So things only got better for Professor Brian Cox as he became a media star and so can say what he pleases and it’s given gold plated status. Look, I’ve done this complaint before but it’s just been set off anew by watching a science and comedy show and, I’m afraid, I feel compelled to respond. It’s this goofy, all knowing scientist at the true alter of all that is known and is understood by me/us, this latter being one and the same thing because of the scientific terrific method.
But the horrible crew are like Ben Goldacre clones and as gullible as you could mention but it wouldn’t matter – you cannot penetrate their smugness. Anyway it is also a very financially secure position to take so why should they rock the boat. Well, I’ll tell you, children, it’s because it’s amazingly unscientific and, both personally and generally, profoundly damaging.
I could just say “Stick to your own science, Brian, where you obviously do have some familiarity with data and their interpretation”. Staring at printouts of interstellar radiation was never my sort of thing and I profess no abilities in that field. Yeah, I can comment on comets and planets and the possibility of life in other star systems, of course. And I have views on the edge of the universe and the Big Bang Theory and so on, And I do a mean discussion of the Dawkins Principle and whether Steve Jones is actually just a corruption of the ether.
But I know lots about two subjects which you and other tediously ill informed comi-scientists keep dragging up – health and climate change. And you are conceited in manner and pathetic in content in both disciplines.
Health has two subcategories and, yes, you’re wrong in both. By far the most crucial is the Goldacre style derision of people who point out the fallacy of the primitive practice of “Vaccination”. Now I know Ben thinks that the MMR is a God given potion, perhaps akin to Getafix concoction in the Asterix tales, that all kids need circulating in their blood streams but, please, where’s the evidence?
Look, that’s a rhetorical question because I know damn well that there is none. There have never, ever been any controlled trials to indicate that the MMR has any benefit to the recipient child. Not one. Nor have there been for any other such potion. They’re not done because they cannot be – it would be unethical.
So instead the attempt to justify their use is based on a perceived decline in rates of infection since the introduction of the jab. “Look” they say “Measles cases have declined since we started the jabs.”
It’s true that measles used to be a significant dispatcher of young children. Young, undernourished children living in poor, cold and damp conditions, with poor hygiene practice and often very cramped – several in one room and so on. However, long before jabs came along, living conditions were improved, pretty much throughout the twentieth century but most importantly out from squallor was the first half of the century. Mortality from infectious diseases such as measles dropped drastically and by the time a measles jab was offered, death from measles infection was very rare. Measles was a rite of passage, two weeks off school and lots of Lucozade and grapes. Your GP would think nothing of it and there was no worry at all.
Same for Chicken Pox, Mumps and so on. The crucial factor was your internal resilience and so your natural immune function, assisted by parental love and good diet, in a warm and cosy home brought about a full recovery in the vast bulk of cases. Were there were complications it was easily related to a breakdown in the support network as described above. For example in the Bronx, in New York, a poor district, there was frequently damage to eyesight resultant from measles infection. Investigation found them to be chronically short of Vitamin A in their diets. They were given this as supplement and in improved diet and eyesight damage was eradicated as a problem subsequently.
Crucially, though, there is another cruel side to the explosion in the use of these toxic inoculants on infant metabolisms. These are the many side effects, ranging from cot death through allergy and asthma to chronic conditions such as autism and SSPE. With a list like that of outcomes, plus the fact that their use could have no benefit in fighting infection, because lifestyle has already achieved that, in order to maintain both their role as Dispensers of Health to all Brave Children and to avoid the Colossal Liability for Payment of Damages to the Millions of Damaged Children a Defense-and-a-Denial had to be mounted.
Sadly, Brian, you are part of that. Sweet little peer reviewed Brian is just a part of the wide ranging support unit established to protect the Medico-Industrial Complex from admitting to its sins and, indeed, its liabilities. This is not a conspiracy and Brian knows nothing of it. It is peer group pressure and subtle use of our intensely hierarchical social and corporate mechanisms. Protecting their paradigm, as their castle, it’s where they operate from and cannot be questioned.
Moving on, in the knowledge that I have already written reams about the vaccination saga and that I have references to every point and so many more there is then the whole, wholesome alternative health arena. Ben’s other favorite hate is homeopathy because “it’s quite clear that there is nothing in the remedies and that they cannot thus be achieving anything”. Except that, as my homeopathist friends say to me, “they work”.
Now the Placebo effect is giving a drugfree pill which cures because the patient thinks it is a powerful medicament and his/her body responds. Or it just covers natural remission. So maybe the homeopath is tuned to that facility and triggers it. Used to be called bedside manner. Otherwise I can quote the Benveniste story but, whatever, I like and trust my friends and am happy that they achieve great outcomes with their clients.
Homeopathy is but one of a vast range of alternative health disciplines. Some others seem even more outlandish but, at worst, they give clients personal space and time to repair. And the body has fantastic self repair mechanisms.
Others, though, are far more measurable and have much cross over in their actions. For decades now I have practiced Yoga, the ancient art of stretching, breathing and balance. For thousands of years the outcomes have been followed, and the internal connections noted. Health and fitness correlations have been drawn. There are two elements here – firstly there is practice to maintain health and secondly there are corrective procedures.
Acupuncture seems to follow those same connectivities and a number of other alternative health procedures do likewise, as massage and osteopathy for example.
Finally, in the alternative medicine sphere, we still have diet and nutrition, herbs and herbalism. These are pretty mainstream nowadays but oh so poorly packaged. Are eggs good or bad for you? Milk? Grains? Meat? Sugar? Can you simply have too much food? Do herbs have curative properties? This is now widely accepted but Ancient Chinese Herbalism is much frowned upon and the new Global regulations, under the Codex Alimentarius, are set to seriously limit the use of such remedies.
Point is that there is utterly no reason to deride these health skills. As less than 15% of visits to a GP have a positive outcome for the client (Official stats, quoted by doctors at BSEM conference, 2011) Established Medicine hardly puts up stiff opposition. Alternative medicine has a substantial and valid contribution to make to the maintainance of the people’s good health.
Which leaves the Climate Change Agenda. Again there’s a fog of “We thinks they do protest too much” in the air. Look, no-one with half a brain cell disputes the measurements taken by the hosts of climate scientists scattered around the globe. I’ve taught the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels to so many students and we’ve discussed other CC gases as well. Then I’ve written about the ocean currents and ongoing forest loss and the ever increasing use of fossil carbon. We have undoubtedly got a number of problems. Issues. But which are they and how can we best tackle them? These last are not so clear and the bland comments coming about “Climate Change Deniers”, equating them, in effect, to those who deny the World War Two death camps, are of no help and no little insulting to victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
So sea level rises are happening. This is nothing new as sea levels have probably never been stable. 15000 years ago, at the tail end of the last glacial period, sea levels were roughly 120 metres lower than at present. You could walk from Galloway thirty miles west to find the sea or, if you went east, then you could walk over to mainland UK and carry on to continental Europe without even seeing the sea. No Irish Sea, no North Sea.
But from that time it took maybe 8000 years for enough ice to melt to finally cut the UK off from Europe, to flood the region archaeologists have christened Doggerland. Over that time sea level rise was considerable faster that anything we can measure now. And they’d had a CO2 rise too, similar to our more recent one, of nearly 100ppm at ice age end.
The other thing nature achieved during this long transition was to re-establish vast tracts of forest, which had been lost during the glaciation and through subsequent sea level rise (slightly complicated dynamic, here!)
So, yes, I’m sure that there is anthropogenic climate change and that there is resultant sea level rise but slowly. I feel that it is vital we reduce our use of fossil carbon but at the same time we should embark on a global reafforestation programme, to marginal lands, to soak up a lot of the excess carbon dioxide. Sixty to seventy parts per million could be so fixed – and think of the labour required in these work starved times.
By making sarky insults at those who quite rightly say “I see no sea level rise” “I see no climate change” you cannot then negotiate an informed solution to the weighty problems we all now face. It is far too entrenched and single issue. There are a host of other environmental problems caused by current and past planetary environmental management, such as losses of biodiversity, community isolation, microclimate distortion, huge impacts on weather systems, desertification and all manner of water provision problems. All of these would be ameliorated by renewed establishment of the forests!
In summary , Brian, you sound snooty and spectacularly ill informed. Luckily I’ve done your research for you in these cases so that you can avoid being so dumb in future. Trouble is, it don’t half diminish any faith I could have placed in your other utterances. Truth is that the scientific peer review system is another word for a cabal. Closed shop. You don’t get us – we’re part of the Union. Please – open up, open out and embrace objectivity.