Category: Paradigm Shift
A recent article in the NY Times on online amateur map making got my hacker juices going. If you follow these blogs, you might have noticed that I have a love for the art of graphically displaying data.
So what better way to get things going than to plunk the current IFHI membership into an online mapping device. It's still pretty rough and tumble, but eventually you will be able to find an IFHI resource by zooming in and out of some very cool maps.
Here is a taste:
IFHI Practitioners and Educators in the Eastern US and Canada
IFHI Practitioners and Educators in the UK
When I get all the membership into the software I'll put up the live link.
If you are affiliated with IFHI, place contact the head office and make sure that your information is current.
A common criticism of my work with blood type and diet seeks to brand the BTD theory as a â€˜pseudoscience.' Now, according to most accounts, a pseudoscience is â€˜any body of knowledge, methodology, or practice that is erroneously regarded as scientific, and which fails to meet the criteria met by science generally.'
According to most accepted sources, a pseudoscience can be identified by a combination of certain characteristics. So, let's see how the BTD measures up:
Asserting claims or theories unconnected to previous experimental results.
It is amply demonstrated in the scientific literature that ABO blood type and secretor status possess biological significance outside of the realm of transfusion science. Roughly 1/3 of all published studies on blood type polymorphism measure some sort of physiologic response, typically having to do with digestion, immunity and circulation.
Asserting claims which cannot be verified or falsified (claims that violate falsifiability).
Falsifiability is the notion that if something cannot be made false, it cannot be proven or disproved. For example, the notion of constructing an anti-cancer diet for type A could be said to be logical based on the fact that virtually 90% of all published studies show a higher rate of malignancy in type A over the other types.
To say otherwise (i.e that type O had a higher occurence over type A) would be to falsify this fact.
Using type A again, we could also say that a cardio-protective diet would be more appropriate in type A, since virtually all published studies show a higher rate of heart and artery disease in type A over the other blood types. Again, to say otherwise would be to falsify this fact.
Not only do we know the occurrence of these facts, we have biomedical reasons for their existence; for example, many types of cancers mimic the type A antigen, and with regard to heart disease, type A has higher levels of cholesterol and more arterial inflammation than the other blood types.
Other studies show that type O have more of a type of inflammation made worse by wheat, whereas non-secretors have lower level of intestinal enzymes that help the body assimilate fats and calcium. Every fact behind the Blood Type Diets neatly falls within the framework of being falsifiable.
Asserting claims which contradict experimentally established results.
No aspect of the characterizations or recommendations of the Blood Type Diets contradict established experimental results. In fact, the inherent flexibility of its doctrine help explain information and results which would otherwise appear aberrant, such as the inability of herd type epidemiology to produce cogent answers to the ongoing debates in nutrition, and the simultaneous persistence of multiple heterodoxies (paleodiet, vegan, etc.)
Failing to provide an experimental possibility of reproducible results.
All aspects of the Blood Type Diets are eminently testable. Ongoing research is monitoring at a variety of recognized biomarkers (soluble endothelial factors, breath hydrogen, to name two) and their modulation as a direct result of adopting a specific blood type diet protocol. Unfortunately, one of the more dire consequences of our internet fueled ability to mudsling to a scale unknown previously is that nascent ideas can easily die stillborn under a barrage of ad hominem and ad hoc attacks, inhibiting serious consideration from independent researchers. This can be especially dangerous to subsequent scholarly analysis; though any scientific theory should be able to withstand the scrutiny of honest research, even if its ultimate goal is to disprove its claims.
Failing to submit results to peer review prior to publicizing them.
I have authored a number of peer-reviewed papers that examined the influence of specific dietary patterns on individuals of differing ABO groups. Predictably enough, they attracted little or no attention at the time of publication. It was only when I wrote a book for the general public, did any of my work attract any sort of attention at all.
By claiming a theory predicts something that it has not been shown to predict.
The characterizations of the digestive strengths and weaknesses of the ABO blood groups and secretor types are a matter of public record; any one with the interest and free time can explore the existing research on MEDLINE or any of the citation services. As I have said time and again, I have merely reassembled and reorganized prior, largely disorganized material into a cogent collection of facts, That as I understand it, is the basis of virtually all scientific development. Paradoxically, if my training as a naturopathic physician was a liability with regard to my ability to develop this theory in a conventionally scientific environment, it was a distinct advantage with regard to the development of a vista broad and flexible enough to knit the disparate facts about blood type, diet and physiology together in the first place.
By a lack of progress toward additional evidence of its claims.
I think the emerging sciences of nutrigenomics and metabolomics will for the first time give the Blood Type Diets the type of intellectual and conceptual framework necessary to allow for their proper place in science to be established. Far from inhibiting or lacking progress towards additional evidence, the Blood Type Diets probably need at least another decade to allow for the genomic discoveries to penetrate traditional medical sensibilities.
This last point illustrates what would be a much more resourceful way to depict the Blood Type Diets: As Protoscience.
Protoscience is a term sometimes used to describe a hypothesis which has not yet been tested adequately by the scientific method, but which is otherwise consistent with existing science or which, where inconsistent, offers reasonable account of the inconsistency. In essence, a Protoscience is an area of science which is in its formulative stages. Some authorities substitute â€˜Frontier Science' for Protoscience. I can accept that as well.
In general, pejorative terms like â€˜Pseudoscience' are often employed by skeptics and critics, and may often have ulterior motives behind them, such is the politics of science and health care these days.
However, just as we have pseudoscience, let us not forget that we also have â€˜pseudoskeptics' as well. A pseudoskeptic is an individual who claims to support "reason" and the "scientific worldview", but frequently uses logical fallacies, attempts to silence opponents, and employs various invalid strategies of persuasion. Funny enough, pseudoskepticism is a class of pseudoscience, masquerading as proper skepticism.
Historically, how many protoscientific discoveries (Galileo's Astronomy and Harvey's discovery of the circulation of blood are two that come to mind) would have at the time of their publication been classed as pseudoscience when in fact they were on the very frontiers of discovery?
Pseudoskeptics have often taken their shots at me and my work. Yet I wonder how some of these folks get away with a skeptical stance about something they appear to know so little about? How often is what we call skepticism is just the simple lack of curiosity?
Now, is this a tome in defense of the inalienable right to be protoscientific?
There is a lot of junk out there. Just the other day I received a hostile email from a book reader who chastized me for not 'being honest' about the 'whole secretor thing.' Apparently my lack of honesty in this person's mind centered around my withholding the knowledge that we can change our secretor status with color therapy.
Note: I used quite a bit of material from the Wikipedia for his blog. Paradoxically, Wikipedia features one of the more pseudoskeptic representations on the BTD to be found. But hey, I still love it.
Made an all-vegetable curry for dinner last night. Martha picked up some bok choy, which I used to use in my cooking many years ago, so we threw it in, with onions, garlic, tofu and a few other ditties. I made an effort to use more of the bulb or fleshy part of the plant, as opposed to too much of the top leaves. If you're using regular bok choy you'll want to cut the leaves from the stalks because the stalks will take longer to cook, however if your cooking with the â€˜baby bok choy' you can just chop up everything and throw it all together. What I liked about the taste of bok choy was its kind of silvery texture; smooth but not slimy. Try it sometime. It's pretty much neutral for everyone.
Neutral has been pretty much on my mind these days. I've been hanging out on the message board a bit more than usual, this attendance being occasioned by my current stationing at the computer for lots of other reasons (writing, tech stuff, etc.)
A recent blog discussed my frustration with the depiction of my work on the Wikipedia Encyclopedia site, where the prime author, in a work of titanic stupidity, characterized the BTD a â€˜flim-flam.' He is apparently a medical doctor with some expertise in menopause. Now, what that does to qualify him as an expert in what I do is still open to question.
One of the things I like best about the Wikipedia concept is that the knowledge base is additive; we all can add information to entries on the site. If we disagree with the biased point of view of an entry, we can contest it. In general, it is better with technical stuff, but some of the pop culture information is pretty good as well.
One of the best concepts put forth over there is the idea of the Neutral Point of View (NPOV), the ideal of representing all majority and significant-minority views fairly and without bias.
The article on the BTD is missing some NPOV.
Now, I think a lot of us in alternative medicine can benefit from a good dose of the NPOV, since much of the alternative health information flying around the internet these days is emotionally charged and tinged with personal experience. Witness the â€˜soy is bad' stuff all over the internet. I've spent hours looking at some of the supposed problems with soy (glutamate and excitoxins, â€˜dangerous hemmaglutinins', thyroid interactions, etc.) and almost all of these points are routinely presented as absolute truth when in fact they are often over extrapolated from basic research which never actually said what many of these people claim it implied.
Now before you go ahead and think I'm a soy defender, I'm not. It's not for everyone. But then again, it's also not, not for everyone.
So with that in mind, I share with you my new* Three Aphorisms on Nutrition Information:
- If you think something could be either good or bad for you, do it with the acceptance of the reality that with a thought like that, it probably is.
- If your preaching villianizes a particular food for everyone, you must also accept and realize that, right now, someplace on the planet it is probably getting somebody better.
- If your preaching glamorizes a particular food for everyone, you must also accept and realize that, right now, someplace on the planet it is probably making somebody sick.
And this final thought:
We should always evaluate recommendations in the light of what works for each of us as individuals. Similarly, we should also guard against the inadvertent foisting off of our own specific results as any sort of universal truism. That is what makes the whole individuality thing so great.
In clicking on the link today, I saw this story highlighted from the NY Times:
"Despite promising discoveries and multibillion-dollar investments, cancer research is quietly undergoing a crisis. Few drugs are being marketed, and most of those that have been introduced are enormously expensive and provide few of the benefits that patients expect. Officials of the Food and Drug Administration suggest that the failures may result from an obsolete testing system.â€?
Any adult with half a brain could have, and probably already has, arrived at the same conclusion. We are in a scientific quagmire of our own design.
"Although every field has suffered, cancer has had the greatest chasm between hope and reality. One in 20 prospective cancer cures used in human tests reaches the market, the worst record of any medical category. Among those that gained approval in the last 20 years, fewer than one in five have been shown to extend lives, life extensions usually measured in weeks or months, not years.â€?
"True cancer cures are still exceptionally rare. Medicines have been approved for colorectal cancer. Patients who take every one of the high-tech drugs has to spend, on average, $250,000, suffer serious side effects and gain, on average, months of life, according to studies.â€?
Here's another interesting fact: There has not been a significant new development in antibiotic therapy in over two decades, yet we have probably over twenty different drugs that your doctor can prescribe to lower your cholesterol.
Ever wonder why?
Well, it is simple math. Getting a pharmaceutical house interested in researching a drug that people take for a week is less likely to excite the in-house accountants than a drug that people take for the rest of their lives.
Add to that the increasing drug resistance seen to virtually all antibiotics and we have a formula for disaster. Thirty years ago, I remember Dr. Bastyr turning to me during a clinic shift and muttering that '"these things are not going to work forever" after we had examined a child who was on his seventh different antibiotic for a slew of ear infections.
In my early years of practice, I worked with Dr. Jules Harran, an archetypical kindly Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood MD, who often regaled me with stories of his medical years in the army during World War II. Dr. Jules was fond of recounting how 10,000 units of penicillin would completely erradicate a case of venereal disease back then, compared to the often ineffectual doses of over several million units used nowadays.
Natural product research? Forget about it. Going nowhere. As one Drug Company researcher told me in a blunt aside during a conference at which we both were presenting: "We're not interesting in things people can grow on their window boxes.â€?
The harsh reality is that in current day dynamics, doctors prescribe drugs developed by the pharmaceutical interests based upon sophisticated market analysis, and which have their path to market cleared by pharmaceutical insiders that flit back and forth between jobs at the drug companies, academia and the federal regulatory agencies. This is then parsed to the insurance interests, who bestow further scientific credibility by agreeing to pay for the whole thing.
Reminds me of a quote from the famous English artist William Hogarth:
"The sad thing about the ancient physicians is that they attempted to make medicine an art and failed; but the even sadder thing about our modern physicians is that they have attempted to make medicine a business, and have apparently succeeded."
Received my complementary copy of the Textbook Of Natural Medicine edited by my friend and mentor, Dr.Joseph Pizzorno. It was a real treat to see how well the new chapter on the Non Transfusion Significance of Blood Type (that I authored for this new edition of the Textbook) looks on real paper. I'm very happy with the information, which is clear and up to date. As far as I know the only new information on blood types that did not make this article was the association reported between blood types and p-glycoprotein that I had written about in an earlier blog. If you work with natural medicines, or just want the most authoritative reference work on the subject, you'll probably want to invest in a copy of the Textbook.
Hey, today is the winter solstice, first day of winter, at least for all of us on the upper half of the planet. Enjoy the next few days, in whatever manner works for you!
"Hi there. The study by Michael Dansinger of Tufts-New England Medical Centre in Boston may be of interest to you, if you haven't already heard about it: "One diet won't work for everyone, scientists warn slimmers" (Guardian, UK) They tested Atkins, Ornish, Zone and WeightWatchers. Why not Blood Group??? Best regards, Aidan"
The Dansinger study is interesting. For the study, he chose 160 overweight people and randomly assigned 40 to each of four different diets. They weighed an average 100kg and needed to lose between 13 and 35kg. All agreed to follow the diets to the best of their ability for two months, although none was enrolled in the full programmes that Weight Watchers and Dr Dean Ornish advocate. These include exercise, group meetings and food diaries for Weight Watchers and stress reduction for the Ornish diet. After two months, 22 per cent of the dieters had given up. After a year, 35 per cent had dropped out of Weight Watchers and the Zone diets and 50 per cent quit the Atkins and Ornish plans.
The study suggests there is no one-size-fits-all diet best for everyone. Wonder where I hear that one?
"The best way might be to be open minded about all of the options rather than focusing on finding the same 'best one' for everybody says Dansinger."
I think they were probably looking for diets that could go head-to-head with each other, and the BTD really can't be used for that. I remember a while back Wired magazine compared popular diets, and when they profiled the BTD, they used the type O diet and avoided mentioning the A, B and AB diets altogether.