Ginkgo Biloba fails 6-year study and proves utterly worthless

December 31, 2009

Worthless paperweight

A six-year study just confirmed what the medical community pretty much already knew, that Ginkgo Biloba does nothing to improve memory at all:

The hot-selling herbal supplement ginkgo biloba doesn’t slow age-related mental decline, a six-year clinical study shows.The study has already shown that ginkgo does not prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly.

. . .

“Compared with placebo, the use of Ginkgo biloba, 120 mg twice daily, did not result in less cognitive decline in older adults with normal cognition or with mild cognitive impairment,” the researchers conclude.

The problem wasn’t potency. The study used the standardized ginkgo extract from Schwabe Pharmaceuticals that is regulated and sold as a medication in Germany.

And the problem wasn’t rigorous testing. Twice a year, the 72- to 96-year-old study participants received a battery of tests that measured various aspects of mental function, including memory, attention, visuospatial abilities, language, and executive function.

Regardless of which mental function was measured, the tests show gingko doesn’t help slow cognitive decline.

The findings echo those of a 2009 Cochrane Review of ginkgo studies that identified no cognitive benefit from the supplement.

BAM! Strike three! You’re out!

Or are you?

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a group representing the supplement industry, suggests that the DeKosky study “should not be viewed as the final work” on ginkgo.

Oh, did we let overwhelming evidence get in the way of your profits? How careless of us. Please continue to sell crap to people under the misleading notion that it will benefit them in some way.

Here’s what Douglas MacKay, ND had to say:

“As a former practicing licensed naturopathic doctor, I have had the benefit of working with patients and have seen first-hand how Ginkgo biloba can be effective in improving cognitive function,” MacKay says. “I would continue to recommend Ginkgo biloba to older adults as a safe, effective option for supporting cognitive health and would encourage consumers to talk to their own healthcare professional about what is right for them.”

Oh, so you mean you’re going to continue to lie to people in order to profit from them! Here’s my response to Douglas MacKay ND-ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ:  FUCK YOU!! AND FUCK YOUR BULLSHIT, MADE-UP CREDENTIALS!

Your bullshit product does not work any better than a placebo. You have at the very least been informed of the results of many studies that show this to be true. Pretending to not understand what a placebo is so that you can throw up your hands and claim, “but the customers seem to think it works” is unacceptable! If you continue to sell a bogus product while giving customers the impression that it does something that it IN FACT DOES NOT DO, you are both a liar and a crook! And it doesn’t help your position at all to pretend that a half-assed statement telling customers to consider asking a REAL doctor somehow makes selling snake oil morally defensible!

Here, if you want a calmer response to this story, check out Steven Novella’s blog on it or Phil Plait’s.

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Age of Autism honors Jim Carrey for nonsensical Yogi Berra-ism

December 30, 2009

The anti-vaccinationists over at Age of Autism has decided to give their 2009 Quote of the Year Award to Jim Carrey for this little gem on the Larry King Show:

KING: Isn’t the problem here, Jenny, that people sometimes listen with one ear are going to panic. And not vaccine at all?MCCARTHY: Probably. But guess what? It’s not my fault. The reason why they’re not vaccinating is because the vaccines are not safe. Make a better product and then parents will vaccinate.

CARREY: We’re not the problem. The problem is the problem.

HANDLEY: The AAP has failed our kids.

Age of Autism’s “Quote of the Year” is “We’re not the problem. The problem is the problem.” Really guys? You really feel that your position is most concisely summed up by a refusal to accept responsibility and a trite, meaningless cliche like “The problem is the problem”? How incredibly insightful. [rolling eyes]

But let’s examine the rest of this short snippet they’ve provided for us. It begins with Jenny McCarthy refusing to accept responsibility for her behavior by unambiguously asserting that any harm cause by her advice is not her fault. She then states that it’s the vaccine that’s harmful, despite of course the fact that no evidence exists to suggest that it is any more harmful than millions of other things in our every day lives that nobody wastes any energy concerning themselves about and is in all likelihood the safer medical procedure we have. She then (though this is arguable) seems to actually advise parents to not vaccinate because the vaccine is “not safe.” Now vaccines can have serious negative side effects and can even cause death but we’re literally talking about one-in-a-million odds, if not in many millions. While I can’t find a reputable source for these statistics, I’d be surprised if even a hundred Americans developed serious negative side effects from vaccines this year and at most only a few dozen died as a direct consequence of the vaccine.

Now let’s compare that to some other death statistics

There were an estimated 6,289,000 car accidents in the US in 1999. There were about 3.4 million injuries and 41,611 people killed in auto accidents in 1999. The total number of people killed in highway crashes in 2001 was 42,116, compared to 41,945 in 2000. An average of 114 people die each day in car crashes in the U.S.

. . .

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 35 to 50 million Americans come down with the flu during each flu season.The CDC estimates that in the US more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and more than 20,000 people die from the flu and its complications every year.

. . .

There were an estimated 15,517 murders in 2000, virtually no change from the 1999 murder estimate of 15,522. The number of murders was 21 percent less than in 1996 and 37.2 percent less than in 1991.

. . .

Lightning-related fatality, injury, and damage reports in the US were summarized for 36 years since 1959, based on the NOAA publication Storm Data. There were 3239 deaths, 9818 injuries, and 19,814 property-damage reports from lightning during this period. On average, 90 people are killed every year in the U.S. by lightning.

Is serious vaccine injury more likely than being struck by lightning? If so, not by very much. It’s certainly not even close to as dangerous as automobiles. So many Jenny should be advising people not to drive.


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.29.09

December 29, 2009

1. Some of the biggest science stories of the year – Steve Novella briefly discusses Ardipithecus, Darwinius masillae, the Large Hadron Collider, water on the moon, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and methane on Mars.

2. Scientists working on making Star Trek’s synthehol a reality – According to controversial neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt, soon people may be drinking a non-addictive alcohol substitute that allows drinkers to experience the effects of alcohol while having the means to “switch off” those effects by taking a pill.

3. What the Illinois gobernatorial candidates think of Evolution – Wow, this is depressing. Despite no mention of religion in the question, all but one found it necessary to reference their religious views. What the hell does that have to do with accepting basic scientific facts? And Dan Hynes, the one that didn’t mention religion and answered with a clear, concise, unambiguous ““I accept the theory of evolution,” is also the only candidate who supports marriage equality. Unless Hynes wins it, it looks like Illinois is doomed with either an idiot religious wackjob or a chickenshit religious panderer for the next couple of years.

4. Molars further elaborate on ape-to-human evolution

The timing of molar emergence and its relation to growth and reproduction in apes is being reported by two scientists at Arizona State University’s Institute of Human Origins in the Dec. 28 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

5. Cockroaches inspire future robot design

The sight of a cockroach scurrying for cover may be nauseating, but the insect is also a biological and engineering marvel, and is providing researchers at Oregon State University with what they call “bioinspiration” in a quest to build the world’s first legged robot that is capable of running effortlessly over rough terrain.


Rep. Henry Brown and other Republicans’ new proposed waste of tax-payer dollars

December 29, 2009

I’ve blogged about this story before but here’s a horrible waste of tax-payer money during a recession:

Rep. Henry Brown of South Carolina and 74 Republican co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives actually wants Congress to pass a resolution condemning people for saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.”

Son of a bitch! This is seriously how these clowns want to spend tax-payer dollars? Really? After refusing to support spending for health care reform, a measure that would have undeniable benefits for almost every man, woman, and child in the country? These people are insane. They should be locked up in mental asylums, not running our country.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s no “War on Christmas.” The only “war” being waged is by Christians against anyone else who has the audacity to not celebrate Christmas. I have no beef with Christmas. It’s not even a real Christian holiday and many of its traditions are either Pagan in origin, secular in origin, and/or explicitly condemned in the Bible such as the Christmas tree in Jeremiah 10. Also, if you polled a hundred people on the street about their favorite part of the holiday, you’d be lucky to find even one who’d name Christmas mass or any other unambiguously religious element.

Sure, I’m a little unnerved by the ultra-commercialism of this time of year. And I think pressuring everyone into being generous is manifestly paradoxical and ultimately a flawed system since ideally, everyone reciprocates by giving presents to those they receive presents from and those presents are ideally of relatively equal worth, guaranteeing that people would just be better off buying their own gifts (hence gift cards and cash presents). But I enjoy many elements to the season. I love Santa Claus, the patron saint of this holiday, who’s inspired by numerous cultures’ myths as well as the Coca Cola Corporation, and as I understand it, is said to have died for our sins on a cross (That is what the holiday’s about, isn’t it?).

But it isn’t enough for these wankers that this holiday, currently most associated with one specific religion, is ALREADY regarded as a national holiday. No, that isn’t good enough for them. They need to force this down everyone’s throats and force us all to celebrate no matter what. Well I call bullshit! This is the United States of America, goddamnit! And we don’t have to celebrate or honor a goddamned thing! I’ll celebrate Burn The Flag Day if I please, and there ain’t a damned thing you can do about it because that’s my Constitutional right as a citizen of this amazing country. And if you don’t like it, you can just close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and sing, “la, la, la, la” over and over again. That’s your right. Your right to swing your fists end at my nose.

And ironically, it seems that the more atheists surprise Christians by announcing that they enjoy celebrating Christmas, the more Christians seem to be outraged and call for the exclusivity of the holiday. Just see Garrison Keillor’s rant in the Chicago Tribune, which I’ve previously mentioned in a blog. You just can’t win with people who insist on being argumentative about everything and will argue regardless of what side you’re on. So atheists might as well just continue to praise Christmas for its secular and explicitly anti-Christian components just to see if we can get more Christians to denounce the holiday.


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.28.09

December 29, 2009

1. A new study shows that make-up makes women more attractive – And in a related study, large breasts also makes women more attractive.

In their study, they found that men are more attracted to women with more coloring on their face. And they suggest that there is a good biological basis for this fact. They theorize that women with higher levels of estrogen naturally have more color than those with lower levels. And a higher level of estrogen is indicative of a more fertile woman. According to evolutionary theory, men should be inclined to find more fertile women more attractive.

Wow, I just thought it enhanced their appearance.

2. Liberty “University” is fielding an archaeological expedition to dig up Noah’s Ark in Turkey – Wow, they run a real tight ship over there at Liberty “University,” home of the 4,000-year-old dinosaur fossil. Wow! Just wow!

3. The ULTIMATE atheist nightmare:

Again, I would like to ask Bill “I love child rapists” Donohue and Michael “autism’s make believe” Savage what was so offensive in that Curb Your Enthusiasm episode?

4. Liberian manimal fails to show – This is a complicated case, so I recommend just clicking the link, but apparently, some people in Liberia claim there are hunters who have the magical ability to transform themselves into animals themselves. They heard about the James Randi Educational Foundation Million Dollar Challenge and agreed to let investigators see these magical hunters. Of course, then came the excuses:

In the end, it turns out he can’t perform the full transformation in the city, only in forested regions. We offered to drive out of the city, but it seems only in his home county of Nimba can he do so. Nimba will have to wait for my next trip (we have, in fact, a project there) but you’ll forgive me if I haven’t reserved judgment.

Those perpetuating an extraordinary, supernatural claim failing to be able to provide evidence for it? Shocking. [eyes rolling]

5. New report in Australia shows fewer marriages this year – And few of those marriages include a religious component.


Icelandic Elf Sex

December 28, 2009

Awhile ago, I blogged about some hilarious statistics:

54 percent of Icelanders don’t deny the existence of elves. Seriously. Not only that but 8 percent believe in them outright and 3 percent claim to have encountered one personally.

And while this sounds strange, it’s really no stranger than any other more mainstream religious belief.

But as Skepchick reports, this Icelandic elf thing has some strange believers. If you follow the link, you’ll find an embedded video where a woman claims to have had sex with elves, who according to her, are incredible in bed. The woman then proceeds to discuss the intricate details of elf sex. With regards to the woman’s sanity, here’s a very telling quote:

“I think it will make the world a better place, if more people have sex with elves, basically.”

Wow!


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.27.09

December 27, 2009

1. Indian couple raise controversy by not giving baby religious identityAalif Surti and Aditi Shedde refuse to label their baby with a religion for the birth certificate, as is required in India. It’s also required on other legal documents.

It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. “A few months into my pregnancy, we had decided that we would not give our child any religious identity,” says Aditi. “We are not against religion, but who are we to choose a religion on our baby’s behalf? We will expose him to the values of different faiths and cultures, and when he grows up he will be free to follow any faith — or none if he wishes.”

. . .

The couple had almost hit a dead end. There were four choices on the form — Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Others. Aditi says she did not want any of them for her child, as even Others required them to identify the sect or community. She argued with the officer some more and finally agreed on Others, but without any identification. “Others is just to facilitate the generation of the certificate. We know our child has no religion,” she says.

2. New Gallop poll says 29% of Americans say religion is out of date –  God is so yesterday. It’s all about sparkly vampires now.

3. Church of England’s new campaign to convert 2-year-olds

Children as young as two are to be targeted as part of a new campaign to recruit young people back to the church, the Guardian has learned.

The Church of England is planning its first concerted drive to engage under- 18s after admitting that it is comprehensively failing to connect with children and teenagers.

Wow, they’re going for older kids than usual.

5. Women sucked in by yoga cult

Say the word cult and many people think of Waco’s Branch Davidians or the horrific mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. It hardly seems likely that the term would apply to a chain of clean, airy yoga studios—a brand hyped on some local TV news shows, no less. Yet noted cult experts such as Steven Hassan, Cathleen Mann, Ph.D., and Joseph Szimhart say that Dahn fits the profile. “It’s very aggressive,” says Szimhart, an author of numerous studies on cults. “There’s an indoctrination process that quickly undermines free will.” Adds Hassan, author of Combatting Cult Mind Control, who’s talked to 85 former Dahn devotees: “Dahn has been flying under the radar. But it is one of the more destructive and harmful cults out there.” Hassan also believes that, because Dahn uses yoga to attract members, it has been successful at recruiting young women. “Many women use Dahn centers like regular yoga studios and go home to their normal lives when class is over,” Hassan says. But “a small portion become enmeshed like Lucie did. Of those true believers, many are young, bright, upper-middle-class women looking for their place in the world.”

I love child rapists

4. Fifth Catholic Bishop/child rapist protector refuses to resign – Bishop Martin Drennan’s got some balls! He is personally responsible for possibly hundreds of children being raped, somehow isnt’ going to jail for life, and has the audacity to deny any responsibility for his actions. It’s people like this who make me almost wish there were a Hell.