Sunday January 31, 2010 5:15 pm Leave a comment
a fine end to the day. G’night.
from Harry Stottle – Refugee from the Stumbleupon Blogicide
Sunday January 31, 2010 4:50 pm Leave a comment
thanks to Darque for pointing me at this one (in response to my comment on the Homeopathy story)
’twas about thirty years ago. Nowhere near as wittily as Tim, but I’ve been there, at exactly the same sort of dinner party with exactly the same sort of airheads and an even stronger instruction from the party host to button it.
But 5 Daily Mail reading couples ganged up on me and insisted on probing my anarchism. I did nothing but calmly answer dozens of their questions for about 2 hours. Was fascinating how the sexes split. All the guys gradually grokked what I was saying and, not wanting to find themselves arguing with their wives and girlfriends, one by one, left the room. It ended about half an hour later, when one of the remaining girls screamed (literally) that I was ramming my philosophy down their throats. The host’s found her a comfortable padded cell somewhere and they all left us alone…
Sunday January 31, 2010 7:57 am Leave a comment
I’ve had to become something of an expert in this field as I have a tendency to gout which – I eventually figured out – was due to my pursuit of what I thought was a healthy diet. Low fat, low carbs, good oils, roughage, and, what turned out to be the culprits, too much high quality protein AND too many whole grains (- including my favourite: Porridge. And no, you don’t see the vegans warning you about that danger!) which do indeed acidify the blood.
However, although the general guidance provided here is reasonably accurate, it falls into the same trap that it warns you about when it tells you that the advisory sources you can find an “are not comprehensive nor are they in agreement.”
For example Citrus fruits are acidic, but they turn alkaline when digested. The same is true for tomatoes. Wrong. Or rather, wrong for some people. Tomatoes actually increase acidity in some people and reduce it in others. This seems to be genetically determined but no one has yet tracked down which genes matter. In the absence of that information the only way to find out the effect on your own body is – literally – “suck it and see”. i.e. using the ph strips recommended (I personally use these if anyone gives a damn) and having established your baseline ph, add a fixed quantity of tomatoes to your diet for a few days and measure the effect on your baseline. If it goes up that’s good news, they’re alkalising your blood. If it goes down, then limit consumption because, for you, they’re an acidifier.
The other problematic advice is on the question of what constitutes the “ideal” ph level and when to measure it. Again the sources disagree, quite seriously. I have found doctors raving against the advice to alkalise and warning that if your morning urine ph level is above 6.5, you’re not digesting your food properly. Others argue that if it’s below 7, you’re in imminent danger of acidosis. Both are bollocks. Like the tomato problem, what will be good for one will be bad for another and you have to find what works best for you. The bad news is that there ain’t no quick and easy path to that solution. It’s taken me about 9 years to gain control of my ph balance in a consistent manner and even now it is easy to become complacent. For example, having fended off the gout attacks for a couple of years, I allowed too much red meat back into my diet last May and was rewarded with a nasty attack just in time for the annual conference I attend in Brighton. Brilliant timing. Only myself to blame.
Sunday January 31, 2010 4:58 am Leave a comment
and isn’t it fascinating how many of the same issues arise in this case? Do you want to be told “the truth” (as best as we can currently determine it) or “what you need to know”?
Sunday January 31, 2010 4:02 am Leave a comment
[IF YOU DON’T SEE PARAGRAPHS BELOW, BLAME STUMBLEUPON FOR TAKING FOREVER TO REINSTATE PARAGRAPH FORMATTING. MEANWHILE GO TO tinyurl.com/suform AND INSTALL DIRTBAG’S STUMBLE REVIEW FORMATTING TOOL.][to see any link/s, you have to view this comment on my own page]
whenever Homeopathy is discussed, you can guarantee that all parties will continue the tradition of asking the wrong question.
The easy question is “Does it work better than a placebo?” The answer is no and that’s been demonstrated by hundreds of reputable studies. NO reputable studies have ever answered that question differently.
However, the problem is that placebos DO work – occasionally – and, on intractable medical conditions they can be almost as effective as our best medicines. Or, to put that the right way round, there are some officially approved medicines whose performance is no better than Placebo (or Homeopathy).
In other words there are some medical situations where the best we can provide for the patient is no more than a Placebo. And the “Right Question” is – in such circumstances, when nothing better is available – “Can we justify lying to the patient?” – in order to give them the small extra chance of benefit which such lies can provide.
It is a profound ethical problem which doesn’t stop within Medicine. If your answer is a comfortable “Yes”, then you are also supporting the same logic which lies at the heart of a major strand of Authoritarian “philosophy” which can be traced back to Plato, though it peaked with Machiavelli and, latterly with Leo Strauss – the mind behind the likes of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfovitz and the rest of the American Neocons.
They too believe that you should tell the patient/population what is “best for them” regardless of whether it is “the truth”. The Neocons are happy to take this logic to its conclusion and “invent truths” which they hope will persuade the population to adopt or tolerate their policies.
The ethical question is simple: “Do the Ends Ever Justify The Means?” Tony Blair obviously thinks so. The fact that Iraq is now rid of Saddam Hussein and, after a bloody massacre of around half a million people is at last showing signs of becoming a normal violent middle eastern state is – in his mind – enough to justify his support for an illegal invasion on the basis of lies told, at the time, about the extent of the threat posed by the Iraqi dictator. Those lies were necessary for our benefit. Just like the lies which must accompany the medical administration of a Placebo.
Clearly I oppose the political deceit and it’s patronising self justification that the elite somehow know better than I do what is good for me. What I can’t do, though, is justify “forcing the truth” on to someone dying of cancer that there is nothing more we can do for them, if the one thing that might work for them is “faith” (the same reason we could never “ban” religion – it “works” for some people). So how do we square this circle?
The only answer I’ve so far come up with is “informed consent”. Which implies that, at some stage in your late teens or whenever you feel ready to grapple with it, you place on record your preference either to be given the unvarnished truth or to permit the medical authorities to feed you whatever they think is in your best interests. You could even nominate close and trusted friends, family or lawyers whom the authorities could approach for consultation on really serious issues (like whether to give a placebo cancer treatment in otherwise terminal cases). This is similar to the “Living Will” concept and, like a living will, can be changed by the person at any time.
That works for medicine. Might even work for politics – if ever you can be persuaded to trust a politician as much as you are prepared to trust a doctor. Certainly won’t be my choice!
Saturday January 30, 2010 3:45 am Leave a comment