Tag Archives: Health Care

Are Vitamins Useless?; Is US Health Care The Best?; Is The US Becoming A Police State?; Should Our Fellow Citizens Be Our Slaves?


Study Stating Vitamins Are Useless An Example Of Junk Science

Reports on the Iowa Women’s Health Study (e.g., “Multivitamins no fountain of youth for women,” 10 Oct 2011, Reuters) hit the major media outlets recently, trumpeting the study’s claim that vitamin supplements are useless, or even harmful. Based on the numerous problems with the study (e.g., “Findings from Flawed Study Used To Discredit Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements,” Life Extension), it should be ignored.

US Health Care The Best In The World? Hardly

As mentioned often in ET, proper economic evaluations require the use of ratios; i.e. what you get for each dollar you spend. To evaluate health care, for example, one metric would be: how long do you live for each dollar spent for health care services? In the US, the answer is not good. “The U.S. healthcare system is more effective at delivering high costs than quality care than other developed nations.” (Ref. “What’s killing America? U.S. ranks 28th in life expectancy (lower than Chile and Greece) while it pays the MOST for health care,” 24 Nov 2011, Daily Mail Online.)

Is The US Becoming A Totalitarian State? The Signs Are Ominous

See “Government Forces Private Citizens to Pour Bleach on Home-Grown Organic Food.”

Atlas Shrugs: The Consequence Of Trying To Make “The Rich” Our Slaves

Engineers spend a lot of effort in designing reliable control systems for autos, aircraft, telecommunication centers, etc. One of the hallmarks of a good design is that it can’t “leak”; i.e. there are no sneak paths which can prevent the control from achieving the desired system response.

When humans try to control the behavior of their fellow humans, however, they often forget that–unlike machines–humans object to being controlled, and will find a way to “leak” around the controllers.

For example, there’s a lot of talk these days about “the rich” paying their “fair share” of taxes to support government services (also see “More Thoughts On Forcing The Rich To Pay ‘Their Fair Share’“). Regardless of your personal beliefs in whether or not those sneaky rich folks are pulling a fast one on the rest of us, it would appear that our government can force them to pay up (by threats of fines or imprisonment), except for one thing: they can leave.

And they are, in droves. But they’re not just the bling-laden cigar-smoking jet setters and corporate titans that you or I typically think of as rich. No, this little-reported but major exodus is composed of a lot of middle-class folks like you and me, who are simply fed up. As stated by a reader in Sovereign Digest #44 (a newsletter of The Sovereign Society):

“My wife and I have already voted with our feet. We moved to South America in May. We do not like the way our country is headed at all by the politicians — Since I have it so good here in a beautiful country filled with kind loving people, and I live for 65% less than in the States — why would I want to go back? Also, as one over the age of 65 I am treated with great respect and dignity here … PLUS, they reimburse me for the 12% national tax every month since I am a senior citizen — Also, my medical care here is just as good, if not better, than in the States for up to 80% less – and I can be seen almost immediately.

“Why would I even consider going back? I’ve been screwed enough by my government, and I was smart enough to get out!!! I worked hard for my money, put my kids through college, played by all the rules, saved my money – and now they want to take that away and give it to people who just expect to live off me and others. No way!!”

The Big Gorilla is the fact, like it or not, that people want to decide for themselves how best to spend their own money. They may be compassionate and caring people, or they may be self-centered and selfish. It doesn’t matter. If we try to make them our slaves they can simply leave, taking their talent, money, investments, and jobs with them.


A Society That Forces Some Of Its Citizens To Support The Rest Of Its Citizens Will Eventually Result In Either (a) A Totalitarian Society, or (b) A Poor Society

-Ed Walker


Tags: , , , , , ,

ET EXTRA: Why Medical Care Is So Hazardous

“…as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed.”
From “Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science,” by David H. Freedman, 23 Aug 2011, The Atlantic

ET Corollary: Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor probing questions, to challenge his/her assumptions, and to do your own research.


Tags: , ,

PolitiFact Earns “Pants On Fire” Rating

PolitiFact Claims To “Sort Out The Truth In Politics.” They Don’t Prove It, Earning A “Pants On Fire” Rating.

PolitiFact, operated by the St. Petersburg Times, claims to be a site to help you “sort out the truth in politics.”

As we’ve mentioned before (“Internet Hazards, Junk Journalism, and Movie Malarkey: Who Do You Trust? (Part 3)“), calling yourself a fact-check organization does not make you one. Here’s how to tell, using PolitiFact as an example:

1. Does PolitiFact disclose its sources of income, if any, that may tend to bias their evaluations? No.

2. Does PolitiFact disclose the backgrounds of its reporters and editors, so the reader may account for potential bias? No.

3. Does PolitiFact state that its staff includes an ombudsman who is tasked with presenting contrary or minority views, and ensuring balance? No.

4. Does PolitiFact provide a set of criteria to ensure (a) that a representative selection of issues will be checked (balance), (b) that both sides of the issues will be reviewed (fairness), and (c) that issues will be numerically scored with regard to degrees of truth or falsity (objectivity)? No.

PolitiFact scores a big fat zero, ranking it among sites devoted to UFOs, ghosts, psychic phenomena, and other organizations that dabble in pseudoscience.

This does not mean that PolitFact is completely biased or always wrong. It does mean that they have no sound basis for claiming that their comments are anything more than mere opinion. It also means that their evaluation criteria may shift from issue to issue, perhaps allowing them to indulge in subtle favoritism toward people or issues they like, while awarding “pants on fire” ratings to those they don’t.

For example, they recently rated “government takeover,” a slogan widely applied to the Obama health care plan, as “Lie Of The Year” (Dec 16, 2010). But since they have no scientific standards for what constitutes a lie, their pronouncement itself may be “a lie” to those who define “government takeover” as severe governmental intrusion and regulation, arguably true characteristics of the Obama plan. To brand “governmental takeover” a lie, PolitiFact had to resort to equating that term with socialism, which the plan — at least initially — is  not. However, the technical distinction between complete governmental control, versus merely huge amounts of governmental control, is likely a distinction of no consequence to average citizens, who have made clear their opposition to the Obama plan.

Without standards, the PolitiFact “fact checkers” may also shift the context of an issue, trivializing important positive aspects of events they don’t like, while emphasizing minor negative or irrelevant aspects. For example, the PolitiFact front-page coverage of the massive Tea Party march (September 14th, 2009) was headlined “Tea Party photo shows huge crowd — at different event.” Disregarding the fact that the march was indeed massive and highly newsworthy, and also disregarding the fact that the fake photo they presented was never presented as an official photo by the Tea Party, they trivialized one of the most important political events of the year.

PolitiFact may not even be aware of their selective bias, and it appears they never will be, because they have no scientific standards to guide them.

-Ed Walker





Tags: , , , ,

ET EXTRA: The Biggest Threat To Your Life

Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Current Hot Topic

And The Winner Is: Our Corrupt Health Care System

“When you add up the number of annual deaths caused by prescription drugs, surgeries gone wrong, lethal infections acquired in hospitals, and fatal errors made by health care professionals, they surpass the number of deaths from heart disease, cancer, accidents, strokes, or any other category …”

“All told, prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the United states.”

-Dr. Julian Whitaker, MD, in the Dec 2010 issue of Health & Healing

ET observations: Dr. Whitaker’s newsletter provides references to allow independent verification of his statements. Also, although his site does sell nutritional supplements, the newsletter generally provides alternate independent sources for recommended products.

If you have not explored alternative medicine options, as practiced by MDs with open minds, then you may be placing your life at risk.

(ET has no affiliation with Health & Healing.)

-Ed Walker




Tags: ,

ET EXTRA: Protecting Your Life: Hip Replacement Corruption

Wright Medical Group receives the ET Shameful Behavior Award

Due to severe hip pain, 42 year old professional umpire Mark Hirschbeck received a hip replacement, using a ceramic joint made by Wright Medical Group and recommended by his doctor, John Keggi.

The joint subsequently shattered, “leading to an infection and four more surgeries that left Hirschbeck permanently sidelined. He later learned that Wright paid tens of thousands of dollars to a foundation Keggi helps run and gave him a trip to a conference in the Bahamas. Keggi recommended the ceramic device over the kinds of implants used in 97 percent of cases.”

-from “New Hips Gone Awry Expose U.S. Kickbacks in Doctors’ Conflicts” by David Armstrong, 11 June 2010


Tags: , , ,

ET EXTRA: Protecting Your Life: Depression And Pills

Today’s Shameful Behavior Award is presented to the antidepressant drug companies and the FDA.

The Literature section of the March 7 issue of the St. Petersburg Times contained a fascinating review (“Depression, Inc.” by Jonathan Rottenberg) of two books: Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease (by Gary Greenberg, a practicing therapist), and The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth (by Irving Kirsch, expert in statistics and clinical trial methodology).

The anti-depressant industry serves nearly 30 million Americans and provides income of 10 billion dollars a year to pharmaceutical firms. Both books question the honesty of this market, and — according to Rottenberg — do so in a thorough and entertaining manner.

For example, Greenberg attacks the subject from many angles — historical, scientific, clinical, and others — including enrolling in a clinical trial as a patient.

Kirsch points out that the drug companies, along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which approves their drugs, operate in a deceptive manner. The FDA allows the drug companies to pick and choose which clinical trial results they wish to publish. As Rottenberg states, “If a drug company does 10 trials and only two support the efficacy of the drug, they can elect to publish only those two.”

Depression symptoms when severe can be debilitating and dangerous, and require the immediate help of a qualified health care professional. This help, according to both authors, should not solely require the ingestion of expensive little pills.

-Ed Walker


Tags: , , ,

ET EXTRA: Protecting Your Life: Zetia and Vytorin Probably Don’t Work, and May Cause Cancer

Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Current Hot Topic

Drug Company Merck Gets The Shameful Behavior Label

“…Merck‘s clever marketers have spun straw into gold: Over the last seven years they have convinced doctors to prescribe $21 billion worth of Zetia and its sister drug, Vytorin … The drugs are on track to do $4 billion dollars in combined sales this year, despite multiple studies sugesting they fail to prevent clogged arteries.”

-Matthew Herper, “Zetia’s Miraculous Popularity,” 14 Dec 2009 issue of Forbes


“‘Based on the currently available information, FDA believes it is unlikely that Vytorin or Zetia increase the risk of cancer or cancer-related death, but at this time an association cannot be definitively ruled out,’ the agency said in a posting on its Web site Tuesday.

“The FDA’s views come after it finished a review of a clinical trial that shocked investors and the medical community when it showed an increased risk of cancer and deaths from cancer in patients taking Vytorin compared with those given a placebo.”

Jared A. Favole, “FDA Says ‘Unikely’ That Vytorin, Zetia Increase Cancer Risk,” 22 Dec 2009 Wall Street Journal

-Ed Walker

FDA Says ‘Unlikely’ That Vytorin, Zetia Increase Cancer Risk


Tags: , ,

ET EXTRA: The Tragedy Of Congressional Arrogance

Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Current Hot Topic

It looks like the U.S. Congress is getting ready to pass a massive Health Care bill. Regardless of one’s views on the need for health care reform, it can be stated flatly that the process that has unfolded over the past months is anything but rational.

If Congress had presented their proposal to an engineering review team, the response would be shock, followed by hilarious laughter. The engineering team leader would then have admonished Congress to get their act together, and not return until they had a concise and logical presentation, backed up by appropriate research.

Politics does not have to be corrupt and immoral. Unfortunately, for the majority now controlling Congress, it is. And make no mistake, the actions of Congress are not going to make life better for the little guy. If you’re an average person — a  truck driver, or a lady selling cosmetics in a department store — it may make you feel better to think that government is going to take care of you at the expense of “rich folks,” but the opposite is true. Do your own research, employ engineering thinking (and in particular avoid emotional blockages), and in my view you will come to the same conclusion.

Engineering Thinking awards its maximum Five Jacks award1 to Congress for its irrational and bull-headed obsession for enacting a bill that will make things worse — much worse — rather than better.

-Ed Walker

Note 1: The Jack, or knave, is considered to be of lowly and untrustworthy status.


Tags: , , ,

ET EXTRA: Protecting Your Life: What You Should Know About Cancer

Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Current Hot Topic

To this ardent student of the pathology of bad science, it has been become apparent that the mainstream approach to cancer — radiation and chemotherapy — has failed. The reasons for this failure will be explored later, but for now I urge you to read the following: “So Many Needless Cancer Deaths” by William Faloon.

-Ed Walker


Tags: , ,

ET EXTRA: Fraud And The Health Care Debate

Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Current Hot Topic

A Five Jacks Shameful Behavior Rating (Our Highest)
for a

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
Yale professor Jacob Hacker
Ezra Klein from the Washington Post
NY Times columnist Paul Krugman

As asserted in “We Interrupt This Blog…”, a major problem with the governmental system is that it tends to become corrupt. A striking example is today’s health care debate over the so-called “public option.” Please see the following link for clear evidence that our elected officials, and their like-minded supporters, are actively lying to us: “The Public Option Deception” by Morgen Richmond (


Tags: , , , ,