Friday, October 30, 2015

The Emperor of All Quackery

I have some bad news. Chances are, you and I will likely develop some form of cancer during our lives. That’s right. You see T&T is more than just the land of Steel Pan, Calypso and drug trafficking, it’s also a land of Cancer.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) T&T has one of the highest incidences of Cancer as well as one of the highest Cancer mortality rates in the region. Men in T&T are particularly susceptible to developing prostate Cancer while women are more likely to die from Breast Cancer than any other type.

 But look on the bright side; there are worse things that could happen to you than getting Cancer. Like dying in a car accident, being mauled by a pit bull, or Lendl Simmons leaking those pics of you two having sex and the whole world knowing you did it with a second rate cricketer.There is however a depressing aspect of having Cancer; I am of course referring to those shameless fraudsters and quacks peddling bogus cancer cures to desperate and vulnerable people.

Take for example Coral Calcium. This popular drug advertised on local TV sells people on the moronic and bogus idea that invasive diseases such as cancer are caused by calcium deficiencies. It also relies on another equally bogus idea popular among quacks that somehow your body’s PH levels need to be more “alkaline”.  It should go without saying that Coral Calcium is useless and that its inventor Robert. R. Barefoot has no medical qualifications.  And it should come as no surprise that Barefoot’s co-author of his book, ‘The Calcium Factor’ is a former doctor who has been stripped of his license since 1983 for “potentially dangerous practices”.

Con men pushing bogus cures aren’t alone in targeting the sick. There are also people who try and pass themselves off as doctors, such as Naturopaths. Naturopaths are basically losers who couldn’t get into medical school. So they decided to form a whole branch of quackery called Naturopathy. Since Naturopathy doesn’t actually involve having to learn actual medicine or science, it was easier to get qualified in.

Naturopathy involves nonsense like homeopathy, acupuncture and being able to use the word ‘holistic’ a lot. All things which have been debunked over and over again as having no scientific merit  or medical value. A lot of smart people can get suckered by naturopathy with all its talk about natural living. For example Steve Jobs, the genius who made it possible for us to watch porn on our phones, turned his back on real medicine in favor of naturopathic treatment when he was diagnosed with cancer. And well now he’s naturally dead.

Of course if there is anything more stupid than Naturopathy it has to be Ayurveda ‘medicine’. This is a medical philosophy that has its roots in ancient India and mostly involves ingesting herbs, doing yoga and getting the occasional massage.  Ayurveda medicine is very popular in India, as evidenced by India’s high infant mortality rate, high rate of infectious disease and of course India having one of the lowest rates of survival among cancer patients.

Bestselling charlatans such as Deepak Chopra have made a  fortune promoting the nonsense of Ayurveda medicine. In his book ‘Quantum Healing’ Chopra claims to have cured a girl named Chitra of cancer, by convincing her to abandon actual hospitals in favor of the Maharishi Ayurveda Center in Massachusetts. Like any true snake oil salesman Chopra proudly proclaims, “There is as yet no scientific reason why any of this should work except that is does.”

Chopra is at least half right about that. According to Cancer Research UK, Ayurveda medicine is a pseudoscience that apart from maybe providing a nice massage shows absolutely no benefit in treating cancer patients. Furthermore a study into the nature of Ayurveda medicines in India, found that 41% contained arsenic with 64% containing lead and mercury. Rather than curing your cancer, Ayurveda medicine might actually increase your risk of getting it.

Thanks to the efforts of real doctors and researchers, we know a lot more about cancer than we ever have.  More people can be diagnosed earlier and have greater chances of survival. In his breathtaking book, ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’ Dr.Siddhartha Mukherjee chronicles the history of cancer, expertly dismantling  false assumptions, conspiracy theories and detailing  the efforts by researchers to find a cure, giving hope to cancer patients everywhere. 

It is because of the hard work of men and women like Dr Mukherjee   that the con men and quacks peddling lies and false hope should be viewed as tumors that need to be destroyed.


NomisTT said...

It's amazing that there is no legislation to tackle such foolishness.

RealisticTrin1 said...

Hey Nomis TT...its NOT amazing that such legislation does not fact, we should be more amazed if it actually did is the case with so many other social ills and foolishness, the politicians have little or no interest in these things...only a lot of hogwash from their the present health minister whose comment regarding the Sure-Way Weight Loss Clinic could not be more asinine...'people should do their own investigation before going to such clinics'!!! i don't what he's smoking, but whatever it is, that's some really good sh_t!!! how can he possibly expect joe and jane public to 'investigate' anything..his own police force couldn't do it! so, joe and jane public is left to fend by themselves...its the nature of the society we live in...constant battles between those in power and the average citizen to live comfortably...think about it for a moment...the public is faced with a forth rate health care system, an abhorrent & horrendous crime situation, generally deficient water supply, a police force that can take matters in their own hands without consequences (aka unwarranted nationwide roadblocks), a fire service without basic equipment to assist, schools that cannot open in time and those that do have flea infestation problems, and to top it all off, a traffic congestion problem boggles the mind how people here actually live...its really a constant battle...i suppose one gets acclimatized to the expect it to be that this what life is supposed to be like? for us already grown...well...take the pressure...but is that what you want for your kids to face....the young ones now in 10 years time will face situations 10 times worse...of that you can be sure...the rate of decline has been so steep over the last years that even a Herculean effort will not reverse the most, probable slow it. look carefully at the type of events taking place and be mindful that what the media reports is but a fraction of whats out there...the overall situation is not promising and conditions are favorable for further decline...

NomisTT said...

I agree with everything you have said. The thing is I do my part as a good citizen, I don't drive on the shoulder, hardly break traffic lights, I abhor littering and any kind of harm to the environment, and also favour the scientific method and critical thinking over superstition and dogma.

But what can I really do to help solve the problem? What are your thoughts on a solution?

RealisticTrin1 said...

as is with small island states, change will occur if only we make changes to the education system. that the system currently in place has been there for so long, albeit by different names (11 plus, common entrace, SEA, CAC etc..)changes to that itself will require those in authority to see the harm it has done. so, if we are saying changes on a national scale can only be mandated by those 'in authority' (aka government/minister/prime minister), then they must be made to understand or at least listen. fast forwarding a bit, the drastic measures required itself requires some real 'taking the bull by the horns'...whether the politicians are willing to do that is another story.
changes to the education ssytem might include:
1. changing the present system to a universal education system
2. changing the curriculum to include love for one's country
3. determined effort to change role models from soca/chutney/corrupt officials to ones of higher caliber (i'm certain >90% of school population does not know who is richard hawkins, nikola tesla etc..)
4. institute separation of church and state
5. if locals are unable to fix the everyday ills (water, crime, health etc.), then admit that and seek foreign advice/experts
6. weekly 'state of the country' 30 minute synopsis by the PM...delivering lists of immediate concerns and plans to fix...possibly aired on Sunday nights just after nightly news

of course Nomis, the social problems in TT are deeply entrenched...and over the years all the ills have been left to now its a hell of a problem...
i consider myself a realist (as different from a optimist or pessimist)...that being said, i feel the reality is that TT has been spoiled by oil...from politicians being 'spoiled' citizens being spoiled...all told, Trinidadians are selfish and its every man for ask for suggestions...i admit that sometimes i just throw my hands up in the might be too late...

NomisTT said...

Maybe it's too late, but maybe not as well. I know this current crop of politicians want to keep the status quo just so their financiers, friends, and family help themselves.

I thing Trinidad needs a serious wake up call, maybe when the oil and gas industry no longer generates the wealth to keep us spoiled, or maybe something else to make us realise not everything is jam, fete, and wine.

I definitely agree the education system needs to be revamped. As it is I am thinking that I may have to pay for private schooling for my son all the way to university ad the current system really isn't what education should be. Things have changed since my time in secondary school and I noticed the decline then.

True change is when people see what the UNC/PNM really is about and reject them. I always say give someone new a try until we get it right.

RealisticTrin1 said...

yep...i think we both know many issues need to be first tackled and some meaningful solutions be implemented...trinidad is a hugely complex many things have been left to rot for so long...spoiled by wealth, the previous generation was blind to the future...that future is of course now...have you ever read the Scott Drug Report...if yes, then you will understand a little better what went on many years ago is continuing today....if you have not, get yourself a copy....let me know...i can tell you where to get it...that document should be published one of these good days...maybe in the sunday shows how deep rooted corruption has been and why it is so difficult to eliminate...
that was digressing a bit...but there is tremendous effort needed just to stop the rot/decline...and of course even more to reverse the problem...
keep slugging on....and hope for the best....
1. crime
2. health
3. water
4. roads (nothing to do with traffic)
5. traffic congestion that seemingly cannot get worse?
6. corruption in goverment
7. corruption in police
8. drugs/guns/gangs
9. next to zero level of criminal prosecution
10. wine/jam/roti/doh-care-ah-damn mentality
11. environmental decline (unregulated quarrying, unregulated hunting, unregulated fishing, unregulated squatting, unregulated land clearing)
12. unregulated fireworks/music
13. and so many more...
and in spite of it nationwide shutdown, no protests...everything going on as usual...hmmm....

NomisTT said...

I have read excerpts from the report, especially big names in politics and the police force conspiring to commit murder and other serious crimes and of course getting away with it.

But I do believe the longest rope has an end. Change happens weither we like it or not. The real question is if it will be peaceful or a huge violent reset.