Book: The Fiction Of Science

book cover

My book has been published! http://www.amazon.com/Fiction-Science-Rixta-Francis/dp/1519135912/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1451626030&sr=8-1 The hard copy is for sale at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Amazon.it, Amazon.fr and Amazon.de. The Kindle version is for sale at all Amazon websites.
(If you search at the Amazon websites you can best use my name and not the title, as a title search gives many thousands of hits.)

The fiction of science

Welcome to my brand new blog! Whenever I see somewhere in the news, on the Internet or in a magazine that scientists say something I immediately go to high alert. Most people blindly believe whatever scientists say, but I have learnt long ago that many things scientists say are not science at all. Their science is very often not based on facts, but on assumptions at the best and on pure fantasies at the worst. What’s worse, scientists are experts in ignoring all the things that don’t fit their theories, or that could jeopardize their well-paid jobs. And so they keep their jobs and keep producing an awful lot of fiction, that they poorly disguise as science. I will use this blog to point out all the fiction in science, mainly using topics from the headlines.

A cancer prediction test

Sometimes you really wonder what is behind certain medical research. Are these people really believing that they are doing something good? Or are they just trying to create more patients? After all the cancer screening tests that already exist scientists have now developed a test that can predict who will get lung cancer and who won’t. How this can be a good thing is unclear to me.

“which smokers and ex-smokers are most likely to get lung cancer,” There is a statistical problem here. Countries with high rates of smokers do not have substantially higher numbers of lung cancer. And loads of people with lung cancer never smoked. This makes the correlation between the two quite weak. So a test that can predict who will get lung cancer based on smoking habits can never be reliable. This is a very common problem in scientific research: if the basic assumption is incorrect, the rest of the research automatically becomes useless.870074-3x2-340x227

“the lack of a safe nationwide screening process contributes to this problem.” This assumes that screening programs are successful in saving lives, but it has been proven many times that the mantra “early detection saves lives” is incorrect. Considering how many people die way too early from the cancer treatments it would be more correct to say that early detection takes lives. But I get side-tracked.

“She said in seven cases out of 10, the prediction was correct.” That means that 1/3 of the predictions was incorrect. That sounds like a pretty useless test to me, but if this were true it would be a better test that most medical tests. “on the basis of a variety of risk factors” I would like to see the whole list and I would like to know how the results are interpreted. This kind of juggling with numbers has a lot of options for adjusting the results to the need. Considering that cancer diagnoses are not particularly reliable and considering that many cancers disappear on their own, I see a lot of problems.

“But unlike breast, cervical and bowel cancer, regular screening for lung cancer can do more harm than good.” Someone has missed the scientific facts here. Breast cancer screenings are so bad that some countries have already completely abandoned them. Bowel cancer screening only leads to a lot of unnecessary colonoscopies, a dangerous procedure. And though pap smears had some value, they are replaced now by HPV test, the most useless test of all. Add to that the high numbers of false positives and all cancer screenings do a lot more harm than good.

“Dr Weber said the tool could be used in the future to determine which heavy smokers” Dr. Weber, can you first prove to me that smoking actually causes lung cancer? As I stated before, lung cancerthe correlation is quite weak, so you will have to give me something that explains this. Not “must be” science, but facts. Without that your research is completely useless, no matter the outcomes.

“test the effectiveness of CT scan screening among high-smokers identified by the algorithm.” CT scans cause cancer, so this sounds like a bad idea. Wouldn’t it be likely that the screening causes the cancer, just like with mammograms? Oncology is full of cancer causing treatments and screenings and I don’t think there is really a need to add any more.

Dr. Fong states one more time that other cancer screenings are so successful, showing that the has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. The person who leads a trial doesn’t know what cancer is, what causes it, how dangerous and useless screenings are and that the number of people who die from cancer keeps increasing. Why should we take one word seriously of anything he says? This has nothing to do with science. It’s just a fanciful way to keep some researchers in a job.

Coeliac disease and viruses

Medical researchers are completely obsessed with viruses. Every disease needs to be explained by a virus. And as viruses are everywhere you can always find one to blame if you search long enough. Now they say that coeliac disease might be triggered by a reovirus.  I had never heard of reoviruses before, but new categories are invented all the time.

“New research suggests an infection with a common strain of reovirus, which is often symptomless, could be behind why some people’s immune systems react to gluten” The research suggest that it could be. Forgive me that I’m not impressed. Considering that viruses have never been proven to cause any disease, not even flu or measles, blaming them for gluten intolerance is at best a stretch.wheat

“found mice engineered to be genetically susceptible to gluten intolerance”. Genetically engineered mice get sick easier. Why am I not surprised? Nobody knows what genes are or how they work, so messing with them will cause disease. You don’t need to have a degree in science to understand that. “were infected with the reovirus strain T1L ” Wait a moment here. I would like to know how the  mice were infected, considering that viruses are not infectious. Were they injected with something? Did they sniff something that was infected? Did they eat infected food? These things make a huge difference.

“The virus in question is so harmless that people often don’t even realise they have been infected” I find the story of the undetected infection fascinating. How would you know you had this undetected infection? I assume they do an antibody test, which are known to be useless. It’s so annoying that antibodies have nothing to do with immunity or infection. It badly disrupts research involving germs. But as a scientist you can choose to ignore scientific facts and go on with your fantasies.

“But if the first exposure to a food with gluten occurs during a reovirus infection” Professor Dermody, I have a question here. What if that first exposure is at eight weeks old, because there are both traces of gluten and reoviruses in a vaccine? Would that be a good explanation for coeliac disease? Or maybe you don’t know that some vaccines contain gluten? Oops.

“research was a “big leap” in understanding how coeliac disease can develop.” Dr. Tye-Din, during the last few decades we have seen an explosion of auto-immune diseases. Don’t you think there could be a common cause? Or would it be more likely that every one of those have a different cause? If you repeatedly inject babies with cells from other humans, wouldn’t that be a good explanation for auto-immune diseases? I’m not a scientist, but this sounds a lot more likely than a virus that has been around forever.

celiac“a reovirus vaccine could be developed for at-risk children”. And there we get the explanation for this particularly bad quality research. One reason for the obsession with germs is the quickly expanding and highly profitable vaccine market. There are vaccines in development against asthma, eczema, diabetes, epilepsy and a variety of other auto-immune diseases. Considering that vaccines are in most cases the direct cause of the diseases this is a particularly nice model for both  researchers and pharmaceutical industry. But it has nothing to do with science.

“based on genetic predisposition” And how exactly would this genetic predisposition be determined? So far there is no vaccine on the market that takes predispostion into consideration and if there would be a vaccine against auto-immune diseases that would also be pushed onto everyone. There is no reason to expect something else. There is no money in a vaccine for a small group.
“It could help unlock the triggers for other food allergies and autoimmune diseases.” I wonder how difficult it is to do research with an elephant in your lab. Overstimulating the immune systems of babies is a highly likely cause of auto-immunity. Injecting cells of other humans is another one. That’s two gigantic elephants. But dr. Tye-Din prefers to ingore both of them.

The question is not where auto-immune diseases come from. That has been well-established. The big question is why there are still people who do not have auto-immune diseases. That is so hard to explain that I wonder if many vaccines made in China might actually only contain water. Right now this seems the most scientific explanation.

Most scientific research never gets published. This study was published, which is a strong indication about the scientific level of medical research. All this stuff belongs in the  garbage bin. It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. Or the MB’s on a computer.

Bacteria and stomach ulcers

A scientist thinks he can eradicate Heliobacter pylori bacteria, which are blamed for stomach ulcers. But he makes a variety of mistakes. The biggest one is to blame bacteria for diseases, instead of seeing them as friends with an important job. The importance of bacteria has been known for a long time, but this knowledge has seemed to have disappeared since scientists became obsessed with bacterial diseases.

“the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) which lives in around 50 per cent of humans.” Here’s the first indication that the bacteria are not responsible for the ulcers. Not a lot of people get stomach ulcers, but 50% of the people have the bacteria. So blaming the bacteria is clearly incorrect. At best the bacteria play a role in the disease, but that’s it. You don’t need to have a degree in science to see this.8415688-4x3-340x255

“have identified how the bacteria produces a waxy shield which protects it from stomach acid” And why do you think the bacteria do this? Obviously prof.  Marshall thinks that bacteria are just there to cause us trouble. It hasn’t occured to him that these bacteria might play an important role and need to protect themselves so that they can do their work. This is called tunnel vision, a common phenomenon among scientists. Ignore everything that doesn’t suit you.

“development of treatments to stop the bacteria surviving in the stomach,” And why, professor Marshall, do you think this will be a good idea? Do you think that these bacteria have evolved with the one and only goal to cause stomach ulcers in humans? Or could it possibly be that we need these bacteria badly? Eradicating them sounds like a recipe for disaster.

“we could screen thousands of different natural products that might inhibit the stickiness of the bacteria,” Natural products? Since when do scientists look for natural products? And why would anything that exists in nature stop bacteria from doing an important job? Nature is balance and nature knows that it can’t do without bacteria. Scientists might be stupid, but nature is not.

“H. pylori causes ulcers in around 10 per cent of people” So 90% of the people with the bacteria do not get ulcers. It would make an awful lot of sense to focus the research on the 90%, instead of on the 10%. Find out why those 90% live in perfect harmony with their bacteria.8414628-3x2-340x227

“H. pylori is classified as a class 1 carcinogen in Australia,” I won’t ask for the research that has led to this classification. It’s just too absurd to even talk about. Bacteria are as old as the world. Cancer is a new disease, that was almost non-existent 200 years ago. The science behind cancer-causing germs is worse than quackery. It’s complete fiction without a shred of science or even common sense.

And for this people get a Nobel prize. But that’s not surprising. Loads of medical Nobel prizes have been awarded for things that later proved to be completely wrong and caused a lot of damage to patients. Will anyone ever learn from the blunders from the past? Not as long as there is a lot of money for medical research, I’m afraid.

Eczema and flu shots

A new study suggests that flu shots might not be as effective in people with eczema. There are multiple things wrong with the title of this article. First of all, flu shots are 100% ineffective in everyone, as I explained in this blog. So how can something that is not effective be less effective? Another serious problem is that people with eczema shouldn’t be vaccinated to start with. For a long time it was the official guideline that children with eczema should never get vaccinated again. This guideline disappeared when so many children got eczema that the whole vaccination scheme would have fallen apart.

Let’s look at the study.  “The problem seems to lie” and “that seems to dampen”. That doesn’t sound very convincing. It’s more like the researchers say “we don’t know, but we make some guesses”. With “immune response” they mean the development of antibodies. I’m sure baby eczema 1the researchers know that antibodies have nothing to do with immunity, but they talk about immune response anyway. Never let the truth ruin your fancy studies.

“Leung’s team believes”. They believe? I thought we were talking science, not religion. “are likely to get the most protection”. That sounds again like wishful thinking that’s not based on any kind of fact.

“compared with 47 percent of those who received an injection into the muscle”. 47% sounds like a very poor vaccine, especially considering that many people are forced to get this vaccine for work “to protect others”. Or to go to school. How is that possible with a vaccine that doesn’t work more than half of the time?

“The researchers said it’s not yet clear” Let me guess: they need to do more research for this. ” Staph bacteria also produce toxins that typically inhibit the activity of certain immune-system cells” It would be interesting to find out why this happens, considering that those bacteria are there for a reason. Eczema is an auto-immune condition, so it might make sense that certain immune-system cells are not too active then. If they would work normally the eczema would likely be a lot worse. But I suppose this makes way too much sense. And finding the cause of problems is usually not very interesting, as it could cause prevention and if people wouldn’t get sick the researchers would be out of work. So it’s better to give a flu shot, which is known to cause auto-immune diseases.

“He also believes the study highlights why children with eczema, especially, should get the flu shot.” Wow. Talk about irresponsible. As I stated above, for a long time the guideline was that children with eczema should never ever get vaccinated again. eczema adultDr. Krilov seems to have forgotten that, or more likely he simply ignores it. “potential immune weakness in children with eczema”. Now I’m getting confused. Immuno-compromised people cannot be vaccinated, which is the reason why everyone else should get vaccinated. But now at once children with a weak immune system should be the first to get vaccinated. Get your stories straight, doctor. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

Reality is simple. Flu shots don’t work and contain a large amount of highly toxic substances. The latter is a known fact and not open for discussion. At the end of the article it says “more information”. I would like to know who has funded this study. It sounds very much like a study-on-demand, sponsored by the manufacturers of flu shots. Why else would any researcher produce this kind of poor quality fiction?

Gastric banding for diabetes

Most medical research is only done to support a disastrous medical system and it’s not so strange that most of that research doesn’t make much sense. But sometimes studies are done to just push treatments, which are known to be useless, but highly profitable. This study shows that gastric banding should be done on a lot of more people who have overweight or type 2 diabetes. This is not because gastric banding has been shown to be so useful. It has shown to be almost completely useless. Nevertheless surgeons push constantly for more funding to operate on more people. Obviously that doesn’t work well enough and they need a study to support their efforts.

“study found the procedure had major benefits to moderately overweight people with type-two diabetes.” This is a very large group of people, so imagine how many surgeries you can do if you convince these people that a permanently low-calorie diet will help them. For that’s what gastric banding is: an invasive way to stick with a low-calorie diet. 6876736-3x2-340x227Anyone who has done weight loss diets knows that these diets don’t work at the long term. So there is no reason whatsoever to think that at once this will be different when a surgeon has messed with your stomach. The only difference is that it’s harder to cheat. So if low-calorie diets don’t cure diabetes, neither will gastric banding surgery. It’s not so hard to see.

“involving 45 people” That’s hardly enough to say anything about the results of the study. “another that only received medical care.” I would really like to know what “medical care” means. It’s not like doctors know anything about weight loss, the causes of weight gain and the causes of diabetes. Many doctors tell their patients to eat less and that’s it. The patients usually know a lot more about diets and weight loss than the doctor. So this medical care doesn’t seem to mean much.

“Both groups also received help with exercise and healthy eating.” It has been known for a long time that exercise makes you fit, but has very little influence on your weight. Exercise only works (and only in some people) when you spend several hours in the gym, every day, for the rest of your life. Not a lot of people do that. And of course you should resist the natural urge to make up for the lost calories with extra food. Then the “healthy eating” part. It doesn’t say what they mean with this. But considering the advice most dieticians provide “healthy eating” in this study probably meant to eat a lot of grains and stay away from natural fats. Maybe the people were even advised to eat little fat, as the absurd story that “fat makes fat” is still going strong. But we don’t know what was said.

“average of 12.2 per cent of their body weight, compared with 1.8 per cent in the medical care-only group.” Percentages sound so good, but we don’t know much overweight these people were. The tables that are used to determine whether someone is overweight are completely absurd. So it’s quite likely that these people were not more than 10kg overweight, on an average. That word “average” is another red flag. Maybe one person was highly determined and lost a lot of weight, while others didn’t lose any weight. Before advising invasive surgery doctors should first determine which patient will likely lose a lot of weight. But of course that’s not done. That is the reason why many people after gastric banding surgery don’t lose any weight at all. Most of these people lose some weight, but few lose the amount of weight they had hoped for. But you don’t read about these people in the magazines and you don’t see them on television. You only read about the “success stories” (which usually appear later to be not successful at all.)images-duckduckgo-com

“quarter of the gastric band group showed diabetes remission at five years” That means that for 3/4 of the patients it didn’t work. It’s amazing how this can be presented as a good result. It’s a very bad result. And it’s not even difficult to explain. When you get invasive surgery you are more likely to pay more attention to what you eat than if you only get advise and you can do what you want. When cheating is not possible you are more likely to have some effect. But it’s still a very poor result.

“whereas those involved in this study had a BMI of 25-30” A BMI of 25 is officially not even considered overweight! That means that these people only had to lose 5-10 kg to reach those 12% of lost weight. Every dieter knows that that’s simple. So my question is why these people had diabetes. It was obviously not caused by their weight. It’s highly questionable anyway whether overweight causes diabetes. It’s more like that that whatever causes the overweight also causes the diabetes. A diet free of junk food often doesn’t solve the weight problem, but is likely to cure the diabetes.

“at the moment the most effective strategy for weight loss was surgery.” So invasive surgery with a 75% failure rate is considered effective? Then you can wonder how bad other types of surgeries are. But there is a much bigger problem. The study’s cut-off point seems to be at five years. That’s not a coincidence. Whatever method people use to lose a lot of weight, after five years it usually starts to come back, no matter what you do. Yes, some people can keep off their weight for much longer, but they are a small minority. Happy stories about weight loss usually become sad stories after ten years, when all the weight is back in spite of exercise and a junk-free diet. There is simply a lot more to the weight problem than just calories. If calories were the only thing that mattered then there would be many successful weight loss diets. But I still need to find the diet that is highly effective in the majority of the people who follow it.

“I think this study contributes to a very large and very compelling field of research” Of course, dr. Wentworth, this is a large field, because there are a lot of overweight people and lot of diabetes patients. images-duckduckgo-comThat doesn’t mean that your study has any quality whatsoever. It just means that this is a very profitable medical field.

“gastric band surgery and aftercare costs about $13,910 per patient” I don’t know how they calculate that. It seems a bit low. “savings made from the improvements to long-term quality of life” Now you are lying, doctor. For you admitted yourself that there is only an effect in 25% of the patients. That means you need to operate on four people to get the savings for one. Then at once it only costs money and it reduces the quality of life for many people. Oops!

There is just one conclusion possible: this study is a fraud and the results are intentionally described as good, when the researchers know very well that the results are very bad. It’s not even hard to see the flaws. Gastric banding should be forbidden, as it’s too dangerous and only benefits a tiny percentage of the patients.

The fight against superbugs

Australian scientists have found something that is said to be a huge step forward in the fight against superbugs. Let’s see what they mean with that.

Lesson one in analysing scientific studies is to ignore all the science speak and find out what is really said. So let’s ignore the weird name of the protein. It sounds impressive, but it’s not. “causes multi-drug resistance by masking bacteria from both the human immune system” Huh? Since when can’t the immune system handle bacteria? Most of us have MRSA bacteria on our skin. If our immune system couldn’t handle that we would all die from infection with the first minor cut.  “and important antibiotics”. There we get a piece of information. Superbugs are simply bugs that don’t respond very well to conventional antibiotics. That’s all. There is nothing with these bacteria that gives them super powers or so.

“multi-drug resistant bacteria are responsible for approximately 700,000 deaths a year.” Well, no. People get infections with these bacteria all the time, but most don’t die from them. 8270516-3x2-340x227Many people will never even know they have an infection, which makes you wonder what actually an infection is. There are all kinds of reasons why these 700,000 people couldn’t handle the bacteria. But nobody dies from lack of antibiotics. “The World Health Organisation has predicted this figure could rise to 10 million by 2050.” They could be correct, considering that there are not a lot of people left who have properly functioning immune systems. That has nothing to do with lack of antibiotics, but with lack of a variety of other things that are necessary to stay healthy.

“the breakthrough was particularly important” Here is finally the “breakthrough”, the word I was waiting for. It’s amazing how many breakthrough research is done in the medical field and how the actual results are completely lacking. I don’t see any reason to believe that this time it will be any different. “prevent superbugs hiding from medication.” Outsmarted by bacteria. It’s sad.

“Professor Vrielink said genes containing the colistan-resistant protein” I don’t know if the professor has really said this or that the journalist is blundering. A gene is a complex molecule. A protein is a completely different type of complex molecule. A gene cannot contain a protein. Genes make proteins. Somehow, for nobody has any idea how.

“I would consider antibacterial resistance to be one of our largest public health threats.” Professor Vrielink, either you are completely ignorant, or you are lying. The largest public health threat are doctors and they have been for a long time. Oops!

caution-super-bug“technique called X-ray crystallography” It sounds so intelligent, so technical and so scientific. Unfortunately none of those fancy techniques and expensive equipment ever leads to cures or good treatments and nobody gets any healthier because of it. That’s why I say that it’s best to ignore the science speak.

“drives your further research to try and find a therapeutic treatment.” And there we get the truth. This “breakthrough” doesn’t mean anything. It’s just some fun for the researchers and now they are going to try to find a new drug that might kill fewer people than it helps. Usually you don’t hear again about such “breakthrough” research.

And why all this trouble? There is a variety of natural antibiotics available that are remarkably effective. And they are safe as well (though some should better not be used by pregnant women and little children). And two more advantages: they are cheap and you don’t need to see a doctor to get them. And these treatments don’t cause resistance. So why bother with fancy, expensive research? If I would ask prof. Vrielink this question she would no doubt say that “there is no proof that these natural antibiotics work”. Somehow I don’t think that matters to people who are very sick. As long as they recover that’s all they care about. And that doesn’t happen with fancy research or expensive equipment.

How extreme is the weather?

We have a hot summer in parts of Australia and you can wait for the climate scientists to start about their beloved topic and their livelyhood. The heatwaves are attributed to climate change and “extreme weather becomes the new norm“. But how extreme was it really? Well, parts of Australia indeed had very hot weather. Other areas had not so hot weather. And some areas were actually very cold. So what weather are we talking about? Maybe the 15 degrees in Melbourne was pretty extreme, or maybe it’s quite common. I don’t live there, so I don’t know the details. But extremely cold in summer doesn’t seem to be the topic of discussion. It’s way too inconvenient to talk about among climate scientists, who habitually ignore everything that doesn’t suit them.

5068010-3x2-340x227“some of the best brains in the country are fed up.” Best brains? Let’s say that the person who wrote this exaggerated. If you believe every piece of nonsense you are told you don’t have a good brain, for it doesn’t get enough exercise. “And global warming was never far from the guests’ lips.” Really? A conference for climate scientist has not much else to talk about than climate change. It’s the only thing they do. It might be more useful if they would talk about tennis or dogs, but that’s not likely. It does show immediately that such conferences are useless. These people just tell each other how fantastic they are, how much they know and how stupid people are who don’t believe them.

“while we continue to do the science as best we can,” I fear that indeed you are doing science as best as you can. But the problem is that your best is not very good. “There are people who don’t think in scientific terms”. Well, maybe they use common sense. And if science contradicts common sense and basic observations, guess which one is right. Climate science habitually contradicts common sense and basic observations. But that is something that doesn’t bother the scientists. They are just bothered that people don’t listen to them anymore. “don’t want to accept the basic laws of nature”. Grin, dr. Glikson, you are funny. You suggest that you have any idea what causes weather? Then I suggest you start teaching meteorologists how to forecast tomorrow’s weather. As long as that’s very difficult you better don’t start about the weathter forecast for 2030. Nobody knows what causes certain types of weather. “have some vested interest” I’m not sure if this comment is hilarious or pathetic. My vested interest is obviously to get five more people to read my blog. On the other hand, your vested interest is your prestigious and no doubt well paid job. Guess who is biased?

“All-time records were set over the weekend in several locations” Everyone who has studied the topic a bit knows that such records have no scientific meaning whatsoever. Even the statistical value is low, as the location of measuring now is not the same as the location 100, 50, 30 or even ten years ago. A large number of factors increase the measured temperatures and it’s not remotely possible to reliably correct for those influences.

“searing temperatures were the new norm”. Mr. Braganza, which searing temperatures are you talking about? The icy cold in Melbourne, or the cold December in Perth? Or are you just talking about the few places that suffered a 1:25 years heatwave? Also were I live we actually had a pretty cool November and December. Sorry, inconvenient fact, I suppose. “it’s a record-breaking heatwave” I have lived in Australia for 12 years now and this was the first summer that it was this hot. Before that I experienced a lot of pretty cold summers in Europe. So where are all those record-breaking heatwaves?

“wettest February since 1955, and the second wettest from records back to 1900.” So what? What does it mean that one area of this huge land mass is very wet? In my area it wasn’t very wet or very dry. How is average rainfall explained by climate change?8264298-3x2-700x467

“the concept of a new geological era dominated by the influence of humans” I’m getting a headache now. Geology? What on earth (pun intended) has geology to do with climate? “We are moving into this era when humans are the major force on the planet” Well, we are with more than 7 billion of humans, so that’s to be expected. But again, what does this have to do with climate? The leaps these people make are so big that a kangaroo can learn from it.

If you need a geologist to make your case for climate change, then you are in a very sad state. Obviously climate scientists are so tired of their useless job that they couldn’t find anyone to say something intelligent at this conference. Well, that’s to be expected. These people know the hoax is pretty much over, but they fear for their jobs. So they huddle together telling each other how fantastic they are. Let them enjoy it. I would rather deal with 45 degrees in our tiny cottage than spending a few hours at such a conference. The first I survive, the second I probably wouldn’t. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t invited anyway.)