Off-Topic Archive

A number of our threads have discussion that is off-topic to the post: this is inconvenient to anyone who is interested in researching an issue. So, we shall move off-topic comments to here.

Most commenters know this by default but for the handful who don’t, we will moderate comments that contain abuse or obscenities.

We may move towards moderating comments that ask questions that have been asked and answered on previous occasions.

If you don’t think that logic is a good method for determining what to believe, make an attempt to convince me of that without using logic. No one has even bothered to try yet. [Brett Lemoine]

Similarly, when you have been given appropriate information or links to read and you do not read them but continue to make your original statements in the hope that the broken record technique will wear down everyone’s critical faculties, this may lead to moderation if disemvowelling hasn’t worked.

For the majority of our commenters who are lively, well-mannered and whose comments regularly add to the general knowledge store, thank you.

Go, write it in a martial hand; be curst and brief. It is no matter how witty, so it be eloquent and full of invention.

Updated July 6, 2008.

164 responses to “Off-Topic Archive

  1. Couldn’t you do with a “support for dubious products” category as well? I’m thinking, of course, about stuff like the Q-Link pendant…

  2. On an only slightly peripheral issue, since Herr Professor Dr Holford also promotes organic food (on the Radio 4 Food Programme amongst other places):

    The great organic con trick

    Organic produce is better for you?
    Robert Johnston explodes five myths about its benefits
    Interest groups claim that organic food is healthier and better for the environment, but many of such claims are myths.
    • Myth No. 1: Organic food is healthier.
    Actually, scientific studies show more health risks from organic food than conventional food. This month in California, for instance, Salmonella was found in organic fertilisers which could contaminate fruit and vegetables.
    In 2003, Dutch scientists established that organic chickens and conventional birds had the same rate of infection with Salmonella even though many organic farmers vaccinate their chickens against the bug. In 2006, other Dutch scientists found that as many as three-quarters of organic chickens were infected with parasites.

    cont …..

  3. koo

    I wonder What it took to get Michael Meacher to say the words ‘there is no difference between organic and conventional food’

    This is a very serious misrepresentation

    The difference between organic and conventional food is as follows:

    Conventional food is grown using nitrate fertilizers, nitrates encourage the cell walls to expand and swell with water, thus producing a larger less nutritious product. It may look great and weigh more but it has less substance rather like this site.

    It also contains some rather nasty chemicals (which do not wash off under the tap water as many believe) which also displaces available nutrients and then you get to a stage when what you are consuming is empty calories.

    Meat is said to contain 40% less minerals then it did in the 1960’s and there you have the empty calories again.

    During processing certain meats such chicken, bacon etc go through a process they call tumbling, which is where the meat is injected with beef proteins which enable the cells again to absorb more water and again make them look better and weigh more then they should, which explains the large amount of water that comes out when you are cooking these products.

    So you are not getting the nutrients that you need to from your food and so people are getting very sick (nutritionally depleted) and are turning to their doctors who put them on some kind of drug without even considering that they may be nutritionally deficient.

    The whole system of conventional farming compounds its self, it is a vicious cycle as the nutrients are ever leached from the soil, fertilizers in the form of nitrates never replenish the soil, so the soil becomes poorer and poorer and our food like wise.

    This is simple logic, I don’t need to back it up because at the push of a button you can do the research in to the way nitrates behave and read it for yourselves.

    Organic farming is now commanding 30% of the UK market compared to 2% as it was in the year 2000, this is seriously upsetting the conventional farmers and of course the chemical companies which is why this crazy argument against logic is taking place. It is also the reason why Codex is coming into play in 2009, it is a protectionist racket.

    CONventional farming is indeed one of the biggest cons to hit mankind as is modern medicine. It is in fact alternative farming practice as we have been practicing organic farming for thousands of years and now we have to pay extra for ‘real’ food

    It is interesting that this site is attacking both organic farming and alternative medical practice, both are areas that the chemical companies have a massive vested interest in.

    When Codex arrives in it completion in 2009, if it is allowed to get through, our food is going to get worse and our ability to counter the effects of that food through supplements is going to be very much reduced.

  4. koo

    Don’t you think its time you guys wound it up?

    I’ve been going through the comments and you are in a minority, looks like you are not quite getting away with it, flogging a dead horse, can’t be good for the self esteem…………….

  5. koo

    Just found this in an artical asking ‘why are doctors so unhappy in the editorials of the BMJ

    Doctors and patients: redrafting a bogus contract

    The bogus contract: the patient’s view

    * Modern medicine can do remarkable things: it can solve many of my problems
    * You, the doctor, can see inside me and know what’s wrong
    * You know everything it’s necessary to know
    * You can solve my problems, even my social problems
    * So we give you high status and a good salary

    The bogus contract: the doctor’s view

    * Modern medicine has limited powers
    * Worse, it’s dangerous
    * We can’t begin to solve all problems, especially social ones
    * I don’t know everything, but I do know how difficult many things are
    * The balance between doing good and harm is very fine
    * I’d better keep quiet about all this so as not to disappoint my patients and lose my status

    The new contract

    Both patients and doctors know:

    * Death, sickness, and pain are part of life
    * Medicine has limited powers, particularly to solve social problems, and is risky
    * Doctors don’t know everything: they need decision making and psychological support
    * We’re in this together
    * Patients can’t leave problems to doctors
    * Doctors should be open about their limitations
    * Politicians should refrain from extravagant promises and concentrate on reality

  6. koo

    Ahhh did you create off topic just for me I’m soOO thrilled

  7. Your egotism is as deeply affecting as always – as is your inability to read and comprehend.

    Post your off-topic material here in future or it won’t be moved.

  8. rita

    i think your site contains load of rubbish. i do believe that vitamin and mineral supplements can enhance peoples’ wellbeing and resolve health problems. as for patrick holford he is just demonstrating the fact that people who suffer from ailments can further improve their health by taking supplements. i suffered from various health problems and taking supplements and homeopathy has greatly improved my health

  9. Claire

    Rita, I think if you read this site carefully you will find plenty of lengthy explanation of why individual anecdotes cannot be regarded as reliable evidence. If the reason is not clear to you by now, well, I’m not sure what more can be done.

    Mr Holford is one of those who promote the idea that doctors and Big Pharma are locked in a greedy conspiracy to keep people ill and taking ever-increasing amounts of medications. Accompanied, of course, but the insinuation that those who examine critically the evidence for alternative /complementary theories are either stupid or in the pay of the pharmas. There is, undeniably, much to deplore about the nefarious practices of some pharamaceutical companies and their attempts to influence medical practice, and I personally welcome the increasing critical attention given to this by medical and scientific journals and internet sites such as Ed Silverman’s Pharmalot. But claims of a seamless conspiracy to keep patients in thrall to prescription drugs are, I think, inaccurate, exaggerated and dishonest – and offensive to the many medical professionals who dedicate much time and effort to carefully assessing evidence and formulating recommendations which are in the best interests of patients.

    For example, the SIGN/BTS asthma management guideline, extensively detailed constantly referred to by doctors, has published an update dated May 2008 – . Non-pharmalogical treatments are reviewed, including complementary therapies, and a new recommendation has been made regarding the Buteyko breathing method, which the guideline now says may be considered to help patients control the symptoms of asthma (and reduce use of bronchodilator medications). Up to now, the BTS/SIGN position has been that the evidence was not clear enough. Doctors considering something that might reduce drug usage? Fancy that!

    Unfortunately for Mr Holford et al, the evidence at present does not support use of supplements, fish oils etc in asthma, or homeopathy, chiropractic etc.

  10. jim

    whoever is behind this site is say who they are and any affiliations they have– especially sinse there are alot of accusations of profiteering

  11. Jim – we’ve made clear that we don’t have any competing interests, in the pharmaceutical or CAM industries. We’ve also made clear why we’re not going to state our identities – see the About Us page.

  12. gulliver

    oh dear clare. you really are wrapped up in your own little orthodox medicine world

  13. jim

    My guess is you are a group of med students who are annoyed at people like PH for undermining the status of your profession- am I close?

  14. HappyGilmore

    One last thing. When I discover this group of blogs against CAM or NT, I was amazed by how many never published my comments. I really appreciate this blog does, it shows maturity and full openess to discussion.

    Although I am thinking, what about those who don’t allow comments against their opinion? Which kind of information are they divulgating?
    I am referring in particular to this one:
    I have tried to post twice, never using inappropriate language, but I have never been posted.

    this article is full of rubbish, some information has been copied and pasted just to suit the need: very unprofessional!

  15. David Colquhoun over at publishes almost all comments, though he has occasionally been known to edit them if they are (i) insulting or offensive; or (ii) simply repeating off-topic rants they have posted before – see e.g. the comments thread on his front page and the comments of “bigpharma-bigbucks”.

    Regarding us being “against CAM or NT”… is asking it to meet scientific standards “being against it”? I don’t think so. What we ask is that CAM (inc nutritionism) should either come up with the evidence to show it works, OR stop claiming to be an “established therapeutic intervention” that deserves recognition alongside evidence-based medicine. “Put up or shut up”, one might say.

    The nominal subject of this blog, “Prof” Holford, does neither, as has been exhaustively documented here and elsewhere.

  16. Claire

    When comments fail to be published, it can sometimes be due to the presence of more than one link in the comment which diverts it into the spam filter. This has happened me a few times but contacting the person responsible for the website sorted things out. One shouldn’t automatically assume censorship.

  17. HappyGilmore

    Thank you for the information.

    Again, after I said it already 3 times, I am totally not an Holford supporter so please please please, I am begging you stop insinuating that.

    Prof. Colquhoun has all my respect, although no offensive language (which isn’t part of my educational backgroud) or links were added in the post.

    Re his article, I can guarantee you on personal experience that what he mentioned be a specific timetable, it is not true.

    Re Nutritionism….I am a strong beliver, unless you try to convince me that someone like Linus Pauling, for example, was a total idiot.

    Thanks & regards, J

  18. Well, Pauling’s claims about Vitamin C have not been bourne out by later studies by people other than the Pauling Institute, HappyG.

    Pauling is one of my scientific heroes, and arguably should have won three Nobels rather than the two, but that still doesn’t mean he was right about everything. Science is a hard discipline that way, because the things you get wrong are ultimately exposed for all to see.

    Re. nutritionism, there is no dispute that diet influences both health and disease. The dispute is really whether disease can be prevented or cured in the sort of “magic ingredient” or “magic diet” ways relentlessly promoted by most nutritionists, certainly by PH and his ION-trained disciples. The evidence says it can’t.

  19. “Re Nutritionism….I am a strong beliver”
    Ah. Belief in nutritionism. So it is a religion. Is convincing you that Pauling was wrong the only way to change your mind? It seems odd to me that your faith in nutritionism depends on people rather than evidence. Nutritionism can encourage people to spend disproportionate amounts of money on single nutrients or so-called superfoods rather than eating a healthy balanced diet. Having seen Holford, McKeith et al recommend various superfoods – not to mention pseudo-medical supplements (Horny Goat Weed to promote sexual satisfaction anyone? Antioxidants for schizophrenia?) – I worry that it could be the case that people who believe in superfoods might spend money on expensive exotic berries of dubious value rather than buying good value-for-money fruit and veg and eating a healthy diet. There’s nothing wrong with getting specialist dietary advice (from a qualified dietitian) if it is necessary for some reason. Otherwise – “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.

    “unless you try to convince me that someone like Linus Pauling, for example, was a total idiot”
    You don’t have to be a total idiot in order to occasionally be wrong. Take, for example, the triple helix of DNA. The author of the classic textbook General Chemistry made a chemical error and got the structure of DNA wrong. Ironically, in order to check the chemistry Crick had to consult General Chemistry. The author was, of course, Linus Pauling. It was a rare error – but an error all the same.

    PS – Nobel Laureate Arthur Kornberg agrees with Dr Aust that Pauling should have had another Nobel: “according to Nobel Laureate Arthur Kornberg, Pauling deserved a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of the molecular cause of sickle-cell anaemia and his work on protein structure.”

  20. HappyGilmore

    Dr Aust, about nutrition and prevention, yes I think it works in same cases. About influence on disease, yes Nut can definetely support recovery, particularly with gastro-int conditions.
    Magic bullets don’t exist. Overdose of micronutrients and such can be very dangerous and I am better off not precribing.
    NT does good, it imporves wellbeing, it improves recovery from disease, it can prevent t2 diabetes, CVD, obesity. For me this is enough to say it is good.
    Thank you for the debate, it was highlitening and pleasant!

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