Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I've got a comment!

My post about the Venezuelan quackery called "Systemic Medicine" has elicited a more or less expected reply.

Someone called Magaly wrote this:

Dear undergraduate Nuñez (seems to me that for your age you should have achieved a little bit more in academic terms...than just "exposing" your favorite quack of the moment....)
Your role as a quack exposer seems to include being a sitting duck...for some useful and illustrating thoughts...the article which you seem to doubt so much (one of four such articles) was worked on during 5-6 months with 2/3 reviewers to get it to the required level for inclusion in such a prestigious journal...But then how can you know this...you have still not published your "undergraduate" dissertation...let alone a full scientific article...Another interesting fact is that you mention the presence of Olalde in the editorial board...of the journal...yet you choose to ignore or fail to mention that his inclusion in the board occurred 6 months after the publication of his fist article...
This quackery as you name it has attended more than 800k patients during the last 5 years ...how can this be? ...no one can maintain a lie...for so long...and deceive so many people...it seems to me that you should get your facts straight and understand that technology and the advance of mankind is sometimes related to issues that we do not like or accept...that does not mean that they are not true...so do not be upset with someone that does not have a doctor's degree that provides his thoughts or theories on medicine...or a non-physicist in the theory of relativity (which mind you does also include "energy" concepts)....after all you seem to be doing very well without any degree at all...

By the by...my native tongue is Spanish...so if you feel more comfortable...we can have this discussion –if this is ever published- in Spanish as well...one thing is to doubt and another is to slander for the sake of doubt…

It is clear that this person does not have the slightest idea about what is science. She believes that it is proper to compare the absolute lack of training with the lack of a paper that states that someone has a degree and acknowledges those years of training. This is a very common attitude among Venezuelans. This afternoon I was talking with my sister and she was extremely emphatic about me being just a "student", and that it did not mattered if I was good or not. So knowledge is not important. The important thing is the appearance of knowledge. Strike one for Magaly.

Here is my answer to her comment:

As usual, ad hominem attacks are the resource of the people without arguments.

It is true that for my age I should had my degree... if I had lead a normal course. But, I chose to take two additional years of mathematics, physics and programming courses. Currently I am Teacher's Assistant of a course in Bioinformatics of a Master's Program in my Faculty. Teacher's Assistant of graduate students without getting my degree. And I have won national and international essay contests and I have been invited to several international conferences as a speaker, including one organized by Nature, the science journal. So, even without having completed my degree I have demonstrated my competence in several subjects. Currently I do research in three subjects in Computational Biology.

You claim that the paper was reviewed during months, however, the paper clearly states that it was accepted without revision ONE DAY AFTER BEING RECEIVED. When we pointed that fact, the next paper was conveniently dated. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Concerning the naming of Olalde as advisor, as far as I know he has been advisor for a long time and he has not any training in medicine, biology or health sciences. And I do not know the exact date when he became and advisor to the Board of the journal, could you please present any proof of it?

Yes, it is possible to maintain a lie for long times. History can prove it. The Emperor of Japan was no son of Heaven, millions had to die to prove it. Billions of people believe in astrology.

Again, another cliché: Relativity and Energy. Please, Magaly, show us where in relativity is used some formaula that acknowledges the spiritual energy of pyramids. And that machine, the "energimeter" is pure fantasy and has not proven in any sense to be useful (besides making money for Olalde). And in the Adaptogenic Science there is not further tracing of pacience. Remember the case of Nataly Lemus, who had died 9 months ago when a spot was aired, in which she claimed to be cured of the cancer that killed her.

And I must add a little bit more:

She claims that "I choose to ignore" some facts. As far as I know there is no evidence of those facts other than her claims. And some of her claims do not fit the evidence.

And here is her funny reply:

The "Ad hominem...attack" expression you wrongly interpreted...means (as you may find in a worthwhile dictionary) the use of somebody's (in this case your) words and acts (including arguments) to confuse the adversary...it does not refer to attacking another fellow man...

Poor Magaly is clueless. According to the Wikipedia:
An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the person", "argument against the man") consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to an irrelevant characteristic about the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. It is most commonly used to refer specifically to the ad hominem abusive, or argumentum ad personam, which consists of criticizing or personally attacking an argument's proponent in an attempt to discredit that argument.

That is exactly what she did in her first message. Instead of refuting my claims she chose to attack me on personal grounds. That I am still undergrad after a long time, that I have not published a scientific paper, etc. To put it in more pedestrian terms, so Magaly can understand: You do not have lay an egg in order to know when it is rotten. Do you, Magaly? I do not know how many times must I repeat the same idea, but here I go again: It does not matter if I eat fried babies on breakfast, Magaly. It does not matter if on weekends I bathe on the blood of virgin maidens. It does not matter if I steal candy from children. If I would do that and then I say "two plus two is four", would that become false because I am an evil person? Claiming that my arguments are wrong because I am something or I do something is plain wrong and shows a total ignorance about the way science works. Besides, your confuse paragraph shows that you really do not know what is an argumentum ad hominem. FYI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

More from Magaly:
I see no purpose in attacking (or rather refuting) anybody...only those... that deem themselves to be capable of judging others according to some self-awarded higher moral (or intellectual- which is clearly not your case)...ground…

If you do not see any purpose in refuting anyone, may I ask, without being rude, what are you doing here?. I certainly see the point in refuting deadly lies that enrich thugs at the expense of the ignorance and suffering of people. And I certainly have the necessary knowledge and critical baggage to understand when I am being duped. Self awarded? No. A lot of people from all over the world has appreciated my work in several fields. I do not like to boast about this, but, given the fact that you doubt about my competence, I can prove it without any doubt. From high grades to work with an NGO belonging to the WFUNA to international awards, everything online and accessible.

More from Magaly:

Allow me to illustrate you (again)...let's assume you want to publish a theory (to which you have dedicated some years of your existence)...thus you send it to the editors of many journal's until one of them… is somewhat interested...his (the editor's) feedback turns out to be something like..."this has potential but needs to be seriously worked upon and better referenced...if you accept to undertake serious criticism and suggestions this theory might be taken to the required scientific level"...then you go on and work your %^&* off during 5/6 months to accomplish this...and send the final version to the journal...does this mean that you put it together the day before it's published? No! It only means what it means...You -on the other hand- interpret things as you wish... and to your own convenience...

How cute, trying to instruct me about science publishing. I have to learn a lot about the subject. But certainly not from you, according to what I am reading.
That is simply not true. You claim that I interpret things to my own convenience and that is totally untrue. Let's end this:

I am "interpreting? We clearly can see at the bottom right this text: Received January 13, 2005; accepted January 14, 2005. It seems to me that you are the person who is "interpreting" and claiming something very different from what we know is true. Your story sounds nice to me, but if that would have been the case, the paper should say something like "Received July 13, 2004; accepted January 14, 2005". That is not the case. I am not claiming that Olalde put together the paper in one day. What I am saying is that the peer review at that journal is not very good. (Quoting to Ron Hubbard in a science paper ? Don't make me laugh!) and it is very suspicious that after such a swift acceptation of the paper, (a bad paper) suddenly Olalde becomes part of the board of that Journal. And for the part of my "own convenience", hey, I am NOT making a penny of this. You are the people who makes money from Sistemic Medicine.

Even more nonsense:
As for the example of the Sun Emperor in Japan...although true...it's a terrible but obscure and irrelevant example...if anything... it can be termed an anecdotic (and bloody) historical example...do you compare this last to the successful application of a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) protocol in close to one million patients ? ...because… you have the sad and unfortunate death of a patient (or that of 10 or 100)....

Irrelevant? Please, lady, be serious. It shows that you can make people believe anything. Obscure? Grab a history book and read until it is clear. Do you want more examples? Homeopathy, astrology, scientology, Hellenic gods, witches, UFO's... I can go on on that list if you need more examples. If the criteria for "success" is making a lot oney from sick people, certainly this particular (S)CAM is a winner. If the criteria of success is the recovery and healing then you are claiming something that you cannot prove in any way. The problem with Mz. Lemus was not that she died despite the treatment she endured with you. The problem about her case is that you used her image without her consent (she was dead by then) and made no effort for seeking her progress after she was "cured" despite of her being one of the spotlight examples of the effectiveness of your therapies. One of your best successes and you were unable to track her even one year after her "healing". Do you know the meaning of the phrase "longitudinal study"? You cannot even track a single person and you claim that this therapy has been effective in one million. That is extremely hard to believe. Prove it or shut up. I know you won't do neither thing, of course.

How many people die out of chemo-radio or other orthodox cancer treatments...has this stopped cancer treatments with these protocols...no! Have you compared the results of these orthodox treatments with the combined use of these therapies and a CAM such as Systemic Medicine? NO!

The problem is that we have impressive statistics about what works and what does not works concerning cancer. We even know the average lifespan of people and we do follow the patients that undergo experimental procedures. And your therapies offer nothing of that. You claim that people is cured and only show on TV people that is satisfied with the results, and even those might be dead or sick again after they have been used as advertisement for you.

And now a little bit of playing the victim:
Yet you have already chosen to judge somebody's life work (with or without 'relevant' academic titles) in an article... based on one (or X statistically irrelevant) example (undeniably sad and terrible)?... would it be not more appropriate to evaluate the effectiveness of anybody’s theory based on the whole body of the work and its significance?

Not only in none article. In several articles, unfortunately all of them in Spanish. But hopefully we will have translation of those soon. And not only based in one example. Please make no mistake: We have plenty of arguments. Many of them. Starting from the theoretical basis of this crazy theory, the ethics of giving people products not tested and with unknown effects without they knowing they are guinea pigs of International Adaptogens, your advertisement techniques, the lack of information about a lot of your plants, your lies about results, your good-for-nothing machines, your wild claims that cannot be supported on facts. The fact that you make money playing with the hope of people.

And now, more ad hominem from Magaly. She might not know what an ad hominem is, but she really know how to use it!

As for the energy healing...I will not bother to explain this to someone who promotes food engineering ...yet overlooks the waste and destruction of millions of tons of food in a hungry world because…of economic reasons...Now that is really sad ....first things first!

Stop babbling and explain that "energimeter", and what kind of "energy" is responsible for the properties of pyramids, and its physical basis. If you don't want to do it for me, do it for my readers, please, if you are so kind. And you made a huge mistake here. I care a lot about the waste of food and about nutrition and development in underdeveloped countries. But the answer is not aid. The answer is technological independence. The life of billions of my fellow human beings shall not depend of charity, of the mood of foreign people that might get tired of sending aid. We in these countries must be able to design our own solutions to our own troubles, and that is why I support strongly agricultural biotech for the developing world. But that is a really cheap exit from you, claiming that you won't explain something because of who I am. That kind of answer shows clearly that you neither have arguments, neither understand science and logic. First things first.

So... as the French saying goes: 'une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps' (en español ´una golondrina no hace el verano´).

Oh,she can write in French! How neat. Je peu aussi, mais j'oblieu presque tout mon françaais. That can apply to your "therapy". Some of the plants you offer may have a therapeutic effect, but that does not means that all of them do, neither that your silly theory is right about anything. You don't like what you read or you think it is slander? I can prove it is not. And I can prove that José Olalde has commited slander against us.

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