (Table 1). Her lactulose/mannitol ratio, was in the low end of the normal range at the beginning (.029), and remained low after six months (.026).

Regarding compliance with the protocol, she followed the diet "almost every day," and used the herbal teas "almost every day." This is excellent compliance with the diet and the teas. She used castor oil packs "almost every week," had only the colonics at the conference, and only received spinal adjustments at the conference. This is excellent compliance with the castor oil packs, and poor compliance with the adjustments and colonics.

http://www.meridianinstitute.com/psorias5.html

This is considered sufficient evidence by the Meridian Institute.

Self reported "compliance" of "most of the time", "almost every day", "a few times" and "never"!

And self reported "results" from a consultant, a data clerk, an elementary school teacher, and a housewife.

Yikes.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 131 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 6:28 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 133 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 9:32 PM molbiogirl has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 18309
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 133 of 185 (432409)
11-05-2007 9:32 PM
Reply to: Message 132 by molbiogirl
11-05-2007 8:04 PM


Re: Do They Work?
Yeah, your analysis of the study is much better. PD didn't provide a reference to the study, she just said the Meridian Institute was researching castor oil packs, and this study was the only one at their site that mentioned them. I didn't realize it was the same study you described earlier.

So what's the answer here? We're describing the lack of scientific support for these views, we're describing the scientific support for some facets of traditional medicine, we're noting the incongruity of giving the greatest credence to the worst evidence, and it's having no effect other than evasion and animosity. Getting the science right while alienating the potential convert doesn't seem like a winning approach, but on the other hand, I'm becoming convinced that despite all protestations to the contrary, examining the data isn't what PD is interested in or it would have happened long before now.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 132 by molbiogirl, posted 11-05-2007 8:04 PM molbiogirl has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 134 by purpledawn, posted 11-06-2007 9:37 AM Percy has responded

    
purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1536 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 134 of 185 (432493)
11-06-2007 9:37 AM
Reply to: Message 133 by Percy
11-05-2007 9:32 PM


Bias and Malfeasance
This goes back to the perfect world issue I alluded to earlier.

One side gets to declare bias and malfeasance (quacks) without proof of such, but when the opposition declares bias and malfeasance they just have a weak position and are grasping at straws. (Notice I wrote this generically.)

A quack is someone who pretends to have medical skills. Licensed medical doctors who choose to use natural approaches to healing along with traditional medicine are not quacks. IMO, the opposition would need to show that an MD is incompetent to bring doubt upon his practices.

I'll agree that Dr. McGarey's cases aren't as rigorous as the double blind, but that doesn't negate that the castor oil packs have been used by a medical doctor and the failures and successes are documented.

quote:
Getting the science right while alienating the potential convert doesn't seem like a winning approach, but on the other hand, I'm becoming convinced that despite all protestations to the contrary, examining the data isn't what PD is interested in or it would have happened long before now.
Hallelujah! Maybe you're finally seeing the light.

If you have children, you'll understand this.

A child continues to beg, plead, and bagger his mother for the candy bar on the counter. The Mother continues to say no and explains why to no avail. The child continues his tirade. Out of frustration the mother finally gives in and says angrily, "Fine, eat the candy bar." and throws it on the table by the child. The child seeing that his mother is angry with him, says unhappily, "No, I don't want it now." His prize wasn't as sweet since his mother was mad. He wanted happy compliance from his mother.

Attacking one's intelligence, integrity, and bullshit meter do not lead to happy compliance. Notice when I did give in you weren't happy about it because it obviously wasn't happy compliance. It was just an effort to get you off my case. Just like the example above.

In your own Forum Guidelines you quoted:

Usually, in a well-conducted debate, speakers are either emotionally uncommitted or can preserve sufficient detachment to maintain a coolly academic approach.

In a debate, must one side concede defeat or do both sides present their arguments in the time allotted and the audience decides what they will?

What you may not realize is that in the course of searching for info to support one's side of the discussion, additional info may be found that will cause the person to rethink their personal position. That doesn't mean they have to stop presenting their original debate position.

As I've pointed out, even when I have conceded the oppositions point, I was still battered for the original position.

Realistically it takes time and maybe a little soul searching for people to change their point of view. Some do this quicker than others. To put it bluntly, we're unknown people on the internet.

I feel it is a mistake to make a goal of "converting" someone when you really don't know what their personal actions or positions are.

Your goal should be to provide the facts for your side of the discussion. As I've tried to point out concerning the castor oil discussion. I provided the available information concerning castor oil packs. That does not tell you what I personally do or don't do when I make health decisions.

My goal was not to convert but to provide the information for that side of the discussion.

If you want the opposition to see that someone is a quack or incompetent, then show more evidence than just guilt by association or attacking their bullshit meter. No dear, I'm not asking you to show me anything concerning castor oil packs. The thread is closed.

Going back to your response to Javaman in Message 9, I agree with Javaman about what lurkers might conclude concerning the health issues. (notice the word might)

Your response to 2: The actual claim wasn't that personal experience and anecdotal data are unempirical, but that they are far inferior to scientific investigation and analysis.

But personal experience should not be considered inferior. All the studies in the world won't make Midol work for me or Tylenol work for you. That is hard evidence for us alone, not anyone else. (No that doesn't mean I personally only require hard evidence to make decisions.) People routinely acquiesce to those with the skills and training. Doctors, Mechanics, Plumbers, etc. Over time we acquire experiences that influence how we respond to those with skills and training.

Personal experience is hard evidence. Everything else is Soft Evidence. If a person has no hard evidence, then it is wise to go with the best soft evidence available.

Order of soft evidence value
1. Authoritative opinion. (But remember, even at the top of the soft-evidence scale, it’s still just soft evidence.)
2. Non-authoritative opinion.
3. Random guessing.
4. Seeing who argues the loudest and/or the longest. (This is worse than nothing, because it gives the biggest advantage to the biggest scoundrel, and just encourages bad behavior.)

If you truly want to get your opposition to think, don't belittle or negate their personal experiences. Work with it instead. (This is a universal "you".)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 133 by Percy, posted 11-05-2007 9:32 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 135 by nator, posted 11-06-2007 10:14 AM purpledawn has responded
 Message 136 by molbiogirl, posted 11-06-2007 11:58 AM purpledawn has responded
 Message 140 by Percy, posted 11-06-2007 3:16 PM purpledawn has responded

  
nator
Member (Idle past 249 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 135 of 185 (432498)
11-06-2007 10:14 AM
Reply to: Message 134 by purpledawn
11-06-2007 9:37 AM


Re: Bias and Malfeasance
quote:
Licensed medical doctors who choose to use natural approaches to healing along with traditional medicine are not quacks.

They are if those "natural methods" have not been demonstrated to work in rigorous double-blind controlled studies.

quote:
But personal experience should not be considered inferior. All the studies in the world won't make Midol work for me or Tylenol work for you.

But the studies don't claim that Tylenol or Midol will definitely work for every single person.

What they claim is that they work for specific conditions better than placebo.

Personal experience is inferior when making broad claims because personal experience isn't tested against placebo. Personal experience when used to extrapolate to groups isn't tested at all, and can't help but be riddled with bias and error.

And, this is fron your own source on "soft evidence":

As James Randi likes to point out: extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If you are making tremendous claims, be prepared to back them up with a tremendous amount of explaining. Your results will not become accepted until they are confirmed by others, but nobody will invest the effort to attempt confirmation until you make your claims plausible. The burden of plausibility is on you, the heretic.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 134 by purpledawn, posted 11-06-2007 9:37 AM purpledawn has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 137 by purpledawn, posted 11-06-2007 1:32 PM nator has responded

    
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