Skeptic News: Ayurveda physician, two others arrested

 From: Daily News Sri Lanka

An ayurveda physician alleged to be the main suspect behind the acid attack on North Central Province ayurveda commissioner Kumara de Alwis, and two others wanted in this connection were arrested by the Anuradhapura Police Crime Division yesterday.

Police conducting investigations in to the attack earlier arrested another ayurveda physician alleged to have been the mastermind who aided and abetted the attack.

Police said the ayurveda practitioner who came on transfer to the Anuradhapura Hospital from the Minneriya Hospital is reported to be currently on study leave.

A professional dispute between this physician and the ayurveda commissioner is said to have led to the acid attack. A soldier who is alleged to have been involved in the attack was arrested at Nittambuwa recently. The 23-year-old soldier is attached to a camp at Mattakuliya. Police said the other suspect who accompanied the soldier on a motorcycle is reported to be a fish vendor in Nittambuwa.

The motorcycle used for the attack had been hired from a vehicle leasing outfit in Nittambuwa, according to information gathered.

Police said the acid attack had been carried out as a contract job.

The acid used for the attack had been purchased from a shop in Kirillawala.

Investigations are continuing.

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Skeptic News: Glasgow Skeptics launch trio of petitions

images (6)From: Glasgow Skeptics facebook

Glasgow Skeptics is launching a trio of petitions, seeking to open up Glasgow City Council (GCC) to its constituents with the implementation of an e-petition system, to enhance evidence-based healthcare in Scotland, and to promote freedom of religious belief.

Come along on March 11th to our campaign launch, and help us get our petitions off to a great start!  The petitions relate to the following areas:

– Requesting that Glasgow City Council implement an e-petitions service, to enable citizens of Glasgow to more easily make their views known to the Council
– Requesting that Glasgow City Council organise a poll of electors in the city, on a proposal to discontinue religious observance in non-denominational schools in the city.
– Requesting that NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde withdraw funding for the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital

Speaking at this event will be:

– Dr Margaret McCartney, Glasgow-based GP and campaigner for evidence-based medicine
– Gary McLelland, Chair of the Edinburgh Secular Society, which is supporting a similar petition on religious observance submitted to City of Edinburgh Council
– Local government representatives

Glasgow City Council currently requires a signature for every name placed on a petition, and so two of these petitions must currently be filled out by hand. Please come along, lend your name to these petitions, and help us to change Glasgow for the better!

We would urge all residents of Glasgow to at least consider supporting Glasgow Skeptics in their attempts to open up local democracy in the dear green place. This effort follows an attempt by the Edinburgh Secular Society to persuade the council to hold a referendum on religious observance in Edinburgh schools.

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Skeptic News: Could abnormal skull be from an alien?

the starchild skullFrom: Houma Today

A Houma native is on a mission to determine whether an ancient skull is of earthly origin.

The so-called “Starchild skull” is a curiously shaped skull that its curator, paranormal researcher and author Lloyd Pye, has been studying for extraterrestrial descent since it was entrusted to him 14 years ago. Pye said he believes using a new state-of-the-art tool, the Illumina Genome Sequencer, to retrace the ancient DNA can provide a definitive conclusion about the skull’s origin. The price tag for such a test, however, is in the millions of dollars.

Pye, 66, who lives in Florida, claims the skull is roughly 900 years old and was discovered in the 1930s in a Mexican mineshaft. It has garnered a reputation in the paranormal community as the offspring of an extraterrestrial or a genetic mutation. The skull’s physical and genetic irregularities, Pye says, simply contradict too many traits of a human skull, even those affected by medical syndromes such as hydrocephaly or Progeria, which can cause heads to be misshapen.

A DNA test was carried out in 1999 at a forensic teaching laboratory by a group of student geneticists who concluded the Starchild is a human male.

Pye said 1999 was the “Stone Age” for genetic testing and the students badly botched the job.

In 2011, Pye said a new round of DNA testing indicated the Starchild is not the human male from the 1999 test.

Don’t like the conclusions drawn from research that debunks your dearly held beliefs? Find fault with the test and test, test, test and test again until you get the result you are looking for. Or, as seems more likely, don’t and carry on testing forever.

The Starchild skull is an abnormal human skull allegedly found in Mexico that is claimed to be the product of extraterrestrial-human breeding or genetic manipulation. Tests conducted utilizing mtDNArecovered from the skull have established it as human. Experts believe it to be the skull of a child who died as a result of known genetic or congenital abnormalities, such as congenital hydrocephalus.

DNA testing in 1999 at BOLD (Bureau of Legal Dentistry), a forensic DNA lab in Vancouver, British Columbia found standard X and Y chromosomes in two samples taken from the skull, “conclusive evidence that the child was not only human (and male), but both of his parents must have been human as well, for each must have contributed one of the human sex chromosomes.

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Dolcefino: "Burzynski has published!"

By Keir Liddle

images (5)Wayne Dolcefino has been engaged in a discussion over on the East England Skeptical Society blog with David James regarding the Burzynski clinic. Both sides currently seem very frustrated with one another and although the dialogue has been “mature” it does appear to have reached an impasse.

Though a number of comments given by Dolcefino via email and on the blog are very interesting:

“The clinic is actively compiling the data from it’s completed trial and is seeking to publish it in peer review journals. You want to see data published. So does the clinic. Dr. Burzynski knows this is a critical juncture for his research.”

I am sure all of Burzynskis critics will be delighted to hear that the clinic wants to publish and has finally reached this critical juncture at just a little over 35 odd years since Burzynski started exploring the use of antineoplastons as a cancer treatment. Equally I am sure all of Burzynskis patients who have been enrolled in his many, many, many, clinical trials over the years be delighted to know that their data will finally see the light of day.

I also further suspect that thousands of other patients with DIPG and Glioma will also be very interested to see Burzynskis results and delighted at the prospect he is finally ready to share his much touted revolutionary cancer treatment with them and the world. Particularly given his failure to publish has effectively meant that these thousands of patients worldwide could not receive Burzynskis ANP treatment.

We all been waiting a hell of a long time to see any of Burzynsksi results and when/if they surface it will be interesting to be able to finally confirm or deny a few little things regarding his research. /Alongside the question of whether antineoplastons show any convincing efficacy as a treatment of cancer it will be interesting to see if Burzynskis research protocols are as bad as has been previously reported.

However another interesting aspect to Dolcefinos’ replies to David James is the following statement found in the first comment below Davids latest blog:

“Ignoring the fact there are public SEC filings of interim data on 14 clinical trials available for you to analyze.”

So have all the critics and skeptics of Burzynski and ANP been grossly unfair in saying that the clinic hasn’t published trial result in peer reviewed journals?

No. Far from it. Given a SEC filing is is a financial statement or other formal document submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and not, as you may have already guessed a peer reviewed medical or oncology journal.

A total of 78 filings from the Burzynski Clinic are freely available for use to peruse and analyse but what data is available and how is it presented?

The first report that states anything of interest is the Burzynski Research Institutes 2011 annual report. Which actually tells us what kinds of trials Dr. B claims he is conducting:

“All of the Company’s clinical trials, except one, involve the use of Historic Controls. Further, all trials except the CAN-1 study are “prospective clinical trials” (“PCT”). A PCT is a clinical trial wherein patients are accrued into and follow the clinical trial protocol from the very beginning of the trial. A retrospective trial is a trial in which data from patients treated prior to the start of a clinical trial is considered. Results of retrospective trials are, in most instances, not acceptable to the FDA. In addition, there are no clinical trials being conducted that involve “double blind” studies and all but one clinical trial involve no randomization into multiple treatment groups.”

It also contains some information about 14 of the research institutes protocols and states the results Burzynski is claiming from these. The protocols explore the use of ANPs on a range of brain tumours (primarily glioma) and of the protocols involve research conducted on children. The protocol results are presented in table form recording the number of patients recruited, the number evaluable for treatment and how many show “complete response”, “partial response”, “stable disease” or “progressive disease”. Terms we already know, thanks to Quackwatch and the cancer letter, that Burzynski has determined his own definitions for.

These protocols are clearly going concerns as figures are also available in the 2009 and 2010 reports.

What do I make of the data?

Well very little as of yet, though I intend to look at it more closely over the next few days, but I can report that, asides from the scant information described above, there is no detailed description of method, randomisation and not statistical analysis. I can also report that in EVERY single one of the protocol results reported by Burzynski in SEC filings the majority of patients showed progressive or stable disease.

There is in short absolutely nothing in these SEC reports that approaches anything like the rigour and information needed in a peer reviewed journal article. To determine if these reported results are worth a damn we need details of Burzynskis methodology and we need a rigorous statistical analysis.

As it stands the information contained alone within the SEC reports is about as valuable to medical research as an inflatable dart board is to Jockey Wilson.

But it raises a very interesting question if  the clinic has no problem publishing information for the SEC, why do they seem to have such problems publishing their trial conclusions in the past in peer-reviewed medical journals?

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Skeptic News: Police officer latest victim of anti-vaccination violence in Pakistan

APphoto_PakistanFrom: LA Times

Gunmen shot and killed a police officer assigned to safeguard a poliovaccination team in the northwest city of Mardan on Tuesday, the latest in a pattern of attacks that have jeopardized efforts to rein in the disease in the South Asian nation.

The officer, Said Muhammad, was providing security for a husband-and-wife team carrying out vaccinations in Mardan’s Sheikh Maltoon neighborhood when two attackers on a motorcycle rode up and opened fire, local officials said. The vaccination workers were unhurt, but Muhammad died instantly. The attack occurred while the female vaccination worker was inside a house administering vaccination drops to children, and her husband was outside marking the exterior wall to indicate vaccinations were being completed there, said Muhammad Ayaz, a vaccination worker who rushed to the site after hearing shots fired. In recent months, militants unleashed a wave of violence against polio vaccination workers across the country, denouncing the vaccination drives by U.N.-backed Pakistani healthcare workers as a guise for American spying activity.

At least 11 polio vaccination workers have been killed in Pakistan since December. A land mine blast killed two polio vaccination workers in the tribal region of Kurram on Jan. 31. Assailants killed nine vaccination workers in Karachi and northwest Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in December. The government’s decision to assign police to accompany polio vaccination teams hasn’t deterred the militants. On Jan. 29, gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a police officer guarding two female polio vaccination workers in the northwest city of Swabi, killing the officer.

The vaccination workers escaped unhurt.

Pakistan is one of three countries where polio remains endemic — the other two are Afghanistan and Nigeria. Polio vaccination workers have been targeted for death in both of those countries as well. Last year, the number of polio cases in Pakistan dropped, from 173 in 2011 to 56 in 2012.

The attack was likely motivated by opposition to the polio effort among militant groups, who accuse health workers of spying for the United States and harming Pakistani children.

 

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Skeptic News: Another ASA complaint upheld against Errol Denton

Advertising standards agency logo. Red tick next to the letter ASAFrom: ASA

Four issues were investigated and all were Upheld:

In advertisements on Errol Dentons website Errol made the following claims:

 “Errol Denton says that Crohn’s disease is not a disease at all and that it is the result of poor dietary habits causing inflammation to its unwitting victims. He states that blood cells of a Crohn’s sufferer is identifiable [sic] by its distinct abnormal tattered shape”

Claims below stated:

“Yet again, the doctor’s solution is to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs which only suppresses the symptoms and not deal with the root cause. Claims below stated “It is now high time to look at a safe natural alternative that works. An alternative that works every time with no negative side effects. It is time to look at what Errol Denton at Live Blood Test Harley Street is doing with his clients and the awesome results he has achieved with treating Crohn’s disease. The healthy side effect to Errol’s natural treatment is no more internal bleeding in 72 hours! Errol Denton has been achieving astonishing health results like these for many years. There are just a few of the thousands of his case studies on his website but they give a clear indication of the resounding success of his natural treatments”.

Claims on a page titled “Errol Denton Quack Doctor Or Super Healer Revolutionary Live Blood Analysis Expert?” stated:

“Errol has treated conditions such as Arthritis, Cancer. Diabetes. Gout etc etc all by using food as a medicine”.

Claims on http://www.livebloodtests.com under the tab “Iridology” stated:

“Iridology is the study of the eyes, particularly the iris. Your eyes serve as ‘windows’ to the state of your heath, with the iris revealing information about your entire body … An iris analysis is a preventative tool offering many benefits, and is of value to adults and children alike. Leaning about and understanding your genetic constitution will help you understand chronic health problems, including allergies, arthritis, diabetes, eczema, high blood pressure, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and many others”.

Complainants challenged Dentons outrageous lies claims on a number of points:

Specifically whether ad (a) discouraged essential treatment for Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis, Cancer, Diabetes and Gout etc etc. All condition for which medical supervision should be sought.  All these claims were upheld and in now remains for Errol, who isn’t known for doing so, to tell the truth and change his misleading and exaggerated anti-scientific claims.

We are happy to highlight that yet again sanctions have been recommended against Denton, though we doubt they will actually affect his dishonest or delusional business practices. We also doubt he will halt allegations against those who criticise him as being racisits. We hope that eventually someone will be able to properly stop  this medical conman.

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Skeptic News: Atheist Group Settles Landmark Discrimination Case with Michigan Country Club

dawkins_0From: CFI

A Michigan country club that cancelled an event by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), allegedly because of the speaker’s and attendees’ atheism, has agreed to a settlement in the case brought against it, marking perhaps the first time federal and state civil rights statutes have been successfully invoked by nonbelievers in a public accommodations lawsuit.

In April of last year, the Center for Inquiry, an organization advocating for science, reason, and secular values, brought suit against the Wyndgate Country Club of Rochester Hills, Michigan for violation of both the federal and state civil rights laws, as well as breach of contract, after it cancelled an October, 2011 CFI-Michigan event featuring famous atheist Richard Dawkins. The club tried to justify breaking its contract by stating that “the owner does not wish to associate with certain individuals and philosophies.” The club’s representative specifically cited a concern over Dawkins’ appearance on The O’Reilly Factor a few days before, in which Dawkins’ atheism was the chief topic.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome of this case, which we regard as an unqualified vindication of the rights of nonbelievers,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “We are confident it will send a strong message that as much as this country now rejects discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, and religion, so must we reject just as strongly discrimination against those with no religion.”

As part of this settlement, the Wyndgate has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to the Center for Inquiry.

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