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

religion

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The French ‘National Assembly’ has yesterday adopted a major law aimed at reinforcing the prevention and combat against sectarian aberrations in France. This marks a significant step forward in strengthening the protection of citizens against abuse and manipulation by charlatans, gurus and other sectarian movements.

This bill, the result of particularly fruitful work and debate in both chambers, reflects the Government’s commitment to meeting the expectations of the victims of these sectarian movements.

Some of the key measures voted through by parliamentarians include:

  • The enshrinement in law of the powers of MIVILUDES (Interministerial Mission of Vigilance and Combat against Sectarian Aberrations);
  • The reinforcement of the penal response with the creation of the offence of placing or maintaining in a state of psychological or physical subjection;
  • The creation of an offence of incitement to abandon or refrain from treatment, or to adopt practices which clearly expose the person concerned to a serious health risk;
  • Support for victims, with the extension of the categories of associations that can bring civil action;
  • Information for the judiciary, with the introduction of an “amicus curiae” role for certain government departments in legal cases relating to cults.

Despite sometimes heated debates, particularly around article 4, fuelled by the opinion of the Conseil d’Etat, the adoption of this law by the National Assembly bears witness to a shared desire to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals while providing better protection for our fellow citizens against sectarian aberrations.

This bill is part of a multi-annual national strategy for 2023-2027 resulting from the conference on sectarian aberrations held in spring 2023. It is a major step towards strengthening the penal arsenal and protecting victims.

_______________

Sabrina Agresti-Roubache, Secretary of State for Citizenship and Urban Affairs, commented:

“Long-awaited by victim support associations, this text aims to strengthen our legal arsenal in the fight against sectarian aberrations. I’m delighted that all the articles have been adopted, particularly Article 4, which creates an offence of incitement to abandon or abstain from treatment. There have been some passionate debates in the Chamber, but I’d like to reiterate the basis of this bill: the State is not fighting against beliefs, opinions or religions, but against all forms of sectarian aberrations, these dangerous behaviors which represent a threat to our social cohesion and put lives at risk.”

_______________

Obviously, we shall have to see how the new law will be applied. But, in any case, it is an important step into the right direction and could put an end to much of so-called alternative medicine that endangers the health of French consumers.

Other nations should consicer following the Franch example.

Jean-Maurice Latsague (85 years old) has a track record of sexual assaults. Recently, he stood trial before the Sarthe Assize Court from 13 to 15 December for rapes committed during healing sessions. He has worked as an energy healer for many years, and it was in this capacity that he came into conflict with the law nearly 30 years ago.

  • In 1994, he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for the rape and indecent assault of minors that he had committed in the Dordogne.
  • In February 2023, he settled in Sarthe after his release from prison and was again convicted for sexual assaults.
  • Now we’re talking about crimes again, with an accusation of rape against two women.

During the first few hours of the current trial, Jean-Maurice Latsague listened to the proceedings, bent over on his cane. He explained that he had asked his patients to strip naked because “healing energy doesn’t pass through tissue”.

The healing sessions seemed to always follow the same routine:

  • They begin with discussions.
  • This is followed by prayers.
  • Subsequently, Jean-Maurice Latsague asks his victims to strip naked.
  • Then he administeres massages with oil.
  • Finally, he rapes his victim.

On the second day of the proceedings, one of the victims chose to bring a civil action. She is one of three other women attacked by Jean-Maurice Latsague (apart from a mother and daughter who gave evidence before), but who had not lodged a complaint at the time of the investigation.

New testimony sheds light on the healer’s practices, in a much more sordid and perverse way. “He would masturbate in front of me to stimulate ovulation,” said a victim who took the witness stand and was undergoing treatment for infertility.

At the end of a three-day trial, the Sarthe Assize Court found Jean-Maurice Latsague guilty of repeated rape and sexual assault committed by a person abusing the authority conferred by his position.

He was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment.

Sources:

Un magnétiseur accusé de plusieurs viols devant les Assises de la Sarthe (francetvinfo.fr)

Deuxième jour du procès devant les assises de la Sarthe du magnétiseur accusé de viols (francetvinfo.fr)

À 85 ans, le magnétiseur condamné à vingt ans de réclusion criminelle pour viols (ouest-france.fr)

 

Mushrooms are somewhat neglected in medical research, I often feel. This systematic review focused on clinical studies testing the effectiveness of mushrooms in cancer care. A total of 39 met the authors’ inclusion criteria. The studies included 12 different mushroom preparations. Some of the findings were encouraging:

  • A survival benefit was reported using Huaier granules (Trametes robiniophila Murr) in 2 hepatocellular carcinoma studies and 1 breast cancer study.
  • A survival benefit was also found in 4 gastric cancer studies using polysaccharide-K (polysaccharide-Kureha; PSK) as an adjuvant therapy.
  • Eleven studies reported a positive immunological response.
  • Quality-of-life (QoL) improvement and/or reduced symptom burden was reported in 14 studies using various mushroom supplements.
  • Most studies reported adverse effects of grade 2 or lower, mainly nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle pain.

The authors caution that limitations included small sample size and not using randomized controlled trial design. Many of the reviewed studies were observational. Most showed favorable effects of mushroom supplements in reducing the toxicity of chemotherapy, improving QoL, favorable cytokine response, and possibly better clinical outcomes.

The authors concluded that the evidence is inconclusive to recommend the routine use of mushrooms for cancer patients. More trials are needed to explore mushroom use during and after cancer treatment.

The use of mushrooms for medicinal purposes has a long history in many cultures. Some mushrooms are known to be highly poisonous, some have hallucinogenic effects, and some are assumed to have pharmacological effects that have therapeutic potential. Some mushrooms possess pharmacologic properties such as anti-tumour, immunomodulating, antioxidant, cardiovascular, anti-hypercholesterolemic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, detoxification, hepatoprotective, and anti-diabetic effects.

Many modern medicines were derived from fungi. The best-known example is penicillin; others include several cancer drugs, statins and immunosuppressants. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, numerous herbal mixtures contain mushrooms; examples are reishi, maitake and shiitake which are all assumed to have anti-cancer properties.

As the review authors point out, there is a paucity of clinical trials testing the effectiveness of mushrooms, and the existing studies tend to be of poor quality. At present, most of our knowledge comes from traditional use or test-tube studies. The adverse effects depend on the specific mushroom in question and, can in some instances, be serious.

Considering the potential and the complexity of mycomedicine, I find it surprising to not see much more research into this subject.

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 Richard Rawlins,

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and member of the Magic Circle.

Aka Professor Riccardo, Consultant Charlatan and Specialist in the Care of the Gullible.

Many readers of this blog will be delighted that in September 2024, the University of Exeter will offer a degree in ‘magic’. An MA in ‘Magic and Occult Science’ has been created following a “recent surge in interest in magic”, the course leader said. Exeter University officials advise the course will offer “an opportunity to study the history and impact of witchcraft and magic around the world on society and science”. And they should know.

Exeter was the first (and so far, only) university to establish a department to conduct coherent research into ‘complementary and alternative medicine’. No plausible evidence was found to support any of the many ‘therapies’ investigated in Exeter, but publication of this research was particularly disagreeable to the Fellow of the Royal Society who was patron of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health. The department was closed, with the dismissal of the eminent professor who wrote to the Times “the majority of alternative therapies appear to be clinically ineffective, and many are downright dangerous.”

Today, the university says its planned course is “one of the only postgraduate courses of its kind in the UK to combine the study of the history of magic with such a wide range of subjects taught by academics with expertise in history, literature, philosophy, archaeology, sociology, psychology, drama, and religion.” It is expected “to show the role of magic on the West and the East.”

The course leader Prof Emily Selove, claimed “A recent surge in interest in magic and the occult inside and outside of academia lies at the heart of the most urgent questions of our society.” Here the professor is using hyperbole which is also common amongst the camists who promote so-called ‘complementary and alternative medicine’.

‘Modern magic’ is found in two dimensions: the skills of deceit, deception and delusion created by such as Paul Daniels, Tommy Cooper, Luke Jermay, and Derren Brown, and used for entertainment; and the esoteric philosophical domain which this course will consider – and which is often spelt ‘Magick’. This spelling was introduced by Aleister Crowley to afford some differentiation, though context usually makes it clear whether a double lift and Elmsley count is being discussed, or metaphysics. Crowley was largely associated with other founders of ‘religions’ such as Wicca’s Gerald Gardner and Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard. A six-letter word has special significance for many occultists.

The study of religions and the sociology of the occult are worthy objectives of an academic department, but Emily Selove (an aptronym surely), not only uses hyperbole, but personal predilection to establish that “decolonisation, the exploration of alternative epistemologies, feminism and anti-racism are at the core of this programme.” She ventures even further off piste when declaring “this MA will allow people to re-examine the assumption that the West is the place of rationalism and science, while the rest of the world is a place of magic and superstition.”

Assumptions indeed, which Prof Selove has conjured for herself. Speculative opinion with no evidence whatsoever, and seemingly oblivious of the fact that all reputable Western scholars throughout history have been aware of science’s development in the ‘rest of the world’, albeit slowly. Astronomy, gunpowder, papermaking, the use of zero as a number, Musa al-Khwarizmi’s Al-jabr, every branch of science imaginable. There is no ‘Western science’, just ‘science’. (Latin: scientia, knowledge, understanding.)

Interestingly, the course on Magic will be offered in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. The university said the course “could prepare students for careers in teaching, counselling, mentoring, heritage and museum work, work in libraries, tourism, arts organisations or the publishing industry, among other areas of work.” Given students will be able to choose modules on ‘Dragons in western literature and art’, ‘the legend of King Arthur’, and the ‘depiction of women in the Middle Ages’, they should have satisfying careers ahead.

Good luck, and may the Wu be with them all (Chinese, wu: nothingness.)

 

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.

 

So-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is widely used in Saudi Arabia. One of the common practices is the use of camel urine alone or mixed with camel milk for the treatment of cancer, which is often supported by religious beliefs.

This study observed cancer patients who insisted on using camel urine, and to offer some clinically relevant recommendations. The authors observed 20 cancer patients (15 male, 5 female) from September 2020 to January 2022 who insisted on using camel urine for treatment. They documented the demographics of each patient, the method of administering the urine, reasons for refusing conventional treatment, period of follow-up, and the outcome and side effects.

All the patients had radiological investigations before and after their treatment with camel urine. All of them used a combination of camel urine and camel milk, and their treatment ranged from a few days to 6 months. They consumed an average of 60 ml urine/milk per day. No clinical benefit was observed after the treatment; 2 patients developed brucellosis. Eleven patients changed their mind and accepted conventional antineoplastic treatment and 7 were too weak to receive further treatment; they died from the disease.

The authors concluded that camel urine had no clinical benefits for any of the cancer patients, it may even have caused zoonotic infection. The promotion of camel urine as a traditional medicine should be stopped because there is no scientific evidence to support it.

If you suspected that this was a hoax, you were wrong!

Here is a recent paper on the ‘therapeutic potentials of camel urine’:

Camel urine has traditionally been used to treat multiple human diseases and possesses the most beneficial effects amongst the urine of other animals. However, scientific review evaluating the anticancer, antiplatelet, gastroprotective and hepatoprotective effects of camel urine is still scarce. Thus, this scoping review aimed to provide scientific evidence on the therapeutic potentials of camel urine. Three databases were searched to identify relevant articles (Web of Science, PubMed and Scopus) up to September 2020. Original articles published in English that investigated the effects of camel urine in various diseases were included. The literature search identified six potential articles that met all the inclusion criteria. Three articles showed that camel urine possesses cytotoxic activities against different types of cancer cells. Two studies revealed camel urine’s protective effects against liver toxicity and gastric ulcers, whilst another study showed the role of camel urine as an antiplatelet agent. All studies demonstrated significant positive effects with different effective dosages. Thus, camel urine shows promising therapeutic potential in treating human diseases, especially cancer. However, the standardised dosage and potential side effects should be determined before camel urine could be offered as an alternative treatment.

I have often asked myself the question whether some SCAMs are too absurd to merit scientific study. Over the years, I changed my mind on it; while initially I tended to answer it in the negative, I now think that YES: some ideas – even those that are ancient and, as Charles Windsor would argue, have thus stood the ‘test of time’ – are not worth the effort. Camel urine as a therapy might well be one of them.

It has been reported that a UK Conservative candidate for the next general election reportedly claimed she healed a man’s hearing through the power of prayer. Kristy Adams has been chosen to represent the Conservatives in Mid Sussex at the next general UK election, which is expected to take place in May or the autumn of next year. Mrs Adams previously stood as the Tory candidate in Hove in 2017, placing a distant second behind Labour MP Peter Kyle.

In a recording from 2010, the Conservative hopeful reportedly told the King’s Arms Church in Bedford how she healed a deaf man by placing her hands over his ears and saying: “Be healed in Jesus’s name”. Mrs Adams is reported to have said: “He had hearing aids in both ears and I just thought that wasn’t right. It just annoyed me. I said ‘can I pray for you?’ and his eyes lit up, which is unusual when you offer to pray for someone’s healing.” After removing her hands, she claims the man could hear without his hearing aids. “I don’t know if he was more surprised or me,” she reportedly said.

Speaking to The Argus during her 2017 election campaign, Mrs Adams said she had asked the Daily Mirror to remove a story about the alleged recording but refused to answer whether she believed non-scientific medical miracles can happen. She said: “Millions of Christians around the world pray every day to help people.”

On this blog, we have discussed the alleged healing powers of prayer before, e.g.:

Suffice to say, perhaps, that the evidence for prayer as a therapy is not positive.

The autum seems to be the season for awards. I recently mentioned the ‘Gloden Plank‘ and now The Skeptic announced the Ockham Awards the annual awards celebrating the very best work from within the skeptical community. The awards draw attention to people who work hard to promote skepticism. The Ockhams honour outstanding campaigns, activism, blogs, podcasts, and other contributors to the skeptical cause.

Nominations for the 2023 Ockham Awards are now open! Simply complete the nomination form to submit your nominations.

A photograph of the Rusty Razor award: a rusty classic style straight razor encased in plastic with "The Rusty Razor" etched at the bottom.

The Rusty Razor is an entirely different award. It recognises individuals or organisations who have been prominent promoters of unscientific ideas within the last year. Last year’s Rusty Razor went to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, set up in 2009 by climate change denier Nigel Lawson. The Foundation has published several reports downplaying the threat of climate change.

Previous Rusty Razor winners included

  • Dr Mike Yeadon for his anti-vaccination BS,
  • Dr Didier Raoult for his promotion of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19,
  • Andrew Wakefield for his ongoing promotion of anti-vaxx misinformation,
  • Gwyneth Paltrow for her pseudoscience-peddling wellness empire, Goop.

The awards are, as always, based on the nominations received from the skeptical community. This is your chance to see your skeptic hero and your most prolific charlatan regognised.

So, what are you waiting for? Submit your nominations now!

Nominations will close on September 9th. Winners will be chosen by the editorial board of THE SKEPTIC, and the winners will be announced at QED in Manchester on September 23rd.

Conspiracy beliefs have become a major issue and obstacle to progress. While holding conspiracy beliefs has been associated with several detrimental social, personal, and health consequences, little research has been dedicated to systematically reviewing the methods that could reduce conspiracy beliefs.

A team of researchers conducted a systematic review to identify and assess interventions that have sought to counter conspiracy beliefs. They included 25 studies (total N = 7179) and discovered that, while the majority of interventions were ineffective in terms of changing conspiracy beliefs, several interventions were particularly effective. Interventions that fostered an analytical mindset or taught critical thinking skills were found to be the most effective in terms of changing conspiracy beliefs.

Approximately half of the examined interventions consisted of priming-based tasks. The majority of these interventions demonstrated a significant change in conspiracy beliefs. The effects were all either small or very small. Participants who were primed to be less susceptible to persuasion tactics showed significantly lower conspiracy beliefs when compared to controls among three experimental comparisons. These effects were shown to range from small to medium.

Interventions that primed participants to engage in analytical thinking resulted in primed participants having lower conspiracy beliefs than controls. However, the effects of these differences were small. Other priming interventions focused on manipulating participants’ sense of control. They had mixed results, either increasing or decreasing conspiracy beliefs with very small effects.

About a sixth of all interventions used inoculation methods. All successfully reduced conspiracy beliefs, relative to controls, all with either medium or large effects. Inoculations that identified the factual inaccuracies of conspiracy beliefs were found to be the most effective of all the interventions in the review. Inoculations that demonstrated the logical fallacies of conspiracy beliefs were found to be the second most effective intervention.

The authors concluded that their review found that overall, the majority of current conspiracy interventions are ineffective in terms of changing conspiracy beliefs. Despite this, we have identified several promising interventions that may be fruitful to pursue in future studies. We propose that a focus on inoculation-based and critical thinking interventions will bear more promising results for future research, though further efforts are needed to reduce participant burden and more easily implement these interventions in the real world.

The identification of the factual inaccuracies of conspiracy beliefs plus the stimulation of critical thinking are two aims I actively pursue with this blog. Thus, one might hope that I do make a small contribution to the reduction of conspiracy beliefs.

Yes, one might hope – but judging from many comments posted in the discussion sections, one could easily get a different impression.

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