MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

conspiracy

‘The Cult of Chiropractic’ is the title of a video that has just been released. I think it is very good and, if you are interested in the subject at all, I recommend you have a look. You can watch it here:

The Cult of Chiropractic : r/h3h3productions (reddit.com)

The video is not just well-done, it also is fun and informative. I learned a few things from it that I did not yet know. It also brings Simon Singh and myself together after we had not met for several years; and that is always a pleasure!

But back to ‘The Cult of Chiropractic’ and the question whether this assumption is true. Some time ago, I published a post about so-called alternative medicine and cultism. I listed a few questions we should ask ourselves to determine whether chiropractic is a cult. Let me adapt them slightly:

  1. Is chiropractic based on dogma? The answer is yes – think, for instance, of the assumptions that subluxations exist.
  2. Does chiropractic demand acceptance of its dogma or doctrine as truth? For straight chiropractors, the answer is yes.
  3. Is the dogma set forth by a single guru or promulgator? Yes, DD Palmer.
  4. Is chiropractic supposed to cure all ills? For many chiros, the answer is yes.
  5. Is belief used by chiropractors as a substitute for evidence? Yes.
  6. Do chiropractors determine their patients’ lifestyle? Yes.
  7. Do chiros exploit their patients financially? Yes.
  8. Does chiropractors impose rigid rules and regulations? Yes.
  9. Do chiros practice deception? Yes.
  10. Do chiropractors have their own sources of information/propaganda? Yes.
  11. Do chiros cultivate their own lingo? Yes.
  12. Do chiros discourage or inhibit critical thinking? Yes.
  13. Are questions about the values of chiropractic discouraged or forbidden? Yes.
  14. Do the proponents of chiropractic reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words? Yes
  15. Do chiros assume that health problems are the result of not adhering to the dogma? Yes.
  16. Do chiros instill fear into members who consider leaving? Yes.
  17. Do chiros depict conventional medicine as ineffective or harmful? Yes.
  18. Do chiros ask others to recruit new members to their cult? Yes.

Based on these 18 questions, I conclude that chiropractic is indeed a cult. What about you? Even if you disagree, please have a look at the excellent  video, ‘THE CULT OF CHIROPRACTIC’.

Conspiracy beliefs (CBs) can have substantial consequences on health behaviours by influencing both conventional and non-conventional medicine uptake. They can target powerful groups (i.e. upward CBs) or powerless groups (i.e. downward CBs). Considering their repercussions in oncology, it appears useful to understand how CBs are related to the intentions to use conventional and so-called alternative medicines (SCAM), defined as “medical products and practices that are not part of standard medical care” including practices
such as mind–body therapies, botanicals, energy healing or naturopathic medicine.

This paper includes two pre-registered online correlational studies on a general French population (Study 1 N = 248, recruited on social media Mage = 40.07, SDage = 14.78; 205 women, 41 men and 2 non-binaries; Study 2 N = 313, recruited on social media and Prolific, Mage = 28.91, SDage = 9.60; 154 women, 149 men and 10 non-binaries). the researchers investigated the links between generic and chemotherapy-related CBs and intentions to use conventional or SCAMs. Study 2 consisted of a conceptual replication of Study 1, considering the orientation of CBs.

Generic CBs and chemotherapy-related CBs appear strongly and positively correlated, negatively correlated with intentions to take conventional medicine and positively with intentions to take SCAM. The link between generic CBs and medication intention is fully mediated by chemotherapy-related CBs. When distinguished, upward CBs are a stronger predictor of chemotherapy-related CBs than downward CBs.

The authors concluded that the findings suggest that intentions to use medicine are strongly associated with CBs. This has several important implications for further research and practice, notably on the presence and effects of CBs on medication behaviours in cancer patients.

Sadly, the influence of CBs is not confined to the field of oncology but applies across all diseases and conditions. We have seen and discussed these issues in several previous posts, e.g.:

The most impressive evidence, however, is regularly being provided by some of the people who post comments on this blog. Collectively, this evidence has prompted me to postulate that SCAM itself can be seen as a consiracy theory.

I should warn you, this is a somewhat unusual post.
Yesterday, I had a debate with someone in the comments section of a 10 year old post about Reiki. First I thought it might be interesting, then I realized that it was not a debate at all but that I was entertaining a troll. I usually stop at that point – yet, in this case, I carried on to see when he [I assume it was a male person] would stop.
The amazing thing was, he never did!
He kept on going and going and going. Eventually, I cut him off by no longer posting his attempts to provoke me. After that plenty more of his comments arrived which I then deleted.
Despite the fact that the exchange is only mildly amusing, I thought I copy the last bits of it. What comes out quite clearly, I hope, is the way a troll tries to gradually rope you in. Perhaps it prevents someone to fall victim of a troll.
It all started with me stating: “What will I call a billion people who believe in something absurd? I WOULD CALL THEM SERIOUSLY MISLED AND PERHAPS EVEN STUPID”. At first, others were involved but by the 24th it was between me and the troll.

Here we go, enjoy!

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Saturday 14 January 2023 at 22:34 (Edit)

More than a billion humans know and believe that the cow is “Kamadhenu” or God. One can be called a stupid, and two can be called a moron, but what will call you when a billion people believe in something? How about calling all the Indians that believe in the cow as god “Arrogant”? Will that cut it?
I might be arrogant, and i am ok with it. But you are dishonest and contradictory. I would rather be with an arrogant person than a dishonest, ridiculous, or contradicing person. Because I know the dishonest, ridiculous, and contradicting person will cause me more harm than this so-called “arrogant” person. There, I sent you away. Go home and come back tomorrow with a better argument that sounds morally good!

what will I call a billion people who believe in something absurd?
I WOULD CALL THEM SERIOUSLY MISLED AND PERHAPS EVEN STUPID

More than a billion humans know and believe that the cow is “Kamadhenu” or God.

To more than 6 billion people (i.e. rest of the world), cow is NOT god. In fact, a lot of them want to see it served on a plate. If we were to take a vote w.r.t cow’s godliness, it looses sorely.

You are not arrogant, you are plain stupid.

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 13:48 (Edit)

The arrogancy is not mine, it is the Westerners. I was actually supporting the statement that Reiki is not plausible by giving an example from India in which Hindus (there is a billion of them) “know” that the cow is a god. Does it mean that the cow is a god? You folks are very arrogant and no body can save you. Your civilization will definitely be the first one to be doomed. As for the others are concerned, it becomes a blessing that they do not have a civilization

Even at the time of death healing can help the dying person to ease the transition from this world to the next. Should one not be well versed in spiritual matters it can come as a bit of a shock to realise that one is no longer in a physical body.

Death, of the body, is not the end. Life goes on in another dimension. The ´dead´ miss us as much as we miss them. Imagine two big bubbles. You are in one and your loved one is in the other. You cannot touch each other and the bubbles are floating off further and further in different directions. There are a couple of ways in which you can communicate. You can take up telepathy or you can see a medium.

— Ralph Maver
[http://www.reikiwithralph.com/more-about-ralph-maver/]

Marvellous!

Only one other dimension? So we become straight lines with ni width or thickness?

Oh, in that dimension, thickness knows no bounds.

So it would appear!

@Ralph William Maver

You are an arrogant person.

Are you certain that you selected the right personal pronoun in this sentence?

I know that Reiki works.

Ah, you must be one of those persons who spent $4000 on a Reiki Level 4 Master Course (or whatever it is called), and are now trying their very best to protect and possibly recoup their investment.

You are one of those people who challenge what they don’t understand.

Sorry to tell you, but you are the one who fails to understand that ‘Reiki’ and all that other bogus ‘energy medicine’ stuff is just a con trick, a way to separate gullible people from their money.

Then again, having taken a look around your Web site, it may well be that you have been the one who was conned first, and are in turn now trying to trick other people – although not very successfully, by the looks of it. I almost feel sorry for you.

My bit of advice: go find another, more honest occupation. This reiki stuff doesn’t work for you. And oh, get a better Web designer.

I don’t have a soul.

Unless we count the Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and all albums…

Next?

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 13:54 (Edit)

I said more than a billion people believe that the cow is god, and instead of reading the rest of the statement, you people, including Edzrad, jumped on me and started calling me names, if only you read the rest of my statement, you would know that I don’t believe in Reiki. But then you revealed your true colours. Truth always goes in hand with compassion, which I guess you do not have. You failed to recognize the racism in your own comment by calling 1 billion people (Hindus) stupid. It is not the stupid people that are destroying the world, but cruelty is spread by the in-compassionate fools. Now go, respond by doing a line-by-line grammar check of my statement. If civilization falls, yours will be the first to fall.

Edzrad, jumped on me and started calling me names”
TEMPTING! BUT I DIDN’T
Now try to spell my name correctly, if you don’t mind.

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 15:45 (Edit)

Your life and existence must be in this thread, so pathetic.

I intentionally misspelt your name expecting to reveal the “ego” component in your statements.
Do you really think a misspelling in your name is so significant? No wonder your country is a philosophical mess, caught in between two ideologies. My concern is that people with your attitude are destroying the rest of the world, like that guy in 1853, American Commodore Matthew Perry who forcefully opened Japan for trade. Not only are you arrogant, but you are also blind. May demise to your civilization come soon.

“Do you really think a misspelling in your name is so significant?”
No, and I did not claim it to be.

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:11 (Edit)

I am really not interested in this conversation anymore, yes, it does seem that you are ‘awfully triggered’ and conversing with me. because the replies are almost an instantaneous basis, like the insecure Donald Trump tweeting. “…Now try to spell my name correctly, if you don’t mind.” These are your words, and you now say that you really did not mean it. I am just getting tired as if I am giving directions to a blind and deaf person. I just came to your thread because as a massage therapy student, 8 years ago, I was having an argument with my students and lecturer that non-evidence based therapies should not be promoted aggressively, but with a note and disclaimer because the public are being taken advantage by scamsters providing sham treatment. Now all those things are lost but we are now in a different territory, I was giving the one million Hindu and cow example to demonstrate that sometimes things does not matter, but it has to be handled more in a human way. It seems that you do not have that big heart or genroisty, but instead it seems that you keep this thread live just for fun. And the more time passes, the more small you become in your replies, I am not sure maybe you died and it is your grandson that is maintaining this blog, who knows? Go to hell, do whatever you want. If you want a closure, please block me.

“I am really not interested in this conversation anymore”
By contrast, I never was!
It is you who foisted it on me.

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:19 (Edit)

Edzard on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:15
“I am really not interested in this conversation anymore”
By contrast, I never was!
It is you who foisted it on me.
I understand your need to feel good about your actions. I have a bigger heart than you. Hence, I am sorry.
bye bye

“your country is a philosophical mess”
which country are you referring to?

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 15:55 (Edit)

To be specific, I am an RMT, and I don’t believe in Reiki, but that does not mean that we go around insulting people. Why? Because it is not necessary. Only two types of people do unnecessary things (a) fools, and (b) malicious people. How do we know that you are not some sort of psycho living a pathetic life, and you are taking this opportunity to ‘bash’ people, in the name of reason and objectivity? Do you want us to trust you? You just put one billion people beneath by calling them stupid (and the other commenter who would rather see a cow on a plate, how insensitive that comment is? No wonder people hate America and Americans) Initially I thought you were arrogant. I take it back, because I think you are simply malicious (and maybe half your country)…one billion Hindus are stupid? (I gave that as a metaphor, I was born a Hindu, but I am not an hindu, now)

” I am an RMT”

RMT
[RMT] ABBREVIATION
(in the UK) National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers.

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:13 (Edit)

Yeah, I am a railroad worker, and I am from the UK. These things make you appear so petty.

“we go around insulting people”

When and how did I insult you?

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:14 (Edit)

That is why I said you are blind, and that is why I said that you must belong to a particular demographic. As I said, I am not interested in conversing anymore. I am more honest than you and made my intentions clear. You need not block or moderate me, But there is no point in coming back to this thread.

thanks for that!

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:23 (Edit)

The English have the power of speech and the tool of articulation. Using this, they conquer all the world without doing all the hard work or shedding blood, but don’t worry, justice may be late, but it will rule one day, what was got by simply using the tongue, will also be lost using the same tongue. In the end, they will be the most pathetic souls among all life forms:

Edzard on Sunday 15 January 2023 at 08:39
what will I call a billion people who believe in something absurd?
I WOULD CALL THEM SERIOUSLY MISLED AND PERHAPS EVEN STUPID

oh, I see: you think I’m English!

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:28 (Edit)

“oh, I see: you think I’m English!”
That was supposed to be an insult, I don’t really care who you are. I don’t care even if I am wrong. You should know that I am not making an effort to know you. I can google you in five minutes, but you are not worth my time. All I know is that you are a troublemaker (Like Donald Trump) who lives just for the fun of it. Trump uses certain things to disguise is contempt and selfishness, you are just using the war against alternative medicine to shield your general malice. You are not a good person, that I know. And I am sure that nobody would have told you that — greatest insult.

Troll: a person who antagonizes (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:32 (Edit)

I may be a troll, but you are simply an abuser and maipulator of knowledge, power, and position. At best, I would have annoyed a few people. But you just called one billion people stupid, then guess what your real intentions might be? You have more power to damage the world then me, If I am a troll, you are simply a evil person

Edzard on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:30
Troll: a person who antagonizes (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content

… and I thought the troll had said ‘bye bye’ a while ago…

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:42 (Edit)

Really? What are you? an old man aged 70 years or more? Nothing much to do in life anymore?
Can’t let it go without having the last word? Lot’s of peeing match I guess!

Edzard on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:37
… and I thought the troll had said ‘bye bye’ a while ago…

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:34 (Edit)

I challenge you to keep all the conversations in between you and me so that people can judge what is going on. If you delete it, it would mean that you do not want people to know, let’s see how honest you are.

I have no intention to delete this comic relief!

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:39 (Edit)

Like I said, tongue they use to unleash their malice, by the tongue their souls will die a pathetic death

a characteristic of a troll is that he/she cannot quit easily

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:47 (Edit)

That’s right, senile, sadist, probably news does not excite you, so come back and read the comments to feel that you are indeed alive. So pathetic. Bye — If you really think I am a troll, then you probably should not reply, every internet user knows this. But if you are intentionally engaging with a troll, then it means that there is something wrong with you greater than that troll. Like I said, I might be a a troll, but you are even greater than that — an evil person (because you have power, position, influence) — don’t…

It’s not that I think you are a TROLL, you have proven it to us.

Sivalingam (Siva) Canjeevaram on Tuesday 24 October 2023 at 17:44 (Edit)

If you can call one billion Hindus stupid. I should not mind for you calling me a troll.
And this time, I am deciding to quit. What a bore!

___________________________________________

Re-reading this today, I am still amazed at the mindset of my troll. Perhaps I should by now have got used to it – after all, this sort of thing does happen regularly on this blog. The lesson, I think, is not to let it happen and tell the troll early on to go yonder and multiply.

 

 

Guest post by Ken McLeod

Readers will recall that Barbara O’Neill is an Australian health crank, completely unqualified in anything, who is subject of a Permanent Prohibition Order issued by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission, (HCCC),[1] preventing her from engaging in any health-related activity, including ‘health education,’ in Australia. The NSW Public Health Act 2010 provides that it is an offence for a person to provide ‘health education’ in contravention of a prohibition order, with a fine of $60,500 AUD ($38,151 USD, 36251 Euros) for an individual or imprisonment for 3 years, or both, or $121,000 AUD for a corporation.

For jurisdictional reasons that Order does not apply outside Australia and for several years she been touring the world giving health education lectures. The latest was a lecture tour of Ireland.[2] Despite the thorough debunking of her fruitloop beliefs by the HCCC,[3] she has maintained them and continues to give the ‘health education’ that was so dangerous that it led to the Prohibition Order in Australia.

Her Irish ‘health education’ lectures were live-streamed to people in Australia who paid the 20 Euro fee, and one was recorded by us.[4]

A transcript was made and is available online.[5] Her statements were analysed and some comments are made as follows. Alas, we didn’t have time to take a deep dive of her lecture to find the best references, but the following shows that an amateur with limited time and resources can prove that she does not know what she is talking about and that her advice is dangerous, even life-threatening.

It is up to the health regulators and immigration authorities in each country to act on her activities there, but so far none outside Australia have done so.

So a quick analysis of her ‘lecture’ in Dublin on 27 September 2023 shows that O’Neill has learned nothing from her experience with the HCCC. Some comments:

1. O’Neill and her husband, after the Prohibition Order was issued, changed the name of their facility from ‘Misty Mountain Health Retreat’ to ‘Misty Mountain Lifestyle Retreat’ to avoid the jurisdiction of the HCCC. However on four occasions in her lecture O’Neill referred to it as a ‘health retreat.’ 00:07:23 , 00:15:48, 01:30:04, 01:40:16.

2. At 00:12:53 O’Neill claims that the Amish don’t get autism. That is false, as explained by AP Factcheck. [6]

3. At 00:12:54 O’Neill claims that the Amish, ‘They don’t vaccinate their Children. Did you know that they don’t vaccinate their Children and yet they don’t get autism Very rare. Maybe 1%. And often that’s because of chemical exposure. There is always a reason. So why are vaccinations causing autism? Well, it’s neurotoxins, the neurotoxins. ‘

False; Amish do vaccinate their children. [7] However, studies have documented cases of autism, diabetes and cancer among the Amish, albeit at lower rates in some cases than the broader population and for reasons that are unrelated to their vaccination status. These reasons include the cultural norms and customs that may be playing a role in the reporting style of caregivers. [8] O’Neill is engaging in cherry-picking on a grand scale here.

4. At 00:13:37 O’Neill claims that ‘there are still two more neurotoxins’ (In vaccines.) Because children are still autistic. There’s formaldehyde, and there is aluminium, both neurotoxins.’

This is scaremongering disinformation. The CDC says ‘Formaldehyde is diluted during the vaccine manufacturing process, but residual quantities of formaldehyde may be found in some current vaccines. The amount of formaldehyde present in some vaccines is so small compared to the concentration that occurs naturally in the body that it does not pose a safety concern.’ As for aluminium, the CDC says ‘Ingredients like aluminum salt help boost the body’s response to the vaccine.’ The CDC says that both are safe. [9]

5. At 00:15:01 O’Neill claims ‘did you know that the milk in the supermarket if you give that to a newborn baby cow, that cow will die?’

I can find no reference supporting that and I suggest that it is pure fantasy.

6. At 00:18:29 O’Neill claims that ‘parents discover that they put their trust in the princes and vaccinated their child. Now their child has epilepsy. Now their child has autism.’

This is misleading panic-mongering that is a misrepresentation of the science. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says ‘Seizures and status epilepticus can occur within 14 days following administration of inactivated and live-attenuated vaccines. These vaccine-proximate seizures can undermine parental confidence in vaccine safety and affect further vaccination decisions. Vaccine-proximate status epilepticus (VP-SE) is uncommon but may be the first manifestation of genetic developmental epileptic encephalopathies, including Dravet syndrome.’ So ‘epilepsy’ may be first encountered [10] following vaccination but the root cause is genetic.

7. At 00:20:27 O’Neill says that she would like to suggest that no child would be vaccinated, because the fact is, our body was designed to heal itself.

This is pure crazy antivax propaganda, unsupported by the facts.

8. At 00:22:01 O’Neill claims ‘skin cancer has only been around in about the last 80 years, and you know what they’re finding today? That vitamin D deficiency is a big contributing back factor to skin cancer’.

The first claim is false; the science shows that skin cancers have been around ‘since the beginning of time.’ [11]

As for the second claim, the research published at the US National Library of Medicine shows that O’Neill’s advice is dangerous. ‘It is, therefore, preferable and safer to obtain adequate levels of vitamin D through diet than through sun exposure. In fact, it is currently accepted that dietary and supplemental vitamin D is functionally identical to that produced after UV exposure, being more reliable and quantifiable (the risks of keeping high levels of vitamin D have not been extensively studied) source of this vitamin.’ And ‘Neither natural nor artificial sun exposure should be encouraged as the main source of vitamin D.’ [12]

9. At 00:23:18 O’Neill disputes claims that ‘cholesterol causes heart disease. Well, it’s been going for 40 years now, and it still hasn’t proven that. But you know what? It has proven that people with high cholesterol levels don’t get Alzheimer’s.’

O’Neill’s first claim points to the conflicting research as revealed by the Cochrane Collaboration. [13] As for her second claim, the research does not justify her claim that it is ’proven.’ The evidence is conflicting and as the Alzheimer’s Society of the UK say, ‘More research is needed to better understand this relationship and what it can tell us.’ [14] O’Neill’s conviction is not based on evidence.

10. At 00:34:41 O’Neill said that at Dublin airport ‘about 10 days ago,’ she was approached by a man who asked ‘Are you the Australian doctor? And I smiled.’

O’Neill did not correct him and allowed him to be duped into believing she is a real doctor. Despite having no qualifications in anything O’Neill has used the honorific title ‘Dr’ many times in social media,[15] so it is no surprise that he assumed she was a doctor. I can’t help but be confused by her use of the ‘Dr.’ Throughout her lectures she denigrates real doctors, and then tries to boost her credibility by adopting the title.

11. At 00:35:21 she claimed that with ‘epigenetics, you can actually turn your genes on or off.’…. ‘So Michael effectively turned those genes off with castor oil. Castor is very effective for for cataracts. Put it in your eye, one lady said. Is it safe? Does anyone ever ask that of the doctor? Is that drug safe? Then the people have been putting cholesterol in their eyes for centuries. It’s safe.’

Bollocks! As Consumer Lab says ‘Although eye drops containing castor oil may help improve symptoms of dry eye and blepharitis, there is currently no compelling evidence that applying castor oil to the eye can diminish cataracts.’ [16] And there is no evidence that Michael turned the genes off.

12. At 00:40:08 she refers to a woman who recently had a stroke. She says

‘… because she had a stroke, she was put on the protocol she was on put on statins. Cholesterol lowering medication with clear arteries. How much sense does that make? You don’t have. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work this out. Trust in your gut feeling trust in this incredible body that God has given you. Her blood was no longer thick. Her arteries are open now. And so she came to our retreat and I said, Well, I can’t tell you what to do. And I have no authority over your medication. Only you, and go. You and your doctor do. But this is what I would do. I would stop the blood thinning medication immediately because that aspirin causes brain bleeds, eye bleeds and stomach bleeds. Got that? And I would stop the statin drugs because that the side effect of statin drugs is Alzheimer’s dementia, uh, memory loss, muscle wasting. And they’ve just added another one, which is breast cancer, because all our sex hormones are made from cholesterols.’

O’Neill told a woman who had suffered a stroke to stop taking her life-saving medication! These medications are prescribed by highly qualified medical specialists based on the research. As the UK Stroke Association says, ‘Blood-thinning medications reduce your risk of stroke by helping to prevent blood clots from forming. You might be prescribed them after a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or a stroke caused by a blockage (an ischaemic stroke, or clot).’[17] It is clear that O’Neill, who has no qualifications in anything, does not know what she is talking about.

As for her claim that the side effects of statins is breast cancer, the research shows the opposite. ‘While statins do not affect the incidence of most cancers, they do exert significant benefits on recurrence and survival in many cancer types, including breast cancer.’ [18]

13. At 42:48 O’Neill claims ‘If you are on cholesterol lowering medication and many have been deceived….’ As above, it is O’Neill who is doing the deceiving.

14. At 45:09 O’Neill claims that ‘If you stop your cholesterol lowering medication, there will be a side effect. Your memory will return. Your muscles will get stronger. Any little appearances of Alzheimer’s will start to ease.’

As above, the available research does not show that.

15. At 48:57 O’Neill claims ‘Why did they put fluoride in water? The claim was to harden the teeth. Has it hardened the teeth? Not at all. Has it reduced tooth decay? Not at all.’ And ‘But that fluoride is very hard on the kidneys, very hard on the liver.’

The research here is overwhelming; as the CDC says: ‘The CDC named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

‘Many research studies have proven the safety and benefits of fluoridated water. For  75 years people in the United States have been drinking water with added fluoride and enjoying the benefits of better dental health.

‘Drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduces cavities (also called tooth decay) by about 25% in children and adults.’

As for O’Neill’s claim that fluoride is very hard on the kidneys, very hard on the liver,’ the research is inconclusive, and in fact the reverse may be true. Research shows ‘Fluoride exposure may contribute to complex changes in kidney and liver related parameters among U.S. adolescents. As the study is cross-sectional, reverse causality cannot be ruled out; therefore, altered kidney and/or liver function may impact bodily fluoride absorption and metabolic processes.’ So the science does not support O’Neill’s certainty.

16. At 48:57 O’Neill claims that ‘all body symptoms and body diseases and shows how dehydrating has a huge factor.’ O’Neill gives no evidence to support that huge claim.

17. At 01:00:20 O’Neill claims that a woman told her ‘I had the vaccine. Now I’ve got clots. Barbara, I had the vaccine. I can’t. I cannot even remember all the diseases that are arising. Have you noticed? And so many people were blackmailed into that vaccine.’ And ‘Is that (COVID19) a crisis? it’s not a crisis at all. And yet we’re seeing so many problems arising.’

O’Neill is dreadfully wrong here. COVID 19 was a crisis. How else would we describe a pandemic that is known to have killed at least 6,961,014 deaths, as reported to the WHO? [19] And what are the problems that we are seeing arising? Outside her imagination, that is.

18. At 01:00:20 O’Neill claims that ‘one man said, Show me the safety studies. They gave him three pages of blank paper. No safety studies, no safety studies at all.’ (On vaccines). And ‘drugs never cure disease.’ And a few lines later, again, ‘Drugs never cure disease.’

The allegation that ‘They (doctors) gave him three pages of blank paper’, is just so deranged. No doctor would do that because there are thousands of studies of vaccine safety.

O’Neill’s claim that there are no safety studies on vaccines is hopelessly wrong and dishonest. It’s one of the many anti-vax lies circulating on the internet, so beloved by the gullible. As the Australian Dept of Health and Aged Care say, ‘Research and testing is an essential part of developing safe and effective vaccines. In Australia, every vaccine must pass strict safety testing before the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will register it for use. Before vaccines become available to the public, they are tested on thousands of people who take part in large clinical trials.’ [20] It took me a few seconds on the internet to find an interesting research paper on HPV vaccines, including a section on safety. [21] O’Neill could do that so the inevitable conclusion is that she set out to deceive. As for ‘drugs never cure disease,’ that is so bizarre, so whacky, so deluded, that it almost not worth challenging. But I will anyway; medical professionals have seen drugs work billions of times, and I can testify that I was saved from a life-threatening illness due to cephalexin.

19. At 01:10:49 O’Neill claims ‘some (medications) can be stopped immediately, like your statin drugs and your blood thinners. Yeah, what do you take instead of statin drugs? Well, there’s no need, because cholesterol is not a problem.’

O’Neill’s advice here is life-threatening rubbish. As the Mayo Clinic says ‘Abruptly stopping an anticoagulant can increase your risk of a stroke.’ [22] As for her advice on cholesterol, see above.

20. At 01:15:39 O’Neill claims that there was ‘No diabetes on the planet til sugar was well established.’ And lack of nose-breathing causes ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome. There’s one cause; it’s lack of oxygen at the cellular level.’

Humans have gathered sugar since we first became homo sapiens and diabetes has always been a problem for us and other animals.

As for her claim that lack of nose-breathing causes ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome;’ the Mayo Clinic says ‘The cause of ME/CFS is unknown, although there are many theories. Experts believe it might be triggered by a combination of factors.’ They go on to list many possible causes but lack of nose-breathing is not one of them.[23]

21. At 01:26:08 O’Neill claims that a researcher ‘…. could turn cancer cells on and off by the amount of animal, pro and animal protein that he was giving’ and liver cancer could be prevented by ‘a simple diet and cancer weights were very low low compared to the city again, with that high meat diet….’ There is some truth in this, but it does not justify O’Neill’s other advice to avoid prescribed medications.

22. At 01:49:26 O’Neill claims ‘if someone has a rash and they put cortisone on it, what happens to the rash? It’s gone, but But it comes back in about another week. Is that right? Twice as bad.’ And ‘No drug can heal cancer. The body and the body alone when it’s given the right conditions can cause cancer to be conquered in the body.’ And ‘A fever is nothing to fear.’

O’Neill’s claim that ‘No drug can heal cancer’ is demonstrably wrong. Life expectancy following cancer treatment has improved vastly over the decades, largely due to better detection and prescribed medications. As the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates, ‘due to improved detection and treatment, deaths have dropped 41 percent from 1989 to 2018, according to the ACS.’ [24]

As for O’Neill’s claim that ‘a fever is nothing to fear,’ the Victorian Dept of Health says ‘High fever (about 41.5°C or more) is extremely dangerous and could trigger convulsions.’ [25]

23. At 01:53:47 O’Neill claims that drug therapy is not working.

What does O’Neill mean by that? Does she mean that prescribed medication does not work? If she is repeating her earlier claim that ‘drugs never cure disease?’ I repeat my earlier rebuttal. That is so bizarre, so whacky, so deluded, that it almost not worth challenging. But I will anyway; medical professionals have seen drugs work billions of times, and I can testify that I was saved from a life-threatening illness due to cephalexin.

I’ll finish the analysis here because you have suffered enough.

Readers everywhere now have rock-solid evidence that should be presented to their national health regulators, showing that O’Neill, as the HCCC put it, ‘poses a risk to the health and safety of members of the public’ and therefore ‘should be permanently prohibited from providing any health services, whether in a paid or voluntary capacity.’ And you have rock-solid evidence that should be presented to venue managers who have allowed O’Neill to present life-threatening ‘education’ to the public on their premises, asking them to cancel the booking. It’s not hard; it was done in Ireland by members of the public. That led to cancellation of the booking, and a rush by O’Neill’s supporters to find a new venue.

References

1 https://www.hccc.nsw.gov.au/decisions-orders/public-statements-and-warnings/public-statement-and-statement-of-decision-in-relation-to-in-relation-to-mrs-barbara-o-neill

2 https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/controversial-wellness-coach-barbara-oneill-set-to-host-talk-in-ireland-this-month/a1781099169.html

3 https://www.hccc.nsw.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/216/Statement%20of%20Decision%20-%20Mrs%20Barbara%20ONeill.pdf.aspx

4 The video is available at https://rumble.com/v3lt611-barbara-oneill-positive-life-event-27th-september.html and a backup is available at https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/vqe9plhgjijunvl22kvb6/Barbara-ONeill-Positive-Life-Event-27th-September.mp4?rlkey=1kjyi9jdl8kfdp8kcdf1p4xba&dl=0

5 https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/csl95hg7gomr318nygotx/TRANSCRIPT-BARBARA-O-NEILL-POSITIVE-LIFE-EVENT-DUBLIN-27-SEPT-2023.pdf?rlkey=z2d5uh59fwagzdfdk30hvpauy&dl=0

6 https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-amish-covid-vaccines-cancer-diabetes-autism-356029928165

7 https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-amish-covid-vaccines-cancer-diabetes-autism-356029928165

8https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268144514_Prevalence_Rates_of_Autism_Spectrum_Disorders_Among_the_Old_Order_Amish

9 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm

10 https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2020/october/seizures-following-vaccination-in-children

11 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2023/08/03/false-claim-skin-cancer-has-only-been-around-for-60-years-fact-check/70515019007/

12 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8709188/

13 https://s4be.cochrane.org/blog/2018/07/02/cholesterol-and-heart-disease-whats-the-evidence/

14 https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/risk-factors-and-prevention/cholesterol-and-dementia

15 https://www.facebook.com/people/Dr-Barbara-ONeill/100093111507726/

16 https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/castor-oil-eye-drops-for-cataracts/castor-oil-cataracts/

17 https://www.stroke.org.uk/resources/blood-thinning-medication-and-stroke

18 https://breast-cancer-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13058-018-1066-z#author-information

19 https://covid19.who.int/

20 https://www.health.gov.au/are-vaccines-safe

21 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7565290/

22 https://connect.mayoclinic.org/blog/take-charge-healthy-aging/newsfeed-post/know-the-warning-signs-of-blood-thinner-complications/

23 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360490

24 https://www.healthline.com/health/breast-cancer/survival-facts-statistics#breast-cancer-stages

25 https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/fever#bhc-content

Vaccine hesitancy has become a threat to public health, especially as it is a phenomenon that has also been observed among healthcare professionals.

In this study, an international team of researchers analyzed the relationship between endorsement of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and vaccination attitudes and behaviors among healthcare professionals, using a cross-sectional sample of physicians with vaccination responsibilities from four European countries:

  • Germany,
  • Finland,
  • Portugal,
  • France.

In total the sample amounted to 2,787 physicians.

The results suggest that, in all the participating countries, SCAM endorsement is associated with lower frequency of vaccine recommendation, lower self-vaccination rates, and being more open to patients delaying vaccination, with these relationships being mediated by distrust in vaccines. A latent profile analysis revealed that a profile characterized by higher-than-average SCAM endorsement and lower-than-average confidence and recommendation of vaccines occurs, to some degree, among 19% of the total sample, although these percentages varied from one country to another:

  • 24% in Germany,
  • 18% in France,
  • 10% in Finland,
  • 6% in Portugal.

These results constitute a call to consider health care professionals’ attitudes toward SCAM as a factor that could hinder the implementation of immunization campaigns.

The authors also point out that the link between SCAM endorsement and negative attitudes toward vaccines has been documented in previous research among the general public. A systematic review, which categorized arguments against vaccines retrieved from peer-reviewed articles and debunking texts published by international fact checking agencies, identified a category of arguments largely based on alternative health beliefs related to SCAM. This category was the third most common in the scientific and fact-checking literature. Furthermore, in a British study, anti-vaccination arguments related to SCAM were also among the most endorsed arguments by individuals. These results suggest that SCAM beliefs play an important role in individuals’ justification of their hesitant attitudes toward vaccines for both adults and children. Analyses of samples from the Australian, Finnish, American, and Spanish general populations found that positive attitudes toward SCAM were related to negative attitudes toward vaccines. In a recent large-scale study in 18 European countries, parental consultation with homeopaths was associated with higher vaccine hesitancy than consultation with pediatricians or nurses. Moreover, a systematic review found that SCAM use tended to be positively associated with lower childhood immunization. Similar findings were reported also from the US and Australia.

There are several potential causes for the observed relationship between vaccine hesitancy and SCAM. Since SCAM use occurs more frequently at the poles of the disease spectrum (i.e., in cases of minor or life-threatening illness), SCAM use has been identified as a marker of both misperception of risk and frustration with regular healthcare (e.g., negative prognosis or lack of remission of symptoms). Accordingly, SCAM-related health conceptions could be motivating healthcare practitioners (HCPs) to be more reluctant to recommend and receive vaccinations both for illnesses that are perceived as minor and in cases of severe clinical pictures. There are also reasons related to the potential alignment between SCAM and the ideology or worldview of the HCP, such as their distrust in “Big Pharma” or a general disregard for scientific knowledge. Along the same lines, it has been shown that the main reasons for their preference for SCAM included a greater affinity between SCAM, their do-it-yourself approach to health care, and their sympathy for natural and allegedly harm-free products in contrast to medications marketed by pharmaceutical companies, which were perceived as ineffective, “toxic” and “adulterating.”

Besides these implicit reasons, some SCAM traditions are theoretically incompatible with vaccination and portrayed as a valid, or even superior, alternative to scientific knowledge. A quantitative study found that pro-SCAM and anti-vaccination attitudes both reflect beliefs contrary to basic scientific knowledge, such as “an imbalance between energy currents lies behind many illnesses” and “an illness should be treated with a medicine that has properties similar to those of the illness.” An example of these SCAM-related beliefs that contradict the theoretical basis of vaccinations is “homeopathic immunization” through so-called “nosodes” – orally administered extreme dilutions of infectious agents. Similarly, Rudolf Steiner and Ryke Geerd Hamer, promoters of anthroposophic medicine and ‘German New Medicine’, respectively, have sown doubts about vaccinations based on their conceptions of the etiology and treatment of diseases. Consequently, strong science denial and vaccine hesitancy can be found within these communities, and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, have been reported in educational centers linked to anthroposophy.

PS

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The ‘Miami Herald’ reported that a father and his three sons were convicted of selling a toxic bleach solution as a “miracle” cure through a fake online Florida church.

” The sentencing hearing in Miami federal court took an unusual turn when the father, Mark Grenon, told the judge that he was actually the victim. He argued that his 1,152 days in custody amounted to “kidnapping” and the U.S. government should compensate him $5.76 million for being “held unlawfully.” “Yes or no?” Grenon, 66, asked U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga. “That’s a nonsensical question,” Altonaga told Grenon. “I won’t answer that.”

In short order, Altonaga sentenced the father to five years in prison, fined him $5,000 and ordered him to pay $1,948 in restitution to victims of the Bradenton family’s scheme of selling “Mineral Miracle Solution” to thousands of consumers across the country. The judge also sentenced one of his sons, Joseph Grenon, 36, to five years, with no fine, but imposed the same restitution order.

When the four family members were charged in 2020, the father and Joseph Grenon were hiding in Colombia, according to federal authorities. The U.S. government sought their extradition. The Bogota government turned them over on the condition that they would only be charged with a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, which limited their punishment to a maximum of five years. Separate contempt of court charges were dismissed against them before trial.

The father’s other two sons were not as lucky to catch that break. The judge sentenced Jonathan Grenon, 37, and Jordan Grenon, 29, to more than 12 years in prison because they were convicted of the main conspiracy charge and a pair of contempt charges stemming from their violation of court orders to stop selling the dangerous mineral solution to the public. Jonathan was not fined, but his brother Jordan was ordered to pay $2,500. Both were also ordered to pay the same restitution as the other family members.

The Grenons represented themselves at their trial and sentencing hearing, though court-appointed defense attorneys were on standby if required. At Friday’s hearing, the Grenons did not allow those lawyers to speak on their behalf. At trial and during sentencing, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office portrayed the four defendants as con men who used a phony religious front on a website, the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, to sell $1 million worth of their “Miracle Mineral Solution” in video pitches as a cure for 95% of the world’s known diseases, from AIDS to the coronavirus. They called it a “scam for money.” “The defendants preyed on many vulnerable populations,” including children with autism, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Homer said Friday. He told the judge that the Grenon family members have never shown any remorse for their crime.

At the sentencing hearing, the four defendants invoked their faith in God and Jesus repeatedly, saying they did not “consent” to the judicial proceedings and should be released after spending about three years in custody in both the United States and Colombia.

In public warnings, the FDA said it received several reports of hospitalizations and life-threatening conditions as people drank the dangerous substance. MMS is a chemical solution containing sodium chlorite that, when mixed with water and a citric acid “activator,” turns into chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleach typically used for industrial water treatment or bleaching textiles, pulp and paper.

___________________________

We have discussed MMS, bleach, the fraudsters who sell this stuff, the organizations behind them, and their victims repeatedly. e.g.:

I feel that the world is a safer place, now that these charlatans are finally behind bars.

 

We have repeatedly discussed the fact that so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is related to magical health and pseudoscientific assumptions. Now new evidence has emerged on this subject. This study (Alternative Medicine, COVID-19 Conspiracies, and Other Health-Related Unfounded Beliefs: The Role of Scientific Literacy, Analytical Thinking, and Importance of Epistemic Rationality | Studia Psychologica (savba.sk)) examined how scientific literacy (scientific reasoning, scientific knowledge, and trust in science), analytical thinking and the importance of epistemic rationality relate to the belief in the efficacy of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and other health-related unfounded beliefs (COVID-19 conspiracies, pseudoscientific and magical beliefs, and cancer myths).

A representative sample of 1038 Slovaks (age = 42.08, SD = 13.99) participated in the study. While SCAM belief correlated with COVID-19 conspiracy theories, pseudoscientific beliefs, magical health-related beliefs, and cancer myths, it appeared that belief in SCAM was primarily driven by lower trust in science, lower analytical thinking, and, interestingly, a higher need to be epistemically rational. Other components of scientific literacy did not significantly predict SCAM belief but they did predict other health-related unfounded beliefs, which may suggest that a more fine-tuned approach to studying SCAM beliefs is needed.

The authors commented that SCAM is moderately related to magical health beliefs and pseudoscientific beliefs and only weakly related to COVID-19 conspiracy theories. However, the weak association between SCAM and conspiracy beliefs is in line with previous findings (Mijatović et al., 2022; Vujić et al., 2022). Similar to previous studies (Fasce & Picó, 2019; Lobato et al., 2014), we found that different unfounded beliefs tend to correlate with each other. However, it appears that COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs are distinct from magical and pseudoscientific beliefs (as evidenced by weaker correlations), whereas SCAM beliefs overlap more with magical health and pseudoscientific beliefs. SCAM beliefs correlated positively with all types of unfounded beliefs, from low to moderate levels (r values between -.16 and -.50) but did not have the same predictors. Contrary to previous findings about the stronger predictive power of scientific reasoning compared to analytical thinking in unfounded beliefs (Čavojová et al., 2020; 2022), our results point to more balanced strengths, except for belief in SCAM, which was not predicted by scientific reasoning. One of the possible explanations lies in the very low reliability of the Scientific Reasoning Scale in this study. On the other hand, other studies using the same scale showed only slightly higher reliability (e.g., Bašnáková et al., 2021, Čavojová et al., 2020; 2023; Čavojová & Ersoy, 2020) and it predicted both COVID-19 conspiracy theories, as well as pseudoscientific/magical component, similarly to the results of previous studies.

Scientists Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, from Hungary and the United States respectively, have received the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries enabling the development of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

“The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19,” the body said. “The laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.”

Dr Karikó was senior vice-president and head of RNA protein replacement at BioNTech until 2022, and has since acted as an adviser to the company. She is also a professor at the University of Szeged in Hungary, and adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Dr Weissman is professor in vaccine research at the Perelman School.

Dr Karikó invented a way to prevent the immune system from launching an inflammatory reaction against lab-made mRNA, previously seen as a major hurdle against any therapeutic use of mRNA. Together with Dr Weissman, she showed in 2005 that adjustments to nucleosides  can keep the mRNA under the immune system’s radar.

The Journal ‘Nature’ reported the following:

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to biochemist Katalin Karikó and immunologist Drew Weissman for discoveries that enabled the development of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. The vaccines have been administered more than 13 billion times, saved millions of lives and prevented severe COVID-19 in millions of people, said the Nobel committee…

Karikó is the 13th female scientist to win a Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology. She was born in Hungary and later moved to the United States in the 1980s. “Hopefully, this prize will inspire women and immigrants and all of the young ones to persevere and be resilient. That’s what I hope,” she says.

The COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna and the Pfizer–BioNTech collaboration deliver mRNA that instructs cells to create SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein, which, in turn, stimulates the body to make antibodies.

“The ideas that she and Drew Weismann developed were critical for the success of RNA vaccines,” said John Tregoning, a vaccine immunologist at Imperial College London, in a press statement for the UK Science Media Centre. “They demonstrated that changing the type of the RNA nucleotides within the vaccine altered the way in which cells see it. This increased the amount of vaccine protein made following the injection of the RNA, effectively increasing the efficiency of the vaccination: more response for less RNA.”

“This discovery has opened a new chapter for medicine,” said Nobel committee member Qiang Pan-Hammarström, an immunologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, at a press conference following the prize announcement. “Investment in long-term basic research is very important.”

“It’s really like a revolution starting since the COVID pandemic,” says Rein Verbeke, an mRNA vaccine researcher at the University of Ghent in Belgium. He adds that Karikó and Weissman’s contributions were essential to the vaccines’ success during the pandemic, and beyond. “Their part was really crucial to the development of this platform.” …

The development of mRNA vaccines and therapeutics is in its infancy, says Robin Shattock, who studies vaccines, infections and immunity at Imperial College London. Scientists and biotechnology companies are busy coming up with new applications for mRNA technology, from cancer treatments to next-generation COVID-19 vaccines. Many teams are also working on improved ways of delivering mRNA. “What we see used today is not what it’s going to be used in the future,” says Shattock. “We’re at the beginning of an RNA revolution. The technology is really taking off.”

___________________________

On this blog, we had an abundance of discussions about mRNA vaccines. I wonder whether the anti-vaxx brigade will now consider their position. More likely, however, they will merely claim that the Nobel committe is just another element in the big conspiracy that is about to kill us all.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been notable for the widespread dissemination of misinformation regarding the virus and appropriate treatment. The  objective of this study was to quantify the prevalence of non–evidence-based treatment for COVID-19 in the US and the association between such treatment and endorsement of misinformation as well as lack of trust in physicians and scientists.

This single-wave, population-based, nonprobability internet survey study was conducted between December 22, 2022, and January 16, 2023, in US residents 18 years or older who reported prior COVID-19 infection.

Self-reported use of ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, endorsing false statements related to COVID-19 vaccination, self-reported trust in various institutions, conspiratorial thinking measured by the American Conspiracy Thinking Scale, and news sources.

A total of 13 438 individuals (mean [SD] age, 42.7 [16.1] years; 9150 [68.1%] female and 4288 [31.9%] male) who reported prior COVID-19 infection were included in this study. In this cohort, 799 (5.9%) reported prior use of hydroxychloroquine (527 [3.9%]) or ivermectin (440 [3.3%]). In regression models including sociodemographic features as well as political affiliation, those who endorsed at least 1 item of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation were more likely to receive non–evidence-based medication (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2.86; 95% CI, 2.28-3.58). Those reporting trust in physicians and hospitals (adjusted OR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.56-0.98) and in scientists (adjusted OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.51-0.79) were less likely to receive non–evidence-based medication. Respondents reporting trust in social media (adjusted OR, 2.39; 95% CI, 2.00-2.87) and in Donald Trump (adjusted OR, 2.97; 95% CI, 2.34-3.78) were more likely to have taken non–evidence-based medication. Individuals with greater scores on the American Conspiracy Thinking Scale were more likely to have received non–evidence-based medications (unadjusted OR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.06-1.11; adjusted OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.07-1.13).

The authors concluded that, in this survey study of US adults, endorsement of misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of trust in physicians or scientists, conspiracy-mindedness, and the nature of news sources were associated with receiving non–evidence-based treatment for COVID-19. These results suggest that the potential harms of misinformation may extend to the use of ineffective and potentially toxic treatments in addition to avoidance of health-promoting behaviors.

This study made me wonder to what extend a lack of trust in physicians or scientists, and conspiracy-mindedness are also linked to the use of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) for treatning COVID infections. As I have often discussed, such associations have been reported regularly, e.g.:

The authors point out that the endorsement of misinformation related to COVID-19 has been shown to decrease the intention to vaccinate against COVID-19, to decrease the belief that it is required for herd immunity, and to correlate with forgoing various COVID-19 prevention behaviors. Such false information is largely spread online and often originates as disinformation intentionally spread by political actors and media sources, as well as illicit actors who profit from touting supposed cures for COVID-19.  A substantial minority of the public endorses false information related to COVID-19, although certain subgroups are more likely to do so, including those who are more religious, who distrust scientists, and who hold stronger political affiliations. Cultivating and maintaining trust is a crucial factor in encouraging the public to engage in prosocial health behaviors. The extent to which addressing conspiratorial thinking could represent a strategy to address obstacles to public health merits further investigation.

When the media does not adhere to reporting guidelines regarding so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), this may deceive or mislead consumers about the safety and efficacy of these practices. A team of researchers analyzed whether Serbian online media adheres to reporting guidelines and described dominant psychological appeals used to promote TM/CAM.

They conducted a content analysis of 182 articles from six news and six magazine websites, published July–December 2021. Biologically based treatments – predominantly herbal products – were the most common (205/289 practices). SCAM practices were claimed to:

  • improve general health (71/386 claims),
  • alleviate respiratory problems,
  • boost the immunity,
  • and detox the body.

The tone was overwhelmingly positive, with most of the positive articles (145/176) neglecting to disclose the potential harms of SCAM. Few articles provided a recommendation to speak with a healthcare provider (24/176). Articles tended to appeal to SCAM’s long tradition of use (115/176), naturalness (80/176), and convenience (72/176). They used vague pseudoscientific jargon (105/176) and failed to cite sources for the claims that SCAM use is supported by science (39/176).

The authors concluded that given that SCAM use may lead to harmful outcomes (such as adverse events, avoidance of official treatment or interaction with it), Serbian online media reports on SCAM are inadequate to assist consumers’ decision-making. Our findings highlight issues that need to be addressed towards ensuring more critical health reporting, and, ultimately, better informed SCAM consumption choices.

A long time agao, in 2000, we did a similar survey. We compared what UK newspapers published about SCAM and conventional medicine to what German papers did. We found that the proportion of articles about SCAM seems to be considerably larger in the UK (15% v 5%), and, in contrast to articles on medical matters in general, reporting on SCAM in the UK was overwhelmingly positive. I wonder whether, 23 years later, the situation has changed.

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