Richard Maurer is a quack

I was going over an old post when I realized I had spelled the name of a naturopathic quack incorrectly. I referred to Richard Maurer as Richard Mauler. Whoops.

Immediately after correcting his name, I did a quick search and found his blog. It’s a lot of the traditional malarkey from naturopaths: a lot of noise and a smidgen of Gish Gallop from non-experts who are out of their amateurish field. But this post stood out to me in particular.

In this case the study summary says it all.

“Vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter is linked to lower incidence of influenza A, particularly in specific subgroups of schoolchildren, according to the results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial reported online in the March 10 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”

Sounds reasonable enough, right? Of course it does. There actually is a study which draws that link. But that’s all it does. It cites its small sample size alongside the lack of testing for most compounding factors (such as antibodies) as weaknesses in the research. Anyone who concludes that there is anything more than a link between vitamin D3 and a decreased incidence in influenza A is a quack. And you all know what’s coming. But hang out, I’ll even quote the abstract from the study.

RESULTS: Influenza A occurred in 18 of 167 (10.8%) children in the vitamin D(3) group compared with 31 of 167 (18.6%) children in the placebo group [relative risk (RR), 0.58; 95% CI: 0.34, 0.99; P = 0.04]. The reduction in influenza A was more prominent in children who had not been taking other vitamin D supplements (RR: 0.36; 95% CI: 0.17, 0.79; P = 0.006) and who started nursery school after age 3 y (RR: 0.36; 95% CI: 0.17, 0.78; P = 0.005). In children with a previous diagnosis of asthma, asthma attacks as a secondary outcome occurred in 2 children receiving vitamin D(3) compared with 12 children receiving placebo (RR: 0.17; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.73; P = 0.006). CONCLUSION: This study suggests that vitamin D(3) supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A, especially in specific subgroups of schoolchildren.

It’s an interesting result, but no competent doctor is going to make recommendations based upon it. That isn’t to say doctors don’t have other reasons for recommending vitamin D; this just isn’t one of them. But does that stop the quack brigade from marching in the streets? Nah. Check out the title of Maurer’s blog post.

Vitamin D, as suspected, prevents the flu.

Christopher Maloney tried pulling this same garbage when he claimed black elderberry can “block” H1N1. Given the drubbing Maloney got back then in December, it’s curious that Maurer would repeat the same sort of anti-medical trash just a few months later. Vitamin D does no such thing. Maurer is either lying or incompetent. I won’t argue against anyone who claims he’s both.

It’s this sort of stuff that helps to solidify the naturopath’s leadership among charlatans.

Obama helps correct misdeeds against Constance

Constance McMillen is that girl whose school denied everyone prom because she’s gay and they’re bigots. The school then encouraged parents to host their own prom while sending Constance and a couple of others to a fake prom. It’s pretty disgraceful, full of ignorance, and plainly ugly. Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi, like much of the rest of Mississippi, has a lot of sexually immature Christians running around. But then, it’s always nice to have more explanation why the state routinely ranks last in education.

Fortunately, Constance will now be attending a LGBT reception at the White House.

McMillen will attend a White House reception Tuesday for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens from around the nation in recognition of gay pride month.

The White House confirmed Friday that Obama will host the event and is expected to deliver brief remarks.

After the prom controversy, McMillen said, she faced a hostile environment from her peers and transferred out of her northeast Mississippi school district to a school 200 miles away in Jackson.

In the more educated environment of the Obama administration, she won’t have to face such aggressive hostility.

Eliot Cutler responds

I’ve asked the three main candidates* to either state or clarify their positions on the teaching of creationism in public schools. Paul LePage acted like a spoiled little brat and deleted my question from his Facebook page. Libby Mitchell has yet to respond. Eliot Cutler, on the other hand, has responded. First, here is how I worded my question.

Mr. Cutler, I recently left a message on Libby Mitchell’s and Paul LePage’s respective Facebook pages asking them to either state or clarify their position on teaching creationism. Mitchell wants to be known as the “education governor”, so I presume she will favor teaching the basis of biology – evolution. (But I await… a response.) LePage, on the other hand, has had my question deleted and kicked me from his Facebook page. I presume he views his support for creationism as a liability.

What is your position? Thanks.

And once I write up a letter to the editor explain Paul LePage’s actions and inane, anti-science position, I hope his ignorance does become a liability. But first, here is Cutler’s response.

Hi Michael,

I support the teaching of evolution in elementary and secondary schools. Evolution is fundamental to every student’s comprehensive understanding of the world they live in and their ability to reason critically from evidence.

I have no objection to referencing creationism as an alternative view, but I do not believe it should be taught as part of the curriculum in public schools.

As a matter of principle, I do not believe that religion should make rules for government or that government should make rules for religion.

Eliot

It took me a second to digest this response. At first glance, being okay with references to creationism sounds sketchy, but then I thought back to my first biology course at university. Intelligent design and creationism were referenced before much got started. The professor basically covered his ground so that students wouldn’t be bringing silly challenges to him. He certainly welcomed a whole range of questions (and fielded them incredibly well, as he’s likely one of the smartest people I know), but he wasn’t there to undo 20 years of religious indoctrination. In that light, Cutler’s response works for me.

*Update: I’ve also asked Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott for their positions. They aren’t as high in the polling as the others, but they certainly aren’t off the radar.

No, seriously: Don’t talk to the cops

I’ve posted this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. I’ve actually read a few local stories where the police had limited leads, thought maybe they had the right suspect, but then someone threw magic fairy dust all over the place and the person just confessed. That’s all sunshine and flowers for those of us who abide by the law, but I hate the reason guilty people do it: police trick them into believing it is in their best interest to do so. That is rarely, if ever, the case. The police are not looking to help out those they suspect of crimes. That isn’t their job. And don’t think to yourself, ‘Oh, I’m innocent. Where’s the harm?’ You can still get screwed.

Unless your reason is that you need help, it isn’t worth the risk to talk to the police. If they come to you for whatever reason, turn them away (unless a loved one is injured or some similar incident, obviously). Don’t fill out or sign any affidavits, don’t tell them where you’ve been or where you’re going, and if you can avoid doing so, don’t even tell them who you are. (For my fellow Mainers, you have to give them your name and address during any traffic or terry stop, and if you’re trespassing, you have to tell them why you’re there. Only give out minimal information. The laws for every state can be found here.)

But for most of us, the situation isn’t going to be so significant as to require a lot of legal forethought like what’s in James Duane’s video above. Instead, most people are going to interact with police officers during traffic stops. There’s a way to handle those, too.

(Keep annotations on.)

There’s a longer version to that video where the kids actually had pot in their car, so they had good reason to be assertive in order to avoid a search. This may not be the best way for everyone to handle being pulled over. Sometimes there isn’t anything to hide, so asserting one’s rights is a good way to end up paying a $200 fine (like those kids) because the cop prefers his citizens friendly. But then there are times when it only seems like there isn’t anything to hide. Fast forward to the 22 minute point of this next video.

That video contains the entire clip with the first group of kids, but it’s the second kid who matters for this point. He may well have been innocent, but the fact that he allowed the police unnecessary access to his property got him in trouble. Keep watching for when he handles the situation correctly, giving minimal information. The police don’t need to know what they claim they should know.

Don’t talk to the cops.

LePage brags about his fans

Although he is virtually in a statistical tie with Democratic candidate for Maine governor Libby Mitchell, Republican candidate Paul LePage likes to think he’s way ahead. Or maybe he gets it and realizes that the poll numbers don’t give him that big edge, so he’s trying to find another way to brag about being ever-so-popular. Whatever the reason, this is the status update on his Facebook page.

We just hit 3,300 fans! Libby Mitchell is at 2,139, Eliot Cutler 919… Keep spreading the word- Click “Share” on the link below. Let’s keep the momentum on facebook in order to reach our GOOOOOAAALLLLLL in November! Go USA soccer!!

This is as valid as measuring what people think based upon Internet polls. There are any number of reasons any candidate may have the fans he or she does. LePage may encourage people to sign up for his Facebook page while he’s out campaigning, and Mitchell and Cutler don’t. In fact, under the picture of his obese mug he encourages people to suggest his page to friends. It’s all meaningless.

Which is why everyone should become a fan of Mitchell’s and Cutler’s respective pages. It doesn’t mean jack squat, but if it might stress LePage out to know he isn’t so far ahead in the Facebook page contest, then it’s worth it. I mean, the guy already wants to have creationism taught in Maine, so I imagine it might actually work since he puts stock in things that make no sense.

Join Libby Mitchell’s page here.

Join Eliot Cutler’s page here.

The cowardice of Paul LePage

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to think of a good topic for a letter to the editor. Ideally I want to write about evolution, but my space is limited. Then I think maybe I could respond to some inane letter that says the U.S. is based upon Christian ideals. But nah, people prefer topical stuff, not history lessons, at least in their newspapers. But then I realize, oh yes! Paul LePage is a creationist. He’s even on video professing his desire to teach children that Jesus rode on dinosaurs.

But now it gets better. Take a look at Paul LePage’s Facebook “Like” Page’s comments. Now filter it to “Just Others” and look between the comments by Sandra Blanchette and Marc Worrell, the first of which was made at 5:15 pm June 21, the second of which was made around midnight tonight. Do you see it? Do you see what it says?

No, you don’t.

The reason is that I left a message very near to this one:

You’ve said you support the teaching of creationism.

…why?

Fairly mundane by my standards.

But it got deleted. And I have been forced from his “Like” Page.

I mean, I’m glad LePage has learned that his anti-science ignorance ought to be viewed as an embarrassment, but the fact remains that he’s on video saying he supports the teaching of something known to be false. He is against every biology professor in the state of Maine. He is against every relevant scientific organization in the country. Paul LePage is an ignorant creationist who is too cowardly to defend what he believes.

But I thank him for the topic idea for my next letter to the editor.

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