Thursday, October 4, 2007

Have you been properly Mirandized?

The next time one of your woo-inclined friends or family tell you that they're buying a woo-product to cure their illness, make sure you point them towards the fine-print. "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease." As PalMD points out:

There are three ways to look at this: the truthful way, the sinister way, and the bat-shit insane way.

1. Truth: Anyone who wants to sell you something that’s a load of crap must use this statement to cover themselves legally.

2. Sinister: Variation of above–someone wants to sell you something that you are supposed to believe is medically useful, but at the same time they tell you in fine print that it is not medically useful. When it doesn’t work, they don’t get sued. I wonder why anyone would buy something with that disclaimer attatched to it? When I treat someone for a medical problem, I pretty much say that I intend to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent a disease. Why would I say otherwise? It would be a lie. Also, who would go to see a doctor that told you that they didn’t intend to diagnose or treat disease. The whole thing is bizarre.

3. Bat-shit insane: The FDA and Big Pharma are in cahoots with the AMA to keep you from learning all the simple ways to treat diseases. They want you’re money, and they’ll do anything they can to get it from you, including suppressing the knowledge than anyone can learn to heal cancer.

I can’t really help the people who believe #3, but people who are willing to suspend their paranoia should read #’s 1 and 2 a few times. Unless you’re being arrested, no one should be reading you your rights. The Quack Miranda Statement is the red flag that should send you running.
Make sure people know their rights. And they have the right not to buy a product that fully acknowledges it doesn't work.



Chuck said...

Why not? Doctor's sell you flu shots, which more often then not are no better then placebo.

The Factician said...

Welcome back, Chuck.

flu shots, which more often then not are no better then placebo.

Do you have data to support this assertion?

Chuck said...

Only what the CDC supplies, which is absolutly nothing.

Chuck said...

I have been hunting for these objective, medical facts for years.

1) How many diagnosed cases of influenza occured in [pick year here]?

2) Of these cases, how many did receive the then current vaccine?

3) For the individuals who meet both #1 and #2, how many died?

There should be no woo in these numbers and yet it is easier to find a unicorn then this data.

The Factician said...

Several problems here. The first of which is that your failure to find these data don't mean they don't exist. If I have a few moments this evening, I'll see if I can find them for you.

Second problem. What would these data tell you? Not much. All you would be able to tell is that the vaccine doesn't provide 100% coverage (which is already well-established). It doesn't provide 100% protection. Much like a seatbelt doesn't. It just improves your odds (alot).

The more relevant point is what percentage of folks who got the vaccine developed influenza? Compare that to the percentage of people who didn't get the vaccine who developed influenza. Then look to see what percentage of each of those groups died. This would tell you efficacy.

All of these data are available, and I'll see if I can find them later if I have time (busy weekend!).

Happy Friday.

Chuck said...

So the flu vaccine should be covered by #2 in the post.

The Factician said...

So the flu vaccine should be covered by #2 in the post.

There's a rather huge difference between "not medically useful" and "doesn't provide 100% protection". Do you think those phrases mean the same thing?

Chuck said...

No, What is the percentage threshold of protection for medically useful?

The Factician said...

I'm sorry, Chuck. I'm not a lawyer. I don't decide that something is "useful" or "not useful" based on a threshold.

I would say that whatever threshold of protection it is, it is useful to that level of protection. I find that to be far more useful, don't you?

Deciding whether you want to use it will be based on the level of protection vs. the cost and side-effects. Real medical devices and treatments can provide you with this type of information. Phony "alternative" medical treatments cannot.

Most (all?) of the devices described above that must carry the legal Miranda statement don't provide *any* protection. They don't provide *any* treatment value. Zero, zilch, nada. Which is why they have to carry the disclaimer. If they worked (even a tiny bit), they would be able to prove it - and they would no longer have to carry the disclaimer.

Chuck said...

"Real medical devices and treatments can provide you with this type of information."

Flu shots never have provided that information , does that mean they are phony "alternative" medical treatments?

The Factician said...


Flu shots never have provided that information

Do you mean that the nurse doesn't tell you while you get a flu shot? Or it doesn't say on the bottle? Or that the data aren't easily accesible to you? Or that you can't find the data on the CDC website? Or that your doctor won't tell you? Or that the data don't exist? These are all very different statements.

Don't make the mistake that your own ignorance of data means that the data don't exist:

Influenza is decreased by approximately half in the elderly folks who received the vaccine in this study. How's that for a description of effectiveness?

That took me 30 sec on the user-friendly Google Scholar. (And that's just the first hit of 2600 hits of a search using "effectiveness of influenza shots" - I'm sure you can find many more that are more current and more interesting if you broaden your search terms).

(You might also search for children as well, as they are the primary carriers of influenza).

Chuck said...

The nurse didn’t tell us when we got the flu shots. It didn’t say on the bottle. The data isn't easily accessible to anyone. You can't find the data on the CDC website. My doctor didn’t tell us.

Your reference is a paid service, is only an approximation, which I would expect from a pseudo-science and not a real science, and only covers a small sub-set of the population. Without seeing it I know it doesn’t answer my questions. If it only covers one year then it is nothing more then a case study.

From the CDC web site:
Another 2-year study of children aged 6-24 months found that the vaccine was 66% effective against laboratory-confirmed influenza in year 1 of the study. Only children who were fully vaccinated (i.e. had either 2 doses if not previously vaccinated, or 1 dose if previously vaccinated) versus unvaccinated children were included in the analysis. In the other year, few cases of influenza occurred, making it difficult to assess the vaccine’s effectiveness.
A study of influenza vaccine effectiveness among >5,000 children aged 6-23 months found vaccine effectiveness of 49% against clinically diagnosed pneumonia or influenza among fully vaccinated children (Ritzwoller, Pediatrics 2005).

Neither study has a reported un-vaccinated control group to measure the severity of influenza for the report duration. Why wouldn’t the CDC publish the number of unvaccinated control number and number of diagnosis with influenza unless the percentage of un-vaccinated without influenza was higher? That is the kind of spin that the CDC wants and I still don’t see.

The sad statement is my stockbroker is required by law to give me more information about my investments then my doctor is about my healthcare treatments. Given that, the warning my stockbroker gives should be the same warnings all vaccines are required to give.
“Past performance is no guarantee of future outcomes.”

The Factician said...

That paper that I reference actually answers several of your questions. And they provide accurate data, controlled for not vaccinated (all available within the *free* abstract - go ahead and check). To get further details, you would need a subscription. And I support open access (I wish everyone could access all papers).

Anyway, Chuck. This is a one time offer. Send me your e-mail address, and I'll e-mail you the paper.

Without seeing it I know it doesn’t answer my questions.

If this is really how you feel, then I guess we're done. I'm not interested in converting religious belief. I deal with data. Good luck.

PalMD said...

Chuck, I think I get your point--you don't personally know all the data, and you are not an expert, and most importantly, you don't trust the experts opinions. I get it.

That being said, should you trust woo-meisters more than mainstream medicine?

Chuck said...

Who is to say that there are not woo-meisters in mainstream medicine?

Chuck said...

If any entity, entrusted to protect your health and well being, fails to give you all the necessary information to make an informed decision, doesn’t that qualify as a woo-meisters?

Chuck said...

My E-mail address is Charlesbakk at I honestly welcome seeing a few data points for a defined subset of the population in a few influenza seasons from a source that isn’t the government entity responsible to track and report said information to the public.

PalMD said...

That little caveat of yours pretty much disables you from evaluating anything. Gov't agencies are pretty much the only things big enough that they are tasked with collecting this kind of data.

If you are so paranoid that you think the gov't has some weird motivation to vaccinate people for no good health reasons (?microchips), then you will never be convinced.

You probably should not be vaccinated.

Chuck said...

Your caveat pretty much disables you from objectively evaluating the inability of the CDC, and your own profession. I have 8 documented cases of vaccine failure/adverse reactions in my family. Every member of my family, by blood and law, has had multiple vaccine failure/adverse reactions causing lifelong adverse conditions. I wasn't Mirandised. Per #2, and we all should have been.

Chuck said...

Oh, I forgot to thank you for your last statement in your post concerning the medical establishment’s inability. I will consider that being Mirandised covering #2 from the post.

Chuck said...


Please explain why my caveat does not accurately and objectively describe the data that Factician is providing and why defining data disables me from evaluating anything?