Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Have a Slow, Quiet Friday the Thirteenth

Also to be posted on ResearchBlogging.org when they relaunch the site.


Superstitious appears to be common among medical people, so this may be seen as offensive. If you doubt me, comment that it is slow or quiet and see how many respond negatively, while they do not receive any criticism for their superstition-based complaints. Rather, people will make excuses for coddling the superstitions of those who are entrusted with the lives of patients.

The evidence does not support their superstitions.

One study did appear to show that women die in motor vehicle collisions more often on Friday the 13th, but that appears to be due to a lack of understanding of statistics by many who cite the article.

An additional factor is anxiolytic medication, used by significantly more women than men in Finland (7), which has been reported to reduce attention span and worsen driving performance (8). . . . Why this phenomenon exists in women but not in men remains unknown, but perhaps the twice-as-high prevalence of neurotic disorders and anxiety symptoms in women (7) makes them more susceptible to superstition and worsening of driving performance.[1]


The author suspects that those people with conditions that could be diagnosed as neuroses or anxiety disorders may be disproportionately affected by superstition.

In other words, superstition is not an external force affecting you. You are doing it to yourself.

The sample size was national, but still small, and was not able to adjust for many possible confounding variables, so the study would need to be replicated using a much larger data base to be useful.

In other superstition news – the next apocalypse, in a long line of predicted apocalypses, is going to be this Sunday – the 15 of October, 2017, according to David Meade. Meade twice previously predicted that a magical planet would hit the Earth and kill us all. This time he claims that his calculations are accurate, because that was the problem with his previous calculations – inaccuracy, not that they were a superstition deserving of derision.

If you are superstitious, and feel that your neuroses/anxieties will cause you to harm others, or yourself, you may want to stay home today and Sunday – perhaps even until you are capable of grasping reality.

Of course, we would never base treatment on superstition in medicine.

Amiodarone is the go to antiarrhythmic drug for cardiac arrest and ventricular tachycardia, but there are much safer much more effective drugs available. We have our own prophets misrepresenting research results to make it seem that using amiodarone for these is a good idea. The research says these preachers are wrong. The next guidelines will probably promote the superstition and reject the science.[2],[3]

Ventilation during cardiac arrest has been shown to be a good idea only for patients who arrested for respiratory reasons. We do a great job of identifying these patients. We have our own prophets misrepresenting research results to make it seem that providing ventilations for these is a good idea. The research says these preachers are wrong. The next guidelines will probably promote the superstition and reject the science.[4]

Medicine is full of superstition and superstitious people.


Too many of us believe the lie that, I’ve seen it work.

I have also written about the superstition of Friday the 13th here –

Acute coronary syndrome on Friday the 13th: a case for re-organising services? – Fri, 13 Jan 2017

The Magical Nonsense of Friday the 13th – Fri, 13 May 2016

Happy Friday the 13th – New and Improved with Space Debris – Fri, 13 Nov 2015

Friday the 13th and full-moon – the ‘worst case scenario’ or only superstition? – Fri, 13 Jun 2014

Blue Moon 2012 – Except parts of Oceanea – Fri, 31 Aug 2012

2009’s Top Threat To Science In Medicine – Fri, 01 Jan 2010

T G I Friday the 13th – Fri, 13 Nov 2009

Happy Equinox! – Thu, 20 Mar 2008


[1] Traffic deaths and superstition on Friday the 13th.
Näyhä S.
Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Dec;159(12):2110-1.
PMID: 12450968

Free Full Text from Am J Psychiatry.

[2] The PROCAMIO Trial – IV Procainamide vs IV Amiodarone for the Acute Treatment of Stable Wide Complex Tachycardia
Wed, 17 Aug 2016
Rogue Medic

There are a dozen links to the research in the footnotes to that article. There are also links to other articles on the failure of amiodarone to live up to its hype.

[3] Dr. Kudenchuk is Misrepresenting ALPS as ‘Significant’
Tue, 12 Apr 2016
Rogue Medic

[4] Cardiac Arrest Management is an EMT-Basic Skill – The Hands Only Evidence
Fri, 09 Dec 2011
Rogue Medic


I helped a Naturopath kill my son, because I believe in Quackery


Would you kill this kid?

Like clapping for Tinkerbell, killing children for superstition is part of keeping reality at bay.

Am I too harsh?

7 year old Ryan Lovett died of strep, meningitis, and pneumonia. His slow death, over 10 days, is reported to have been extremely painful. His death was also preventable with real medicine, so I am not even remotely harsh.

Ryan Lovett’s mother is a true believer in magic. Defending her irrational beliefs means avoiding everything that has valid evidence of benefit. Oddly, she did call 911, after her son started seizing. Ryan Lovett could not be resuscitated by EMS.

Ryan Lovett’s mother took him to a Naturopathic clinic for an echinacea mixture. Meanwhile, her neighbor, not trained in the deadly art of Naturopathy, was trying to convince Ryan Lovett’s mother to take Ryan to a real hospital.

La Pointe (Barbara La Pointe, a former friend of Lovett’s who used to take Ryan to her home on weekends) testified she visited Ryan and his mother the day before he died. She described Ryan as being “in a state of supreme suffering” and offered to take the mother and son to a hospital or doctor, but Lovett refused.[1]


Naturopaths claim that they will tell patients to go to a real doctor if the patient has a serious illness, which requires real medicine, not the usual self-limiting illness that patients recover from in spite of the Naturopath’s prescriptions.

Ryan Lovett will tell you that doesn’t work. No, Ryan Lovett can’t tell you, because nobody at Naturopathic clinic did what Naturopaths claim their extensive training in quackery prepares them to do – send the patient to a real doctor.

The neighbor was much smarter than everyone at the Naturopathic clinic, since she does not appear to have been indoctrinated in the death before medicine quackery of Naturopathy.

Ryan did not have a birth certificate and had never seen a doctor because his mother “did not believe in conventional medicine,”[1]


Evil conventional medicine? Pediatricians use evidence based medicine on their own kids and on themselves. They will even give you copies of research articles that show that their treatments do work. Medicine works even when the manufacturer is not able to influence the results of the research.


“The court specifically found that Tamara Lovett actually knew how sick he was and simply refused to do something and therefore gambled with his life,” he (Prosecutor Jonathan Hak) told reporters.[1]


That is a misunderstanding of medicine and gambling. Medicine is probabilistic. No treatment is 100% successful, so it depends on being prescribed for the right condition, in the right dose, having the fewest side effects, or having side effects that are least likely to make the patient worse, . . . , in order to make it more likely that the patient has a good outcome. That is gambling (putting the odds in the favor of the patient). Medical education is what helps the doctor, PA, NP, nurse, paramedic, EMT to assess the patient in a way that identifies the actual medical condition, to understand the risks and benefits of the available treatments, and to decide what is best for that individual patient.

Evidence-based medical education is better at putting the odds in favor of a good outcome than anything else.

Ryan Lovett’s mother wasn’t gambling, she was praying that her superstition had real magic powers. Maybe Ryan Lovett’s mother was praying that Ryan had a self-limiting illness, which would get better as long as the Naturopathic chemicals did not poison Ryan. Why take Ryan to the Naturopathic clinic at all, if the Naturopathic clinic just sells chemicals that are merely supposed to distract people and make the Naturopath money?

Doctors testified the infection would have been treatable had the boy, who also had meningitis and pneumonia, been taken to a doctor and given antibiotics.[1]


But this is just one rare case, so it is not fair to criticize Naturopaths for scamming the gullible. The Quack didn’t know the kid would die.

Canadians across the country have kept a close eye on the case. It is one of several in southern Alberta involving parents who were charged criminally after their children died of conditions that could have been treated with conventional medicine.[1]


Some people just can’t deal with reality.

Reality will eventually kill us, regardless of what we do. In the mean time, we can increase the odds of living a long healthy life by avoiding unnecessary treatment and limiting the treatments we do use to stuff that has valid evidence that it really works.


[1] Tamara Lovett found guilty of negligence, failure to provide necessaries of life in death of 7-year-old son
By Meghan Grant, Drew Anderson,
CBC News
Posted: Jan 23, 2017 5:00 AM MT
Last Updated: Jan 23, 2017 5:33 PM MT


Do Anti-Vaccinationists Have Any Clue About Science? – Part I


Early anti-vaccine propaganda. The claims have not become more sensible. Click on image to make it larger.

Do vaccines work?

The anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists claim that vaccines do not work.

Vaccines are all part of some conspiracy among all of the governments which have studied vaccines, or part of some conspiracy among all of the universities which have studied vaccines, or part of some conspiracy among all of the drug companies which have studied vaccines, or part of some conspiracy among all of the doctors who have studied vaccines, or . . . .

I am kidding, of course. The anti-vax conspiracy theorists claim that this conspiracy includes all of the above. They believe in a conspiracy that makes the JFK assassination conspiracy, the moon landing conspiracy, and the 911 inside job conspiracy seem tiny and insignificant.

There must be some kind of science that supports their fanaticism. Right?

There is no science to support these conspiracy theories.

Some people with children think that it is dangerous to inject non-infectious material into their children in order to provoke the immune system to produce immunity.

The language of Penn & Teller may not be appropriate for children, but their message is.


Here is some evidence from various countries.

Are these studies, and many more, all just part of some massive conspiracy?

From America –

Results A greater than 92% decline in cases and a 99% or greater decline in deaths due to diseases prevented by vaccines recommended before 1980 were shown for diphtheria, mumps, pertussis, and tetanus. Endemic transmission of poliovirus and measles and rubella viruses has been eliminated in the United States; smallpox has been eradicated worldwide. Declines were 80% or greater for cases and deaths of most vaccine-preventable diseases targeted since 1980 including hepatitis A, acute hepatitis B, Hib, and varicella. Declines in cases and deaths of invasive S pneumoniae were 34% and 25%, respectively.[1]


From Australia –

Since the introduction of childhood vaccination for diphtheria in 1932 and the widespread use of vaccines to prevent tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and poliomyelitis in the 1950s, deaths in Australia from vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) have declined by more than 99%. It is important, however, that the downward trend in morbidity and mortality from VPDs is maintained and carefully monitored, and that changes are interpreted in relation to vaccination coverage.[2]


From Germany –

The incidence rate in the eastern federal states is lower than in the western federal states owing to a smaller portion of endangered risk groups in the population. The trend on the whole is declining.[3]


From Switzerland –

Since the mid-1970s, the widespread establishment and implementation of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) has led to remarkable achievements in controlling vaccine preventable diseases worldwide. Today, more children than ever are being reached with immunization; interruption of poliomyelitis transmission has occurred in most countries; mortality due to measles, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis has been reduced to record low levels.[4]


From Mexico –

Rotavirus is the leading recognized cause of diarrhea-related illness and death among infants and young children.1-5 Every year, rotavirus is associated with 25 million clinic visits, 2 million hospitalizations, and more than 600,000 deaths worldwide among children younger than five years of age.6,7 [5]


The efficacy of the vaccine against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis and against rotavirus-associated hospitalization was 85 percent (P<0.001 for the comparison with placebo) and reached 100 percent against more severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. Hospitalization for diarrhea of any cause was reduced by 42 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 29 to 53 percent; P<0.001).[5]


Is any other medicine as effective as a vaccine?

Is any other medicine as safe as a vaccine?

This last paper is a placebo controlled comparison that makes it abundantly clear that vaccines do work, even though vaccines are not 100% effective.

Nothing is 100% effective or 100% safe, but that is what anti-vaxers claim to want.

Anti-vaxers appear to believe the lie that doing nothing is 100% safe.

The anti-vax conspiracy theorists would suggest that there is something wrong in giving our children a treatment that will safely and dramatically decrease our children’s risk for severe illness.

Complications were greater in the placebo group (the children who did not get the vaccine).

Avoiding vaccination is not safe.

Opposition to vaccination does not depend on science.

Opposition to vaccination depends on the country you are in, because the opposition is not scientific.

The opposition is emotional and political, which is expected with a conspiracy theory.

Science does not follow political boundaries, but conspiracy theories change with the politics.


[1] Historical comparisons of morbidity and mortality for vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.
Roush SW, Murphy TV; Vaccine-Preventable Disease Table Working Group.
JAMA. 2007 Nov 14;298(18):2155-63.
PMID: 18000199 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from JAMA.

[2] Vaccine preventable diseases and vaccination coverage in Australia, 1993-1998.
McIntyre P, Amin J, Gidding H, Hull B, Torvaldsen S, Tucker A, Turnbull F, Burgess M.
Commun Dis Intell. 2000 Jun;Suppl:v-83. Review.
PMID: 12049363 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[3] [The status of vaccine preventable diseases in Germany].
Oppermann H.
Gesundheitswesen. 2001 Feb;63(2):102-6. German.
PMID: 11285747 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[4] The expanded programme on immunization: a lasting legacy of smallpox eradication.
Okwo-Bele JM, Cherian T.
Vaccine. 2011 Dec 30;29 Suppl 4:D74-9. Review.
PMID: 22486980 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[5] Safety and efficacy of an attenuated vaccine against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis.
Ruiz-Palacios GM, Pérez-Schael I, Velázquez FR, Abate H, Breuer T, Clemens SC, Cheuvart B, Espinoza F, Gillard P, Innis BL, Cervantes Y, Linhares AC, López P, Macías-Parra M, Ortega-Barría E, Richardson V, Rivera-Medina DM, Rivera L, Salinas B, Pavía-Ruz N, Salmerón J, Rüttimann R, Tinoco JC, Rubio P, Nuñez E, Guerrero ML, Yarzábal JP, Damaso S, Tornieporth N, Sáez-Llorens X, Vergara RF, Vesikari T, Bouckenooghe A, Clemens R, De Vos B, O’Ryan M; Human Rotavirus Vaccine Study Group.
N Engl J Med. 2006 Jan 5;354(1):11-22.
PMID: 16394298 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from NEJM.


A Welcome Bit of Sensible Reporting on Autism

There is so little intelligent medical reporting in the media, that I am surprised to occasionally find something sensible in a major publication.

The conference is a veritable festival of unproven claims, offering a powerful but false message of hope to parents who are desperately searching for new treatments for their children.[1]

Why do the media so often ignore the harm that is done to children in the name of hope?

Why do the media not understand the damage of this witchcraft?

The one thing that most of these presentations have in common is that the speaker is moking money from selling their so-called treatments. For example, Anat Baniel offers her self-named “Anat Baniel method” and is promoting it through ads in the conference program. Other speakers are offering special diets, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and in perhaps the most damaging treatment, Mark and David Geier’s chemical castration therapy.[1]

Castrate your children to protect them?

If any other group were proposing this, there would be outrage, but the media encourages this child abuse.

Unfortunately, the anti-science commenters have already begun defending their conspiracy theories and defending the selling of quack products to vulnerable parents. Some people have no shame.

Here is part of one comment –

Just because you may be unfamilar with a treatment method, or haven’t been able to find various research papers or clinical trial results on the subject, doesn’t mean a treatment doesn’t work. One must never assume.[1]

It is true that the lack of research does not mean that the treatment definitely does not work, but that lack of research does absolutely nothing to encourage poisoning our children with these quack remedies.

This person assumes too much in assuming that the snake oil he is buying selling is not dangerous.

why would anyone assume that these unproven treatments work? Just because a sympathetic appearing salesperson claims to have seen it work?

Thalidomide worked, but it had nasty little side effects. Those side effects harmed children. Thalidomide had more evidence of benefit than the quackery being sold by these frauds.

Should any of us assume this with our children?

Is castration right for your child? We do not have any evidence to demonstrate safety, but we can assure you that if you can afford it, your child needs it.

Should any of us treat our children with chemicals that have never even be shown to be safe?





[1] Nobel laureate joins anti-vaccination crowd at Autism One
Steven Salzberg
5/27/2012 @ 1:53PM


11/10 Anti-Vaccinationists Are Smarter Than Scientists

In 1977, Dr Jonas Salk who developed the first polio vaccine, testified along with other scientists, that mass inoculation against polio was the cause of most polio cases throughout the USA since 1961. (Science 4/4/77 “Abstracts”)[1]

I feel so ashamed.

I was conned by those evil vaccine pushers.

I didn’t know that Dr. Jonas Salk was an Anti-Vaccinationist.

Just kidding. Dr. Salk spent the rest of his life trying to improve the use of vaccines. In 1961 the Sabin vaccine was approved in the US. It contained a live virus. Dr. Salk and Dr. Sabin had a bit of a rivalry over which vaccine was better. The Sabin oral live virus, with the possibility of causing polio, or the Salk injected killed virus, with the requirement for periodic booster shots. In the quote, 1961 refers to the approval of the Sabin vaccine. In the first chart, the introduction of both vaccines is marked.

Dr. Salk had already been using the killed vaccine for years and was opposed to the introduction of a less safe vaccine. If there were no killed vaccine available, I doubt he would have recommended against using the Sabin vaccine. If the live vaccine were the only alternative to the illness, the only sensible choice is the live vaccine. Dr. Salk was a sensible man.

No cases of wild-type poliovirus infection have been reported in the United States since 1979. Until 1998, an average of 8-10 cases associated with the vaccine virus were reported every year. Since the institution of an all-inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) policy in the routine immunization schedule, the number of vaccine-associated cases has significantly decreased. Four cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus were identified in 2005 among unvaccinated children in an Amish community in Minnesota.[2]

So, the only people at risk for polio in the US are those who are not vaccinated. This has been the case for about 3 decades.

Here is a chart that shows what happened to the rate of infection in the US from 1951 to 1993. The first arrow indicates when the Salk vaccine was licensed. The second arrow indicates when the Sabin vaccine was licensed. Between the two, the rate of infection had already dropped by about 90%. That is just a small distance on this logarithmically calibrated chart. To try to clarify the scale of the change I included some charts that I made below from the same source.[3]

What would be nice would be a vaccine for autism. There just does not seem to be a viral cause for autism. Vaccines don’t appear to cause autism, either.

This chart above includes all of the data from 1944 to 1993. Since the data on the right side of the chart is invisible by comparison, I drew another chart, just leaving out the first 13 years of data. The red line is where the next chart begins, but with the scale adjusted so the largest number (the little red arrow) fills the chart.

Again the chart above includes the data from 1944 to 1993, except this has eliminated the 13 years from 1944 to 1956. This chart begins to show data where the red line was on the chart above. Since the data on the right is still almost invisible, I repeated the removal of data, one more time. The red line is where the next chart begins, again with the scale adjusted so the largest number (the little red arrow) fills the chart.

Again the chart above includes the data from 1944 to 1993, except this has eliminated the 18 years from 1944 to 1961. This chart begins to show data where the red line was on the chart above. Since the data on the right is just becoming visible, I repeated the removal of data, another time. The red line is where the next chart begins, again with the scale adjusted so the largest number (the little red arrow) fills the chart.

Again the chart above includes the data from 1944 to 1993, except this has eliminated the 20 years from 1944 to 1963. This chart begins to show data where the red line was on the chart above. The data on the right is still small. I repeated the removal of data, yet again. The red line is where the next chart begins, again with the scale adjusted so the largest number (the little red arrow) fills the chart. I only removed 2 more years

Again the chart above includes the data from 1944 to 1993, except this has eliminated the 30 years from 1944 to 1973. This chart begins to show data where the red line was on the chart above. Now the data on the right is clearly visible, but I repeated the removal of data, one last time. The red line is where the next chart begins, again with the scale adjusted so the largest numbers (the little red arrow) fills the chart.

Now to go back and show you the original chart. This chart includes red lines at all of the places where I readjusted the size on the chart. The chart goes from a high of over 50,000 to a low of 3. These numbers are not normally in the same ball park.

Why is this important? Why do I keep pointing out the effect of extremely large numbers?

Because people do not have a good grasp of the scale involved.

Scale is important in understanding science. Without an ability to put these numbers in perspective, we are missing out on the ability to grasp scientific concepts.

One more chart of polio. This is only paralytic polio, a subset of polio, but the numbers are similar. It goes to zero. No polio in the US. Soon, none anywhere in the world. Smallpox is still the only disease with that distinction.

Why do I use polio? Not just the ridiculous quote I started with. Polio does not exist in the US. Since the 1970’s the only cases of polio here have been vaccine related. 60 years ago, about 30,000 people in the US became sick with polio, each year. The human cost of eliminating polio from the US was high. There were people who acquired the disease from the vaccine. For those individuals, and their families, things did not seem to be better. For the families, their health actually was better, since they were not likely to be infected by that family member.

Since 1961 more people, in the US, have contracted polio from the vaccine than anything else. That is actually a success story. In 1977 when he said this, the number of cases of polio, could be counted on your fingers and toes. With some left over. If I were aware of the relative risks of getting polio from the vaccine and being protected from getting polio by the vaccine back in the 1950’s or 1960’s, of course I would get the vaccine. And I would have everyone in my family get it, too. It would be recklessly irresponsible not to. Vaccines work.


This is the link to the site. Writing the title in all capital letters is just one of the charms of the author. He writes, Vaccines were not responsible for the decline in death rates from infectious disease and offer no protection whatsoever. and I have conducted seminars on these topics throughout Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and have an open challenge to any doctor in the world to publicly debate vaccination. Why would a doctor waste time on this embarrassingly oblivious author?

^ 2 eMedicine.com
Benjamin Estrada, MD
Updated Aug 15, 2007

^ 3 MMWR Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1993
October 21, 1994/42(53);1-73
Free Full Text


Win Ben Stein’s Mind – Roger Ebert Review

While on the subject of false scientific controversies and movie stars, or at least movies, I might as well throw in a movie review.

I have not read many impressive movie reviews. The current review of eXpelled deserves attention. Previously, my favorite review was of True Romance. It was short and to the point, the review, not the movie. I do not remember who wrote the review, or the exact wording, but this was essentially the review – The best way to describe this movie is to tell you that Dennis Hopper is in it and that he plays the most normal character in the movie.

I am not likely to ever see eXpelled. I had thought about it as blog fodder, but Roger Ebert has done a much better job than I could in his review, Win Ben Stein’s Mind. I am impressed with the job that Roger Ebert does in explaining the mathematical material that is misrepresented by Creationists. Roger Ebert’s Journal is not something I had read before, but it was linked at Respectful Insolence with Best review of Expelled! ever?

The cartoon at the end is excellent. If you do not read the piece, at least go to the review, scroll down to the end, and read the cartoon.

One criticism. Ebert points to a number, 99.975%, as the percentage of scientists who accept the theory of evolution as true, but he does not give any source for this information. I do not know how this number was obtained. I do not see what might have been done to limit responses to those well versed in the science of evolution. What is a scientist and why approach this as if all scientists are equal in answer questions about evolution? While the number is impressive, it would not be proof of anything, except agreement among scientists. He does state, in the comments, that this is not proof, but just suggests support for evolution.

Mule Breath also writes about this false scientific controversy in Flat Earth 101. I suspect that he is just getting warmed up with this post.

There is much to write about this scientific religious controversy, the financial crisis, global warming, and just the inability of people to understand the scale of really large numbers.