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February 6, 2021

It's February already, and time to reflect on some good news (6/2/2021)
A post from a year ago that bears repeating.

It took too long, but ... (1/2/2020)
... it was good when it happened.

It took twelve years for The Lancet to finally admit its mistake, a mistake that cost the lives of some children and which has allowed a whole mythology to grow up around this doctor. Without this article, Wakefield would not have become the hero he is today to anti-vaccination liars, the vile film Vaxxed might not have been made and the world would be a much better place. What makes me even more annoyed is that I identified the problems with the paper in 2000 using nothing more than what I had been taught at university about how to run an experiment and how to read a scientific paper.


Censorship!!! Cry me a river. (6/2/2021)
The latest newsletter from the Australian Vaccination-[bullshit and lies] Network contains a plea to watch a video that is being censored and banned everywhere. Watch it before it's too late. Oh, and don't forget to watch it in a manner which makes money for the AV-[b&l]N. Or you can watch the excrescence here and not have to pay anyone anything. It's free and cheap at half the price.

I really like the way that a lawyer (indicated by the "Esq" postnominal) is a "General Council". The rest of the world would probably say "General Counsel", but I have often pointed out that any publication from anti-vaccination liars must contain at least one inaccuracy just in case the number of lies doesn't get to the quota required.



See more from Tom Gauld here


Speaking of data ... (6/2/2021)

I admit it might sound oxymoronic to talk about quacks having principles, but that is for just one meaning of the word. One of the fundamental principles, an axiom actually, is that real doctors (hereinafter referred to as "doctors") only treat symptoms and not the underlying causes of diseases. In the real world we know that doctors do address the underlying cause of medical conditions and only treat symptoms in the case of self-limiting complaints (antipyretics for the fever associated with colds and flu, ...) or to reduce distress (painkillers, salves and creams for rashes, ...). Treating the symptoms is just the first step before getting on with the real job of fixing the problem.

Quacks don't like being reminded of the first two paragraphs in Samuel Hahnemann's The Organon of Medical Arts. For those who came in late, Hahnemann invented homeopathy.

The physician's high and only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is termed.

His mission is not, however, to construct so-called systems, by interweaving empty speculations and hypotheses concerning the internal essential nature of the vital processes and the mode in which diseases originate in the interior of the organism, (whereon so many physicians have hitherto ambitiously wasted their talents and their time); nor is it to attempt to give countless explanations regarding the phenomena in diseases and their proximate cause (which must ever remain concealed), wrapped in unintelligible words and an inflated abstract mode of expression, which should sound very learned in order to astonish the ignorant - whilst sick humanity sighs in vain for aid. Of such learned reveries (to which the name of theoretic medicine is given, and for which special professorships are instituted) we have had quite enough, and it is now high time that all who call themselves physicians should at length cease to deceive suffering mankind with mere talk, and begin now, instead, for once to act, that is, really to help and to cure.

So homeopaths are expressly forbidden from treating anything except symptoms. Allopaths (which again according to Hahnemann, the inventor of the word, means everyone except homeopaths, so includes chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, etc) can waste their time looking for causes, not just effects.

Let's look at the ten most prescribed medications in Australia in the twelve months from July 2019 to June 2020.

RankDrugConditionPrescriptionsCostGeneric
1RosuvastatinCholesterol7,800,628$94,490,269Yes
2AtorvastatinCholesterol7,540,302$68,410,099Yes
3PantoprazoleGastroesophageal reflux5,691,237$50,476,431Yes
4EsomeprazoleGastroesophageal reflux5,605,278$76,804,956Yes
5PerindoprilBlood pressure3,980,870$36,725,938Yes
6MetforminDiabetes3,299,533$35,159,985Yes
7PregabalinFibromyalgia, anxiety3,251,002$87,016,603Yes
8SalbutamolAsthma3,058,953$47,570,183Yes
9AmlodipineBlood pressure2,675,707$19,882,634Yes
10IrbesartanBlood pressure2,660,990$22,994,624Yes

Of the ten, only four (numbers 3,4,7 and 8) treat conditions which can have obvious symptoms. (Salbutamol in the form of Ventolin is actually available without prescription, but the pharmacist will ask questions.) The rest treat things which can only be detected by testing. Oh, and speaking of the dreadful side effects of Big Pharma drugs, I was prescribed one of the ten but suffered a side effect. It was annoying more than it was dangerous, the effect is well known and my doctor simply changed me to something else.

Another axiom is that doctors only prescribe medications to make pharmaceutical companies rich, but you will notice that all ten of the most prescribed drugs in the country are out of patent and can be made by anyone with the necessary quality control.

It's true that holding a current patent can allow a manufacturer to make a lot of money, so let's look at the drugs which cost the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme the most money over the period.

RankDrugConditionPrescriptionsCostGeneric
1AfliberceptMacular degeneration,
colorectal cancer
299,955$372,844,440No
2NivolumabVarious cancers50,323$333,970,002No
3PembrolizumabCancer37,568$331,481,924No
4AdalimumabArthritis and some other conditions255,529$318,747,705No
5DenosumabOsteoporosis857,062$236,822,977No
6Sofosbuvir+VelpatasvirHepatitis C7,7161 $223,269,539???
7UstekinumabPsoriasis29,392$209,733,381No
8RanibizumabMacular degeneration,
Diabetic retinopathy
178,604$204,683,547No
9ApixabanAnticoagulant, stroke prevention2,480,138$201,261,551No
10Glecaprevir+PibrentasvirHepatitis C9,945$186,524,509No
As far as I can tell, all these drugs are still covered by patents. The one marked "???"
probably is but the records are the sort which keep attorneys rich.

Surely if doctors were trying to maximise Big Pharma income they would be prescribing these drugs, but even the most often prescribed one in this list, Apixaban, isn't in the top ten by numbers (its also the least expensive per dose). And remember how doctors don't have a clue about treating cancer - a look at the top three suggests that a lot of money is being spent in the pursuit of making life easier for patients with various forms of cancer. Also, with the exceptions of psoriasis and arthritis, most of the conditions have to be quite well advanced before any symptoms become evident. I have a check for macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy every year but it requires an optometrist to use special equipment to detect any early signs, and I know someone whose osteoporosis was only detected when looking for the cause of something else (and that something else was detected by x-ray when looking for something else again - no symptoms at all).

The full report from the PBS can be found here.



See more from SMBC here

February 13, 2021

Plus les choses changent, plus elles ne devraient pas (13/2/2021)
In a slight modification of Ambrose Karr's famous saying, the French above means "The more things change the more they should not". When I did this month's regular check for broken and changed links on this site I discovered that two places to which I had lots of links have simply disappeared.

I've made good use of the Therapeutic Goods Administration's Complaints Resolution Panel to illustrate action taken against quacks and other people who make outrageous medical claims. The TGA have completely closed the CRP web site - no archive of articles, nothing except

I assume that the relevant information has been subsumed into the main TGA site, but I will have to do an individual search for each link to see if the information still exists. Or I could dive around in the Internet Archive.

Of course there is always the possibility that someone at the TGA forgot to pay a renewal fee for something. Remember Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." Or, put more crudely, is it a conspiracy or a cockup?

The other site causing grief is Yahoo!. I have lots of links to messages posted to the enormous number of mailing lists at Yahoo! Groups. Yahoo! have decided to get out of the mailing list business and now all links to any of the groups or their contents are redirected to the main Yahoo! front page. No archive, no "We are mothballing Groups and no more messages will be accepted". Nothing.

So for all of next week I'll be tracking down where the links used to go to to try to salvage something. I might be retired but I have better things to do with my time.

Not all the news from the link check was bad, however. I was alerted to a change in the site belonging to Australia's outpost of the Qanon insanity movement. The site now just says that they have closed down in Australia and won't be coming back. Apparently they became extremely offended at recognition of Islam as a religion and now think that the country is a lost cause in the fight against everything because antifa has won over bigotry. As the saying goes: "Door! Arse! Way out!".


It's that time of the year again (13/2/2021)
It's time for the annual Gates Letter from Bill and Melinda Gates. This year the topic is "The year global health went local" and as usual it's a well written, well thought out piece of work. Highly recommended, even if only to annoy the lunatics who blame Bill for everything that goes wrong in the world.


Click here to read the letter

Brush With Fame Time: I once stood next to Bill at a computer show. He was only a little more famous and rich than I was at the time. He is now a little bit more famous and a little bit richer. But I don't mind.



See more Bizarro comics here


Grumble, grumble, where the time goes. (13/2/2021)
When this site came back from its sabbatical in March 2019 I started using Patreon to gather donations. Since then I have received several emails from Patreon advising me of visitors who have committed to monthly donations. I have received exactly $0.00 (zero dollars and zero cents) from Patreon in the two years. I don't know where any of this money went but I know where it didn't go, and I apologise to anyone who has been trying to send me money. I didn't get any of it.

I recently saw someone talking about what a good thing Patreon is so I mentioned the memory hole absorbing money supposedly coming my way and she told me that I was doing things wrong. Apparently I have to have a web site under Patreon's domain name and not just have my own site with links. (She referred to her site as "my Patreon".) When I sold stuff from my business web site I didn't have to have a page at PayPal to get paid; Amazon are happy (well, not too happy) to pay me for book sales from this site without making me operate under an Amazon domain name; I've had other affiliate programs in the past which worked the same way.

As of today, all Patreon links have been removed from all the pages in this site. I see no reason to promote their service in any way if it doesn't do what I need doing.

And that's another time waster this week and why there's not much else here. Hopefully normal transmission can be resumed shortly.

February 20, 2021

The Great Facebook Foul-up* Fiasco (20/2/2021)
The Australian Government is about to introduce legislation to "encourage" (read "force") social media and other organisations to pay for using other people's content to attract eyeballs to advertising. Those other media organisations are the ones actually creating news stories and paying journalists.

Google blustered along for a while but finally folded (as they did in France and some other countries) and came to agreements with major news outlets to pay annual fees for use of their content. This was always going to be what happened, because for Google to block Australian content in their search engine would have meant walking away from several billion dollars of income that they manage to pay no tax on. As part of the agreements, Google have updated and enlarged their news aggregation system and now provide a very convenient way to summarise breaking news (and read it without having to bother about paywalls in some cases). It looks like a win all round.

Facebook, on the other hand, went ballistic. Using a very broad definition of what constitutes news as set out in the proposed legislation, on Thursday, February 18, they blocked access to all media outlets to their Australian account holders. This wasn't restricted to just Australian media groups, because the sharing of articles from the Washington Post and the BBC was blocked. As if that wasn't stupid enough, they decided that a plethora of Facebook pages also fell under the definition of "news outlet" and content was blocked from pages belonging to various state health departments (just in time for the anti-vaccination liars to ramp up their bullshit a few days before the first COVID-19 vaccines arrive), the Bureau of Meteorology (just in time for bush fire and flood season), community and sporting groups (an organisation I'm involved with which runs car rallies had to find another way to tell competitors that an event this weekend had to be postponed because of weather conditions that couldn't be read about on the blocked BOM or NSW Rural Fire Service pages).

Some of the page contents have been restored, but the block still applies on sharing information from regular web sites. An example of this is Australian Skeptics. The content on the AS Facebook page has been restored but posting articles from the AS site to Facebook is still banned. (You can read about it here.) I only have a personal page on Facebook so I will have to wait and see if I can share content from here. The Millenium Project is just as much a "media outlet" as the Australian Skeptics site.

And to add to the misery and confusion, the dreaded algorithm decided to join in the fun and this happened:

Not a skerrick of spam anywhere near this. I fell afoul of Facebook's mysterious "community standards" back in January and I now have a permanent warning on my account. I hope this latest infringement doesn't trigger some more banning action.

(* I'm too polite to say "Fuck-up".)


But things that aren't blocked ... (21/2/2021)
Facebook might be blocking real news, but sharing this sort of thing is still allowed.

Showing the normal quackery grasp of chemistry (and all other science), this peddler of "organic" nonsense (in business since 1922) had this to say:

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that your body doesn’t store it. You have to get what you need from food, including citrus fruits, broccoli, and tomatoes. When individuals are not getting enough vitamin C in their diets, they often take synthetic vitamin C supplements. Nearly all vitamin C supplements on the market are made from ascorbic acid.

The article then went on to cite various other "reputable" naturopaths and quacks and even managed to misinterpret some actual scientific research, all telling of the dangers of this dreadful artificial acid.

The short version (or TL;DR, as they say on the Internet) is this:

Vitamin C is Ascorbic Acid.

I think I'll keep taking the pills made by Big Pharma. Oh, and ascorbic acid is an organic chemical compound in the real meaning of the word "organic", not the marketing meaning.


Outside the University of Wollongong?

See more from Loren Fishman here.


Memory! It's like that song from "Cats" (20/2/2021)
Doing the digital version of looking under the cushions in the lounge room or for coins in the car ashtray I came across a media release from some years ago which related to the dead (but resurrected with another name) Canadian Cancer Research Group. (I must say I almost miss the regular and illiterate screeches from the dead Mr William P O'Neill, owner of CCRG, and his shadowy companion, the Gutless Anonymous Liar. They were so amusing in their vituperation and ineffectiveness.)

It seems that the Medical Director of the CCRG was as crooked and as useless as his boss.

Doc gets 'slap on wrist' at misconduct hearing
By BRETT CLARKSON, QMI AGENCY
Last Updated: 27th January 2010, 6:42am

TORONTO - Pat McDougall wanted to hear an apology from Dr. Eoghan O'Shea after the prominent Ottawa physician pleaded guilty to professional misconduct, but it never came.

"I'm shocked, I'm shocked" McDougall said after O'Shea's disciplinary hearing at the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons wrapped up quickly Tuesday morning after beginning just over an hour earlier.

"Frankly I did expect an apology, but you'll notice that he not only didn't apologize through his lawyer, but he didn't apologize to me personally" an angry McDougall said.

O'Shea, the former medical director of the Ottawa-based Canadian Cancer Research Group (CCRG) and now vice-president of the Ottawa Academy of Medicine, pleaded guilty to misconduct for his role in prescribing nutritional supplements to terminally ill cancer patients while employed with the CCRG from 2000 to 2006.

He didn't speak during the hearing and afterwards made no comment as he left the college's headquarters in downtown Toronto.

High-profile lawyer Tim Danson, who has represented the families of Paul Bernardo murder victims Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy as well as former NHLer Steve Moore, appeared at the hearing on behalf of CCRG.

Although not a party to the hearing, Danson appeared briefly before the panel and said he would be monitoring for any "negative" or "disparaging" remarks about CCRG and that if any were made, he would make a formal request for intervener status to defend the organization.

"To their knowledge Dr. O'Shea conducted himself professionally and patients were fully informed," he said after the hearing ended.

Danson said CCRG's clients "are some of the highest-respected members of the community, business and otherwise" but said he couldn't release those names.

In the hearing, O'Shea's lawyer Karen Hamway cited his work in the community as a family physician, as well as at the Ottawa Hospital, a local nursing home, and a clinic in an underprivileged area of town as evidence of his character and professionalism.

O'Shea's admitted he failed to examine CCRG's patients or obtain informed consent before prescribing to them, didn't communicate with the patients' physicians or oncologists, and didn't chart his communications with patients' physicians and oncologists.

O'Shea's punishment from the college, effective immediately, is that he's now barred from engaging in or associating with providing complementary medical treatment for terminal diseases.

He also is prohibited from prescribing so-called "compound products" to treat terminal illness. He was also ordered to pay $3,650 in costs to the college and enrol in a the college's ethics and informed consent course within a year. He's also barred from ever associating with CCRG.

McDougall's daughter Kathy was one of the terminally ill patients who sought help from CCRG. She died in 2003 but in two years paid between $10,000 and $20,000 to CCRG for the treatments, McDougall estimated.

"It's a slap on the wrist, the whole thing right from the start," McDougall said. "I expected a much heavier penalty."

Add Kathy McDougall's name to those of Olympic athlete Sandra Schmirler and academic Annette Pypops, both of whom put their trust in O'Neill and CCRG. The CCRG site was featuring testimonials from both of them after they died of the cancers that they had paid many dollars to have cured. The one tiny bright spot in all this tragedy is that Kathy didn't go to Stan Burzynski for a cure, because that would have cost ten to twenty times as much before the inevitable failure.

High-profile lawyer Tim Danson, who has represented the families of Paul Bernardo murder victims Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy as well as former NHLer Steve Moore, appeared at the hearing on behalf of CCRG.

Although not a party to the hearing, Danson appeared briefly before the panel and said he would be monitoring for any "negative" or "disparaging" remarks about CCRG and that if any were made, he would make a formal request for intervener status to defend the organization.

Hey, Mr Danson - CCRG was an organisation set up to defraud people with cancer and steal their life savings with no possibility of relief or cure. Is that "negative" or "disparaging" enough for you?



See more from The Angriest Programmer In The World here


Essential advice in these plague times (20/2/2021)


Grumble update (20/2/2021)
I mentioned last week that I had a lot of now dead links to remove or fix. I've managed to resurrect all the links to the Therapeutic Goods Administration's Complaints Resolution Panel (thank you Internet Archive) but sorting out the broken links to Yahoo! Groups is still a Work In Progress. As many (most?) of the links were to messages in private mailing lists which can only be read by list members my only option is to remove each link and add an explanation. I still have about thirty of these to go, so there's some more time I'll never get back.

February 27, 2021

I'm forest-bound (27/2/2021)
I won't be here next week because I'll be pursuing my other hobby, which is media coverage of car rallies. The picture shows the sort of roads I'll be looking at during the day. And yes, the cars will get a lot closer to me than the one in this photo (I use continuous shooting to get that one-in-a-hundred good shot).


Things that never change (27/2/2021)
The release and distribution of vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best (by which I mean worst) in the anti-vaccination liar community, with every old cliché and lie being trotted out. Here is a cartoon that appeared in the papers many years ago, showing that little has changed since the smallpox vaccine arrived. I like the way the cartoonist has included mention of lies, and there is also the reference to the latest (but obviously not new) excuse for not vaccinating - inconvenience and lack of access to vaccines. These might apply in some remote places but when you hear people in cities and very large towns dragging out these excuses you know they are just anti-vaccination liars telling more lies. I live in a small country town and the vaccination rates here are much higher than in places where the there are a lot more doctors and a lot more liars.

PS - My doctor predicts that I'll be getting my COVID shot in the next three or four weeks (I'm in the second priority group). I like the way he didn't ask me if I wanted it and just assumed I'd be there with my sleeve rolled up on the day.


Apparently this appeared in the South Dakota Health Bulletin in July 1924.
It could quite easily have been created long before that, because there were
ignorant protests against the smallpox vaccine in the 19th century.


More memories! hope I don't start remembering satanic rituals. (27/2/2021)
I mentioned last week that something to do with our old and now really dead friend Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group had been found lurking in a dark corner. This week the archeologists working on the Ratbags Dig have put their little trowels and paint brushes to good use and have discovered Mr O'Neill's contribution to the discussion of Meryl Dorey's doomed attempt to get the courts to silence me. He posted the following Wildean wit to a Usenet discussion group. Anonymously, of course.

Congratulations to all those who have supported that sinking ship of bigots, racists, criminals and back woods ass country fucks. It all went up in smoke today as one of the SAVN founders found his greatness in front of the courts again. Yes again! The first in this episode of chronic criminality, Peter Bowditch of no particular interest to anyone, until he again, broke the law. Back in the 1980's Bowditch was charged, convicted and incarcerated for aggravated assault. Now, he has been named under Australia's AVO Law, for having uttered threats of death, sexual assault and mutilation. Bowditch advised the court in Lismore today that he intends on defending charges associated to this claim. Court has been adjourned until February 26, 2013. Bowditch also advised in a "tweet" that when he appears, again, in front of the Lismore Court, he will be making a complaint? Complaint? This is an AVO hearing Bowditch....What are you going to be complaining about? Are you going to be complaining that everyone is picking on you because you're a disabled diabetic alcoholic? Are you going to argue freedom of speech without accountability? Or, are you going to be complaining that it's your right to complain?

For those of us sitting on the sidelines this has become quite the spectator sport. Bowditch and other sceptics are the epitome of what's wrong with the internet. The Internet has been the weapon of choice for social rejects like Bowditch. From the protection of their socially fucked up little domains, reprobates like Bowditch, between searches for MILFS and bomb making decide they don't agree with anything that challenges their myopathy. For years, Bowditch inflicted pain upon unsuspecting victims until one of them fought back: Meryl Dorey. Now Dorey is holding Bowditch accountable and he doesn't like it. Too bad! Bowditch was named in an AVO in September of 2012. His next appearance has been ordered to happen on February 26, 2013. Bowditch claims he has some complaints he's going to raise with court when he next appears. And what might he possibly complain about? Perhaps he might complain that Ms Dorey and court are constructing to interfere with his right to express hate, bigotry and intolerance, and, of course his right to be openly abusive toward all women and children, and his right to chronically imposing his dim and twisted views on everyone. What is becoming increasing more apparent to everyone except Bowditch, is that he is fucked. The abundance of accumulating evidence in the Internet overwhelmingly demonstrates a man who is not only a threat to the safety and well being of Ms Dorey, but also anyone he may decide he doesn't agree with or like. There have been cases of late and not nearly as significant as this one, where the defendants have been sentenced to as long as 10 years imprisonment and a lifetime ban from using computers or any ther device to access the Internet. With an additional month to provide the court with more evidence the numerous supporters of Ms Dorey and endless detractors of Bowditch and the skeptics, there will no doubt be further delays as the court considers a literal tsunami of evidence. The irony in all of this is that many of us "anti-vaccination liars" are wondering if there might be a vaccine against stupidity. Good luck Mr Bowditch. We miss you already

Have I mentioned that Mr O'Neill was wrong in his prediction? That Ms Dorey's application was flung into the bin by the Magistrate? That Ms Dorey cried when she lost?

Oh and "There have been cases of late and not nearly as significant as this one, where the defendants have been sentenced to as long as 10 years imprisonment and a lifetime ban from using computers or any ther (sic) device to access the Internet". Maybe Mr O'Neill is referring to another occasion on which he was wrong.

And I still get a good laugh out of "Back in the 1980's Bowditch was charged, convicted and incarcerated for aggravated assault". This was so easy to disprove that I wonder why I bothered.


The eternal problem that every writer recognises (27/2/2021)


See more Savage Chickens here


Those polite, courteous and friendly anti-vaccination liars (27/2/2021)
My online journalist friend Jane Hansen put together a TV special about the anti-vaccination movement in Australia. With the imminent arrival of COVID-19 vaccines the torrent of lies and misinformation has assumed tsunami proportions so it was a suitable time to expose the liars for the liars they are. Here is the trailer for the show. (You can see the full program here.)

It would have been obvious to any thinking person that the liar community would not take this well, and it resulted in an immediate call from Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination[Lie of the Week) Network to release the flying monkeys to attack and harass Ms Hansen. Jane temporarily closed her Facebook page, but that didn't stop the comments on the TV station's web site and Facebook page or on venues and forums controlled by anti-vaxxers.


It's a pity tossing a bucket of water on Ms Dorey doesn't make her melt into a puddle of scum.
Not a death threat!

There was a video released as a rebuttal. The content was predictable.

But I've saved the best for last. Here is a comment addressed directly to Jane Hansen.

Never forget that Meryl Dorey thought that my asking her to leave my family alone was sufficiently threatening to waste more than a year of a court's and my time, but she finds this sort of thing acceptable. After all, the end (lots of corpses from preventable diseases) justifies the means (lying and harassment).

There is a saying "beneath contempt". These creatures are so far beneath contempt that a new definition of "nadir" is required. They are lower than that. And if they feel offended by what I have to say about them, then I can only respond with an image that Meryl Dorey offered to the court as evidence of my threatening behaviour.

Or put more crudely and forcibly -



 

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