Craniosacral Therapy and Whole Foods

Today I visited the newest Whole Foods store in San Jose on The Alameda Ave. just outside of downtown San Jose. This is what I saw across the street:

Cranial Sacral Therapy

The sign reads “Cranial Sacral Therapy Center“. A form of alternative medicine that is only slightly less ridiculous than Homeopathy. Note that this therapy is more commonly known as “Craniosacral”. See Quackwatch and Science Based Medicine for just two takedowns of this horse shit.

What does this have to do with Whole Foods? The target demographic of Whole Foods are the type of people who will pay outrageous prices for products labeled “holistic”, “organic”, etcetera. The typical Whole Foods store has a couple of aisles devoted to selling homeopathic preparations, herbs (for medicinal not cooking purposes), and items like bee pollen. None of which do a single thing to improve your health. So the presence of a clinic that sells a nonsense treatment across the street from a Whole Foods store is pure marketing genius on the part of the owners of that enterprise as they are targeting the same demographic.

P.S., Prior to today it’s been over a year since I’ve been inside a “Whole Paycheck” store. I was in the mood for some decent coleslaw and macaroni salad without going to the trouble of making it myself. I spent $20 and left with a couple of pounds of food. They were charging $3 for a donut and $1 for a single cookie even when buying them in boxes containing six cookies! Not exactly a bargain and why I won’t be buying from Whole Foods again anytime soon. The quality is very good but the prices aren’t just high they’re outrageous.

Read this article at Daily Kos about the results of an investigation that found Whole Foods is systemically ripping off its customers by overcharging for products that they package and sell by weight.

Also, as a result of writing this article I finally took the trouble to search for recipes to make my own “Whole Foods broccoli crunch” salad. A pound of broccoli crowns is currently selling for $1.29 per pound at my local Sprouts supermarket. Factor in a few raisins, sunflower seeds, red onion, bacon, and dressing ingredients and it costs me roughly $3.60/lb to make it myself. My local Whole Foods charges $9.99/lb. Whole Foods charges that much because it is what they think the market will bear. Not because it represents a reasonable profit. Can you say “rip-off”?

Doctor who filed a SLAPP lawsuit against Dr. Steven Novella and SBM charged with deceptive advertising

Consumer Health Digest #15-21 by Stephen Barrett, M.D. who runs the Quackwatch web site just arrived in my inbox and contained some welcome news:

The Medical Board of California has charged Edward L. Tobinick, M.D. with advertising improperly that his clinic offers “revolutionary” and “breakthrough” treatment that can enable patients with strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic neurological conditions to improve rapidly—often within a few minutes—after receiving his injections. Tobinick, who operates the Institute of Neurological Recovery (INR), with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Los Angeles, California, has for many years offered to treat spine-related pain and various neurological conditions with Enbrel (etanercept), a drug that is FDA-approved for other purposes. He and several other authors have published many papers supporting his off-label use, but his work remains controversial. The accusation document states that the ads “contained misrepresentation of facts, were likely to mislead or deceive, created false or unjustified expectations, and/or make scientific claims that cannot be substantiated by reliable, peer reviewed, published scientific studies.” In 2006, he settled previous allegations related his marketing of Enbrel by agreeing to serve a year on probation. Last year, Tobinick filed a suit against Steven Novella, M.D. for criticizing his advertising claims.

This is likely to be welcome news to Dr. Novella, the Science Based Medicine organization, and other entities being sued by Dr. Tobinick. See my previous post on that Tobinick’s SLAPP lawsuit.

Adam Miller, faith-healer, fraud, and all around scumbag IMHO

Check out this story about Adam Miller.

View post on

Apparently Mr. Miller believes he is Jesus Christ. If he can prove he is capable of healing any of the illnesses or injuries he claims to be able to cure I’ll eat my hat and agree he should win his libel suit against Stephanie Guttormson. There has never been a documented case of faith healing. There have been a huge number of self proclaimed faith healers proven to be committing fraud. So I feel pretty comfortable stating that in my opinion Mr. Miller is a scumbag bilking money from desperate people.

Note too that as I write this his web site returns a page that only says “Site Unavailable” (not a HTTP 404 status). It seems he doesn’t care for the attention he’s getting. Fortunately Google has a cached version.

Update 2015-05-20: There has been a biblical flood of articles, YouTube videos, podcasts, etc. about the douchebaggery of Mr. Miller since I wrote my original post. For example, this [Salon article]( and [Ring of Fire]( blog post. Also, shortly after I posted this article the first time Mr. Miller’s web site was back online. As I write this it is once again inaccessible because the hostname “`“` doesn’t resolve to an IP address. And I wish that wasn’t true because I’d like to verify that he has the quack miranda warning on his website that his services are for “entertainment purposes only” as reported by others.

#Cinequest Film Festival day twelve

This is the last day of the Cinequest film festival and is the day they have encore screenings of films deemed particularly good. I managed to exceed my goal of 30 films. The express line pass (which costs an extra $100) was really useful for only two screenings this year, and three last year, so I’m not sure I’ll make that investment next year.

Film #29: “Factory Boss” tells the story of a factory owner and his workers in China. I worked in the Asia-Pacific region for 19 months almost 20 years ago. That included three trips totaling five weeks to mainland China. I did not visit any factories in China but did visit many factories elsewhere in the region (Malaysia, Singapore, India). So I was not surprised by the images of life in a major city in China or factory conditions. As a “far-left liberal” (the epithet people like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh apply as a pejorative to people like me) I expected, and did, identify with the factory workers. What surprised me was the empathy I felt for the owner of the toy factory as he struggled to keep his business in operation despite the pressures put on him by the American multi-national corporation. I rate this 4 of 5 stars.

Film #30: “For Here Or To Go?” focuses on the challenges faced by high-tech workers who come to work in America. In this case software engineers from India who come to work in Silicon Valley. I’m an American software-engineer who has been working in Silicon Valley the past seven years and in the field for thirty-five years. Thus I’ve worked with many people in the situation explored by this film (including other countries like Britain and Russia) and could readily relate to the core issue of the film. I also spent nineteen months working in Asia-Pacific and saw many Bollywood films during that time. Yet I found myself unable to really like this film for two reasons. First, the chemistry between the primary male and female characters just isn’t there. Second, and a more serious flaw, is the film has too many sub-plots. Including one having to do with the homosexuality of one character that seemed to be included simply because it is topical. I rate this 3 of 5 stars.

Film #31: “No Evidence Of Disease” is the phrase everyone wants to hear on follow up to treatment for cancer. This is a documentary about a group of doctors who specialize in trying to make that phrase a reality for women afflicted by cancers unique to women. As someone who underwent surgery for stage two skin cancer a few years ago (including having two lymph nodes removed in addition to excision of the primary site) I know how powerful that phrase is. I think the main failing of the film was its inability to explain why female gynecological cancers deserve extra attention above and beyond what any other cancer receives. The closest it comes is literally at the end of the movie when it states that male prostrate cancer research receives 50% more funding than female GYN cancer research. That was it. No details or supporting evidence for the assertion. Nor were the implications of that disparity explored. Sorry but I can’t rate this more than 3 of 5 stars.

Tom Kirby, Georgia legislator and defender of cell clusters

Tom Kirby, Georgia representative district 114 has no idea what the phrase “human life” means but is still willing to legislate on the topic:

Ethical treatment of Embryos

We in Georgia are taking the lead on this issue. Human life at all stages is precious including as an embryo. We need to get out in front of the science and technology, before it becomes something no one wants. The mixing of Human Embryos with Jellyfish cells to create a glow in the dark human, we say not in Georgia. This bill is about protecting Human life while maintaining good, valid research that does not destroy life.

He appears to be against stem cell research. Which tells me his knowledge of biology and science in general is equivalent to the 2000 year old goat herders who wrote the book he venerates. What I find more disturbing is he appears to believe scientists are trying to create glow in the dark humans. Mr. Kirby may not be a danger to himself or others, and therefore not meet the legal definition for forced psychiatric commitment, but you’ve got to wonder how he manages to find his way home.

Anyone care to place a bet on whether or not he is for or against state sanctioned death penalty? Does he believe society should provide support for the brood mare, sorry, pregnant woman, and her children? I’m betting he’s for the former and against the latter. In other words: A typical know-nothing misogynistic “god fearing” asshole Republican.

H/T: Charles P. Pierce

Anti-vaccine people should be fined $5,000

The measles outbreak that originated at Disneyland has sparked a lot of much needed discussion about the rights of parents with irrational fears and their ability to put everyone at risk of serious illness and death. Surprisingly even some far-right Republicans such as Ben Carson, a US President aspirant, are taking sensible stances on vaccination:

Although I strongly believe in individual rights and the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, I also recognize that public health and public safety are extremely important in our society.

Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious, or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them

As someone said in response to that TPM article:

It’s a sad state for the GOP when a Republican says something obvious and common sense – and it’s considered newsworthy.

This weeks episode of Point of Inquiry featured Dr. Paul Offit in a discussion of the anti-vaccine movement. I didn’t hear anything I didn’t already know from a decade of reading about that movement. But by the end of the interview I had a strong desire to see every anti-vaccine proponent (e.g., Jenny McCarthy) sued into a state of poverty. However, this article at Talking Points Memo by Amanda Marcotte suggests a possibly more effective mechanism:

Considering that anti-vaccination is primarily a matter of elite people showing off their elite status through anti-vaccination, the fine can’t be small or they’ll just see it as the price of doing business. Perhaps $5,000, per kid, per year the kids aren’t vaccinated.

Congressional representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not my mother

This article illustrates why I despise the Democratic leadership. They’re too stupid and spineless to deserve support. In the case of Ms. Debbie Wasserman Schultz it’s the former. She apparently doesn’t recognize that the vast majority of Democratic voters (not to mention the rest of our nation) believe marijuana should be legal. She is opposing a Florida ballot initiative to make marijuana accessible to sick people who might benefit from it. Apparently because of her “mommy instincts“.

She has no business acting as a surrogate mother to everyone in the US. That’s the job of the “family values” political party; aka Republicans. What is worse is that her stance on this issue represents political malfeasance.

Butthurt doctor threatens lawsuit

An invaluable source of medical information for the lay person is being sued in an attempt to suppress legitimate criticism.

Dr. Edward Tobinick seems to think litigation, rather than published peer reviewed studies, is the proper way to address criticism of his practices. Here’s wishing that Dr. Novella and SBM prevail so that cranks like Dr. Tobinick learn that frivolous lawsuits are a waste of time.

Update 2014-08-24: You can find more information and an easy way to donate to the defense of this SLAPP [here](
Update 2015-10-04: I just read, via the [Consumer Health Digest]( mailing list that the lawsuit was dismissed by the court. Yay for freedom of speech and anti-SLAPP laws.

Antioxidant and vitamin pills are snake oil

There is a new study by a group of independent US medical researches that antioxidants in pill form are at best worthless and at worst harmful (e.g., by triggering lung cancer). This really shouldn’t be a surprise. We’ve known for decades that biological processes are almost unbelievably complex. Theoretical models often fail when confronted with the reality of a biological organism. A treatment that works in the lab (e.g., a petri dish) seldom works as well or in exactly the same way inside a living body.

This is also true of supplemental vitamins. For example a study titled Multivitamin Use and Risk of Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease in the Women’s Health Initiative Cohorts found

After a median follow-up of 8.0 and 7.9 years in the clinical trial and observational study cohorts, respectively, the Women’s Health Initiative study provided convincing evidence that multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, CVD, or total mortality in postmenopausal women.

The study’s lead author, Marian Neuhouser, is quoted as saying:

Get nutrients from food. Whole foods are better than dietary supplements.

In other words: Stop wasting your money and risking your health buying multi-vitamin pills. Unless you’ve been diagnosed with a dietary deficiency or medical problem those pills are at best unnecessary and at worst can cause health problems.

See the articles at Science Based Medicine for more information.

h/t Mother Jones

Blogs I read (and you should too)

This is not about my favorite books (although if you haven’t read Andy Weir’s “The Martian”  stop right now and get a copy). This is about the blogs I make time to read even when my time is overcommitted. These must read blogs cover politics, science, atheism and often a combination of the three. In no particular order:

  • The Politics Blog by Charles P. Pierce. His incisive, biting, observations of the American political landscape are in a class of their own. I often wonder if he’s channeling Molly Ivans.

  • The Rude Pundit by Lee Papa is even more acerbic than “The Politics Blog” by CPP.

  • Freethought Blogs is a home for many talented freethinkers and atheists. Including

  • XKCD is “A web comic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”. If you like the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” you should be reading XKCD.

  • Science-Based Medicine focuses questionable medical practices; especially, but not limited to, quackery like homeopathy.