Sex and KFC

November 27, 2007

We can no longer trust our major media to report the news properly any more because of corporate interference trying to sell us hot pants and fast food which, you would think, are fairly mutually exclusive items*- if we’re lucky. The other area where it affects us heavily is medicine. It was pointed out long ago by concerned research scientists that if you put combating disease in the hands of profit-oriented companies alone without having government labs involved what you will get is only treatments- not cures. A cure, after all, is only for Christmas- a treatment is for life.

The first truly awful science of my generation was the way AIDS was handled in the 80’s. Cargo-cult science from a doctor of dubious repute connected a retrovirus to a syndrome and transmission to sex and we were told, with the usual enthusiasm of the tabloid media, of the bodies piled high on the streets come the year 2000. Sex sells. Sex kills. Those alive, paying attention and not out shopping for hot pants holding a bucket of KFC would have caught, at the time, the BBC Panorama documentary which questioned the science and pointed out that the odds on contracting the HIV retrovirus, should it exist, from sex was thousands to one**. The threat increased to one in hundreds only if both partners had an open wound on their genitalia. I personally lack the commitment to have sex hundreds of time with my penis bleeding profusely and even if I did I lack the charm, I feel, to talk another person into rigorous sex whilst suffering from severe blood loss.

Lunatic fringe thinker, I, joined only by Nicholas Regush of ABC News, Harpers, a few Nobel Prize winners for chemistry and around ten thousand scientists outside the USA whose income is not dependant on companies making billions from HIV treatments in thinking there is some less than robust thinking here are now re-joined by the BBC.

The method that has been proposed (but never proved) by which the retrovirus kills our T-cells has as much credibility as a trial lawyer representing OJ Simpson or Robert Downey Jnr. according to, for all my dissing Americans, a study led by Emory University in Atlanta. In reporting the story the Beeb, though, fearful of the American treatment of the English language, decided to get a quote from a trustworthy British scientist at Imperial College, Cambridge. Professor Jaroslav (very British) Stark said: “Scientists have never had a full understanding of the processes by which T helper cells are depleted in HIV, and therefore they’ve been unable to fully explain why HIV destroys the body’s supply of these cells at such a slow rate. Our new interdisciplinary research has thrown serious doubt on one popular theory of how HIV affects these cells, and means that further studies are required to understand the mechanism behind HIV’s distinctive slow process of cellular destruction.”

What’s worrying is this: they decided HIV causes AIDS by killing T-cells without ever understanding or proving the process by which it happens. Then how do you know that HIV is doing it, exactly? There is a word for this kind of thing: it is called a guess. Guessing, as you may conclude, is not great science. Guessing is what loses you huge amounts of money at the track. Guessing is what you do when you try and win the lottery. Guessing is not something you want from, say, a person packing your parachute, deciding on the length of your bungee cord or sending you to a foreign country to find weapons of mass destruction. So filling yourself with toxic chemicals to kill a retrovirus which may be sitting around, chilling, and generally showing the activity and work ethic of a procrastinating grandma on a weeks break in Torremelinos based on a guess may be considered to be less than smart.

The problem is the way we demand answers from medicine. Other sciences get to dabble around and have fun trying to make the universe accidentally fold up or putting new elements together to see how big a bang we can get. We, as individuals, don’t really care so we place no pressure on them. But we want to be cured of every tiny ill. Since none of us really believe in heaven any more we are afraid of death, otherwise we would let ourselves be “taken” at the first opportunity. Lying there, measle-infected, “See God,” we could utter, “it’s not suicide- just your will. See you in a minute- put my sexy birds on ice and pour me a Martini.” So we believe in something new: we have faith in medicine. Which is dumb. Medicine is reason and evidence. And profit. When we substitute reason and evidence for faith we end up with faith and prophet. Possibly one called Mohamed, or Jesus, or Dave The Amazing Faith healer. Or GlaxoSmithKline.

It is really our fault. Our brain seeks conclusions to problems and it seeks them quickly. We are designed to suffer anxiety about the unknown because early humans who were not quick to decide the best option when faced with, say, a large and pretty kitty with sharp teeth and savage claws, never got to decide anything ever again… least of all who to accidentally get pregnant at the prom.

So we get betrayed, every day, by our Selves. Our Selves are not something to be trusted. They will fuck with us at every given opportunity making us think our hair looks bad, our hot-pants don’t suit us and make us buy another bucket of comfort-KFC. We tend to believe what will make us happy and accepted rather than what is inconvenient and, quite possibly, true.

One of those things is: you’re going to die. Get over it. Stop worrying about it. Get laid. And use a condom not because you think you’re going to die from some random infection but because you’re considerate, because you are careful, and because if you have kids they will want you to send them to school and college and will want to borrow your car- which will eat into your drinking money and destroy your social life. Who wants that? Honestly.

*- bridged by the diet supplement market.

**- “Male-to-female transmission was approximately eight times more efficient than female-to-male transmission …The constant per-contact infectivity for male-to-female transmission was estimated to be 0.0009 [Meaning that female-to-male would be 0.00001125 or about 1/10,000]…We observed no seroconversions after entry into the study…No transmission occurred among the 25% of couples who did not use their condoms consistently, nor among the 47 couples who intermittently practiced unsafe sex during the entire duration of follow-up. This evidence argues for low infectivity in the absence of either needle sharing and/or other cofactors” Padian NS et al. Heterosexual Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Northern California: Results from a Ten-Year Study. Am J Epidemiol. 1997 Aug;146(4):350-7

http://www.aras.ab.ca/

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The important thing about modern western civilization is successful lying. Not only to others but yourself. We spend all day being bombarded with lies so outrageous that we become immune to recognising them: this pill will make you thin, this dress will make you gorgeous, that car will get you laid, Iraq/Iran/Israel/ The Disney Corporation is your enemy, Crocs are so comfortable people will forgive you for looking like a moron, that Presidential candidate is completely different from the others and will represent your best interests and these sunglasses will protect your eyes whilst making you look cool and not at all like some half-bug-half-human from a ‘B’ horror movie.

If tasty food full of sauces and decadent pastries make you fat why do the French have one of the lowest obesity rates in the western world? If those sunglasses make you look so cool why wasn’t anyone wearing them 5yrs ago? Fashion is not new technology. If that Presidential candidate is so much your bitch- who gave them the money to run their campaign? Was it you? Didn’t think so… tight-arse.

But the first point (about the French) is true: they consume lots of all the food you shouldn’t eat, they have no worries over “low fat” options and what do you get? Not Texas, surprisingly. You get a country that is in shape despite having the same affinity for gymnasiums as the Bhurka- wearing women of Iran do for the beach. The French do have the advantage of having none of their food created in labs. This is, after all, the country where a terrorist organisation bombed a McDonalds not because they were anti- American but because they thought the food was offensive to the French Culinary Tradition. These are my kinda terrorists: clear thinkers. Why hate a group of people you’ve never met? Hating bad food. That is smart!

The difference between the French and the rest of us is the size of our TVs. The French spend less time working and worrying about acquiring material possessions and more time hanging out with family and friends, having tasty meals and remembering that their boss is just another arsehole who can go jump because, quite frankly, the whole of London will not freeze to death if his company’s line of pullovers arrive a day late. More is the pity, she thinks, as the English are notoriously dour.

So, you’re overweight because you work too hard.

If a comment like that would, as in my case, result in everyone you know falling down in fits of paralytic laughter there is another excuse. That is: more than 50% of you is not even “you”. You see, you are not just a product of your own DNA but a super-organism made of streams of bacteria that have sweet f-a (the technical term) to do with human genetics. You have a kilo of bacteria working for you in your gut, alone. There are 100 trillion cells of “not you” and only a few trillion that are.

This is why you are overweight: it’s not you, it’s them,  and it may be time to break up. The bad news is you need this bacteria to survive. Without it you die. This will guarantee thinness- if that’s what you’re into.

It also explains why people who use anti-bacterial soap always look a little anaemic.

http://independent.com/news/2007/oct/25/eating-french/

http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2004/10/65252

It’s been demonstrated all over the world but the best recent example of why local government is important is in comparing Switzerland and the USA when it comes to that ‘ol favourite, guns. Oddly enough, when it comes to guns the USA has, in government structure, the right idea. They had to get something right eventually. Here is why.

I am assuming, first of all, that we are dealing with a gun-toting, trigger-happy nation. It will probably come as a massive surprise to anyone reading this that the Swiss are, indeed, keen on drilling small pieces of metal into inanimate things and furry creatures at high speed. This has come about because the Swiss government has a ruling stating that every soldier in the country MUST have a gun in the house. An unregistered gun.

All of this, according to a leading psychiatrist who lives in my head, has a lot to do with insecurity over the jokes made about their deadly Swiss army knives and their masses of experience on the front lines of conflicts. That experience consisting mostly of standing behind their bankers, wearing odd clothing, yodelling and cursing their little red knives, unable to get the cork out of a recently pillaged (I mean ‘donated’) bottle of Chardonnay since the corkscrew attachment is rubbish, as said bankers quietly melt the gold picked out of dead soldiers and civilians teeth. Not that I am being nasty or judgemental or anything.

Not me.

This wide spectrum gun- ownership is by no means a bad thing since it at least adds a level of excitement to a country officially voted the second dullest on earth after Sweden. By who, you ask? Me, as it happens. Five minutes ago, shortly before consulting the aforementioned imaginary psychiatrist. It’s been that kind of day. So Switzerland has quite a lot of deaths with people going nuts and killing their families, office colleagues and, thankfully, themselves as well.

The American government, however keeps these issues local. South Carolina, it seems, site of a fun day out with death and carnage at Virginia Tech (when a graduate student decided he was sick to death of whiny rich kids bitching about nothing and decided to kill as many of them as possible- a reasonable guy by any standards), has decided to make the carrying of concealed weapons on campus legal. Presumably to make any future shoot-outs a little more fair. Given the American love of “friendly fire” this seems perfectly in keeping with their national psyche.

Why is it better to do this locally rather than nationally? Well… personal tragedy, rights of man and general compassion aside it’s to do with having a successful democracy and the advancement of the human race in general.

If you have these sorts of gun policies locally it has to be supported by the community. This means that most (more than 50%) of the community is dumb (or the smart people are too apathetic to do anything about it which is just as bad). The smart, non- apathetic, people then move away from the nut-balls to somewhere safer and more sensible, like Iraq or Beirut, tipping the balance even further. Now, if someone goes on a rampage there is a far better than average chance that the people killed will be dumb. Bigger shoot-outs due to armed civilians and masses of “friendly fire” will ensue between civilians all over dumb areas culling the herd on a regular basis and lowering the chances of idiot politicians winning a national vote and increasing the country’s average intelligence.

If you allow it nationally it offers no benefit as the odds of someone in the smarter 50% of your population being killed are the same as for the stupider 50%. This has no benefits to the nation whatsoever.

Localised gun control rocks…!

It’s an old phrase but I have, in my life, failed to find a better combination of just 3 experiences. These three most definitely add up to more than the whole.

Analysing it each of the things kick up one sure-fire flag that they are fun. Plenty of people disapprove of them. But it’s the combination that works incredibly well. Replace drugs, for instance, with yoghurt and it all kind of falls apart.

Or, alteratively, sex, drugs and Yanni… it would need to be a lot of drugs. Going to the Post Office, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll lacks a certain something although it might make an amusing story later. Leaving sex out of the three is just ludicrous anyway.

Sex, Caring for the Elderly and Rock ‘n Roll somehow lacks some of the joi de vivre that drugs bring to the party and could get you in trouble if anyone filmed it… Although there is the possibility of stealing the drugs from the elderly but that just takes us back to Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll, anyway.

Trying to knock up another three that more usually go together and offer the same level of excitement doesn’t seem to work either. Daytime TV, Ironing and Crisps, for instance, doesn’t compare terribly well. A movie, popcorn and loud people two rows back annoying you doesn’t come close either. Not even a little.

And let’s not forget that there are so many variables in Sex Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll that you are unlikely to run out and get bored before you die of an overdose, syphilis or a dislocated Tibia*. So, no loss there, then.

The only true leeway does appear to be in the selection of music although Enya or any one- man- band is always a mistake, especially live. He always stares. Enya would just send everyone to go into a coma, and that’s what the drugs are for. Funk would probably work, too, as would Latin but it would be important to match the music up to the right drugs.

Remember, sex between 2 people is a beautiful thing, sex between 3 is fantastic!

There is a reason what was promoted in the 70s has lasted through the test of over 30 years. Admittedly, we laid off the oily hair after a short while because it sucked but they couldn’t get everything right, could they? We owe a lot to a generation that reminded us, after all the crap of the Victorian era, what partying was all about.

*- a town in Sudan, I think.

Enjoy a lower cost of living- because you’re not!
Guaranteed no suicidal tendencies if you fail a year!
No sports and, hence, no jocks to deal with.
Smell more, care less.
Discount clothes from ‘Zombies r Us’

A wide range of extra curricular activities…

Enrolment in the “Thriller Re-Enactments’ and the Neverland Ranch
Weekend ‘extras’ trips to Hollywood.
Scare-O-grams

Free eulogy with every enrolment. Urn of your choice with “don’t discriminate, hire post-cremate” sticker and complimentary dustbuster for those awkward family moments…

33 places already gone… apply soon.

I have been waiting for a psychological backlash to the most shallow generation in history: the tweeny label- whores from hell. What we may come to see as the “bling” generation.

Sucked into the advertising mire more than any generation in history. People have sought guidance and self- definition through the ages from Drugs, Religions, Warlords, Pacifists, Prophets, the Famous and the Fatuous. This was the first to start to look to possessions for guidance. The pendulum always swings back and forth and, as usual, at the tip of the conservative end of the swing was an annoying war that finally sends the pendulum back. It has been building, though, for quite some time and just needed (mixing my metaphors badly) a trigger.

I remember well this from fight club, Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Born in the 70’s I have been through the swing away from the Love, Liberalism and Peace of the late 60s and early 70s to the money- orientated conservatism, large hair and bad pastel suits of the early 80s, through the grunge gender anonymity and unshaven women of the late 80s and early 90s and on to the vicious capitalist label feeding frenzy of the turn of the century.

This global warming thing we finally noticed (I did a school project on it in 1984- took the governments of the world 23 yrs to catch up to a student who spent less time in class than George W. does at work), of course, will not be stopped and I wonder how, at the tip of the green touchy- feely renaissance the other end of society will spin things and what they will place on the table to get society to start the swing back towards conservatism.

Will recreational space flight be it? Immersive computer games to get away from the mess when people get exhausted from over-caring? Or are they smart enough to have worked out enough ways to market the new green movement in such a way that they can profit from it? I think so. I take all 3 but in reverse order.

Looked at dispassionately neither side of the swing has any better claim to sanity. From the one side of rich warmongers and authority to the poor vegan touchy- feely side there is plenty of nonsense. But if there is nonsense to be had I prefer the pendulum at the point where we stop caring too much about possessions, allow dull people to take drugs to make them more interesting, stop caring too much about our jobs and start enjoying our sexuality more but women still shave their armpits.

Pools have a shallow end and a deep end. So, sometimes, do I.

Save the Humans!!!

March 26, 2007

Maybe 0.5% of humans give a crap about endangered Bengal Tigers. Perhaps a few more know what a greenhouse gas is. Maybe, at a push, 2% of humans on the planet know about global warming and care. The fact is that in the large scale of things all of this doesn’t matter. The idea of “Save the Planet” is patently ridiculous. None of this is causing the actual planet irreparable harm.

It’s screwing it up for the average mammal, though. Including you. The earth does not need dolphins, polar bears, Bengal Tigers, gorillas or, indeed, humans. Extinctions on a massive scale are perfectly normal in our little backyard here on “the unfashionable outer spiral arm” of the Milky Way.

“Save the Planet” is meaningless. It makes you want to take the placard from the average dumbass protester and beat them repeatedly over the head with it. Sometimes violence is the answer, ask a Bengal Tiger.

Whether the planet gets hit with meteor strikes, nuclear war, global warming, industrial toxicity or famine the next time Oprah Winfrey is on an eating spree- so what? The planet doesn’t care and if it, or she, wipes out 99.99% of all species the planet will just have another equivalent of the Cambrian explosion with a whole lot of new, interesting species that can find another way entirely to fuck up their environment and become extinct.

So I am sick of idiot, goober do-gooders going on about the environment. They miss the point. I too, this human being, want dolphins, Bengal Tigers, polar bears and gorillas to survive. For me. For my friends. For the children I am still trying to avoid having. For the grand-children they might be able to avoid having if I am unsuccessful. And so-on.

We want to save the cuddly animals and the beautiful animals because we find them inspiring, because we find them endearing. They reflect us and what we used to be. They are fascinating to watch on a wildlife show- although are much more dull at a game reserve where someone has not cut down 9,284 minutes of footage to 30seconds of action narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

We want to save them for us. And we know the beautiful and cuddly animals cannot survive in an ecosystem without the slimy, gross or downright creepy creatures so, what the hell, we don’t mind them living too. Except for Republicans, we are starting to think America and, indeed, the world would be better off without them.

This is, in fact, a “Save the Humans” message. We are the ones that need the rainforests, the clean rivers, beautiful Bengal Tigers, elegant Kingfisher, domestic cats, majestic whales and, at a push, lawyers (hi, sis) and politicians to survive. Even the slimiest of creatures has a purpose in this world and in our ecosystem and we have to allow them to survive for our sake.

This is midnightjester saying: “Save the Humans!”

BAD MEDICINE

The biggest reason that statistical medicine in general and AIDS specifically really steams my boat is the situation in Africa. In Africa today if you die of an AIDS-related illness you are classified as an AIDS death whether you have been diagnosed with HIV or not. Really. Even in South Africa with a first world infrastructure this is true.

The reason is not insidious. It is just too costly to test a person who is already dead of, say, pneumonia for HIV so it is just classified as an AIDS death. Statistics from AIDS related deaths are then extrapolated to provide assumed HIV infection rates amongst the rest of the population. That’s why the statistics are so high in Africa (and we use a different, less reliable test more likely to show false positives- because it’s cheaper).

There are no reliable statistics that show the death rate as a percentage of population in Africa has increased from disease in the last 20 years. The reason is simple: there are no reliable long-term statistics in Africa. Period. Again the closest you get is South Africa post 1994 when we got our first properly democratic government (hopefully the USA and China will follow our example soon). Even then statistics are not close to properly reliable until, perhaps, 2000 onward.

The biggest killers in South Africa are still Cancer and Heart Disease. The same as the rest of the world. I do advocate the promotion of condoms, especially in those who get lucky a lot, to prevent the spread of diseases but AIDS drugs are expensive on a continent that has much larger problems.

People in Africa need houses. People in Africa are starving. People in Africa are being massacred by brutal regimes. Yet there is no profit in attending to these needs so they do not get addressed. Do you provide medicine to one person with HIV or feed 20? Do you try and save one person from AIDS or do you save 10 children from being turned into killers?

The money put into AIDS goes straight back to the USA and Europe via pharmaceutical companies. Money put into housing, food aid, debt relief, or encouraging democracy and education does not. It only benefits that country.

For anyone out there who thinks Africa creates it’s own problems I have for you this to say. Countries with no mineral wealth in Africa, almost always, are peaceful. If you have nothing the developed and developing world wants you end up in a war only when armies are ousted from one of the countries that do and are looking for more soldiers.

The son of former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, pled guilty recently to a charge of trying to overthrow an African government (Ivory Coast I think) to try and get that country’s mineral rights. He was caught trying to flee South Africa after it all went wrong.

I kid you not at all.

I have been meaning to write a piece on statistical medicine for a while now. Since I just got a comment on my post “Should we all be worried by the HIV-AIDS hypothesis?” and also since much of the marketing and, more disturbingly, research into AIDS is done via statistical medicine I thought now might be the time.

I have spilt this into two parts the first is not my writing but two other texts I copied for my own interest some time ago and do not know exactly who to attribute them to.

One is a real medical study showing that “Leos” are 15% more likely to be admitted to hospital with gastric bleeding and “Sagittarians” are 38% more likely than others to land up there because of a broken arm. The second is a flippant piece about the dangers of bread. It is thought-provoking nonetheless.

WHY STATISTICAL MEDICINE IS DANGEROUS, TEXT1 (comedy):

!!! BREAD IS DANGEROUS !!!

Research on bread indicates that:

1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza ravaged whole nations.
4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
5. Bread is made from a substance called “dough.” It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!
6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and osteoporosis.
7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.
8. Bread is often a “gateway” food item, leading the user to “harder” items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts.
9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
12. Most American bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

In light of these frightening statistics, it has been proposed that the following bread restrictions be made:

1. No sale of bread to minors.
2. A nationwide “Just Say No To Toast” campaign, complete celebrity TV spots and bumper stickers.
3. A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.
4. No animal or human images, nor any primary colours (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.
5. The establishment of “Bread-free” zones around schools.

WHY STATISTICAL MEDICINE IS DANGEROUS, TEXT2 (actual study):

PEOPLE born under the astrological sign of Leo are 15% more likely to be admitted to hospital with gastric bleeding than those born under the other 11 signs. Sagittarians are 38% more likely than others to land up there because of a broken arm. Those are the conclusions that many medical researchers would be forced to make from a set of data presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science by Peter Austin of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto. At least, they would be forced to draw them if they applied the lax statistical methods of their own work to the records of hospital admissions in Ontario, Canada, used by Dr Austin.

Dr Austin, of course, does not draw those conclusions. His point was to shock medical researchers into using better statistics, because the ones they routinely employ today run the risk of identifying relationships when, in fact, there are none. He also wanted to explain why so many health claims that look important when they are first made are not substantiated in later studies.

The confusion arises because each result is tested separately to see how likely, in statistical terms, it was to have happened by chance. If that likelihood is below a certain threshold, typically 5%, then the convention is that an effect is “real”. And that is fine if only one hypothesis is being tested. But if, say, 20 are being tested at the same time, then on average one of them will be accepted as provisionally true, even though it is not.

In his own study, Dr Austin tested 24 hypotheses, two for each astrological sign. He was looking for instances in which a certain sign “caused” an increased risk of a particular ailment. The hypotheses about Leos’ intestines and Sagittarians’ arms were less than 5% likely to have come about by chance, satisfying the usual standards of proof of a relationship. However, when he modified his statistical methods to take into account the fact that he was testing 24 hypotheses, not one, the boundary of significance dropped dramatically. At that point, none of the astrological associations remained.

Unfortunately, many researchers looking for risk factors for diseases are not aware that they need to modify their statistics when they test multiple hypotheses. The consequence of that mistake, as John Ioannidis of the University of Ioannina School of Medicine, in Greece, explained to the meeting, is that a lot of observational health studies—those that go trawling through databases, rather than relying on controlled experiments—cannot be reproduced by other researchers. Previous work by Dr Ioannidis, on six highly cited observational studies, showed that conclusions from five of them were later refuted. In the new work he presented to the meeting, he looked systematically at the causes of bias in such research and confirmed that the results of observational studies are likely to be completely correct only 20% of the time. If such a study tests many hypotheses, the likelihood its conclusions are correct may drop as low as one in 1,000—and studies that appear to find larger effects are likely, in fact, simply to have more bias.

So, the next time a newspaper headline declares that something is bad for you, read the small print. If the scientists used the wrong statistical method, you may do just as well believing your horoscope.

Part two to follow…

Who needs structured entertainment when you have the Vatican? I have been off the case of these lunatics for a few months now since making fun of them is just so easy. But I think this deserves a mention.

This is the Lentern speaker, chosen personally by the Nazi Pope, that, according to The Times “has in the past given a clue to Vatican policy.” Not that we needed the appointment of a 78yr old conservative loony to Lentern speaker after they chose a Nazi over a black man as the new Pope.

He tells us a few things about the Anti-Christ the average thinker without a hotline to Jesus might not have guessed off the cuff. Firstly, it turns out that he will be a pacifist. Yes, you heard it here first. Might is Right and the devil, rather than taking the hindmost (which I never understood), is a pacifist.

“An arch-conservative cardinal chosen by the Pope to deliver this year’s Lenten meditations to the Vatican hierarchy has caused consternation by giving warning of an Antichrist who is “a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist.”- Times, UK

Popping over to the Bible’s revelations, as I do on a Sunday afternoon, I get a slightly different picture. After you get past the bit in the beginning that seems a little overly-concerned with house-hold furniture(ref#1) and some mention of keys which leads me to visions of a drunken night on the town and a wife keen on IKEA you come across a bit that seems to indicate pacifism is not high on The Beast’s agenda:

“17:11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goes to destruction.
19:19 I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him who sat on the horse, and against his army.”

Ignoring the obvious mathematical issues in 17:11 our biblical buddy suffered from the sentence does seem to indicate some sort of violence on behalf of The Beast at 19:19 rather backs that up. Perhaps someone might have mentioned this to Cardinal Giacomo Biffi aka “Biffi the Pacifist Slayer.”

Beelzebub’s buddy on planet earth, his right hand man will also be an ecologist from the tips of his horns to the cloves on his little hoofy-woofies. So it’s time to start sinking those Greenpeace ships now. It’s probably a good bet that the whales, those evil mammals that Greenpeace are so keen on, are in on this too so best we give the Japanese Sushi swallowers those killing rights back as well.

Finally the Devil’s formal representative in his Earth Consulate will be and ecumenist. An ecumenist is someone who tries to find common ground between people so they can get along and join together in peace.

The guy he was quoting, the bloke of whom which he was a fan, the bloke backing him up as it were, was a bloke called Solovyov. Solovyov believed that his mission in life was to move people toward reconciliation or absolute unity or “sobornost”. Sobornost is a Russian word for co-operation between multiple forces. It is frequently translated as “togetherness” or “integrality”. Ecumenity, if you will. We think Biffi wasn’t paying attention in Sunday School.

So, Biffi the Pacifist Slayer is yet another loon in a long line of loons inhabiting the Vatican. It is beyond me to find this anything beyond amusing any more. These are some of the most entertaining people on the planet, haemorrhaging disciples throughout the civilised world like a victim in a Wes Craven movie.

What I really want is a reality show set in The Vatican. Now there’s a show with dollar signs written all over it. I would watch it. Religiously.

jester

ref#1
Revelations 1:12 I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. Having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands.
Revelations 1:20 the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands

Sources
http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=23229
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1459003.ece
http://trulyequal.com/2007/03/02/the-antichrist-will-be-a-liberal/
http://www.awitness.org/biblehtm/re/re1.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Solovyov_%28philosopher%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sobornost