You are killing patients

(Who me?)

Debate in science is essential. You would hope it were the very lifeblood of progress. One would also hope that researchers could disagree with each other in frank and open debate. But it has become increasingly obvious to me that if you criticise the experts in medical research you can expect a very rough ride indeed. You certainly risk being stomped into silence.

I have witnessed this quite a lot recently, and have found that the ‘stomping’ game is very simple. If a critic of an area of mainstream medicine seems to be gaining some traction with the public, they are very rapidly accused of ‘killing patients’ by various professors a.k.a. ‘experts.’

Sadly, it has become an article of faith that ‘experts’ cannot be argued with. For they have attained the status of demi-gods. Recently, I was reading an article about Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner in economics. He was discussing the irrationality of the financial system. He made many interesting points. For example:

The way scientists try to convince people is hopeless because they present evidence, figures, tables, arguments, and so on. But that’s not how to convince people. People aren’t convinced by arguments, they don’t believe conclusions because they believe in the arguments that they read in favour of them. They’re convinced because they read or hear the conclusions from people they trust. You trust someone and you believe what they say. That’s how ideas are communicated. The arguments come later.’

Slightly later on, he talks about his own belief in global warming:

‘Why do I believe global warming is happening? The answer isn’t that I have gone through all the arguments and analysed the evidence – because I haven’t. I believe the experts from the National Academy of Sciences. We all have to rely on experts.’

We all have to rely on experts? So says Daniel Kahneman. A man whom I generally greatly admire. In this case though, I could not disagree more violently. In one breath he states that people aren’t convinced by arguments; they’re convinced because they read or hear conclusions from people they trust. Then he says that we all have to rely on experts. But he does not link these two thoughts together to ask the obvious question. Just how, exactly, did the experts come to their conclusions?

By listening to people they trust? And who might they be? Other experts presumably. And how did they come to their conclusions….by listening to other experts. And how did they come to their conclusions. Hold on, it seems we are trapped in a loop of self-reinforcing logic. There is no escape.

In this area, I tend more to go along with Professor David Sackett:

According to the founder of Evidence Based Medicine experts are hindering the healthy advancement of science.

Writing in this week’s British Medical Journal (BMJ), Canadian-based researcher, David Sackett, said that he would “never again lecture, write, or referee anything to do with evidence based clinical practice”. Sackett is not doing this because he has ceased to believe in evidence based clinical practice but, as the BMJ comments, because he is worried about the power of experts in stifling new ideas and wants the retirement of experts to be made compulsory.

Sackett claims that the prestige of experts (including himself) gives their opinions far greater persuasive power than they deserve on scientific grounds alone.”Whether through deference, fear, or respect, others tend not to challenge them, and progress towards the truth is impaired in the presence of an expert,” he writes.

He also argues that expert bias against new ideas operates during the review of grant applications and manuscripts. “Reviewers face the unavoidable temptation to accept or reject new evidence and ideas, not on the basis of scientific merit, but on the extent to which they agree or disagree with the public positions taken by experts on these matters.” 1

My rather cynical view is that experts can be compared to those men (usually men) who have grabbed hold of the microphone at the front of a mob during a protest march. With this simple act they have managed to gain status and authority. Shortly after they become spokesmen for the revolutionary movement, then leaders…then despots.

However, most newspapers, journalists, television producers never ask they question, how did an expert become an expert – what makes them so. Instead, they are completely in the thrall of the ‘expert, and greatly fear their power. Which means that when an eminent professor loads and fires the ‘you’re killing patients’ gun, all hell breaks loose and panic stalks the land. Journalists, newspaper editors, TV producers and suchlike quiver in fear. They instantly retract everything they have ever published on the matter, and promise never to do it again.

The example of Andrew Wakefield is familiar to all. He stands accused of causing the deaths of thousands of children. Fewer people have probably heard to Peter Gotzsche, who is a professor and head of the Nordic Cochrane Collaboration (yet, not an expert). He has long been a critic of a breast cancer screening. Which has not endeared him to many who work in that field. He is regularly accused of killing thousands of women.

He was forwarded a copy on e-mail by a colleague. It has been written to one of his greatest critics Lazlo Tabar by another ‘expert’. It contained this section – which I have reproduced in full from Professor Gotzsche’s book ‘Mammography screening, truth lies and controversy’

‘What is remarkable to me is that this man (i.e. Dr G) calls himself a scientist since he obviously and knowingly ignores the scientific method in order to further his own agenda, whatever that may be. I cannot believe he is so intellectually deficient that he cannot grasp the plethora of evidence that so strongly supports the benefits of screening. What then drives him so blindly in his crusade to convince us that all the world is flat? To become infamous as a contrarian, standing lonely on the curvature of the as he denies is spinning under his feet? Or is it something even more petty? An all-consuming hatred and jealousy of Lazlo Taber, whose impeccable trial facilitated by meticulous Swedish record keeping and a socialist society provides a setting unparalleled in the world for a scientific trial? What is tragic and make G’s ravings sinister is that I am sure his influence has resulted in women’s unnecessary deaths somewhere in the world. The Scandinavians are known for their fair-minded, progressive concern for women, as well as for their intellectual integrity. IN this regard, PG is certainly a Nordic contrarian.’ [G or PG in this case refers to Peter Gotzsche]

Well, that’s very pleasant. However the part that I wish to draw attention to is this short section…’I am sure his influence has resulted in women’s unnecessary deaths somewhere in the world.’ A difficult statement to either prove, or disprove – I would think. However, the weapon is familiar ‘You are killing patients.’

On pretty much the same lines, I reproduce two short sections from a letter written to Dr Uffe Ravnskov by Professor John Kastelein (A big noise in CV research). He is objecting to Ravnskov’s view that raised cholesterol does not cause heart disease:

‘If this was a joke, I could have laughed about your statements heartily, but they are in fact criminal and bordering on the insane….. I insist that you refrain from any advice to any patient anymore. You are lucky not to live in the Netherlands. I would have dragged you to court.’

Once again, a nice polite scientific debate. Accusing someone of being criminal bordering on the insane. More recently, you will have noted the successful attempt to crush the Australian Catalyst programmes. One of which criticised the diet heart/cholesterol hypothesis. The second program was critical of the ever increasing prescribing of statins. I mentioned it in my last blog

The controversial Catalyst program on statins and heart disease, The Heart of the Matter, was attacked by health experts even before it aired last year.

The presenter of ABC radio’s Health Report, Norman Swan, warned “people will die” as a result of the TV program’s messages about heart medications.

Swan, whose criticism of the program has been vindicated by the independent Audience and Consumer Affairs Unit report, had said the program made him “really angry” because it might affect Indigenous Australians, who are especially likely to suffer from high cholesterol.’

Once again the ‘you’re killing patients’ gun was prepped and fired to pretty devastating effect. Both programmes were pulled from the air with humble apologies all round. Even the first episode ‘dietary villains’ was pulled,which was found to contain no errors at all. Guilt by association I suppose.

A similar battle is being fought in the UK between the statin experts, and those who would criticize them. It has been going on for some time. In 2011 the Cochrane Collaboration published a report very critical of the benefit of statins in low risk/primary prevention patients.

Professor Sir Rory Collins, the most eminent statin expert took great affront, and started to pick the paper apart, claiming it was highly dangerous and damaging. At one point claiming it was far more dangerous than Andrew Wakefield’s Lancet paper.

I quote from 2011:

In public health terms it is potentially a far more serious misinterpretation than that of Wakefield and the MMR in the Lancet.’2

He doesn’t state that the Cochrane collaboration is killing patients directly, but by using the example of Wakefield, we know exactly what he means. ‘You are killing patients.’

Professor Collins has warmed to this theme more recently. As you may be aware he has been attacking the BMJ recently for publishing articles about statins which claim that they have significant side-effects. He vehemently protests that they have virtually none. I quote him again, this time from the Guardian:

“It is a serious disservice to British and international medicine,” Collins told the Guardian at the time, claiming that the alarm caused was probably killing more people than had been harmed as a result of the paper on the MMR vaccine by Andrew Wakefield. “I would think the papers on statins are far worse in terms of the harm they have done.”3

He has been recently followed on this theme by Professor Magdi Yacoub (A famous heart surgeon, now retired from this job). Who is pressing the ‘you’re killing patients’ button with great enthusiasm.

Hey guys, engage in scientific debate, or shut up. Accusing people of killing patients is a terrible and horrible insult, and should play no part in any discussions of this sort. It is the tactics of the playground bully. Yes, I mean you.

References (may require site registration or membership to access)

1:http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/health/HealthRepublish_124166.htm

2: http://webappmk.doctors.org.uk/Session/3366252-XXkGXnwQtec5BtkDi3av-aoqmidr/MIME/Trash/146856-02-B/collins%20statins%20exchange%20with%20cochrane.pdf

3: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/15/statins-bmj-statement-professor-collins-side-effects

155 thoughts on “You are killing patients

    1. howfussiner

      Yes, literally killing us. I was trekking in Nepal at age 69. Before breakfast, up 1500 feet to see the sunrise, down for breakfast…and then the day’s 8-hour trek, continuously up and down steep crumbling stone stairways. Six short months on 20 mg of simvastatin, and I can’t even stand at a counter for 15 minutes without severe pain–both then and for days thereafter. My legs muscles look like deflated balloons. I have shocking (to me too) photographs, if anyone care to see. I’m in constant pain: muscles, joints, and nerve pain. My case is said to be rare. How would anyone know? My doctor refuses to acknowledge any relationship to the drug. And yet the onset on my symptoms (tightening of Achilles, foot cramps, calf cramps, numbness in feet, etc) are exactly what so many others describe. Now, of course, I’m “getting older”. Odd that my upper body is still strong, while my legs are progressively rotting beneath me. Horrifying! For someone else’s profit–like asbestos, tobacco, cocaine. david reginaofthesun@yahoo.com

      Reply
      1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        Your story is so typical of many, and so terribly sad. As I say to patients, statins add fifteen years to your life….. ‘They don’t make you live fifteen years longer, they just make you feel fifteen years older.’

      2. David Bailey

        Unless you are on the Simvastatin for a very good reason, I would take your life in your own hands and stop the stuff. Your experience sounds remarkably similar to mine (but without the polio). The good news is that if you are like me, the symptoms will start to fade after about a week, and after about 9 months, you may be ready for another trip to Nepal!

        I was also fooled for a while by the fact that Simvastatin doesn’t seem to attack all muscles at the same time. In my case, only my polio leg was affected – which suggested another diagnosis.

        I will write to you with a few more details.

      3. celia

        Howfussiner, you don’t say how long ago all this occurred. In my case it took just over a year from stopping statins to get over the worst of my symptoms, which resembled your own, plus memory issues, which improved vastly after only 2 weeks from stopping the statins. I think taking CoQ10 may have helped with the recovery. I’d like to say I’m back to my old self, but at 70 I now have the arms of an 85 year old. Other than that I do now feel much better. I do hope time will help in your case too.

      4. Chloe

        Dr. Kendrick please would you tell me what CoQ10 consists of. I bought a bottle and got a fright when it said ppl may be allergic to it. I am highly mold/fungus/spore allergic but those bottles never quite say what it consists of. I feel I need it because of my double whammy – I take fibrates plus lots and lots of asthma drugs and allergy controllers. I have never had received an answer at all. Plus could you perchance tell us why my Salmon oil pills says Polyunsaturated in small letters at the bottom. Surely those are Pufa’s then and is it true that it’s no longer just pure ol’ omega 3? Would really appreciate some info here. Have tried but failed to get it. Cheers and thank you.

      5. Chloe

        Howfussiner, I would beseach you (and I am not a doctor at all but I do know about every lipid lowering drug the world ever foisted upon us, we started of with a thing called Lipostable in the 80’s) thus… please demand from your GP to have a test done (Dr. Kendrick wld know what it’s called) to check for your own muscle protein in your blood (rhabdomylises). It’s more dangerous than doctors will let you on to believe. Really have this done. Your story is classic as to the real truth versus what we’re being told (go home and ignore the pain or eventual kidney failure).

  1. GG

    Another great post Dr K. This really is the ‘trust me I am an expert’ bullying tactics and the depth of persuasion that can be exerted in this way should never be ignored as you are pointing out.

    An example: the Royal College of Physicians uses such tactics. Take their statement on ‘The diagnosis and management of primary hypothyroidism’ (2011) as an example. In this statement it is claimed that overwhelming evidence supports the use of thyroxine (levothyroxine) alone in the treatment of hypothyroidism but in fact they are using the bullying tactics mentioned above. When questioned about this overwhelming evidence, it turns out that it does not exist in any published, scientific form. The overwhelming evidence referred to is based on professional experience and expertise and the statement has been endorsed by the Royal College of GPs and was produced on behalf of a number of organisations with ‘sound reputations’ in the field. Here we go again with the ‘trust me I am an expert’ tactics.

    The problem with this statement is that it is taken as sacrosanct by many GPs and patients suffer as a result. Now whether patients die because of it, I do not know, but certainly they can have a terrible life if this mono therapy is all that they are given and it is not what their body needs in order to become well. The statement also just refers to primary hypothyroidism and not the full range of thyroid related problems that many suffer with but do not get adequate treatment for.

    To a huge number of patients, the RCP statement is like a death sentence but the RCP insists that it is right and the evidence is correct (what evidence?). The biggest sham of it all is that those who sat on the committee that dreamed up the so-called, evidence have not been named and the committee is no longer in existence. Here we have a major claim that involves the treatment of huge numbers of patients throughout the UK based on evidence that is actually experience and expertise but we are not allowed to know who these experts are and where the evidence comes from. What does this say about the credibility of the RCP? Why won’t these experts put their names to their claims of overwhelming evidence? And finally, we must note that the RCP statement that doctors follow so religiously is not guidance at all. According to the RCP it is merely a statement and doctors are free to follow other courses of treatment if they wish – can somebody please tell the doctors this because they seem to be under the impression that the RCP statement is the law and must be followed.

    Reply
  2. Jennifer

    Yoo-hooo, everyone!
    Just to let you know I am still alive and kicking……still off all the Fad-Pharma meds my Dr insisted I take, lest I meet an early demise.
    GP would not acknowledge that the bucket-full of meds I was injesting were in fact killing me….the slow death those chemicals were inflicting on me are now fully out of my system, and I am strong enough to ward off the bombardment of phone calls and letters urging me to check in for monitoring of all sorts of conditions that I no longer have!
    My retort to the insistant receptionist? (Poor thing….just earning a living), “please inform the GP and the Nurse that I am fit and well, and will make contact when the need arises”.
    But beware…. our fabulous BBC, in particular Radio 4, and the majority of ill-researched ‘science’ reporters of the national press, are in the same situation as my GP…..and wrist-bound not to acknowledge the truth regarding mis-interpretation of facts.
    Keep at it Dr K. You are a life-saver, and I am living proof.

    Reply
  3. dearieme

    Two minor points.
    (i) “Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner in economics”: there is no Nobel Prize in Economics; there is however a Swedish Central Bank Prize in Physics Envy.
    (ii) “What then drives him so blindly in his crusade to convince us that all the world is flat? To become infamous as a contrarian, standing lonely on the curvature of the as he denies is spinning under his feet?” The notion that medieval intellectuals believed that the world is flat is false: its main propagator was the American nineteenth century writer Washington Irving who used it as part of a crusade against the Roman Catholic Church. (Given some of the real crimes of that church it seems a bit de trop to invent false ones, but that’s America for you, apparently.)

    Reply
      1. Tom Higgins

        It depends on how pedantic one wishes to be. The prize is titled “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”.

      2. james

        commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics , …..as it is referred to by the Nobel Foundation…Like the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry and Physics, Laureates in Economics are selected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences,…
        And I should know because my fellow countryman was among the first to receive – what everybody called- the Nobel Prize.
        Is this really that important in the issue that Dr Malcolm treated so beautifully and elegantly? as usual. Or is it just another way of redirecting attention away from the real stuff?

      3. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        James. I quite like a little side-issue from time to time. I also like to find out that things I thought I knew, are not quite as I thought them to be. But, you are right. Statins are my obsession, and I shall keep doing what I can to bring out the true story

      1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        CJP, I have ‘approved’ your comment. However, I really don’t like it. Whilst I am no saint, one thing I really do not like is criticism with no redeeming features. Debate, I love. Robust debate….bring it on. However, a comment such ‘what load of crap’ achieves nothing. It is just an insult. I have approved it, but I won’t approve anything like it again.

      2. CJP

        Sincerest apologies but the comment was actually intended to be a question aimed at the meaning of ‘nullius in verba’ — a request for a translation if you like.
        Now that a search result confirms it as the motto of the Royal Society and that it’s a direction ‘not to take any explanation on trust’ or ‘to question everything’ I can see a) its pertinence to the thread and b) that the motto encourages questioning. It was not my intent to insult anybody. As best guesses go it was not one of my best, but the tabling of a question wasn’t so far removed for the spirit of the term, either.
        There is no compunction to ‘approve’ any comment – and you are quite right: Something we can agree on is that if you consider a remark ambiguous or offensive then it’s best all round that you don’t.

  4. Tom Welsh

    We are essentially still a bunch of apes (isn’t it odd that anyone should find that statement controversial these days?) As apes, we obey our ape instincts – which dictate that we belong to a group and must do everything in our power to remain members in good standing. (The alternative is death, the fate of all outcasts). A healthy ape group also needs a leader, a silverback or the equivalent. You can easily tell the leader, as he always gets his way and, moreover, beats up other individuals more or less randomly, simply to remind them who’s boss.

    A tiny minority of human apes, down the centuries, have discovered the value of clear, objective, reasoning based on agreed, more or less undisputed facts. Those people, whatever they are called, are essentially scientists. The scientific approach has made some inroads, and in the 19th century was thought by many to be on the way to dominance. But success has brought its concomitant risks, including attack from within. Yes, the scientific community has been infiltrated through and through by primitive ape thinking and behaviour. We need to point it out and weed it out wherever we can. Thanks for starting the process, Dr Kendrick!

    Reply
    1. Jennifer

      Tom, I too, like CJP, was in the dark regarding your Latin, but did nothing to research it’s origin. Dr K rightly responded to CJP’s rather offensive retort, but what I saw was a deterioration in the use of decent language and my lack of comprehension as to what CJP was referring to….Tom’s Latin, or Dr K’s original report?
      In some ways this little spat ( and hopefully, reprimands and apologies have put an end to the matter), illustrates how easy it is to confuse an important issue…..I reckon few gained much from either response, so let’s get back to the serious business of educating the masses in a clear, interesting, polite way. I spent 36 years in the NHS battling against improper, illegible use of the written word….all done in the name of stifling understanding, because who wants to admit that they didn’t learn Latin and or Greek as the basis of their medical/ Nursing career? And which of us felt intimidated in the hospital/ward situation when exposed to expletives which are so ubiquitous nowadays, as to be Common Parlance…yuck…now I am showing off my High School French.

      Reply
  5. Jon Hide

    Hello Doctor What food for thought! It reminds me of Paul Johnson’s book “Intellectuals”. ( worth a read ). Never trust them… Cheers Jon Hide

    >

    Reply
  6. Jon

    Hello Doctor
    What food for thought!
    It reminds me of Paul Johnson’s book “Intellectuals”. ( worth a read ).
    Never trust them…
    Cheers
    Jon Hide

    Reply
    1. Malcolm

      Certainly never trust “intellectuals” but you should be able to trust scientists. NASA trusted Newton to get their men on the moon, Oppenheimer was trusted to build that bomb. Physics delivers! Not so sure about medicine, it’s a very chequered history, is it a science or a process of “best guessing”?

      Reply
  7. Chloe

    Well, unfortunately everybody also believed the experts in the thalidomide disaster (I tend to NOT believe them when it comes to statins – I DO get sick, very sick on statins. I get a condition called rhabdomyolises which causes kidney failure) – all from real SCIENCE experts.

    Reply
  8. mikecawdery

    Dr Kendrick
    As usual absolutely on target. Max Planck is reputed to have said
    “Science progresses funeral by funeral”. May be attributable to yourself or Dr Ravnskov. Whatever it is true. The recipients of professorships, honours, knighthoods and even peerages are above criticism and they will defend their stance against incontrovertible evidence that they are wrong to the end and by any means.

    When I trained at the LSH&TM in 1955-56 scientific integrity was paramount; now money and status are paramount. I personally do not believe any statement or advice from the medical establishment because the probability is that is corrupted for reasons of status and/or money.

    I also object to the concept of “diagnosis and treatment by risk”. Effectively it is simply the old shotgun therapy ruse (long condemned) dressed up as a fancy mathematical algorithm for credence.

    Reply
  9. Donald Scott

    Mary Midgley (English moral philosopher, retired Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Newcastle University and known for her work on science, ethics and animal rights) offers an interpretation on experts I like.
    ‘We are anxiety-ridden animals. Our minds are continually active, fabricating an anxious, self-pre-occupied, often falsifying veil which partially conceals the world.’ We allow experts to take responsibility for those things that make us upset and concerned. We think this transference will reduce the risk of these fears being realised. It doesn’t.

    Reply
    1. Flyinthesky

      Our inherrant anxieties are broadly based on social standing, food, shelter and general comforts.
      The situation has evolved, we now presented with a multitude of inferred threats: cancer, heart disease, global warming, disaster of independance from the eu, terrorism, et al, the list grows daily. These are all to a greater or lesser extent empowerment, enrichment and control mechanisms by their respective, vested interest, proponents.
      Far from the declared intent of enhancing our lives they have gone some way in completely ruining them, Most of us exist in a perpetual state between uneasy and outright fearfulness.
      Malcolm’s perspective is narrowly chanelled on the statin situation but sadly, in my opinion, it all works the same way.
      Ben Franklin had it: Those who sacrifice freedom ( continually deferring to fearmongering expert and vested interest opinion is sacrificing freedom) for security deserve neither. (and will lose both)

      Reply
      1. Malcolm

        The global warming comaparison is not a good one, all but the cranks agree that it’s happening. With statins there are experts on both sides.

  10. Bill Miller

    Dr Kendrick,
    Reminds me of quote from Mark Twain:
    it’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled / Mark Twain
    Bill Miller

    Reply
    1. Catherine Reynolds

      Indeed, Bill, and another one I like is “tell people something often enough and they will believe it”. I’m not sure I can attribute that to anyone in particular, but in my opinion, it’s true.

      Reply
  11. C3 Editor

    Indeed, as your article indicates, the non-expert’s belief in the “experts” white-coat consensus in the global warming debate is solely based on an authority-belief system that resembles more of a religious faith. It is a faith/belief system solely relying on the anointed leaders of institutional climate science rather than the actual empirical, objective science.

    For over 15 years, CO2-caused “global warming” has essentially been AWOL – the catastrophic global warming advocates and “experts” have been proven wrong by the empirical evidence. The real climate science has shown that the experts, their reputation and livelihood have been based on a flawed hypothesis – that being: human CO2 is the sole causal factor of global warming and climate change. (Satellite evidence of AWOL global warming: http://www.c3headlines.com/2014/03/satellites-confirm-despite-trillion-tonne-co2-global-atmosphere-warming-cooling-awol-those-stubborn-facts.html)

    As a blogger in the climate change science debate, it has been truly eye-opening to witness the vociferous, threatening, ad hom personal attacks made by the scientific “consensus” experts on the catastrophic global warming skeptics. The experts in the climate field have essentially lost the science debate in the public realm, and as a result, have had to resort to personal vindictiveness, retaliation and even science fakery to marginalize critics.

    I thought these climate experts were the worst-of-the-worst in the scientific field…..until I became interested in the cardio-cholesterol-saturated fat-statin debates. Yikes.

    I am now convinced that the Big Pharma/Statin sponsored “experts” (researchers/doctors/nutritionists) in the health realm shame their contemporaries in the climate group in terms of personal ugliness and outright money motivated quackery.

    Despite all the empirical evidence and research that literally falsifies the causescholesterol/saturayted fat causes heart disease hypothesis, the drug company funded cardiovascular “opinion leaders” practice the cult of anti-science debate tactics, designed exclusively to personally harm and eliminate those who challenge the health/nutrition orthodoxy with sound research, reasoned arguments and indisputable data.

    In my opinion, their purpose appears to be to protect at all costs the Big Pharma weath generation machine they are addicted to, regardless of the harm to science integrity, let alone the true health considerations of hundreds of millions of forced-statin consumers (patients who really are not the cardio-risk exceptions that require a statin solution).

    Unfortunately, as the cholesterol-cardio-statin hypothesis continues to wither and possibly shrink the wallets of the statin-pushers, the debate will get even uglier.

    Reply
    1. Flyinthesky

      Appologies Malcolm, off topic.

      I seem to be witnessing a curious phenomenon on your threads, whereas people are willing to accept the distortion of science in relation to the statin question but seem to reel in horror that the same rules may apply in the GW sphere.
      The planet, despite Co2 emissions increasing, has expierienced a prolonged period of remission, circa 17 years. Hence the change in title from global warming to climate change. It’s dead but it won’t lie down. There are too many successful empires that are raking in billions for them to fail or even reconsider their position.
      There is however a subtle difference in the two areas, whereas the statin question is a science based situation, however distorted. Global Warming is hypothesis based. You can have a climate observer, a climate postulator or a climate historian but not a scientist there are too many variables to consider that we will never resolve.
      I’m all for considered stewardship of the planet but hypothesising on these non resolvable variables and putting them into computer models has produced what we have now, hysteria.
      What this hysteria has brought to governments and corporates alike is opportunity.
      I’m sure, ish, the progenators of these theories, GW and statins had the best intentions in mind but the smart money recognised the opportunity.
      Despite the dubious provenance there’s a lot of reality in:
      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Joseph Goebbels
      My addition is that this can equally be applied to the corporates.
      It all works the same.

      Reply
      1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        I think it is a bit off topic, but your points are valid. We need to be very wary of science where poeple make statements such as ‘the science here is settled.’ Or words to that effect. Anyone who says that the science is settled – is not a scientist.

        I know nothing about climate science, but I can recognise ‘bully boy’ tactics in a scientific debate, and when I see them my skeptical antennae are on full alert.

        When people try to shut down debate by calling other side ‘deniers’ or ‘charlatans’ or ‘cranks’ I know that something fishy is going on. As a wise friend once said. ‘When the flack it as its greatest, you know you are over the target.’

      2. David Bailey

        The remarkable thing is that the modern science community seems to feel it has to support all the bogus stuff at whatever cost. Thus for example, Sir Paul Nurse, presented a Horizon program on ‘Climate Change’, described here:

        http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100074031/sir-paul-nurses-big-boo-boo/

        Sir Paul Nurse’s specialty is cell biology/genetics – so what on earth was he doing heading such a program? I start to wonder if bogus science has proliferated to such an extent that senior scientists are desperate to plug any suggestion of this problem, lest the awful truth comes out in a rush!

        The remarkable fact is that scientists now seem to tolerate the grossest form of mal-practice. For example, I assume may of researchers must have read the paper referred to here:
        https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2013/07/23/proving-that-black-is-white/

        If science were even remotely honest, there would have been protests about abuse of this sort – it just couldn’t go on. However, unfortunately it seems to be happening all the time. For example, there is a paper in Nature, in which the author plotted many quantities against a time axis, and contrived to truncate one curve just at the point where the curves cross! This conveniently eliminated some evidence against the Global Warming hypothesis!

        Whenever I read about any new scientific ‘discovery’, I ask myself a few basic questions:

        1) Does it involve a sample (of people, say), and if so, how large is it?
        2) Is it possible they tested many hypotheses at once, and only published the one that gave 5% significance?
        3) If they don’t give the figures, did they ‘adjust’ the results in various ways!
        4) Does the research relate to the multiverse – in which case I stop reading immediately!
        5) Does the research depend on a computer model – in which case I become fairly skeptical unless there is some other evidence to support the conclusion.

      3. Flyinthesky

        Thank you for your response Malcolm, the point I’m trying to make is it all works the same way so in my opinion it’s still on or aligned with topic, however tenuous.
        My gut reaction is alway take the unfunded and off consensus opinion as the truth and then evaluate the consensus opinion within those constraints.
        Sir Richard Whoever says it is so, so, considering career position, it must be so, the amount of “science” that’s conducted this way would be mind boggling. I ,boringly, reiterate “no advance in any area of science has been achieved by adherance to the consensus”.
        That position inevitably leads me to the conclusion that the more money that is involved the greater potential for distortion there is. At this moment Global warming / climate change is top dog by a huge margin.
        My wife has suffered UC for over thirty years, an insidious disease, the only people who know anything about it are the big pharmas who have a vested interest in controling it not eliminating it. The reality of which probably rests with antibiotics destroying unknown unrecognised intestinal bacteria but we’re never going to be told that.
        Helicabactor Pylori ! we only found that by accident, someone left a petri dish in an incubator for a long time, eureka! we found a bacillus we didn’t know existed.
        Simmilarly we’ll never find a cause or cure fo cancer so long as we adhere to consensus.
        I reiterate another belief: If you found a blanket cure for cancer along the lines of one teaspoon of rasberry vineagar, two paracetomol and an asprin twice a day would cure all cancers you’d either be dead or very rich and silent within a week.
        Despite their foundation and charitable status, “how good are we”, the big pharmas are the most evil businesses on the planet, bar none. They make back street drug dealers look saintly.

  12. C3 Editor

    Apologies for typos in my original comment. Corrected paragraph below:

    ….Despite all the empirical evidence and research that literally falsifies the cholesterol/saturated fat causes heart disease hypothesis, the drug company funded…

    …In my opinion, their purpose appears to be to protect at all costs the Big Pharma wealth generation…

    Reply
  13. Walker

    Very good, and needs to be said. John Ralston Saul gives an in-depth examination of this plague of experts, and the damage coming out of their reign, in his 20-year-old Voltaire’s Bastards. You might well enjoy this book.

    Reply
    1. osteopathscotland

      So does being an expert relate to Parkinson’s Law, the notion that work expands to fill the time available for its completion (forget about the importance of the actual work) ?

      See Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress, London: John Murray, 1958. One of the chapters is devoted to the basic question of comitology: how committees, government cabinets, and other such bodies are created and eventually grow irrelevant (or are initially designed as such).

      Reply
  14. laurip

    They became experts because they said something with mass appeal. Then it was just a matter of time before they considered themselves to be The Expert Who Was Not To Be Questioned.

    Reply
  15. amieres

    In a way they are right, someone is killing patients, i.e. someone is wrong and someone is right. We just can be certain whom. But is no because one says it first, that he gets to win the argument. This is not a schoolyard discussion. No one is allowed to simply assume they are right, no matter how ‘expert’ they are.

    Reply
  16. Jennifer

    Oh, and another thing! (History calling, yet again.)
    In 1965, as I embarked as a student radiographer at a prestigious training school, it was impressed on me daily, as to the responsibilty of exposure to X-rays. At that time, soft tissue diagnosis was a bit difficult, but mammography was justifiably used to confirm a suspected diagnosis of breast cancer. By the time I trained as a Nurse in the 1980s, along came the Breast Screening Fad. Us women, in collaboration with our GPs, were being cajoled into submitting our precious, delicate breast tissue, for regular and repeated exposure to the very rays I had been warned must be treated with utmost regard to patient safety.
    Yes…..some hidden tumours are discovered, but at what expence to the healthy population? No doubt the same illogical, improbable stats, as we are receiving regarding statin use today, were being bandied around then to ensure we co-operated…..at least I am older and wiser now to the ways of BIG, FAD PHARMA and/or medical interventions.
    I now feel empowered to say NO.
    Please, just let me get on and enjoy my life; and here is a message for pseudo researchers….”stop scaring the living day lights out of me with interminable stories of all sorts of Bogey Men lurking round the next corner.”
    One day I WILL die, I just don’t want to spend every day being tested as to which pathway my demise may follow. When I ultimately present with obvious symptoms, it will be quite soon enough to face that inevitable reality.

    Reply
    1. JanC

      I agree. I read years ago about the problems with regular mammograms. I prefer to live my life as healthily as possible without constant medical interference. I haven’t even been asked to have my cholesterol checked in 20 years. I hope that continues, because I’m now over 60 so due to be filled up with drugs.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer

        JanC…the daft thing is that I agree with myself too! However, being in the NHS as Radiographer and Registered Nurse from 1965-2001, it proved quite difficult to buck the trends emerging from what I now see as silly science. Mammography for the majority healthy masses; cervical smears for the many who had no symptoms whatsoever; 55% carbohydrate diets for the carbohydrate-intollerant (! Give me strength); instructions to the whole nation to reduce eating natural, saturated fats and eggs ..good grief, has the world gone mad?… bone density studies for the peri/postmenopausal…..oh I can feel a prescription coming post haste. I stayed schtum, and now feel I ought to have spoken out, but honestly, who would have listened to me! The dismissal by governments etc of eminent professors et al on these blogs, proves that point, I think.
        I re-state my belief that I acknowledge incredible improvements in medicine during the last 100 years. I am in no way dismissive of the wonderful work being done, but something has gone very wrong in the way medicine is being applied.
        I feel that we ought to stay away from our GPs UNLESS we have symptoms suggesting a problem…..otherwise, we end up, as you suggest, being plied with toxins…..just in case…. Just in case what? That we might die someday? We are all living in fear of the inevitable, instead of living our lives to the full. Die young, and we are being cheated, die old, and we are a burden on society….we just can’t win.

  17. Clutter

    It is evident that any fool can declare themselves to be an expert or a spokesman. Hysterical outbursts and attacks on those who disagree with their ‘expert’ opinion don’t enhance their argument but make them ridiculous. If patients are being killed, where is the evidence? ‘Experts’ should also note that the side effects of some medicines can be so awful that patients may choose not to take the medication and opt for a qualty of life now, as opposed to longevity but half life.

    Reply
    1. Malcolm

      But how can we know if the “declared expert” is a fool or not? To gain expertise in any branch of science takes straight A’s in science at school and another seven years to get that PhD. You need to see evidence that the expert has that kind of expertise, not try and gain that level of expertise yourself! I have straight A’s in science from school and two physics degrees – could you calculate the precession of the perihelion of mercury using Einstein’s general theory of relativity? I could – but it took four year hard work after school and it would have taken another three years (at least!) for me to have become an actual expert in GR. So if you can’t do that how, equally how can you pretend to be an expert on statins, i.e., have anything useful to say about them, without at least a medical degree? Now given the Dr in front of Dr Kendricks name, and his general reputation, and his (difficult!) book, surely we can all see that he is an expert. As are others on “his side”, like Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, Prof Simon Capewell, clinical epidemiologist at the University of Liverpool, Prof David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum, Dr Aseem Malhotra, Dr JS Bamrah, medical director of Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, and Prof David Newham, director of clinical research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. So all we non-experts (those without that medical Dr. in front of our names) can do is sit back and watch the bun fight. After it’s over we can then know whether to take statins or not, or sit and wait some more while prodding them to do some more work in the lab rather than arguing all the time.

      Reply
      1. celia

        Well, I’m not a doctor, but I do have experience doing research and I am able to read, read, read, and evaluate what I am reading. I am certainly not prepared to just sit back and watch the bun fight. Nor am I prepared to take any more of the statins which damaged my health. I would also like lab work and its results to be taken out of the hands of those who profit from the (usually positive) published results.

      2. David Bailey

        Malcolm,

        I have a PhD in chemistry in an area utterly unrelated to medicine, and 40 years past, so perhaps I can comment. The real point, as I see it, is that this is not a debate about the detailed biochemistry of cholesterol, it is mainly a debate about:

        1) The honest presentation of results from the various drug trials and diet/heart disease studies.

        2) The question as to whether data from secret drug trials run by drug manufacturers really counts for anything.

        3) The question as to how side effect data is collected – in particular in relation to statins.

        4) The wisdom of drastically altering the biochemistry of well people, in the hopes of staving off one type of disease – while possibly increasing other types of disease.

        5) Open scientific debate! An expert aught to be able to debate with his peers in open. He should not need to resort to, “People will die!” rhetoric. Any ‘expert’ could write a detailed rebuttal of “The Great Cholesterol Con”. That would be infinitely more convincing than mere rhetoric!

        6) Many people here – myself included – are reporting the actual effects of statins from personal experience. If you read all these accounts, you have to ask yourself if it is wise to consume statins on a just in case basis! I know someone who also suffered the cognitive impairment side-effect of statins! That side effect could wipe out your whole career – maybe returning you to the pre-calculus level. The man I know almost lost his business because customers gave him orders and he promptly forgot them!

  18. Anne

    The ‘killing patients’ quotes are great media attention grabbers. Its a form of manipulation which creates fear and dependency in many. There is a very interesting paper about the use of language – OK its related to food, but is relevant to this debate too. http://oro.open.ac.uk/21269/2/53B438EB.pdf . Later in the article it looks at the way language is used in the GM food debate and has identified that the term ‘Frankenstein food’ is actually used far more by the pro-GM proponents than the anti-GM people. It strikes me that the ‘killing people’ comments are similar to emotional blackmail.

    Reply
  19. Gerard Pinzone (@GerardPinzone)

    The response of “You are killing people” would be appropriate directed to individuals like Jenny McCarthy or Andrew Wakefield, for example. These are charlatans passing off advice as if it were science. The consensus of scientists isn’t a bad thing. Diverse consensus is how we can determine whether or not a hypothesis is reliable. It’s not perfect, but it’s also not an unreasonable position. The wrong consensus about saturated fat is due partially to a lack of evidence diversity and the reliance of epidemiological data as if it was true quantitative evidence.

    I blogged about these topics recently: http://gpinzone.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-misguided-ambition-of-nutrition.html and http://gpinzone.blogspot.com/2014/06/scientific-consensus-blessing-or-curse.html

    Reply
    1. celia

      Hmm, coincidentally, I read only recently that in the USA there’s a growing body of support for Andrew Wakefield, who is not a charlatan, but extremely well qualified. I wonder if history will judge him more kindly. It does seem that anyone who comes up with research results which conflict with the “desired” outcome comes in for a lot of vilification, loss of research grant, loss of job, loss of reputation etc. Witness Kilmer McKully, Mary Enig, John Yudkin etc. etc.

      Reply
      1. lee from norwalk

        Wakefield only has support among the desperate here in the US — he is a charlatan and the increasing number of measles outbreaks can be directly attributed to him.

      2. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        Lee. I don’t like words like crank, or charlatan, they define the discussion on ‘your’ terms i.e. if you dare disagree with me, you are believer in crank medicine, or a follower of a charlatan, also he is ‘killing children.’

        Wakefield is a fully qualified doctor who carried out research on autistic children. This was published in the Lancet after three cycles of review. His research was speculative, but hypothesis generating. The research itself was scientifically sound.

        He then went on to state that the MMR vaccine almost certainly caused autism in certain ‘at risk’ children. This is where he went too far, in my opinion. His research does not allow that inference to be drawn with any such certainty.

        I do believe that it woul be worth attempting to replicate his research to either disprove what he found, or confirm it. Something that has not been done. But I recognised that any ‘mainstream’ researchers have been frightened off doing any such thing.

      3. Flyinthesky

        Lee from norfolk,
        If you could possibly substitute the word desperate with affected you would be able to formulate a clearer position, My grandson “was affected” possibly at a sub clinical level but affected nevertheless. He now, post MMR, displays symptoms of autism that were not evident prior.
        To us, an unqualified opinion, it was as evident as the nose on his face.

      4. sorrel

        I completely agree Celia, Dr Kendrick has suggested we need to engage in a scientific debate and I wholeheartedly agree. However, it is totally unfortunate that playground bullies can turn into much bigger, adept, seasoned bullies that have status and can sway, influence and contort science for their own benefit of financial or ‘expert’ reward. As has been said before -there can be good science with bad scientists . Sir Rory Collins- an eminent statins ‘expert’… is he also an expert in immunology and explored all areas of unsafe vaccine practices? I very much doubt that. Wakefield was discredited, humiliated, vilified, brutalised and isolated because he wanted to ask more questions and enter a ‘scientific debate’. How much of his defamation of character was fuelled by the influences of the part pharmaceutically paid press? Wakefield is a perfect example of a good doctor standing by his oath, listening to patients and parents and acting on first hand information yet the establishment did not want the MMR programme thwarted and they did not want single dose vaccines endorsed as they had already heavily invested in the programme. ‘Cost’ was above ‘safety’ and Wakefield challenged this. He was stifled and was a rather large thorn in the side of the establishment and was wrongly struck off by the GMC for ‘callous disregard’. It must be stated that the chairman of the GMC panel who stuck him off was in favour of compulsory vaccination. I will watch this space to find out if his study will be allowed to be replicated and I think in the meantime I am hoping that ‘pharmaceutical disregard’ will come to the fore if medical editors are allowed to break the silence of the publishers overriding rights and that there is transparency in stating who is funding the science. With the beauty of social media/ internet bad science/ experts like in thyroidology will be challenged and exposed for what it is and who they are. Just 2 weeks ago is has transpired that data used in an American 2004 autism study was cherry picked and excluded a group of children in order to sway the outcome of the interpretation,discussion and conclusion of the paper. One of the chief scientists admitted the fraud after an 11 year silence. ‘A whistleblower from the official agency which recommends vaccine schedules in America (the CDC), has admitted that the agency deliberately omitted statistically significant data to cover up the truth about MMR vaccine dangers’. I hope this has not gone too off topic but I sincerely hope that Dr Kendrick will allow for this response not to be censored and for it to be included as a response to your article above. It is an excellent example of the constellation of good/bad science/expert model/ establishment/ public relation debate. Thank you
        http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/24/new-evidence-refutes-fraud-findings-in-dr-wakefield-case.aspx

      5. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        I do try not to censor anything, other than unpleasant personal insults, or people trying to advertise, or something so far off topic that I cannot see the relevance. I think the whole issue of ‘experts’ controlling the agenda and trying to silence debate is very important.

      6. sorrel

        Thank you for not censoring Dr Kendrick. In the past I have contributed to online discussion on the ‘Pulse’ and ‘Royal College of Physicians’ facebook pages and my comments along with other threads were either deleted or swiftly edited and moderated. My comments were never insulting or defamatory…but touched a nerve by enticing debate in the unfavourable and contentious area of thyroidology -obviously they did not want to enter and participate in such debate and we can draw our own conclusions from that. I found this appalling, it was another fine example of ‘expert model’ railroading and dismissing other ‘scientific’ and ‘anecdotal’ evidence. Surely scientific debate starts with anecdotal evidence. Just to mention.. I am a health professional.

  20. james

    It’s all about eminence based medicine. As it has always been and most likely always will be. Yet we have to allow for at least one strike in favour: eminence based medicine empowers the placebo!

    Reply
  21. David Bailey

    Wow – that hits the nail on the head. Like you (I think), I am convinced there are pockets of this cancer spreading throughout science – particularly where there is large amounts of money involved, or where research consists largely or wholly of statistics.

    Yes, some of your patients will die, but some of my doctors’ patients will die, and indeed all of us will die at some point! Statins are meant mainly for those of us who are getting on in years, and as we age, we have to come to terms with the fact that life is finite, and that it is important to get as much out of the time we have available as reasonably possible. Every potential treatment or investigation of seemingly healthy people, needs to be assessed with this in mind.

    ‘Experts’ who can point to exactly why they believe something, are unlikely to to resort to, “people will die…” – I think this is tantamount to an admission of defeat on their part. There are equally emotive terms to use in other areas of rotten science, such as calling your opponent a “Denialist” (used against people who don’t believe global warming is a significant risk, and also against those who think AIDS might not be exactly what it appears to be), and “Anti-science”, which seems to be used even more widely (and vaguely).

    I know of quite a few areas of science that seem rotten, and each of them have some features in common:

    1) Some formerly respected members of the subject in question (even some with Nobel Prizes – see for example, this piece by the Nobel Prize winner, Kary Mullis http://www.duesberg.com/viewpoints/kintro.html) are vilified and scorned for their views. This usually has the effect that they find it hard to speak at conferences, or get papers accepted – which in turn means the conventional ‘experts’ are at less risk of being challenged on the details of their ‘expertise’.

    2) Statistics and/or computer modeling often play a big part in the controversy! Both play a big part in Global Warming (which was renamed as Climate Change after global temperatures had stopped rising for over a decade), which I am 90% certain is utterly bogus.

    3) Hypotheses are never discarded, but encrusted with extra complexity. Thus cholesterol levels get replaced by LDL/HDL, and a lack of rising temperatures can be explained (away) by a computer model that shows that the heat might get absorbed in the sea. Conveniently, the heat is supposed to be stored at great depth in the oceans, and the thermal capacity of the sea is so great that the supposed phenomenon is impossible to measure!

    4) Students and potential researchers are scared away from the field because they fear for their careers. Here for example, is a set of very detailed lectures by an MIT professor, which indicate exactly why cold fusion is almost certainly real – and a potential source of limitless energy:

    http://coldfusionnow.org/2014-cold-fusion-101-video-lectures/

    At the start of each lecture, everyone is warned that working in this area, or even attending the lectures may be harmful to a person’s career. This is quite clearly not meant as a joke.

    The only ray of sunshine in all this, is that one of these areas (there are more than I have mentioned) will explode spectacularly before too long, and the media will suddenly smell blood!

    Reply
  22. celia goldie

    Thank you. A wonderful dissection of the situation as usual. I was reminded of the similarity between the tactics of the playground bully and the narcissistic bully fighting hard to defend his very fragile ego. I’m not saying all these experts are, in fact, narcissists, but it sure does begin to look that way. Frightening.

    Reply
  23. Jn

    If only you’d take on the based-on-bugger-all-evidence world of psychiatric medicines too.

    …and don’t get me started on the hysterical insistence by oncologists that every woman over 40 needs to get her whining backside on Tamoxifen or Aromatase Inhibitors without any regard or proper information about the severity of side effects or the permanent and serious damage both types of drug can cause. All the big cancer charities are in on this, not one of them will discuss these drugs with patients in a truthful way. Any side effects, no matter how life wrecking are considered acceptable if cancer is in the ring. As with statins, it’s the perfect excuse to blame the patient for not being able to cope with side effects that make normal life impossible. The way endocrine modulators are sold to women to take is beyond unethical. Women are fed the big number fear of relative risk and it’s a rare case where a woman is told of actual risk, nor are they told about the hundreds of thousands of women who have to take the drugs for years, before even 1% improvement of recurrence risk is achieved. The number of women I have met who have done what their doctor told them and endured appalling side effects, had a massive reduction in their quality of life but kept on because they believed they were doing the right thing and STILL ended up with widespread recurrence is very worrying. I’m just a patient, what must the professionals see and turn a blind eye to?

    Keep up the good work Dr Kendrick, we need more like you!

    Reply
      1. Jn

        I suggested the same thing to the oncologist who used the phrase to me. I’m not the one being unkind.

    1. David Bailey

      What are the side effects of tamoxifen? (I could just GOOGLE the answer, but I suppose I trust the information on this blog) I ask because my mother was given this drug after a lumpectomy. There was no recurrence of her cancer, but afterwards, she got extremely bad arthritis, and died of heart failure at 76. Thinking about it, the arthritis probably set in after she started taking tamoxifen.

      As with so many drugs, part of the problem is that when people get problems in later life, everyone thinks it is just a matter of getting old.

      Reply
      1. Chloe

        aaah psychiatry. For some reason South Africa took the bold step to allocate a dedicated channel where we can watch murder court cases from beginning to end. Now… how is it possible that a psychiatrist for the Defence and a psychiatrist for the state can so differ in the extreme regarding the defendants. Watching court cases have given me massive doubts about that particular field of medicine all round.

    1. Jennifer

      Kevin, since I have stopped taking high dose statins, ( and other pills suspected of doing more harm than good), I fancy publishing a headline too….
      “Retired RGN bucks NHS food and medicine guidelines, increasing life QUALITY by 100%.”
      (Perhaps NHS prescription pads should carry a health warning….
      now that would be novel, wouldn’t it?)

      Reply
    2. David Bailey

      I am aghast that any terminal ill patient would be fed statins! What on earth for – I mean surely even Sir Rory would admit that statins (are supposed to) work over the long term!

      Doesn’t the medical profession take note of the concept of ‘terminally ill’?

      Reply
      1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        David. They have been on statins, then they have become terminally ill. I have seen other studies where people remain on statins until their dying breath. So, as least these doctors tried taking them off. Which is brave in itself, as relatives can become very upset if you stop statins – at any point. It is as though you are giving up on their loved on. I am not uncommonly asked to prescribe liquid statin forumlation for extremely elderly demented patients who cannot swallow a tablet. You have absolutely no idea how ridiculous it has all become.

  24. OldTech

    Yea! Though out my life I have been disappointed time and time again with our common public positions.First it was in the 60’s when we admitted that our spy had been shot down over the USSR. What? We did not spy. Now I just shake my head. The attitude that Dr Kendrick’s post points to is everywhere. I now have to question everything. It is somewhat like becoming an atheist – you now have to make your own choices and cannot rely on the church or bible for answers. Only that is not easy.

    The promise is that we could make it easier for people to make their own decisions, but the ‘system’ does everything they can to make that difficult. I first became aware of that when trying to buy a Consumer Reports recommended a product in the early 80’s. When I went to the store all I could find is similar products with different product codes. Manufactures had discovered that if they simply made lots of variations in multiple price and feature ranges they could largely defeat organizations like Consumer Reports. It also largely prevents effective comparison shopping.

    Today companies are keeping data private while telling the public that they are open and transparent. How scientific studies are run today is an outright disgrace. It only appears that small and underfunded studies in the backwater try to follow the scientific principles and even their I am not sure that I trust. Our scientific decision process is no better than the oracles of the past.They too knew what their masters really wanted and that was the answer provided.

    Perhaps we can change this, but it will be a long hard slog. And I am sure that the companies and organizations will be watching and figuring out how to get around any reforms we managed to achieve.

    It is the internet that enabled us to communicate with blogs that has been our biggest and most effective weapon against officialdom. We must protect it at all costs. Otherwise we would not even be having this discussion.

    A modest proposal: Instead of working to reform rules and regulations, lets focus on educating people to make their own decisions and to question officialdom, If more people stopped believing in officialdom, perhaps then we would see some changes for the better.

    Reply
    1. David Bailey

      You are very right!

      I think things will change when people discover that just as friendly, helpful banks morphed into the greedy monstrosities we know today, so the core ethics of science have been eaten out by money and mediocrity.
      You only have to read a newspaper to realise that science is dumming down. Try this piece, for example:
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2650221/Why-hungry-man-loves-curvy-woman-They-evolved-prefer-people-better-access-food.html

      Nowadays, newspapers treat science as an endless source of titillating or frightening stories to fill odd corners that used to contain horoscopes!

      The problem is even rampant in physics:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amir-aczel/pseudophysics-the-new-high-priesthood_b_5340183.html?utm_hp_ref=science&ir=Science

      We live in extraordinary times!

      Reply
    2. Flyinthesky

      Good post, however when you get to the point on educating people, unless you are so motivated and determined to dig deep most of the education on offer will be biased towards the status quo and it’s continuance. Officialdom and corporate interest has gone to great lengths to promote and cement it’s position, it’s not going to give in and relinquish its’ new found status and powers.
      The more aware we become the more determined and devious methods used to maintain that position will be brought to bear. Court cases will be made, let’s not forget justice does not always prevail, it often depends whose wallet is the most resilient. In the case of big pharma and big corporates they have massive budgets set aside for any such actions and view it as justified expense to maintain position.

      Reply
      1. David Bailey

        Well nobody can predict the future accurately, but my feeling is that one or more of the bogus science stories will explode before too long.

        I escaped the clutches of Simvastatin and recovered, but I have spoken to someone who hasn’t recovered, and I can’t help there will be some sort of class action brought at some point. Perhaps that might expose the fact that the side-effect data is not really collected over the longer term while a drug is in use! The Australian film exposed briefly that the related saturated fat hypothesis was based on deliberate fraud.

        There are several other scientific stories that could explode – ‘climate change’, the real story about cold fusion, the lack of evidence that salt is bad for you, and a few more abstract scandals.

        What I hope is that a few quality newspapers will finally go for these stories. At the moment the Daily Mail seems the keenest to do this job, even though it is usually considered a rag!
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1235395/SPECIAL-INVESTIGATION-Climate-change-emails-row-deepens–Russians-admit-DID-send-them.html

        Never mind the headline, take a look at the discussion of a graph that appeared in an article in Nature! They actually expose a trick that was used to obscure evidence that the author didn’t want to show!

        There is in fact a ton of evidence on the internet to fuel a whole range of scandals regarding institutional science – and Dr Kendrick is certainly doing his bit. Once the idea gets around that scientists cheat, this topic will explode (I fervently hope!).

      2. Flyinthesky

        “Dr Kendrick is certainly doing his bit. Once the idea gets around that scientists cheat, this topic will explode (I fervently hope!).”
        Indeed he is but how many people are looking?, how many people defer to the expert opinion, the easy option, the vast majority I suspect, we play right into their hands. Not “we” but they!
        For me a life rule prevails: “Beware expert opinion as the principal beneficiary is often the expert”
        The bottom line is question the expert at your peril. I am willing to question the expert, my oncologist, and I’m here to tell the tale, much to his consternation. The only way to fight it is often to go “all in” and stand by your position. I have been prepared to do that, come what may.
        I only wish to continue my existence on my terms, not to be continually fearful of someone elses.
        If you confer your position and principle to someone else to all intents you’re dead already, you don’t live, you exist. I want to live and bedevil the consequence.

  25. Spokey

    I like the way Kahneman assumes an expert is automatically someone you can trust and above all inducements to behave dishonestly, as if a conman can’t hold a PHD. And as if organised crime somehow magically never comes into contact with science where there’s a lot of money to be had.

    I like Kahneman too, but I’m continually amazed by how bright people like D.K can sometimes be so unfathomably naive, all I can think is they must be surrounded by really nice people all the time. Oh well, good for him I suppose.

    Reply
  26. Professor Göran Sjöberg

    Thanks again for a great thread!

    All you say seems to confirm my present belief that medicine is much more about religion than science and with personal power and money as the drivers.

    Reply
    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      Goran. If I may change this round. Religion was, in many ways, about trying to explain why terrible and frightening things happen. Temples built, pyramids built, humans sacrificed to placate the anger of the Gods – that type of thing. Throughout history anyone who can claim to have the power to make frightening things go away will achieve great status and authority. Religion did this, and still does this for many people. Once science started to explain how the world worked, the power of religion began to fade. Science/Religion began to take its place as the new form of authority (as least with regard to illness and death). In other words religion, and medicine, are different manifestations of systems designed to overcome the natural human fear of pain illness and death. Of course, in many ways, Western medicine has removed these fears, and can do truly brilliant things. But is now overstretches itself by claiming that all diseases, illness and death can be prevented by medicines, or screening, or suchlike. Whilst all of medicine is clearly not a non-rational belief system. Preventative medicine most certainly has become a form of religious belief amongst the medical profession. As with all such belief systems, evidence has little or no effect upon it.

      Reply
      1. Professor Göran Sjöberg

        I fully agree – excellently phrased!

        With a broken leg I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to head for the emergency department but I remain stubbornly reluctant to put any trust into the “healing” competence of any cardiologist.

        As far as I see it there is an anti-scientific attitude built into the medical system. Due mainly to the economic incentives there is a reluctance to look for the true cause for an illness and thus prevent it (health care) or reverse the progress (healing). To me cause and effect is the essence of science together with a convincing physiological explanation for the process.

        My estimate is that they have lost about 50 000 pounds on me since 1999 due to my attitude (“almost criminal” according to the cardiologist I met) – no medicine no by-pass but with the cause removed.

  27. Flyinthesky

    “Debate in science is essential. ” One can only posit an absolute here, science has never, ever, taken a step forward on the acceptance of a consensus. I can only paraphrase from your yet unpublished book. As time goes by it becomes less likely that unfunded, not bribed, opinion will get an airing in the mainstream.
    It takes a brave man to fly in the face of accepted wisdoms, thank you for your efforts, you are up against the faction of “if it saves one life meme” it’s worth the effort. The fact that it ruins millions of others is acceptable collateral damage.
    Medical screening has a place but it has evolved from a choice to an absolute, if you don’t subject yourself to it you’re going to die, horribly. Simmilarly if you don’t accept a particular religous doctrine, death and eternal damnation will follow.
    We used to have choice, whether we put salt on the chips and sugar in the tea or not, we still have but we are actively discouraged from using it, the essential question is do you want to live ten minutes longer in fear or ten minutes less in self determination and satisfaction.
    We have been induced by vested interest to comply with the former.
    The natural outcome of life is death, nobody escapes, how do you want to live it!

    Reply
    1. GG

      Medical screening is not about quality of life for all patients. It is about significant numbers of patients suffering treatment and invasive procedures that they don’t need in order to improve the quality of life of a few.

      Pressure is put on women to have surgery for even benign lumps and they need to be prepared to say no very firmly if they don’t want to have surgery.

      Death has been medicalised and we are no longer allowed to die because it is our time. Quality of life has been put to one side in favour of longevity but I don’t know anyone who just wants to live longer with no quality of life (and no dignity).

      Reply
  28. dearieme

    Yet I have more than once speculated that statinators might be killing people, in the sense of (perhaps) shortening their lives. I have been mildly surprised that nobody has answered by citing any study of the life spans of statinees. Usually they just get huffy. And yet surely it’s not an unreasonable topic to investigate?

    Reply
  29. Suzanne Looms

    So Sir Rory Collins is the leading expert on statins? Where are the randomised double blind research studies he produced? He is an epidemiologist. Do his large studies prove cause/effect (or no cause/effect side-effects of statins)?

    Reply
    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      He has run major studies. HPS for example. Personally I do not doubt his energy and workload and (perhaps) his sincerity that statins are wonderful. I think he is misguided, and is using bully boy tactics.

      Reply
  30. J

    A classic example of your point Dr K is currently still playing out here in South Africa where sports scientist Prof Tim Noakes who I know you referred to in a previous post, continues to be vilified from those very “experts” you mention any chance they get. As you know (but your readers may not), he is a highly respected internationally renowned sports scientist who had previously supported “carbo loading” etc for runners and athletes but has in recent years after extensive research and having a family history of diabetes and being pre-diabetic himself, adopted a Banting type diet and written a book (“Challenging Beliefs”) saying that he has to acknowledge he was wrong before and that all we have been taught about saturated fat and cholesterol is patently false. My word he should have ducked, (not having your years of experience as a pariah that is Dr K). He has been publicly ridiculed and slandered from all sides and the powers that be have compared his “Cholesterol Denialism” to “Aids denialism”, called his opinions “irresponsible”, “dangerous” etc etc and called him out for “changing his tune”, (I thought that was the reason scientific pursuits existed).

    On a personal note I have to thank you Dr K and your exceptional book, (as an aside I have never laughed as much out load reading nonfiction before) for at the tender age of 47, saving me from a few decades of statination after being scared by doctors and the plaque of high cholesterol into doing reams of my own research starting 2 years back. Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. Professor Göran Sjöberg

      Nothing is more convincing than carrying out experiments on yourself and benefit from the positive outcome – can turn you into a convert – disbeliever in medicine.

      Reply
  31. STACIE

    Re: Rory Collins and HPS: The absolute risk reduction for mortality in that study for mortality was 1.7%. This is not clinically significant, therefore, the drugs do not work. Period. I am pretty sure fish oil will get better results. Don’t these people look at the data???

    Reply
    1. celia

      This morning’s interview with Professor Mark Baker of NICE rather nicely demonstrates the issue under discussion here. To summarize, he seems to be saying ” we haven’t been given all the facts, but we trust the people who claim to have them”!

      Reply
  32. Malcolm

    I think Kahneman is right! How on Earth can I sort out the statin issue? I have two degrees in physics but I’d need two degrees in epidemiology and medicine to begin sorting out the “statins or no statins” mess. I have to rely on experts – and you Dr Kendrick are an expert – the most high profile expert on the “no statins” side. So it needs you experts to come to some agreement about this issue – until then, you win, as I think “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”, is the rule to apply when the experts disagree. So how about getting all the NICE experts and the opposition experts together in a room and arguing everything through thoroughly until you all agree on an answer, or agree that more works needs to be done?

    Reply
    1. Chet

      “So how about getting all the NICE experts and the opposition experts together in a room and arguing everything through thoroughly until you all agree on an answer, or agree that more works needs to be done?”

      It will not likely work to our benefit. That is exactly how we got the recommendation for a low fat diet in the 70’s and 80’s. The low fat decision was a political/strong armed consensus and the bullies won. Read Gary Taube’s “Good Calories, Bad Calories” or Nina Teicholz’s “The Big Fat Surprise” for the details.

      Reply
    2. David Bailey

      I think you will find that a lot of the discussion is not so much about abstruse medical issues, as about fair ways to treat data. See for example:

      https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2013/07/23/proving-that-black-is-white/

      I think there is so much money and prestige driving the other side, they will only back down as a very last resort. You can only really decide for yourself. I had trouble from statins and stopped taking them – then I found this site.

      Reply
    3. Flyinthesky

      The problem we have is it becomes a contest between funded and non funded experts, this is no way to get a fair outcome in a so called scientific debate. It’s at least much finacially driven as science driven.
      Re your comment:
      “The global warming comaparison is not a good one, all but the cranks agree that it’s happening. With statins there are experts on both sides.”
      The GW comparison is a good one in my opinion, empires have been built, money is flooding in, every attempt at questioning it is attacked vigorously, the proponent villified.
      Al Gores warning of catastrophic sea level rising didn’t stop him buying a multi million dollar oceanside villa did it, not to mention possibly setting himself up as the first potential billionaire carbon trader.
      Most of us tend to see things as we’re supposed to see them and it’s not always for our benefit.

      Reply
  33. Anne

    Dear Dr Kendrick – I saw in the press a copy of the letter you were one of the co-signaturies of to NICE and the Secretary of State re changing the threshold for statin prescribing. I think that there is now a lot of debate coming right out into the open and that it is actually going to be a good thing now that the general public will see that not all doctors think statins are great – something like 57% of GPs in Pulse’s survey would oppose prescribng statins at this lower threshold !

    Reply
  34. Jennifer

    This 10 day discussion has been most enlightening, showing that medical solutions are far from straight forward, and certainly not cut and dried, as some of us have been gullibly led to believe.

    I have learned this week that my local medical/nursing facilities, managed by the recently formed Clinical Commissioning Group, are under threat of being severely reduced…..it seems that there may soon be little chance of getting advice, be it good/bad/indifferent or plain controversial, ‘cos there will be no one available to discuss things with anyway!

    So…..It seems that politics is the core mover in our medical provision, regardless of what the intelligentsia say about traditional versus state of the art research. To us mere consumers….we will get what we are given, (or not given, as the case may be), and be grateful.
    Access to honest information to help us decide our destiny?
    Decent research in anticipation of progressing the good of mankind?
    It is only political activity that stands a cat in hell’s chance of harnessing such matters, …I think we ought to just get on with our Activities of Daily Living (to quote the Nursing Model), to the best of our abilities, and content ourselves with watching these interesting academic shenanigans from the side lines. I, for one, can do nothing to influence any of the outcomes, but wish the likes of Dr Kendrick, Dr Briffa et al, success in getting their logical, knowledge-based approach to life, accepted by society in general.

    Reply
  35. OldTech

    I agree with Jennifer that this has been most enlightening discussion. However, I think that as consumers we can do more than just get what we are given. We can take responsibility for much more of our own medical care by asking questions and evaluating the evidence. In some areas we can even do our own N=1 studies to see what works for us. And we do not have to always take what we are given.

    When I got my diagnosis for type II diabetes, my doctor insisted that I take a statin and I did for about a month until I learned that statins were more likely to harm than help. That information was easy to find. And I was even able to quickly find and read professional papers. One of these showed that statins raised blood glucose by an average of 10 mg/dl (0.55 mmol/l) and HbA1c by 0.6% thus making it more difficult to normalize blood glucose. I had already decided not to continue statins before I read this paper, but for me this paper was the final nail in the statin coffin.

    I have also come to realize that what my doctor does for my quarterly checkup is not that much. He orders some lab work and looks at the results. I too can do the same. He weighs me. I too can do the same. He takes my blood pressure. I too can do the same. He will ask me for my history of fasting blood glucose. I already have that. And perhaps he will inquire how I have been doing, but he does not really seem interested in much detail and is not really interested in my goals to tightly control my blood glucose because he ‘knows’ that diabetes is a progressive disease. And for all of that he will bill Medicare $250 for 10 minutes of his time.

    So I am starting to think that in the future medical treatment should become more self-directed. I think that this is particular true for preventive care and monitoring. Sure there will be times when we will need professional help, but there is a lot more that we can do for ourselves if we are willing to dig in and learn. I also think that we should learn a lot more on how we can do our own N=1 studies, especially in areas where we have consumer technology available to allow us to measure outcomes.

    Perhaps, if enough of us take more self-directed approach to our own medical care we can even make a difference on public policy.

    Reply
      1. Flyinthesky

        The line between guiding and herding has been crossed, guiding is altruistic, herding is profitable. Those of us who resist or resent being herded are threatened with bigger dogs.
        Choice, if only.

    1. Karen

      Dear Old Tech,

      As in cholesterol guidelines for treatment and most other “health markers”, treatment guidelines for diabetes has been lowered over the last 40 years. I have read (don’t remember where) that in the 70’s that a fasting blood sugar of under 200 was deemed nondiabetic. Currently, fasting blood sugar over 100 prompts most physicians to prescribe medications.

      Take a look of what may have prompted the high blood sugar reading. Had you been on any medications, especially strong antibiotics, high blood pressure, steriods, etc. as some of these types of medications can produce damage to the body that will increase your blood sugar. Or did this happen after the holidays when higher sugary intact often occurs? I took high blood pressure medications and my fasting blood sugar went from 91 to 393 in six short months. I later read that these meds destroy the beta cells in your pancreas and heighten insulin resistence. My AIC was clocked at 16.5. I was prescribed metformin and Lisinpril (another high blood pressure medication – I later found out) after telling my doctor that I thought that the first high blood pressure medication had raised my blood sugar. Since metformin would only lower my AIC approx. .6 points, my doctor wanted me on more diabetic medication. I refused because by then I was learning that diabetes may NOT be a PROGRESSIVE disease if you learn to reverse the causes.

      I suffered a lot of side effects from both metformin and lisinpril (arthritis, hot flashes, hair loss, rapidly beating heartbeats, achy muscles, constant nasal drip, etc.). Later, I kept forgetting to take the Lisinpril and my blood sugar fell down to 6.3 AIC, soon thereafter I ditched the diabetic medication and blood sugar fell further 6.2 AIC (according to conventional medicine it should had skyrocketed up).

      Please do some research on this subject. Here are some books and websites that I hope will help you (I copied and paste from one of my other blogs):

      “Selling Sickness” – How the Major Pharmaceutical companies are making Patients of us all (not exact title), when a person is diagnosed with high blood pressure their change of heart disease is increased by 50%…this is deceptive because the 50% is a relative value for an absolute increase of 2% to 3%. When a person becomes diabetic…the absolute value becomes 65-70%.

      I thank God for my friends, the INTERNET a fabulous source of real information…I have reading following books:

      Dr. Neal Barnard http://www.amazon.ca/Neal-Barnards-Program-Reversing-
      Diabetes/dp/1594868107/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322611282&sr=1-1

      Dr. Gabriel Cousens http://www.amazon.ca/There-Cure-Diabetes-21-Day- Program – I saw the video.

      Death to Diabetes by DeWayne McCulley…he had a BG of 1332 when diagnosed…he had been taking Lipitor; along with an unhealthy diet of a lot junk food and little to no exercise. After diagnose he went from taking 4 shots of insulin to no medications and an AIC of 4.5 in approxi. six months. Among other healthy habits, he found that dark greens are a great healer for the body. It’s been approx. ten years and he’s still around 4.7. I recently spoke to him; he’s easy to get in touch with.

      My plan is to perform more liver and glabladder flushes in an attempt to provide further healings. I have already performed one flush…my average fasting BG has decreased from being in the 90’s to in the 80’s. I’m drinking organic veggie/fruit smoothies and bowlfuls of whole grains each day, and fasting one day a week. I’m still taking herbs to heal the pancreas…per UCLA and UC of California studies Indian studies, etc. Another good book to read:

      “The Amazing Liver & Gallbladder Flush – A Powerful Do-It-Yourself Tool To Optimize Your Health and Wellbeing” by Andreas Moritz

      Best of luck to you….please avoid going down the medical path…You’ll suffer side effects which will necessitate MORE Medications. Oh, I was able to at least in good part reverse the arthritis.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer

        Karen, many thanks for these links, and to all who give brilliant info on this site.
        Your description of events parallels a number of respondents here, and, indeed, I could have written practically the same summary of my own affairs. I am now actually beginning to feel sorry for my GPs, in that they have been hoodwinked. After being so annoyed with them last year, I am now calming down….I suppose a bit like going through the grieving process. I reckon excess medication may have permanently injured my beta cells ( and other organs) over all these years, but at least I have made incredible steps to prevent further damage, and feel so well, due much to Dr Google in general, and Dr K in particular.
        Off on my jolly hols tomorrow, and I will enjoy the articles as part of my “Summer Reading”, that we are all supposed to indulge in at this time of the year…..according to the BBC, that is.

      2. Stephen Rhodes

        I read a paper recently – but as usual didn’t note the reference but see e.g. http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v46/n5/full/ng.2939.html – that explained how the number of copies of the gene that codes for amylase (to break down starches it is produced in saliva) in humans can vary from 1 to 11. This results in a huge variation in the concentration of amylase in saliva from about 1% to around 50%. The selection of this genetic variability is thought to have been due to the composition of the diets we ate over thousands of years in different geographic regions and tribal groupings – i.e. cultural/geographic. Some of these diets are starch poor, some starch rich.
        My concern is that we now apply tests for blood sugar with no concern for what a patient’s diet is and how many copies of the Apo-1 gene they have. This effectively makes the test useless as an indicator of whether they may be diabetic or not, and in some cases the test can lead to dangerous treatment.
        It seems that while there is a ‘we’ who have great knowledge of how the human body functions, there is another ‘we’ who are willfully ignorant of it, and are determined that patients continue to be denied the proper health advice that should be given. In this respect it is probably true that some of us are being ‘killed’ by the treatment indiscriminately given.

  36. Jennifer

    Flyinthesky hits my buttons. For those who may have read my history, I can tell you, it is far from easy to ‘go off message’….regardless of my amassing much knowledge of my diagnosed ‘conditions’, and the lack of improvement with ‘up to date’ pharmacy and nutritional guidelines.
    What the heck could I possibly know?
    Medics at my surgery fail to agree with my explanations, as to why I have withdrawn all my treatment. I was rapidly progressing down the path to hell by following their directions, which were in direct opposition to my understanding of A & P learned many moons before they started their medical degrees. I must be a mad woman.
    My husband mentioned this morning that he watched me the other day, as I popped in and out of the shops, the bank, the dry cleaners etc, as he minded the car. I was carrying shopping, having a quick lively chat with acquaintances, skipping along like the 19 year old bride he recalled. 18 months ago I was at death’s door..( not actually….it just felt that way)…so, with my husband’s help, we researched as much as we could….but all explanations fell on deaf ears….in fact worse….they brought threats of impending doom. Now that’s what I call primary, practical research, based on my own situation. But not every one can manage that by themselves.
    Can I suggest that readers look back in the archives to read Dr Kendrick’s papers from 10/11 years ago? I found them for the first time yesterday, and have been fascinated by them……Dr K’s explanations of many physiological processes equate directly with my own knowledge learned in the ’60’s, but were turned on their axis by the 1980s…..how did that occur? How come we have allowed ourselves to be taken over by low fat, high carb, low salt, etc…knowing these things were incorrect.. taking drugs for conditions we really do not have, just because flawed research says we ought to e.g. for ‘high’ blood pressure, when it was nothing of the sort, ‘elevated’ blood glucose levels…..which would return to acceptable levels very soon…..oh, I could go on and on.
    And the really sad thing is that as great as I feel taking charge of my own affairs, my really close relatives are trapped by the medical status quo….the youngsters are very busy making ends meet, and the wrinklies are afraid to engage with their docs, as they feel duty bound to ‘ keep in’, as age-related excuses are about as much as a GP has to offer in a 6-10 minute consultation! Look how much time we are spending on getting to grips with things, and a lot of us already have prior knowledge. The GPs just can not do it on an individual basis….so, like I said….we get what we are given, and ought to be thankful….or risk the wrath of the professionals.
    I tootle along to the garage…..I have to trust the mechanic to do what is right, I have not the knowledge or the time/means to have a deep and meaningful conversation about the £&/@-;(/ thingy responsible for making the car work……and when I turn the tap on, I should not feel the need to ring the water authority to check that the engineers have done their job to the highest standard, or indeed understand their role.
    And if the electricity supply unexpectedly goes pop! I must trust that someone will be there in a jiffy to make things safe….. Its no use me getting the books out if the loft at that stage to learn about the movement of electrons and the conduction properties of various materials, etc, as interesting as I once found it. These are examples of the safe and decent society we hope to enjoy in a democracy, and paid for out of taxation……the other method is….a form of ‘ I’m all right Jack’, and not acceptable for modern day living.
    How has practical medicine got into this mess?

    Reply
    1. OldTech

      I agree that it would be nice if our medical professionals would just do their job well. Unfortunately, I no longer expect them to do their job well. It seems that there is just too much at stake for them to change and it does not just involve the medical professionals, It also involves the insurance industry and commercial interests.

      I just saw a new study that says that statins cause type II diabetes by stopping insulin from doing its job properly (and I was taking statins for 7 years before I was diagnosed with type II). Their solution is to add a powerful type II diabetes drug to prevent that side effect. They just will not let go of their cherished heart cholesterol theory.

      BTW: The title of the study from McMaster University is “Common heart drug’s link to diabetes uncovered by researchers” and is published in Science Daily.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer

        Thank you OldTech, I shall certainly check out that paper.
        I pointed out to GPs the detrimental effect of a particular diuretic…..’oh, I will check that in BNF….oh, yes, I see’ .. the irritating side effect of a certain anti-hypertensive…..”oh, I forgot that could happen!” …the increased risk of developing life threatening conditions using 2 types of oral anti hyperglycaemics “but no one in this surgery has presented with either of those things….why do you think you might do so?”….
        You know what? I stopped the lot….and removed all the risks associated with such toxic meds…ultimately gaining good health. Why on earth was I prescribed all those meds in the first place….well, I obviously did not pass muster with the scores on the doors. Little did I suspect that the combination of these meds was actually irritating the very conditions I was being treated for….conditions which I now question even existed in the first place.
        The whole scenario suggests an exponential graph jetting off into outer space ad infinitum. How come no professional wondered why none of the “treatments” was clearing up any of my “conditions”?
        If it wasn’t so serious, it is almost laughable, and a decent novelist could surely produce a nice piece of fiction from it….except it would need to be in the non-fiction section!

    2. Karen

      Dear Jennifer,

      Thank you soo much for your kind words of response to my response to Mr. Old Tech. It is also redeeming to know that someone else has gone down my same road and RECOVERED!!!!.

      I have to say that I like you had for a long period of time felt BETRAYED by the medical profession after being diagnosed with Diabetes. I had to pray very strongly regarding this in order to get over the EXTREME ANGER that I felt. On two occasions, I received the answer that I needed to pity my doctor (not the answer that I expected), and to help others with the benefit of my experience. If there is a such thing as BAD KARMA…it is awaiting them…even though so many of them, my doctor included have good hearts…they are not using their brains/analytical thinking ability, powers of observations, etc. to know that they are harming their patients by striving to maintain their patients at target levels, which in essence appear to be strongly influenced by the pharmacologically industry. I no longer go to the doctor for regular check ups. Because i know that I would be told as before that I’m imminent for a stroke if I don’t take medication.

      Thank God, you have regained your health. Keep to your convictions and continue to help others to do this for themselves. I know that even though people may not listen to you initially, many will in time come to reconsider your admonitions especially when they start to feel damaging side effects and/or see this in others close to them, i.e. a father, or a mother, etc.

      My mother took high blood pressure medications for years. She has suffered a heart attack, stroke, arthritis, is unable to walk properly, her neck is permanently twisted, etc. mIn regards to high blood pressure, there is a utube video that would be good for you to watch.: The TRUTH about High Blood Pressure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXe2xldWxtY/ . It explains how blood pressure is adaptive toward the body….if the arteries are damaged, or living a toxic lifestyle, then the kidneys require a higher blood pressure to rinse these from the blood. Also, that Germans regard blood pressure below 140 to be dangerous and requiring treatment.

      Prior to being diagnosed thus, I had a pretty good diet, lots of organic fruits and veggies, whole grains, exercise, etc. As far as I was concerned…this should never had happened!!!! I strongly felt that it had something to do with with high blood pressure medication that I had been taking 10 mg of Ampoliodine (sp?). Research proved this to be true. It appears that 20-25% of people taking high blood pressure develop diabetes, and continuing to take this medication I strongly suspect continues to damage the body further so that getting over diabetes becomes more challenging.

      When I did see my doctor approxi one year from diabetes diagnosed…I did my best to express my disbelief in what had happened to me, without too much anger. I showed her pages of documentation…she did not confirmed or acknowledge anything that I showed her. I asked who how dare they give me medications that make diabetes worse, and can cause liver damager, heart palpitations, pancreatics, etc. Her only statement to me regarding this was ‘wasn’t I told of what the side effects of high blood pressure medications’. I told her that the stated side effects were misleading in that they only described the physical systhoms instead of the diseases/chronic conditions they were actually causing.

      I did not receive what I considered to be the proper response. Because so many doctors appear to respond in this manner, they are allowing their profession to be sent downstream. More and more people are distrusting doctors…believing them to be the handmaidens of the pharmaceutical industry. These are corporations which have as their first legal obligation to produce profit for its shareholders. I go to the doctor only when I really need to.

      Reply
  37. Jennifer

    P.s. I had been losing the statin saga discussion for years, alongside the other drug issues mentioned above. However, once I had made the decision to stop the statins, it seemed logical to remove all the rest….because by that time, I was getting seriously concerned that any advice was correct!

    Reply
    1. Karen

      Dear Jennifer,

      Taking an herb like Gymmena Sylvestre has been proven in UC studies (California) to re-grow beta cells. Mr. DeWayne Mculley has stated that brussels sprouts has this same ability. Drink green smoothies… this drink is very healing for the body. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Socrates. Notice the wide range of herbs and veggies in many Asian cruisine. Asian doctors of the past were paid to keep you well…if you got sick, then it was the doctor’s responsibility to pay for you to get well.

      Incentives to keep a person in good health has been lost by the medical profession. It is a shame that many a doctor sincerely believes that “preventative medicine” helps a person become healthier…this is very untrue., These drugs suppress a symthom…even in most cases the symthom is okay….or so it was perhaps 40 years ago. The continually revising of symthoms, almost always DOWNWARD, helps to convince us the non-medical client to be influenced to take chemicals that can have a detrimentally effect on our health.

      Please review the link to this video “Death by Medicine by Dr. Joseph Mercola http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7_e_4AOsFo His website is Mercola.com .

      Best of health.

      Reply
    1. Karen

      Dear Old Tech,

      Did you read my response to your blog on this website?

      I discussed how Mr. Wayne McCullay had been taking Lipitor and ended up with a blood sugar reading of 1332. He awoke and did not feel well, so he called 911. He later awoke from a coma in a hospital and his doctor requested approval to amputate his legs. Thank God his daughter was there and realized that her father was not in a clear conscious state and refused to allow the doctor to do this. His website is: http://www.deathtodiabetes.com/ . He is not a doctor, but an engineer and applied his education to being able to get rid of the diabetes in his body.

      His website provides many short videos detailing his recovery. I strongly urge you to review these…for your recovery and good health.

      Karen

      Reply
  38. sundancer55

    The comment from June 5th by howfussiner is interesting because I’m not on statins and never have been, but I have basically the same symptoms of numbness, tingling and general leg weakness (at times) and I’m wondering if beta-blockers can cause the same symptomatology?

    I have a very insignificant prolapsed mitral valve which started as a murmur of pregnancy 27 years ago. The doctors told me it would likely go away after the baby was born but it didn’t, and in fact became progressively worse to the point where my heart would beat so hard it would move my shirt in and out. This caused me to have great anxiety, especially as a new mom because I thought for sure I was going to die any minute. Two years later we moved to another town and the doctor there placed me on the beta-blocker, which indeed stopped the pounding heart, but increased my BP slightly over the years (I think it’s because beta-blockers tend to reduce oxygen in the system, or is that a wrong assumption?). So I’ve been on these things for 25 years (along with PRN xanax which I rarely use anymore) but would like to figure out a way to get off of the beta-blocker or substitute something more natural to control the beats. (I take chelated magnesium 400 mg/day right now). When I first began taking the beta-blocker I was given 100 mg/day. In about a week I was dizzy and my BP had dropped dramatically, so I backed off to 75 mg/day and over the years had weaned myself down to 25 mg/day, which is where I am now.

    I have white coat syndrome but when I take my BP at home it’s fairly normal. I’m from the old school that 140/90 is perfectly normal and the older one gets, the higher that number can be – we do not have the same BP at age 60 as we had at age 20, nor should we, am I right? (Dr. David Brownstein has an article at his site about BP in the aging baby boomer population which says basically the same thing).

    I was supposed to have cataract surgery last week, but my primary care physician would not ok me for the surgery because my BP was “high”. I think he said 185/87 or something; but when I got home and took it, the first reading was 144/86 and the second reading 1/2 hour later was 135/72. My pulse is always in the mid to upper 50 range. Isn’t that awfully low? Again, I think that is a result of the oxygen robbing beta-blocker.

    Are statins and beta-blockers ever studied for anything other than original complaints or adverse type events? I mean, are they ever “looked at” for other causes of problems?

    Thanks for any advice you might give. I realllllllly want to have the cataract surgery because I’m a voracious reader and I love to work needlepoint – but I can’t see very well to do either these days without my coke-bottle magnifying nerdy glasses.

    Reply
    1. Stephen Rhodes

      On the matter of BP, from what I have read, the important measurement is not BP measured as it has typically been in the arm, but CASP (Central Aortic Systolic Pressure) – but that takes specialist equipment and – unsurprisingly – a specialist to measure it properly.
      This is yet another example – like cholesterol – of measuring something that, while it can be easily measured, is either unimportant, or irrelevant, or downright misleading.
      It is time to pension off the sphygmomanometer and start using more sophisticated diagnostics.

      Reply
      1. John C

        I have to disagree with you. For example, the evidence in favour of serious human induced climate change (AGW) is overwhelming. Any problems caused by statins fade into insignificance compared to this, yet there is an almost paranoid disbelief in the expert opinion of 99% of the worlds climate scientists by some of those commenting here. Every argument I have ever heard denying AGW has been dealt with methodically and logically at

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/

        Seeing conspiracies and mistrusting science is not a good starting position. It is far better to take a case-by-case approach commencing with an unbiased view both sides of the argument. Cold fusion, fluoridation, vaccination, grounding etc are all issues that the scientific method has been applied to and has worked well. Unfortunately the case against statins appears to have become a collection of anecdotes about side effects without any hard statistical evidence. I do agree that the evidence may have been suppressed by pharmaceutical companies but this is a separate issue. I have suffered side effects but I don’t now claim that 20% of others have done so also. I stopped taking them partly because of these effects but mainly because the scientific literature shows there are more reliable and superior alternatives. I trusted the science and so far it has been spectacularly successful.

        If there is any hard reliable statistical evidence that you have about side effects then publish it. The medical literaure has many articles critical of statins so I can’t see any conspiracy there.

      2. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        The problem here comes with your phrase ‘hard statistical evidence.’ You are setting parameters here. Rory Collins for example states that the only worthwhile data on adverse drug effects comes from randomised placebo controlled studies. He refused to accept observational studies. I took part in programme from the Netherlands called Radar, which covered the statin issues. They have a panel of viewers (around 50,000) where they do a form of market research. After the programme they asked the panel how many were on statins. It was around 20%. They then asked how many had suffered adverse effects. Around 30%. (I have the data somewhere to hand – possibly on a now mothballed computer). Various other studies have shown adverse effects around the 20 – 25% mark. Again, I can look this stuff up – as you could if you wished. Would you accept such evidence, or just write it off as anecdote?

      3. Chloe

        @ John C – I am now totally lost. What does climate change (which is still under heavy debate) have to do with something I ingest here and now and which makes me ill unto death here and now? If you’ve just ingested something that can kill you why would you bother with anything outside of that state, except your nearest and dearest. Why would I tell people to rather ignore statins and focus on climate change. WHAT do the two have in common. Then you probably have to throw in world hunger, poverty, fraud, the illuminati just for sports and and and..ummm?

      4. OldTech

        As a statistician I know that scientific trials work, and even observational studies can be valuable. I also know that we know a lot more about many things than we did even a decade ago (I am particularly impressed with genetics and biochemistry). However, I also know that statistics can lie.

        How do they lie? First, it is just mistakes such as failing to consider confounders or choosing the wrong statistical methods perhaps by assuming normality or independence when it does not exist. Second, it is outright biases. For example, careful selection of subjects for a trial can eliminate subjects who might produce unfavorable measurements. Third, it is study selection bias. If you don’t consider it, then it cannot show unfavorable results. Fourth, it is peer pressure. Everybody just knows the truth even if it is dead wrong and if you dare to question it your reputation and career will suffer. This peer pressure is often expressed as the science is settled. When this happens science has become a blind religious belief.

        I should add that there are also observational garbage in garbage out studies. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of these studies manage to make headlines in the public press. The end result: increasing public confusion.

        I have known that statistics lie since graduate school, but for most of my life I have trusted ‘peer review’ to catch these lies. Only in the last few years have I become aware that ‘peer review’ can also fail. Now, based in part on my own experience, I am much more reluctant to trust authorities and especially so when I hear that the science is settled!

      5. John C

        Chloe

        “@ John C – I am now totally lost. What does climate change (which is still under heavy debate) have to do with something I ingest here and now and which makes me ill unto death here and now?”

        Exactly my point. Climate change has repeatedly been raised previously by several people on this blog as an example of yet another world wide plot by scientists, therby reinforcing the conspiracy theory behind promotion of statins.

        Totally untrue and false logic. I for one do not want the group of people who subscribe to the view that

        1. statins are probably not a good thing
        2. cholesterol is probably misunderstood

        being classed as a bunch of zealots denying climate change, pro cold fusion, anti fluoridation and a host of other crackpot (yes bullying again) ideas.

      6. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        John, Which is why I tend to steer clear of things like Climate Change. What I will say, however, about the proponents of climate change/global warming, is a strong propensity to use wearyingly familiar bully boy tactics. If you do not accept what we say you are a ‘denier’. A concept first used against those who questioned the holocaust. To call someone a denier is to humiliate and insult, and place people in the same category as a neo-nazi. In short, if you do not believe in global warming you are, effectively, sub-human. Which, of course, is the perfect irony. The Nazi’s used propaganda to paint the Jews as ‘sub-human’. And we know the end result of what happens when you treat people as sub-human. Yes, of course, we have the holocaust. Ah yes, the cycle of Life. Another phrase I often hear from the proponents of climate change is ‘the science is settled.’ Anyone who says that is not a scientist – cannot be a scientist.

        In short, the techniques that I see in use, by the proponents of climate change are simply a variation on ‘You are killing patients/people.’ i.e. you must not question ME, you must listen to ME! AND IF YOU DARE ARGUE AGAINST ME, I SHALL CRUSH YOU! AND ACCUSE YOU OF KILLING EVERYONE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET – YOU DENIER! Now I am not a great fan of bully boy tactics in scientific discourse. It raises my hackles. If you can’t convince me with the science, you sure as hell are not going to convince me with implied threats.

        I have a few principles in life. Here are two of them: 1: bad tempered means bad at your job. 2: an angry bullying scientist is a scientist who, deep down, knows they are wrong. [A scientist who is right, knows that they can convince you with their arguments, and will simply not try to shut you up if you disagree with them].

    1. Jennifer

      Fergus….that is the same response that came my way from the GP…….
      “Google..pah! just continue with my lucrative scripts”.
      Put other ways, if we don’t respond to the current medication policy, then we must be:-

      a) psychosomatic…… imagining I am unwell…… a common excuse us females suffer from (Humph)
      b) non-compliant…….I must not be taking the meds/nutritional guidelines as prescribed.
      c) my system is at fault….so just double the dose.(!)
      d) have unrealistic expectations…. my little brain couldn’t possibly understand such complex issues.
      e) time waster…..I am mis-using precious consultation time, pat pat….now off you go.

      Well, thank goodness I resorted to the University of Google…it has been a life-enhancing experience.

      So, in line with my GP, you may think all these “feelings” and “descriptions” are anti-science and anti- evidence, i.e anecdotal; but this is the reality of the situation that so many of us are reporting. I reckon it is highly unlikely that all of the respondents are making things up. Alas, we can’t be quoted as “scientific”, in the true sense of the word, but thank heavens someone is listening to us, and giving us a chance to share our experiences. You are free to take them or leave them.

      Reply
      1. Chloe

        Jennifer, wow what a comment – I concur 100%, especially re cardiologists. I am so fortunate to have a clued GP who will google with me! Imagine that. I want to wrap him up in gift paper and have him cloned.

    2. David Bailey

      I hate that strange phrase, “anti-science”, which seems to be used against any person or group who question received scientific wisdom. With all the pressures – financial and otherwise – on researchers nowadays, I think everyone should be wary of scientific pronouncements.

      Reply
      1. celia

        I’m so sorry to read the article by David Aaronnovitch in The Times 19th June. He has apparently “spoken to people in the science research world” and states “Doctors who oppose extending prescriptions of the heart pill are putting anecdote before evidence.”

        His whole article is so destructive of Dr Kendrick and his colleagues who have attempted to get NICE to postpone the new statin guidelines. He ends the article ” I don’t in any sense dismiss all of Dr Gerada and company’s big social points (although “mass statination” sounds a bit like tinfoil talk to me), but when misapplied, as here, to decisions that patients must take, they are actually dangerous. They should have know better”

        Oh dear. How many uninformed people are going to be influenced by this sweeping dismissal?

      2. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        A few wil be influenced. Most may realise that he knows absolutely nothing about the subject, and tends to act as an attack poodle on behalf of the establishment. One should perhaps remind him that penicillin was launched on andecdote. Along with almost all other interventions in medicine e.g. hip replacements, anaesthetic agents, kidney transplants (actually, every single operation), steroids… and, oh look, how was the damage of thalidomide picked up….well, bless me, it was anecdote. Another way of describing anecdote would be ‘people finding that absolutely horrible things are happening to them, and they wonder if it could be anything to do with the drug.’

      3. Clutter

        “I want to reduce my risk of stroke and feel well on statins” and “I want to reduce my risk of stroke but am crippled with pain on statins”. The first may be true for 50-75% of people and the second may be true for 25%-50% of people but only the second statement will be described as “anecdotal”. The second statement just doesn’t gel with the Statin viewpoint currently promulgated.

      4. Professor Göran Sjöberg

        Agree!

        If you are a believer in the “science” the medical establishment pursue your horizon is clean and fine but when you have turned (for whatever reason), as me (a natural scientist), into a disbeliever of this establishment you start to see the evil windmills all around.

        Impressive fight Kendrick is carrying out!

  39. David Bailey

    I wonder if there is a blog somewhere (with comments enabled) that presents the pro-statin side of the debate. I’d love to plant a few obvious questions – such as:

    “How much extra life can someone with no previous CHD history expect to gain from taking a statin?”

    “How is the 1 in 10000 figure for statin side effects to be reconciled with my experience – that mentioning my own experience led to a number of similar stories. Are all my friends experiencing side effects?”

    “I understand that In the Heart Protection Study of 2002, 12000 patients out of 32000 were removed from the study because of side effects. Can that be consistent with the above 1 in 10000 chance of side effects?”

    I posted at Ben Goldacre’s site, but although I got one, not very useful, response from him, a number of other people posted various points and he seems to have shut up. I am hoping that in his case, he may be reviewing his position regarding statins.

    Sites that take a pro-global warming stance are reputed to remove comments that ask awkward questions – I wonder what pro-statin sites do!

    The key thing seems to be to get the statin supporters to actually debate – as opposed to make vague assertions from on high!

    Reply
  40. karinska2

    So how many anecdotes must there be before patients and doctors are listened to without being dismissed as complainers, unscientific, cranks, quacks etc? As patients, we are often dismissed by medical staff who are often too busy or too arrogant to listen to any form of challenge when it comes to medication. Not everyone can understand science or statistics, or medical jargon, or have the time to trawl through data so we can often feel powerless and ignored.
    Here are two more anecdotes: Two elderly women that I know who are 88 and 85 years old respectively, had the temerity to have a slightly elevated cholesterol level and were put on Simvastatin about 5 years ago. Before this, they were active, both had dogs which they regularly took for walks, they were slim, fit and quite agile for their age Now they are both crippled with pain, unable to walk without a stick, and one is beginning to suffer from mild memory loss. Of course this could just be old age, as their doctor has told them – wear and tear and I must admit I came to the same conclusion, but, now I wonder could it possibly be the statins? I have since persuaded one of them to stop taking the drug and although it may be too late it will be interesting to see if their is an improvement.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer

      Aww….I can’t access this article! So I will have to wait for Dr K ‘s blog, to see what this is all about. I expect it suggests we have been incorrectly advised regarding salt consumption over the last 30 odd years? Working as a staff nurse on a cardiac ward in the late 1980s caused quite a conundrum for me, as I have been a rebel on this subject too…my understanding has always been that moderate sodium chloride is healthy, and healthy functioning individuals will cope with normal intake. ( granted, patients with poorly hearts will not fall into that category). I look forward to this debate.

      Reply
  41. John C

    Malcolm Kendrick wrote:

    “………………. To call someone a denier is to humiliate and insult, and place people in the same category as a neo-nazi…..”.

    Ok, this cannot go by without a response. Lets look at what you appear to say.

    Neo-nazis deny the holocaust. Some people deny that climate change is human induced despite the scientific evidence, i.e. they are climate change deniers, (as opposed to sceptics). Therefore climate change deniers should be classified with neo-nazis.

    Is that what you are saying that I am saying? If it is then you need to take go back and do Logic 101.

    Lets look at this argument about denialism a bit further with some clearer examples.

    1. 46% of the US population believes in creationism in preference to evolution. They believe that humans have been around for no more than 10,000 years. Many also believe the fossil record is a test of faith by “God” These people are deniers.

    2. The tobacco industry for years maintained that there was no link between smoking and lung cancer. I can’t sum up the tactics more clearly than the following quote “The industry’s strategy does not require winning the debates it manufactures. It is enough to foster and perpetuate the illusion of controversy in order to muddy the waters around scientific findings that threaten the industry.” The industry was and still is based on denial.

    3.The anti-vaccination movement continues to promote the idea that vaccination causes Autism. I suggest you read the following and references therein:

    “Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies” Vaccine. Volume 32, Issue 29, 17 June 2014, Pages 3623–3629.

    The anti-vaccination movement is based on denial of scientific evidence.

    The following is a good definition of climate change denial and the one that I subscribe to.

    “Climate change denial is a set of organized attempts to downplay, deny or dismiss the scientific consensus on the extent of global warming, its significance, and its connection to human behavior, especially for commercial or ideological reasons. Typically, these attempts take the rhetorical form of legitimate scientific debate, while not adhering to the actual principles of that debate. Climate change denial has been associated with the fossil fuels lobby, the Koch brothers, industry advocates and free market think tanks, often in the United States.”

    If you don’t like this definition then I think you should toughen up a bit.

    With respect some of the other posts on this blog, I have noticed several comments attempting to portray those that support AGW as having a religious belief rather than a scientific one. Nothing could be further from the truth. These comments have not met with any of the push-back that I now see from you. Despite your claim that you don’t have an opinion about climate change I am starting to feel some “dog-whistle” tactics here.

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      I stand by my central point. Stick to discussing the facts, do not accuse people who disagree with you of being ‘deniers.’ it is an insult, there is no other definition for it. Perhaps I should call you a ‘Zealot?’ If people wish to discuss science, fine, but do not start the debate by defining the terms of the debate in ‘if you believe what I believe, you are correct.’ If you do not, you are denier, or a flat Earther, or a ‘creationist.’ I, for example, could easily be called a cholesterol hypothesis ‘denier.’ People can, and do, fling meta-analyses at me from all directions. They accuse me of killing people. I have no dog in the climate change debate, but when I see words like denier being used, I know the game that is being played. You for instance use this phrase…..’Is that what you are saying that I am saying? If it is then you need to take go back and do Logic 101.’ Perhaps you should do logic, page one, the Straw man argument. Accuse someone of doing or saying something, then proceed to attack that position, thus demonstrating intellectual superiority. It is a commonly used debating technique. I am very familiar with it. As for toughening up…..an interesting concept. I have attacked, pretty constantly, for years now. It comes with the territory of taking on the mainstream. My view is simple. If all they can do is attack you personally, you are winning.

      Reply
    2. Stephen Rhodes

      “Some people deny that climate change is human induced despite the scientific evidence”

      “Ok, this cannot go by without a response. Lets look at what you appear to say.”

      What you are doing (saying) is conflating two separate propositions.
      The first, that the climate is changing, is irrefutable, the geological record attests to that, and to the fact that the rate of change varies greatly.
      The second, that this climate change is ‘man made’ is simply conjecture, based upon data that is at best incomplete for the purpose of determining the energy imbalances within the planet’s atmosphere, and at worst made up for the purpose of sustaining grant allocations.
      Because you are right that the climate is changing does not mean that the ‘we done it’ conjecture is right too.
      My perspective is that of a generalist geologist who, from his continuing studies of the subject, is astonished by the hubris of lay-people (sorry but I cannot think of another term for those who take a partial and incomplete view of the science) who think that they understand enough about the physics of the Earth/Sun system and the planet and it’s atmosphere’s interactions to claim that our species’ small contribution to atmospheric CO2 concentrations will tip the Earth into a Venus-like life-destroying hell in a couple of human generations.
      My view is that climate change is the inevitability, and that we should prepare for it rather than fruitlessly trying to prevent it and squabbling over who is to blame or not, and that should include preparation for a cooling as well as a warming climate.

      Reply
      1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        The best scientific hypotheses have, at their heart predictability. i.e. does your hypothesis predict what is going to happen. I know that very clever scientists can predict – precisely – when a solar eclipse will happen. When, and where. If those who profess to be expert in climate change would care to do some predictions over the next twenty years, we can see if their hypotheses match the facts. If not, I know what I will think. And I won’t care if they then make excuses e.g. ‘oh, we didn’t realise the Ocean would act as a huge heat sink’, I will just say. Wrong. Einstein was the first to admit that if the observations did not fit his hypotheses, it was his hypothesis that was wrong. Not the facts. My own position is never to put any hypotheses into ‘true’ or ‘false’ All hypotheses need to be put into probable, possible, unlikely. Also, no hypothesis can ever be proven – only disproven. I do not know if AGW is strong, or a weak hypothesis. Thus far, it has apparently failed on the accurate prediction requirement, which has made me move it from probable, to possible. There could be perfectly reasonable additional variables that would fully explain its current predictive failure. However, a pretty powerful sign that a hypothesis is wrong, is that is requires endless adaptation to encompass contradictory facts. [See Popper on scientific falsifiability].

    3. Flyinthesky

      John C, I’m sorry that this might appear a little pointed but congratulations on your ideal citizen award, area 53/ number 12567209. You look where you’re meant to look and you only see what you’re meant to see. Don’t decry anyone who wants to look and see further.
      No progress has ever been achieved by acceptance and consensus, indeed if acceptance and consensus was universal we’d still be in mud huts waiting for the candle to be accepted.
      I hate to raise the analogy of AGW up again but as GW has failed to materialise it has been redesignated as climate change, it’s been given this broad non specific term as it is indefinable and every event, however normal, is highlighted to illustrate it.
      Science as a term is absolute, what we have now is an evolution of the entity. It is no longer absolute, it has evolved into an industry and as an industry it has to respond to its’ own needs.
      Its’ needs are the same as any other industry: income and continuance, it produces goods, opinions, that entities wish to buy and those who pay the most will get the opinion they desire.
      This is Dr Kendrick’s blog, even if he’s wrong, I don’t think he is, I’m grateful for his questioning of consensus. Contiuously denigrating his efforts is bad form and produces nothing, least of all a change in opinion. Consensus once dictated the earth was flat.

      Reply
    4. Rock Doctor

      I’m a geologist with a Ph.D. and am happily labeled a climate change denier! I would be more shocked to discover climate didn’t change, but then again I’m used to thinking about geological time scales. My particular field area is 1.6 billion years old. The evidence that has been thrust down my throat doesn’t stand up to scrutiny but I am willing to be convinced or proven wrong. I am a scientist and don’t assume that what I think is true today may not change with more evidence. The same cannot be said for many of the so called experts who have concluded that the science is fixed on climate change, statins or any other scientific field of study. I am watching my Dad decline in health thanks to statins and the multitude of other drugs he is on and am powerless because I’m not an MD. I know what I am choosing for my future and it doesn’t include multiple prescriptions with more side effects than benefit.

      Reply
  42. Stephen Rhodes

    “However, a pretty powerful sign that a hypothesis is wrong, is that is requires endless adaptation to encompass contradictory facts.”

    Rather like with the “Big Bang” hypothesis, if they ever stopped reviving their zombie theories the grant funding would dry up, and then where would they be.

    Reply
  43. Michael Ferguson

    I agree with you and would make two recommendations for your consideration.

    I think Dr. Stanley Milgram’s study on obiedience to perceived authority goes a long way to explaining.

    Also, Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society addresses the mindset of what I would call self-promotion.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  44. chris c

    Of course the elephant in the room is the large number of people actually being killed, and suffering greatly, from the current low fat dietary policy. In most cases the statins, BP meds, etc. are prescribed as antidotes to the diet. Diabetics, whose carbohydrate metabolism is broken, are told to “Eat More Starch!” or at best to eat “the same healthy diet” as nondiabetics. Well look at the huge increase in obesity (pun intended) as well as diabetes and it doesn’t look like a healthy diet for, at best, a large minority and at worst the majority of the population. Even Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes is increasing, especially ih adults, along with multitudes of other conditions, and I predict further “epidemics” of CVD and Alzheimers to name but a few.
    When such people significantly and majorly improve their health by reducing carbs they are usually threatened with “inevitable” consquences like heart attacks, scurvy, kidney failure etc. which strangely seem to happen to the people who do NOT decrease their carbs.
    I recall a science fiction story by Frederick Pohl (and Cyril Kornbluth?) where the population of the future are pacified by a cigarette which makes them hungry for a snack which makes them thirsty for a drink which causes a craving for a cigarette . . . and the money rolls in.
    Fat people are profitable because they eat more food by definition. Maybe you can sell them weight loss surgery too. Uncontrolled diabetics are profitable because they require increasing quantitiers of medication and end up on insulin within 5 – 10 years, which is for life until they die prematurely with bits missing. Healthy people are not profitable, especially if they live long after retirement.
    I think these Authorities are protecting more funding streams than just that of Big Pharma. And they ARE killing patients, but only the ones who are not profitable enough. So that’s all right then.

    Reply

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