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2019 Review

subpage of Holmlid copy hosted under fair use for discussion and review


Ultradense protium p(0) and deuterium D(0) and their relation to ordinary Rydberg matter: a review
Leif Holmlid1 and Sindre Zeiner-Gundersen2
1 Atmospheric Science, Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, SE-412 96, Göteborg, Sweden
2 Norrønt AS, Vaterlandsveien 19, 3470 Slemmestad, Norway and Science Institute, University of Iceland, Dunhaga 3, 107 Reykjavik, Iceland

E-mail: holmlid@chem.gu.se
Received 5 November 2018, revised 22 February 2019
Accepted for publication 22 March 2019
Published 24 April 2019
Abstract
The extremely large density of ultra-dense hydrogen H(0) has been proved in numerous experiments by three laser-induced methods, namely Coulomb explosions observed by particle time-of-flight (TOF) and TOF mass spectrometry, rotational emission spectroscopy in the visible, and annihilation-like meson ejecting nuclear reaction processes. The density of H(0) at the quite common spin level s = 2 is of the order of 100 kg cm−3. The theory of ultra-dense
hydrogen H(0) is described briefly, especially the ‘mixed’ spin quantum number s and its relation to the internuclear distances. The orbital angular momentum of the bonding electrons in H(0) is l = 0, which gives the H(0) designation. At s = 2 with electron total angular momentum L = ħ, the internuclear distance is 2.24 pm, and at s = 1 thus L = ħ/2, it is as small as 0.56 pm. The internuclear distances are measured by optical rotational spectroscopy with a precision as good as 10−3, thus with femtometer resolution. The dimensional factor (ratio of internuclear distance
to the electron orbit radius) was determined to be 2.9 by electrostatic stability calculations for ordinary Rydberg matter. This value is found to be valid with high precision also for H(0) clusters with different shapes. Superfluidity and a Meissner effect at room temperature are only found for the long chain clusters H2N(0), while the small H3(0) and H4(0) clusters do not have any super properties. Instead, they are the clusters in which most of the nuclear reaction processes take place. These processes give meson showers (most types of kaons and pions) and, after meson decay, large fluxes of muons and other leptons. Published applications of these
results already exist in the field of nuclear reactions, energy production (patented fusion reactor), space physics (the solar wind), and in astrophysics (dark matter and the interstellar medium).

Supplementary material for this article is available online

Keywords: ultra-dense hydrogen, quantum material, cluster, mass spectrometry
(Some figures may appear in colour only in the online journal)


Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.


1. Introduction
The research on ultra-dense hydrogen H(0) which has its most common internuclear distance at 2.3 pm in spin state s = 2, falls into several different fields. This means that it may be quite complex to combine the existing information on a certain aspect into a coherent understanding. For this reason, this review attempts to combine this information to make it understandable for example for chemical physicists, for whom the discovery of entirely new types of molecules (clusters) and
materials with never before imagined properties may be the most interesting (Holmlid 2013a, 2013b, 2017a, 2017b, Olafsson and Holmlid 2016). Especially the superfluidity and the Meissner effect at room temperature and at a few hundred
K above that are worth mentioning, since this is the first material found with super properties above room temperature (Andersson and Holmlid 2011, Andersson et al 2012, Holmlid and Fuelling 2015). The most useful formation process for ultra-dense hydrogen employs chemical catalysis, and one of the main fields of application is within particle physics. Other applications are within space physics (Holmlid 2018b), nuclear fusion (Holmlid 2017d, 2017e), hydrogen storage and
material characterization. The main theme may be considered to be in the field of cluster science but then in a very specialized range due to the extremely small physical size of the clusters studied: a 30-atom H(0) cluster normally has a size
less than an ordinary hydrogen atom bond, and the resolution in the bond lengths measured is in the femtometer range. Most of this research has been done by researchers at Gothenburg University, Sweden. It has been replicated and verified by researchers in Norway and Iceland. This research field is of great interest for future energy development in the world and a separate research project was initiated in Norway in 2015 to verify some of the results presented in this paper. The research group in Norway has built several H(0) reactors and have since 2016 detected and verified relativistic meson velocities <0.7c from ultra-dense deuterium, distance dependent meson decay from ultra-dense hydrogen clusters, muon spectra in PMTs, electricity from charged particles moving through coils, neutron detection from muon capture and muon catalyzed fusion, detection of multiparticle emission from hydrogen H(0) clusters, x-ray and microwave elimination studies.
A third research group from Iceland started construction of H(0) reactors in 2018 and they have by January 2019 replicated and verified relativistic velocities of 0.3c–0.9c from ultra-dense hydrogen. The present review paper is designed to connect the different subfields and to provide a guide for further research in this scientifically central field concerned with the forms of matter at the three different length scales.
The wider context of this review is the fundamental forms of matter at the three different length scales according to Hirsch (2012). The relation of these length scales through the fine structure constant α is extremely interesting, and ultra-dense hydrogen and ordinary Rydberg matter (RM) of hydrogen are the two smallest length scales with the superfluid and superconductive form at the largest length scale.
Thus, these condensed forms of hydrogen contain the physics of all the three different length scales of matter which has not been understood previously. The famous ‘zitterbewegung’ of the electrons due to Schrödinger gives clearly observable physical effects in ultra-dense hydrogen. The short interatomic distances in ultra-dense hydrogen, measured with femtometer resolution, gives a new background to the facile nuclear processes observed both spontaneously and after laser-pulse induction. This is a new (or revived) context for nuclear physics which does not require large experimental facilities. It however requires other experimental facilities as explored here to fully understand the fundamental physics involved. The survival of mankind may depend on how well and fast this small-scale nuclear physics in ultra-dense hydrogen can be implemented for energy production on Earth and for space propulsion. In the time of  ‘nanomaterials’, it should be noted that ultra-dense hydrogen is indeed a picomaterial, probably the only possible picomaterial.

(Draft in progress)

References

Holmlid

Papers by Leif Holmlid.

  • Ultradense protium p(0) and deuterium D(0) and their relation to ordinary Rydberg matter: a review 
    Leif Holmlid and Sindre Zeiner-Gundersen 2019 Phys. Scr. 94 075005 —  Discussion 

Patents

 

Bloviation

NEWS

Google revives controversial cold-fusion experiments

Researchers tested mechanisms linked to nuclear fusion at room temperature — but found no evidence for the phenomenon.


WORLD VIEW

Lessons from cold fusion, 30 years on

Why revisit long-discredited claims for a source of abundant energy, asks Philip Ball? Because we are still learning how to treat pathological science.

GamerGate

Hanging out with some Wikipedia critics, I was informed about a set of Medium posts by media critic T.D. Adler on GamerGate and Wikipedia . I looked up GamerGate and found this article from Boston Magazine. Game of Fear: The Story Behind GamerGate.

Adler claimed that article was “not a good source. Lots of distortions by the author,” and he referred me to his “Press Kit

Adler’s general story is one of what amounts to be a media conspiracy to suppress the truth about GamerGate, but looking over his material, he clearly mixes up journalistic truth (which attempts to report fact as distinct from interpretation) and “story” which is interpretive, judgmental, what facts allegedly “mean.” Looking at the Wikipedia article, I see interpretation, sourced fact presented interpretively. First example that leaped out at me:

The controversies and events that would come to be known as Gamergate began in 2014 as a personal attack on Quinn, incited by a blog post by Quinn’s former boyfriend Eron Gjoni.[14][3][7] Called the “Zoe Post”,[a] it was a lengthy, detailed account of their relationship and breakup[16] that included copies of personal chat logs, emails, and text messages.[11] The blog falsely implied that Quinn had slept with Nathan Grayson, a reporter for the website Kotaku, in exchange for favorable coverage of Quinn’s game Depression Quest.[17]

What stands out is “falsely.” Where did that come from? The word “implied” is weak. What was actually in the blog? What exactly was false? Sleeping with or quid pro quo? This is allegedly a copy of that post. 

Primary source, to be sure, but I don’t see the implication there. There is direct claim about “cheating” with Grayson, but nothing about Kotaku. What is clear to me is that Gjoni is naive and obsessed, has little understanding of what a woman with Quinn’s history would be like, falls in love with a fantasy, a role that Quinn can play and Quinn herself is stuck in stories from her past, etc. He does not love the real woman, but the fantasy, and while that is understandable, he is then punishing her, I’d say, by telling the story. It would be important for him to share what was going on with people knowledgeable about relationships and, say, sex and love addiction and the patterns of behavior that are common. But publishing it?

But that’s getting ahead of this story. This is about that one textual claim “falsely.” What was falsely implied and how? There is a source, p. 43 in Crime, Justice and Social Media, Michael Salter. In fact, it’s page 44 and the implication about sex for favors was largely outside the blog post, I haven’t seen it in the post itself, and it was all pretty vague. Yet that is the basis for the claim that GamerGate is about “corruption.”

This is how Adler starts his recent Breitbart article on the subject:

Five years ago Wikipedia got sucked into the controversy over GamerGate, the anti-corruption movement in gaming. The narrative found on Wikipedia, like many others about GamerGate, is a lie. Editors, including this author, worked hard to give the movement a fair treatment and got several biased opponents banned only to be cast by the media in a fake news storm as “throwaway accounts” forcing out honest editors over provoked incivility. Wikipedia’s treatment of GamerGate foreshadows the site’s treatment of many political issues during the Donald Trump presidency.

The concept of “fake news” in mainstream media is quite new, and promoted by a political faction. There has always been “yellow journalism,” pandering to what is shocking and often carelessly reported, but journalists are professionally obligated to distinguish fact from interpretation, and to attribute the latter (which makes it true even if the interpretation is, at an extreme, a lie.) Tarring the entire profession, as evidenced in attacks on mainstream mainstream media, is very dangerous and hence my concern.

There is always an issue of what publishers choose to report, which can display a form of bias, but “lying” and “fake news” is well outside that. If such bias is displayed, the remedy generally is to report the missing facts;; the cause of informing the public is not served by creating counter-interpretations also presented as fact. In a sense, this is trying to defeat biased interpretation by asserting more biased interpretation.

The first distinction is always “what actually happened’? That is, what can we know and how do we know it?

Reading the Zoe post, I get a clear picture of a very confused young man, who blames his own confusion on Zoe Quinn, who is, relying on the blog reports, herself one very confused young woman. Or was, at least. These things do not ordinarily change overnight. Promises by sex addicts (and she could easily qualify) to never “cheat” again or never lie again are rarely kept. The roots of the behavior must be addressed if there is to be any hope, and that applies to both of them. (Mostly, this would be and should be private business, except where legal boundaries are crossed.)

Gjoni, on his part, would easily qualify as sexually co-dependent. He has no idea how common his story is, it appears. It is more commonly told by women, though. Gjoin keeps trying to “understand” what is survival behavior for the addict, not “reasonable,” at all. That she flips to guilt and shame is also common. There is nothing in all this surprising except for his decision to publish as he did, and to promote the story, as he apparently did.

It appears that Adler’s ‘lie” is the interpretation that GamerGate is about sexual harassment. But that would not be a lie, it would be an issue of definition and interpretation. GamerGate, most simply, is a hashtag that was used to identify posts relating to the issues. And those could be studied, as to statistics regarding them.

But as to Wikipedia, this is the bottom line. Adler has it that the mainstream press is biased, and reflects the view of GamerGate as being about harassment. As this is the mainstream position, it can be expected that the majority of available reliable sources, if they display a bias, will be in that direction. Adler, as a Wikipedia editor, was attempting to get Wikipedia to reflect “the truth,” a classic lost cause. Wikipedia will, if it follows its own guidelines, follow and give weight to what has weight in independent reliable sources, disallowing fringe sources or using them only with consensus. But Adler has not shown any lies as to the mainstream, as far as I’ve seen. An inaccuracy is not necessarily a lie. A lie is something said or written with intention to deceive, knowing that the statements or their implications are false.

So I will, here, collect sources. What happened with the Zoe post is clear, as to the origin, not necessarily what became of it later.

Sources for further research:
Game of Fear by ZACHARY JASON· 4/28/2015, 5:45 a.m, Boston Magazine

What the Hell is Journalism Even: part 2 – Zachary Jason’s Struggle With the Concept of Time

Bomb Threat Targets GamerGate Meetup (Hear From Somebody Who Was There)

v29

Subpage of JCMNS
JOURNAL OF CONDENSED MATTER NUCLEAR SCIENCE
Experiments and Methods in Cold Fusion

Proceedings of the 21st International Conference
on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science, Lory
Student Center, Colorado State University in
Fort Collins, Colorado, USA, June 03–08, 2018


source page: https://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/BiberianJPjcondensedzb.pdf  pp.,    MB. All pages hosted here have been compressed, see the source for full resolution if needed (or we have a copy).  All files may have undiscovered errors. Please note any problems or desired creation of a discussion page in comments.

Front matter, PrefaceTable of contents.

Videos of presentations are available (including some where no paper is in the proceedings). See  iccf-21/videos/ . * after a listing indicates a video.

J. Condensed Matter Nucl. Sci. 29 (2019) 1–547
© 2019 ISCMNS. All rights reserved. ISSN 2227-3123

CONTENTS

RESEARCH ARTICLES
Fabrication and Characterization of Palladium–Boron Alloys Used in LENR Experiments
M. Ashraf Imam* and David J. Nagel
1
Excess Power Measurements for Palladium–Boron Cathodes
Melvin H. Miles* and M. Ashraf Imam
12
Excess Heat from Palladium Deposited on Nickel
Tadahiko Mizuno and Jed Rothwell*

21
Overview of Pd/D Co-deposition
Pamela A. Mosier-Boss, Lawrence P. Forsley and Frank E. Gordon*

34
High-temperature Calorimetric Measurements of Heat for Ni–H2 Exothermic Reactions
Edward J. Beiting* and Dean Romein

41
Steps to Identify Main Parameters for AHE Generation in Sub-micrometric Materials: Measurements by Isoperibolic and Air-flow Calorimetry
Francesco Celani*, B. Ortenzi and A. Spallone, C. Lorenzetti, E. Purchi, S. Fiorilla, S. Cupellini, M. Nakamura, P. Boccanera and L. Notargiacomo, G. Vassallo and R. Burri

52
Cavitation Effects on Various Metals in D2O
Thomas N. Claytor, Roger S. Stringham*, Malcolm M. Fowler

75
Temperature Dependence of Excess Power in Both Electrolysis and Gas-loading Experiments
Zhan M. Dong*, Chang L. Liang, Xing Z. Li and Shu X. Zheng

85
Space Application of the GeNIE HybridTM Fusion–Fission Generator
Lawrence P. Forsley* and Pamela A. Mosier-Boss

95
Anomalous Heat Effects Induced by Metal Nano-composites and Hydrogen Gas
Yasuhiro Iwamura*, Takehiko Itoh, Jirohta Kasagi*, Akira Kitamura, Akito
Takahashi* , Koh Takahashi, Reiko Seto, Takeshi Hatano, Tatsumi Hioki*, Tomoyoshi Motohiro, Masanori Nakamura, Masanobu Uchimura, Hidekazu Takahashi, Shunsuke Sumitomo, Yuichi Furuyama, Masahiro Kishida and Hideki Matsune

119
Coupled Calorimetry and Resistivity Measurements, in Conjunction with an Emended and More Complete Phase Diagram of the Palladium–Isotopic Hydrogen System
M.R. Staker*

129
Excess Heat is Linked to Deuterium Loss in an Aqueous Nickel LANR System
Mitchell R. Swartz, Brian Ahern, Charles Haldemann and Alan Weinberg (poster)

169
Aqueous and Nanostructured CF/LANR Systems – Each have Two Electrically Driven Modes
Mitchell R. Swartz*

177
Light Hydrogen LENR in Copper Alloys
William H. McCarthy*

191
Nanosecond Pulse Stimulation in the Ni–H2 System
Francis Tanzella*, Robert George and Robert Godes

202
Anomalous Isotopic Distribution of Silver in a Palladium Cathode
Jean-Paul Biberian*

211
Uranium Fission Using Pd/D Co-deposition
Pamela A. Mosier-Boss*, Lawrence P. Forsley and Patrick McDaniel

219
Influence of Effective Microorganisms on the Activity of 137Cs in the Soil Contaminated due to the Accident on the Chernobyl NPP
A.N. Nikitin*, G.Z. Gutzeva, G.A. Leferd, I.A. Cheshyk, S. Okumoto, M. Shintani and T. Higa

230
Comparison of NANOR-type LANR Components to 238Pu as a Heat Source for Space Flight
Mitchell R. Swartz (no presentation at conf.)

238
A Simple Calculation of the Inter-nucleon Up-to-down Quark Bond and its Implications for Nuclear Binding
N.L. Bowen (poster)

249
Atomic Nuclei Binding Energy
Philippe Hatt*

260
The Enthalpy of Formation of PdH as a Function of H/Pd Atom Ratio
Edmund Storms*

275
Reaction of the Hydrogen with Air During the Desorption of Palladium Hydride
Jacques Ruer**, David J. French and Douglas Yuill

286
Development of a Sensitive Detection System for the Measurement of Trace Amounts of 4He in Deuterium, Hydrogen, and Other Gasses
Malcolm M. Fowler* and Thomas N. Claytor

298
Modeling and Simulation of a Gas Discharge LENR Prototype
Bob Higgins* and Dennis G. Letts

309
Building and Testing a High Temperature Seebeck Calorimeter
Dennis G. Letts* and Dennis J. Cravens 

334
Effective LENR in Weakly Ionized Gas Under the Action of Optimal Pulsed Magnetic Fields and Lightning (Theory and Experiments)
Vladimir Vysotskii and Mykhaylo Vysotskyy (poster)

348
Using the Method of Coherent Correlated States for Production of Nuclear Interaction of Slow Particles with Crystals and Molecules
Vladimir Vysotskii*, Mykhaylo Vysotskyy and Sergio Bartalucci

358
Generation and Detection of Undamped Temperature Waves at Large Distance in LENR Related Experiments
Vladimir Vysotskii*, Alla Kornilova, Timothy Krit and Sergey Gaydamaka

368
Electron Quasi-particle Catalysis of Nuclear Reactions
Anthony Zuppero* and Thomas J. Dolan

376
Calculation of the Boosted Spin–orbit Contribution to the Phonon–Nuclear Coupling Matrix Element for 181Ta
Peter L. Hagelstein* 

392
Statistical Mechanics Models for PdDx and PdHx Phase Diagrams with both O-site and T-site Occupation
Peter L. Hagelstein*

401
Investigation of Electron Mediated Nuclear Reactions
Andras Kovacs*, Dawei Wang, Dawei Wang and Pavel N. Ivanov

416
Resonant Surface Capture Model
Xingzhong Li*, Zhanmin Dong, Changlin Liang and Guisong Huang

440
Theoretical basis for Nuclear-waste Remediation with Femto-atoms and Femto-molecules
Andrew Meulenberg* and Jean-Luc Paillet

453
On Highly Relativistic Deep Electrons
Jean-Luc Paillet* and Andrew Meulenberg

472
Lattice Confinement of Hydrogen in FCC Metals for Fusion Reactions
Han H. Nee*, Arsen V. Subashiev and Fracsisco M. Prados-Estéves

493
A Possible Signature of Neutron Quarks – Leptons via Gluon Interaction in Solids
V.G. Plekhanov (poster)

503
Transmutations Involving the Di-neutron in Condensed Matter
Cheryl D. Stevenson* and John P. Davis

512
Electron Structure, Ultra-dense Hydrogen and Low Energy Nuclear Reactions
Antonino Oscar Di Tommaso and Giorgio Vassallo (no presentation at conf.)

525

Penn Jillette: Meeting Richard Feynman and the Love of Mystery

This is delicious. Feynman probably was the single greatest influence on my life. I’d turned 17 when I first sat in his physics class. I heard his famous stories (Surely You are Joking, Mr. Feynman) from him, when he visited Page House, my dorm.

And then Penn, of Penn & Teller, really fun! What a great story! Imagine being a young magician and having that happen to you!

I suspect that Penn and I could have some healthy disagreements or even deeper agreements. He’s one person I’d love to meet.

We are getting around

Some posts on Gender Desk, a blog “Tracking Wikipedia … so the barbarians don’t win”

(woman in hijab with partial face veil, middle finger raised in defiance.
Objectify this. Allahu akbar. Source: VERVE:She said, license unknown

Abd files a lawsuit
APRIL 21, 2019

Nice, friendly, more knowledgeable — by far — than most, but the situation is complex.

Two commenters were probably defendants.

“Robert” could be Darryl L. Smith, the one whose impersonation socking caused the entire mess with the WikiMedia Foundation. His comment is highly deceptive, as usual, it is certainly the Smith party line. The current Amended Complaint explains some of this, but Darryl’s real issue with me is that I exposed what he had done, which is called “picking fights.” I typically create one account when I participate, and if I am banned (which does happen sometimes), I consider that site owners have the right, and don’t keep creating accounts. Exceptions have been quite rare and for very limited purpose. Darryl and his brother Oliver have created thousands of accounts, pursuing their attack plans.

And then his brother shows up, using his real name, Oliver D. Smith.

It’s a lolsuit. At least one of the defendants he lists doesn’t even exist and another is wrongly listed. I’m also listed for no reason.

There is clear evidence for “existence” of every defendant. Yet there have been so many lies and deceptions around the activities of the Smith brothers that it’s difficult to be sure about anything.

How would Smith know what he claims? This is the apparent fact: he and his brother know who complained, and there is a defendant named where evidence of participation in the conspiracy is thin, so he might be referring to that as “wrongful.” But one may name a defendant in a lawsuit, or even in a “lolsuit,” based on suspicion if there is any evidence at all, and there is.

As to not existing at all, there is a defendant called “Max,” who wrote about being a complainant to the WMF, over a year ago. Recently an anonymous user on the CFC wiki claimed to be this person and confessed his role (and then commented more as Max). Max was then threatened with harm. Does “Max” exist? Or is this yet another impersonation in the smoke screens laid down by the Smiths? Again, I don’t care. Max is on the list unless he decides to help clean up the mess he helped make. And if he doesn’t exist, I will have some difficulty serving him, right?

As to Oliver being listed for “no reason,” he is either brain-dead or lying. He was one of the complainants leading to the WMF ban. He bragged about it. 

And then, on Gender Desk:

Oliver D. Smith JULY 17, 2019 AT 12:39 AM

lol. The deletion of what you call the “parapsychology resource” had nothing with attacking academic freedom but the fact they’re pseudoscience. The person who wrote that junk who doesn’t want to be named isn’t even an academic (as you know). And Wikiversity deleted it for being pseudoscience.

They had no idea what they were doing.  Wikiversity hosts “educational resources,” which can study anything, excepting only certain illegal material. “Pseudoscience” was never before a deletion reason on Wikiversity, and there is, of course, a Wikipedia article on parapsychology. Parapsychology is explicitly a science, quite the same science as was involved with the founding of CSICOP, “The Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.”

Many “scientists” — in what fields? — imagine that parapsychology involves a “belief” in some interpretation of claims.

The Wikiversity resource was rigorously neutral, it had been challenged and was confirmed by an administrator there. But there was an occasional attack on it, by those who it or part of it deleted. That was an attack on academic freedom, a fascist prohibition of the study of “forbidden topics.”

Compared to “normal disruption” on Wikipedia, this was practically trivial.

“The person” referred to was the collector of one subpage, an annotated list of sources, not the whole resource. And he may have realized that study of parapsychology (and “psychic phenomena”) is not necessary good for him. This is completely irrelevant, and that work still exists (I rescued the deleted material) and he has not asked for it to be deleted.

Wikiversity is not only for academics. It’s a public wiki, where people may study any topic they choose. That is, it was that until the Smiths attacked, having recruited some Wikipedians to kill the one place in the WMF family where there was genuine academic freedom (though Wikibooks could be close, and, in fact, Wikiversity was an offshoot of Wikibooks)..

Oliver D. Smith JULY 17, 2019 AT 12:32 AM

The defendants (all of them) he lists have said Lomax is lying and that’s not at all what happened. Obviously though he disagrees and has his own view of events. All I can say is take what Lomax says with a pinch of salt.

Again, how does Oliver know this? It’s obvious and there is plenty of evidence (quite enough to take this into discovery and trial), these people communicated and coordinated off-wiki.

“Lomax is lying” is not a statement with any specificity. Oliver has been saying this for more than a year, almost never pointing to any actual statements. It’s just a big blob of mud thrown. I have made a series of statements in the Amended Complaint (and it should get even clearer in the Second Amended Complaint, which is planned), and each of those is factually based, plus there are interpretations based on “reasonable suspicion.” To survive a motion to dismiss, the suspicion must be plausible. I affirm, in filing such a complaint, that everything in it is true “on information and belief.” What are Oliver’s statements?

He has lied over and over, and this has been covered many times and there may even be a reference to one of them here. For quite some time he claimed that all the disruption on Wikipedia, Wikiversity, and Meta was not him, it was his brother. He confirmed other aspects of the story as it was developing. And then he wrote that it had all been a lie, it was all him. And then he wrote something like maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t.

So sometimes he claims that his brother doesn’t exist, or if he does exist, he has nothing to do with the wikis. It is radically implausible, given the very obvious personality differences, but we will find out. What I care about most is that the truth emerges. And I trust the truth more than I trust myself.

(He was realizing that the heat was being turned up on his brother, who was far less well-known, and it is possible that his brother was being paid, that was one of the stories based on statements made by socks apparently Darryl. Since Oliver is on the dole in the U.K, living with parents, he would be taking the heat on himself as “judgment proof.” So that’s a motive to lie. Reality will come out, it has a way of doing that. There is a brother, it’s called “public records.” And this is no longer a wiki game, where “outing” is BAD. It is real life, where it can be necessary to name names.

Meanwhile, Oliver is being sued for defamation in the United Kingdom, and the case appears to be pretty much open and shut. He called someone who is not a pedophile a “pedophile.” He toned it down in some presentations to “pedophile defender” or “child rape apologist,” when his target was neither. And because I pointed this out, I was also called a “pedophile defender” or the like.

“No reason”? Besides being blocked as many accounts on Wikipedia, Oliver is now also formally banned (as many accounts) on RationalWiki, has many, many blocked accounts on Encyclopedia Dramatica, and many thowaway accounts on Reddit that appear to be him, from arguments, they either simply disappear or show up as [deleted], which could mean “blocked.” (I am no longer blocked on ED, that was transient). I’m not socking anywhere, though there are impersonations, one of their favorite tactics.

To my knowledge, the only defendant who has openly denied the charges in the lawsuit is Oliver. None of the others have commented publicly. So unless he is completely lying (not impossible!), he is in private communication with them. [Since this was written, JzG has made statements.]

And finally, a comment from Gender Desk herself (assuming a pronoun, if I may):

genderdesk JULY 18, 2019 AT 12:16 AM

As far as I can tell, this is about Rational Wiki and the Skeptics, and started out as a content dispute over whether pseudoscience and “original research” should be included in certain areas of Wikimedia projects.

What this was originally about and what it became are not the same.

Originally, this was not about RationalWiki at all. Nor was it really about “the skeptics,” though Darryl Smith presents himself as a skeptic. It was about a very personal attack on a student of parapsychology, who had been invited by me to work on the topic on Wikiversity, because I knew he was interested (This was partly to distract him from socking on Wikipedia, where he had been blocked long before for old behaviors.) It worked, he almost entirely refrained from editing Wikipedia, but there were a few exceptions, actually harmless. What happens when you compile sources and annotate them is that you learn. This is why students do this in real universities. That page was attributed as his work. And that is how Wikiversity allows original research. It is not presented as neutral. It’s “study.”

The Parapsychology project on Wikiversity was, over the years, occasionally attacked by single-purpose accounts, later recognizable as Darryl. (Darryl was also known as Goblin Face on Wikipedia). This time, as an SPA, Darryl filed a sock puppet investigation, but nobody was paying attention (there was really very little disruption, if any, and Darryl relied on Facebook postings, etc.)

So, as he later explained as a sock, I think it was on Meta, he had to do something. So he created sock puppets to impersonate this user, daring Wikipedians to do something to stop him, he could do whatever he wanted on Wikiversity, LOL!

So they did something, and the particular page he had been working on was deleted and he was blocked for “cross-wiki disruption.” I had not been paying attention to Wikiversity, having basically abandoned it as unsafe (even though it was much safer than Wikipedia). When I found out, I filed steward checkuser requests and the impersonation socking was confirmed. And I started looking at how obvious single-purpose accounts could create such disruption, while administrators were clueless dupes.

Starting up that study, I was intensely attacked, and many socks were globally locked. And then the RatWiki article appeared. And then the coordinated attack on the Wikiversity resource on cold fusion appeared, started by an IP. This was then repeated for the entire Parapsychology resource. The arguments can be seen in the archive.

There had been no disruption at all over cold fusion on Wikiversity, since the resource was started in 2006, until this Request for Deletion arrived in 2017, full of irrelevant arguments, a complete mess. (The resource history can be seen here. No revert warring, no conflict. Actual educational discussion.)

There had been minor disruption over Parapsychology, all easily handled. Until this.

The attack was actually personal, on me and my work (I created the Parapsychology resource in response to requests from scientists, and to show how a resource on a controversial topic could be neutral, and still academically free. If interested, I suggest reading the discussions.)

“Original research” was always explicitly allowed on Wikiversity, as long as it was disclosed as such. There is a huge difference between activity in a university and activity in creating an encyclopedia. The force for deletion was entirely from non-Wikiversitans.

Michael Umbricht, who acknowledged receiving complaints by email, invented an entirely new reason for deletion, never seen before or since. From his behavior, he intervened precisely to support the revenge effort from Darryl, who had recruited Guy Chapman (JzG) and Joshua P. Schroeder (ජපස), who were long-term Wikipedia enemies of everything fringe or “pseudoscientific.”

Umbricht then extended deletion to a large number of pages in my user space, deleting them without warning — totally violating deletion policy. These pages had been used for many purposes and some were historically important. But they were easily identifiable as “Abd’s work,” which he had likely promised to delete. Deletions without notice, for legal content, was unheard of on Wikiversity.

To recover these pages required downloading very large Wikiversity XML dumps and writing a program to extract pages with a prefix from it. (I’ve been unable to find such a utility that I could use).

The actual motivation here was not really a content dispute. It was about revenge. The RatWiki article was about revenge, and there are many examples where the Smiths did that, going back long before I was involved.

They learned how to manipulate administrators, and the WMF fell for it.

Gender Desk has posted another page about the lawsuit:

Lomax v. WMF: Abd names names

Lomax v. WMF: Abd names names
JUNE 28, 2019

Thanks, Gender Desk, it all works together. One point that can be missed. I did have a “Count 4” in the Amended Complaint, asking to be unbanned. But I am abandoning that, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that this would be of very little value to me personally, and by the TOU, very limited recovery ($1000 max) for damages. It is not worth the effort for a single person. It could be a class action, but I’m not holding my breath. It would be difficult, because of how the CDA Section 230 has been interpreted, but not impossible. Not my call. I’m going for what is easy. After all, Not a Lawyer.

The rest of the suit is about defamation and conspiracy to harass and defame, not their right to ban.

Is cold fusion Natural?

A few days ago, the internet lit up with news of a new paper on cold fusion in Nature.

Revisiting the cold case of cold fusion

Google has been funding cold fusion research for the last several years. This project, though, was not publicized. The CMNS (Condensed Matter Nuclear Science) research community in general knew little about it, though there were hints and leaks. There is a National Geographic page that tells the story.

Cold fusion remains elusive—but these scientists may revive the quest

However, I’m going to start this series by revisiting an old editorial, 29 March, 1990, by David Lindley, then an associate editor of Nature. He wrote:

The embarrassment of cold fusion

This is best known for its last words:

Would a measure of unrestrained mockery, even a little unqualified vituperation, have speeded cold fusion’s demise?

This editorial was rife with the characteristics of pseudoskepticism, and even disparages real skepticism, essential to science. Real skepticism is open-minded, merely not easily convinced about “extraordinary claims.” But it does not reject those claims based on existing theory, because it is also skeptical that existing theory is universally true. (It is not so open-minded that we find brains on the floor. It will point out the obvious, but it is not a “believer” position.)

This was a year after the announcement by Fleischmann and Pons. By that time, there had been some reports and confirmations of nuclear effects, but it was all still very unsettled. However, Lindley writes as if cold fusion were preposterous, blatantly impossible.

But . . . what is “cold fusion?”

Pons and Fleischmann had actually claimed an “unknown nuclear reaction,” and their claim of “nuclear” was reasonable if they had made no major errors in their calorimetry, and they believed they had seen radiation (which was apparently artifact, error.)

Nevertheless, what they had seen, clear to them, was anomalous heat, at levels that they, as highly skilled chemists, could not explain with chemistry. That would remain a mystery and it still is a mystery, though aspects are now understood. It is not what Lindley imagined “cold fusion” would be, in many ways.

It was not until 1991 that Miles announced that he had found helium correlated with anomalous heat, which was stunning, as Huizenga noted. If this was confirmed, Huizenga wrote, it would explain one of the major mysteries of cold fusion, the nuclear product. However, Huizenga expected that this would not be confirmed, because “no gammas.”

And this shows how mind-locked Huizenga and many at the time were. Gammas are found with two-deuteron fusion, very strong gammas, if helium is the product, but two-deuteron fusion only rarely produces helium, and is a very well-understood reaction (though not entirely, and part of the new paper explores that).

If helium is the main product — it seems obvious in hindsight — the reaction is not two-deuteron fusion! What is it?

Lindley looks at some theories, but simply assumes, as Huizenga, that if this is fusion, it is fusion of two deuterons. That assumption was common, including probably with Pons and Fleischmann and others who supported “cold fusion.”

There is another reaction which may be possible that does not generate that very hot gamma. Cold fusion is taking place in condensed matter, not in a plasma, so more complex structures, including electrons, are possible. Lindley does consider Bose-Einstein Condensates, but only with two deuterons. Not with two deuterium molecules. If two molecules were to fuse, the product expected would be an isotope of beryllium, 4Be8, which will decay into two helium nuclei (2He4). No very hot gamma. While there are other problems to be solved with this theory, I won’t go into them, this may well be on the right track to the actual mechanism behind cold fusion.

But all this focus on theory lost the most important principle in science: Experiment is King, not Theory. The first question to have properly asked (and some did ask it) was not, “Is this fusion?”, but “Is there a real heat effect?” And then, what conditions cause the effect, what are associated and especially correlated effects, what data can we collect?

By focusing on fusion, and looking for “fusion products,” meaning neutrons and tritium, and then concluding, when these were not found, that the heat must be an error, scientists fooled themselves. And where they were considered experts, they also fooled others who trusted them.

Truly ironic is what Lindley remembered before making the vituperation comment:

Perhaps science has become too polite. Lord Kelvin dismissed the whole of geology because his calculations proved that the Sun could be no more than a few million years old; Ernest Rutherford is still remembered for his declaration that talk of practical atomic energy was “moonshine” — but the stature of neither man has been noticeably diminished by their errors, which were as magnificent as their achievements.  Kelvin and Rutherford had a common-sense confidence in the robustness of their judgements which the critics of cold fusion conspicuously lacked.

This is odd, looking at it now, knowing the history of cold fusion, and the very early comment of Steve Koonin at the APS conference in Baltimore, May, 1989:

My conclusion, based on my experience, my knowledge of nuclear physics, and my intuition, is that the experiments are just wrong. And that we’re suffering from the incompetence and perhaps delusion of Drs. Pons and Fleischmann.

It has been known for many years that the famous replication failures, that led to conclusions like that of Koonin, were based on a failure to set up the necessary conditions for the effect to be seen. That work is part of the corpus of evidence that is accepted as demonstrating how not to see the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect. The negative work was not experimentally “wrong.” They correctly reported that under the conditions they set up, no significant excess heat was observed, nor any nuclear product.

Lewis et al (Nature, 1989) reached a maximum “stoichiometry” (D/Pd ratio) of 80%, and there is no report of the FPHE below roughly 90% at initiation. The current report in Nature is very similar, except that the new authors are quite aware that they did not reach adequate loading, hence their call for more research.

Even reaching adequate loading is not enough. In SRI P14, a Fleischmann-Pons type cell was loaded for months to high loading, and a current protocol (ramping current up and then down) was run, while measuring “excess heat.” The same protocol was run three times. The first two times, nothing happened except a little more noise. The third time, there was clear excess heat, unmistakeable. All other conditions were the same. (And there was a hydrogen control in series, which shows no excess heat in all three runs.)

Something must happen to the material to change it. Loading and deloading palladium with deuterium puts it under stress, it can crack, and the latest thinking is that a new phase of the metal can form at high loading plus stress: super abundant vacancy (SAV) material, which can also load to a higher ratio.

Not all palladium is the same. Nobody has yet found a way to reliably create material that works immediately, or even that works at all. Some protocols are better than others, though, some show excess heat most of the time, but highly variable in amount. The evidence is strong that that the famous unreliability is due to not-understood material conditions.

Add to this the difficulties of calorimetry and the possibility of the file-drawer effect, and we have the Scientific Fiasco of the Century (Huizenga).

What is constant, though, where it has been measured, is that helium is found commensurate with anomalous heat.

That is so strong as evidence for the reality of the reaction that a jury could be convinced in a civil case with it, and possibly even in a criminal case.

I can think of no way that the helium could be consistently correlated with heat, across different protocols and conditions, in many experiments, other than being produced by the same reaction, nor have I seen any proposed that are consistent with the experimental conditions.

Heat is not going to make helium and helium is not going to make heat, if the heat is artifact (or even if not!) and if the helium were leakage or error, it would not be clearly correlated with heat, and the ratio would not so nicely approach that very special value, 23.8 MeV/4He, which is the thermodynamically necessary ratio for any reaction that converts deuterium to helium, regardless of mechanism, as long as there is no radiation loss, and there apparently is not anything significant.

I will examine the Lindley analysis in detail on a page, Lindley 1989.

This series will continue with Cold fusion is in our geography now.

 

Barry Kort

Barry Kort, as Wikiversity user Caprice, discussed cold fusion with Abd Lomax (and a few others) in 2010. Because of the deletion of the cold fusion resource on Wikiversity, even though it was restored on the CFC wiki, it’s a bit tricky to find his contributions, they might extend into 2011. (User names are in page history, but the account does not exist on CFCwiki.)

The occasion for this study was an exchange on Encyc. There was also commentary on Talk:Cold fusion there.

Here is a list of the Wikiversity conversations:

Analysis of AC Burst Noise in Cold Fusion Electrolytic Cells

Subpage of barry-kort/

From Barry Kort undated page, first archived August 1, 2015.

Forgive them, Thevenin, for they know not how to reckon AC transient power.

“The worst error you can make is an unexamined assumption.” ~Jed Rothwell, Lessons from Cold Fusion

About a year after CBS 60 Minutes aired their episode on Cold Fusion back in 2009, I followed up with Rob Duncan to explore Richard Garwin’s thesis that McKubre was measuring the input electric power incorrectly.

It turns out that McKubre was reckoning only the DC power going into his cells, and assuming (for arcane technical reasons) there could not be any AC power going in, and therefore he didn’t need to measure or include any AC power term in his energy budget model.

McKubre justified his fateful assumption thusly:

Under current control, the cell voltage frequently was observed to fluctuate significantly, particularly at high current densities where the presence of large deuterium (or hydrogen) and oxygen bubbles disrupted the electrolyte continuity. By providing the cell current from a source that is sensibly immune to noise and level fluctuations, the current operates on the cell voltage (or resistance) as a scalar. Hence, as long as the voltage noise or resistance fluctuations are random, no unmeasured RMS heating can result under constant current control, provided that the average voltage is measured accurately.

Together with several other people, I helped work out a model for the omitted transient AC power term in McKubre’s experimental design. Our model showed that there was measurable and significant AC power, arising from the fluctuations in ohmic resistance as bubbles formed and sloughed off the surface of the palladium electrodes. Our model jibed with both the qualitative and quantitative evidence from McKubre’s reports:

1) McKubre (and others) noted that the excess heat only appeared after the palladium lattice was fully loaded. And that’s precisely when the Faradaic current no longer charges up the lattice, but begins producing gas bubbles on the surfaces of the electrodes.

2) The excess heat in McKubre’s cells was only apparent, significant, and sizable when the Faradaic drive current was elevated to dramatically high levels, thereby increasing the rate at which bubbles were forming and sloughing off the electrodes.

3) The effect was enhanced if the surface of the electrodes was rough rather than polished smooth, so that larger bubbles could form and cling to the rough surface before sloughing off, thereby alternately occluding and exposing somewhat larger fractions of surface area for each bubble.
The time-varying resistance arising from the bubbles forming and sloughing off the surface of the electrodes — after the cell was fully loaded, enhanced by elevated Faradaic drive currents and further enhanced by a rough electrode surface — produced measurable and significant AC noise power into the energy budget model that went as the square of the magnitude of the fluctuations in the cell resistance.

Specifically, if the ohmic resistance is fluctuating R±r, then PAC ≈ α²PDC, where α = r/R.

To a first approximation, a 17% fluctuation in resistance would nominally produce a 3% increase in power, over and above the baseline DC power term. Garwin and Lewis had found that McKubre’s cells were producing about 3% more heat than could be accounted for with his energy measurements, where McKubre was reckoning only the DC power going into his cells, and (incorrectly) assuming there was no transient AC power that needed to be measured or included in his energy budget model.

I suggest slapping an audio VU meter across McKubre’s cell to measure the AC burst noise from the fluctuating resistance. Alternatively use one of McKubre’s constant current power supplies to drive an old style desk telephone with a carbon button microphone. I predict the handset will still function: if you blow into the mouthpiece, you’ll hear it in the earpiece, thereby proving the reality of an AC audio signal riding on top of the baseline DC current.

Transient AC Power and Wavefronts of Traveling Waves

Let’s go back to McKubre’s fateful assumption. McKubre writes:

Under current control, the cell voltage frequently was observed to fluctuate significantly, particularly at high current densities where the presence of large deuterium (or hydrogen) and oxygen bubbles disrupted the electrolyte continuity. By providing the cell current from a source that is sensibly immune to noise and level fluctuations, the current operates on the cell voltage (or resistance) as a scalar. Hence, as long as the voltage noise or resistance fluctuations are random, no unmeasured RMS heating can result under constant current control, provided that the average voltage is measured accurately.

Now let’s parse that, one sentence at a time.

1) The cell voltage frequently was observed to fluctuate significantly, particularly at high current densities where the presence of large deuterium (or hydrogen) and oxygen bubbles disrupted the electrolyte continuity.

So we begin by observing that there is fluctuating resistance, and an associated fluctuation in cell voltage. So far so good.

2) By providing the cell current from a source that is sensibly immune to noise and level fluctuations, the current operates on the cell voltage (or resistance) as a scalar.

This is the key part of the unexamined assumption that needs to be carefully examined.

3) Hence, as long as the voltage noise or resistance fluctuations are random, no unmeasured RMS heating can result under constant current control, provided that the average voltage is measured accurately.

But wait! When the power supply is slewing (meaning the voltage is either rising or falling at the slew rate), the voltage pulse and the associated current pulse are in phase. In fact they amount to a transient wave front propagating from the power supply into the cell. There is real power in a transient pulse, which must be computed by the application of appropriate mathematical models for the transient AC power in the wavefront of a traveling wave. The appropriate mathematics for this can be found in the annals of telephony (among other places).

If the slew rate is fast (e.g. 1.25 A/μsec in constant current mode and 1 .0 V/μsec in constant voltage mode), then the Nyquist Sampling Rate to capture this brief interval when the voltage and current pulses are in phase has to be at an even higher frequency. Otherwise, the power in the AC transient will never be seen, never be measured, and never be reckoned in the energy budget model.

Note, also, that the transient AC power is independent of the actual slew rate. The same amount of transient AC power is injected whether the slew rate is fast or slow.

Fourier Analysis

Another way to model it is to use Fourier Analysis. Assume there is a sinusoidally varying load resistance going as R + r sin ωt. Then to obtain a true constant current, the active regulated power supply has to meet the rising and falling resistance. So, for example, if the power supply is trying to maintain a constant 1 A DC current (with no AC), the power supply has to produce a matching voltage given by 1 A × (R + r sin ωt) Ω. If the power supply can do this with no signal processing delay, and if there is no signal propagation delay in the medium between the power supply and the load, then this will indeed produce a perfect constant current and there will be no AC power.

But active power supplies have a non-zero signal processing time (given by the slew rate). Moreover, there is non-zero signal propagation delay in the circuit between the power supply and the load. Let this total round-trip delay be τ. Then the voltage produced by the power supply and delivered to the load will be 1 A × (R + r sin ω(t-τ)) Ω. The phase shift is given by φ = ωτ. The worst case is when φ = ωτ = π, in which case the AC power injected by the hapless power supply is PAC = [α²/sqrt(1-α²)] PDC, where α = r/R. The general formula, as a function of phase shift, φ = ωτ, for any harmonic, ω, in the Fourier Series is

PAC(ω) = ½[1 – cos(φ)] [α²/sqrt(1-α²)] PDC = ½[1 – cos(ωτ)] [α²/sqrt(1-α²)] PDC

where α = r/R and τ is the round trip propagation delay and signal processing delay at harmonic frequency, ω, in the Fourier Series for the time-varying resistance.

So when ω ≈ π/τ, there will be significant AC power that (to a simplified approximation for r ≪ R) goes as ½α²PDC, where α = r/R. If the fluctuating resistance arises from the formation of bubbles on the electrodes, then there will be very high-frequency components from the perturbation in load as bubbles form and slough off the surface of the electrodes. Note also that if the magnitude of the fluctuation, r, is very large (e.g. 80% of R), then the injected AC power can exceed the DC power.

Finally, note that the propagation delay isn’t even an exact constant at any given frequency when the conducting medium is an electrolyte[1]. When the charge carriers are electrons, the propagation speed is about one-tenth the speed of light in a vacuum. But in an electrolyte solution with H⁺ or D⁺ ions (as well as other species of charge carriers), the portion of the signal carried by those ions of molecular weight, n, propagate more slowly, going approximately as C/(18360×n). The effect is to render τ to be an exponential distribution with the leading edge of a pulse traveling in about 0.1 μs and the trailing tail lagging by about 500 μs, depending on the mix of species of charge carriers in the electrolyte. It’s worse in heavy water than light water because Deuterium ions have twice the atomic weight of Hydrogen ions, and so they travel at half the speed of protons.

[1] Horace Heffner, “10-meter Electrolytic Cell Experiment,” April 1996.

The core of fascism

I have been struck by news of late demonstrating what I have called “medical fascism.” The core of fascism, as I am coming to see it, is a collective conviction combined with intolerance of divergent views. Benito Mussolini was the stated author of The Doctrine of Fascism, co-written with Giovanni Gentile, a fascist philosopher.  From the copy published by the World Future Fund, allegedly copied directly from an official Fascist government publication of 1935, Fascism Doctrine and Institutions, by Benito Mussolini [my emphasis]

A party governing a nation “totalitarianly” is a new departure in history. There are no points of reference nor of comparison. From beneath the ruins of liberal, socialist, and democratic doctrines, Fascism extracts those elements which are still vital. It preserves what may be described as “the acquired facts” of history; it rejects all else. That is to say, it rejects the idea of a doctrine suited to all times and to all people. Granted that the XIXth century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the XXth century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the “collective” century, and therefore the century of the State.

However, this source has from Fascism Doctrine and Institutions:

. . . this will be a century of authority. [no mention of the “right.”]

And an “official translation” published in the Political Quarterly, apparently 1933, has:

. . . this will be a century of authority, a century of the left, a century of Fascism.

Which is it, the “left” or the “right”?

My answer at this point is that fascism is opportunistically left or right, it is both and neither, it may be populist, thus it may even be “democratic” by some definitions (particularly majoritarian or strongest-faction forms of democracy), but key is that it is always authoritarian, intolerant of dissent, willing to use coercive power to enforce its vision of “truth” and “morality,” and Mussolini openly endorsed this.

Fascism may then be racist in some contexts, and anti-racist in others.

And it may be apparently skeptical in one context and pseudoskeptical, proclaiming the truth of “science” vs. “pseudoscience,” in another.

(The scientific method does not generate certainty, only, at best, probability, and there are many situations where “scientific consensus,” i.e., the apparent consensus of experts, was not formed through diligent application of scientific methods, but rather politically and socially; this “collective view” being enforced, with deviation sanctioned.

That is scientific fascism, pretending to “collective knowledge,” with all else being termed, not skepticism, but “denialism.”

The common thread in fascism is certainty, where the truth of some proposition is not to be denied, where it is not allowed under penalty of the strongest opprobrium or worse.

As well, movements and positions create their opposites that are just as convinced and certain and willing to censure and condemn opposing opinions.

I have recently seen many stories in the media about what might be called “anti-vaxx hysteria.” Those who suggest that there may be some risks or negative consequences from vaccination are being called “murderers.”

And then some anti-vaxxers are calling doctors who support vaccination the same.

Both movements are medical fascism, the “pro-vaccine” position commonly refusing to allow any possible critique of vaccination, and the anti-vaxx position claiming that all support for vaccination is coming from Big Pharma shills, with government in their pocket, uncaring about continued study of complications and individual rights.

So from the Guardian, New York county bans unvaccinated children from public spaces amid measles outbreak.

It is the latest region of the US to take drastic steps to counter the virus, with the spike in measles cases leading to concerns that anti-vaccine parents may be putting their children at risk. . . .

The state of emergency in Rockland county, which comes into effect at midnight on Tuesday, bars anyone under 18 who is not vaccinated against measles from public places for 30 days. . . .

. . . the county had traced the outbreak to seven “unvaccinated travelers” who had visited Rockland in 2018. The county has had 48 cases of measles in 2019 alone, according to a spokesman.

From 1 January to 21 March of this year 314 cases of measles were confirmed in 15 different states, according to the CDC. There were 372 cases in 2018, more than triple the number the previous year. The rise has been linked to “anti-vaxxers”, activists who claim, incorrectly but loudly, that vaccines can have negative effects.

Can vaccines have negative effects? The Guardian states as if it were fact that this is “incorrect,” yet that extreme position is preposterous.

The issue is not the existence of negative effects, but the rate. I had a friend die from polio when his daughter was given Sabin oral vaccine in about 1978 or so. By effectively claiming that anti-vaxxers are merely “loud,” and essentially liars and murderers — and I have seen that — authorities are taking a fascist approach to collective welfare, even if they are “right,” i.e., that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the harms.

That denial of any value to the “other side” is typical of fascist propaganda. I had all my children vaccinated and was vaccinated as appropriate for travel when I went to China and Ethiopia to adopt. But I chose to do that. If someone had told me that it was required or else I’d be charged with a criminal offense, I might reconsider! If it is necessary to enforce good sense with criminal penalties, maybe it is not good sense!

And in the other direction, but also from the Guardian:

Anti-vaxx ‘mobs’: doctors face harassment campaigns on Facebook

When the naturopath Elias Kass testified before a Washington state senate committee on 20 February with a baby on his chest and a pacifier in his hand, he knew that his arguments would be unpopular with the anti-vaccine activists in the room. Amid a measles outbreak that has infected 66 people so far, legislators were considering a bill to eliminate personal and philosophical exemptions for childhood vaccinations, and Kass was one of several practitioners to speak in support of the measure.

It astonishes me that good people support fascism, but it happens. I’m sure that Kass is sincere, but he is encouraging removing the right of choice over health care decisions from parents, instead assigning it to the state. Yet in a mature society, he would have the right to express his opinion without the kind of harassment he encountered.

Kass faced some anger in the hallway after the hearing, he said, with one person calling him “a disgusting liar”. But it wasn’t until several hours later that “the shit hit the fan”. That’s when Kass realized that his Facebook page was being flooded with one-star reviews calling him everything from a “disgrace” and a “pedophile” to a “Nazi pharma shill” and “scumbag shilling for infanticide”.

Now, the comparison here may be unfair. A social movement like anti-vaxx has no direct control over what “supporters” do. And I have seen impersonation trolling, where someone pretends the opposite of their own position, with extreme expression, intending to discredit those of that view as fanatics. (I.e., there is no proof that those harassers were actually anti-vaxxers. But there may be anti-vaxx organizers that may have responsibility, I have not investigated this.)

Impersonation can work because people often don’t read carefully and don’t realize that anonymous comments on the web are just that: anonymous, and not to be trusted ever.

(Edits on RationalWiki and Wikipedia, appearing to be from me, aren’t — or in the case of RatWiki, the vast majority are not. I don’t vandalize, I don’t spam, and I don’t harass and make legal threats with wiki edits. I might by certified mail.)

Yet structures have been created where anonymous positions can dominate. Wikipedia is a clear example, in fact. When it works, it’s great, but it can fail spectacularly.

The enemies of humanity here are two old allies: contempt and hatred.

Both poison human freedom, and “antifascism” can be just as full of contempt and hatred as “fascism.”

The vaccine skeptics, I’ll call them, point to an alleged lack of adequate testing of vaccines, claiming that drug companies were given exemptions in the public interest, and that kind of story has been all too common in the history of science and public health.

When dietary guidelines blaming dietary fat for heart disease were adopted and promoted, it was known that the science was not adequate to establish that as medical fact, but it seemed likely and we couldn’t wait, millions could die!

We did not actually know that making those recommendations would save lives, overall, and from what I’ve seen, so far, it seems quite possible that, instead, there were millions of premature deaths. Bad Science can do a lot of harm!

(Murderers? No, not unless they knew, or clearly should have known. But where and when do we become responsible for ignorance?)

How can we both protect public health and act to avoid harm? Any time millions of people are subjected to a medical procedure, there is risk of harm, the claim of “harmless” was crazy — yet there it was, in a major newspaper, as if fact.

It’s obvious to me that we need more research, and we need ongoing monitoring of all major health programs. Who is going to pay for this? We have a system that expects drug companies to do the research, and a public that then often blames them for being greedy. But we set that up — or relied on it and allow it to continue! It is clear that we need to fund research, but we don’t necessarily have trustworthy institutions to manage this. The nonprofits have themselves been corrupted — or appear to have been corrupted — by corporate support. We need to directly support and supervise collective institutions, or at least set up and fund watchdogs.

Instead, our habit is to blame others, rather than taking responsibility, by recognizing what is missing, and supplying it.

To declare an antifascist manifesto here, the future belongs to collective freedom, that creates cooperation and non-coercive, voluntary  coordination.

Saturated fat, cholesterol and heart health

Under construction, list of sources:

Towards a Paradigm Shift in Cholesterol Treatment

A Re-Examination of the Cholesterol Issue in Japan

Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, Vol. 66, Suppl. 4, 2015, prefacebody

From the Introduction:

High cholesterol levels are recognized as a major cause of atherosclerosis. However, for more than half a century some have challenged this notion. But which side is correct, and why can’t we come to a definitive conclusion after all this time and with more and more scientific data available? We believe the answer is very simple: for the side defending this so-called cholesterol theory, the  amount of money at stake is too much to lose the fight.
The issue of cholesterol is one of the biggest issues in medicine where the law of economy governs. Moreover, advocates of the theory take the notion to be a simple, irrefutable ‘fact’ and self-explanatory. They may well think that those who argue against the cholesterol theory—actually, the cholesterol “hypothesis’—are mere eccentrics. We, as those on the side opposing the hypothesis, understand their argument very well. Indeed, the first author of this supplementary issue (TH) had been a very strong believer and advocate of the cholesterol hypothesis up until a couple of years after the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S) reported the benefits of statin therapy in The Lancet in 1994. To be honest with the readers, he used to persuade people with high cholesterol levels to take statins. He even gave a talk or two to general physicians promoting the benefits of statins. Terrible, unforgivable 
mistakes given what we came to know and clearly know now.
In this supplementary issue, we explore the background to the cholesterol hypothesis utilizing data obtained mainly from Japan—the country where anti-cholesterol theory campaigns can be conducted more easily than in any other countries. […]


Saturated Fat Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Ischemic Stroke: A Science Update

Ann Nutr Metab. 2017 Apr; 70(1): 26–33. PDF

At a workshop to update the science linking saturated fatty acid (SAFA) consumption with the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and ischemic stroke, invited participants presented data on the consumption and bioavailability of SAFA and their functions in the body and food technology. Epidemiological methods and outcomes were related to the association between SAFA consumption and disease events and mortality. Participants reviewed the effects of SAFA on CHD, causal risk factors, and surrogate risk markers. Higher intakes of SAFA were not associated with higher risks of CHD or stroke apparently, but studies did not take macronutrient replacement into account. Replacing SAFA by cis-polyunsaturated fatty acids was associated with significant CHD risk reduction, which was confirmed by randomized controlled trials. SAFA reduction had little direct effect on stroke risk. Cohort studies suggest that the food matrix and source of SAFA have important health effects.

Cited by:


 

Special Place in Hell

After having written what is below the second headline, I found another article, same author, same day:  The deadly propaganda of the statin deniers: The drugs DO protect you from heart attacks but as this devastating investigation reveals thousands are refusing them

That article continues, at the bottom, with the screed I covered below, but the screed did not reference the main article, explaining the oddities I reported below. This article, on the face, is better, actually giving more evidence, but misrepresenting many significant facts. I’ll cover that in Deadly Propaganda, a parallel page not written yet.

 

There is a special place in hell for the doctors who claim statins don’t work, says BARNEY CALMAN

By BARNEY CALMAN FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY

PUBLISHED: 17:21 EST, 2 March 2019

Statistics are one thing. But it’s hard to argue against the dangers of stopping taking statins when they’re staring you in the face.

The dangers were not staring him in the face, and one doesn’t know if it is “hard” to argue against the dangers of stopping if one does not look at evidence, all of it, instead of an anecdote that actually tells us very little but what is already accepted by all sides. But he doesn’t look at all sides, obviously. This is typical of a yellow journalist, and so I was not surprised to see, in the Wikipedia article on the Daily Mail,  this:

The Daily Mail has been widely criticised for its unreliability, as well as printing of sensationalist and inaccurate scare stories of science and medical research,[12][13][14][15][16] and for copyright violations.[17]

However, I know this about Wikipedia, from long experience. Unless there is a notable source  not only criticizing, but asserting that criticism is “wide,” in which case, as an interpretation, this would normally be attributed in the text, “according to,” not merely in a reference note — unless, of course — this was itself widely known, being found in many neutral sources, that statement is an example of Original Research being allowed to creep into Wikepedia articles. Nevertheless, I’ve notice the Mail being a sensationalist publication before, and I looked at the sources a little. They were good enough to allow that text as a first approximation, but I did not read all of them. The sources were the The Guardian, citing Wikipedia itself, which rejected the Daily Mail as “reliable source,” The New Yorker, Forbes, and more, getting close to fact. The Guardian article is remarkable for its reasonably correct understanding of Wikipedia process, which is relatively rare. This article on cancer articles in the Daily Mail is hilarious, and, unfortunately, right on, and, also unfortunately, the Guardian may itself have gone downhill, I’ve seen a number of examples.

As to the Mail, this is a brilliant example. The headline and the lead shout “yellow journalism” to me. He starts with what he actually saw (which is great, in itself, a human story), but he has already telegraphed what he thinks it means, and the interpretation is an easy, casual one, ignoring the actual science of the field.

Last week, I met 49-year-old Colin Worthing as he recovered in his hospital bed following a heart attack in the early hours of Tuesday. He had been prescribed cholesterol-lowering tablets ten years ago but quit them – without any medical advice – having ‘heard they don’t really work’.

All sane medical advice is against quitting a prescribed medication without consultation. He did, based on his own casual, uncareful interpretation of what he had “heard.” Statins do work, certainly to lower cholesterol, but what effect do they have on heart health, what are the side effects, and what alternatives are there? Nobody, again nobody sane again, will suggest stopping any medication without at least having a conversation with a medical practictioner, and if one doesn’t believe the practitioner, then getting a second opinion. Instead, he stuck his head in the sand, without knowledge, just depending on rumor — but also on his feelings, which now he rejects. But he is still ignorant, as we will see.

Colin suffered his first heart attack in 2009, with little warning. ‘It was a shock as I’d felt well otherwise,’ he said. ‘Later I was told I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My mother has heart problems, so I think it runs in my family.’

First heart attacks are commonly like that. He says “little warning.” He didn’t already know that he had high blood pressure and high cholesterol? This is someone who neglects normal routine medical care. That is high-risk, at least for many.

He was prescribed statins and blood- pressure-lowering medication. ‘I took them to start with, but I felt lethargic.

There is a high probability here that he was experiencing a known statin side-effect. It’s quite dangerous, actually, if ignored. He sensed that it was due to the statin, but did not consult with his practitioner as to alternatives. There are alternative recommendations with higher effect on cardiac risk, with fewer side effects, but he shows no sign of being aware of them. So, this is known: there is an increased death rate from “non-compliers” with statin prescriptions, but that could easily be because non-compliers may have poor health in general, or at least poor health practices. The increase, by the way, is not large.

I was always hearing on the radio that statins didn’t really work, and drug companies were just trying to make money by getting us all on tablets. You do start think there’s no smoke without fire.’

Drug companies are trying to make money? Who knew? To think, I always thought they were charities, out to help people with no regard for profit. Not. This was irrelevant nonsense, not a reason to stop statins. There is a fire, in fact, but he has not recognized, not yet, the true source of danger to himself. Instead, he just got knocked upside the heat, a warning that he’s been running blind without a clue, and his immediate reaction is not to look for the cause in himself, it is in those nasty stupid critics.

If someone says, on the radio, that “statins don’t work,” they are being misleading. The truth is far more complex, and, in fact, still controversial. The real question is about real risk vs. relative risk and real options. Comparing a statin with “doing nothing” might actually save one’s life, in some cases, but this is not a sane choice, if one is actually at risk. Instead of researching the issue himself, he was passive, listening to the radio, and doing nothing positive for his health, nothing reported. He had high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and there is no sign that he continued measuring these things, that he made what might be advisable changes to his diet, that he started an exercise program, universally recommended for people with a risk of heart attack, that he had diagnostic tests, like stress tests, not even measurement of C-reactive protein, which is a better risk predictor than cholesterol, none of that.

In 2013 he decided to stop all medication. ‘I wrote to my GP saying I no longer needed my repeat prescription, and never heard any more,’ he says.

The GP left it in his hands, obviously not having educated him. Common. But the GP is not being blamed here for not responding, though this was an obvious failure. Instead, these events are being used to blame doctors and scientists and others who are skeptical about the benefits of statins, as if his case proves something.

Over the next five years he felt well, ‘although I suppose I was stressed with work, and I did put on quite a bit of weight’.

In other words, he had two clear risk factors (stress and major weight gain), more predictive of heart attack than cholesterol. He did nothing about it, because he “felt well.” And, in a way, he was well, but at risk, and ignoring the risk, because, after all, heart disease runs in his family, and he’s going to die, and he doesn’t want to think about it, doesn’t want to go to a doctor to hear bad news, which is what he expects, my guess. He is actually a good argument against the head-in-the-sand approach to self-care. Taking statins or not taking them is a choice that is wisely made with informed consent, so he had a choice: either trust his GP blindly, or ask his GP to educate him, ask his GP about what he is hearing, ask his GP about risks (not just “risk factors”), and keep in communication, or believe the conspiracy theory. He chose to believe that theory, which was actually irrelevant. Statins have effects, they “work,” but how well and for whom. It is obvious if one becomes informed: Not everyone is benefited, and it is possible some are harmed. How many? Informed consent would require that he do much more than passively take medicine or decide to quit based on rumors. It would require him to take responsibility for his choices. But in spite of a second heart attack, he still has not done that. But it’s soon after that additional warning, and it is possible that he will wake up and realize that his biggest enemy is his own ignorance and lack of attention to his health.

And then, at about 1am on Tuesday, he woke feeling clammy, with a familiar tightness in his chest. ‘I knew it was a heart attack, and called 999.’

Right. That, however, is not what I would do. Because I’ve been paying attention, even though I have never had a heart attack, I carry a small vial of nitroglycerin tablets with me, I would take a nitroglycerin, which is very fast-acting, and if the symptoms disappeared, I’d make an appointment for a consultation. If the symptoms did not disappear, and in 15 minutes, I would take another dose. If they did not disappear within 15 minutes, I would call 911 and take a third dose. I’ve been told that if the symptoms are going when the paramedics arrive, I can decline transport. Not being in communication with his doctor, he had no clue about any of this.

(But if the symptoms were severe enough, I would call 911 at the outset. Again, because I have been in cardiac rehab, I am sensitive to the mildest angina, but it has never been strong enough to take one tablet.)

Colin was rushed to hospital where he had surgery to insert a stent which will keep blood flowing through his cardiac arteries while he awaits a full heart bypass operation. His consultant at Hammersmith Hospital, London, Dr Rasha Al-Lamee, said: ‘We regularly see patients who, like Colin, have stopped taking statins because they believe the myth that they don’t do any good. In fact, he’s one of the lucky ones. He’s alive.

How did the author find this patient? It’s rather obvious. He was writing a story about statin denialism and the terrible harm it causes, over which there have been many scare stories. So he reached out for a case, and was supplied one. But was that heart attacked caused by stopping statins?

From this story, he was one who experienced a statin side effect, and had he continued without addressing the problems, he might have died from something other than a heart attack. Statin side-effects can be serious, especially if they cause reduced exercise.

‘There will be numerous reasons his heart disease progressed so far, but one of the factors will be because he stopped taking statins.’

That’s true, there will be numerous reasons. A “factor,” which must refer to a “risk factor” is here being confused with a cause. His stopping statins did not cause his heart attack. It is possible that it did not reduce a possible cause, but this cannot be known, because statins do not address the primary causes of atherosclerosis, that’s obvious. If they did, they would be much more effective than they are.

Colin added: ‘I was a fool to stop taking the medication. Who cares whether or not someone is making money from statins. If I had carried on taking them, I might not be where I am now.’

It’s possible, and it is also possible, even likely, that if he had done nothing more effective than taking statins to address his heart condition, he would also have had a heart attack.

He may not get any more warnings. He has a stent, which will, in his condition, probably extend his life, that’s crisis care, and medical science has gotten quite good at it.

He is still a fool, my opinion, he has not taken responsibility for his own choices and is, instead, focused on irrelevancies, like the conspiracy theory. I hope that he wakes up. This is not about whether he takes statins or not, it is a change in attitude.

I am still studying the research, and may be continuing that for the rest of my life. But it appears, so far, to me, that while statins have been shown in some studies to reduce risk of a cardiac event by 30% or so, that is a reduction in absolute risk of about 1%. It is difficult to apply the statistics to a case like this. From what we know, it is likely that this patient would have been in the 2% that had a heart attack, even though they were taking statins.

And if he focuses on cholesterol, and is happy that his cholesterol is reduced and uses this as an excuse to feel safe, and does not take other, more powerful measures, and they exist, he will remain at high risk.

The evidence is staring Calman in the face, but he ignores it for a sensationalist story. Because he is reaching millions with this, he may cause real damage, cost real lives, so . . . special place in hell.

And a special place of reward for those who carefully report reality, what they actually experience, and who practice the real methods of science, which include and even require full attention to criticism, to skepticism. Suppression of skepticism is fascist and may, under some conditions, be populist. It is not science-based. Scientific response to skepticism requires a serious consideration of criticism, and the design of studies to test theses and possible criticisms of prior work, until the issues are so settled that contrary opinion truly and naturally becomes the extreme fringe, safely to be ignored.

We are not there yet.

To paraphrase Donald Tusk, there is a special place in hell for the statins deniers who continue to fuel public confusion and a vague perception that the drugs, as Colin said, ‘don’t really work’.

OK, I don’t actually believe in hell. Or Donald Tusk, much, for that matter. But they need to realise that the ultimate fallout from high-risk patients, such as Colin, stopping proven treatment will be illness, disability and death. Debate should – must – be at the heart of science. Just because someone has been awarded the title professor doesn’t make them right. And some of our greatest medical discoveries have come from so-called mavericks who ignored the orthodoxies.

Who the hell is Donald Tusk and why does Calman not believe in him? So this yellow journalist uses a highly inflammatory phrase to attack “doctors” for pursuing research and reporting results, and analyzing the results of other research, but he doesn’t believe it? I do believe in hell, and strongly suspect that Calman is in it. He is willing to lie and state as fact what he does not actually know, on a matter of high importance for public health. The patient is not in Hell, not from telling his story, merely possibly mistaken about some aspects of it. Nor is the physician. Simply being wrong is not enough to create the entry into hell. Lying can be, as an aspect of the general cause, denial in the face of clear evidence.

His last sentence, though, is true. This, however, simply suggests that we should, collectively, pay attention to the outliers, the alleged fringe (even where ideas are more outside the mainstream than those of the people he will be naming). It is very dangerous to suppress diversity of opinion, and even more so to suppress research results (the data is not opinion, if not fraudulent, and fraud in the reporting of data is rare.)

The public should, my view, wake up and demand that scientific controversies with major consequences be resolved with more research, better data, which, long term, leads to the decline of fringe skepticism. The expense of this would be minor compared to the cost of accepting a mainstream consensus that is not backed by thorough and careful — and unbiased — research. If drug companies want to support this, they would provide no-questions-asked grants to agencies not depending on them, but more on public support. Governmental support can help, but also tends, in the real world, to be dominated by political and economic considerations.

For we should make no mistake: the statins deniers are no Barry Marshalls.

(Barry Marshall discovered that H. Pylori caused ulcers.)

The trio mentioned in our piece aren’t the only ones. There is Dr John Abramson at Harvard, author of the misleading ‘20 per cent side effect’ BMJ study; Joseph Mercola, a discredited anti-medicine campaigner who claims to have millions of website views a day; Dr Uffe Ravnskov in Denmark, founder of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, and others.

It is a particularly insidious type of fake news they peddle, apparently from a respectable, credible source, but laced with misinformation. They seem now even to have the ear of policy-makers.

So far, he has not mentioned any others, so this was terrible writing or editing. It appears he had an earlier draft, and removed material from it, and did not properly revise the rest.

Calling them “statin deniers” telegraphs that they are deniers of reality, that they insist on some fringe idea in the face of clear evidence. The evidence is nowhere near as clear as Calman believes, if he is sincere and not simply being paid. Is that comment, mentioning that possibility, a conspiracy theory? Well, I look at the article and what is featured at the top? A drug advertisement. Now, to think that there might be some possible conflict of interest is not a “conspiracy theory,” it is simply common sense that it’s possible.

There is far more evidence for the Big Pharma influence on scientific opinion and coverage of it, than there is for the “author and Big Food conspiracy theory” of others about these so-called “denialists.” But it’s actually irrelevant to the central theory. Someone is not wrong because they publish a diet book, as Calman seems to pretend. If there are problems with statin research — and there are clearly problems with many studies I have seen — then the scientific and rational approach is to look at the problems, not toss insults at those who point them out. Who raised an issue is an ad hominem argument, fundamentally fallacious from a logical perspective, unless the credibility of the person is the issue.

So this statement: There is Dr John Abramson at Harvard, author of the misleading ‘20 per cent side effect’ BMJ study — “Misleading”?

That is given as if it were a fact. Do the readers of this article know what “BMJ” stands for, and what it is?

And then he has, about this: “apparently from a respectable, credible source, but laced with misinformation.”

Great! This yellow journalist is calling an article “laced with misinformation,” published by the BMJ, formerly called the British Medical Journal, published since 1840, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the British Medical Association, using “apparently” to call the publication in question, when it is not in any doubt at all, it is a respectable, credible source, if any source is.

That does not mean that an article may not be misleading in some way or other. Articles in peer-reviewed journals can have errors in them, or may draw misleading conclusions, sometimes, but a credible journal will not allow that. The public does not read the BMJ, in general, rather, they read media reports, if the media thinks something newsworthy, and often the media exaggerates or misleads, and especially media like the Daily Mail. So the article:

Should people at low risk of cardiovascular disease take a statin? 22 October 2013

Calman refers to this as the “‘20 per cent side effect’ BMJ study“, adopting the language of critics of the “study.” It was actually a review, an analysis. The visible abstract does not refer to “20 percent side effects.” However, obviously the article did have something about the rate of side effects, because a correction was issued on that matter:

Corrections 15 May 2014 quotes or describes the withdrawn language:

The conclusion and summary box of this Analysis article by Abramson and colleagues

(BMJ 2013;347:f6123, doi:10.1136/bmj.f6123) stated that side effects of statins occur in about 18-20% of patients. 

And

The authors also mistakenly reported that Zhang et al found that “18% of statin treated patients had discontinued therapy (at least temporarily) because of statin related events.” 

However, the issue is actually much more complicated. In order to conclude that the report was a mistake, clarification from Zhang was sought. Zhang. The true rate of “statin related events” is not accurately known. The correction has:

The primary finding of Abramson and colleague’s article—that the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ data failed to show that statins reduced the overall risk of mortality among people with <20% risk of cardiovascular disease over the next 10 years—was not challenged in the process of communication about this correction.

How was the article “misleading.” It overstated the evidence. What it stated was not necessarily false, as to the true rate of statin side effects, and from my review of testimonies by statin users, the official rates are probably understated, from many causes. What people need to know, and what is clear, is that there is a significant rate of undesirable side effects, and that not only should they not ignore criticisms of statins, they should be vigilant for possible side effects, and consult if they believe they find one. Either way, statins are not emergency care, they only have a small long-term effect on cardiac risk, at best. If one becomes uncomfortable taking statins, and this is crucial: consult, period. Investigate, neither stop without consultation or continue without consultation. It is not the job of patients to worry about the nocebo effect, and attempting to “educate” them about it would be to discourage the patient from carefully reviewing their own condition and identifying *possible* side effects. The choice to continue or discontinue in the presence of a possible side effect is a complex one. There is no one-size fits all advice, other than Consult, Communicate, Co0perate — and Take Personal Responsibility.

If on the one hand, you don’t trust your practitioner, it is urgent to find another. If you trust your practitioner, but think he or she might be mistaken in this case, get a second opinion, but be careful: if there is an error in “standard of practice,” it might be difficult to find a second opinion unless one does one’s own research and knows what questions to ask. A good physician will not pretend to knowledge and will tell you *if you ask* whether they personally know what is coming from their own experience and knowledge or standard of practice, and if the latter, they will tell you how they know (or will look it up to assist your research).

For many of us, without a scientific background, the core issue is personal trust. When I have found that a practitioner did not encourage me to question his recommendations, I fired him, I don’t need a petty god in my life. In that case, I checked on what he had told me, not only from my own research but also with other specialists. He was, quite simply, wrong, but apparently believing he was right or simply not willing to engage with a “stupid patient.” This is a problem: if a physician, believing the standard of practice is wrong , at least in some specific case, prescribes something else, he can be sued for malpractice and can lose his license. Because no advice, even if generally correct, guarantees a positive outcome, a bias is introduced that disallows physicians from recommending what they personally believe to be true. A way for physicians to handle that is through providing full information. I could imagine being handed a paper to sign that has, “I understand that the recommendations given me today deviate from standard of practice, as I have been informed, I recognize that I have the right to independently research this matter, or to obtain a second opinion, and I take full responsibility for my choices made with this information.”

Was this article “full of misleading information” The “20%” claim was slightly misleading as to the very high standards of that journal. But was it substantially misleading? Was there other “misleading information” in the article? Was the conclusion misleading? If so, the journal editors, on review, appear not to have thought so.

There was substantial controversy over this article. The Data Supplement is huge, with many letters and responses, reviewer comments, etc. There is a great deal of additional information and analysis in the Responses page.

What Calman has done is to take a strong position on one side of an obviously open scientific debate. But he is pretending that this is based on clear evidence, it is not. It is based on confusion and rumor and innuendo.

Invited to comment on the study which suggests thousands of patients have quit medication due to statin confusion, and of these, many will have heart attacks, Dr Kendrick claimed it was he who was the victim, as such a claim amounted to ‘reprehensible bullying.’

Again, Dr Kendrick was not mentioned before, and the study in question has not been cited. Kendrick has published the mail he received,

Cholesterol Games

Something is off, because Kendrick refers to a photo that does not appear in what is visible to me of the article. I looked at the Sunday Mail main page to see if there was some photo and link “up front.” Nothing. It is possible that the article has been modified. The article itself contains evidence of additional material that is not in the text I can see.

Kendrick publishes both the mail from Calman and his responses, both before the article was published and after. He has this:

The Mail on Sunday have published a very long article attacking ‘statin deniers’ with pictures of me Zoe and Aseem at the front. I think I look quite dashing. Not as dashing as Aseem who is a very handsome swine, and also young, and intelligent – and brave. Yes, I hate him.

Nor am I as attractive as Zoe Harcombe. But hey, at least I got my picture in the national press. I wasn’t very keen on the bit where they called me self-pitying. But I was quite pleased that they included some of the stuff that I sent.

Kendrick is an entertaining writer. I had not heard of him until I was accused by a troll of being the owner of a sock puppet who had attacked him, and I investigated, and I recognized who the true attacker was, and it was not the person being bandied about by internet commenters, following suggestions from the same sock master. So I corrected those to protect the innocent, and started to read Kendrick. His series on the causes of heart disease is a clear account of the investigations of a true skeptic. And then I bought his books, at least the Kindle editions, not for “advice about statins,” but because the general issue of information cascades and mainstream error in science has long been of high interest to me.

In what I can read Kalman lied about Kendrick’s response. It’s that simple. Kalman is a troll who should not be in any responsible editorial position. He has the right to his opinion, but editorials should be labeled as such. Of course, the Mail may not care, their reputation is already trashed, and if they want sensationalism, hysterical screeds, he may be perfect for them, and they can all take their seat in Hell.

I am writing another review of an article on the cholesterol controversy that is far better, even though I consider it, in itself, misleading. At least it focuses on the issues! And it has links to sources, much of it is verifiable. If I look at the full debate in the BMJ on this issue, there is much information as well, links to sources and arguments by experts.

The issue is often presented as “Who should the public trust”? It’s not exactly the right question.

Nobody is infallible, but if we are paying attention, and if we act to inform ourselves and to test ideas, we are the world’s foremost experts on our own condition. Sanely, we consult with experts on the general field of interest, but blind trust in anyone else is dangerous, just as dangerous as blind trust in our own correctness. On the other hand, trust with eyes wide open will recognize when there are problems. Trust that also verifies and confirms, is far more powerful than blind trust.

Medical fascists, I’m starting to call them, do not want a fully informed public and they want to suppress and discredit and disable dissent, giving an old argument, that “quacks” or whatever term they use, it might as well be “socialists” or “liberals” or “fascists,” for that matter, will mislead the ignorant public. The answer to misleading information is not suppression and censorship, which the fascists would have, but verifiable information, or at least balancing argument, and all of us are responsible for our choices.

If I don’t have enough information, it is my responsibility to obtain it, if the choice matters to me.

Unless my doctors have actually lied to me or were grossly incompetent (in which case all bets are off), my doctors will not be sued for malpractice if I die because I chose to follow a recommendation that did not succeed in protecting me.

This is the obvious truth about statins and heart disease. They are not miracle drugs, silver bullets, that, if taken, strongly prevent heart disease. The reduction in risk is roughly from 3% to 2%. Another way to put this is that if I don’t take statins, I might die, and if I take statins, I might die, and if I die we don’t know, from that whether the choice was correct.

There are comparisons being made with vaccination, and “anti-vaxxers.” Vaccination, as a general practice, has made a *drastic* difference in the rates of many serious diseases, but there are also problems. I had a friend who died because his daughter was given Sabin oral vaccine. He was maybe in his thirties and had never been vaccinated, contracted polio, and died from it. This was a rare event, and as a public policy, given that the vaccines have saved millions of lives, and that is not controversial, at least not to me, a decision can be made to tolerate some level of harm to a few.

However, what was missing in that situation was a careful review of family members, and informed consent by the whole family to the child’s vaccination.

There are physicians who work with patients who decline vaccination, not to condemn them, but respecting their choice, and keeping up communication, and when risk becomes high, these physicians find that patients are willing to take the risks of side effects.

Blaming the anti-vaxxers for poor educational outreach, accusing vaccine refusers of ignorance and child neglect, is not a solution, it will only harden opposition.

Medical fascism is not a sane path to better health care.

From what little I have seen of anti-vax information, there are some concerns that appear legitimate, and it should be easy to research these, thoroughly. Is it?

To be sure, one of the concerns is that safety studies were never fully completed. Why not? Fact: the drug companies are not going to perform those studies unless they must, and they would be the wrong manager of safety studies. We need systemic changes, we, the public, must take responsibility for supporting the best science. The system we have expects drug companies to shoulder that burden, and there are reasons for that, to be sure, for medicines that are not so likely to be useful, but . . . who watches the watchers? In theory, governmental agencies do this, but they can be a revolving door with industry lobbyists, where are the lobbyists for the public interest? The only ones I have seen are ones with an axe to grind already. We need facilitation of basic science, not predetermined political positions.

Most of what I have seen of anti-anti-vax discussions, is polemic and hysteria, itself. The risk of not vaccinating is normally low, in a vaccinated society. Yes, there is a possible risk, from what has become a rare disease, which must always be balanced against other risks, to be sane.

If giving poor medical advice is to be considered murder (as it was in a recent case where the advice was actually outrageous), then hundreds of experts, and thousands (or even millions through compliance) were possibly guilty of murder in the original advice on dietary fat and cholesterol. That advice has been modified and clarified over the years, but it is still seriously defective.

If a patient depends on statins for controlling atherosclerosis, and does not implement “life style adjustments,” the statin prescription might actually be causing harm. Some of those harmed will die. “Murder by Standard of Practice.”

Standards of Practice should be subject to continual review, with controversy recognized, not deprecated as “denialism.” Where objections are incorrect, that can be examined and addressed with care, not with blind certainty that what was recommended for a long must necessarily be right.

Semmelweiss was rejected because what his research found showed that doctors were transmitting puerpural fever to women giving birth, killing thousands of mothers, and that idea was so horrifying that it was rejected as not having any known mechanism. This was before Pasteur showed that bacteria could transmit disease, invisibly. It did not help that Semmelweiss himself was probably suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and became quite angry at being rejected, and extreme on his attacks on those rejecting his research. The lesson: just because someone is crazy (“conspiracy theorist” asserts insanity) does not show that they are wrong. Factual assertions should be checked, at least by somebody.

One of the problems in medical science is that media reports new research with lurid or exciting headlines that often do not reflect what is actually shown. So a paper that finds “there is no evidence for the benefit of statins for a certain population group,” becomes, “Study claims statins are useless.” Media want punchy headlines and “news you can use,” so they take information and massage it into what they think people want to read.

And we, the public, tolerate that and that makes us responsible for it. We could create reliable media, this is a horn I have been blowing for years. We don’t. Why not? Too much work, too much bother, and I think I’ll check Facebook or Apple News for something exciting, or watch the football game, or whatever floats my boat for a while, even if the stream is heading for a huge waterfall.

The patient example here was absolutely brilliant. The real problem of that patient was obvious. He was high risk, he had already had a heart attack! That is an extremely high risk patient, who made have needed a stent many years earlier. I’m not eager to have a stent put in, but if I have an actual heart attack, I’ll could easily be on my back in an operating room with a catheter in my heart and a cardiologist will look at the images and decide, on the spot, whether or not to insert one of those little beasties, and I am not so likely to second-guess him.

This poor fellow actually had a heart attack at 39, and obviously failed to take the warning seriously. He was very, very high risk, and became more so. He did nothing at all, at least nothing that is reported. He was extremely high risk! Statins are only a part of this picture, and his doctor recognized that. But since the story was about statin denialism, that fact is deprecated, given no real coverage. Instead the focus is on alleged sources of statin denialism, vague. There is no sign that this fellow read any of the “denialist” research. No, he listened to the radio, to discussion programs, and took away only a conspiracy theory, that he believed.

He suffered from denial, avoidance of reality, of what was really going on with his body, and he wanted to hear that this drug that he didn’t feel good taking was useless, but he did not then look for what would be more useful, and there is really no controversy that there are more useful interventions (and better measures of risk than cholesterol). It also looks to me like his original cardiac care was shoddy and incomplete. Did he have a cardiac cat scan or a stress test or other tests? Was he advised to maintain contact with his cardiologist? Did he have a cardiologist?

It was easy for his physician to write a statin prescription, but this is what the “statin skeptics” have been pointing out: Statins, if they are effective at all, are not powerfully effective to prevent heart disease (i.e, they are very unlike proven vaccinations). If they belong in a cardiac care regimen, it would not be as the foundation, as the core, the must-have. What belongs there is probably exercise (including, initially, monitored exercise. Here in the U.S., now and probably then, cardiac rehab would have been prescribed. It is fairly expensive, but also effective, if the patient realizes that they need to exercise, or their risk of death at any time becomes high, and then the patient continues to follow a program. A long-term program is not at all expensive, it can be free. So much walking, for example, so many times a week.

And then there is diet, and we need much more research on diet. It’s shocking how little is actually known; rather the field of nutritional science is full of “facts” that aren’t. They are ideas that became popular, with some scientific foundation, generally, but not enough to develop clear conclusions.

So exercise and diet. The actual causes and mechanisms of the development of atherosclerosis are not well understood. When we no more, it may become possible to design drugs with much more powerful effect than statins. If it is true that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease (and there are substantial claims of that), but is only, at best, an associated symptom of something else, then lowering cholesterol will not have much effect, if any, on disease progression. Statins also have other effects which may give some level of protection. The black and white arguments that yellow journalists love are “Statins are miracle drugs that save lives, except for people stupid enough to follow diet-book authors,” and “Statins are useless, and dangerous, and nobody should take them, and those that do are stupid blind followers or orthodoxy.”

It is not that reality is “somewhere in between,” and I would never suggest that “equal time” should be given to “two sides,” but rather that reality is not a position or point of view, and that it is never expressed fully in some simple-minded statement that attempts to shut off inquiry.

The fundamental problem, as seen long, long ago, is ignorance and attachment, combined. When we become more interested in reality, and trusting reality, rather than in promoting our own individual points of view, we will make progress, and the world will transform.

Boseley

Subpage of science-and-medicine/labos/
Butter nonsense: the rise of the cholesterol deniers
The Guardian, Tue 30 Oct 2018
Sarah Boseley

A group of scientists has been challenging everything we know about cholesterol, saying we should eat fat and stop taking statins. This is not just bad science – it will cost lives, say experts

Bosely leads with a snarky headline, and a tight set of assumptions presented as if fact. She chooses to call criticism of the cholesterol hypothesis “deniers” rather than “skeptics.” One by one:

  1. “Everything we know.” What do we know? Is popular opinion “what we know”? Are they challenging “everything we know,” or just some of it? New ideas in science are often presented as overturning “everything we know,” when they do no such thing. It is common that new ideas challenge, not what we know, but our ignorance, because “what we know” is necessarily incomplete. It may also incorporate errors, due to defective historical process that drew conclusions beyond what the data actually showed. The history of science is full of examples of this. Pointing this out is not an argument for any particular position, and my own expectation is that the mainstream is generally more right than wrong. But sometimes “mainstream errors” can be doozies with enormous human cost.
  2. “We should eat fat and stop taking statins.” Someone who says that is not functioning as a scientist, science does not tell us what to do. It gives us tested information on which we may base predictions of the possible or probable results of actions. Bosely is presenting an extremely shallow view. She is the Health Editor for the Guardian, and that is worrying me. I would expect better, but this is actually an editorial, not simple reporting, but presented as fact. What scientists allegedly are making this recommendation? Scientists and journalists also become book authors, and sell books, and that can create a conflict of interest. Bosely is an “award-winning” journalist. So is Gary Taubes. Who has done more research on diet, Bosely or Taubes? Who is taking a safe position and who is persisting in spite of flak?
  3. This is not just bad science. No, bad science is belief strong enough to suppress continued awareness of the possibility of error. Bad science can be”mainstream.” She is assuming that scientists are advocating conclusions, (what we “should” do) and she calls it “bad science,” because she obviously believes the conclusions she states are wrong.
  4. it will cost lives, say experts. So there are scientists, allegedly (I’m not saying she is incorrect and I will be looking for examples in the article), who are giving advice (which actually could qualify as bad science, because a scientist is not expert in what an individual should do), and then there are “experts” who think that advice will cost lives. That is not actually known. there are studies, and I have read some of them. It is speculative. Benefit from statins is generally found to be a risk reduction of death from a heart attack, but much less reduction in overall death rate, sometimes not significant.

In stating that, these experts are extrapolating from a presumed or studied risk factor, to outcomes, but human nutrition is complex, and so is our resp0nse to statins, and, further, even if some course of action might “cost lives,” — which may not be precisely defined, and which must mean increased risk — it might still be what people choose.

As an actual example, choosing not to take a statin might statistically increase risk of a heart attack by 1%, and so, one might imagine that in a treatment population, refusing the drug will increase death rates by 1%. but unless this is actually tried, in a real context, it may not be true and the real choice might even be life-saving. This depends on the alternative, which studies rarely cover.

Suppose that a population is given one of two sets of advice. first group, take a statin for ten years (and compliance is monitored). Second group, do an exercise program (which would also be monitored for ten years.) From what I have read, the exercise group could be expected to have a lower death rate, because exercise is far more effective at promoting heart health than statins. Further, someone taking statins may think that they are protected, when the reduction in death rate is only 1% (from 3% with placebo), and so may not take other measures (such as diet and exercise).

In my own history, what has shocked me is that I was prescribed statins, and, originally, years ago, there was no mention of an exercise program, i.e., disciplined, specific exercise. Yet it is common knowledge that an exercise program is a powerful response to cardiac risk (much more so than statins). To his credit, my cardiologist, more recently, recommending statins and an angiogram, also said “and I want to put you in cardiac rehab.” I did the rehab, set up a continuing program, and have put off the statins and the angiogram, pending better understanding. He actually understood and did not argue with me, and we continue communication over the issues.

Butter is back. Saturated fat is good for you. Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. Claims along these lines keep finding their way into newspapers and mainstream websites – even though they contradict decades of medical advice. There is a battle going on for our hearts and minds.

Boseley, I could claim, is a reality denialist. Let’s look at this.

  1. Butter is back. Is it? That is a description of a social condition. What is the history of the demonization of butter and saturated fats? Was it based on solid science? Or did studies, when actually done (guidelines predated the studies), show that butter consumption did not increase heart disease risk?
  2. Saturated fat is a natural food. Visiting Morocco, I saw how a local reacted to a package, maybe two pounds of sheep fat, aged in a traditional process. Our guide ate the whole thing with gusto. Craving fat is normal, it is a precious source not only of calories, because it is calorie-dense, but fat is also nutritionally essential (unlike carbohydrates). It is entirely possible that fat is good for you, but that needs more precise definition. In what context? For what goal? The studies that showed higher death rate from fat consumption were seriously flawed, study populations being cherry-picked. This is all well-known to the cholesterol skeptics, covered by Taubes in detail in GCBC and, I assume, other books. That studies were defective does not negate the conclusions, but . . . it does pull the rug out from under the argument that because some study found something, used to develop recommendations that were allowed to become dogma — which happened — therefore this is solid science, based on “scientific research.” Once the dogma was established, ongoing research became warped, in terms of what could obtain funding, what could be published in major journals, and publishing anything else was considered “dangerous,” just as Bosely and her “experts” are doing here. Again, that doesn’t mean they are wrong, but that something is off about the conversation.
  3. Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. Reality denialism. It is very obvious from the cholesterol and statin studies that cholesterol is “not the cause.” If it were the cause, major reductions in cholesterol would produce major reductions in disease incidence, and they do not. Rather, cholesterol levels are “associated” with disease incidence. They are “risk factors,” perhaps, which can be non-causal. It does not appear to me that causation has been established, and the true continued controversy over causation is a real issue. There is also controversy over how to translate cholesterol levels to estimated risk. It is fairly clear that total cholesterol is not so useful, and then there has been a continual series of refinements of this. Bosely glosses over all this, so far.
  4. Decades of medical advice is so much hot air, at least warmed at the time, not scientific evidence at all. Boseley is simply assuming that the advice was solidly based, when, if we go back and look at the actual advice, it was, at best, premature, and at worst, may have caused millions of premature deaths. Does she care? Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.
  5. There is a battle. Indeed. There is a battle between science, self-interest, and public interest, very complex, between real science and entrenched organizational positions, which almost always defend themselves to the bitter end, and this has been present for many years, and between questioning of authority and defense of it, and ego. Boseley, in her book, blames the marketers of “junk food.” In fact, much of what she says might find agreement with the “denialists.” Here is a review of the book by the publisher. Here are some Goodreads reviews. Boseley is not a deep thinker, I’m afraid. Her solution: calorie restriction, which is largely a failure as advice. Mixing up fat with sugar and highly processed carbs, she misses what does actually work, in the experience of many (and in studies, though studying diet is quite difficult).

According to a small group of dissident scientists, whose work usually first appears in minor medical journals, by far the greatest threat to our hearts and vascular systems comes from sugar, while saturated fat has been wrongly demonised.

Instead of informing us as to fact, like a good journalist, and letting us make our conclusions, she presents a pile of interpretations. It is not a specific group of scientists, and she does not name them, or provide sources for what they actually say. But it is a “small” group, and they are “dissidents,” and their work “usually” first appears in “minor medical journals.” She puts in “usually,” I assume because it is not always so, and most medical work appears first in minor journals. The point is to discredit, with an ad hominem argument, what they say, but what she first gives us is not particularly controversial. That is all well-established, if we review the literature instead of depending on a subset of experts.

There are many signs in the article that Boseley has an axe to grind. For example:

. . . Mainstream scientists usually keep their disquiet to themselves. But last week, some broke cover over what they see as one medical journal’s support for advocates of a high-fat diet. More than 170 academics signed a letter accusing the British Journal of Sports Medicine of bias, triggered by an opinion piece that it ran in April 2017 calling for changes to the public messaging on saturated fat and heart disease. Saturated fat “does not clog the arteries”, said the piece, which was not prompted by original research. “Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food,” wrote the cardiologist Aseem Malhotra and colleagues. The BHF criticised the claims as “misleading and wrong”.

There are only 169 signatures to that letter, and 55 did not give an academic affiliation. The error is a piece of evidence that Bosely was looking for whatever she could say to strengthen the anti-denialist impression, and weaken the skeptical claims.

Saturated fat does not “clog the arteries.” Nobody with specific knowledge believes that. The argument has become that cholesterol somehow causes faster or more extensive buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries. This happens in the larger arteries, not in small ones, but the image has been promoted of fat building up in arteries. Fat never enters the blood. “Chronic inflammatory disease” is basic science, and, in fact, everyone agrees that exercise is the best treatment, and then there is controversy over what is the best food. So what was “wrong”?

The history of the cholesterol hypothesis is replete with confident recommendations by organizations like the British Heart Foundation that later turn out to be far from the mark. The history of diabetes involved political decisions that favored the use of insulin over reducing carbohydrates, insulin was sold on the basis that, with it, you could eat whatever you liked. No need to “deprive yourself.” No problem with sugar and refined carbs. And high-fat diets, eaten for millenia by some cultures, were demonized even for diabetics, on the basis that they had not been adequately tested. But the recommendations being made had also not been adequately tested? What was the difference?

And then we get into conspiracy theory territory. My own view is that no formal conspiracy is necessary, just a lot of actions that create social pressures to conform, to “go along to get along.”

In any case, the sports medicine journal article:

Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions

The abstract:

Coronary artery disease pathogenesis and treatment urgently requires a paradigm shift. Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong. A landmark systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies showed no association between saturated fat consumption and (1) all-cause mortality, (2) coronary heart disease (CHD), (3) CHD mortality, (4) ischaemic stroke or (5) type 2 diabetes in healthy adults.1 (2015) Similarly in the secondary prevention of CHD there is no benefit from reduced fat, including saturated fat, on myocardial infarction, cardiovascular or all-cause mortality.2 (2014) It is instructive to note that in an angiographic study of postmenopausal women with CHD, greater intake of saturated fat was associated with less progression of atherosclerosis whereas carbohydrate and polyunsaturated fat intake were associated with greater progression.3 (2004)

I have linked to the sources cited and added the year of publication.

This is an editorial, hence it makes an overall judgment. As something challenging “popular belief,” it can be expected to arouse hostile response, it is rare that popular belief disappears from some single challenge! I find this article stunning. What was the response?

Implausible discussions in saturated fat ‘research’; definitive solutions won’t come from another million editorials (or a million views of one) August 2018

[response to] Open letter from academics, practitioners, students and members of the public to the British Medical Association, the British Medical Journal publishing group, and the British Association of Sports and Exercise Medicine regarding editorial governance of the British Journal of Sports Medicine October 2018

Guest Post: Does the BMJ publishing group turn a blind eye to anti-statin, anti-dietary guideline & low-carb promoting editorial bias? October 2018

The open letter. (read on 3/2/2019, archived)

My quick summary: the issues remain legitimately controversial. 

Labos

under construction

Subpage of science-and-medicine

The Cholesterol Controversy

Christopher Labos on February 15, 2019

He starts out with a conclusion. He does acknowledge that there was controversy, but claims it is time to consider it closed. I see a problem in that introduction. First of all, do we know the etiology, the cause and course of arteriosclerosis? Is cholesterol a cause or an associated “risk factor”? What do we know and how do we know it? What is possible, what is probable, and how do we assess these? These are questions I have in mind as I go over the article. If some measure is only a risk factor, associated but not causative, altering the measure will not necessarily reduce the actual risk.

The photo caption:

Two bags of fresh frozen plasma. The bag on the left was obtained from a patient with hypercholesterolemia, and is cloudy with undissolved cholesterol particles.

Source. No information on cholesterol levels. Okay, but the significance? So blood with lots of cholesterol looks different than blood with little. So?

A recent article in The Guardian raised an interesting question. Is cholesterol denialism a valid form of skepticism or pseudoscience? Is there valid debate surrounding the benefit of cholesterol medication or is the evidence and the scientific consensus clearly on one side of the issue?

It is true that we argue about cholesterol far more than the other cardiovascular risk factors. It is hard today to find anyone who doubts the harmful effects of smoking, diabetes, hypertension or the lack of exercise. So why is there a cholesterol controversy but unanimity on other risk factors?

Okay, the Guardian article, our subpage.

I found value there, but only by searching for papers she referred to and related documents. The article itself was next to useless except as a great example of assuming the status quo is better than whatever is proposed to replace it. If lots of people criticize something, and if danger is asserted without evidence other than established belief, well, dangerous ideas should not be allowed to be published. I find it so ironic that advocates of evidence-based medicine, allegedly scientists, will declare criticism of what they believe “denialism,” when skepticism and criticism is essential to science even if later shown to be wrong. And who decides when later is? There a many who appear to believe that they represent the “consensus,” but they do not actually measure consensus. Signatures for the open letter were solicited on a blog, and there were

Bosely claimed “More than 170 academics signed a letter.” This shows what? The actual solicitation and signatures were not limited to academics, nor by field of study. There are currently 169 signatures, but if we include the original authors, it becomes 173. Looking at affiliations and counting those that do not show an academic affiliation, there are roughly 55, leaving 128. This was meaningless, in fact, given the population involved. Yes, it would show that 169 people agreed with the letter, but out of how many? Science is not a vote and votes are meaningless, unless conditions are set for it to truly represent a community. This was on the order of a petition requesting investigation of charges of bias.

The essence here is a conspiracy theory, that journals are publishing articles favoring low-carb diets and the like as a conspiracy to promote some crank ideas. Perhaps book authors are pimping fads to make money selling books. Boseley, however is also a book author, with her own advice. Perhaps she has a conflict of interest? Were it not for her implication that others are promoting dangerous ideas to sell books, I wouldn’t comment on it. But she is implying that, which is a huge insult to any academic, as many of the cholesterol skeptics are.

I have concluded that Boseley had an axe to grind, there are way too many signals of high bias.

Why is there a cholesterol controversy? It is very obvious why. What is controversial? He does not begin with a definition. Cholesterol is found inside arterial plaque. That is not controversial. What is controversial is whether or not cholesterol causes the plaque, and, further, how blood levels influence this process or exacerbate it, and, further back, whether or not dietary cholesterol leads to harmful blood cholesterol, or saturated fats, or all fats, depending on what point in history we go back to.

Very many of the original cholesterol hypotheses (i.e, there are more than one) have been disconfirmed by more careful study, but the attack on skepticism has remained constant, never recognizing that, at least in some ways, the skeptics were correct. For decades, Dr. Atkins “nutritional approach,” he called it (not “diet” it is actually not restrictive, but prescriptive, eat what he suggests and you may not crave the things he suggests be avoided), it was called a “fad diet,” though it was actually quite old and whether it worked or not did not depend on its age, he was called a quack, etc., etc….. But when I told the nurse at my doctor’s office that I was starting out on Atkins, she had one comment, “Oh, that works!” And then that the Atkins diet works is ascribed to many asserted causes that are not necessarily real for the diet as it is, and misinformation about Atkins abounds. It is not a high-protein diet. Atkins was correct, and eventually funded research to test his program against other common ones. Surprise! In spite of being high-fat, Atkins eaters improved cardiac risk factors. And then, of course, he was accused of influencing the outcome of the study, but studies funded by companies with billions of dollars at stake are just good science? He had chosen a skeptical professor to fund. Smart guy, rest his soul.

Labos goes into the history of other controversies, that we allegedly forget. He covers  disagreement over the harm of tobacco, blood pressure, the discovery of cholesterol, and then has

One of the earliest researchers in cholesterol was Nikolay Anichkov who in 1913 reported that rabbits fed pure cholesterol dissolved in sunflower oil developed atherosclerotic lesions, whereas the control rabbits fed just sunflower oil did not. At the time, this research had little impact and its importance was only recognized in retrospect. As Daniel Steinberg states:

If the full significance of his findings had been appreciated at the time, we might have saved more than 30 years in the long struggle to settle the cholesterol controversy and [Anichkov] might have won a Nobel Prize. Instead, his findings were largely rejected or at least not followed up. Serious research on the role of cholesterol in human atherosclerosis did not really get under way until the 1940s.

And just what is the significance? Dietary cholesterol does not cause atherosclerosis. If his findings were “rejected,” that is tragic. Research findings should be respected, and problems only arise in interpretation.

Cholesterol is found in atherosclerotic deposits. That is not controversy, but is this cause or is it effect? And how does the development and progression of such deposits relate to diet and to blood cholesterol level?.

Laboratories that tried to reproduce Anichkov’s results using dogs or rats failed to show that a cholesterol rich diet caused atherosclerosis. This likely occurred because dogs and other carnivores handle cholesterol differently from rabbits and other herbivores This led many to dismiss Anichkov’s results on the grounds that rabbits were not a good a good model for human physiology and that his research was likely irrelevant to humans.

Which still holds as an objection. Rats often are close to human response. So maybe rats are reactive to the cholesterol they were given, or the taste stressed them so much that they developed the arterial lesions that lead to initiation of the processes that build up plaque.

The criticism leveled against his research was not entirely unfounded.

On the one hand, I’d like to congratulate him for admitting the obvious, but what is rather obvious to me is that he still thinks it was at least somewhat unfounded, he still thinks this is relevant to human atherosclerosis, he has an axe to grind. Otherwise, without that, he would have skipped over this irrelevancy.

We have seen countless times how animal research does not translate into humans and to accept the “lipid hypothesis” based purely on Anichkov’s work would have been premature.

To say the least.

It should have been an invitation for others to pursue this new line of inquiry.

“Should have.” By what standard? This is obvious to me: Labos believes the lipid hypothesis. That’s okay. But it means that he is not a neutral judge, unless he could truly and consciously set aside what he believes, to study and make sure he understands what he is criticizing. He would, if interested in science, be attempting to prove himself wrong, not right. But, no, he’s convinced he is right and is only going through this exercise to prove that it’s totally silly to believe anything other than what he believes about cholesterol. He is pseudoskeptical about cholesterol skepticism. But, again, the conversation can have value.

Eventually in the 1950s John Gofman would begin his research in lipoproteins and determine that there were different types of cholesterol. Today of course we acknowledge that low-density particles like LDL are atherogenic whereas high-density particles like HDL are not. Gofman demonstrated this in the 1956 Cooperative Study of Lipoproteins and Atherosclerosis although the distinction of LDL and HDL would only come later.

Notice how fact is mixed with conclusions. Is LDL “atherogenic,” or is it merely an associated risk factor, or, third possibility, it has some effect on some more powerful, more critical cause? And notice, the early cholesterol hypothesis did not discriminate between HDL and LDL, and even deeper distinctions are moving into common practice.

I very much appreciate the link provided. The theme here is, ostensibly, “Why is there a controversy.” That link is to a review of the study. From that:

The Report provided an unprecedented majority and minority statement of the investigators. The group agreed that there was predictive value in the lipid measures. It diverged in interpretation.

Why was there controversy then? It’s fairly obvious. Social issues, and probably a drive to get “useful results” which can warp science. That page is part of HEART ATTACK PREVENTION A History of Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology which I intend to use thoroughly. But not yet.

Despite the controversy that surrounded the Cooperative Study of Lipoproteins and Atherosclerosis, there was evidence that cholesterol (regardless how you measured it) was correlated with coronary disease. The work of Carl Muller studying patients with familial hypercholesterolemia was also largely supportive of this link. The work of Brown and Goldstein and their isolation of the LDL receptor would prove the genetic cause of this disease and win the Nobel Prize, but this work was still decades off. However, it could be argued, with some validity, that individuals with a genetic cause for their high cholesterol were not representative of the general population. Nevertheless, by the mid-1950s there was enough interest in this new potential risk factor that large-scale epidemiologic studies were launched.

The launching of those studies was appropriate, given the evidence available. We do need to remember that correlation is not causation. Muller (article linked above) does not clearly relate to the issue under discussion. Of course there is “some validity.” I notice, again, how Labos is organizing his post. I have seen this from fanatics many times: they will assert a series of weak facts that they consider connected, and then they will assert that the preponderance of the evidence (which appears to be the number of facts claimed) demonstrates that their belief is therefore true. It is not the collection of evidence that is the problem, exactly, but the conclusions drawn from it. But then Labos does go closer to the heart of it.

The Seven Countries Study has certainly been one of the most notorious studies of the period and its originator, Ancel Keys, has become a popular target for attack. The main thrust of the attack is that he cherry picked the data in order to obfuscate the truth that saturated fats are unrelated to heart disease. The reality is slightly more nuanced and a detailed review of the Seven Countries Study highlighting its strengths and limitations can be found here for anyone who is interested. Suffice it to say, the main argument that can be leveled against the attempt to deny the role of cholesterol in heart disease is to point out that other studies have shown similar results.

Now, Labos appears to mindread Keys, which I would not do. But perhaps he is merely reflecting the claims. This is obvious: the Seven Countries were selected from a much larger possible set, and I’ve seen results plotted including the larger set. The alleged strong correlation disappears. Did Keys do this deliberately? Maybe. Maybe he had strong political motives, maybe something else. However, the link is to a remarkable document, a detailed defense of Keys that takes into account the critiques.

“Other studies have shown similar results” requires an assessment of “similarity,” which can easily be biased. Further, Labos is slipping from correlation (which Keys claimed and which may exist), subtly into causation, i.e., “role.” There is an abundance of evidence, almost too much. But what would a neutral review (if that is possible, I’m not sure) conclude? And, more to my interest (and Taubes as well, by the way) what research could be designed to definitively answer open questions?

If the opinion is spread that the question is closed, it has already been answered with overwhelming evidence, there will be two outcomes: one is some level of suppression of research and discussion, and the other is a hardening of positions. Nobody likes to be told that they are wrong, everyone knows they are wrong, and they should just shut up and, and what? Die? They are called “die-hards.” People who are willing to question authority, the popular wisdom are precious, if they do not go too far and attempt to oppress others. There is a danger in challenging the status quo. There are few who will welcome difficult questions. They condemned Socrates to death for asking inconvenient questions.

Semmelweiss, on puerperal fever, was right, and was rejected for two reasons: his study showed that physicians were causing the death of patients, many of them, and he also became highly caustic. The personal defects of critics, if we care about science and human welfare, must be set aside to examine claims. This cuts in all directions. I will be reviewing the document on Keys’ Seven Countries study and checking the information there against what is written about Keys.

Studies like the Ni-Hon-San study and the Honolulu Heart Study examined the rate of heart disease in Japanese men living in Japan, Hawaii and San Francisco. They found that compared to the men living in Japan, Japanese men who had migrated to Hawaii had higher cholesterol levels and higher rates of heart disease. Japanese men who migrated to San Francisco had still higher rates. The not-unreasonable conclusion was that the increase in heart disease was environmentally mediated and that as these Japanese men adopted the diet and lifestyle of their adopted country, their cardiovascular risk rose accordingly.

I will need to look at those, but Taubes, for example, attributes the rise in heart disease to the common modern diet, and what is stated here does not show that fat was the causal factor, nor does it show that cholesterol is causal, which is the substantial factual issue. If cholesterol is not causal, but merely associated, then treatments to reduce cholesterol are unlikely to work, except possibly through some associated effect. One of the predictions of the cholesterol hypothesis is that reducing cholesterol will reduce atherogenesis, and a strong effect would be expected, not a weak one. What is the reality?

Finally, we cannot forget the impact of the Framingham Heart Study. Begun in 1948 and still ongoing, this project has provided many insights into the causes of heart diseases. It established that risk factors like cholesterol, hypertension, smoking, lack of exercise, and obesity all affected the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, it coined the term “risk factor”.

Suffice it to say, whatever criticisms one wants to level against the Seven Countries Study, there was plenty of other data suggesting a link between cholesterol and heart diseases. Not unsurprisingly, researchers eventually resolved to try and do something about it.

Looking forward to seeing what Labos writes about this.

(to be continued!)

Science and Medicine

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately reading about fat in the diet, cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and statins. Some story:

Sometime around 1990 or so, I was diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia and a low-fat diet was prescribed. It’s difficult for an individual to assign cause and effect, but that diet coincided with a period of increase in my weight, and something else happened. Sometime around 2007 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Both of these may be connected with “low fat diet,” but the state of research on this is poor.

By the middle of the first decade of this century, my wife went on an Atkins diet. My physician, noting my high cholesterol, recommended the South Beach Diet, which could be called Atkins Light. I read up on them, and it appears to me that Atkins had more science behind it. (Both Atkins and Agatston were cardiologists). It was called a “fad diet,” but was actually quite old — my physician pointed to a Diabetes textbook from the 1920s that considered a “low-starch diet” an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Eliminating most fat from a diet will predictably lead to replacing it with something, and unless one goes high-protein, it will be carbs. In the 1990s, it was pasta, I had never eaten much pasta before, but it became a staple.

On Atkins, not only did I lose weight rather efficiently, but I was now eating my favorite foods. When I was a kid, they would say to me, “Have some bread with your butter.” My favorite food, besides steak, was baked potato with butter and sour cream, emphasis on the last two.

Eventually, I came across Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories, and read the story of how it came to pass that low-fat diets were recommended, and, as well, that cholesterol came be be considered dangerous in food, and cholesterol levels “risk factors” for heart disease.

And then that one could prevent heart disease using statins.

It’s a horrifying story, where the scientific method was not followed, where poor studies were used to create a drastic change in diet, and it is possible that this cost millions of premature deaths.

Or not.

What’s the truth? How would we know? Under this page, I intend to collect individual studies. Is this related to cold fusion? Well, peripherally. Before Taubes wrote GCBC, he wrote Bad Science, about cold fusion. As a science journalist, he had occasion to look at the idea that salt in the diet was dangerous, and found himself looking at developing beliefs that were not adequately tested, that turned into standard medical advice without balanced consideration. And then he did the same with fat in the diet.

There are parallel issues with cold fusion. Widespread “scientific opinion” developed through information cascades and with diet, weak associational or epidemiological studies, rather than solid science. Wihen it was proposed that fat in the diet was causing heart disease, it came to be seen as a health emergency, and considered it would be foolish to wait for more solid science, because waiting, people would (it was believed) continue to die unnecessarily, and (it was also believed), removing fat from the diet could not possibly do harm. After all, weren’t we too fat? And aren’t we what we eat?

I’m not going into all the details here, but the original fat/cholesterol hypotheses was far, far from reality. Study after study failed to confirm it, but there was always an excuse and the cholesterol hypothesis was a moving target.

At first it was believed that eggs were dangerous foods, to be avoided, because they have high cholesterol content. Eventually, those recommendations almost entirely disappeared. Cholesterol in the diet does not cause blood cholesterol.

Originally, as to fat, it was all fats, then it moved to saturated fats (such as butter). When it was found that butter consumption did not correlate with heart disease, it got more and more complex, various kinds of fat, etc.

The cholesterol hypothesis (relating to blood levels) started out as all cholesterol. Even though total cholesterol continues to be used by many, within the last decade or so, fractionating the cholesterol came into fashion, so we ended up with “good cholesterol” (HDL) and “bad cholesterol” (LDL) and a consideration of the ratio, and then it got even more complex.

I was told by my physician that cholesterol was actually a relatively poor measure as to risk. I had familial high cholesterol, my mother had high cholesterol, and died in her mid-nineties from congestive heart failure, not from atherosclerosis. My doctor wanted me to see a cardiologist and told me that he would not be able to find one who would not want to put me on statins. I did see a cardiologist, had a stress test (no problems), and continued to monitor my blood lipids. I also generally had C-reactive protein measured, which is apparently a better predictor, and, when insurance would not cover a calcium score CAT scan, I paid for it. My Agatston score was in the 26th percentile for men my age. So 74% of men had more calcification than I. I was not worried.

Fast forward about ten years. In my seventies now, I flew to my son’s wedding, and as I was getting ready to fly, I had a strange sensation in my chest. I would have gone to the hospital, but I would have missed the flight and my son’s wedding, very important to me. So I flew, and when I got back, went immediately to my primary care physician and he sent me back to the cardiologist for another stress test. Some abnormalities (minor, actually) showed up, so they immediately scheduled a nuclear stress test, I think it was the next day.

Result: major blockage, showing up under stress only. So I was able to get into cardiac rehab, and started an exercise program. I’m still doing that. No heart attack yet, I carry a pulse oximeter and  nitroglycerin just in case. I have never used it.

The cardiologist, of course, recommended two things: an angiogram and a statin. I declined the angiogram until I could become better informed. He understood and actually appreciated that. I obtained the statin prescription and on something like the first day, I accidentally took a double dose and felt miserable. It was a high dose. That’s meaningless, except that I realized I simply did not want to take the drug.

Statins function to lower cholesterol, primarily. There is a substantial rate of complications (and that is controversial and I am not convinced it has been adequately studied). However, statins are sold on the idea of a 30% reduction in risk. What is not said is that for people who have not had a heart attack, this may be a 1% absolute risk reduction (from 3% to 2%), and it appears that, at least in many studies, there is no reduction in death rate, which would imply that statins might be reducing heart attacks, all right, but participants were dying from something else instead.

I also looked into angiograms and the placement of stents. Having the procedure (which is quite invasive — and expensive!) apparently, for a relatively normal population, not having had a heart attack, does not improve survival rates. The procedure (angiogram with possible stent placement) can be life-saving if one is in critical condition, but may be overkill when one is merely at some level of risk from age and some level of arteriosclerosis.

I’ve mentioned some “facts” above. Are they facts? What do the studies actually show? I’ve been reading off and on about this for years, but have never done an organized study. That’s what I’m starting here. I’ve been following the blog of Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, a Scottish physician and very good writer, calling himself a sceptic. The pseudoskeptic trolls I’ve been following have attacked him, which is how I found him.

He encourages open discussion and criticism on his blog. The other day, there was a link placed to the Science Based Medicine blog, The Cholesterol Controversy, by Christopher Labos. It’s a recent post, February 15, 2019.

The subhead:

Why is cholesterol so much more controversial than the other cardiac risk factors? A review of cholesterol’s troubled and contentious history might help us understand where many of the cholesterol controversies originated… and why it’s time to let them pass into
history.

He seems to be more willing to actually discuss the issues than many I’ve seen, which just assume the “consensus.” So I’m staring here.

Subpage studies