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This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

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Re: The boss is back!!

So James, you impune the honesty of a Forum member without offering any supportive evidence, you then have the arrogance to assert that our host John Brignell would share your view, you then proceed to abrogate his authority by asserting that John should delete the post in question.

I moderate on another board. There is no question that a first post by a new member giving a link to an online shop peddling alternative pharmaceutical products would be deleted on sight. It might not be spam, and in this case, rather unusually, probably wasn't (I hope Perry will stick around and contribute to some other topics of discussion as well), but dropping links to commercial websites in your first post is widely considered something of a faux-pas.

However, I appreciate that not everyone operates the same way, this isn't my board, and John may do as he sees fit with it. I apologise to John for pre-empting him, and to Perry for assuming he was only here to shift inventory.

...the Forum then is self-moderating if members abide by the three simple rules of 'Good Numbers', 'Good Science', and 'Good English', which also means Numbers based on evidential facts, Science based on the Laws of Physics, and a use of the English language appropriate to civilised discourse. None of these rules you appear to practice James, in fact I do wonder why you persevere with your folly on this site especially, because your comments in general are mostly oppositional to what John and Numberwatch stand for.

I'm not sure how you can accuse me of failing to exercise good English. Perhaps you could help me improve my English by giving me the three worst examples of my abuse of the English language from the last month?

As for good science and numbers, perhaps you could point me in the direction of all those controlled clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of spirulina for anything, or are you defending it simply on the basis that it's as good a placebo as anything you'll get from the NHS? Your skepticism about my skepticism is what runs counter to the ethos of Numberwatch, as I understand it.

One of the first rules of good science is "he who makes the claim shall defend it". The rest of us bear no burden, we can just sit back and listen and say at the end "I'm convinced" or "I'm not convinced".

If I snipe at Spirulina or any other form of quackery it's because I know that even in the world of orthodox medicine 95% of attempted therapies fall, often at the very last hurdle. That's with the benefit of years of pre-clinical research giving a convincing mechanistic argument as to why a drug might work. Alternative medicine can only ever advance on the basis of fortuitous discovery. There's nothing wrong than fortuitous discoveries, but this means the hit-rate is likely to be even lower than for orthodox pharma.

In translation, spirulina might well work, but so might ayurvedic chakra realignment. They have one thing in common: an absence of credible evidence for their efficacy. This is why spirulina is sold as a "food supplement" not a drug - that way the manufacturer can make all manner of implicit claims about how wonderful the product is without submitting it to the rigours and expense of clinical testing.

It is not only right to be skeptical about things like this until proven otherwise, it is almost a duty to be skeptical. If this isn't the ethos of Numberwatch, then my English is worse than either you or I thought.

It is only by pointing out the deficiencies and defects in scientific claims that one can force those defending their view to raise their game high enough to convince us they are right.

I do not expect my censure to result in your chastening James, but if it does, then an apology to Perry Debell and John Brignell would not be amiss. However, should you ignore my cautionary remarks, then please be careful that what you prescribe for others in the future doesn't end up with your own proscribing.
See above. You're welcome to recommend that I be proscribed if you like. Why would that bother me?

I think it's a shame that you felt the need to resort to personal abuse, calling into question the quality of my English and quality of my education. Since both comments are demonstrably false, a retraction would be appreciated. I don't expect an apology.

Re: Re: The boss is back!!


Thank you for your explanation and apology, which I am delighted to accept.

Spirulina should only be regarded as a food supplement and not as a pharmacologically active agent. In that regard, its other qualities came as a bit of a surprise. To explain! I purchased the tablets just to see how I would react to them. I know much of quackery, in that my father was the son of a cabinet maker in East Anglia and whose mother would have been happy to see him become the village bobby.

At 12, my father was supported by a philanthropic
local business man who paid all his fees at the grammar school in Beccles, Suffolk. In quick time, my father qualified as a pharmacist at a period when his skills would have included selling patent remedies and also making pills and potions by hand according to the prescriptions issued by doctors. This was well before the era of antibiotics.

Pop was engaged by Glaxo Laboratories (as was) and began to climb the ranks. During WW2, he worked within the team that developed Penicillin, until all its research was handed to the Americans. That's another story.

You will deduce that my upbringing was very much based upon the scientific method. The old man was not going to have me peddling liver salts and snake oil remedies. Surprisingly, I did not rebel about appreciating science; there were many more opportunities and distractions in the 1950s & 1960s, by which I could reveal my independence.

Rather than study to become a doctor, after an uncertain start, eventually I was employed to peddle remedies. I became a medical representative, promoting Eli Lilley's products to the medical profession, much to Pop's chagrin. He thought I should be working for Glaxo, where he was a senior manager. We both knew that wouldn't really work.

The years passed. I started my own business involving chemicals that required me to reactivate my chemistry knowledge in consequence. Thus, the importance of food as medicine is a concept that has not been forgotten by me, although allopathic doctors did seem to ignore the value of good nutrition for a number of years. My own medical history demonstrates that assertion very well. Acute then chronic diverticulitis from age 30, possible Crohn's, partial colon resection Diastolic Dysfunction, Hiatus Hernia, Arthritis. You name it, I've had it.

Returning to the present, I take all the usual suspects, on a daily basis. Omega 3 fish oil 3000 mg, Vitamin D 1600 mg, Co-Enzyme Q10 90 mg, Magnesium 400 mg etc., as well as Ramipril 5 mg, Bendroflumethiazide 2.5 mg and Omeprazole 20 mg. Carbohydrates tend to bloat me, so they are avoided. All in all, mustn't grumble; I am doing OK.

Imagine my shock therefore, when, having swallowed 18 tablets of a "food supplement" I could feel a very discernable elevation of my spirits. My constant, underlying, low level feeling of irritation just decamped. It ain't come back either and I'm not going to run a self experiment to establish if I feel worse, by eliminating the Spirulina from my diet. Someone else can do the donkey work. I am happy with what I think I know.

That's it! What else can we discuss?

Actually, there is one other point that should be noted. Spirulina, being a food, does not have a lethal dose per se. The recommended doses range from 6 to 18 tablets, spread over the day, if you like. As mentioned, I gobbled the 18 at one go. Elsewhere on the container, there is mention of a detoxifying element or characteristic, which meant as much to me as a claim for the healing properties of walking on hot coals. It passed me by. For detoxify, read urgency. At 4 am, 18 hours after the 18 tablets, I was emptied. What a wake up call!! Since then, no problems and actually much better experiences. Something to bear in mind. I'm a happy bunny now.



Re: The boss is back!!

"nothing wrong than fortuitous discoveries"

Should read "with", rather than "than".

Re: The boss is back!!

you know, in a couple of threads I have had differences with James V but I would suggest that we accept that this is not a forum where only those who agree with each other are acceptable.

But we are encouraged to confront the argument and not the person, something we complain of in the AGW crusade so while I could wish for a more diplomatic approach from some contributors, I try not myself, to attack the person, so much as is possible.

In this case I rather did not object to the post by Perry as it was presented as a personal experience, was in context and was directed to our Bending Author who is not usually noted for a lack of intellectual acuity and who can, when he feels the need, intervene for himself.

In general though I would tend to agree here with James V that one would normally discourage the use of fora for free advertising (especially to the gullable) but in this case it was either so well done as to escape my criticism or was, as it apeared, a personal experience offered kindly.

On the other hand, there is nothing so hot as the kitchen when one or more chefs are brandishing their cleavers at each other. Much more to be admired, often, is the clenched teeth (rather than fists) approach to contentious postings. I like to think that those fora I visit are to be compared for dignity to the House of Lords rather than the House of Commons.

Re: The boss is back!!

I don't think there is anyone I agree with everything on. If I found someone who fitted that bill, I'd be worried that only one of us was doing all the thinking.

It's my experience of web fora that it is far commoner to post dissent than assent even if one agrees with 90% of what others say. As for fitting in, I wouldn't expect to be chased off an overwhelmingly euroskeptic forum run by a confirmed euroskeptic just because my view on that issue differs any more than I would chase Christians or female arts graduates off the other forum I work on, just because they don't fit in with the majority inclination there.

When one agrees with something, there is as much point in saying so as in cheering from the back benches, to extend JMW's metaphor. When one disagrees and says so, there is at least an evens chance that either you will learn something or someone else will.