Sunday, July 30, 2006
  It's a Flea Circus!

Our host, none other than the illustrious Dr. Flea, provides for our viewing pleasure a grand circus of minute proportions. Grab your popcorn and let's go!

Of interest to me is Tara's post on Aetiology about biofilms and ear infections. First, I had never really heard of biofilms, and though they appear to be a frustrating occurance in medicine, as a molecular biologist wannabe, they seem really really cool. Second, we have a family history of problems with ear infections. My dad -> me -> at least three of my children. Interefering with that bacteria's ability to excrete gunk and encase itself in a biofilm sounds like a good thing to me. I bet that kind of drug could help other chronic infections like sinus too.

And then there is Dr. Gwenn's post on what to tell our children, and media posting images that are bad for anyone, any age.

Fun was had by all.
Monday, July 24, 2006
  Money First, Your Health Last

Mike Adams is the Health Ranger.

With a Nome de Plume like that, it is tempting to just make fun of him. Nevertheless, that is the title that he claims for himself on a website sprinkled with pictures of him posing for the camera, a male model being at one with mother nature.

What is a Health Ranger, you ask? He would tell you that he strives to "educate people around the world on how to achieve and maintain peak human health." His efforts, he says, are purely altruistic, since he has no need of money because he is already a successful entrepreneur, having founded and running a software company.

Indeed, as one reads his personal site and his informational site, you find that he isn't selling any products except books. As a writer myself (a title that I admit needs no credentials except to claim the occupation for yourself, and to actually write), I was somewhat disbelieving of the number of works, both books and articles, written since 2001, that have his name on them. There are, besides uncounted articles on his website, 33 books with his name either as primary or as co-author on them. The reason he claims to be able to write so much is because his diet is so incredible that he has become a "superlearning machine".

It becomes tempting to take on every single claim he has. Everything is such a classic example of deceptive health claims that it seems almost like he's read "How to Spot Quackery" from Quackwatch and then put it into action. The thoroughness of his content boggles the mind. It's like the clearinghouse of bogus medicine. It's a little frightening, really. He urges his audience to avoid all MDs and western doctors and all prescriptions. It becomes clear while reading his site that he makes no exceptions, even for serious illnesses like cancer. Cancer, he claims, can be cured by diet, exercise, and being in the sun. What is even more frightening is that my friendly neighborhood oracle has revealed that all references to him online were positive and of a believing nature. It's high time to take this guy down.

The registration information for his health websites reveals the same email listed for registrant, admin, and tech contact though it is not his own name. This, in itself, is not so very unusual but is the sign of a small organization. What is slightly more disturbing is that it is out of Taiwan. The email contact domain was

When one goes to they find that it is part of the network of Truth Publishing, who he is partnered with, and where one can purchase all of the books that he has authored and co-authored. A little more research reveals that Webseed is a software "tool for generating Web pages that improve search engine rankings and increase site traffic" ( created by Mike Adams, who is the president of Arial Software. Ahh, that software company of his. It turns out that Arial Software is an industry leader in mass email marketing software.

Mike Adams, the self appointed Health Ranger, is responsible for software that creates bogus content for webpages to increase hits and email spam. It appears he doesn't care so much for what he is stuffing down the gullet of your computer.

He has generated a huge amount of content through his websites and books. His claim is that " As the information flow accelerated, I was writing articles, books and reports at blinding speed. It was all coming out too quickly to type, in fact, so I started recording all my articles and books, and using a team of transcriptionists to convert my audio recordings into text."

His software, Webseed, "is designed to work like a mail merge engine for Web documents, creating search-phrase-targeted Web pages that contain natural text instead of the repeated keywords generated by conventional meta-tag tools." and "lets the user create high-density pages containing chosen phrases."

It is my contention that Mike Adams decided to put his own software to good use, not only by creating a website, but by actually writing books that he make a profit off of. The software doesn't do the actual writing. He or his "team of transcriptionists" have, in fact, written every word there. But it would not surprise me to find a number of sentences and phrases repeated throughout his works, strung together by subject. Perhaps it is entire paragraphs. There is a great deal of content that this can't account for, but I believe it is the foundation of his network of health fraud.

I will admit this: I haven't read any of his books. I don't have the time for the free ones. Even if I did I don't trust downloading something from one of his sites. And I don't care to give him money to read the ones he charges for. If I did, I could find that they were all written by a human. Based on their summaries, this wouldn't make them any less full of deceitful fear mongering.

Is he a healthy guy? If those are pictures of him, he looks to be. (BTW, there is no way he could get that body or the stats he's claiming without a whole lot of exercise to go with that diet of his.) But I don't believe he believes the stuff he is selling. It's just a scheme to make more money selling content.

(Just want to apologize for the long pause in posting. We ended up going out of town quite unexpectedly, just as I was digging into this interesting tidbit.)
Thursday, July 06, 2006
  Do Religious Conservatives Really Oppose HPV vaccine?

I was going to have something to say to the religious people who opposed the HPV vaccine. You see, I'm religious, and morally conservative. I strongly believe in abstinence until marriage. And I approve of the vaccine whole heartedly. There are a number of reasons why a young woman who is being abstinent could find a need for the vaccine: sexual abuse, rape, or marrying a husband who wasn't abstinent.

But then I looked for these adamantly opposed Christians. I found a lot of articles decrying religious conservatives for their objection to the vaccine, but no religious conservatives objecting to it. It seemed that everyone coming down on those who oppose the vaccine were merely circulating a very small handful of out of context quotes.

I went to the site of the Family Research Council. Nothing about it on the front page. Nothing about it on their bioethics page. So I searched on their site and came up with their official press release about the subject:

"The Family Research Council welcomes the news that vaccines are in development for preventing infection with certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. We also welcome the recent reports of promising clinical trials for one such vaccine. Any medical advance in this area holds potential for helping to protect the health of millions of Americans and helping to preserve the lives of thousands of American women who currently die of cervical cancer each year as a result of HPV infection. Media reports suggesting that the Family Research Council opposes all development or distribution of such vaccines are false. "

Emphasis mine.

Even Focus on the Family says:

"Recognizing the worldwide detriment to individuals and families resulting from HPV, Focus on the Family supports and encourages the development of safe, effective and ethical vaccines against HPV, as well as other viruses. The use of these vaccines may prevent many cases of cervical cancer, thus saving the lives of millions of women across the globe. "

I do need to note that both of these organizations disapprove of mandatory vaccination.

But there are two serious problems with this kind of reporting, besides the fact that it clearly shows a bias that skews the reporting.

One: it serves only to further divide our nation.

Two: Christians could easily be taking a clue from mainstream media about what opinions their peers have. Do you think, as soon as they hear quotes that one of their groups opposes the vaccine, that they are going to run to the primary source to find out if that is true? It is the people least likely to think rationally about things that will simply acquire the opinion that HPV vaccines are evil because mainstream media and every blog out there said that their leaders opposed it.

So, as a result of this kind of reporting, there may be fewer girls who get the vaccine than if their doctor just said "Hey, we have this vaccine against HPV, here are some good reasons why you should vaccinate your daughter."

"But she is going to be abstinent."

"She's a good girl, I'm sure she will. But what if her future husband isn't? What if something happens? Wouldn't it be better if she were protected? And now is a good time, because she won't even have to think or worry about it should any of those circumstances occur."

But now there is this supposed controversy. Now the mother can reply "Well, I'm a Christian, and we don't do that."

Thanks, media.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
  A couple of thoughts on evolution

Okay, I'm here again, on the very same day. Cooling down after a great writing session, I came across a great post over at Feminist Mormon Housewives.

Evolution and Agency

It was an interesting process, reconciling my belief in God and in evolution. I could not ignore the facts - that the earth is billions of years old and that everything we've ever found in the fossil record is consistent with evolution. The "God made it look like that to test us" idea was absolutely preposterous. (And not something my parents ever taught me, BTW) We already have enough baggage without needing to believe in a God that lies just to make things harder for us.

What is fascenating to me is that this 'poof, there it is' idea of creation actually leads to a world that is smaller and less wondrous in scope than the idea of a universe vast in time as well as space. God is smaller to the YE creationist than to the theistic evolutionist.
  Grand Rounds is cool and so is writing

Grand Rounds is up at RangleMD's place. I really liked his idea of having a theme, and then pretty much sticking to it. It made GR a bit less bulky, and made me think. I think this is a very good way to keep blog carnivals from overgrowing their place in information garden.

Anyway, I'm not writing as much here (like I have much of an audience that cares) because I'm writing! I have lots of interesting things that pop in my head for this particular blog, and I'm listing them in a topic page, but I'm working hard on a story that I care about a lot. And while I say that, I want to thank the discussion about Quantum Quackary over at Unintelligent Design for sparking a solution to a problem in this story. And Phill and Sarabeth Gordon over at Tales from the Womb and I was once HP (I always read that as "I was once a computer... hehe) who asked me a couple of hard question about the story a some months ago that has helped me to really solidify some of my explanations as well as add a couple of extra doses of tension.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
  Three Ideas to Fix Medicine in the US

RangelMD asked a question for Grand Rounds that I've been thinking about a lot, with having kids, with parents getting older, and self getting older.


Paperwork: take a clue from PCs and other electronic media: have standards for interfaces that are the same, no matter what is going on behind the interface. Like, the same exact form to bill any insurance company. The same form for well, whatever you need forms for to communicate between hospitals, clinics, departments, whatever. Am I right that this is a problem in medical land?


I would like a lifetime medical record that follows us wherever we go. Lots of technology ways to go about this, but really – medicine needs to join the rest of us as far as technology information goes. Imagine seeing a patient for the first time but knowing before you meet them (because on their 'chart' are high priority "things you should know about this patient" always on the 'front page' for new encounters) that they have diabetes or having your patient's visit with a specialist available to you as soon as it's occurred?

And the grand finale:

It is unethical for money to be generated off of the suffering or fear of individuals without any involvement in the alleviation of that suffering. This means it's wrong for stockholders of insurance companies to gain dividends when profit goes up because insurance companies have either increased the costs of policies, denied claims, or decreased compensation, or any other way they weasel as much out of both patients and doctors as they can. Furthermore, it is unethical to reduce the income, either by reducing compensation or failing to increase compensation at the rate of inflation or incurred costs, of those directly involved in patient care in order to increase or maintain profit.

What I would like to see happen is that health insurance companies, HMOs, hospitals, etc be regulated to become non-profit organizations, with a different merit system set in place other than increasing profitability. I do not mind a well paid CEO, but I do mind their having stock and holding a direct interest in increasing the amount of money the company involved in health care makes rather than how good it is at meeting the needs of its customers and health care workers.

Bonuses could be given to the appropriate people for such things as reductions in the rate of medical errors or hospital acquired infections, or advances in research and increased rates of cure or better maintenance of chronic conditions. To insurance workers for prompt and appropriate management of cases and accounts, and satisfaction ratings from patients needing services.
  Pediatric Grand Rounds

Shinga from Breath Spa for Kids is hosting this week's Pediatric Grand Rounds. She did a really fantastic job in organizing it all. I'm heading there now to check things out.
A Mormon housewife who loves truth, science, rational thought, and reasonable action.

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Location: Utah

Granola is a mix of things: grains, nuts, bits of dried fruit, maybe some coconut. There's some fat in it, and it's a good source of fiber to keep those arteries and colons clean.

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