The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Agency of Pseudo-Skepticism & Cultivated Ignorance

Oh the Quackery!

Fake medical skeptics must realize that instructing someone from a position of scientific authority, claim to facts or likelihood, to not undertake a treatment or protocol, constitutes quackery as well.
Americans are successfully employing supplements to improve their well being, and as well are increasingly sharing this success with others. As this industry inflection point unfolds, it is such a joy to witness the trolls of pretend science scoffing angrily from their parents’ basements. A wage well earned.

In a November 2017 Business Insider article journalist Erin Brodwin tendered copious amounts of medical advice concerning the supplement industry, and in particular which supplements one should and should not be taking. For example, I should be taking zinc and magnesium she instructs, but not vitamins C, cobalamine (B12), NADH (B3) nor l-methylfolate (B9). She expertly opines that most all this constitutes “pills and powders which are ineffective and sometimes dangerous”, and follows this modus absens scientific claim with an even more amazing claim, that “[All/unnamed] Public health experts recommend that people stay away from supplements altogether.” Let’s be clear – this constitutes a medical treatment advisement to me based upon a psychic diagnosis on the part of a pretend medical professional appealing to unnamed scientific authority. No more, no less. I lost count of how many times Erin cited the size of the supplement industry ($37 billion) in the article – as if this revenue turnover, which would simply inflate four-fold in price if the pharmaceutical-regulatory industry gained control of it, immediately in and of itself served to condemn such well-being management activity. As it turned out, Erin Brodwin was not simply wrong – but the medical advice she offered up to me in this article, is the same as that which has served to impart significant harm to my life for decades. In this article she was acting in the role of a quack, plain and simple.

I contend that the majority of suffering experienced by especially our US population, stems from a lack of available health knowledge on the part of its average citizen. Shill agency or no, knowledge which is squelched in the media by such fake medical skeptics as Erin Brodwin. Millions suffer, she gets a pharma-guaranteed celebrity boost to her career. Fake medical skeptics must realize, that instructing someone from a self-claimed position of scientific authority, set of ‘facts’ or even probability, that a treatment is ineffective/harmful/quackery – constitutes the making of a medical recommendation as to diagnoses, cures and appropriate treatments. Instructing someone that, not administering a treatment or arguably beneficial approach, constitutes the right medical treatment for them – is pretending to be a medical professional and offering unskilled medical advice – even if offered to a group of individuals. One cannot simultaneously make an accusation of ‘ineffective and/or dangerous’ and then qualify the accusation with the de rigueur ‘there are only anecdotes of its effectiveness’ permissive apologetic. This is dishonesty in inference, and in itself constitutes the most harm-imparting form of quackery.

Information that constitutes medical advice [is] the provision of a professional’s [or poseur’s thereof] opinion about what action an individual should or should not take with regard to their health…

Dana C. McWay, Legal and Ethical Aspects of Health Information Management1

If I could sue the skeptic-quacks who instructed me through highly publicized media releases, purported to be ‘communicating the science’ of medicine, that the following list (see ‘The Quackery’ below) was quackery – I would sue them for millions for the harm they created in my life over decades of suffering – through wrong diagnosis and erroneous treatment. An example of just such a quack-study can be found in this May 2019 ‘publication’, in the Annals of Internal Medicine no less (was simply a press release in reality): Chen F, Du M, Blumberg JB, et al. Association Among Dietary Supplement Use, Nutrient Intake, and Mortality Among U.S. Adults: A Cohort Study. A study wherein a student at Tufts University advises an entire national population as to a medical/health protocol they should not undertake (modus absens). The study was based upon death statistics among large cohorts who recalled ever taking a vitamin pill in their life, and what food they ate over 6, two year intervals. Not to mention recalling how much copper and 30 other nutrients that food had in it. Of course those who are still living are going to recall that this longevity is because they ‘ate healthy’ – this is how self-deception works in humans, and this study sought to exploit that foible. In other words, its analysis bore the agency and student conflict-of-interest (seeking to impress potential future employers) which sought to exploit noise-infused cohort stat-hacking bullshit. No wonder the study and its data are all hidden behind a paywall. An extraordinary claim to an absence (a monumental task of inference), affecting hundreds of millions of people through a medical diagnosis and treatment recommendation – and they don’t want to show the data or study. Right. A notorious trick of those seeking legislative rule (and extractive earnings) over American lives and rights.

Those seeking to keep Americans chronically sick – knowing that nutrient is being diluted from our food more and more each decade,2 they insist that all nutrient must come from our food alone, and then are mystified as to why Americans compulsively consume more calories each decade as well.

The incumbent weight battle and health harm were all imparted to me through instruction as purported medical and science aficionados, that the below approaches were quackery. When indeed all the below protocols turned out to be highly beneficial; critical in the recovery and maintenance of my well being. Such pseudoscience gets very personal and as a result, I am not afraid to call people like Brodwin and Chen, Blumberg, et al. incompetent and malicious fakers.

It is one thing to cite that the claimed benefits of a treatment have not been study-confirmed by the FDA. It is another level of harm-imparting potential to then call that same thing ‘ineffective or dangerous’.

Never trust a person who does not understand the ethical difference – and certainly never get your science nor medical advice from them, no matter what letters they may flaunt after their name.

“Supplements are an ineffective and sometimes dangerous waste of money.”

The Most Injurious Statement a Quack Can Make

Such fakers should be held legally accountable for the medical misinformation they spread. Be careful medical skeptics – the world does not suffer a lack of your cudgeling voice as to what constitutes the entire set of falsehood. Claims to absence and falsity require a much higher rigor in inference than do claims to presence,3 yet ironically such claims are doled out like candy by celebrity-seeking medical skeptics and journalists. Those foisting final claims to conclusive confidence, regarding topics about which they in reality know very little. That emotionally impaired propensity, the ‘Bunk! – I am the smartest person in the room and cannot be fooled’4 bravado, adds no value whatsoever to society. Such emotional frailty inevitably serves to impart harm, an affliction upon us all derived from one’s lack of critical knowledge and circumspection. If that is what you are here to add into the fray, then your life is of a net negative value to mankind. Celebrity or no – Doctor or no. You might help one person, and then definitely harm 10,000 in the next breath. Such sad circumstance mandates a long look in the mirror on your part.

You harm people like me – persons who no longer accept your claim to personal representation of medicine, science, science communication nor skepticism. Americans are successfully employing supplements to improve their well being, and as well are increasingly sharing this success with their friends and families. As this industry inflection point unfolds, it is such a joy to witness the trolls of pretend science scoffing angrily from their parents’ basements. A wage well earned.

The Quackery

Now first please note, that I am not a medical professional. The protocols I undertook below, while beneficial for me, do not constitute recommendations nor non-recommendations by me as to diagnoses, cures, treatments or protocols for adoption on the part of any individual. It should also be noted that each of these successes were accompanied by many more protocols I personally tested, which either failed or did nothing for me.

That being said, the following protocol introductions changed my life substantially, in order of critical benefit – each of these were pooh-pooed by skeptic-quacks over the decades (and in particular the article and study cited above), those who caused me much injury by recommending specific not-protocols, which turned out to bear harm:

    l-Methylfolate (L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate)

Transitioning from the feeling like I was dying, weakness, sweating, light-headedness and anxiety – to feeling like it was a warm spring summer day and I was well again. I could run 3 miles on an 8 minute pace in my daily workouts, but could not even walk through the grocery store nor sit through an hour and a half professional conference lecture – without wondering whether I should have them call an ambulance. It ceased within 10 minutes of taking my first l-methylfolate and has never come back. My daily folic acid vitamin I took over the decades was completely useless this entire time.

    Methylcobalamine/Adenosylcobalamine

All the same maladies as cited under l-methylfolate above, as I take this in combination with that supplement. These and more ceased within 10 minutes of taking my first methylcobalamine and have never come back. Doctor confirmed that my red blood cell count, months after starting this, had risen barely back above the anemic level. I was in the bottom 3% of the range – but to me it felt invigorating and wonderful just getting to that point.

    EDTA and Doxycycline (Both are required)

As verified by catheterization by a top cardiologist (“Well TES, I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is, you are going to die of cancer in your mid to late 90’s most likely…”). Two years of daily therapeutic dose in the morning completely eliminated arterial plaque from both my heart (cardiologist confirmed) and (I conjecture) my brain fine capillaries and other plaque-vulnerable organs. Significant cardiovascular boost and significant boost in cognitive skills. Significant change in endurance required breath for heavy activity. I lost my feet callouses and my veins became supple like cooked spaghetti (according to my regular phlebotomist). The cardiologist suggested I stop, since the job was done. I did – but the benefits have sustained without diminishing, for well over 15 years now. In my 50’s, with training, I am able to beat one third of my high school 5K cross country times.

    Digestive Enzyme Pancreatin/Ox Bile/Betaine HCL

Daily left lower quadrant pain (after all other possibilities were eliminated by doctor first) was eliminated via taking this with each meal and at bedtime. Helped clear up skin.

    Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NADH/NAD+)

Significant boost in daily energy, mental clarity and feeling of well being. If one gets dizzy, then back off on the supplementation amount.

    Negative Ionic Fulvic Acid Suspension

Energy all day long, reduction in anxiety, reduction in autoimmune measures (thyroid peroxidase antibodies and thyroid supplement required). If I go without this for more than 48 hours, I can tell physically. The first ingestion of this afterwards is akin to drinking water after being very thirsty. Very refreshing and reinvigorating. Hair thickness boost.

    Quercetin and Bromelain

Significant reduction in face sores and rosacea. Reduction in the sick-bloated feeling after evening meal.

    Vitamin C in Larger Dose (Not ‘Mega-Dose’)

Significant reduction in time to get up off the floor. Significant improvement in flexibility. Significant reduction in joint pain. Lower rate of flu and cold styled illnesses per year. Dropped from sick once per year – to once every other or three years.

    Vitamin D3

Nominal boost in overall well being, skin and hair tone. Lower rate of depressive winter funk.

    Amla (Indian Gooseberry) Powder

Significant reduction in illness, sick feeling, brain fog and rosacea – along with an increase in well being, energy and fresher morning feeling (no bad taste in mouth). Much less joint pain in knees and ankles, and more flexible workouts.

    Eliminating Toxic Agriculture from My Diet

Significant quality of life improvements were achieved by my whole family, through the elimination of the following toxic foods from our diet:

     Soy (All types and forms)

     GMO Corn

     Wheat

     Non-Grassfed Butter

     Dairy (All types and forms)

     Peanuts/Legumes

     GMO Oils (Soybean, Canola, Cottonseed)

Night and day difference in overall well-being, lessened anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, thick and slow sick/toxic feeling, autoimmune reactions – along with a significant reduction in facial redness/rosacea and increase in metal acuity/attention/alertness.

My doctor of course has helped me through one surgery and a broken ankle. I celebrate those successes. However, the endless profit-minded monitoring of my blood pressure, A1C and cholesterol – has served to dissuade the doctor’s work from my real medical needs. Decades of undiagnosed pernicious anemia. Decades of autoimmune maladies and years of painful IBS. These were the important things (which probably eventually cause out-of-range blood pressure, A1C and cholesterol in the first place).

The money-making measures were never out of line – and my doctor falsely regarded that because of this, I was therefore fine. This, to my harm and suffering. I no longer want my blood pressure, A1C and cholesterol checked by my doctor. Neither do I bathe myself in ice-water when I get a nominal 101 degree fever. Instead I look for the cause. Otherwise, to focus on only the symptom …is well, quackery.

An ethical skeptic eschews such fake knowledge which stands in substitution of the critical knowledge, path or need.

The Ethical Skeptic, “Oh the Quackery!”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 25 Jan 2020; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=44156

January 25, 2020 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Institutional Mandates | , | 6 Comments

Unethical Employment of Intellectual Property

Should intellectual property holders be allowed to name their patented product, the same exact name as its natural variant? Can one ethically patent a portion of a public domain item, then force the rest of that public domain item out of business – defacto patenting a formerly natural public domain resource?
Moreover, what if that ‘product’ was a pathogen? If I deploy a novel product in such a fashion, which solely as a result of my deployment of that product, threatens the prospective user with harm if they do not thereafter acquire and further propagate that new product – this is called ‘Racketeering’ under 18 U.S.C. § 1961.

In the mid 20th Century, organized crime shifted from its traditional business bases of gambling, prostitution, booze running, drug smuggling, human and weapons trafficking, to more legitimate and prima facia ethical business avenues. As a result, in 1978, Congress enacted the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO Act as it is called, in order to provide prosecutors with new sets of laws effective at combating these newer forms of quasi-legitimate criminal enterprises.1

In one of my past projects, the company I led had developed a new way to fabricate a medical treatment intervention. This new method of fabrication neutralized several defects incumbent with the old version of the treatment, and made it both a much healthier and now permanent and life-long solution to the entailed human malady, alleviating much suffering for the patients who needed this new medical technology. This intellectual property bore patentability, given that it was novel, useful, non-obvious to a practitioner in the art, had not been fairly addressed before, and was teachable and sustainable as a technology.2 As a result, we issued a barrage of intellectual property protections (both internal and external) per the chart on the right.

Subsequently, we approached several business partners to help us deploy this medical technology for benefit inside medical praxis. What I have outlined here of course is an example of an ethical employment of intellectual property. A condition wherein the technology in question is but one small specialized segment of its market vertical, and as well was actually serving to create a completely new market niche out of non-existence (ex nihilo) – and not necessarily displacing naturally occurring versions of itself into oblivion. In addition, our target user was highly interested in our product because of the novel advantage it afforded them; an advantage which they could not obtain through natural means.

But let us consider for a moment, the hypothetical circumstance wherein our technology provided more than simply those two advantages. What if our technology became so ‘beneficial’, dominant-in-practice, ‘virtuous’ or critically valuable (think ‘selling plywood before a hurricane landfall’), that it served to accomplish several of the perhaps more negative potential ramifications of intellectual property? Let’s outline two hypothetical examples of this species of negative IP condition below – in the forms of racketeering, through predation and extortion. We present the predation form of racketeering first, because it helps shed light into the critical issues involved inside how a market metastasizes under an artificial pathogen threat.

 Racketeering Predation

Intellectual Property Metastasizes Market thru Economy of Scale Exploitation

The intellectual property (IP) technology deployed either enables a better cost-inputs efficiency or enables cartel-enforced economies of scale such that it becomes predatory upon heirloom and naturally occurring species, which are healthier but now cost more to produce. When the market metastasizes, this displacement harms genetic stocks through depletion, human health through lack of nutrition and farming economies through loss of ability to affect margin.

In the example below, the FructatoTM displaces all 5 varietals of naturally occurring sweet potato from bearing market viability. Yes, these varietals can be grown, however they are not supported as a technology by the metastasized market, and now must be grown at a much greater cost, because of the economies of scale now incumbent in FructatoTM production and supply. Few real advantages were realized with the FructatoTM; rather its perception was spun by market entities who were able to propel it into a sufficient critical mass of employment, such that it appeared advantageous versus traditional options. Once all heirloom species are too expensive for farmer to grow, then the cartel using the new tech, starts calling the FructatoTM the ‘sweet potato’. Thereafter the cartel slowly raises prices and squeezes farmers into foreclosure and forfeiture to underwritten industrial farms – as is happening now in America.

This is predatory market activity – much like a mega Pet-Mart putting an entire nation of mom and pop pet stores out of business through predatory dog food pricing – employing smart Wall Street money backing to bolster the company during the predatory-loss phase, and then raising prices once all the competition has been eliminated – this is illegal trust activity.

 Racketeering Extortion

Artificial Pathogen Metastasizes Market thru Ironically Its Own Artificial Threat

A treatment (Vapox TM) for the naturally occurring illness Poxolitis, once installed in the human body, causes others around that person being treated, to reside under a threat of developing a similar but artificially induced ailment to the pathogen (Poxolitis) the treatment was designed to counter in the first place. Thereby mandating that family members, classmates and office workers exposed to the person receiving the intellectual property treatment, now are compelled/coerced into having to obtain that same IP from its supplier – because they have inherited an artificial disease exposure risk from the person receiving the VapoxTM treatment for that disease in the first place.

These stakeholders are denied their human right to their own pedigree natural immunity asset which results from Poxolits, and must purchase the intellectual property (IP) version immunity (a predatory product called VapoxTM) in its place. However, this is all enacted under an implicit threat created by the profit-making IP holder, solely because of the artificial variant of the pathogen they have broadcast into the market in the first place.

The key unethical practice here, involves conflating in the industry praxis, both the natural immunity and artificial product symptomatology as constituting the same illness (regardless of how mild) – diagnosed by means of the same medical identifier. Once this has been done, racketeering fraud comes into play.

Do such conditions exist today? In the case of predation, absolutely this exists. In the case of extortion, we actually do not possess enough information to know whether or not that racketeering condition exists. However, one must be reminded that wilful ignorance or Nelsonian obfuscation of information surrounding 18 U.S.C. § 1961 – U.S. Code Racketeering, also constitutes racketeering in itself (Section 35). It is our duty as a society and a medical industry, to find out. The way we find out, is to name and track such natural and artificial maladies by means of separate and non-ambiguous identifiers – mandatory in each instance of outbreak/use. Such litmus conditions serve to place an ethical cap on the ceiling, limiting the rights and conditions claimable by an intellectual property holder. To broach either of the litmus conditions, serves to constitute a legal threshold under the 1978 RICO Act.

The critical essence of this set of ethics involves the naming and market identity conventions employed regarding novel intellectual property.

To mix the identity of naturally occurring and artificial IP variants, constitutes unethical activity.
If the measles vaccine itself can cause measles, then this derivative intellectual property disease must bear a different name entirely and cannot be registered as a ‘measles outbreak’.

Pathoteering – Racketeering by Means of Artificial Pathogen Threat

What these two hypothetical cases of racketeering serve to elucidate is the principle of racketeering by threat of artificial pathogen. My obfuscation of identity between my novel intellectual property pathogen and the naturally occurring variant may constitute Racketeering on my part, if my novel technology, of its own accord, serves to threaten its prospective users or coerce them into compliance with its deployment. The issue therefore hinges on whether or not the threat which makes the purchase or acquisition of product or illegitimate establishment of market power, involves

      An intellectual property device or element of market power which

           1.  has established user or at-risk stakeholder compulsion into its market prevalence or use,

           2.  is not naturally occurring or is a derivative of a naturally occurring element,

           3.  has displaced a plurality or more of the naturally occurring market, through

                a.  illegal forms market predation,
                b.  a threat or implicit threat of harm to candidate adopters, and/or
                c.  requiring its efficacy, safety or confirmation of safety, be confirmed through its adoption by that using community, and

           4.  is ambiguously referred to by the same name as the naturally occurring variant. 

If all four exist, then this establishes the basis for 18 U.S.C. Racketeering.

What we have served to broach here is the critical role of product identity, in the conflation of ethical burdens on the part of companies inside the separate contexts of naturally occurring and synthesized threats. The ethical standards under each circumstance are different. The exercise of enforced medicinals under threat of a naturally occurring pathogen can be ethical. However, once the threat is principally created by a modified/artificial/fabricated agent, then enforcement of that synthesized/derived agent itself, as the solution to a problem which it created in the first place, especially under the auspices of monopoly profit, constitutes 18 U.S.C. § 1961 – U.S. Code Racketeering. Related excerpts from that United States Code follow.

18 U.S.C. § 1961 – U.S. Code – Unannotated Title 18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure § 19613

Section 1951 (Extortion): Interference with commerce by threats or violence

Whoever in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or attempts or conspires so to do, or commits or threatens physical violence to any person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose…

The term “extortion” means the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.

Sections 175 – 178 (Biological Harm) : biological weapons

175 (b) Additional Offense.—Whoever knowingly possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system of a type or in a quantity that, under the circumstances, is not reasonably justified by a prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purpose… In this subsection, the terms “biological agent” and “toxin” do not encompass any biological agent or toxin that is in its naturally occurring environment, if the biological agent or toxin has not been cultivated, collected, or otherwise extracted from its natural source.

(1) – (4) any “biological agent”, “toxin”, “delivery system”, or “vector” which causes “death, disease, or other biological malfunction in a human, an animal, a plant, or another living organism;”

A legislative reality exists in which I am prohibited from litigating the IP-racketeering entity and seeking award damages as a result of their causing my child’s encephalitis or death. I was unable to pursue any recourse on behalf of my child, because the permanent disability encephalitic injury for my son was not able to be confirmed as a diagnosis until he was old enough to be tested for such damage – well past the 3 years of age limitation specified in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The irony is that he cannot get disability either. He is destined to live a life of poverty, working menials jobs – solely because of the malice, oppression and criminal racketeering activity of the part of the pharmaceutical industry. I will work hard to help alleviate inevitable poverty which my child will have to undergo at the hands of these incompetent elites. But I will be damned if I will be silent about it.

But at-risk families like mine can use racketeering and anti-trust laws to protect their loved ones from harm/coercion into being forced to ingest a possibly harm-potent intellectual property product – even if the entailed racketeering is enacted by society at large – and more importantly, even if we are unsure as to the existence of the four conditions above.

In other words, once a vaccine is no longer reasonably justified as a ‘prophylactic or protective’ agent against a naturally occurring microbe – and is now only protecting its coerced/threatened victims against harm imparted by its intellectual-property-derived imitation/variant – and this is clouded by the coercing entities’ or market’s or society’s conflation of the same name in common between the naturally occurring and genetic/modified/derived variant – then compulsory vaccination under this condition has become an act of Racketeering, under 18 U.S.C. § 1961 – U.S. Code.

I cannot seek damages for my child’s injury or death, nor for pharmaceutical company Racketeering under 18 U.S.C. § 1961 – U.S. Code, precisely because of the NCVIA of 1986 (42 U.S.C. §§ 300aa-1 to 300aa-34) legislation, however

I can seek a protective injunction against Racketeering which employs coercion to enforce use of a product under a threat of implicit harm which meets the above four criteria.

The basic premise resides in this, if the disease against which I am now being vaccinated is, even in a remote possibility and even if we do not know, principally a disease which was invented by the actions of any coercing entity to begin with, and I am not aware of this because the same name is used for both the natural and artificial variants of the pathogen – I do not have to comply to such legal action, by law. I also may seek an injunction of such coercive activity under 18 U.S.C. § 1961 – U.S. Code.

I am testing this as my legal delineation between justified vaccination, and unethical vaccination which induces more harm than good. The ‘risk/benefit’ analysis which everyone keeps talking about, yet nobody actually does. I am pro-vaccine, but there is a viable limitation to such virtue, just as there is a context limit to all virtues. We as a society need to face and fathom these ethical boundaries.

Such is also the duty of an ethical skeptic.

The Ethical Skeptic, “Unethical Employment of Intellectual Property”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 27 Dec 2019; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=42337

December 27, 2019 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Institutional Mandates | , | Leave a comment

Torfuscation – Gaming Study Design to Effect an Outcome

As important as the mode of inference one employs by means of a scientific study, is the design of the study itself. Before one can begin to reduce and analyze a body of observations, the ethical scientist must first select the study type and design that will afford them the greatest draw in terms of probative potential. Not all studies are equal in terms of their bootstrap nor inferential strength.
The intricacies of this process present the poseur an opportunity to game outcomes of science through study design, type and PICO vulnerabilities. Tactics which can serve to produce outcomes furthering the obfuscating, political, social or religious causes of their sponsors.

There are several ways to put on the appearance of conducting serious science, yet still effect outcomes which maintain alignment with the agency of one’s funders, sponsors, mentors or controlling authorities. Recent ethical evolution inside science, has highlighted the need for understanding that a researcher’s simply having calculated a rigorous p-value, applied an arrival distribution or bounded an estimate inside a confidence interval, does not necessarily mean that they have developed a sound basis from which to draw any quality scientific inference.1 In similar philosophy, one can develop a study – and completely mislead the scientific community as to the probative depth or nature of reality inside a given contention of science. A thousand studies bearing weak inductive inference can be rendered null by one sound deductive study. The key resides in the ethical skeptic’s ability to survey this domain of study strength and adeptly apply it to what is foisted as constituting science.

We are all familiar with the popular trick of falsely calling a ‘survey of study abstracts’, or a meta-synthesis of best evidence, or an opinion piece summarizing a body of study from one person’s point of view – a ‘meta-analysis’. An authentic meta-analysis combines congruent study designs and bodies of equivalent data, in order to improve the statistical power of the combined entailed analyses.2 The fake forms of meta-analysis achieve no such gravitas in strength. A meta-analysis is a secondary or filtered systematic review which only bears leveraged strength in the instance wherein randomized controlled trials or longitudinal studies of the same species, are able to be combined in order to derive a higher statistical power than any single study can deliver independently. Every other flavor of ‘blending of study’, fails to accomplish such an objective. This casual blending presented in the faux-flavors of meta-study may, and this is important, ironically serve to reduce the probative power of such systematic review itself. Nonetheless, you will find less-than-ethical scientists trying to push their opinion/summary articles upon the community as if they reflected through convenient misnomer, this ‘most rigorous form of study design’. One can find an example of this within the study: Taylor, Swerdfeger, Eslick; An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies; Elsevier, 2014.3

This sleight-of-hand treatment stands as merely one example of the games played within the agency-influenced domains of science. With regard to manipulating study design in order to effect a desired scientific outcome, there are several means of accomplishing this feat. Most notably the following methods, which I call collectively, torfuscation (Saxon for ‘hiding the dead body in the bog’). Torfuscation is an active form of Nelsonian inference which involves one or more species of study abuse:

1. asking an orphan question, one which is non-sequitur or does not address the critical path of the scientific question at hand,

2. employing a less rigorous study type (lower rank on the Chart below) than ethically is warranted by the scientific question at hand – (aka, methodical deescalation),

3. employing an ineffective study design, and masking that error with rigorous academic statistical analysis of what is essentially garbage input,

4. selecting for a body of ‘reliable’ data to the exclusion of available and more probative data – (aka, streetlight effect),

5. employing an ineffective secondary or filtered study design, spun as if it were a higher probative or bootstrap strength study, or

6. study constrained by a type of flawed methodical PICO-time analysis (wrong population, wrong timeframe, wrong signal/indicator, etc.).

Abuses which will serve most often to weaken the probative potential of an avenue of research which could ostensibly serve to produce an outcome threatening the study sponsors. I call this broad set of pseudo-scientific practices, torfuscation.

Torfuscation

/philosophy : pseudoscience : study fraud : Saxon : ‘hide in the bog’/ : pseudoscience or obfuscation enacted through a Nelsonian knowledge masquerade of scientific protocol and study design. Inappropriate, manipulated or shallow study design crafted so as to obscure or avoid a targeted/disliked inference. A refined form of praedicate evidentia or utile abstentia employed through using less rigorous or probative methods of study than are requisite under otherwise ethical science.  Exploitation of study noise generated through first level ‘big data’ or agency-influenced ‘meta-synthesis’, as the ‘evidence’ that no further or deeper study is therefore warranted – and moreover that further research of the subject entailed is now socially embargoed.

Study design which exploits the weakness potential entailed inside the PICO-time Study Design Development Model4 (see Study to Inference Strength and Risk Chart below), through the manipulation of the study

P – patient, problem or population
I – intervention, indicator
C – comparison, control or comparator
O – outcome, or
time – time series

Which seeks to compromise the outcome or conclusion in terms of the study usage; more specifically: prevention, screening, diagnostic, treatment, quality of life, compassionate use, expanded access, superiority, non-inferiority and or equivalence.

Meta-Garbage, Deescalation and PICO-time Manipulation

One example of tampering with the PICO-time attributes of a study, would consist of the circumstance wherein only medical insurance plan completed diagnostic data is used as the sample base for a retrospective observational cohort study’s ‘outcome’ data. Such data is highly likely to be incomplete or skewed in a non-probative or biased direction, under a condition of linear induction (a weaker form of inference) and utile abstentia (a method of exclusion bias through furtive data-source selection). As an example, if the diagnosis of a condition occurs on average at 5.5 years of age inside a study population of kids, and the average slack time between diagnosis and first possible recording into a medical insurance plan database is 4 to 18 months, then a constraining of the time-series involved inside a study examining that data, to 4.5 years, is an act of incompetent or malicious study design. But you will find both of these tricks to be common in studies wherein a potential outcome is threatening to a study’s sponsors; agents who hope to prove by modus absens shallow and linear inductive inference that the subject can be embargoed from the point of their study onward. Just such a study can be found here: Madsen, Hviid; A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism, 2002.5

A study may also be downgraded (lower on the chart below), and purposely forced to employ a lesser form of design probative strength (Levels 1 – 8 on the left side of the chart); precisely because its sponsors suspect the possibility of a valid risk they do not want broached/exposed. This is very similar to the downgrading in inference method we identified above, called methodical deescalation. Methodical deescalation is a common trick of professional pseudoscience wherein abduction is used in lieu of induction, or induction is used in lieu of deduction – when the latter (stronger) mode, type or form of inference was ethically demanded. One may also notice that studies employing these six torfuscation tricks we listed earlier are often held as proprietary in their formulation; concealed from the public or at-risk stakeholders during the critical study design phase. This lack of public accountability or input is purposeful. Such activity is akin to asking for forgiveness rather than permission, and can often constitute in reality court-defined ‘malice and oppression’ in the name of science.6

Beware of studies supporting activity which serves to place a large stakeholder group at risk,
yet seek zero input from those stakeholders as to adequacy of study design.
This is also known as oppression.

The astute reader may also notice an irony here, in that the ‘meta-analysis’ decried earlier in this article, cited the very study just mentioned as an example of torfuscation, as its ‘best evidence study’ inside its systematic review. Meta-fraud providing fraud as its recitation basis. Well, at least the species of study are congruent. If you meta-study garbage, you will produce meta-garbage as well (see Secondary Study in the Chart below).

Be very wary of a science which constrains its body of study to the bottom of
the chart below or is quick to a claim of absense (modus absens) –
especially when higher or positive forms of study are available
but scientists are dis-incentivized to pursue them.

Study Design to Mode of Inference Strength and Risk

The following is The Ethical Skeptic’s chart indexing study design against mode of inference, strength and risk in torfuscation. It is a handy tool for helping spot torfuscation such as is employed in the three example types elicited above (and more). The study types are ranked from top to bottom in terms of Level in probative strength (1 – 8), and as well are arranged into Direct, Analytical and Descriptive study groupings by color. Torfuscation involves the selection of a study type with a probative power lower down on the chart, when a higher probative level of study was available and/or ethically warranted; as well as in tampering with the PICO-time risk elements (right side of chart under the yellow header) characteristic of each study type so as to weaken its overall ability to indicate a potential disliked outcome.

The Chart is followed up by a series of definitions for each study type listed. The myriad sources for this compiled set of industry material are listed at the end of this article – however, it should be noted that the sources cited did not agree with each other on the material/level, structure nor definitions of various study designs. Therefore modifications and selections were made as to the attributes of study, which allowed for the entire set of alternatives/definitions to come into synchrony with each other – or fit like a puzzle with minimal overlap and confusion. So you will not find 100% of this chart replicated inside any single resource or textbook. (note: My past lab experience has been mostly in non-randomized controlled factorial trial study – whose probative successes were fed into a predictive model, then confirmed by single mechanistic lab tests. I found this approach to be highly effective in my past professional work. But that lab protocol may not apply to other types of study challenge and could be misleading if applied as a panacea. Hence the need for the chart below.)

Study Design Type Definitions

PRIMARY/DIRECT STUDY

Experimental– A study which involves a direct physical test of the material or principal question being asked.

Mechanistic/Lab – A direct study which examines a physical attribute or mechanism inside a controlled closed environment, influencing a single input variable, while observing a single output variable – both related to that attribute or mechanism.

Controlled Trial

Randomized (Randomized Controlled Trial) – A study in which people are allocated at random (by chance alone) to receive one of several clinical interventions. One of these interventions is the standard of comparison or the ‘control’. The control may be a standard practice, a placebo (“sugar pill”), or no intervention at all.

Non-Randomized Controlled Trial – A study in which people are allocated by a discriminating factor (not bias), to receive one of several clinical interventions. One of these interventions is the standard of comparison or the ‘control’. The control may be a standard practice, a placebo (“sugar pill”), or no intervention at all.

Parallel – A type of controlled trial where two groups of treatments, A and B, are given so that one group receives only A while another group receives only B. Other names for this type of study include “between patient” and “non-crossover” studies.

Crossover – A longitudinal direct study in which subjects receive a sequence of different treatments (or exposures). In a randomized controlled trial with repeated measures design, the same measures are collected multiple times for each subject. A crossover trial has a repeated measures design in which each patient is assigned to a sequence of two or more treatments, of which one may either be a standard treatment or a placebo. Nearly all crossover controlled trial studies are designed to have balance, whereby all subjects receive the same number of treatments and participate for the same number of periods. In most crossover trials each subject receives all treatments, in a random order.

Factorial – A factorial study is an experiment whose design consists of two or more factors, each with discrete possible values or ‘levels’, and whose experimental units take on all possible combinations of these levels across all such factors. A full factorial design may also be called a fully-crossed design. Such an experiment allows the investigator to study the effect of each factor on the response variable or outcome, as well as the effects of interactions between factors on the response variable or outcome.

Blind Trial – A trial or experiment in which information about the test is masked (kept) from the participant (single blind) and/or the test administerer (double blind), to reduce or eliminate bias, until after a trial outcome is known.

Open Trial – A type of non-randomized controlled trial in which both the researchers and participants know which treatment is being administered.

Placebo-Control Trial – A study which blindly and randomly allocates similar patients to a control group that receives a placebo and an experimental test group. Therein investigators can ensure that any possible placebo effect will be minimized in the final statistical analysis.

Interventional (Before and After/Interrupted Time Series/Historical Control) – A study in which observations are made before and after the implementation of an intervention, both in a group that receives the intervention and in a control group that does not. A study that uses observations at multiple time points before and after an intervention (the ‘interruption’). The design attempts to detect whether the intervention has had an effect significantly greater than any underlying trend over time.

Adaptive Clinical Trial – A controlled trial that evaluates a medical device or treatment by observing participant outcomes (and possibly other measures, such as side-effects) along a prescribed schedule, and modifying parameters of the trial protocol in accord with those observations. The adaptation process generally continues throughout the trial, as prescribed in the trial protocol. Modifications may include dosage, sample size, drug undergoing trial, patient selection criteria or treatment mix. In some cases, trials have become an ongoing process that regularly adds and drops therapies and patient groups as more information is gained. Importantly, the trial protocol is set before the trial begins; the protocol pre-specifies the adaptation schedule and processes. 

Observational – Analytical

Cohort/Panel (Longitudinal) – A study in which a defined group of people (the cohort – a group of people who share a defining characteristic, typically those who experienced a common event in a selected period) is followed over time, to examine associations between different interventions received and subsequent outcomes.  

Prospective – A cohort study which recruits participants before any intervention and follows them into the future.

Retrospective – A cohort study which identifies subjects from past records describing the interventions received and follows them from the time of those records.

Time-Series – A cohort study which identifies subjects from a particular segment in time following an intervention (which may have also occurred in a time series) and follows them during only the duration of that time segment. Relies upon robust intervention and subject tracking databases. For example, comparing lung health to pollution during a segment in time.

Cross-Sectional/Transverse/Prevalence – A study that collects information on interventions (past or present) and current health outcomes, i.e. restricted to health states, for a group of people at a particular point in time, to examine associations between the outcomes and exposure to interventions.

Case-Control – A study that compares people with a specific outcome of interest (‘cases’) with people from the same source population but without that outcome (‘controls’), to examine the association between the outcome and prior exposure (e.g. having an intervention). This design is particularly useful when the outcome is rare.

Nested Case-Control – A study wherein cases of a health outcome that occur in a defined cohort are identified and, for each, a specified number of matched controls is selected from among those in the cohort who have not developed the health outcome by the time of occurrence in the case. For many research questions, the nested case-control design potentially offers impressive reductions in costs and efforts of data collection and analysis compared with the full case-control or cohort approach, with relatively minor loss in statistical efficiency.

Community Survey – An observational study wherein a targeted cohort or panel is given a set of questions regarding both interventions and observed outcomes over the life or a defined time period of the person, child or other close family member. These are often conducted in conjunction with another disciplined polling process (such as a census or general medical plan survey) so as to reduce statistical design bias or error.

Ecological (Correlational) – A study of risk-modifying factors on health or other outcomes based on populations defined either geographically or temporally. Both risk-modifying factors and outcomes are averaged or are linear regressed for the populations in each geographical or temporal unit and then compared using standard statistical methods.

Observational – Descriptive

Population – A study of a group of individuals taken from the general population who share a common characteristic, such as age, sex, or health condition. This group may be studied for different reasons, such as their response to a drug or risk of getting a disease. 

Case Series – Observations are made on a series of specific individuals, usually all receiving the same intervention, before and after an intervention but with no control group.

Case Report – Observation is made on a specific individual, receiving an intervention, before and after an intervention but with no control group/person other than the general population.

SECONDARY/FILTERED STUDY

Systematic Review/Objective Meta-Analysis – A method for systematically combining pertinent qualitative and quantitative study data from several selected studies to develop a single conclusion that has greater statistical power. This conclusion is statistically stronger than the analysis of any single study, due to increased numbers of subjects, greater diversity among subjects, or accumulated effects and results. However, researchers must ensure that the quantitative and study design attributes of the contained studies all match, in order to retain and enhance the statistical power entailed. Mixing lesser rigorous or incongruent studies with more rigorous studies will only result in a meta-analysis which bears the statistical power of only a portion of the studies, or of the least rigorous study type contained, in decreasing order along the following general types of study:

Controlled Trial/Mechanism
Longitudinal/Cohort
Cross-Sectional
Case-Control
Survey/Ecological
Descriptive

Interpretive/Abstract ‘Meta-Synthesis’ – A study which surveys the conclusion or abstract of a pool of studies in order to determine the study authors’ conclusions along a particular line of conjecture or deliberation. This may include a priori conclusions or author preferences disclosed inside the abstract of each study, which were not necessarily derived as an outcome of the study itself. This study may tally a ‘best evidence’ subset of studies within the overall survey group, which stand as superior in their representation of the conclusion, methodology undertaken or breadth in addressing the issue at hand.

Editorial/Expert Opinion – A summary article generally citing both scientific outcomes and opinion, issued by an expert within a given field, currently active and engaged in research inside that field. The article may or may not refer to specific examples of studies, which support an opinion that a consilience of evidence points in a given direction regarding an issue of deliberation. The author will typically delineate a circumstance of study outcome, consilience or consensus as separate from their personal professional opinion.

Critical Review/Skeptic Opinion – A self-identified skeptic or science enthusiast, applies a priori thinking with no ex ante accountability, in order to arrive at a conclusion. The reviewer may or may not cite a couple examples or studies to back their conclusion.

Sources: 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

The Ethical Skeptic, “Torfuscation – Gaming Study Design to Effect an Outcome”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 15 Apr 2019; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-9yQ

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Institutional Mandates, Tradecraft SSkepticism | , , | 2 Comments

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