The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Poser Science: Proof Gaming

Science begins its work based upon a principle called necessity, not upon proof. Science then establishes proof, if such can be had. Popper critical rationality as it turns out, involves more than irrefutable proof, contrary to what gaming social skeptics might contend. Proof Gaming is a method of tendering an affectation of sciencey methodology, yet still effectively obfuscating research and enforcing acceptable thought.

im-a-skeptic-burden-of-proofIn order for science to begin to prove the existence of the strange animal tens of thousands of credible persons report roaming in the woods, I must first bring in its dead carcass.  But if I bring in its dead body, then I have no need for science to examine that such an animal exists in the first place; I have already done the science.  The demand that I bring in a dead body, given a sufficient level of Ockham’s Razor necessity-driving information, is a false standard threshold for science to begin its diligence, and such a demand constitutes pseudoscience.

Now of course, Karl Popper in his brief entitled Die beiden Grundprobleme der Erkenntnistheorie contended that science should be demarcated by the proper assignment of truth values to its assertions, or ‘sentences’: ergo, science is the set of sentences with justifiably assigned truth values.¹ This was called a mindset of ‘critical rationality’.¹ It was a step above simple scientific skepticism. The task of the philosophy of science is to explain suitable methods by which these assignments are then properly made.¹ However, one can extend the philosophy of science to construct elaborate methods, which prevent the assimilation of ideas or research which one disfavors, by gaming these methods such that philosophy stands and acts in lieu of science. One such trick of conducting science research by means of solely philosophy, all from the comfort of one’s arm chair, is called Proof Gaming. Popper contended later in his work, as outlined by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy here:

As a consequence of these three difficulties [the problem or necessity of induction] Popper developed an entirely different theory of science in chapter 5, then in Logik der Forschung. In order to overcome the problems his first view faced, he adopted two central strategies. First, he reformulated the task of the philosophy of science. Rather than presenting scientific method as a tool for properly assigning truth values to sentences, he presented rules of scientific method as conducive to the growth of knowledge. Apparently he still held that only proven or refuted sentences could take truth values. But this view is incompatible with his new philosophy of science as it appears in his Logik der Forschung: there he had to presume that some non-refuted theories took truth values, that is, that they are true or false as the case may be, even though they have been neither proved nor refuted [William of Ockham’s ‘plurality’]. It is the job of scientists to discover their falsity when they can. (IEoP)¹

Social skeptics will cite the base logic of Popper’s first work, yet omit his continued work on induction (Logik der Forschung) – as a process of sleight-of-hand in argument. So, critical rationality as it turns out, involves more than irrefutable proof, contrary to what gaming social skeptics might contend. Science begins its work based upon a principle called necessity, not upon proof. Science then establishes proof, if such can be had. Sadly, much of science cannot be adjudicated on anything like what we would call iron-clad proof, and instead relies upon a combination of falsified antithetical alternatives or induction based consilience.

The gaming of this reality constitutes a process of obfuscation and deceit called Proof Gaming. Proof Gaming is the process of employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions or standards of science. Proof gaming presents itself in seven speciations. In the presence of sufficient information or Ockham’s Razor plurality, such tactics as outlined below, constitute a game of pseudoscience. Posing the appearance of science-sounding methods, yet still enabling obfuscation and a departure from the scientific method in order to protect the religious ideas one adopted at an early age.

Let’s examine the seven types of this common social skeptic bad science method, formal and informal fallacy.

Proof Gaming

/philosophy : argument : pseudoscience : false salience/ : employing dilettante concepts of ‘proof’ as a football in order to win arguments, disfavor disliked groups or thought, or exercise fake versions of science. Proof gaming presents itself in seven speciations:

Catch 22 (non rectum agitur fallacy) – the pseudoscience of forcing the proponent of a construct or observation, to immediately and definitively skip to the end of the scientific method and single-handedly prove their contention, circumventing all other steps of the scientific method and any aid of science therein; this monumental achievement prerequisite before the contention would ostensibly be allowed to be considered by science in the first place. Backwards scientific method and skipping of the plurality and critical work content steps of science.

Fictitious Burden of Proof – declaring a ‘burden of proof’ to exist when such an assertion is not salient under science method at all. A burden of proof cannot possibly exist if neither the null hypothesis or alternative theories nor any proposed construct possesses a Popper sufficient testable/observable/discernible/measurable mechanism; nor moreover, if the subject in the matter of ‘proof’ bears no Wittgenstein sufficient definition in the first place (such as the terms ‘god’ or ‘nothingness’).

Herculean Burden of Proof – placing a ‘burden of proof’ upon an opponent which is either arguing from ignorance (asking to prove absence), not relevant to science or not inside the relevant range of achievable scientific endeavor in the first place. Assigning a burden of proof which cannot possibly be provided/resolved by a human being inside our current state of technology or sophistication of thought/knowledge (such as ‘prove abiogenesis’ or ‘prove that only the material exists’). Asking someone to prove an absence proposition (such as ‘prove elves do not exist’).

Fictus Scientia – assigning to disfavored ideas, a burden of proof which is far in excess of the standard regarded for acceptance or even due consideration inside science methods. Similarly, any form of denial of access to acceptance processes normally employed inside science (usually peer review both at theory formulation and at completion). Request for proof as the implied standard of science – while failing to realize or deceiving opponents into failing to realize that 90% of science is not settled by means of ‘proof’ to begin with.

Observation vs Claim Blurring – the false practice of calling an observation or data set, a ‘claim’ on the observers’ part.  This in an effort to subjugate such observations into the category of constituting scientific claims which therefore must be now ‘proved’ or dismissed (the real goal: see Transactional Occam’s Razor Fallacy).  In fact an observation is simply that, a piece of evidence or a cataloged fact. Its false dismissal under the pretense of being deemed a ‘claim’ is a practice of deception and pseudoscience.

As Science as Law Fallacy – conducting science as if it were being reduced inside a court of law or by a judge (usually the one forcing the fake science to begin with), through either declaring a precautionary principle theory to be innocent until proved guilty, or forcing standards of evidence inside a court of law onto hypothesis reduction methodology, when the two processes are conducted differently.

Proof by Non-falsifiability (Defaulting) – by selecting and promoting a pet theory or religious tenet which resides inside the set of falsification-prohibited constructs, SSkeptics establish popular veracity of favored beliefs, by default. Since their favored theory cannot be approached for falsification, it would be pseudoscience to compete it with other falsifiable constructs and claim it to be an outcome of the Scientific Method. Therefore the scientific method is disposed of, the non-falsifiable theory is assigned a presumption of truth, and furthermore can never be disproved. A flavor of unseatable ‘King of the Hill’ status is established for pet SSkeptic beliefs.

All of these tactics are common practices which abrogate the role and discipline of science.  Additionally, a key set of symptoms to look for, in determining that Proof Gaming is underway, are when

  1. one of these tactics is conducted inside a media spotlight,  and when
  2. every media outlet is reciting the same story, and same one liner such as ‘extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence’, verbatim.

This is an indicator that a campaign is underway to quash a subject.

The sad reality is, that on most tough issues, any one single person or small group of outsiders is poorly equipped to prove a subject beyond question. Popper recognized this later in his life work.  We simply do not have the resources and time to accomplish such a task.  SSkeptics know this and use it to their advantage.  The people who are calling for research for example on the connection between cognitive delays in children and the potential role which immunizations have had on this, are simply asking for science to do the research. The response they receive is “You can’t prove the link,” thus we are justified in waging a media campaign against you and scientifically ignoring this issue. This is Proof Gaming.  Complicating this is the fact that the issue is broader than simply MMR and Thimerosal (the majority body of current study), involving the demand for science to research the causes of valid skyrocketing levels of developmental delays, autoimmune disorders, and learning disabilities in our children. The issue bears plurality and precaution, but is answered with ignorance. The Proof Gamers who sling epithets such as “Deniers” and “Anti-vaccinationistas” and “Autistic Moms” are committing scientific treason. One should note that the handiwork of such SSkeptics is rarely characterized by outcomes of value or clarity, is typically destructive and control oriented, and is reliably made media-visible (see our next Poser Science series on the tandem symbiosis between virtue signalling and malevolence).

Hype and name calling has no place in pluralistic research, and the media pundits who commit this are practicing pseudoscience plain and simple. Once plurality has been established, the games should be over.  But not for Proof Gamers.   Attacking proponents who have done case research to call for further science (not proving the subject) for not “proving beyond a shadow of a doubt,” their contentions, is an act of pseudoscience.

This fake demand for proof before research is Proof Gaming, is an abrogation of the Scientific Method and is Pseudoscience.

epoché vanguards gnosis


¹  The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Karl Popper: Critical Rationalism”; http://www.iep.utm.edu/cr-ratio/#H2.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies, Social Disdain, Tradecraft SSkepticism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The War Against Supplements Continues to Revel in Harmful Pseudoscience

Instead of asking the ethical question of “Does orthomolecular vitamin B supplementation result in an increase in patient well being?” a pseudo scientist with an agenda will simply recite irrelevant or outrageous unsupported claims such as “Vitamin C injections fail to cure cancer” or “Most people in the industrialized world should be able to get whatever vitamins and minerals they need from food.” The habits of avoiding asking the right question under the scientific method, and then issuing grandiose unsupported claims of finality – stand as key indicators of fraud, pseudoscience and oligarch industry subversion at play.
The simple fact is that supplements serve to reduce doctor visits and prescription purchases, as well as reduce the amount of excess caloric content a consumer must purchase each day. The oligarchs want this lost revenue back. And they are making it clear that they are willing to put your life and well being at risk in order to get what is theirs.
Their skeptic mafia is here to make sure that you stay silent about it as well.

the simple fact is that we need supplementationObesity is a result of toxicity induced body system dysfunction and malnutrition; it is not a moral flaw. It is a collapse of auto-immune and biome infrastructure confounded by malnutrition induced by poor decisions made inside our medical and agricultural industries – and bad advice from our fake health professional pseudo-skeptics. If you tend to carry extra weight, as do I, then you are familiar with dietary guidance promulgated us by the ‘evidence based (but we really haven’t looked much)’ medical industry: Being overweight can be managed through portion control, a balanced diet and regular exercise. Or put another way “You gorge yourself at meals, on just your favorite foods, and you sit on your ass all day.”  So, if you are like me and you speak frequently, own businesses and must present a semi-public image in order to promote your businesses and ideals, or just want to look your best at all times, then you daily and habitually reduce your caloric intake at each meal, eat a variety of food pyramid foods in the correct balance, and exercise four to six times per week. I choose to do martial arts, run 2 to 4 miles, do 15 minutes of stretching and calisthenics and lift with elastic equivalent weights. I have followed this habit for the last 14 years faithfully, unless injured or sick. At the same time I have for years maintained a detailed log of my consumption and well-being patterns to show my doctor.

But what you will find is that the ‘evidence based-but we really haven’t looked much’ medical industry relies upon the likelihood that you will not actually test these claims about diet on their part, in your own life. They know that you will fall back on your rear and in resignation, accept this doctrine, blaming yourself for all your weight and health maladies. 

The pharmaceutical and food industries absolutely thrive in profits from this little mental trick they have played on you; courtesy of the familiar cast of propaganda specialists cited in referenced sources (SBM 1 – USAT 1) below.

If you actually test these claims, are faithful in portion control, eat a variety of foods, monitor your well-being and health, and exercise faithfully for more than half the week, in sufficient magnitude to avoid being overweight or obese when you have a body tendency to head toward such direction, what you will find is that you run into the following obstacles of well-being:

Symptoms of Medical-Diet Industry Induced Malnutrition

Carbohydrate Starving – extreme hunger, foggy headedness or lightheadedness, attention deficiency and agitation
Minor Protein Starving – peripheral anxiety (looking left and right feeling of unease), malaise, anxiety, weakness, depression, muscle loss
Vitamin B Starving – pernicious anemia (feeling about to faint while conducting glucose burning activities, but ironically OK during heavy caloric burning activity)
Micro-Nutrient Starving – lack of vigor, hair and facial pigment color saturation, subdued mood, underlying anxiety, muscle mass and tone loss
Vitamin Starving – a variety of intestinal, digestive and skin conditions, depression, visual acuity loss, endocrine insufficiency
Salt Insufficiency – low blood pressure, lack of digestive chlorides, dysbiosis, IBS and puss filled sores on the face and scalp (often confused with rosacea)
Omega 6/Omega 3 Imbalance – skin inflammation, hair dimming
pH Imbalance – facial redness, skin inflammation, dysbiosis, IBS, sweating
Sugar/Carbohydrate Substitution – your body will habituate to responding positively to excessive intake of carbs and sugar in lieu of adequate nutrient.

In other words, you will eventually find that you are suffering from malnutrition. And you will be overweight still. Blaming yourself still. You will hopefully, eventually observe that the propaganda about diet from the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries (see the shills in the recitations who pretend to be competent to issue ‘evidence based’ medical wisdom) constitutes utter and complete, non-scientifically derived bunk. Our foods are depleted of nutrition. Therefore, contrary to the false message issued by the pretenders of science, the stark realization about health in our modern pharmaceutical and agribusiness depleted diet/enhanced profit industry is

Nutrient diluted food tends to sell more in quantity/packaging,
Nutrient diluted food-crops afford cost-efficiency based predatory Mega-Agrimarket domination,
Nutrient deprived humans tend to require more medical services and  pharmaceuticals from chronic illnesses,
All this activity can be concealed through data inclusion/exclusion criteria,
Alternative medical approaches which can tamper with this process are being eliminated by false medical skeptics, and
therefore…
Supplementation is Absolutely Essential to Well Being.

Business Equation: Dilute Nutrients and People Must Consume More Food in Order to Feel Good

The Best Foods and Still OvereatWhich serves as a segue to broach the very topic of this blog, B-Vitamin supplementation. In the chart to the right are the thresholds of supplementation that I have faithfully measured in my lifestyle and diet tracker logs over the last 5 years; levels which have served to attain for me a feeling of well being with respect to B-Vitamin starvation avoidance. Since I eat a low intake diet in order to keep my weight down, this is a persistent challenge. In this nutrition deficient diet food-environment which is offered us, we have to consume a large amount of food in order to get the necessary B-Vitamin intake which we need in order to obtain a healthy well being.  Notice that, in a normal diet, one can achieve 100% of the US Recommended Daily Allowance of each B-Vitamin, inside the context of a reasonable 2700 calorie a day diet. This makes sense.

(notes: there are at least 70 other nutrients I have not addressed in this 2700 calorie tally. I might require even more food in order to address those nutrients as well. But for now let’s just constrain this calculation to B-Vitamins for benefit of this discussion. The ‘group overlap’ is a conservative measure of mutual vitamin-overlap between different foods, calculated by taking the ratio of the next highest level of B-Vitamin to the primary one being measured. This results in an unrealistically high group overlap ratio, however such high ratios are suitably conservative for the estimation of calories to B-Vitamin measures. Any error imbued would result in an even a more dire underpinning of support for this case point.)

The problem is, that one has to eat the BEST – the absolute highest B-vitamin containing foods, of each food, in order to attain this perfect balance of caloric and nutrient intake at 100% US RDA

But I have to consume over 5,000 calories of the best B-Vitamin food each and every day, just to maintain an adequate level of B-Vitamin related well being, 

And indeed this is my diet each day for the last 14 years. Veggies, nuts, eggs, poultry, green leaf vegetables, seeds, root vegetables, legumes, fish, fruit, rice. Yummy, these foods are what I crave. I do not eat junk foods or unhealthy foods. My personal daily research and diet logs have proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that

I still do not feel good at a 100% US RDA intake of B-Vitamins,

I cannot consume a 2700 calories per day diet and still stay trim,

I only begin to feel better at 200 – 300%+ US RDA levels of methylated, co-enzymated and cobalimated B-Vitamin intake, and

Synthetic B-Vitamins provide absolutely no benefit or effectiveness in this challenge at all.

Why? Why do I suffer symptoms of B-Vitamin starvation malnutrition at a food intake profile that should have me thriving like a Biblical Samson with his hair intact – according to our government? Instead I gain weight, and I don’t feel good in my workouts. These are the question with which I challenge my doctor. My doctor looks for my appointments a couple days in advance, and knows to prepare for me. The simple fact is that our food is deficient in the very nutrition it claims to possess, AND … and the realistic intake numbers we need as humans (in particular B-Vitamins, but I suspect other nutrients as well) are much higher than the US RDA has had set. Disease does not ‘just happen,’ as anti-supplement pseudo scientists would like you to infer. No, I have not gotten cancer, but if you use cancer statistics to attempt to statistically vet this topic (B-Vitamin intake), you have no clue what you are doing.

In order for me to feel a sufficient well being, in terms of the B-Vitamin starvation symptoms I experience, I have to take in on average 200% or higher of the US RDA (see chart) for each B-Vitamin – this is where I begin to feel human again, and fully functional in my work.  In addition, the B-Vitamins MUST be in orthomolecular form. Store bought synthetic vitamins do absolute shit in terms of making me feel better. Only methylated, cobalimated and co-enzymated B-Vitamins work. As you can see in the chart above, the problem resides in the fact that for me to attain this B-Vitamin intake level (which I obtain now through orthomolecular B-Vitamin supplements) I would have to consume 5,670 calories per day in these healthy foods.

At this level of caloric intake, I would gain 53 pounds in one year – or alternatively have to work out for 2 full hours each and every single day.  Right now I consume a maximum of 2400 calories per day and work out for around 40 minutes each day. So I have discovered in my own body, what integrative medical professionals have been saying for decades. The reality is that I supplement much more than 200% US RDA – really only feeling totally energy sufficient at near 1000% US RDA on select B-Vitamins. In particular B1, B2, B6, B5, B3, and B12 – interestingly enough, the Kreb’s Energy Cycle vitamins. Moreover, I must take methylated B9 (folate) and not the toxic synthetic waste product they dump into our food to supposedly make up for what we lost through our over-focus on efficiency cartel/oligarch-seeking industrialization.

The simple truth I have learned is, that the anti-supplement voices (TSD 1) are maliciously wrong.

Supplementation, and in particular Orthomolecular Supplementation, is Absolutely Essential to Well Being

The Hired Guns: Skeptic Mafia Provides Enforcement – Imparts No Liability Risk

Fat, sick and stupid is no way to go through life son.

obesity rises but overweight does notWatch over time and closely how the Pharmaceutical Industry pretend science (pseudoscience) regularly tirades against supplements, and the sales revenue reducing and profit cutting/competitive function supplements introduce into the market. The simple fact is that supplements serve to reduce doctor visits and prescription purchases, as well as reduce the amount of food a person must consume each day. Supplements can help to ward off or mitigate the obesity epidemic we are suffering.

Obesity is not simply an extreme version of being overweight. As you can see in the graphic to the right, our nation has never had a growing problem with people being calorie-based ‘overweight.’

Obesity has appeared as a discrete, patterned, constrained and distinct signal inside health data. It has followed the heuristic of an environmental contributor. Something that in any normal context would prompt a skilled ethical epidemiological scientist to raise alarm.

Unfortunately our social stigma around weight, and our false social wisdom skeptics defending 80 year old science, have worked to blind us to this effect.

But people and medical science are ignorant to all of this, precisely because of this group of idiots below. The oligarchy shills which promote this health crime follow habitual patterns of lazy research/analysis and employ common and outdated sources and shared fallacies. They are circular in nature and of propaganda in essence (see the plagiarism example, TSD 4 and USAT 1). These pseudo scientific activists typically employ four primary types of fallacy and fraud-based misrepresentations of science in their propaganda:

Non Rectum Agitur Fallacy

/philosophy : fallacy : pseudoscience : persuasion abuse/ : a purposeful abrogation of the scientific method through the framing and asking of the wrong, ill prepared, unit biased or invalid question, conducted as a pretense of executing the scientific method on the part of a biased participant.

Instead of asking:  “Does orthomolecular vitamin B supplementation result in an increase in patient quality of life?” – There are objective measures for such a study; however, when has this type of study ever been done?

They ask instead, the non-scientific question, “Do vitamin injections cure or reduce cancer?” Yawn. For example, this most-oft misapplied resource for such pundits: Fortmann, SP; Burda, BU; Senger, CA; Lin, JS; Whitlock, EP (12 Nov 2013). “Vitamin and Mineral Supplements in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: An Updated Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force”; Annals of Internal Medicine; 159 (12): 824–34. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-159-12-201312170-00729. PMID 24217421. Use of this study constitutes a ridiculous straw man of what vitamin therapy indeed is in actuality.

note: actually the study did find three things:  a reduction in cancer among those who took supplements when studied over 10 years or more – which did not replicate among 6-year average observation timeframe studies, an association with taking the industrial waste ‘folic acid’ with prostate cancer (notice not actual vitamin B9 or methylfolate), as well as some associated negative impacts of calcium supplementation. I find it interesting that the study could not confirm the well established link between calcification, and heart disease and stroke – an interesting commentary on the efficacy of the data pooling, pairing and stratification methodology employed.

Although it should also be noted, the only actual reductive scientific method question which the study did address was concluded in the following study statement: “Our 5 included studies showed no consistent pattern of harms from nutritional dosages of multivitamins…”

This is a scientific question regarding supplements? Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer among older adults?: two issues of primary human mortality and reality among older adults, which have little to indirect linkages to vitamin function in the first place? No it is not. This is not anything near to a scientific question about supplements – yet this question is contained in nearly every fake scientific article published by this group (SBM 1 – USAT 1 below). This is not even a valid scientific question regarding cancer and heart disease, much less supplementation. It is maleduction – a false form of straw man science.

The correct question under the scientific method (after the question of safety addressed by the above study) is

Does a diet cohort, which features consistent daily consumption of 2700 calories plant based organic matter which has been depleted of or bears a shortfall in nutrient, exhibit an increase in the incidence of, or early occurrence of, the three major causes of death (cancer, heart disease, diabetes), versus a study control exhibiting the same caloric consumption/burn patterns, yet obtaining adequate nutrient, as observed over a 25 year or longer period?

Now that is a scientific question. The study above addresses a political question, raised and financed not by doctors, rather by Ph.D.’s in social policy, national medical insurance policy and finance (examine the study authors and this is exactly what you will find, incompetent PhD degree projection).

Maleduction

/philosophy : pseudoscience : fraud/ : an argument must be reduced before it can be approached by induction or deduction – failure to reduce an argument or verify that the next appropriate question under the scientific method is being indeed addressed, is a sign of pseudoscience at play. The non rectum agitur fallacy of attempting to proceed under or derive conclusions from science when the question being addressed is agenda driven, non-reductive or misleading in its formulation or sequencing.

If I were presented this as an argument in a lab, under a study of supplements – my jaw would simply gape, that I had been this poor in training my associates the methods of hypothesis reduction. This is scientific ineptness. Malevolence which does not bear any form of scientific competency.

The propaganda artist will attack supplements in general by means of a script, which is used in the anti-supplement business. The script will typically feature

  • 85 – 95%% of the articles will mention that studies show Vitamin C does not cure cancer or heart disease. Therefore vitamin supplementation is ineffective in healthy people. (SBM 1 – USAT 1)
  • 70 – 80%% of the articles will mention Linus C. Pauling, in an effort to appear that they conducted background research (SBM 1 – USAT 1)
  • None of the articles will include or examine any modern science regarding nutrition, auto-immunity, micro-biome and disease.
  • Virtually 100% of the articles will mention some form of “Supplements Cause Cancer” claim based on scant few studies showing a slight elevated risk of cancer with excessive intake of some supplements.¹ (Typically featuring no exclusion criteria or signal compensation, things even third year tech’s do with their data, for patients and families who got healthy and supplemented specifically BECAUSE they or loved one’s had undergone cancer treatment).
  • References to QuackWatch, which sound authoritative but actually contain very little really condemning information, and are crafted to appear intimidating.

And let’s be clear here – telling people that they can and should get their nutrition solely from industrial food is making diagnosis and recommending treatment. It is quackery.

Praedicate Evidentia

/philosophy : argument : organic untruth/ : any of several forms of exaggeration or avoidance in qualifying a lack of evidence, logical calculus or soundness inside an argument.

Praedicate Evidentia – hyperbole in extrapolating or overestimating the gravitas of evidence supporting a specific claim, when only one examination of merit has been conducted, insufficient hypothesis reduction has been performed on the topic, a plurality of data exists but few questions have been asked, few dissenting or negative studies have been published, or few or no such studies have indeed been conducted at all.

Praedicate Evidentia Modus Ponens – any form of argument which claims a proposition consequent ‘Q’, which also features a lack of qualifying modus ponens, ‘If P then’ premise in its expression – rather, implying ‘If P then’ as its qualifying antecedent. This as a means of surreptitiously avoiding a lack of soundness or lack of logical calculus inside that argument; and moreover, enforcing only its conclusion ‘Q’ instead. A ‘There is not evidence for…’ claim made inside a condition of little study or full absence of any study whatsoever.

Instead of asking:  “Has a consilience or statistically significant or horizon representative set of studies of supplementation been completed by science?” – When has this type of study ever been done?

They claim instead “Most people in the industrialized world should be able to get whatever vitamins and minerals they need from food.” (TSD 3)

What? Where in the world did we derive this extraordinary and fantastically comprehensive claim? The naturalistic fallacy – if it is the natural way, it is proved sufficient, good or better. The naturalistic fallacy is only valid if it supports a shill position, but it constitutes useless pseudoscience if used by integrative medicine.  This too is scientific ineptness. Malevolence which does not bear any form of scientific competency.

Rhetoric

/philosophy : argument : bias : inverse logic : sleight of hand/ : appearing to be focused on a given topic or a given case example, when a slightly different or less acceptable somewhat related position is actually being surreptitiously promoted. Enacted through opportunistic measures, desperate for an avenue of entry through any means of persuasion and locution – a form of such extreme commitment to a conclusion that it bears not the ethics and honesty of straightforwardness, science, transparency or poetry. An answer seeking a question which then targets a victim – a disliked topic or person.

the simple fact is that we need supplementationExamine this small sampling of rhetoric from our most infamous supplement debunking pharmaceutical company activists:

“Vitamins are magic.” (SBM 1)

  • Falsely Framed Context: Rhetoric/Celeber Cavilla/Red Herring/Associative Condemnation: Vitamin C injections fail as a cure for cancer.
  • Actual Point Made in Article: All Vitamin Supplements are useless and deadly.

“…there is no credible evidence to suggest that routine vitamin infusions are necessary or offer any meaningful health benefit.” (SBM 2)

“Instead of getting caught up in genetic screening by alternative practitioners, patients should simply eat well, exercise and not smoke.” (Forbes 1)

  • Falsely Framed Context: Praedicate Evidentia/Red Herring/Associative Condemnation: Vitamin B injections fail in curing heart disease and aging.
  • Actual Point Made in Article: All Vitamin Supplements are useless and deadly.
  • Pseudo Science: The incorrect and evidence-less claim that today’s mass industry food provides everything you need in order to prevent disease.

“Vitamin infusions are a marketing creation, giving the illusion you’re doing something for your health, but lacking any demonstrable efficacy.” (SBM 3)

  • Falsely Framed Context: Praedicate Evidentia/Associative Condemnation: Conclusive science has been done on supplements and it proves they do nothing.
  • Actual Point Made: All Vitamin Supplements are useless and only crafted by a market to make money.

“…fake diseases naturopaths have invented, like “adrenal fatigue” and “chronic yeast overgrowth.” It also sells dietary supplements…” (SBM 4)

  • Falsely Framed Context: Rhetoric/Celeber Cavilla/Red Herring/Associative Condemnation: Naturopath support of Michigan House Bill 4531 and unfairness when compared to physicians’ ethical constraints.
  • Actual Point Made: Illness causing, degenerative and chronic diseases are a figment of the public’s imagination. It’s all homeopathy. Injections should only be made by licensed physicians in a doctor’s office. Only licensed physicians should be able to order medical tests. All Vitamin Supplements are useless and only crafted by a illegitimate competing market to make money. There is no legitimate medicine practice which seeks to prevent disease. This all should be done at home in silence and in private or on a black market. Only licensed physicians should be allowed to address preventative health measures.

“However, “orthomolecular/nutritional therapy’ is, in the words of Dr. David Gorski, ‘a parody of nutritional science.” (TSD 1)

  • Falsely Framed Context: Amphibology/Polemic/Praedicate Evidentia/Associative Condemnation: Conclusive science has been done on orthomolecular science and it proves to be the same as traditional vitamin supplementation.
  • Actual Point Made: All Vitamin Supplements are useless and only crafted by quacks to make money.

“The belief in diet and supplementation as the cause and cure of diseases [note: ‘such as cancer’ is inserted here, but noted as red herring rhetoric] continues to be believed by many people, though the evidence for this belief is next to nil.” (TSD 2)

  • Falsely Framed Context: Rhetoric/False Representation/Amphibology/Red Herring/Associative Condemnation: Vitamin injections fail as a cure for cancer.
  • Actual Point Made in Article: All Vitamin Supplements are useless and deadly.

“What we’ve found time and again is that the supplements are not working… we don’t need to go on studying them forever….most of the 53% of U.S. consumers who use supplements are wasting money, to the tune of $28 billion a year.” (TSD 4)

  • Falsely Framed Context: Rhetoric/False Representation/Amphibology/Red Herring/Associative Condemnation: Vitamin injections fail as a cure for cancer.
  • Actual Point Made in Article: All Vitamin Supplements are useless and deadly and absorb revenue which is legitimately the property of pharmaceutical and agricultural clients of mine.
  • Actual Point Made in Article: No more science should be conducted.

and please note that the line above in The Skeptic’s Dictionary was plagiarized from the following article in USA Today:

“What we’ve found time and again is that the supplements are not working… we don’t need to go on studying them forever,” said editorial writer Eliseo Guallar of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a telephone interview.” (USAT 1)

  • Falsely Framed Context: Rhetoric/False Representation/Amphibology/Red Herring/Associative Condemnation: Vitamin injections fail as a cure for cancer.
  • Actual Point Made in Article: All Vitamin Supplements are useless and deadly.
  • Actual Point Made in Article: No more science should be conducted.

Notice the last rhetorical point in the last two recitations. This is a common conclusion of a fake-science appeal to authority: No more study is needed. Malevolence and incompetence.  Supplementation is not working for what? What scientifically measurable objective? Curing cancer? What a false pretense of conducting science. When you want to hide an effect, select a large S population and craft irrelevant, fantastical and ridiculously insurmountable ‘hypothesis tests.’ Run one test, bally-hoo it, and declare that no more testing is warranted. This is not just pseudoscience, it is fraud.

These guys’ articles all exhibit these common faults/traits:

  • quoting and citing each other or each other’s work, circularly
  • there is never any research deconstruction or analytical work use as example, calling into question the ability of the authors to actually perform such analysis
  • supplements are treated as this one large evil group of snake oil
  • making money is somehow evil – you should sit in a university office and do fake science
  • regurgitating the same subject matter history about Linus C Pauling & ’emergency room visits’ sourced from each other and NOT researched by the author them self at all
  • citing the same scant study from 40+ years ago
  • overblowing mild signals in old, exclusion compromised and scant study as terror threats about the ‘dangers and deaths’
  • making the same red herring points about injections and cancer
  • using the same rhetoric structure occulting the implication or statement that ‘supplements are useless’
  • publishing in the same opinion forums and outlets
  • citing and reinforcing each other as authorities
  • pretending that pharmacists are unbiased expert resources on health
  • oblivious to the fact that telling person that a nutrient will not work – is giving medical diagnosis and treatment.

In other words. This is a movement of utter, pseudo scientific garbage. The harm and social cost defended by these persons is absolutely historic in magnitude.

epoché vanguards gnosis


(SBM 1)  “Vitamins are magic.” Science Based Medicine: A closer look at vitamin injections https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/a-closer-look-at-vitamin-injections/

(SBM 2)  “…there is no credible evidence to suggest that routine vitamin infusions are necessary or offer any meaningful health benefit.” Science Based Medicine: A closer look at vitamin injections https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/a-closer-look-at-vitamin-injections/

(SBM 3)  “Vitamin infusions are a marketing creation, giving the illusion you’re doing something for your health, but lacking any demonstrable efficacy.” Science Based Medicine: A closer look at vitamin injections https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/a-closer-look-at-vitamin-injections/

(SBM 4)  “…fake diseases naturopaths have invented, like “adrenal fatigue” and “chronic yeast overgrowth.” It also sells dietary supplements…” Society for Science Based Medicine: Dietary supplement company funds Michigan naturopaths’ licensing bill http://www.sfsbm.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=977&Itemid=649

(TSD 1)  “However, “orthomolecular/nutritional therapy’ is, in the words of Dr. David Gorski, ‘a parody of nutritional science.’” The Skeptic’s Dictionary: Orthomolecular Vitamin Benefits http://skepdic.com/orthomolecular.html

(TSD 2)  “The belief in diet and supplementation as the cause and cure of diseases [note: ‘such as cancer’ is inserted here, but noted as red herring rhetoric] continues to be believed by many people, though the evidence for this belief is next to nil.” The Skeptic’s Dictionary: Orthomolecular Vitamin Benefits http://skepdic.com/orthomolecular.html

(TSD 3)  “Most people in the industrialized world should be able to get whatever vitamins and minerals they need from food.” The Skeptic’s Dictionary: Orthomolecular Vitamin Benefits http://skepdic.com/orthomolecular.html

(TSD 4)  “[Most] supplements [do not prevent chronic disease or death], their use is not justified, and they should be avoided…. After years of study and mostly disappointing results, enough is enough. What we’ve found time and again is that the supplements are not working… we don’t need to go on studying them forever….most of the 53% of U.S. consumers who use supplements are wasting money, to the tune of $28 billion a year.” The Skeptic’s Dictionary: Orthomolecular Vitamin Benefits http://skepdic.com/orthomolecular.html

and please note that the line above in The Skeptic’s Dictionary was plagiarized from the following Eliseo Guallar quote (then was amended at a later date to hide the infraction and include the actual quote, yet still not allude fully to the recitation credit individual who originated the statement – that ill intended shenanigan is shown to the right here, extracted from SkepDic at a later date):

Please note: The reason they believe they can get a way with this type of dishonesty, is the knowledge that no one will hold them accountable for anything they say and do. Cuz’ they are ‘skeptics’ – they can sick the hounds of justice/retribution on you at any given time. Jackboot Consensus.

(USAT 1) “”What we’ve found time and again is that the supplements are not working… we don’t need to go on studying them forever,” said editorial writer Eliseo Guallar of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a telephone interview.”  USA Today:  Medical journal: ‘Case closed’ against vitamin pills http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/16/vitamin-supplements-research/4042037/

(Forbes 1)  “Instead of getting caught up in genetic screening by alternative practitioners, patients should simply eat well, exercise and not smoke.” Forbes: How Your Genetic Sequence Can Be Exploited By The Supplement Industry; Britt Marie Hermes, 11/14/2016; http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:NVLjYm9I3ucJ:www.forbes.com/sites/brittmariehermes/2016/11/14/genetic-sequence-exploited-supplement-industry/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

¹  Science Based Medicine Vitamins and Cancer Risk; Steven Novella, May 6, 2015;  https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/vitamins-and-cancer-risk/.

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Deskeption | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Observation Gives Way to Data-Centric Only Science We All Lose

Is the study which you are imperiously and gleefully foisting upon me a meta-analysis? Or is it muta-analysis? It behooves the ethical skeptic to be able to discern the difference. Data alone, does not a science make. Meta-Anlysis studies bear risks inherent in the study methodology which do not exist in Level I and II direct observation science studies. To ignore these risks is pseudoscience.
Are we relying too much upon meta-analysis and imparting too much gravitas to such study approaches on a large scale? The answer is yes, absolutely. Data is the management task of the technician. Even more, an excellent magician can blur the lines between data and method, introducing muta-science into the mix of contended data rigor. It is amazing to me that a study method, which does not allow for suitable replication or peer review, and which contains 21 elements of risk in series – is somehow regarded as the pinnacle of scientific rigor. How did we arrive at such a delusion? Obviously someone of celebrity merit said it and it was repeated from then on.
In contrast, observation remains the heartfelt journey of the scientist. It affords him or her the less common ability to detect bullshit-all-dressed-up-as-rigor.

data is not the same as observationThis morning an excellent blog by The Neuroskeptic wafted across my Twitter screen. One which rekindled my interest inside a topic upon which I have expounded with my science and engineering teams at various times over the years. The Neuroskeptic pointed out a migration of nomeclature and terminology utilized inside medical science paper titles over primarily the last 50 years. The graph to the right is extracted from the March 19th Discover Magazine Online blog article by The Neuroskeptic, addressing this issue.¹ In this blog, he points out the – information technology driven, yet nonetheless peculiar – migration from the term observation, to the term data inside published medical paper titles from 1915 to 2015. As you might infer from the graphic to the right, beginning with the advent of the IBM 1400 common use mainframe in 1961,² until now, there has been an asymptotic decline in the use of observation as the basis of medical paper contention, in favor of data manipulation approaches. A certainly understandable trend. What I contend herein, is not that the rise in data-analyses is an inappropriate trend inside science; rather its employment in lieu of observation – and not as its compliment – or its employment as the gold standard of scientific analysis, both bear pitfalls. Warning flags that science may be trending into directions relegating it vulnerable to manipulation and agenda. And while this graphic only pertains to paper titles, I think the The Neuroskeptic has tapped into an appropriate way in which to introduce and elucidate this issue.

Observation, it is the first step in the scientific method. Otherwise, how does one even know what question to ask? One of the central tenets of Ethical Skepticism involves the skillful understanding of the difference between the role of observation, and its influence in the assimilation of data and crafting of intelligence. Data alone, does not a science make. It is only when we assemble data after a journey of observation, and in the purpose of crafting intelligence, and in answering a question born of necessity – that the process of science is undertaken. One does not simply begin science with data and a question. A meta-analysis can be rigorous, however to presume that since one has conducted a meta-analysis, therefore one has performed rigorous science is a logical fallacy. It is a game for the dilettante – in which they impress each other and the scientifically illiterate.

One thing I learned as the CEO of an information technology and business intelligence firm is… Anything can be crafted from data, in the eyes of the inexpert technician observer. You simply stack the data relationships in the right fashion, ask questions in the right fashion and sequence and juxtapose the results at the right time.

meta analysis increase in useThey key of data science is to be able to detect when you run the risk of deceiving yourself and need to bring in direct material in order to cull and craft such data. In order to accomplish such, one must undertake observations or one must employ the beneficial wisdom life journey of an observer. The strength of the data sets from which one draws has little to do with the strength of argument one claims – unless one possesses the journeyman expertise to interpret such data and its basis of origin. One must be able to skillfully produce intelligence in order to answer a question, not simply analyze data. In order to do that, one cannot be simply a data engineer with a general familiarity of the subject at hand. Nor can one be a scientist, who bears little expertise at the methods and tools entailed in data analysis.

Why do I call it intelligence? Because in actual Security and Intelligence work, one finds that data by itself is useless to most of the time, misleading. Almost any message can be spun from data. Only field work and a knowledgeable observer can distinguish data, and allow it to be placed into sets of useful query-based information – intelligence. Modern Skepticism, if it ever knew this, has certainly forgotten it. The advent of mass storage, relational database structures enabling query by example capability, and the readiness by which we can now assemble data to our fingertips, while mimicking the practices of intelligence, do not stand in adequate substitution of them.

Moreover, a key outcome of these data technology advantages is the increase in employment inside of science of what is called (in particular in medical science) the meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is a ‘study of studies,’ an approach which seeks to bring to coherence a measure of consensus over a specific question of science inside a complicated field of alternative study methods, and potentially conflicting conclusions. The question always remains, is such a drive to consensus representation – too premature, unfounded, unfriendly to replication or heavily risk laden to serve as a basis of claim? I contend that meta-analysis is fatally vulnerable to all such risks.

Meta-Analysis

/science : data science : third level study/ : a post hoc study which does not directly observe, nor directly test, rather employs statistical procedures. Procedures crafted to substantiate a claim based upon integration of the results of a pooled group of first and second level studies which directly address the claim or related question under contention.

“A meta-analysis is considered the most rigorous of approaches to experimental study. Meta-analysis is a quantitative, formal, epidemiological study design used to systematically assess previous research studies to derive conclusions about that body of research. The examination of variability or heterogeneity in study results is also a critical outcome [of the meta-analysis].”³

~ A. B. Hadich, Hippokratia, 2010.

Potential Benefits of Meta-Anaylsis

  1.  It can potentially access the entire body of research around a question.
  2.  A more precise estimate of the effect of treatment or risk factor for disease, or other outcomes, than any individual study contributing to the pooled analysis.³
  3.  A consolidated and quantitative review of a large, and often complex, sometimes apparently conflicting, body of literature.³
  4.  The ability to contrast varied outcomes addressing a single question addressed by multiple parties and varying approaches to study.
  5.  The ability to gauge the sensitivity of various peripheral issues surrounding a scientific question, based upon its frequency of relevancy inside the pooled analysis group.
  6.  May be conducted from a clinical data distance, by a person with less skin in the game, and potentially therefore, presenting less bias and cost.

Weakness of Meta analysisIn general, because of such potential benefits, the meta-analysis is considered the pinnacle of medical scientific study rigor.  Accordingly, the study approach use is skyrocketing in employment. The number of publications employing meta-analysis over time, through 2012, has skyrocketed beyond reason (results from PubMed search using text “meta-analysis”) is depicted in the graphic to the above right.‡ It exhibits the increasing popularity of such a bypass to Level I and II direct observational and expert study. It represents an alarming and increasing reliance upon a data-centric only approaches to science, which leverages only upon our increased technological prowess at handling data, and not in an overall increase in method coherence or knowledge of subject.

But are there weaknesses entailed in a data-centric only approach to science? Achilles heels which only appear once one is able to delve into and understand the observation set which composes the foundational basis of the pooled first and second level studies inside the analysis? And is there sufficient time, resource and money to effect replication and peer review of such a monumental study? It is not as impressive to me, that the meta-analysis technician understand the question to which the meta-analysis pertains. Instead, I am impressed when the meta-analysis is founded upon a study which proves both that the question being asked is the next logical calculus or reductive critical path question in the scientific method, and that the question has been vetted to be such, as agreed by the study authors, inside the conclusions of the pooled studies themselves.  This sadly however, is almost never the case in a meta-analysis. In general, a study which is further removed from the observational basis from which it is derived, bears a greater risk of unseen error and flaw in logical derivations which can be used for conclusion. This is according to Filbert’s Law:

Filbert’s Law

/philosophy : science : analysis : data : risk/ : or the law of diminishing information return. Increasing the amount of data brought into an analysis does not necessarily serve to improve salience, precision or accuracy of the analysis, yet comes at the cost of stacking risk in veracity. The further away one gets from direct observation, and the more one gets into ‘the data’ only, the higher is the stack of chairs upon which one stands. To find a result use a small sample population, to hide a result use a large one.

If one is to ask a broad final consensus question of science, from a series of 1,000 studies many of whom did not ask, nor result in such a question-related set of data, one runs the risk of becoming fouled in the deceptive nature of questioneering and muta-science.

Observing the Candle

observation candleMy Advanced Placement Physics teacher in high school, early in my senior year pulled me aside, and in different approach to that of my equation learning fellow students, assigned me the task of ‘observing a candle.’ I was a bit chagrined by this seemingly mundane task, its burden appearing to me to be somewhat punitive in comparison to the excitement of lighting paper on fire by means of equation estimates of Joule’s First Law. Nonetheless my physics instructor, smiled and said “TES, I want you to sit quietly, relax your mind, and breathe steadily. Then I want you to cite 250 observations of this candle. Not for me, but for you. Lit and unlit, 250 observations.” My mind immediately swept through the salient observations which compose all that an impatient young mind needs to know.

  1.  It is a candle.
  2.  It is key-lime yellow.
  3.  I can light it.
  4.  I can lick my finger and move it back and forth through the flame for fun.

OK, done.

“No, I want you to observe harder…” He smiled and left me with my candle, a pen and 10 sheets of notebook paper. “Crap” I thought. “Sigh…” Okay, so I will observe every little minute detail of this candle and every nuance of that detail, in order to get to my 250 observation count. I breathed, I relaxed and cleared my mind, and stared at the candle well until after my classmates had left the physics lab.

  1. The flame is in a sinusoidal oscillating rhythm.
  2. The average rhythm is .6 seconds.
  3. The rhythm possesses a variation in time from .9 seconds to .2 seconds.
  4. The rhythm moves from .9 seconds to .2 seconds in progression.
  5.  The flame appears as if aspirating or breathing.
  6. There is yellow in the flame.
  7. There is blue in the flame.
  8. There is orange in the flame.
  9.  The blue increases and decreases with the aspirating sinusoidal pattern…

And so on it went. My best observations came as a direct result of my curiosity about what was happening inside this flame. How the candle was made, and the complex interaction between the wax, the ether which combusted versus the paraffin which remained. Suddenly I realized what a wick was for in the first place. I began to formulate ideas as to how to make this device even better, with role plays drifting through my naturally distracted mind. By the time I arrived at 250 observations, I had found that I was not yet done. I knew more about a candle, than I thought possible. I needed to fill in some blanks with some reference technical information, but I understood candle-dom.

A mother who cares for and loves her encephalitic disabled or autistic child from its first moments kicking in her womb, to the most recent day she is spat upon by ill meaning ‘skeptics’ pretending to represent the medical science community, …she is the observer. Everyone else is a data and formula poser. She knows the science, they only know the script. They wave a single academic meta-analysis in the air as if a Bible, yet possess an empty set of intimate knowledge of the questions entailed, the subtle nature of the subject, its risk or even the right question to ask under the scientific method.

Data is the management task of the technician. Stand alone data can serve to deceive even more easily than it can underpin analyses which enlighten.

Observation is the heartfelt journey of the true scientist.

data is notorious way to hideThis is why, even inside subjects towards which I instinctively react in declaring bunk, I bristle at ‘skeptics’ who do not go into the field and make observations. I do not believe in astrology. But if you have not immersed yourself into it, then do not make claims to me regarding ‘evidence’ and science. I am not impressed at your ability to recite a talking sheet. This is a charade worse than the astrology itself, no matter how likely it is that what you think is indeed correct. If you have not sat quietly in ‘haunted’ houses for nights on end, as part of your life’s journey, don’t pretend to tell me all about the reality of ghosts. If you have not chased a mach VIII object in your F-14 and filmed it on the gun camera and pulled the tape on the fire control radar, don’t pretend to tell me all about UFO’s. And if you have spent sizeable amounts of your ‘skeptic’ time debunking such subjects, and then wander over and purport to tell me all about the evidence behind medical conformity which you would like to enforce upon me, I am going to call you a ‘fucking idiot.’

Don’t be deluded by your databases, formulas and ‘evidence’ crafted by those just like you. It is nothing but counter-bunk, to an ethical skeptic.

Simply having run a statistical analyses on candles, can deceive one into thinking that they know even the first thing about candles at all.  This is the principle behind what I call Muta-Science. Or in any ethical world, pseudoscience. Bad method, even more questionable results – advertised as science of the ‘highest rigor.’

Fatal Pitfalls of a Data-Centric Meta-Analysis Only Approach to Science

magicians make for good skepticsThis principal fallacy, the lack of observation in science, or its sacrifice at the hands of the ‘data scientist’ (a scientist who bears little or no qualifying reductive expertise in the subject at hand) introduces the faulty form of science which is often conflated with a rigorous and focused meta-analysis. A muta-analysis changes, by means of sleight-of-hand which cannot easily be isolated, the question being asked, the underlying data itself, the contentions of past science, and the methods of science – by skipping around all but one of the steps of the scientific method.

“In general, post hoc analysis should be deemed exploratory and not conclusive. In the best-case scenario, by revealing the magnitude of effect sizes associated with prior research, meta-analysis can suggest how future studies might be best designed to maximize their individual power.”

     ~T. Greco, Pitfalls of Meta-Analyses‡

bonus sive malusIn other words, meta-analyses are not meant to provide boast to consensus, nor completion of the scientific method. It is ironic indeed that where we deny the need to assemble data and intelligence at the beginning of the scientific method, we bless such action as ‘the gold standard’ when used inappropriately in lieu of or to artificially force consensus as the end of the scientific method.

Muta-Analysis (Pseudoscience)

/science : data science : pseudoscience : spin : questioneering/ : the most unreliable of scientific studies. Often a badly developed meta-analysis, which cannot be easily replicated or peer reviewed, contains a high degree of unacknowledged risk, or was executed based upon a poor study plan. An appeal to authority based upon faulty statistical knowledge development processes. Processes which alter or do not employ full scientific methodology, in favor of a premature claim to consensus or rigor implied by the popularity of a statistical study type. A method which does not directly observe, nor directly test, rather employs statistical procedures to answer a faulty inclusion criteria selected, asked, agenda bearing or peripherally addressed scientific question.

The Probability of Failure is High and Unacknowledged: Muta-Analysis Employed Simply as a Data-Centric Appeal to Authority

Uncertainty Imparted from Source Study Material Practices and Lack of Observational Basis

  1. muta analysisLack of qualified individual data or poor study design results in such a large domain of material so as to dilute, or render-below-p, important signal data.
  2. Lack of qualified individual data or poor study design causes access to such a complex domain of material so as to conceal important focused signal data inside the noise generated.
  3. Data obtained from study summaries, rather than original data – serves to surreptitiously mislead.
  4. Studies which corroborate or correspond to current avenues of science tend to have robustly informative titles to catch attention, while studies which have spotted a counter signal, only title their study precisely to the observed signal effect and not the broader topic, and will tend to show up less often as dissenting or countermanding material in a study search.
  5. Large pool study populations challenge the literature search’s ability to understand each study adequately for inclusion criteria.
  6. Does not draw knowledge from the literature, commentary, peer review commentary or expert editorial/caution around a subject, otherwise available from scientists and experts.
  7. When used to impart inferences from studies, pertaining to peripheral topics, which the Level I and II study authors never intended, nor to which they would agree.
  8. Can be used to impart a premature consensus conclusion from the authors of its pooled studies, which they never addressed nor intended to issue.
  9. The mistaken perception can be held that increases in data or precision, result in increases in study quality, result in increases in accuracy.
  10. Meta-analysis makes it possible to look at events that were too rare in the original studies to show a statistically significant difference. However, analyzing rare events represents a problem because small changes in data can determine important changes in the results and this instability can be exaggerated by the use of relative measures of effect instead of absolute ones.‡
  11. There is resistance from authors to allow ready access to their own dataset containing individual patient data, because of a variety of proprietary reasons and concerns over misinterpretation or liability.‡

Study Scale and Cost Detractor Risks

  1. A meta-analysis is work content and resource costly and difficult to replicate or review. Therefore it can be tempting to take its results as consensus finished science – appeal to authority by cost or effort – when such a claim is not warranted or is premature.
  2. Peer review is difficult to impossible to execute because the qualifications to review the data at hand require specific technical, not science, expertise, effort, cost and domain visibility.
  3. An expensive and work content heavy study – which risks a statistical outcome of underwhelming proportion or one lacking heterorgeneity, may be tempted to revise the study or question, once principal results are in hand, in order to resolve a weaker, but more monumental outcome for peer review and publication.
  4. The very potential of wasted money, introduces an intrinsic conflict of interest, which does not exist in incremental Level I and II studies.
  5. Database queries are run by low cost analysts and research assistants, as a necessity of cost. These non-experts may inadvertently tamper with the available set of input data by means of the criteria employed in a search, its exclusion and inclusion conditions or the inability to know when a suitably representative sample has been extracted from a domain with which the assistant has no familiarity.

Misalignment Between Expertise Demand and Task Assignments Imparting Uncertainty and Risk

  1. Can be executed by academic students and research assistants, at an arms-length from the field, or by data technicians who do not fully grasp the field or question at hand because the lead scientists are not familiar with the database/query technology employed in the meta-analysis.
  2. Executed by data technicians who are not skilled as science or observation, nor the process of developing a logical critical reduction path.
  3. Literature searches performed by semi-qualified, data technician or research assistant parties serve to bias the formulation of question and bias the results.
  4. Technical tasks inside the study do not allow senior research or observation professionals ease of visibility and access into the data practices and intermediate results. No litmus testing is easily allowed midstream. All of which serve to weaken the overall strength and circumspection of the study. The results are the results, and who has the expertise to say they are wrong?

Study Design & Execution Risks

  1.  Subtle failures to adequately define the question studied serve to bias the results, through faulty inclusion criteria.
  2.  Electronic-only database searches artificially skew the study pool and induce bias through excluding studies without an exclusion criteria
  3.  Inclusion criteria crafted to unfairly represent the objections of the dissenting body of science inside a given question.
  4.  Inclusion criteria posed to answer a different question than the ones posed in the first and second level pool studies from which it draws.
  5.  Development of a conclusion from Level I and II studies which provide for little or no heterogeneity in conclusion base.
  6.  Quality scores in study design may exclude more salient studies with lower quality scores in favor of less salient studies which have high quality scores, thereby both imbuing bias into the selection criteria while at the same time advertising a high quality selection rating.
  7. Sensitivity analyses must presume a correlative conjecture – yet do not prove that relationship at the same time. The danger is that these relationships will be granted the same gravitas as the primary claim. “Correlation does not prove causality, unless it is a side observation inside a meta-analysis.”
  8. Both data sourcing and arm’s length Cochrane-style Reviews come from contributors and groups based all around the world with the majority of the work carried out online. Enormous bias in data interpretation can be imputed through such a process.

Abuse of Study Intent Gravitas and Implications

  1. In the face of sufficient risk, unknown or detractors, a meta-analysis can be employed as a defensive boast to provide a smoke screen of rigor which cannot be otherwise claimed in level I or II study.
  2. In the face of conflicting results, a meta-analysis can be utilized more as an involuntary ‘vote’ by scientists or popularity contest fake-measure for deriving artificially crafted ‘consensus.’
  3. Can be used, because of its ‘most rigorous form of study’ POTENTIAL – as an appeal to authority.
  4. The question arises as to why, in a field such as medicine where direct observations are so readily available, do we constantly value science which involves NO observation at all? This renders the study methodology vulnerable to market forces who wish to bypass liability imparted by means of direct observation.
  5. Cochrane Collaboration approaches may cause undue credibility to be granted biased studies from vested/conflicted interests through otherwise respected systematic review channels.

Note: None of the above risks exist in a Level I and II study, which fail more from errors in measurement, alternative diligence and conclusive shortcuts – not risks which are imparted by the nature of the study methodology itself. This is the unacknowledged risk, taken on by the person making a claim via meta-analysis.

High Risk  +  Used as a Claim to Gold Standard Rigor or Consensus  =  High Probability of Abuse

nevrer meta analysis I did not likeRemember that risk is not defined as the ‘probability of failure,’ rather ‘a cumulation of the number of risk bearing elements in series, which could potentially serve to undermine a process or result.’† In this regard, a meta-analysis bears more risk than does a level I or II study – because of the complexity and inability to replicate the logical calculus or scale of effort involved. Twelve high probability tasks targeting accomplishment of a goal, results in one low probable outcome of success. Twenty one risk points (ten of the above 31 points are parallel risks or potential abuses of employment, not intrinsic series method risks) affords an even less probable avenue to success, approaching a probability of failure of 1.00.† Figure 1 shows the cumulative series on such methodology risk, where P(f) is the the probability of failure, and its approach to a 1.00 asymptote.

Figure 1: Highly populated probability of failure, series†

series risk in

So, with the ‘gold standard of rigor’ claim with regard to meta-analyses comes the knowledge that we are purchasing such a claim to authority at the cost of an enormous amount of unacknowledged but adopted risk. To wholesale allow for the establishment of consensus evidence, on the basis of solely meta-study approaches, is scientific foolishness and self deception.

It is amazing to me that a study method, which does not allow for replication, nor suitable peer review, and which contains 21 elements of risk in series – is somehow regarded as the pinnacle of scientific rigor.

A meta-analysis – CAN be – the gold standard of study rigor and verity. But more importantly, we introduce error into science when we issue this appeal to authority basis to studies which fail to address their own propensity to misidentify, misconstrue, mislead, and misinform science and the public.

epoché vanguards gnosis


¹  The Neuroskeptic; Discover Magazine Online: From “Observations” to “Data”: The Changing Language of Science | March 19, 2016 10:32 am; http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2016/03/19/from-observations-to-data/#more-7513.

²  Computer History Museum: Timeline of Computer History; http://www.computerhistory.org/timeline/computers/.

³  Haidich, A. B. (2010). Meta-analysis in medical research. Hippokratia, 14(Suppl 1), 29–37; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3049418/.

†  Bin Suoa, Yong sheng Chenga; Calculation of Failure Probability of Series and Parallel Systems for Imprecise Probability; Jun Lihttp://www.mecs-press.org/ijem/ijem-v2-n2/IJEM-V2-N2-12.pdf.

‡  Greco, T., Zangrillo, A., Biondi-Zoccai, G., & Landoni, G. (2013). Meta-analysis: pitfalls and hints. Heart, Lung and Vessels, 5(4), 219–225.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda, Argument Fallacies | , , , , | Leave a comment

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