MSG myth — one of the most persistent in the pseudoscience of food

msg

Food additives, like MSG, are some of the most passionate issues amongst people who eat (which would be everyone). AspartameHigh fructose corn syrup. GMO‘s. Salt. Sugar. Trans fats. Polysorbate 80. But I believe that the MSG myth is one of the most pervasive in the food pseudoscience world (yes, I’m going to make that a thing).

Of course, these additives cause angst in people because of their scary chemical names. Or because of stupid claims on the internet. Or just because a few random neurons are firing.

People want to claim that all chemicals are bad, even though everything in nature is made up of chemicals. Everything. And there is no such thing as a “natural chemical” since sugar made in a chemical plant is the same thing as sugar derived from honey. The “chemical” 25-hydroxyergocalciferol sounds scary, except it’s the metabolic product of the conversion of vitamin D in the human liver.

But let’s get back to MSG – how many times have you seen “No MSG” in a sign Chinese restaurant? Is it because China, who has been using MSG in their cuisine for centuries, has been conspiring against Americans since the first Chinese restaurant starting serving up kung pao chicken to unaware Americans?

It’s time to look at the MSG myth – is it real, or does it need a good debunking?

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Why does pseudoscience in medicine and vaccines seem so popular today?

pseudoscience medicine

These days, it appears that pseudoscience in medicine, everything from homeopathy to anti-vaccine beliefs to cancer treatments to chiropractic to naturopathy, has taken hold of many people’s choices. It’s become so frustrating to read stories about people forsaking science-based medicine to use some quack treatment to treat their cancer.

I think there’s a basic reason for it — science is hard. Whether it results from the lack of education in science to a misunderstanding of science is irrelevant, too many people think that science-based medicine doesn’t work. Except it does.

I’ve written about pseudoscience over a hundred times, but I never answered the question of why it grabs the attention of people. I’m going to try to answer that here.

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Nano silver, a fake COVID treatment, has been ordered off the market

nano silver

The US Department of Justice has sued Natural Solutions Foundation, which sells a product called nano silver that they claim can be used as a treatment and potential cure for COVID-19. A federal judge ordered the company to stop selling the quack medicine under provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Natural Solutions Foundation, run by “Vitamin Lawyer” Ralph Fucetola and psychiatrist Rima Laibow, MD, claimed that anyone who consumes nano silver, which supposedly contains a suspension of silver particles, should have “no fear or concern” about COVID-19.

Of course, there is no evidence that nano silver does anything for anything, especially COVID-19. It reminds me of “colloidal silver,” more quackery that anti-vaxxers claim treats everything, including vaccine injuries. Who knew silver was so powerful? Well, it isn’t.

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Steven Brandenburg destroys COVID-19 vaccines because they change DNA

Steven Brandenburg

In between all of the bad news going on in the world, you may have missed the story of Steven Brandenburg, the anti-vaccine pharmacist who intentionally destroyed numerous vials of the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, which had recently received an emergency use authorization from the US FDA.

At first, it was thought it was unintentional. When you are moving quickly to vaccinate healthcare workers and others against the deadly disease, maybe Steven Brandenburg, a licensed pharmacist, just got so busy that he left the vaccine on a table until it was too late. I have been involved with vaccines for a long time, and I cannot begin to count how many times people have spoiled vaccines because of forgetfulness, not understanding how they should be stored, or a plethora of other reasons.

Once it became clear what had happened, Brandenburg was fired by his employer, Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wisconsin, and eventually arrested for destroying over 500 doses in about 53 vials of the vaccine. Maybe one could be excused for accidentally spoiling 5 vials of the critical vaccine. But 53 vials are strong evidence of criminal intent (note, I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on the internet). 

Steven Brandenburg was charged with felony charges of reckless endangerment and property damage, though prosecutors said the charges could be dropped to a single misdemeanor if the vials, which have yet to be tested, are still usable. He is out of jail on a $10,000 bond.

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A Nobel Prize does not mean Traditional Chinese Medicine works

traditional chinese medicine

In 2015, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded the Prize for Medicine to three researchers, one of whom investigated one aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This Nobel Prize continues to be used by TCM advocates as “proof” that it works, and is “real” medicine. In fact, the Nobel Prize does not confer special status to TCM.

One of the winners of this prize was Youyou Tu (see note 1), for her novel work in developing a medicine to treat malaria. Dr. Tu was the first Nobel Prize winner in the natural sciences from China, so she is a groundbreaking scientist in many ways.

Dr. Tu found this potential treatment for malaria through her research into Chinese herbs, which led people to proclaim that Traditional Chinese Medicine has now been “proven.” But not so fast.

What is the relevance of the Nobel Prize and Traditional Chinese Medicine – is there any importance at all?

Let’s take a look at Traditional Chinese Medicine, in general, and Dr. Tu’s work itself. The story is quite a bit more complicated, nuanced, and scientific than you might have read.

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NFL QB Aaron Rodgers chose homeopathy over vaccines, catches COVID

aaron rodgers covid vaccines

Sometimes my blog posts write themselves. NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers decided to forgo COVID-19 vaccines and chose homeopathy to build antibodies against it. As you can predict, he tested positive for COVID-19.

Shocking, right?

There are two things here that need to be debunked. First, homeopathy, although I know that almost any scientific skeptic knows that homeopathy is pseudoscience. Second, building antibodies without vaccines – can’t be done, but we’ll get to that.

I’m writing this not for you science geeks out there – nothing I’ll write will cause you to exclaim, “Oh my, and I thought homeopathy worked!” But this is for those who may come here to find out if Aaron Rodgers knows anything about vaccines, COVID-19, or homeopathy. He doesn’t.

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You cannot boost your immune system – except with vaccines

person getting vaccinated

COVID-19 has been a windfall for quacks who think that they have the secret power to boost your immune system. The problem for these scam artists is that there really is no way to boost the immune system – well, vaccines do that, but they are targeted to single pathogens, like varicella-zoster virus or SARS-CoV-2.

The problem with these immune system myths is that they overlook or ignore a basic physiological fact – the immune system is a complex interconnected network of organs, cells, and molecules that prevent the invasion of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pathogens and other antigens every single day. In fact, the immune system works almost perfectly all the time – when it doesn’t, it’s because of a chronic disease or condition, not because you haven’t swallowed a bottle of vitamin C.

And no matter how much individuals try to trivialize the complexity of the immune system, it does not make it so. If it were easy as downing a handful of supplements or the magical blueberry-kale soy milk smoothie for boosting immunity to the novel coronavirus or any other disease, every physician in the world would prescribe it.

Unfortunately, even if we could boost our immunity, we shouldn’t – a hyperactive immune system is frequently dangerous to an individual.

The problem with the quacks is that they don’t know any of the science of the immune system, and they make money when they think you don’t.

This article will try to explain the immune system and how to keep it running effectively without buying the overpriced pseudoscience you might find on the internet or your local Whole Foods. So, I’m going to save you some money and give you confidence in the power of your own immune system.

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Don’t fall for the Nirvana fallacy – COVID vaccines are safe and effective

glass blur government health

I bet you’ve read that the new COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% perfect, so employing the Nirvana fallacy, must be avoided. That’s just not how one should look at medical data – whether examining vaccine safety and effectiveness or the usefulness of chemotherapy in treating cancer.

No medical procedure is perfectly safe or perfectly effective. Physicians and scientists never make those kinds of claims. In evidence-based medicine, benefits are weighed against risks based upon peer-reviewed published data.

I always like to say that when a physician reduces a fracture of the arm or leg, there is a small, but statistically significant chance of dying from something like a clot forming that goes to the heart or lungs. However, if you don’t reduce the fracture, there is a might higher chance of dying or permanent disability. Yet, I doubt that anyone would refuse the procedure despite the inherent risk.

Unfortunately, the bad math of the anti-vaccine world means that any risk that is not absolute 0% is rounded up to 100%, and vaccine effectiveness that is not absolutely 100% is rounded down to 0%. Yet, I’m sure if they had a broken arm, they would have the fracture reduced immediately.

This article is going to take a look at the Nirvana fallacy and how it relates to the acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccines.

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Anti-vaccine physicians who provide false information about vaccines

anti-vaccine physicians

Recently, the vaccine deniers have pushed a list of anti-vaccine physicians, which gets copy-pasted from one website to another, and are similar to those lists of “scientists” who deny Darwinian evolution or climate change. But is this really made up of respected physicians and researchers? Does it really contain doctors who are experts or authorities on vaccines?

Well, thanks to Zared Schwartz, a senior at the University of Florida studying microbiology, cell science, and neurobehavioral, who took it upon himself to look up each of these individuals and see if they’ve got anything to offer in the discussions about vaccines. Guess what? It doesn’t appear so.

So if you run across this list of anti-vaccine doctors and researchers, wondering if any of them speak from authority, just check them out on this list.

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Cupping craze – Olympic swimmers love their pseudoscience

cupping

If you’ve been watching swimming at the super-spreader Tokyo Olympics, you’d have noticed some of the swimmers with odd bruises on them – it comes from cupping, a useless pseudoscientific alternative medicine belief. It was popular during the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, but I guess it’s still around.

Just in case you didn’t know, cupping doesn’t mean the protective equipment some male athletes use to protect their groinal (invented word, deal with it) regions. Although, for those athletes, that’s the most important cupping they will ever do.

Apparently, the cupping craze was first noticed because several members US Men’s swim team had awful-looking welts and bruises all over their bodies. Michael Phelps, probably the greatest Olympian ever with over 20 gold medals, was sporting several of the cupping welts on his shoulder.

Like homeopathy and chiropractic, which have little scientific evidence supporting any related clinical value, cupping is a fad without any scientific value. None.

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