Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Chiropractic Neurology (Functional Neurology)

I was sent this article:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/anthony-lemmo-chiro-brain-injury-windsor-1.4682825

 At first I didn't know what to make of it.  I had never heard of the term chiropractic neurology.   The only thing I knew is that it had to be a pseudoscience in some way because of being linked to chiropractors.  I also knew just from the name that Chiropractic Neurologist is not even a recognized medical profession. 

Most chiropractors fall into one of two categories; straights and mixers.  Straights strictly follow the basis of chiropractic medicine which is that ALL disease is caused by misalignment (subluxations) of the spine.  Mixers, as the name suggests, also dabble in other pseudoscience practices and services and they vary in the amount which they believe in the subluxation/disease mantra.

Some chiropractors call it "Functional Neurology" (probably to make it sound more scientific).  They claim to be able to help many neurological conditions including ADHD, autism, Asperger's, Alzheimer's, Stroke and much more.  This is done through diet, massage, muscular-skeletal manipulations and brain training.     

Diet of course is important to any person's health.  Some diet tips given out by woo peddlers can be reasonable, but that doesn't mean that any other advice is sound.   Some of the diet advice though, simply goes against any evidence that exists.  For example this blackboard I saw at a clinic with homeopathy and other woo.


There is simply no evidence that gluten (or lackthereof)  has any effect, causal or therapeutic, on Autism.

I can't even begin to guess how massage and adjustments of the spine can help with neurological conditions.  Any proposed mechanism just would not make sense to me. 

To make a diagnosis, special goggles are worn.  These track eye movements.  This somehow gives "a map" of the problems in the brain.  I'm sorry, but eye movement can only give a very small amount of information about brain function.  An fMRI would be a better option.  See more options for neuroimaging  
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroimaging
In using EEG, it is hard to figure out where in the brain the electrical activity is coming from.  It is hard to find the "pathways" that are mentioned in the CBC article.  To see more about its limitations:
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroencephalography#Limitations

So now we come to brain training, which seemed to be at the core of the CBC article.  While I am happy for the mother that her son is getting some much needed attention, and that seems to be helping him in controlling his ADHD, I am of the position that it has nothing to do with "chiropractic neurology."   Neurological symptoms can be susceptible to the placebo effect.  So depending on the degree of the problem, some good old attention can help.  As a child with hyperactivity (what it was just called back in the 80s), I personally learned to focus and channel my "energy".  Here with this child, I think some of the same thing is happening.  Stimulation of the brain is better than no stimulation, but it does not follow that an increase in stimulation will increase brain recovery.  Daniel Simmons (of the Monkey Business Selective Attention Test fame) and team did a review on more than 130 studies about brain games and cognitive training.  They found the evidence was lacking, especially when considering the quality of the studies.   http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1529100616661983

You'll note in the CBC article that it states "there is not a lot of research evidence that shows that it works."  To me, to offer a service without the backing of evidence is dubious.  I went to Mr. Lemmo's website to see if he offered any research.      

Two of the articles presented were done by Carrick, who is mentioned in the article (and who has been criticized much for the pseudoscience).  

In this one: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291557243_Eye-Movement_Training_Results_in_Changes_in_qEEG_and_NIH_Stroke_Scale_in_Subjects_Suffering_from_Acute_Middle_Cerebral_Artery_Ischemic_Stroke_A_Randomized_Control_Trial 
It does state: "The HIHSS is a scale of stroke severity and does not provide any insight as to functional changes"   So really sharing this research shows that it doesn't provide much evidence in it actually working.

In another study provided https://www.drlemmobraincentre.com/research/Concussion-Carrick.pdf
"Many of the C3 Logix are subjective and may be associated with reporting error that can limit interpretation. This is a retrospective review and no control group has been included in this study."  These are huge limitations and in turn provides no real evidence.

Mr. Lemmo said "There's only one thing that I care about and that's results and if I'm getting them over and over that's all that I care about."   This is problematic as it relies solely on testimonial and flawed feedback.  It is the same type of excuse that I've heard from another chiro who was peddling nonsense.  This was was featured on CBC Marketplace (in an episode I appeared in):  https://youtu.be/P-Kl0XkZuCw?t=13m49s  .  Mr. Lemmo is doing exactly the same in selling a service where the research supporting it just isn't there.

So with all of these factors and red flags, it does concern me that this service is being promoted.  It does not come from a neurologist, so the claims are suspect.  The evidence of it working is thin or simply non-existent.  I guess buyer beware would be prudent.  




Saturday, May 12, 2018

Websites and Sources to Avoid

The following is a list of websites to avoid because of promoting misleading, false and just plain bad science information..  It is by no means exhaustive, but it does include a lot.

From Skeptoid :
10.  Hearland.org
9.  ChristianAnswers.net
8.  Chopra.com
7.  Foodbabe.com
6.  Disclose.tv
5.  DoctorOz.com
4.  Infowars.com
3.  Mercola.com
2.  History.com
1.  NaturalNews.com

A truly large list (too big to list everything here), check out this link nutritionasiknowit

It includes
Andrew Weil
Collective Evolution (facebook group)
David Avocado Wolfe
Fed Up (film)
Food Matters (film)
Gary Taubes
GMO OMG (film)
Gwenyth Paltrow (Goop.com)
Kevin Trudeau
MindBodyGreen.com
NaturalCuresNotMedicine (facebook group)
NutritionFacts.org
PETA
REALfarmacy.com

A good infographic to help gauge the reliability of some news sources (click on it to see a larger version):


There are plenty more lists out there of sources to avoid as there is no end to nonsense peddlers.




Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Questionable Job Offer



I had a friend who was job hunting and had applied to various ad postings.  He got a response from one and it seemed to be going well with a telephone interview and them saying he was hired.   Then a couple things made him suspicious that this might not be what it seemed to be.  So he contacted me stating “Hey Bill. You're kind of my resident scam expert. I'm pretty sure someone is trying to fraud me on a job offer. It has all the telltale signs of a fraud but with a couple differences that just make me interested enough to investigate.”

So I took on the challenge.  The job was with some construction company called White Developments.  They hired him to run an office that was setting up in his city.  They sent him a cheque to buy office supplies.   The weird thing he noted was that the cheque was for a very specific amount, down to the penny.   I agree that it was very odd and kind of raised a red flag.

Looking at the website of the company didn’t bring about much information about it.  It lacked a lot of information.  It included some stock photos.    I did a wider search of the company name and found another one with a similar name in another province that had already gone out of business.   This led me to wonder if this was one of these businesses that go from place to place, make some quick bucks from unsuspecting consumers and leave with the money.  Now it is possible that these are indeed two different companies with the same name as they could’ve been just registered in their own province and with a plain name like White Developments, someone else with the same name would not be unheard of.

I then did a search on the address of the home office in Toronto.  The address brought up a space where you can rent meeting rooms.  This seemed odd for an expanding multi-city construction/development company.  Couldn’t they afford their own office?   I still had no smoking gun though.

I then decided to look up the reviews.   There were two on the website.  Searching the names didn’t bring up a lot of info except of a someone who died a year earlier.  OK, so not everyone has an internet footprint, but one would think that a development company would have some notable review.  I decided to see if the people posted their review anywhere else so I searched that.   Now I entered an interesting rabbit hole...



I found pretty much the exact same wording on various websites (I stopped counting at 500) for various other businesses, but these others had different names attached to the reviews, namely Jodi Black and John Smith.  All these websites had a similar layout and feel.  They all used the default settings on a lot (including photos) and didn’t bother to change much, if anything.   They were all created using a website template provider.  The huge irony is the website template places states “set yourself apart” when in reality all your competition then looks the same.

Comparison of the reviews from construction company and martial arts school

Just one of the website template sites

Comparison of layout including same picture between church and construction company




So I advised my friend to avoid this place as they are not exactly who/what they say they are.  While some of the smaller businesses (like the martial arts one) are real businesses who were wanting a website and obviously are not that knowledgeable enough to do it well (although the martial arts one did put it some more time and thought and their own pics), this White Development company should’ve had a proper website, with real reviews and real photos.  This company still could be legit (although I have huge doubts), but there is no denying that they are not honest in their depictions.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

An Earful on EarSeeds


"Lend me your ears!"


Earseeds are very bizarre...um...er...devices that are based on acupressure.  Acupressure is an offshoot of acupuncture, with the difference being non-invasive (no needles).  Both follow the wonky idea of vitalism or life energy flowing through meridians.  Meridians and acupuncture points have never been shown to actually exist and neither has this supposed “life energy” been measured.  I have had some people try to show me that some meridian lines and acupuncture points do line up with nerves in the body.  That is not surprising that some will happen to by chance because there are over 2000 claimed points.  I stress again, with that many points one is bound to have some hits that line up with nerves.  If one can’t measure the supposed life energy, then any random lining up is meaningless.  You can see more from the fine folks at Science Based Medicine here: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/acupuncture-doesnt-work/

I hadn’t heard of EarSeeds until just two days before writing this post.  By the name I thought maybe people were putting things in their ear canal.  Thankfully this isn’t so.   EarSeeds are tiny seeds, metal pellets or crystals (some plated in 24 karat gold) that are placed on acupressure points on the ear, held there by tan adhesive tape.  The metal pellets are held in place with clear tape for some reason that is not explained except saying it “is less conspicuous.”

At the bottom they of course have the standard disclaimer “All material on earseeds.com is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical treatment. The statements on earseeds.com have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”   I’m not sure how it’s educational to learn about this stuff except in the context of learning about bunk and quackery.  This disclaimer also discredits their claims (including testimonials which they allow and thus I consider an endorsement of medical claims) on their website of helping with earaches, headaches, back pain, stress and to quit smoking.  One claim clearly states “They cured my neck pain.”


Another interesting statement they make shows that acupuncture/acupressure points are not points at all.  “Although you do want to get very close to the designated point, the location of the point shown in each condition-specific kit is indicative of that general area.”  This is such a red flag that it amazes me that anyone takes this idea seriously.


A key point in noting is that the EarSeeds are not reusable.  This makes it very expensive.  While the actual plant seeds not being reusable, I can understand.  You have to store them in a cool, dry place.  You don’t want them growing.  So once on your ear, they will come in contact with moisture and bacteria.  Yeah you don’t want to reuse those as they would be hard to clean.   The metal and crystal ones, I don’t see why you couldn’t clean them.   Especially the crystal, gold-plated ones because they are costly starting at $32 for a refill 40 pack.  That may seem like a good deal for gold plated crystals, but don’t forget these are small and you need tweezers to put them on.

In a bizarre statement they warn that one should consult a doctor before using if one is pregnant.   Is this just a statement to make it seem like that these have some actual medicinal properties?  That is just silly.

So if one chooses to wear these as fashion accessory, then I can see a point.  If doing it for a medical reason, that just doesn’t make sense.  It also begs the question about people with piercings. Do they have less stress aches and pains?   One would think that some would be near enough to the general area to do something (if acupressure was an actual thing).  Of course this is not the case.   Buyer beware.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Red Lobster Free Entrees Anniversary Scam



Be warned. This is a scam. The first thing that tipped me off that this was "fishy" was that giving away 2 entrees to everyone is a lot of lost money. Second was that it was redeemable for a whole month. Again, that's a lot of lost money for the company. On looking it up, Red Lobster is celebrating it's 50th this year (https://www.redlobster.com/news-press/press/article/2018/01/18/red-lobster-celebrates-50th-anniversary) . I didn't find anything at snopes, hoax-slayer and other sites that show scams so I contacted Red Lobster. They got back to me pretty quick and this is their response:
"This is not a legitimate Red Lobster offer. Our internal team is working on investigating this further. Sign up for our Fresh Catch Newsletter to have our coupons emailed directly to you, or join our Fresh Alerts by texting “JOIN” to 67766 from your smartphone or tablet. http://ms.spr.ly/FreshCatch"

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Multi-Level Marketing and Dental Products



Be wary of products saying they will whiten teeth. Most have little to no effect and some will even have the opposite effect.

Fruit,vinegar and baking soda
Fruits and vinegar are acidic. While fruit is a great part of a good diet, prolonged exposure can damage tooth enamel.

Products with charcoal
There is no proof that charcoal is effective or safe for your teeth. Using abrasive materials can also have the effect of yellowing teeth by actually rubbing the enamel away (the party you are trying to whiten). http://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(17)30412-9/fulltext

Oil Pulling and Turmeric
There simply isn't any evidence to support the idea that these can whiten teeth

If you are wanting to whiten your teeth, talk to your dentist first and use only ADA/CDA approved methods.

Also check out
https://youtu.be/dBM1sqLo574

I found out about a product this is not so good. AP24 sold by NuSkin. This MLM company has had multiple of its illegal selling and fraudulent practices fined over the years in various countries from China to the USA. It's been labelled a pyramid scheme by some. Here a dentist explains exactly what I said in my original post about mlm companies selling dental products. It is abrasive. https://youtu.be/zlFKKNKgZ8k I suggest not using this product.

https://pyramidschemealert.org/tag/nu-skin/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nu_Skin_Enterprises#Scrutiny_and_reception

Friday, February 16, 2018

Homeopathy and Autism in the Chronicle Herald

I came across this article via social media (a friend sent it to me as she saw it in the trending section).
http://thechronicleherald.ca/valleyharvester/1543179-considering-homeopathy-as-an-option-for-children-with-asd




Little did I know the rabbit hole I was going down...


I am really confused about it.  This is not even an article.  It seems to be some sort of endorsement for a book written by Amy Lansky.  This endorsement makes sure to add in PhD following the name, to of course add some credibility.  According to Wikipedia, Amy has a PhD (1983) in computer science from Stanford University.  I'm not sure how that applies to or makes her an expert in health concerns.  She apparently left the computer science field to study homeopathy.  Even though she took correspondence courses and some "clinical training" her biography does not claim that she is a homeopathic doctor (which is an oxymoron term if you ask me....more moron than anything else). Her timeline in her biography on her own website is confusing.   She started her studies in 1996. She didn't complete the advanced program.  She did clinical training for "several years."   She then edited a homeopathic journal for 2 years.  She then wrote about curing her son.  By her own admission the article she wrote about her son was in 1997.  I know I'm not good at math but even I can figure out that 1996 plus correspondence learning plus several years of clinical training and then 2 years of editing work equals more than 1 year later.





  Her book "Impossible Cure" is now used as a textbook for homeopaths.   Well that's kinda scary.  She didn't even complete the course but she is an expert enough to have a textbook?   Looking at her school's requirements are kinda scary as well.  No prerequisite is required as "Anyone can study homeopathy."  Their clinical training each year encompasses 2 day summer school in the UK or 20 hours in a program in Australia.  OK, so that makes her several years of clinical training suspect now.  Clearly, if one can so easily obtain a homeopathic degree, why would anyone trust them with their health?


Amy is also a proponent of other new-age quackery.  In her own words:  "1993. At that point, I became very interested in the possibility of higher-dimensions in space after watching an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."  She uses these ideas to support the use of homeopathy and other pseudo-scientific practices.  She seems to think that these practices work because of unknown (and untestable) psychic/supernatural type phenomenon.

It is interesting to note that on her "Impossible Cure" website, it carries a lengthy disclaimer (as do many quack websites because they know their stuff is bunk and they could be sued over it) "This book is not intended to be a replacement for good medical diagnosis and treatment by a licensed physician..."  Here I have to agree but would go one step further and state that it is to be avoided at all costs.

This endorsement in the Chronicle Herald is written by Sarah Trask, who calls herself a "homeopathic doctor."  So this is why it doesn't read like a real article and is merely an ad for her practice.  The article doesn't give any real information.  That is because it is not there to inform but to mislead, give undue credibility to quackery and to promote her own self-interest.   Her own biography is ambiguous with unnamed illnesses she was supposedly cured of by homeopathy.  Of course you will never see real proof of these cures.  And you will often never hear of other proper medical treatment used by the cured (because who wants to admit that they also did several rounds of chemo when they can attribute being cured by homeopathy alone?).  Sarah even admits in her own way that homeopathy is a faith-based practice.



It really is sad that Sarah got away with writing a personal endorsement in a newspaper and trying to disguise it as an informative article. To claim that water (homepathy is diluted in water.  At 23C there is often not even a single molecule of the "active" ingredient present.  In the article it is claimed a silica 30C solution is used) can cure ASD (autism) is despicable.   Shame on the editor of CH.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Interview on Skeptic Zone Podcast

Take a listen to the The Skeptic Zone Podcast with Richard Saunders from Australia as we discuss my appearance on CBC Marketplace
You can listen here:
https://youtu.be/9W-Or_5xXKU If you want to skip ahead, my part starts around the 12min mark
http://www.skepticzone.tv/

Tila Tequila, Vaccines, and Homosexuals...oh my!

Tila Tequila has some crazy things to say.  Check out the level of bigotry and anti-science (anti-reality) that she spouts in her post. 


Firstly, the picture there is not a real pic of a vaccination.  The needle is too big.  There is too much fluid in the syringe.  It's being put in the arm (for babies and infants, it is usually put in a thigh).  There are no rubber gloves.   Showing a fake picture to bolster a point will always make one lose credibility points ;)

The statement "stabbing them with sharp needles" I actually found funny as I then would question and ask "if one should stab with a dull needle?"  Of course, she is using "stab" to spread fear.   I know, because I have a phobia of needles myself and that is how my irrational fear can interpret it, but then I let my rational side win and realize it is not stabbing (violently piercing, thrusting gesture) but an injection and I calm myself down enough to get it done.

The whole idea of "early trauma" is questionable.  Babies go through a lot (like the birth process) and usually come out fairly resilient.  Early childhood trauma can be caused by stress from accidents, physical trauma, abuse, neglect, and exposure to domestic and community violence.  A vaccination does not fit into any of these categories.  Physical trauma would be injuries severe enough to warrant medical attention. 

Calling it "satanic ritual abuse" is just nonsensical.  I think she is delusional in that her belief system allows her to call anything she disagrees with as the work of Satan.  I suppose she would fit right in with the Westboro Baptist Church folks.  Satan, of course, is a work of fiction and believing a work of fiction is that level of real is dangerous thinking.

This statement is just laughable: "You're just going to trust MAN". I don't know if she is referring to male or referring to man-made vs natural. Maybe both?

She uses the old "do you know what's in it" ploy about vaccines.   Yes.  Yes we do.   She uses the common claim about mercury.  This is sorta true.   Some vaccines (not all) may use Thimerosal which contains mercury bound as an ethyl which does not bioaccumulate.  The stuff to worry about is mercury bound as a methyl.  It is easy to confuse the two if one is not educated in such things.   The aborted fetus claim is simply not true.

She then goes off and states that some children are purposefully targeted " to inject them with chemicals that changes their DNA to turn them homosexual or transgender etc."  Conspiracy Theory much?  ;)  This doesn't even make sense.  How do they get hundreds of thousands of doctors, nurses, pharmacists all in on this nefarious practice?   How do they decide which children to target?   The scope of this claim is just too huge that it is implausible.

Also, what chemicals are able to change DNA to cause a person to become homosexual or transgender?  All I can picture here is some Alex Jones level nuttiness

 Her Facebook page is splattered with other anti-LGBQT rants, obviously due to her extremely conservative religious views.  In an odd sense of irony, at least she isn't stating that they chose that lifestyle.  But then again, she's not saying they were born that way either.  Sigh.   It's amazing how much these people have to warp things to make it fit their silly narratives.

Her claim of unvaccinated children having stronger immune systems is just plain nonsense.  Her child may just be lucky to not have contracted any serious viruses.  There are so many cases of unvaccinated children losing their lives to preventable diseases, especially in the past decade as we see certain diseases make a strong comeback due to anti-vaccine proponents.

Taking medical advice from Tila is not a good thing. She clearly has little to no knowledge of the things she is against. She should just stick to porn and reality tv shows (and even that is debatable).

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Stranger Danger

Spreading misinformation, even with good intentions is not a good thing. We need the most correct information to make the best decisions instead of other mistakes. Don't spread this "abduction" video that has been debunked (3 years ago) and shown to spout false information. You could be adding to needless fears and causing greater anxiety.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/stranger-danger-viral-video-alarming-but-not-realistic-1.2359593

Hair Scam

Be wary of Mutli-Level Marketing promotions of "challenges." Recently there have been some for hair and nail growth. One of the claims are that it can make your hair grow longer (1-4"/month). You hair growth rate is usually determined by your genetics and can range from 0.5-2 inches per month. That rate can be reduced by a poor diet, stress and other factors.

These challenges usually involve the taking of supplement that contain keratin and biotin and other ingredients.

Biotin: The pills can have a Biotin dosage of 5000mcg. The daily recommended intake of 30-100mcg. This is unnecessary mega-dosing as a lack of biotin in the body is rare. You should not be taking any pill or supplement like this without a consultation with a family physician.

Keratin: Hair loss has actually been noted with ingestion of liquid keratin products. It may be possible to have too much keratin causing rough, dry skin and course hair. Since keratin is a protein, too much of it can cause the kidneys to work harder to excrete it in the urine called proteinuria and can lead to renal insufficiency. Again, do not take supplements/pills without consulting a family physician.

MSM: Has shown some, but limited positive results for treating allergies, repetitive stress injuries, certain bladder disorders like interstitial cystitis, wounds and arthritic knee pain. It can have side effects if taken orally such as diarrhea or gastrointestinal discomfort. Why this is in a hair product, I'm not sure. I can only assume that they may be trying to link it to hair retention somehow.

The disclaimers also state that certain statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Also on one site, there is small print about the testimonials stating "are purely cosmetic in nature and do not claim to cure/treat/prevent any skin & hair related disorders. "

The cost of one such product is $55 for 60 pills. You can find other products in the hair/nail section of a drugstore with similar ingredients for much less if you are so inclined to want to go this route.

My advice would to stay clear of these mlm products. They often use shady selling techniques to get you buy into the whole system, let alone the products. They use testimonials as scientific proof of it actually working is slim to non-existent. The testimonials are usually swimming in biases and credulity.

CBC Market Place Neuroreset Neuroconnect

I recently was brought into CBC Marketplace to film some parts for an episode helping to debunk a product that was promoted on CBC Dragon's Den.  I was there for 9 hours over two days.  Of course a lot didn't make the final product (like my foot twisting illusion) but I feel it was still good.

Here is the CBC Marketplace episode:
https://youtu.be/P-Kl0XkZuCw

After the show aired, the chiropractor revealed his physicists that helped develop his product.


Looking up on them, the first one, Kronn, does have some past credentials, but has since jumped aboard the crazy train.

Here are just a few of his products he promotes.

The first one is a water-based cleaner. It states on the product label that there are no chemicals. Ummm....water is H2O (two hydrogen and one oxygen molecules). Those are chemicals. I assume there is nothing else in there but water. This product claims to get rid of energetic pollution around you...whatever that means lmao. This reminds me of the woman who was using a spray bottle outside pointed to the sky trying to get rid of condensation trails from planes.


The second is a crystal that does supposedly amazing things like make you come alive. I guess that is helpful for zombie types. The icing on the cake though is I now have an awesome new phrase "magnetic sense of confidence". How laughably awesome is that? lolololololol!



And finally here we have "intelligent elixers" that I guess during meditation help you achieve success. I seriously cannot stop laughing. This place is just too hilarious. But seriously, if I used this to help achieve the manifestation of my highest intentions of debunking this nonsense, would that then become a paradox? lmaololololololol



I have to stop or I'm going to die of laughter. Any credibility this guy had is now completely lost. Indeed a fool and their money are easily separated with these.