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Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

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How our brains fool us on climate, creationism, and the vaccine-autism link.

Some of our readers have complained that we pick on alternative medicine while ignoring the problems in conventional medicine. That criticism is unjustified: we oppose non-science-based medicine wherever we find it. We find it regularly in alternative medicine; we find it less frequently in conventional medicine, but when we do, we speak out. A new book by Dr. Peter Palmieri is aimed squarely at failure to use science-based medicine in conventional practice.

You'd think so, right? After all, in the last several thousand years there's been a single dubious report of someone coming back to life after having been dead for several days. Other than that, bupkus.



A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point."

Or he just ignores your response.

Indeed, when I responded to Syngas on the AGW thread on the forum, his response was the sound of crickets, a sound that he his fond of referring to.

I also heard the sound of crickets some time ago when we were discussing zygotes.

When some people cannot bring themselves to respond to a question, they just duck their heads and leave the question unanswered. If they can focus on one itty bitty point of fact which has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand, they'll utilize that as a red herring.

This PBS documentary about medical marijuana highlights another problem with conventional medicine, which is that unless a pharmaceutical company can make a profit from a given remedy, that remedy languishes. This is especially true if the remedy in question is as stigmatized as cannabis. As one researcher in the documentary says, "I think our policies should be driven by science, but for the most part, they're not." At some point in the future, we will look back upon this foot-dragging regarding cannabis the same way we now look at those TV commercials featuring doctors recommending cigarettes.

I think that, as much as I think Voth (the anti-marijuana doctor) is exaggerating the dangers of marijuana, I do think that he's probably the right that medical marijuana is the "medical excuse" for most people who support legalization anyway. This documentary doesn't really convince me that the medical beneficiaries are all that numerous - it's just so heavily laden with stories from a few cases, i.e., anecdotal evidence. The quality of the real science referred to just doesn't get a lot of vetting. Don't get me wrong, I'm not convinced that marijuana isn't widely beneficial either.

My reasons for supporting the legalization of marijuana have little to do with marijuana’s claimed medical usefulness. There's just a lot of evidence, solid statistical evidence, that marijuana just isn't all that dangerous - considerably less dangerous than lots of things which we've decided are OK. In a society that at least pretends that freedom is valuable, the burden is on those who want to deny freedoms to show there's strong justification for doing so. The criminalization of marijuana is totally unjustified and that is what matters. By offering a medical justification (or "medical excuse" if you accept the perjorative slant), the problem is that you seem grant the status quo (criminalized status) as an acceptable default position.

Well said!

I agree with everything you've said. Yes, medical marijuana is used as an excuse by legalization advocates, including me. And while the documentary provides mainly anecdotal evidence for marijuana's medicinal uses, the evidence keeps piling up elsewhere. Go to PubMed. There are over 700 articles on peer-reviewed clinical and preclinical trials involving cannabis as a treatment for a wide variety of ailments, including cancer. Oddly, almost all of them have been conducted outside the United States.

At least one study shows that marijuana use does not increase the risk of cancer, unlike alcohol and tobacco use. Not only does marijuana use not increase the risk of cancer, but it appears to reduce the risk of head and neck cancers.

If these studies can be used to advance the outright legalization of marijuana, so be it.

re: BigDaddy:"...highlights another problem with conventional medicine, which is that unless a pharmaceutical company can make a profit from a given remedy, that remedy languishes....At some point in the future, we will look back... the same way we now look at those TV commercials featuring doctors recommending cigarettes."

comment: Or, physicians in the '40s who advocated removal of all kids tonsils in childhood. Or, physicians in the 50's who handed out 'diet pills' (e.g. speed) to housewives near and far. Or, physicians in the 60's who pontificated that full court basketball would be too hard for the girlies to play. Or, physicians today who hand out Viagra, but refuse to provide birth control prescriptions to women because the Dr.'s religious beliefs preclude contraception. Or, physicians who vet the Government healthy food recommendations to insure they do no harm to the Agribusiness and processed food and snack companies. Or the ones who certify School Lunch program contents as being nutritious, for they serve that veggie 'Catsup" with the fries...

The fact of the matter is that many go to non-conventional medicine, not because they are ignorant, but because because the 'science based' meds and procedures are unaffordable. They may figure "well, it might be better than nuthin." Conventional practice 'advocates' preventative care, but does naught to insure it accessible to the patient.

With respect to cannabis laws, why do we countenance them? Those police, border patrol and Mexican communities caught in the drug wars lose lives by the thousands. When laws are stupid, people are quite disinclined to obey them. When disobedience comes with a big fat paycheck from illicit trade, then the BILLIONS we spend on DEA are just a bad bad joke. Hey! How bout cutting DEA out to help balance the budget? Or, how 'bout saving another trillion or so from the Pentagon budget, - a budget risen faster even than the cost of health care? How come 'entitlements' are the only thing on the chopping block????? grrrr

Why not the bleedin' obvious and legalize pot and tax it. Tobacco makes a lot of money for the state and it KILLS people - far more of a problem than Pot.

I just came across this interesting development:

"GW Pharmaceuticals plc (AIM: GWP) today announces the initiation of the Phase III clinical trials programme of Sativex in the treatment of pain in patients with advanced cancer, who experience inadequate analgesia during optimized chronic opioid therapy," GW said in a statement. "This indication represents the initial target indication for Sativex in the United States."

This presents several interesting new wrinkles. For starters, patients who have tried Marinol, another cannabis derivative, have complained that it's much harder to control the dosage than simply smoking. If you smoke cannabis, you know within five minutes whether or not you've had enough, but if you take Marinol, you have to wait around an hour for the effect. Then, if it isn't helping, you have to take more and wait another hour. I suspect the same problem will arise with Sativex. Also, Sativex is intended only for pain relief among advanced cancer patients. There is no mention of the many other potential applications. Plus, will this give the DEA additional grounds for persecuting cannabis dispensaries?

There seem to be lots of unnecessary hoops considering pot's relative harmlessness.

You'd think so, right? After all, in the last several thousand years there's been a single dubious report of someone coming back to life after having been dead for several days. Other than that, bupkus.

This individual should read some mythology and the rest of the bible. I think there used to be regular claims of this sort of things along with virgin births.

While todays super heros can fly and shoot lasers from their eyes, the heros of yester year often come back to life , inseminate from great distance, occasionally turn stuff into food and wine.

And they were better for it!


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