And Now to Financial Matters…

Ian Short provides a few comments on the Treasurer’s Report presented to the 2000 AGM.

The figures presented here have been rounded out to the nearest $100 dollars to make them more user friendly and represent the balance as at 31 December 2000.

The situation was that we had $4200 in our cheque account,and $27,000 in our term deposit. and we had income over expenditure of $220.

Our income of $12,000 came mainly from: Membership subscriptions $9,600, Sales $500, and Profit on conference 1999 $1,600.

Most of our payments related to costs involved in the Skeptic newsletter production. $10,200.

This means that our finances are in a very satisfactory shape. We are working within our income but using just about all of it on Skeptic business. The term deposit means that we have some money available to help with extra opportunities as they occur, e.g. a possible visit by James Randi.

Ian Short, Treasurer.

Hokum Locum

Colon Cleansing

Thanks to reader Alan Pickmere for drawing my attention to colon cleansing. In a radio advertisement Alan heard the claim that the average adult has up to 10kg of preservatives and toxic waste in their colon. The actor, John Wayne had 20kg removed at autopsy, doubtless dating from the time spent venting his spleen against commie actors facing Senator Joe McCarthy’s inquisition. Come to think of it, perhaps he should have “vented” more often.

These accumulations are not at all surprising to a skeptical doctor as I am frequently exposed to views espoused by people whose bodies hold far more toxic waste than this and it goes all the way up to their heads. If any readers would like to cleanse their colons please call 0800-CLYSTER.

Herbs Flunk

Although it makes sense to test herbs for therapeutic efficacy, there are few acceptable trials. An Australian study of herbal and Ayurvedic preparations found that only tumeric had any anti-inflammatory effect and 5 of 23 celery preparations had an anti-arthritic effect equivalent to 50mg of ibuprofen. Given the wide variation in the bioavailability of herbal medicines I recommend stick to ibuprofen, normally taken in a daily dose of 1600mg costing around 75 cents. I bet that herbal medicines cost a lot more than that. It’s important for any useless treatment to cost a lot because that helps people believe that it actually works. (NZ Doctor 19 Jul 2000)

Swadeshi

Third world countries such as India frequently seek pragmatic solutions to their health problems and in this case they have encouraged traditional practices such as ayurveda, sidha, unani, yoga, naturopathy, Tibetan medicine and homeopathy. I was reassured to see the addition of homeopathy and naturopathy, so much a part of mainstream New Zealand medicine. The Indian Health Minister has asked all other Ministries to ensure that its employees can be reimbursed for the cost of such treatments.

Perhaps this is where our own Health Minister got the idea for allocating a large sum of money for the evaluation of alternative medicine. The increasingly third world Wellington Hospital is reduced to waving its hands at patients. Will they soon be encouraging them to start the day with a freshly steaming glass of their own urine, perhaps followed by pills made out of lama’s faeces, a traditional Tibetan remedy. (Lancet Vol 355, p1252)

Silicon Implants

As Shakespeare so eloquently put it “God has given woman one breast and she gives herself another”. Minerva (BMJ Vol 320 p 882) reports a fourth extensive study finding no association between ill health and silicon implants. However, this will not have any effect on the millions of dollars given to litigants because the standard of proof is to have one’s personal account of suffering published in any women’s magazine. In the true spirit of the post-modern age I look forward to the first litigation for alien abduction. Those anal probes can hurt! All we need is a New Zealand Doctor brave enough to fill in the ACC forms.

This is yet another example of Welch’s law: “Claims expand to take up the amount of compensation available”.

Surgeon Amputates Healthy Legs

Since I have raised the topic of post-modernism, readers will be interested in this account from the BMJ (Vol 320 p332). Both patients reported on suffered from a rare body dysmorphic disorder known as apotemnophilia which makes them believe that they can only be normal once they have had a limb removed. The patients were delighted after each had a leg removed in a below-knee amputation. The hospital administration was quoted as saying that no more of these operations will be done.

Stokabunga

Obesity has been raised to an art form in North America and it is fitting that the American food industry has launched “Stokabunga”, a cookie containing more calories than an average meal, including 48g fat. Such excess is a fitting accompaniment to a recent announcement that for the first time the number of overweight people in the world equalled the number who were malnourished. In Britain, the average cat receives more protein per day than the average poor African. Sales of Stokabunga have been particularly strong in Belgium.

Ineffective Drugs

Of the 50,000 prescription drugs currently available in Germany, 33,000 have never been subject to clinical trials. They include homeopathic preparations, herbal remedies and in one case a useless preparation containing loess (a fine soil) used for the treatment of diarrhoea. Drug companies were able to suppress a report that gave advice on how to substitute cheaper effective drugs in place of the useless ones. During World War 2, Hitler’s doctor treated him with capsules containing faecal bacteria from “finest Bulgarian peasant” and such a product is conceivably still available. (New Scientist 4 Oct 97 p20)

As recently as 1997 it was possible to receive rejuvenating injections of fetal sheep cells. This treatment was popularised by Konrad Adenaur, the German Chancellor who remained in power until he was 87 years old. Unfortunately the Germans have a bad habit of blindly following rogue Chancellors.

It is quite clear now what has happened to their Pharmaceutical Regulatory authorities. Instead of a feral and vigorous staff dedicated to removing quack remedies, the excessive use of fetal cells has turned them all into sheep in sheep’s clothing. (New Scientist 25 Jan 1997 p6)

Finger-Licking Bad For Waist Reduction?

The herb Aristolochia gangchi was mistakenly used in weight loss pills by the Kentucky Fried medicine brigade. As well as causing kidney failure it is now thought to be responsible for cancers of the urinary tract. Staff at a Belgian weight loss clinic had prescribed the herb Stephania tetranda but the mixture also contained Aristolochia which has a similar sounding Chinese name.

Dr David Kessler, former Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that there are no controls over the quality of such products or their composition. The cause of this was the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which deregulated the industry by limiting the role of the FDA and opening up this $15 billion-a- year industry. This ridiculous legislation does not require that dietary supplements be shown to be safe or effective. I have no doubt that an epidemic of renal failure and cancer will soon peel the weight off those hordes of fatties seen in every US shopping mall. (New England Journal of Medicine June 8 2000, p1742; BMJ Vol 320, p1623)

Tissue Samples and Cryptopathology

When confronted with unusual lumps and swelling it is a common medical practice to get some tissue examined by a pathologist and this will often reveal the diagnosis.

As a keen hunter I feel the same exemplary approach should be taken when examining phenomena such as “Bigfoot”, the Loch Ness monster and our very own Australasian “Yowie”. The Yowie is believed to be named thus after the cries recorded when it had come into contact with hunters and been wounded. It would be a matter of some pride to me if I were the first person to bag either of these trophies. Nessie would obviously require a large harpoon but depth charges would soon bring the shy and expiring creature to the surface. Bigfoot should prove no problem for my Winchester 0.243. I was therefore disappointed to read that a county in Washington has declared it illegal to kill Bigfoot. However, fur samples have been gathered from “close encounters” and delivered to Ken Goddard at a wildlife forensic laboratory. Ken found that Bigfoot has made a remarkable adaptation to its cold environment-polyester fur. Ken is waiting for a “close encounter of the turd kind” so he can examine the creature’s diet for evidence of Stokabunga. (New Scientist 22 Jan 2000 p40)

I predict that once tissue samples have been obtained, all of these secretive creatures will be found to share a puzzling 100 percent of their DNA with humans.