Saturday, October 30, 2010

Should You Trust the Latest Medical Research? Probably Not

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Research at The Atlantic (via Instapundit) about medical studies and their reliability, or rather lack thereof. It profiles a Greek physician/mathematician named John Ionnidis who has made a career out of challenging and exposing flawed research.

He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong.

An example I've run across is the contention that saturated fat is bad for you and that you will lose weight by going on a low fat diet. It isn't and you won't. Personal experience bears this out. I needed to lose some weight for health reasons and have dropped 35 pounds, give or take, since last March. I stopped eating pasta, rice, potatoes and bread. I do eat green vegetables, meat, butter, etc. and my most recent bloodwork had me with very good cholesterol numbers. I have stabilized at the weight I was nearly 20 years ago.
More from The Atlantic article:

Consider, he [Ionnidis] says, the endless stream of results from nutritional studies in which researchers follow thousands of people for some number of years, tracking what they eat and what supplements they take, and how their health changes over the course of the study. “Then the researchers start asking, ‘What did vitamin E do? What did vitamin C or D or A do? What changed with calorie intake, or protein or fat intake? What happened to cholesterol levels? Who got what type of cancer?’” he says. “They run everything through the mill, one at a time, and they start finding associations, and eventually conclude that vitamin X lowers the risk of cancer Y, or this food helps with the risk of that disease.” In a single week this fall, Google’s news page offered these headlines: “More Omega-3 Fats Didn’t Aid Heart Patients”; “Fruits, Vegetables Cut Cancer Risk for Smokers”; “Soy May Ease Sleep Problems in Older Women”; and dozens of similar stories.

When a five-year study of 10,000 people finds that those who take more vitamin X are less likely to get cancer Y, you’d think you have pretty good reason to take more vitamin X, and physicians routinely pass these recommendations on to patients. But these studies often sharply conflict with one another. Studies have gone back and forth on the cancer-preventing powers of vitamins A, D, and E; on the heart-health benefits of eating fat and carbs; and even on the question of whether being overweight is more likely to extend or shorten your life. How should we choose among these dueling, high-profile nutritional findings? Ioannidis suggests a simple approach: ignore them all.

That last piece of advice has much to commend it. It will help you preserve your sanity (and no, that's not a scientifically tested conclusion).

Read the whole thing. It's an eye-opener.

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Why Obamacare Must Be Stopped

Physician Dr. David Janda tells an audience what is gong to happen when Obamacare kicks in in 2013. He is working to get another physician, Rob Steele elected to Congress in place of John Dingell. They had to "pass it so we could find out what's in it."  Well, we're finding out alright and it is not good. Watch.

(h/t Bob)
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Bill Whittle with What We Believe Part 4: Natural Law

In this fourth installment on what it is that TEA Party conservatives believe and why ( you can go back and watch 1, 2 and 3 in this post) Bill Whittle explains the difference between Natural and Political Law.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chris Christie Pleads Guilty.....

... to impatience with the New Jersey Legislature's failure to address major issues. No they have bigger fish to fry (right after their in-progresss 2 week vacation) such as a bill requiring animal shelters to spay/neuter animals before they adopt them out, or requiring dentists to inform patients if any dental prostheses they prescribe for them might not be US made. 

Ouch. Now that's going to leave a mark.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Andrew Klavan Issues a Warning - The Extremists Are Coming!

Bill Whittle may be able to explain an idea beter than anyone else I can think of, but I have to give Andrew Klavan the edge when it comes to explaining an idea humorously. I am not a witch indeed.

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Bill Whittle on What Conservatives Believe

Bill has produced three (so far) videos on the conservative outlook on the World. I can think of no one who can articulate any idea better than Bill, so I'll shut up now and let you watch. Here are the videos:

Part 1: Small Government and Free Enterprise

Part 2: The Problem With Elitism

Part 3: Wealth Creation

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Fraudulent Branding and Barack Obama

Kyle-Anne Shiver talking about the marketing of Barack Obama over at Pajamas Media:

"If Barack Obama had been a commercial product instead of a political candidate, then he and his brand creators — Axelrod et al — would be facing one of the most massive class action suits ever to hit any American business."

She goes on to compare the marketng of our 44th president to the marketing of cigarettes forty years ago. Read the whole thing but I wanted to draw attention to this comment left by reader cfbleachers (Yes, he gets his numbeing a little muddled; 1, B, C but he's on the money otherwise).

(Via Instapundit)

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Feds Are Cooking the Economic Statistics Books

That is the premise underlying this article by Terrence Aym at and I'm not a bit surprised. Aym relates how John Williams of American Business Analytics & Research, LLC, publisher of Shadowstats, has analyzed the numbers on inflation, unemployment, money supply and several other key indicators of economic health, employing the same methods in use by the government up until 1994. His conclusion; we are in as bad shape as we were in the Great Depression. Real inflation is near 10%, not zero, and unemployment is actually closer to 23%, not the official 9.6%. And the dollar? It is worth about 50% of what it was in 1985 in terms of purchasing power. Finally, GDP growth is not the positive 2% to 3% being reported. In real terms it collapsed by 6% in 2009 and is running at negative 1% to 2% now.

If this is all true, then what the government is doing is truly criminal. This just contributes even more to the general economic uncertainty that is paralyzing the economy now. It is hard to see how this can get turned around when we can't even accurately assess the extent of the problems because we can't get good information.

Read the whole thing.

(h/t Jeff Smith)
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's the Uncertainty, Stupid

Home Depot cofounder Ken Langone had an op-ed in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, really more of an open letter to President Obama taking him to task for his habit of saying that he is pro-business because business growth is what creates jobs, while continually vilfiying, bashing and threatening those very same job creators. He then professes to be mystified about why the economy is still stalled. Mr. Langone makes it simple to understand.
That short-sighted wavering—between condescending encouragement one day and hostile disparagement the next—creates uncertainty that, as any investor could tell you, causes economic paralysis. That's because no one can tell what to expect next.

Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the business world knows this. Obama doesn't because his cabinet contains the smallest number of people with any business experience of any presidential administration in US history and that includes him.

Langone goes on to say that had he tried to start Home Depot in today's economic and regulatory environment it would never have gotten off the ground, let alone become as successful as it has.

We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained, and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.

If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it's a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive. Rules against providing stock options would have prevented us from incentivizing worthy employees in the start-up phase—never mind the incredibly high cost of regulatory compliance overall and mandatory health insurance. Still worse are the ever-rapacious trial lawyers.

Read the whole thing.
Update: Related: Government Regulation of the Economy Is the ‘Silent Killer’ Good discussion in the comments.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Moral Case Against Liberalism

Writing over at Pajamas Media (lot's of good stuff over there today) Matt Patterson makes the moral case against liberalism and shows how liberal policies, no matter how well intentioned, eventually lead societies governed according to liberal principals to economic bankruptcy. Patterson asserts that this is because of the liberal tendency to divide people into groups or "mere collections of similar skin and genitals." To lump people together by groups is to dehumanize them and when you have dehumanized them, you can justify nearly any injustice against them, usually taking wealth away from one and redistributing to another.

Sometimes I like to play a little game with my liberal friends. Let us suppose, I say to them, that you have one hundred dollars with which you plan to purchase food for your family at a local grocery. Now let us suppose that I come along and rob you while you are on your way to the store, taking half of your one hundred dollars.

At this point I ask my friend: Is the robbery good or bad for you economically? “Bad,” they invariably answer, for “I now have less money for groceries.” Then I ask them: Is my robbing you good or bad for the grocer? “Bad,” they again answer, for “now he, too, has less money for his family.” Next question: Was it morally right or wrong for me to rob you? “Wrong, of course,” they answer, for “the money did not belong to you.”

Then, the coup de grace: What if I planned to give your money to someone else, I ask, someone whom I felt was more worthy or deserving of your money?

At this point, many liberals begin to suspect they have been led into a rhetorical cul de sac, and cognitive dissonance sets in as they realize that an honest answer necessitated by their answer to the previous questions will conflict with their stated political principles and past voting habits. Some will nevertheless admit, “Well, it isn’t really for you to decide who gets my money….”


An honest answer is that such behavior, like the hypothetical robbery, is both morally wrong and economically deleterious. Yet the same liberals who can see the fault in such behaviors for individuals support exactly those behaviors on the part of governments; confiscatory taxation and unsustainable deficits and debt are, after all, the inevitable consequences of liberal governance.

Patterson also talks about a practical example, Johnson's Great Society and the War on Poverty, still not won after 46 years, and the lessons to be drawn from that:
Liberal policies fail practically because they are morally defective — they discourage the recognition of individuals qua individuals, and therefore encourage the adoption of policies that hurt individuals. One might say in fact that it is the moral bankruptcy of liberal ideology that leads directly to the economic bankruptcy of states and nations that liberals govern.

When you see a person, not as an individual, who might have worked for and earned whatever money they have, but as a mere cog in a group (“the rich” for example) then it is easy to say, as Obama did, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” And if you see a person not as an individual who might have made some bad choices and is perfectly responsible for the consequences, but as a member of a group (the “disadvantaged” for example), then you have all the justification you need to rob from the one and give to the other, and you will have lost the capacity to see the injustice you have done to both, or care about the economic and social wreckage that follows.

Read the whole thing.

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The Audacity of Mind-Blowing Arrogance

That is what Bryan Preston at Pajamas Media is calling President Obama's recent assertion that if the Republicans win control of the Congress, they'll have to move in his direction. I'm not sure there isn't an equal dose of cluelessness competing with the arrogance here. Obama, from Sunday's New York Times:

“It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible, either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.”
This from a man who is polling at  minus 18% in Rasmussen's Presidential Tracking Poll on job performance. Here is what Bryan Preston has to say about that:

"Nearly half the country “strongly disapproves” of your job performance, Mr. President. They’re your bosses. They’re evaluating you, your policies, and how you have behaved over nearly two years on the job. And they’re set to fire a wide swath of your allies and replace them with your political opponents. This forces Republicans to work with you? If the American people could fire you right now, a near majority of them would. But they can’t, yet. The best the voters can do right now is fire your enablers and keep more from getting into power. Democrats everywhere are finding ways to run away from you and your foolish policies, if they can. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not just the persistent unemployment rate that your massive stimulus project did nothing to alleviate."

And on the policies of Obama and the Democrat party in general:

"From border security to energy policy to failure to handle disaster to irresponsibility on taxes to granting terrorists civilian trials in the very city they attacked, this president and his party’s policies have been given a run. They’ve failed, and so dozens of Democrats all over the country are about to be fired. Their failure isn’t in that they didn’t try hard enough or do enough. Their failure is in the fact that they pushed their policies over the objections of the voters, those policies have been disastrous, and now November is just around the corner."
Exactly right. I can't wait for November 3rd.

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