The Augean stables

By Dr. Malcolm Kendrick

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from Dr. Malcolm Kendrick.

For many years it was possible to start a clinical trial, on a drug, without telling anyone that you were doing so. Then, if it turned out to be negative you could just slip it under the carpet and never let anyone know you were doing it. This is what happened with many antidepressant trials. Positive, publish. Negative, bury. Unsurprisingly, the results for antidepressant treatment looked pretty damned good.

Another little trick was to keep the primary end-point of the trial secret. To explain. Say you started a study on statins where you most wanted to look at the effect on overall mortality – whether taking statins meant more people were alive at the end of the study, than those taking a placebo. In this case overall mortality would be the ‘primary end-point’.

You could also measure other outcomes, or end-points. For example, you see how many people were admitted to hospital with angina, or how many people needed an angiogram and/or stent. Or how many people suffered a non-fatal heart attack or stroke. You can, in fact, measure many different things. These would usually be called secondary end-points.

Up until fairly recently, if you failed to reach your primary end-point – the term normally used for this sorry state of affairs would be ‘failed to reach statistical significance’ – you didn’t need to let anyone know. You could just say. ‘Oh look, the number of episodes of angina was significantly reduced, as was hospitalisation for chest pain and the rate of non-fatal strokes.‘ Success!

Man on Clapham omnibus: ‘But, but, I thought you said the trial was going to look at overall mortality.’

Pharmaceutical company: ‘How do you know that, we never told anyone what the primary end-point would be.’

Yes, I know, pharmaceutical companies cannot speak. But you get the general idea.

Now, if you start trawling around your data, you can almost always find something somewhere got better. And if something else got worse, you can just fail to mention it. Essentially, therefore, unregistered clinical trials are not worth the paper that they are written on. Especially, of course, if they never got written on any paper at all.

In the year 2000 the major US group the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) decided that any studies they were going to fund (these are non pharma company studies) must register all …Click Here To Read The Full Story >>>

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Sai Gets FOIA Docs On The TSA

By Amy Alkon

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from Advice Goddess Blog.

Sai Gets FOIA Docs On The TSA
Lisa Simeone posts at TSA News Blog on some of what’s been revealed through the docs released in the request by Sai, “an intrepid, indefatigable young man.” As Simeone writes, “He has been forced to tangle with the TSA more than once, when the agency’s workers have bullied, harassed, and illegally detained him.”

From his FOIA request:

Here’s the TSA’s old version defining an administrative search:

“Administrative Search: A search conducted as part of a regulatory plan in furtherance of a specified non-law enforcement government purpose, such as to determine compliance with TSA regulations or to prevent the carriage of threat items or entry of an unauthorized person into the sterile area or on board an aircraft.”

And here’s the new version:

“Administrative Search: A search conducted without a warrant as part of a regulatory plan in furtherance of a specified non-law enforcement government purpose, such as to determine compliance with TSA regulations or to prevent the carriage of threat items or entry of an unauthorized person into the sterile area or to screen passengers entering any public conveyance.”

The words “without a warrant” and “any public conveyance” have been added. Our readers already know that the TSA has always claimed the power to search “any public conveyance” (see VIPR), but most people still don’t know it. Now you can see it in black and white. (“Without a warrant” has always been the case since the weasely term “administrative search” was dreamed up by lawyers, because, meh, Fourth Amendment, Schmourth Amendment.)

The TSA is also now claiming the right to search your reading materials. Yep, books, pamphlets, personal documents — no matter how personal those documents are — you name it, the TSA now claims the right to conduct a warrantless search on your personal, private information. This claim is new. Up to this point, though many TSA agents have gone through people’s personal documents, it’s been illegal for them to do so (see Steven Bierfeldt). Now, it would appear, by magic, it’s suddenly okay.

Inquisition, anyone?

Check out this pointless thuggery from last year — an attempt by the pretend cops known as the TSA to screen a man after he gets off the plane. Here’s the YouTube description. The TSA thug pictured is Alex Grossman:

They tried to get me to do additional screening of my Body after I was already off the plane and headed out of the airport. I ended up leaving the airport …Click Here To Read The Full Story >>>

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That “Low-Fat Beats Low-Carb” Study

By Tom Naughton

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from Fat Head.

I’d have to dig through my Outlook archives to say for sure (and I won’t), but this one may have set the new record for the number of Did you see this?! emails I received.

If you follow the health news (and if you haven’t been on a retreat in the wilderness or otherwise deprived of the internet for the past week), you already know a new study declared that low-fat beats low-carb for weight loss … once and for all, end of story, final word, move along folks, there’s nothing else to see. Let’s look at some media treatments of the news.

From a BBC article titled Low-fat diets ‘better than cutting carbs’ for weight loss:

Cutting fat from your diet leads to more fat loss than reducing carbohydrates, a US health study shows.

Scientists intensely analysed people on controlled diets by inspecting every morsel of food, minute of exercise and breath taken. Both diets, analysed by the National Institutes of Health, led to fat loss when calories were cut, but people lost more when they reduced fat intake.

From a Washington Post article titled Scientists (sort of) settle debate on low-carb vs. low-fat diets:

Seeking to settle the debate, scientists from the National Institutes of Health set up a very detailed and somewhat unusual experiment.

They checked 19 obese adults (who were roughly the same weight and had the same body-mass index) into an inpatient unit at the NIH clinical center, for two-week increments.

For the first five days of each visit, the volunteers were given a baseline diet of 2,740 calories that was 50 percent carbohydrate, 35 percent fat and 15 percent protein. This wasn’t very different from what they were eating before. But for the following six days, they were given either a low-fat diet or a low-carb diet, each having 30 percent fewer calories. Each participant was also asked to exercise one hour a day on the treadmill.

After analyzing everything from how much carbon dioxide and nitrogen they were releasing to their hormone and metabolite levels, the researchers concluded that the calorie-per-calorie, low-fat diets beat out low-carb diets.

My favorite headline was from the Los Angeles Times: For fat loss, low-fat diets beat low-carb diets handily, new research finds.

Low-fat won handily? Must’ve been real butt-whippin’ demonstrated in those results.

It is a central dogma of the low-carb lifestyle: that while avoiding carbohydrates will force the human body into fat-burning mode, any diet that fails to suppress insulin …Click Here To Read The Full Story >>>

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On the 70th Anniversary of VJ Day, Eugene B. Sledge Puts Your First World Problems Into Perspective

By Brett and Kate McKay

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from The Art of Manliness.

Eugene E.B. Sledge Marine Old Breed

“Until the millennium arrives and countries cease trying to enslave others, it will be necessary to accept one’s responsibilities and to be willing to make sacrifices for one’s country — as my comrades did. As the troops used to say, ‘If the country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for.’ With privilege goes responsibility.” –Eugene B. Sledge, With the Old Breed

“The fighting will be extremely tough but short. It will be over in four days, maybe three.”

That had been the word from the general of the 1st Marine Division as his men prepared to take the tiny island of Peleliu from the Japanese.

But the fight had not gone as planned. The Japanese had changed their strategy. In previous Pacific battles, they had attacked the Americans in mass kamikaze charges, and been mowed down by the thousands. On Peleliu, they switched tactics, retreating into a vast network of caves and pillboxes carved under the island’s rocky coral landscape. When American planes, ships, and ground artillery pounded their positions, they simply bunkered down, waited for the barrage to finish, and then reemerged for a ferocious counterattack. The enemy had become lethally elusive and was prepared to fight savagely to the death. Thus each yard the Marines took required a high price in blood, and sanity.

American assault battle Peleliu

So it was that 15 days into the battle, there still appeared to be no end in sight. And one member of Company K, 3d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment had reached his breaking point. Turning away from his fellow Marines, Private Eugene Bondurant Sledge sat down on his helmet, put his head in his hands and cried. The more he tried to stop his tears, the harder the sobs came. The horror and physical exhaustion of the previous two weeks had finally caught up to him.

E.B.’s nickname — “Sledgehammer” — belied his slight 135-lb build and demeanor. The son of a prominent physician back in Alabama, the shy, intelligent 20-year-old might have been mistaken for a poor young man who had been drafted into the military and found himself in over his head as a grunt. But Sledge had in fact chosen this path for himself. Though his family had urged him to stay in college as long as possible in order to angle for a safe, …Click Here To Read The Full Story >>>

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Amnesty's Twitter account gets very chatty - but not about Gaza terrorists

By Elder of Ziyon (

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from Elder Of Ziyon – Israel News.

As my readers know, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 5 weeks tearing apart Amnesty’s Gaza Platform, as especially their many tweets to commemorate the one year anniversary of various events that they claimed proved Israeli war crimes.

I answered virtually every one of their accusations with real facts about how the targets were legitimate under the laws of armed conflict, but I never saw their Twitter account respond to any of my facts.

But over the past couple of days, Amnesty started an entirely new Twitter initiative – to support Amnesty’s position to decriminalize prostitution.

People are tweeting to Amnesty, and Amnesty is answering them by the score. I count about 40 replies to questions and comments.

So it is clear that Amnesty reads what is tweeted to them. It is clear that Amnesty chose to ignore my points about Gaza “civilians’ who were terrorists, and about the many errors and biases in the Gaza Platform, and about the deceit behind their Gaza tweets.

Which means that the reason Amnesty didn’t respond is because they know they are wrong, but their desire to demonize Israel is far more important to them than the truth.

Oh, and Amnesty USA has not responded to my challenge. They said that proof that civilians were really militants, in the form of photos of them in uniform, would result in corrections to the Gaza Platform, so I provided one.

Since then they tweeted other items but ignored me.

For the exact same reason mentioned above.

They know I’m right. They read my tweets, And they don’t want the world to know that they are hypocrites.

…Click Here To Read The Full Story >>>

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