Sunday, August 13, 2006

In case you feel you didn't get your RDA of SHAM today.

Did an interesting interview--a podcast--with the New England Skeptical Society this past week. Second time around with them, for me. Click here to download and listen in. The format is nice, because I really get a chance to "stretch out" a bit, rather than having to worry about condensing key points down to sound-bites due to time constraints. You'll have to endure about 27 minutes of un-SHAM-related content--I couldn't figure out how to bypass the first part of the show in the link--but I think you'll find that it's interesting stuff. Quite possibly more interesting than the part devoted to yours truly....

12 comments:

Two Write Hands said...

As one of the faithful, I can't believe you signed off of the program without even a mention of Marilyn R. Barry or the reviews at Amazon! Talk about a missed opportunity.

Steve Salerno said...

2Write, listening again last night (i.e. after I wrote the post), I couldn't believe a lot of things. For one thing--retrenching a bit on what I wrote here--I couldn't believe how much time, energy and sheer verbiage a person could expend in making a simple point. Sheesh!

But you're right. The Mysterious Case of MRB was on my list of things to work into the conversation. I just got so caught up in blathering on about other topics that I never got around to it. An unfortunate oversight.

Rodger Johnson said...

Excuse 2Write's taunting about your oversight of MRB ... she's not been taking her meds like the doctor perscribed.

As 2Write and I sat and listened to the Skeptics, it dawned on me that podcasting has brought us full circle. Like our grandparents huddled around their radio listening to Orwell's, "War of the Worlds," we sat and listened to Salerno on SHAM.

Are you gonna hook up the other lady on the panel with the life coach charging $100 an hour for a romp between the sheets and some "life coaching" advice? :)

Steve Salerno said...

Yanno, Rodg, I realize that you're being glib--about the lady and the life coach (sounds somewhat like a Disney film)--but if you think about it, what incredible and easy opportunities for perverse enterprise today's ardor for self-help provides! Women who would *never dream* of engaging a male prostitute will nonetheless fall into the same basic arrangement through the vehicle of coaching. Just goes to show that when the climate is "right," such that people let down their guards, the mind can rationalize just about anything.

Two Write Hands said...

I was serious.

One spotlight review from Amazon prompted a woman to call me at work. She was researching a very famous author. The spotlight review of an anthology of this author’s work criticized the anthology for omitting one of the author’s more controversial pieces—a three-part serial supposedly run in our publication around 1921. The review gave titles for each section and a brief description of the plot. Long story short, the serial doesn’t exist. The lady was heartbroken, wanting desperately to obtain copies of the piece. The review was presented as factual, and it wasn’t easy convincing her that it was all a fabrication. She wondered what kind of motive there might be for writing that kind of review. I didn’t have an answer. It’s possible she even believes I am just unwilling to get the copies for her.

I admit there were times I thought you might be going off the deep end, Steve, but the potential conspiracy against SHAM isn’t the only thing that smells fishy at Amazon.

Cosmic Connie said...

I just listened to the interview, and I think Steve did pretty well. I agree with him on the Amazon issues, but I don't think this was the proper forum to focus on Amazon. IMO, that's too important to just be another point among many.

I think in general Steve accomplished the real goal of this interview: he publicized his book. He tied most of the points he made to points he had made in his book. So, Steve, your agent and publisher should be happy, anyway! :-)

For reasons of my own, I smiled when the talk turned to "American Idol"...

PS -- I once had an unhappy experience of my own with a person claiming to be a "life coach"...I rant about it on my CC web site.

Steve Salerno said...

Much thanks, CosCon. You are hereby relieved of the duty to read, listen to or otherwise assimilate anything else I may do in the interest of promoting SHAM. You've paid your dues....

Cosmic Connie said...

I'm relieved of duty? But that would mean I couldn't read this blog anymore, since it too exists to promote SHAM. :-)

Actually, Steve, there is one major area on which I do disagree with you -- and I was reminded of this by some points you made in your interview -- and that's the area of alternative / complementary medicine. I agree that there's a lot of hokey stuff out there, but I have some big issues with the AMA and the FDA (and the big pharmaceutical companies as well). I sure don't want the government -- or the AMA, which has its own agenda -- taking complete control over what kind of vitamins or other supplements I take.

But hey, we all can't agree on everything. I just wanted to make this point so people wouldn't think I was being too fawning, LOL.

Also, don't tell the skeptics, but I did bypass most of their stuff by "fast-forwarding" -- i.e., taking my mouse and moving the little indicator button forward on my Quick-Time player thingie till I got to your part.

Steve Salerno said...

My quibble with CAM is rooted in my belief that "medicine" or any kind of treatment should be based on....something. When I do call-in shows on this theme, invariably callers will remind me that the conventional medical establishment has killed its share of Americans through surgical mistakes (or overdone/unnecessary surgery), bad prescription drugs, etc. Certainly there is some truth to that; I myself have written critically about the medical establishment and its foibles. But at least established treatment modalities are based on a body of evidence. They become part of the accepted course of clinical treatment only after controlled studies, significant refinements, peer review, meta-analysis of the data and literature, etc. What does alt-med have going for it other than a lot of anecdotal hoohaw--some of which is almost surely made up, and much of which is promoted by thoroughly unscrupulous con men?

As I say in SHAM, the fact that conventional medical science doesn't have all the answers doesn't mean that alt-med has any answers. I also like the quote from one of my sources (I forget which) that goes something like this: "There's no such thing as alternative medicine. It's either medicine or it isn't."

RevRon's Rants said...

Sorry to divert the focus of the blog, Steve, but you've touched upon a topic in which I have some experience and significant interest. Having spent several years working in a medical research facility, I discovered that all too many of those "controlled" studies were actually controlled not by the dictates of clean science, but rather by the financial interests of those who were funding the studies, and frequently at the cost of scientific objectivity. Study results published were all-too often exactly what the funding companies wanted to see, with data contrary to those results being disqualified and subsequently deleted from consideration.

More recently, we were deeply involved in a project focusing upon the FDA's pending reversal of the moratorium on the use of silicone breast implants. The "significant refinements" which the manufacturers touted were actually only refinements to their marketing strategies and the narrowing of the criteria which defined valid data. The "narrowing" involved nothing more than the exclusion of data which did not support the manufacturers' claims of safety from leakage and longevity of the products. Furthermore, study participants who actually suffered untoward effects directly attributable to the implants saw their submitted information - including formally filed complaints - literally disappear from official records.

As to peer review, the vast majority of "peers" offering anecdotal information were plastic surgeons. Although they were required to state that they had no financial interest in the manufacturers, each acknowledged to having performed hundreds (or thousands) of enhancement surgeries, using said manufacturers' products. At a conservative average of $5,000 per augmentation performed, it would seem that each surgeon had significant financial incentive for maintaining availability of the devices.

Clearly, we need some kind of oversight regulating products we use to treat our bodies. It is my feeling, however, that the current system is far too badly corrupted by influences that are at variance with our collective well-being to be trusted with the task of regulating the medical products industry.

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks for weighing in, Ron; you make some good points that, yes, I've heard raised in one form or another. Clearly this is a very controversial topic, encompassing many viewpoints (and many strong feelings). And clearly the "medical establishment" isn't exactly pristine, either, when it comes to the patients' best interests. Anyone else have any input?

Cosmic Connie said...

Well, I'd like to hear some hard evidence from some of the really out-there "healers" who advertise in the metaphysical rags -- you know, those folks who do things like ear candling, chakra balancing, soul retrieval, etc. I think most of the regulars here can agree *that* stuff is pretty silly, at best. :-)

On a more serious note, my big "issue" is that I think consumers should have an informed choice about matters related to health care. The key word here is "informed," and, yes, there are lots of unscrupulous folks in CAM whose "information" cannot be trusted. But do we really want all of the info on, say, nutritional supplements, to be filtered through the AMA...or Pfizer, for that matter? And do we want our laws and regulations in regard to these supplements to reflect the agendas of the big drug companies?

I'm pretty satisfied with the current system of having "not evaluated or approved by the FDA" disclaimers and the like on vitamin and supplement labels. And I think there should be standards of purity, etc. I just don't think we need to completely dismiss all alternatives to allopathic healing methods. And to a certain degree, I think it's good that some Western docs are becoming a little more open to non-allopathic approaches.

However, my openness to "alternatives" will not stop me from continuing to make fun of the alternatives that I, personally, think are wacko. :-)