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Today’s quackery: osteopathic manipulative medicine

| Posted on in science, skepticism
Andrew Taylor Still, noted as one of the found...
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Andrew Taylor Still lived near Baldwin City, Kansas, during the time of the Civil War. There, he founded the practice of osteopathy in the 1870s after his father and three children died from spinal meningitis. He founded the American School of Osteopathy in Missouri in the 1890s. Still believed that the bone was the starting point to diagnosing pathological conditions and that he could “shake a child and stop scarlet fever, croup, diphtheria, and cure whooping cough in three days by a wring of its neck.” Right.

True osteopathic manipulative medicine, like it’s cousin chiropractic medicine, is bullshit. Claiming to cure or alleviate a pathological condition by manipulating an unrelated system is an affront to common sense. Curing a fever by manipulating the skeletal system is as ludicrous as thinking you can stop a car’s engine from overheating by rotating the tires.

This post isn’t an attack on American osteopathic physicians. As a baby, I was delivered by a DO, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t shake me. While I don’t technically have a regular doctor, I have in the past received very good care from a local doctor who is a DO.

Since it’s quack roots in the 1870s, American Osteopathy has transitioned to a practice that is essentially real, science-based medicine. Modern doctors of osteopathy in the United States are taught but no longer use osteopathic manipulative medicine – the component that is the modern derivative of Still’s baby-shaking pseudoscience. American osteopathic physicians have real degrees from real universities and have equivalent medical training to real doctors.

Chiropractic
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Unfortunately, osteopathy has a context outside of American osteopathic medicine. Osteopathy in the rest of the world has parked itself squarely in the purview of complementary and alternative medicine (CAMP). This D in the DO can stand for diploma, not doctor, and the practitioners are more skilled in bamboozling their clients than they are at practicing any kind of real medicine.

Here’s the thing. Real medicine is based on science. If something is “complimentary” or “alternative” to science, it’s not medicine – it’s crap. If something makes you feel better that shouldn’t, like chiropractic or acupuncture or homeopathy or osteopathic manipulative medicine, it’s called a placebo and it’s unethical to present it as a legitimate treatment for anything.

Magnets

| Posted on in Uncategorized
Magnetic lines of force of a bar magnet shown ...
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Ferromagnetism describes the property of some metals to exhibit interactions with magnets. Steel is ferromagnetic, aluminum isn’t. That’s why you can stick a magnet to a refrigerator but not to a beer can.

Magnetic field strength is measured using a unit called the Tesla. A refrigerator magnet has the strength of 5 milliteslas. MRI machines have been tested beyond 8 Teslas.

The iron in our blood isn’t ferromagnetic. It doesn’t respond to magnets. In fact, there isn’t anything in our body that’s ferromagnetic. If there were things in our bodies that responded to magnets, we couldn’t use an MRI machine for human diagnostics.

Next time you see someone with a glorified refrigerator magnet strapped to her wrist, think about how silly it is to think that wearing such a magnet could have any possible physiological effect. Even though it’s silly to think this, considering that science tells us it’s absurd, this concept has generated studies just in case we don’t understand something about magnets and our bodies. Don’t worry, science understands magnets and our bodies just fine, and wearing magnets doesn’t have any effect on the body.

If physics and anatomy were more widely understood, predatory scam artists would have much less luck swindling the gullible into purchasing, among other things, magnets for medical uses.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-12-24

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The case against Fox News is not about censorship

| Posted on in politics

Newsweek’s Jacob Weisberg published an article on October 17 entitled The O’Garbage Factor: Fox News isn’t just bad. It’s un-American. In the article, he notes how ridiculously biased Fox News has been historically and how recently they’ve somehow managed to become even more so.

Fox News has quit covering news in any journalistic sense of the word. Instead, they’ve begun to actually encourage anti-administration tactics such as the September 12 March on Washingon (where a Fox News anchor was taped inciting the crowd during a report), the “tea parties” and the ruckus found in the town halls held during this summer’s recess.

Fox News channel store in the airport
Image by ario_j via Flickr

View the page on foxnews.com promoting the tea parties and tell me with a straight face that there isn’t an obscene amount of biased support for the parties. The graphic looks like a music festival poster, but instead of my favorite bands it lists my favorite right-wing news anchors.

Here’s an interesting page comparing 2 million dots with 70,000 dots, the number of people Fox and other conservative sources reported attended the September 12th march and the number of attendees that were likely really there.

Honest, civil debate is perhaps the most American value I can imagine. Think about this concept alongside the MacGuffie memo, which advocates ways to disrupt the town hall discussions of healthcare held during this summer’s congressional recess. Here’s an excerpt (by Think Progress) of one of the points.

– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

Isn’t preventing the opposing view from being expressed a form of censorship? Fox News wasn’t responsible for the memo, as far as I know. They were responsible for the way they covered the events.

Media Matters for America review found that, during the week of August 24, Fox News aired 22 clips of town hall meeting attendees expressing an opinion or asking a question that opposed progressive health care reform efforts but aired zero clips of town hall attendees expressing an opinion or asking a question supporting reform. –mediamatters.org

That’s not fair or balanced. Calling it such is disingenuous.

The problem with the Newsweek article is that some have perceived it as an attack on free speech or a suggestion of censorship. The article, in fact, mentions nothing about censorship nor advocates any action by Fox News whatsoever, so I’m going to dismiss the censorship argument as a straw man.

The question about freedom of speech, however, is fundamental to the article’s interpretation. Freedom of speech is about presenting a position and advocating its merits without fearing persecution. This article does exactly that. It criticizes Fox News for its absurdly distorted “coverage” and suggests that respectable journalists simply ignore the network. Nowhere does it say that Fox News somehow doesn’t have the right to present its content. Nowhere does it say that viewers don’t have the right – or freedom – to watch Fox News.

It does say that “[t]he Australian-British-continental model of politicized media that Murdoch has applied at Fox is un-American” and I can’t help but agree. While it’s rare to find unbiased media coverage, and rarer yet to find it on cable news, the injury to our collective intelligence is that Fox News attempts to present political commentary as news, directly claiming with its “fair and balanced” slogan that it somehow presents more than just the conservative side.

Fox News has every right to present the content that they do, and nobody is saying otherwise. Every American should defend the right that Fox News has to present politically slanted content, even if that content is un-American.

San Francisco

| Posted on in wedding
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Diane about 90 seconds after saying 'yes'
Diane about 90 seconds after saying 'yes'

We had an absolute blast in San Francisco this weekend. Our guide was none other than Rob Spectre from Dream Not of Today. He took us around the city and did a fantastic job of wearing us out. Daniel Austin, also from (d)N0t, took non-stop pictures the whole time. These guys treated us right and Diane and I can’t thank them enough.

Here’s a picture of Diane on Ocean Beach. She’s going to kill me for using this picture – she’d been crying  and it was 7 a.m. in the morning on the beach – but it’s the happiest I’ve ever seen her. We’ll have more pictures from the trip available as soon as we process them. You can view more details at the new www.dianetraffas.com.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-10-18

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Senator Franken destroys attourney

| Posted on in Uncategorized

Al Franken was a comic and an author. I’ve enjoyed listening to every book of his I’ve had the opportunity to get as an audio book.

He’s a senator now, and a badass. This video is from dailykos.com and is worth the 10 minutes to watch Franken rip to shreds this attorney who is defending binding arbitration in the case of sexual assault.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6kiZIlMFto[/youtube]