How to (Mostly) Block Donald Trump’s Emergency Text


On October 3, at around 2:00PM Eastern Time (and for up to 30 minutes after), every cell phone in the United States is set to light up with a test “presidential alert” message.1  This intrusion, and the inability to opt out or block it, has upset enough people to kick off a #GoDark920 movement, encouraging Americans to turn off their phones for the entire day.  As I’ll explain shortly, the media is incorrectly calling this message a “text”–but let’s not get into the weeds yet.

If you’re considering turning off your phone, there is an alternative.  Not perfect, but still, I would argue, better than giving up the use of your precious iPhone or Samsung for a day.

You will need WiFi for this to work, but the steps are simple, as shown on my iPhone, below.

  • Put your phone in airplane mode
  • Turn on WiFi
wifi settings for iphone

Setting up an iPhone for WiFi-only text and voice (click/enlarge

Yeah, that’s it.  The steps will be similar on an Android device such as Samsung.  Admittedly, you’re going to lose cellular phone service during this time, but you need not be out of touch with your loved ones, especially in the Apple world.  As long as I’m in range of WiFi, I can both text and call (FaceTime!) other Apple aficionados who are friends and family.

Not into the iPhone?  Not to worry.  There are myriad free texting and calling apps, such as WhatsApp, that are solely internet-based.  No cell phone service required.  In theory, at least, having your phone in Airplane Mode should have cellular service disabled and block the incoming “presidential message.”  If not, we’ve learned something interesting about airplane mode on cell phones.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a popular Internet-based application that allows text and voice without a cellular connection. Myriad such applications exist. (click/enlarge)

Note that the concept of “airplane mode” has been evolving, so I cannot guarantee success on October 3.  It used to be that even WiFi wasn’t allowed on flights, but this has changed; the FAA is toying with the idea of allowing cellular calls in the air, so there may well be phones out there that can receive but not transmit.  I’m going to find out on October 3.

messenger to block trump emergency message

Even the much-hated Facebook Messenger app can be used to communicate (over WiFi) until the presidential message passes.

As mentioned in the introduction, the October 3 message is often incorrectly being called a “text” by the press (I intentionally stuck with that name in the title of my article to avoid confusion.)  The alerts sent at the behest of the president use a technology framework known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).  Although WEAs may share some of the infrastructure we’re familiar with (e.g. cell towers, frequencies, our phones), they won’t arrive as standard voice, text, or SMS messages.  Simply put, they blanket all phones known to be in a geographical area with a specially formatted on-screen message accompanied by an audio signal and vibration.

So, to ease your mind, If the blocking hypothesis I describe here does indeed work, you need not fear having a text or voice mail from Donald Trump (OK, FEMA) waiting for you when you take your phone out of airplane mode on the evening of the 3rd.

This makes sense if you think about it.  My wife and I were once fortunate enough to be vacationing in Miami when a major winter storm hit our home state of Kentucky, triggering statewide wireless winter storm alerts.  Not only did we not receive those alerts while in Florida (it would make no sense, both the cellular service and emergency services know how to geo-track users and deliver warnings to the right places), we had no voice mails or texts waiting in our inboxes a week later when we flew back to chilly Kentucky.  In other words, the warning messages aren’t held for you to pick up at a later date.

But, Now That You Can, Should You?
Emergency alert systems exist for a reason–a good reason.  I always leave those for which I can opt-in enabled on my phone.  I would recommend that everyone do so.  A lot of dedicated scientists from myriad fields have worked very hard to put together a system to keep us safe.

So why am I writing about trying to bypass a test, and what the hell does this have to do with debunking bad science (the purpose of my blog?)

This is, in effect, my way of extending a large digital middle finger to Ajit Pai and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for their egregious act of bad science and public policy in rolling back net neutrality, the legal framework that forced Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in this country to treat all internet traffic equally. The Internet is now pay-for-play, meaning ISPs can charge (and receive) large fees to give priority to certain traffic (read: that from large corporations), leaving “unimportant” data (schools, libraries, scientific research, anything coming from your home and mine) to sit in the backwaters of a swamp that was supposed to be cleared.

And, to be honest, looking at what Trump and the FCC have done to botch the internet, I cannot help but have a knot in my stomach when I think of them holding the ability to “brick” every cell phone in the United States, at their whim, in one fell swoop. (WEA messages “brick,” or render your phones useless for communication, during their duration).

So, yes, accepting emergency broadcasts is a good thing.  A superfluous message from a vainglorious, demonstrably scientifically illiterate administration over an arguably redundant notification system, backed in part by an FCC that sold a free and fair internet to the highest bidder?

Yeah, I’m disabling my phone in protest.

Authors Notes
Updated 19 Sep 2018 to include descriptions of, and elaborate upon, the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) framework, how the data sent is not actually a text message, and propose the hypothesis that whatever’s sent between 2:00pm and 2:30pm won’t somehow show up in an inbox or stored as a “missed text.”

References
(1) Presidential Alert Test Postponed (NBC News)
https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/mobile/fema-s-presidential-alert-test-postponed-some-americans-want-disconnect-n910406
Retrieved 18 Sep 2018

Image Credits
iPhone screen snapshots by the author.

Trump on phone parody by the author, used in strict accordance with provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

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Hurricane Florence Blows Mind of Conservative Talk Show Host

Hurricane Florence image

Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast of the USA.  Image by the author, produced via RadarScope software.

Longtime readers of this blog know the practice here is to avoid politics and religion unless members of those institutions cross the line by bringing science into the fray. At that point the gloves come off.  Listening to a few hours of conservative radio talk show coverage of Hurricane Florence yesterday on the Sirius XM Radio “Patriot” channel, climate science was discussed with all the accuracy of two auto mechanics preparing for delicate brain surgery on a newborn infant.  I feel compelled to respond.

The Wilkow Majority
Let’s look at a quote from Andrew Wilkow of the Wilkow Majority, “explaining” why climate change doesn’t exist:1

“[…] weather patterns are cyclical. […] our earth rotation is not perfectly circular, […] we come and go from different distances in relationship to the to the sun. […] tides, everything is affected by that.” 1

There’s a lot to unpack here.

Wilkow confused rotation with orbit, but I’ll cut him some slack.  Rotation occurs in place (think of a spinning top that doesn’t travel), which doesn’t alter our distance from the sun.  He’s clearly talking about our orbit, so that’s what we’ll concentrate on.  Out of kindness, I can say that this is by far the least of his mistakes.

The Earth does indeed orbit the sun in an elliptical, not circular, orbit.  Unfortunately, that’s the only thing Wilkow got right.  The implication that our distance from the sun affects our weather, our climate, and, risibly, our tides, is so wrong a that fifth grader could debunk it.  Not having a fifth grader on hand, I’ll do it myself, and start with the low hanging fruit: tides.

The Moon is responsible for our tides.2  As it orbits the planet, its gravitational tug on our home–and its oceans–causes a bulge that results in tides. Remember being taught this in grade school? Apparently Andrew Wilkow doesn’t.

andrew wilkow climate change

Andrew Wilkow. See Image Credits for photo copyright/use information

But the most scientifically inaccurate claim in Wilkow’s polemic is that the distance of our planet from the sun has anything to do with weather and climate.  In fact, the separation of Earth and our host star has nothing at all to do with  climate, weather, or even our seasons.

For starters, the seasons are caused by the Earth being tilted 23½ degrees on its axis with respect to the plane in which it orbits the Sun.  During the Northern Hemisphere winter, it’s colder because that part of the planet is tilted away from the Sun, receiving less direct sunlight.  A fun science fact is that during this time of year, the Earth is actually closer to the Sun than in the northern summer. Yes, we’re closer to the Sun in January than in June.  Distance doesn’t matter.  Conversely, it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere in January because that part of the planet is tilted more directly toward the Sun, receiving more direct sunlight.

In Phil Plait’s excellent book, Bad Astronomy,5 Mr. Plait points out that very simple math shows that our non-circular orbit counts for at most a 7°F (4°C) difference, summer or winter. That’s right: statistically, the elliptical shape of our orbit contributes nothing to weather or climate change.  Every year, we swing through a cycle where distance contributes no more than 7°F (4°C), plus or minus, and, a reminder to Mr. Wilkow… we’re  talking weather, not climate.

earth orbit illustration

The Earth’s orbit is indeed elliptical, but it has nothing to do with climate. NASA/NOAA image. (click/enlarge)

This is a perfect segue into Andrew Wilkow’s cringe-worthy statement, “weather patterns are cyclical.”  As all who paid attention in science class know, weather isn’t climate.3   Weather concerns itself with immediate, short-term conditions; climate is the measure and average of weather over long periods of time.  For an example of someone who doesn’t understand the difference between weather and climate, look no further than a senator who brings a snowball (a weather event) to the floor of the senate to “prove” climate change doesn’t exist.4  Ach du lieber gott in himmel.

Full disclosure:  there are some possible considerations due to a phenomenon called precession (the Earth’s wobble on its axis), our orbit of the Sun, and the fact that the tilt of our axis will cause seasons in the hemispheres to eventually reverse.  But this happens on scales of tens of thousands of years.  You could start making climate change arguments for Sarasota and Sydney if you stuck around for 20,000 years, but that’s outside Wilkow’s bailiwick and lifespan.

Wilkow’s broadcast eventually segues from demonstrable scientific illiteracy to hurricane and other emergency preparedness and, wait for it: shilling for emergency food supplies. Yes, the conservative broadcaster just so happens to run an online emergency food store, and there’s nothing like a good natural disaster to drum up business.6

wilkow uses natural disaster to sell overpriced goods

Why stop at using bad science to refute a natural disaster when you can make a little money at the same time? Fear sells, and Wilkow is a master of the art. (click/enlarge)

It has become all too typical in today’ environment to deny science and back up rhetoric with nonsense such as Wilkow’s (e.g., the oceans aren’t really warming, providing more fuel to make hurricanes more devastating.)  Unfortunately, listeners calling into his show readily agreed with him, despite the annoying reality that the facts don’t.  For example, as we’ve circled the sun time again, century after century, our planet has been warming by 1.3° to 1.6° Fahrenheit, on average, but with the rate nearly doubling since 1975.7,8

Here’s what the climate has been doing as we elliptically orbit the sun these last few hundred years:

global temperatures chart

History of global surface temperatures since 1880, courtesy NOAA.8 (click/enlarge)

There you have it graphically:  climate change is a long-term affair.  After listening to conservative talk radio for several hours on Wednesday, I hope that the love affair with scientific illiteracy, as demonstrated by Andrew Wilkow and those calling into his show, doesn’t also prove to be a long term affair.

The planet just can’t afford it.

Authors note (16 Sep 2018):  this article originally reversed units of temperature regarding the earth-sun distance effect.  The correct values are 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit).  Thanks to astute readers for pointing out the error.

References
(1) The Wilkow Majority (Sirius XM Radio, Patriot Channel)
Excerpt beginning at 6:24 mark, climate change denial
Live Broadcast, 12 Sep 2018, also available via Sirius XM replay

(2) NOAA SciJLinks: What Causes Tides
https://scijinks.gov/tides/
Retrieved 12 Sep 2018

(3) NASA: What’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate?
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/noaa-n/climate/climate_weather.html
Retrieved 12 Sep 2018

(4) Senator James Inhofe (Republican) Brings Snowball to Floor (YouTube)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E0a_60PMR8
Retrieved 12 Sep 2018

(5) Bad Astronomy, by Phil Plait
https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Astronomy-Misconceptions-Revealed-Astrology/dp/0471409766/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536935776&sr=8-1&keywords=bad+astronomy+-+philip+plait
Retrieved 12 Sep 2018
Disclaimer:  I am not an Amazon affiliate marketer.  I receive no proceeds from the sales of Amazon products and have no association with the author of the linked book.

(6) Prepare With Wilkow (PreparedWith.com)
https://preparewith.com/wilkow
Warning: Not a reputable/scientifically accurate site
Retrieved 12 Sep 2018

(7) NOAA:  Climate Change: Global Temperature
Authors: Rebecca Lindsey and LuAnn Dahlman
https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-temperature
Retrieved 12 Sep 2018

(8) American Meteorological Society, State of the Climate Report
https://www.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/publications/bulletin-of-the-american-meteorological-society-bams/state-of-the-climate/
Retrieved 12

 

Image Credits
Hurricane Florence cover image ©2018 Mark Alsip, all rights reserved.
Produced with the RadarScope app.

Andrew Wilkow image may be subject to copyright.  Used here in strict accordance with provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Earth/Sun orbit image courtesy NASA/NOAA. Used with kind permission and under provisions that image is in public domain because it was produced by a government agency.

NOAA climate change courtesy NASA/NOOA.  Used with kind permission and under provisions that image is in public domain because it was produced by a government agency.

Josh Axe’s Heavy Metal Toothpaste

josh axe heavy metals alternate toothpaste

Josh Axe brings heavy metal to the stage in an unexpected way with his homemade toothpaste recipe. Unfortunately, he himself calls the mix toxic.

Josh Axe, a chiropractor who fancies himself a doctor and makes a living selling unproven natural remedies for all that ails you, has a particular distaste for heavy metal.  No, not the likes of Metalilica, Iron Maiden, or Black Sabbath.  We’re talking heavy metal in the context of lead, mercury, and, of particular importance to today’s column, aluminum.

Just like the old school conservatives who associate satanic meanings with heavy metal music, Josh Axe seems to see the devil in aluminum, the most common metal in the crust of the planet.  He calls it a toxic poison,1 links it to Alzheimer’s,2 and even demonizes common aluminum foil, tying it to dementia.3

It’s rather shocking then that “Doctor” Axe has published an article in which he recommends an aluminum-based homemade toothpaste:4

“As an alternative to baking soda, you can use white kaolin clay.”–Josh Axe4

You see, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubChem database, you can’t have kaolin without aluminum.  Don’t believe me?  Well, here:5

“Kaolin is the most common mineral of a group of hydrated aluminum silicates, approximately H2Al2Si2O8-H2O.”5 —-PubChem  (emphasis mine)

Here’s a pretty picture of kaolin.  I’ve highlighted the aluminum in yellow:

kaolin josh axe toothpaste

Kaolin, courtesy PubChem. Note the aluminum. When you brush your teeth with Josh Axe’s homemade remedy, this is what you put in your mouth.

 

When will the public catch on and stop buying from this man? I don’t know the answer. But you, dear reader, can help. Spread these stories. Check Axe’s product labels against his own words. I’ve provided the necessary links in the reference section below. Somewhere out there, I imagine a truly ill man or woman considering throwing out their meds and following one of Axe’s nonsensical, hypocritical wellness plans. They’ll be buying the same chemicals he claims will harm them.

Let’s not let that happen.

References
(1) Dangers of Heavy Metals and How to do a Heavy Metal Detox
Warning: Not a scholarly article. Contains false and/or misleading information.
https://draxe.com/heavy-metal-detox/
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

(2) Five Gross Grilling Mistakes Damaging Your Health
Warning: Not a scholarly article. Contains false and/or misleading information.
https://draxe.com/grilling-mistakes/
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

(3) Alzheimers Natural Treatment
Warning: Not a scholarly article. Contains false and/or misleading information.
https://draxe.com/alzheimers-natural-treatment/
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

(4) Six Ways to Naturally Whiten your Teeth (Josh Axe)
Warning: Not a scholarly article. Contains false and/or misleading information.
https://draxe.com/6-ways-to-naturally-whiten-your-teeth/
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

(5) Pubchem Kaolin Clay (CID 56841936)
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/56841936
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

Image Credits
Intro image is a parody mashup using a base image of unknown copyright status; I believe ©2018 Wallup. Used here along with a cutout of Josh Axe under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Kaolin structure courtesy PubChem.

Thrive Market’s Little (“Carcinogenic”) Black Rain Cloud

thrive market carcinogens

I’ve been a Winnie the Pooh fan for as long as I can remember.  This isn’t always easy for a fifty-five year old man to admit, but there are a lot of important life lessons that come from this innocent, wise little yellow bear.  I remember the episode and quote that hooked me:

“I’m a little black rain cloud, of course”– W. Pooh, Esq.

 

In the cartoon, Pooh, covered in mud and hanging from a helium balloon, floats happily into the upper branches of a tree, where a honey-laden bee’s nest awaits.  Disguised as a little black rain cloud, Pooh naively sings a happy tune, certain that no one will be the wiser as he prepares to make off with a tasty treasure.  Of course, when Pooh arrives at the nest, the bees see through the plan, and disaster follows.

Pooh’s naiveté is shared by Thrive Market and their Lifestyle & Beauty editor, Dana Poblete, who, in “The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding In Your Makeup”1 writes that the compound carbon black is a possible carcinogen that “may increase risk of lung disease and cardiovascular disease.”  Like poor Pooh, Poblete’s article disguises a little secret that she and Thrive would rather the bees customers don’t catch onto until Thrive has made away with the honey customers’ hard earned cash.

Yes, unfortunately for Poblete and Thrive Market, there’s a little black rain cloud hanging over their online store.  It’s known as Dead Sea Mineral Soap (Lavender):2

dead sea on thrive market contains carbon black

One With Nature’s Dead Sea Mineral Soap, sold by Thrive Market, contains an additive the vendor links to cancer, lung & heart disease. (click/enlarge)

Remember the carbon black that Dana Poblete and Thrive Market link to cancer?  Unfortunately, just like Pooh’s arrival at the bee’s nest, Thrive’s balloon is burst when we read the ingredients of the above Dead Sea Mineral Soap and compare to Poblete’s list of carcinogenic compounds:1,2

Sodium Palmate (Saponified Palm Oil), Sodium Palm Kernelate (Saponified Palm Kernel Oil), Water (Aqua), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Sodium Chloride (Salt), Glycerin (Vegetable Glycerin), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender Petals), Maris Sal (Dead Sea Salt), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Argania Spinosa (Argan Oil), Carbon Black CI 77266 (Plant Based Pigment), Ultramarine Blue (Mineral Pigment), Citric Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Yes, carbon black.  In a fear-mongering article written by Poblete and published by Thrive, we’re warned to avoid skin contact with carbon black because:

“[It’s a] Possible carcinogen, may increase risk of lung disease and cardiovascular disease” 1

and

“Your body absorbs 60 percent of what you put on your epidermis” 1

Lather up compadres!

There is, of course, nothing dangerous about the goods sold by Thrive.  The problem is that the vendor and its authors, in conjunction with astroturf “research” groups such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG), engage in a feedback loop that uses EWG-produced materials to fear-monger consumers into buying Thrive products, with a portion of the proceeds going back to fund the astroturf research and organic food industry.4

As an added bonus (?) customers at organic markets such as Thrive pay higher prices for organic products that are have no demonstrable health benefits compared to their conventional counterparts.  Two for the price of three!

Thrive market is loaded with products that contain the very same ingredients that their lifestyle articles claim can kill you.  Type their name into the search box at BadScienceDebunked.com and do a little light reading.

So please: if you’re into the hippy lifestyle, buy a bar of One With Nature Dead Sea Soap in complete confidence. It’s totally safe.  Shower outside in fresh rainwater, aux naturale, with one or more friends and a unicorn.  Carbon black isn’t going to hurt you (though the unicorn might, if the horn gets misplaced during the shower).

Just don’t buy from Thrive Market.

 

References
(1) The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding In Your Makeup
Warning: Not a scholarly link.  Contains false/misleading information
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/noxious-chemicals-in-makeup
Retrieved 02 Apr 2018

(2) One With Nature Dead Sea Mineral Soap, Lavender
https://thrivemarket.com/p/one-with-nature-dead-sea-mineral-soap-lavender
Retrieved 02 Apr 2018

(3) Thrive’s Plethora of Poisonous Powders (Bad Science Debunked)
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2016/08/25/thrives-plethora-of-poisonous-powders/
Retrieved 02 Apr 2018

(4) The Thrive/EWG Connection (Bad Science Debunked)
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2016/08/23/the-thrive-marketenvironmental-working-group-connection/
Retrieved 02 Apr 2018

Image Credits
Thrive Market screen snapshots, One With Nature product images are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Winnie the Pooh cartoon © Walt Disney Corporation. Author assumes/makes no copyright claims by linking to YouTube video. Linked under fair use/parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Winnie the Pooh/Thrive Market mashup intro graphic by the author.  Produced and used under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Naturally Nicole’s Elderberry Flu Treatment Debunked (Part 2)

naturally nicole elderberry syrup

What the heck is “evidence based” proof? Is there another kind?

In part one of this series,1 we began the arduous task of tearing apart an internet snake oil saleswoman going by the moniker “Naturally Nicole.”  Nicole’s claim to fame is selling an unproven Elderberry syrup as a flu medication.2  This alone would be cause for eye rolls and muffled giggles from anyone who’s worked in a pharmacy, but things take a darker turn as Ms. Au Naturale goes on to lambast the safe, #1 recommended preventative for a disease that has so far claimed nearly 100 lives at this writing:3 the flu shot.

Just a quick recap of part one, where we looked at two of three Elderberry fantasy claims:  First, Nicole lied to her audience, saying that a study was performed on human–when it was actually done in test tubes and petri dishes.  She also references a junk science paper whose abstract claimed results that actually came from another study–not the one described.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Nicole’s second claim was that the flu vaccine was dangerous and ineffective, when in fact the very study she referenced said vaccination was the most effective way to combat influenza.  While the efficacy of the flu vaccine does vary from year to year, 2018’s rate of 36% is better than Nicole’s elderberry rate of 0%.  You do the math.

So now, without further ado, we move on to the conclusion of this series, taking on the third of Nicole’s perjurious claims:

Claim #3
A 93.3% improvement in symptoms in 2 days for elderberry-treated patients vs 91.7% in the control group, and a complete cure rate of nearly 90% in 2 days vs. 6 days in the control group.

Rule #1 for citing a paper as evidence would seem to be: read the damn paper.  I can’t prove the Duchess of Elderberry skipped her reading assignment, but I strongly suspect it, based on the fact the study she quoted is hidden behind a $51/copy pay wall, and she claims the paper looked at patients suffering from a flu outbreak on a kibbutz in the country of Panama.

In reality, the patients studied were in Israel, and the strain of flu virus under investigation was a strain of Influenza B named B. Panama. Nicole’s first clue should have been that kibbutzim are technically unique to Israel.

the outbreak wasn't in panama

From Nicole’s article.  No. Just no.  The outbreak occurred in Israel. The virus was named Influenza B. Panama. Read the damn paper Nicole!

When you don’t even bother to read the abstract Nicole, you’re off to a bad start.  However, I dropped $51 on this pay-per-view Elderberry Extravaganza, and Naturally Nicole would have done herself a great service had she done the same.

You’re welcome:

image

The paper that Nicole didn’t read. When research is hidden behind paywalls, it’s easy to cherry-pick and misquote, even when it disagrees with you.

Most conspicuous in the paper cited by Naturally Nicole is what it doesn’t say.  Presented are nine pages of details on a study that produced a 40% two day “total cure” rate, complete with graphs and exquisite detail on methodology.  However, in the abstract, we find a “significant improvement in symptoms (93.3%)”.  Where did this number come from?  Not from the science described in the nine pages!  Buried on page 367 (this comes from an alternative health journal with many articles) are two small paragraphs mentioning, almost as an afterthought, a separate study involving twenty-seven patients.  Our 93.3% number comes from a different study.   Deus ex machina.5

Meanwhile, Back on the Kibbutz…
Meanwhile, back in the medical literature Naturally Nicole never laid eyes upon, on page 363 of Vol 1, #4, 1995 of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the authors discuss a double-blind study involving 40 individuals living on a kibbutz in Southern Israel. They had fevers, runny noses, body aches, and coughs. Blood was drawn and statistical analysis performed using influenza antigens provided by the World Health Organization to decide whether these 40 patients actually had the flu.

Time went by. Corn grew higher and the wind came sweeping down the plain. Patients were treated with elderberry extract. Then something not so incredible happened…

Forty percent of the patients were determined “completely cured” within two days.

“Complete cure was observed after 2 days in 40% of patients treated with SAM and 16.7% treated with placebo.” — J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4)p.366 (emphasis mine)

But wait! Incredibly, even though a “complete cure” was claimed within two days, page 365 reports that fever persisted for four days in the group being treated with elderberry syrup. Explain to me, please, how you’re completely cured in two days if your fever runs for four?

And, very important: how long had the flu sufferers already been infected before they presented themselves for the study?  It’s easy to claim a total cure in two days if you’ve already been sick for five to twelve before you present yourself for the study (the flu normally runs its course in one two two weeks).

Oh, By the Way…
It’s interesting to note (but doesn’t affect the results of the study) that the lead author of the paper reviewed here is the pro-vaccine author of Nicole’s second study: Professor Zichria Zakay-Rones. He’s the Chief Science officer of Theravir Management Ltd., a biotech startup company that develops vaccines.6 I mention this only to point out that the scientists who wrote the papers enshrined by Nicole are not as vehemently anti-vaccine as she is.

So we’re left with three papers whose bodies don’t at all support what’s claimed in the abstract, and, in one case, openly lie about it. They’re presented by a fervent anti-vaccination advocate who somehow didn’t notice (or care) that the lead author of two of the papers is the chief science officer of a company that produces vaccines, and openly advocates vaccines as the best defense against the flu in one of the studies she uses to sell her products.

The last paper cited by our saleswoman came out nearly fifteen years ago. As serious a problem as influenza is, are we to believe major pharmaceutical companies are looking a gift horse cure in the mouth and rejecting it?  Sorry, I’m a bit skeptical.

Last but not least: Nicole, B. Panama is a virus, not the country Israel where a medical study was performed.  Please, the next time you quote a study to prop up your product sales, please and least read the abstract–and consult Google Maps first!

Image Credits
Map courtesy of and ©2018 Google Maps.  Used under terms of service provided via link attached to map.

Naturally Nicole screen snapshots and product image captures are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Photograph of partially visible pages of “Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama” is presented as proof the author actually purchased the article.  As provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law, small portions or extracts of a copyrighted work may be used for purposes of citation and review.

References
(1) Naturally Nicole’s Elderberry Flu Treatment Debunked (Part 1)
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2015/10/21/naturally-nicoles-elderberry-flu-treatment-debunked-part-1/
Retrieved 18 Feb 2018

(2) Evidence Based Proof, Elderberry Syrup Is Better Than The Flu Shot
From Internet Archive
https://web.archive.org/web/20160205185840/http://naturallynicolexo.com/evidence-based-proof-elderberry-syrup-is-better-than-the-flu-shot/
(Author has moved/deleted post)  Archived 02 Oct 2015
Retrieved 20 Feb 2018

(3) Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report (CDC)
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
Retrieved 20 Feb 2018

(4) Interim Estimates of 2017–18 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — United States, February 2018
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6706a2.htm
Retrieved 20 Feb 2018

(5) Deus ex machine (Merriam-Webster Definition)
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deus%20ex%20machina
Retrieved 19 Feb 2018

(6)  Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama.
J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9.
Zakay-Rones Z1, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, Manor O, Regev L, Schlesinger M, Mumcuoglu M.
Article hidden behind paywall.  Purchased October, 2015.

(6) Zakay-Rones Profile (Bloomberg)
http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=30559942&privcapId=6085242&previousCapId=6085242&previousTitle=Theravir%20Management%20Ltd.

Rocket Man Flies in the Wrong Direction

Mike Hughes seems directionally challenged regarding the flat earth conspiracy

Mike “the Rocket Man” Hughes (no relation to Rocket Man Kim Jung Un) made dubious history on Saturday, March 24, launching himself nearly 4⁄10 of a mile vertically, toward outer space, in search of evidence to support his flat earth theory.1

The problem is, Mike flew the wrong way.

mike hughes launches rocket to prove flat earth

Mike Hughes goes the wrong way. Photo ©2018 Mike Hartman/Associated Press. Please see Image Credits section at end of article for disclosure on use.

Hughes took off vertically.  Even had he seen the curvature of the planet, he would have been subjected to the endless conspiracy theories flat earthers apply to NASA footage showing said curvature, where lens distortion or other photo trickery is blamed.

No, a better approach would have been to simply board an airplane and fly horizontally until the edge was reached.  A bevy of photos of the alleged disk-shaped planet hanging there in space would have surely earned Hughes a Nobel Prize in physics.

To help Hughes in his next attempt, and/or as a challenge to any other flat earthers out there, I’ve laid out a highly detailed scientific diagram of the proposed process below, presented free to the flat earth scientific community to help them in their efforts.

You’re welcome.

mike hughes flat earth

If the earth is flat, it should be a simple matter to fly HORIZONTALLY to the edge and snap a photo. Why the obsession with flying straight up? (click/enlarge)

 

References
(1) Mike Hughes Blasts Off in Self Built Rocket (via USA Today)
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/03/26/mad-mike-hughes-who-believes-earth-flat-blasts-off-self-built-rocket/457780002/
Retrieved 26 Mar 2018

Image Credits
Rocket takeoff ©2018 Mike Hartman/Associated Press. Used under provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge; specifically cases where no publicly available image of the event being discussed is available.

Mike Hughes headshot and flat earth graphic used under parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge; specifically cases where no publicly available image of the event being discussed is available.  Airplane photo by the author.

Pesticide Found in David Avocado Wolfe Tooth Treatment

David Wolfe neem oil pesticide header image

In this artist’s depiction, a Moms Across America stormtrooper charges across a field of GMO “Bt” corn armed with a bottle of David Wolfe’s neem oil pesticide/tooth treatment.  Moms Across America members are prone  to running through corn fields in unnecessary protective gear.  Scientists are still trying to understand the phenomenon.

David Avocado Wolfe has never met a pesticide he likes, even going so far as to trump up a charge against a plant derived chemical for allegedly causing premature death of fruit flies.1,2,3 Oh, the humanity!

For a man who has essentially proclaimed “no pesticide shall pass these lips!” it seems rather odd that Wolfe is selling a tooth polish made with a pesticide:4

longevity warehouse neem oil--a pesticide

A 15ml bottle of Neem Enamelier from David Avocado Wolfe’s store. (click/enlarge). Neem oil is an organic pesticide.

Ah, yes, neem oil!  Made from a tree common to India, neem is praised for its alleged ability to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy.  Oh, and its proven ability to kill insects.  Perhaps David Wolfe needs to visit his local gardening store more often:5,6

Pesticide (Neem Oil) sold by Lowes.

Neem Oil, a broad spectrum pesticide/fungicide/miticide sold on Amazon. Click to enlarge.

Pesticide (Neem Oil) sold by Lowes.

Neem Oil pesticide sold by Lowes. Click to enlarge.

In addition to not knowing what’s in his own products, David Wolfe doesn’t seem aware that organic farming uses pesticides, if you believe the false words that spill forth from his keyboard like Noah’s Flood.7  Or, maybe he just doesn’t care.  Here at Bad Science Debunked, we’ve lost count of the products sold by Wolfe’s Longevity Warehouse that contain the same chemicals he falsely claims will kill you.

Now, it is possible to process neem oil to remove azadirachtinone, one of the more irritating chemicals,8 but processing an all-natural product would go against everything Wolfe believes in and, in fact, I contacted the manufacturer of his tooth enamelizer and they confirmed that indeed, it comes to you, the end user, straight from the tree, untouched and unprocessed in any way.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center (a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), neem oil can be slightly irritating to skin and eyes, but its component azadirachtin, which I mentioned previously, can be very irritating to the skin and stomach.8  And you’ll find it in every bottle of Wolfe’s enamelizer.

Over the lips and through the gums David Avocado!

“There’s a sucker born every minute” — attributed to P.T. Barnum

#DontCryWolfe

 

References
(1)  These 4 Fruits Have the Most Toxic Pesticides. Avoid Them!  (David Wolfe)
https://www.davidwolfe.com/4-fruits-pesticides-avoid/
Warning: Not a scholarly or scientific article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
Retrieved 11 Feb 2018

(2) Wash Pesticides Off Your Produce
https://www.davidwolfe.com/wash-pesticides-off-your-produce/
Warning: Not a scholarly or scientific article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
Retrieved 04 Mar 2018

(3) This Popular Artificial Sweetener Is Actually A Powerful Insecticide
https://www.davidwolfe.com/artificial-sweetener-insecticide/
Warning: Not a scholarly or scientific article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
Retrieved 18 Mar 2018

(4) Longevity Warehouse Neem Oil Enamelizer 15ml
Warning: Not a healthcare product.  See FDA disclaimer on package.
https://www.longevitywarehouse.com/longevity-warehouse-neem-enamelizer-15-ml
Retrieved 09 Feb 2018

(5) Southern Ag Triple Action Neem Oil (Amazon.com)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004QJ33AA/
Retrieved 10 Feb 2018

(6) Lowes Garden-Safe Neem Oil Extract 16 fl oz
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Garden-Safe-Neem-Oil-Extract-16-fl-oz-Organic-Garden-Insect-Killer/1000344111
Retrieved 10 Feb 2018

(7) Warning: Why You Should Never Buy Produce Labeled with the #8 Sticker
https://www.davidwolfe.com/what-the-numbers-on-your-produce-tell-you/
Warning: Not a scholarly or scientific article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
Retrieved 18 Mar 2018

(8) Neem Oil General Fact Sheet (National Pesticide Information Center [NPIC])
(NPIC is a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/neemgen.html
Retrieved 11 Feb 2018

 

Image Credits
The lead image of an irate “Occupy Monsanto” member running trough a cornfield was used under provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Similarly, the image captures of David Wolfe/Longevity Warehouse’s Neem Oil product, and Lowe’s Neem Oils Pesticide, are used under provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.