10-Lecture Course on Science Based Medicine – And Alternative Practices

10-Lecture Course on Science Based Medicine - And Alternative Practices

Introduction

I started watching these lectures on Youtube about two months ago, a bit every day, slowing digesting the information and doing additional searches on the web whenever I found that a topic sparked my interest.

These lectures are presented by Dr. Harriet Hall, a retired family physician and Air Force Colonel. According to Skeptic:

“She writes about alternative medicine, pseudoscience, quackery, and critical thinking. She is a contributing editor to both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer, an advisor to the Quackwatch website, and an editor of Sciencebasedmedicine.org, where she writes an article every Tuesday.”

You can find more about Dr. Hall at SkepDoc.info.

I appreciate the work Dr. Hall and others are doing in informing the public about the perils of quackery. And from what I perceive from her work, she doesn’t only try to bring awareness about bad science in alternative and non-scientific practices, but also in conventional medicine.

Thus, I consider her a good example of impartiality. She takes on conventional medicine and its numerous inconsistencies in lecture 9. No matter the pitfalls of conventional medicine, I’d say that it’s better regulated and more science based (given that you can filter through poorly conducted studies – see lecture 9) than bogus medical practices and claims.

I recommend this course to people who want to become more educated in critical thinking and to those who want be less prone to being phished for phools. Here are the titles of the lectures and a few notes on each.

Top 5 Scientific Publications and their Most Cited Papers – [2016 Update]

Top 5 Scientific Publications and their Most Cited Papers - [2016 Update] - 1

Introduction

Google Scholar recently released their 2016 Metrics update.

“Scholar Metrics provide an easy way for authors to quickly gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles in scholarly publications…This release covers articles published in 2011–2015 and includes citations from all articles that were indexed in Google Scholar as of June 2016.” [*]

As per their own motto, Google Scholar’s aim is to rank documents the way researchers do, taking into consideration the following:

– the full text of the article
– its authors
– the journal in which it was published
– the number and frequency of citations

Their ranking system purposes to weigh articles not only by the amount of citations they get, but also by their quality.

For a list of Google Scholar’s 2016 top 100 scientific publications, go here.

Fasting and AMPk Signaling – Lean vs. Obese

Fasting and AMPk Signaling - Lean vs. Obese - 4

Introduction

AMPk is a cellular energy sensor, activated mostly at low energy states. Its activation often depends on ratios such as AMP/ATP and NAD+/NADH. The main purpose of AMPk activation is to restore cellular energy.

“Thus, any change in cellular energy status activates AMPK, leading to concomitant inhibition of energy-consuming processes and stimulation of ATP-generating pathways to restore energy balance” [1]

Stressors that can reduce cellular energy include nutrient deprivation (i.e. caloric restriction), hypoxia (low oxygen conditions), exercise, ischemia, cold exposure, heat shock, fasting, metformin [3] and several others.

High levels of AMP/ATP (low energy status) lead to the activation of AMPk, which triggers processes such as:

– increased oxidation of fatty acids,
– increased glucose uptake inside the muscles,
– increased mitochondrial biogenesis [2],
– ketogenesis,
– reduced cholesterol synthesis,
– etc.

In my current view, higher activity of AMPk is a good thing. However, I assume that most people lack the exposure to such stressors – that I mentioned above. Chances are, then, that AMPk activity inside their cells is reduced or inexistent. Here, I want to briefly discuss the findings of a study relevant to the topic. [1]

Alpha Version – My Voice Triggered Search Bot [Python]

This is the first workable version of my voice triggered search bot. I coded it in Python 3.4. If I keep working on it, it can become much more than a search bot. I could add unlimited functions  and features and make it respond to numerous commands. Some may include:

– doing backups
– running searches on Google Scholar and Pubmed and speaking the results
– doing video search
– sending reminders to my phone
– checking my email and speaking notifications
– sending notes to cloud accounts
– searching for files on my computer
– reading from Wikipedia
– and so on.

Baloney Detection – How to Distinguish between Science and Pseudoscience [A Short Guide]

Baloney Detection - How to Distinguish between Science and Pseudoscience [A Short Guide]

Introduction

“When we’re growing up (!and, often in adult life) we tend to be pretty credulous. We just believe almost anything that people tell us, especially if it comes from authorities, experts, textbooks, politicians, television, Youtube, and the Internet. I mean, there’s just this sort of sea of information coming at us. And how can you tell the difference between: it’s right or wrong? How do you know?!” Michael Shermer (emphasis mine)

There’s way too much misinformation ‘out there’. And some of it is on purpose – disinformation. Whether it happens on the Internet or within your circle of friends, family and acquaintances, you (and I) are being bombarded with non-sense ad nauseam.

Filtering through, to get some valuable information, whenever that’s possible, is not easy. For this purpose, Carl Sagan and Michael Shermer formulated what they call: a baloney detection kit.

It started with an essay written by Sagan a long while ago [2]. In it, Sagan advises people on how to avoid logical and rhetorical fallacies. Acknowledging the value of this manifesto, Michael Shermer devised a more accessible and easily readable format of Sagan’s words [1].

Pure, raw information is of immense value today. Most information that reaches your senses is coated with personal filters and prejudices; it is distorted, manipulated, or modified in one way or another.

Here, I want to reignite awareness on Sagan and Shermer’s advice, hoping that it will help us better filter through this mountain of non-sense and also help us stave off the bad influence of malicious parties.

June 2016 – Physique Update [+ Current Protocols IF, CT…]

I took this video circa mid-June 2016.

A few words about my current protocol

To get some context, please read this short journal first.

  1. I managed to return to my April (2016) weight (my weight before the 1 month perturbation experiment) with a few days of overfeeding. Water retention from creatine intake may have helped.
  1. After 1 month of almost no IF (intermittent fasting), I resumed ~daily IF 20-4 (20 hours of fasting, 4 hours of eating), 2 meals. I time my meals between 2-6 P.M. most of the days.

The Hallmarks of Cancer – Insights from Decades of Research

The Hallmarks of Cancer - Insights from Decades of Research - 1

Introduction

Cancers are complicated. Many people try to envision and promote simple, one-shot approaches towards better management. Others engage in magical thinking by saying it’s a conspiracy not to cure it. Cancer physician and Pulitzer winner Siddhartha Mukherjee makes a compelling case for the complexity of cancers in this recent NYT issue (long read).

Even though each cancer has its unique characteristics – at least from a genomics point of view – there are a couple of similarities that have been observed in most forms of cancers.

Published in 2000 and updated in 2011, The hallmarks of cancer [1, 2] is a paper that has gathered more than 20,000 citations according to Google Scholar.

Rare Things happen all the Time – Another Example of Deception

Rare Things happen all the Time - Another Example of Deception

Introduction

Far from the intent of teaching deception, I’m writing this to bring awareness to some of the practices of dubious entities towards the gullible masses. Most of what you’re going to read is not my original thought. It is from a recent book that I read. I will do my best to add some personal interpretation whenever I find it appropriate.

Perturbations in my Lifestyle – Letting go of Limiting Beliefs [A Journal]

Perturbations in my Lifestyle - Letting go of Limiting Beliefs [A Journal]

Introduction

I’ve been away from home for a month or so. As I left, I decided to alter several of my lifestyle factors to test which of them hold true. I want to be more flexible; I want to have more degrees of freedom and I want to steer clear from rigid strategies and fixated thinking. I want to be able to change things instantly without a significant negative impact on my wellbeing. Anti-fragile is a keyword.

Moreover, I am suspicious of several of my former held beliefs – some of which I’ve been following unquestionably for the last 2-3 years. My own lack of education could be the culprit. I took for granted different assumptions coming from conventional wisdom, from ‘experts’, or from self-entitled ‘gurus’.

Some of these strategies led to improvement in my life. But I really don’t know which. So, I’ll keep testing, stop holding beliefs, and start asking more questions. On to the point.

The Priming Effect – Your Thoughts, Friends, Environment = Future You

The Priming Effect - Your Thoughts, Friends, Environment = Future You - 2

Introduction

With my head stuck into Thinking Fast and Slow, the voluminous book by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, I started becoming more familiar with the field of behavioral economics. Kahneman discusses extensively about cognitive biases and automatic (unconscious) mechanisms that drive human behavior (unconscious to you and me of course – unless you are actively aware of them).

Such mechanisms may allow deceitful/scheming/manipulating entities to exploit us for different purposes.

Other biases may provide rationale behind personal development babble. One of them, the focus of this write-up, is the priming effect. It caught my interest and it made me read a few scientific papers about it. Over the last few decades the priming effect has received a cocktail of appraisal and criticism on behalf of the research community.

In short, “priming is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to one stimulus (i.e., perceptual pattern) influences the response to another stimulus.” (more)

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