The Maldovarium

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    janetteB @janetteb

    @missy when it comes to diet, yes expert advice is shaky and common sense is the best approach. However.. that is not the case with most areas of Science. The consensus on global warming is long standing. Global warming was first noted over a hundred years ago, perhaps because there is concrete evidence whereas when it comes to the human body research is still groping in the dark. (and research funding from multinational’s does not help. Don’t even get me started on the issue of food additives…)




    Whisht @whisht

    Hi @missy – that’s interesting about the aspirin study.

    I took a look at the NHS “Behind the Headlines” and found this:
    “Healthy older people do not benefit from taking aspirin”

    It seems that aspirin was being suggested either by some health professionals or non-professionals (eg family, dodgy healthcare people) as being good for you as a kind of prophylactic in that it definitely helped those with heart conditions and no one had said it did you any harm if you didn’t have a heart condition.
    So the study was ‘is that true – is it ok to take, even if you have no heart conditions?’

    The conclusion is interesting:

    “Overall, aspirin is a beneficial medicine for people who have a history of heart or vascular problems, and is also likely to benefit certain individuals at higher risk of these problems. The most important thing is to be guided by your doctor. It is not a good idea to take daily aspirin on a regular basis unless you have been advised to do so. And equally you shouldn’t suddenly stop taking aspirin if you have been advised by a doctor to take it.”

    Although the “Behind the Headlines” info is not a ‘rebuttal service’ to click-hungry news media who misreport medical PR {cough} it does happen to call out that only the Guardian reported the study accurately in the UK:

    “Though the UK media generally covered the story well, most of the headlines were misleading. Only The Guardian made it clear the study findings related to older people who were in good health. The other headlines could easily be misinterpreted as meaning that aspirin might not be good for any older people, even those with a clear medical need for taking it.”

    Do I believe experts (and how they are reported)?

    But rather than talking about which evidence to believe, mainly for me its risk vs benefit – if I do this thing, does it ‘hurt’ me or ‘benefit’ me?
    eg does cutting out too much fat hurt me? No. Might it benefit me? Yes it might. Ok, I’ll cut down fat.
    Does walking across the road looking both ways hurt me? No.
    Could it benefit me? Yes
    Ok I’ll look both ways.
    Does using a seatbelt hurt me? No. Could it benefit me? Yes it could. Ok I’ll use it.

    Is human activity adding to climate change? Perhaps (there’s evidence even if there’s some people questioning it).
    Does it hurt me to vote and support activities that reduce this human activity and help those affected by climate change? No.
    Could it benefit me and them if I do vote and support reduction of these human activities? Yes, it could.

    I’m not arguing for which experts to believe on a subject.
    Personally I just use my judgement as to the likelihood as to whether they’re right, the impact the activity (to reduce the ‘bad’ and increase the ‘good’) has and how much it ‘hurts’ me to change my behaviour or vote for these changes.

    But anyway, looks like that the writers at Behind the Headlines have slanted their rebuttals articles to a slightly more healthcare professional audience, but still look like an interesting place to read about health in the news.



    Now, one should eat butter and cheese and drink full cream milk – it’s GOOD for the heart – say the  “experts!

    It would help a lot if you could stop making shit up to support your fatuous certainty. No expert has suggested any of those things are good for you and all recommend cutting down. All also agree that a sensibly balanced diet is very healthy.

    And it has been well known for decades that aspirin is a gastro-irritant. My mum couldn’t take it at all and once ended up in a lot of pain because the doctor forgot to put “take with food” on her prescription for ibuprofen (like aspirin, an NSAID).

    And as @whisht has shown you are doing what many totally-ignorant-about-how-science-works people do, of confusing newspaper reporting with the actual findings of science. But who knows, may one day science *will* find that mainlining up the lard is good for you, but only if the evidence supports it, Because that is how science works – it is willing, at all times, to change its mind in the face of new evidence. Try it sometime – you will find it quite liberating.

    You are, of course, perfectly entitled to make yourself look stupid. But at least try not to be dishonest about it.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    As @whisht and @pedant have already noted, you appear to derive most of your opinions on scientific matters and your distrust of scientists from the inconsistencies in newspaper headlines and articles compiled by sub editors and non-specialist reporters who have at best a limited grasp of the scientific matters on which they are reporting.

    If we take your example of dietary advice, everything centres on the advisability of a balanced diet, which should include proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vegetable matter, all in a balanced moderation, and too much of anything can be bad for health. As my father, who knew a thing or two about the chemistry of foods and food additives once said, not entirely in jest, ‘Any foodstuff given to them in large enough quantities may prove to cause cancer in mice’. Nutmeg is harmless when used in very small quantities as a flavouring spice, but would be toxic in large quantities.

    So, the evidence suggests that a small glass of red wine several times a week may be beneficial to health, but a whole bottle of wine several times a week is certainly not a good idea in the long term, and whereas an occasional nibble of dark chocolate may have beneficial effects, it is not a good idea to make a habit of pigging out on  whole boxes of assorted chocolate confectionary. The evidence to date also suggests that vegetable oils and fish oils may be better for ones health than animal fats, but it is debatable whether the hydrogenated vegetable fats in butter substitutes are better in that respect than butter, and since I dislike the flavour and texture of butter substitutes I prefer to use butter – in small quantities. The important thing is not to ingest too much of either.

    As for aspirin; yes, as @pedant says, it is a gastro-irritant as well as a blood thinner, which is why it is no longer recommended as an analgesic, and there is no obvious reason why healthy people should take it; but it does have prophylactic uses, and in my own case it is necessary for several reasons, including the fact that I have a blood disorder that puts me at high risk of blood clotting, thromboses and embolisms; but for this the dosage is much less than when it is used as an NSAID and analgesic, and it is prescribed in dispersible form, dissolved in water and to be taken immediately after food, which reduces the risk of gastric irritation.

    When it comes to your views on global warming and climate change, I’m afraid that you are simply indulging in wishful thinking and clutching onto the specious arguments of those who have a vested and very short term interest in denying the consensus.  There is documentary evidence that even in the 1980s there were oil producers who understood what was happening, the causes and the implications, but their response was a campaign to downplay or deny it; just as tobacco companies once went all out to obscure the evidence that tobacco smoking causes respiratory problems, lung cancer and heart disease. As @janetteb says, the fact that carbon dioxide in effect traps the heat radiated from the sun in the atmosphere was demonstrated and proved over a century ago, and the scientific evidence for the consequences of our burning of fossil fuels and thus releasing carbon dioxide sequestered tens of millions of years ago is now overwhelming; the only debate is over the details of regional climatic change, the extent of  loop back effects which could be triggered by the warming*, and the speed at which the effects will be manifest – and so far this seems to be faster than predicted.


    *such as the release of methane, another and even more efficient ‘greenhouse’ gas, resulting from the decay of vegetable matter in thawing permafrost or from clathrates on the ocean bed.




    syzygy @thane16

    @missy @pedant @mudlark @whisht

    Funny Story.

    I was diagnosed with Crohns, right. I was told: “don’t take aspirin or disprin.”

    About 10 years later, some awesome headache relief appeared in the name of “nurofen.”

    I was working hard & studying but not into studying labels. I took 2, sometimes 3 & it was AMAZING. So much better than Panadol! (paracetamol).  Occasionally I felt this pain in the tum, you see, but I had Crohns… biggie.

    New doctors would say: “now, you’re taking this medication & this & staying away from aspirin, right?”

    Sure! Because I follow ALL their instructions. I’m no doctor.

    About 5 years later, I’m buying up some grub & medicine in the pharmacy & I point toward the bright orange  nurofen. The nice lady says, “right, we have paracetamol, claratine and aspirin.”

    (I’m not really listening)…hang on, say again?

    “You have…. aspirin?”

    Oh SHIT!

    A month later: my tum was awash with blood & ulcers.

    I should’ve listened but also read, thought & pondered.

    The half aspirin recommended by doctors isn’t by any means recommended by all of them. Also, the amount is very slight for the treatment, as @whisht explains, of some vascular disease (& prescribed less than, say, six years ago).

    Happy Who Week!




    Mudlark @mudlark


    Yes, it’s always a good idea to read the information sheet, or at least the instructions and list of ingredients on the label 🙂

    Given the pharmaceutical cocktail I’m expected to ingest on a daily basis, it is fortunate that I seem to tolerate almost all medication pretty well, the only exception so far being statins which had some very unpleasant and debilitating side-effects. Aspirin, though, is apparently essential, or so the haematologists insist at my regular check-ups; but the dosage is only a little over a fifth of that when used as an analgesic, and an even smaller fraction of that when it is/was prescribed as an anti-inflammatory.

    syzygy @thane16


    Yes exactly. The tiny amount given in these preparations wouldn’t ease one toothache.  Statins = tummy aches in many.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    In my case it wasn’t stomach aches that were the problem. For as long as I was on statins – and my GP tried me on two different ones – I had persistent pains in my left side and muscular pains and weakness in my legs, which sometimes felt about as supportive as boiled spaghetti, and I know others who experienced similar side effects.  So I would rather face the possibility of elevated cholesterol levels, whatever the well-meaning medics say 😈



    @thane16 @mudlark

    PSA: Anecdote is not the singular of evidence.

    Muscle weakness and atrophy is a rare but known side effect and STOP TAKING THEM NOW contraindication of statins. So well-meaning (and competent) medics will properly balance the risks.

    However, it is pretty well the most researched drug on the planet at the moment and the evidence for its benefits overall is as close to overwhelming as it ever gets (save a few cranks who deny the cholesterol >>  heart disease link, and cherry pick their data accordingly).

    However, most of the science does point to them giving most benefit in preventing recurrence of a heart attack.

    It looks a little like aspirin is headed the same way, but it is an anti-coagulant so for those at risk it is, if not a wonder-drug, at least a pretty damned cost-effective supplement.

    Now if you want a nightmare scenario, try heart disease at the same time as kidney disease. Welcome to the last 10 years of my dad’s life (a man who fought off undiagnosed TB).

    syzygy @thane16


    That’s awful for your dad, Mr P. It would’ve been painful to go through & also to watch. Awful.

    And I didn’t explain myself well.  It was sufficient evidence of my own foolishness.

    The aspirin issue was my own fault. Had I been a normal patient without the susceptibility to nasty ulcers, nurofen would’ve been fine. Had I actually read the label I wouldn’t have been in a pickle as I wouldn’t have swallowed it.

    Everybody else does fine: taking 2 tablets. Even more dumb? I took 3.

    That’s evidence of something else: Thinking I’m somehow immune to ulcerative gut syndrome when I have Crohns



    • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by  syzygy. Reason: adding impt information, losing 'ouch' & remembering evidence of my own foolishness
    Mudlark @mudlark


    Your father’s situation was indeed grim, both for him and all of you who had to witness it and I sympathise.

    it is an anti-coagulant so for those at risk it is, if not a wonder-drug, at least a pretty damned cost-effective supplement.

    Exactly so; and in my case the aspirin is supplementary to hydroxycarbamide, which acts directly on the megakaryocytes in my bone marrow which had gone haywire and were producing far too many platelets. So far the treatment  is working well, though it is something of a balancing act.

    As for the statins,  I knew about the possible side effects and I suppose that I was in denial about the symptoms at first and persevered too long before reporting back to my GP,  but to give him due credit, he did respond promptly. Insofar as I have any criticism, it is that he insisted on trying a different statin, thus prolonging my misery, before conceding and prescribing a less effective substitute.

    Who wants to live forever anyway? I’d rather enjoy life while I am able and then conk out suddenly and while I still have all or most of my faculties 🙂

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    Dear Doctor Who forum.

    Is it wrong that when my boyfriend mentioned he might be going up to Manchester Sunday afternoon and staying the night, I was rather pleased?

    And when he changed his mind slightly disappointed?

    I’ll be no use to him anyway, there will be no talking during Doctor Who, and after I shall be mostly posting on the Other Place, posting on here, getting into arguments in the Other Place, I won’t have had as much fun, nor he as little since the last Game Of Thrones episode aired…

    on the other hand, it is a Good Thing, the things I love about Moffart Who the most are the things that made it difficult for him to follow, he has memory problems, and from what I’ve seen there is a good chance that Jody could be his doctor.

    But dear god, what if he likes this Who more than I do?

    p.s. missed you lot, don’t know why I’ve been away so long.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @miapatrick Good to hear from you again. We have missed you too. I hope that you and boyfriend both enjoy this series equally. I suspect at at least one of our sons will enjoy it more, another less. He has been watching Chibnell’s previous episodes and is not confident. However the second son did not really enjoy Moffat’s story writing style and I think will prefer the more episodic approach. I fear I am going to miss Moffat. I am not a fan of episodic TV.



    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @janetteb, I have a similar dread, but of course Moffat isn’t for everyone, and we’ve had a fantastic run. It is the nature of the program to change, the real regeneration is the change in show runner I think. I think Jody will be great though, and it’s nice to see Hooderzfield represented!

    I do find the idea that the story arcs were a problem (seen on a lot of DW comment threads, especially facebook) a little strange. So much television is all about the long story nowadays, episodic TV seems to be on the wane.

    Spending the day watching the last season in blissful peace (thank you north Wales rally) (and thank you bbc iplayer). It really was a perfect last series for Moffat.

    Missy @missy


    Perfectly sound argument. Most of my information has been from National Geographic  programmes and others on climate change. I find it difficult to believe how we can make a difference to something which has been going on for millions of years, so I question it. Although they are in the minority, there are some scientific experts who do not agree that we are to blame – so what to think?

    However, the drive to lower or get rid of pollution is paramount, it isn’t healthy to breathe in all those dreadful fumes. The sooner the better.

    As for the rest, everything in moderation and the use of common sense.



    Missy @missy


    I couldn’t agree more about food and drugs – who the hell do you listen too?


    Missy @missy


    So, I am fatuous and stupid.  Well, perhaps I am – that’s you opinion, and I have mine.

    However, at least, to my knowledge, I’m not insulting, which says more about you than me I think.

    As for you diabetes, what a bummer! I’m not sure whether you mention what type you are, too far back (real life has been rugged lately.)

    Our daughter was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes a few years ago. After tablets, a better diet and more exercise, she is now clear of the wretched disease. I sincerely hope it will be the same for you.


    Missy @missy


    I’ve covered most of this, so I won’t labour the point. However I do contest the experts, who state that smoking causes lung cancer. An old friend who died at age 96, smoked all her life and died naturally in her sleep – not of cancer! Where you get one who isn’t affected, there are more. The word I object to is causes or cause.

    Emphysema and hear disease I will accepts, because it makes sense.


    Missy @missy


    Hello there, good to hear from you again. I’m not on here nearly often enough because of real life URGH!

    Yes, Steven Moffat was hard to follow for some, my husband was one of them. All he wanted to do was sit, watch and enjoy, without having to think too deeply! *grins*

    There is nothing wrong with that, so do I a lot of the time, but it was delightful to have a writer who made you think, apart from writing some of the most entertaining episodes I have ever seen.

    After watching the episode with JD he told me that he’s rather watch a SM than'”this Chibnall bloke.” His words, I haven’t seen and won’t be seeing the series.





    Missy @missy


    Oh good grief! I knew that aspirin can be dangerous, but not the extent. fortunately, I can take almost anything, except Panadol – the Australian Drug, as I laughingly call it. They don’t seem to take anything else? It makes me feel very sick – gawd knows why.




    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    Hi @missy. Oh lord, don’t get me started on real life URGH! exactly the same reason for my absence.

    I have to say, for my part, with all my trepidations, I did enjoy the new episode, and see potential for deep thinking and a fantastic Doctor, but I know you weren’t keen (slight understatement?) on the change in sex. Personally, I don’t think I’ll love this version of Who as much as I did Moffat’s, but I don’t love any of the versions of Who as much as I love Moffat’s. I do have a feeling that, overall, and adjusting for the lack of the Moffat scripts and influence which in my opinion did elevate RTD’s time in charge, Chibnell might be my second favourite New Who show runner. That said, very early days.



    OK, before the flurry of next-episode posts, could you have a watch of this vlog  (I think that’s what they are called) about my diagnosis and, even better, pop over onto YouTube and give it a thumbs up? I’ll probably make a short series, so a ‘subscribe’ would be ace too (even though I’m not really doing it for the audience so much as to help me organise my thoughts and feelings).

    As a special favour to viewers, I have deleted nearly all of the “Ums” and put than at the end for comedic effect. For some values of “comedic”. If you make it right to the end, there is a link to a SPECTACULAR sunset seen by my dashcam.

    Original choon by @sirclockface (well, sort of original…more of a variation on a theme by The Archies).

    Missy @missy


    You might well be right, although out of 7 episodes that Chibnall wrote, I only ‘quite liked’ one because it was daft but funny. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. I much preferred RTD, even though he did father hog it.

    Still, I shall never accept a female Doctor,  and more people feel the same than you’d think. (shocking grammar – sorry)

    But as I laughingly told friends, it will save me a lot of money not having to buy the series.

    There will never be anyone like Steven Moffat for me, but it’s surprising how many people couldn’t get to grips with his stories. I found them relatively easy to understand when I thought about them. You had to be on his wavelength.

    My OH wasn’t keen on him, said he didn’t want to have to think about it! *big grin*

    Keep enjoying,


    Missy @missy


    You do pay for health care via the NHS, in your national Insurance Stamp.

    There are always salads, not hot to prepare.

    So, you are Type two, that’s great news, no injections.

    You sound as if you are you up for the challenge.

    Good luck





    NI is nothing to do with funding the NHS. It is used to find the current state pension pot. The NHS is funded out of general taxation.

    But anyway, when talking about free everybody knows it means free-at-the-point-of-delivery. Nobody is ever invoiced for having a medical emergency, even if it turns out to be a false alarm.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Thumbs up from me, and best of luck. I’m not signed up to YouTube – at least not yet – so can’t do the same there, but maybe I should think about it.

    With you all the way on the subject of the NHS. My experience of it over the past few years has been amazing. And yes, they do take chest pains very seriously indeed. Trouble was, for months I didn’t, trying to kid myself it was just heartburn since I had suffered from a bout of oesophagitis not long previously, and my blood pressure had always been low which I mistakenly thought precluded heart problems. Once the attacks got so bad and persistent that I could kid myself no longer I scooted round to my GP (same day appointment) and was fast-tracked to the cardiac clinic and thence to the angioplasty unit, and since I had a stent installed in the circumflex cardiac artery I’ve been problem free. It was in the battery of blood tests they carried out then that they discovered I also had essential thrombocythaemia or, as the consultant cardiologist put it, ‘Did you know that you have funny blood?’

    Courage, friend, it is possible to lose 10 kilos because I once  just that, and I have heard of cases of Type 2 diabetes where weight loss and improved diet were enough in themselves to lower the blood sugar levels to the point where drugs were no longer necessary.

    Normally I am not and never have been overweight, but there was a period when I did put on the kilos quite rapidly. Like you, I suffered from depression following the death of my mother; anxiety attacks, sleep disturbance, inability to focus and a general feeling of terminal mental and physical exhaustion, although not a loss of hope. Quite why I gained weight then is a bit of a mystery, except that it had been a very stressful and harrowing nine months when I was already under pressure from work. She had an aggressive and inoperable brain tumour, and though she was insistent that I did not give up work to care for her, I was organising and overseeing her live-in care, liaising with the medics and visiting her most evenings, eating at irregular hours, often late in the evening and, since there was no time to cook, relying on ready meals and the local chippy. In other words, a crap diet.

    Afterwards I was off work for seven months, recovering with a bit of help from a clinical psychiatrist and a lot of self imposed therapy bashing hell out of the garden I was in process of creating. Despite the exercise I was still gaining weight, probably because too dependent on comfort foods, but once things were back to normal I lost it all again over a period of about nine months. What made the difference was, as you suggest, chiefly cooking for myself again so that I could control fat and sugar intake and was in control of portion sizes. It probably helped, though, that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

    I don’t know if this confessional stuff is of any help or encouragement, but for what it’s worth my experience has a fair amount in common with yours and so I have some understanding of what you are facing and know that you can come through it.

    Cath Annabel @cathannabel

    @pedant Commiserations on your diagnosis.  My other half was diagnosed with Type 2 about 9 years ago and has been stable on Metformin and statins ever since.  We made various dietary changes, reducing fat and salt as much as sugar, given that he wasn’t actually overweight (funnily enough he was sent on a Diabetes day course to find out all about diet & medication & so forth, and every single damn person there assumed that I was the diabetic not him, as I am overweight…).   There’s none of this that isn’t manageable however, and we keep the associated risks of D2 at bay with diet, taking care of his feet (no wandering around barefoot any more in of a minor injury that he doesn’t feel because of the poor circulation and which therefore turns nasty).  He has a repeat blood test every year and a check up with the practice nurse at the GP, and gets his eyes checked for diabetic retinopathy.   And the heightened risk of stroke/heart problems – well, he should have stopped smoking but because he’s an idiot, he hasn’t done… So, commiserations but don’t be downhearted, do keep sharing your feelings about it, and any questions and so forth.  And yes, the NHS is bloody amazing.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Sorry to hear about the diagnosis. Do take care of yourself. Duly liked and subscribed btw.

    Craig @craig

    @pedant As everyone has said, sorry to hear about the diagnosis. I had a few problems recently and had to go for blood tests but thankfully turns out I just need to “stop smoking, drink less and eat more fruit and vegetables” – which is what I think all doctors say to everyone. Have subscribed.

    Seriously though, my boss was diagnosed with Type 2, he would be the first to admit he was overweight, and as you are doing, he changed his diet and it has done him the world of good.

    I don’t know if you heard, but Kevin Smith (director of Clerks, Mallrats etc) had a heart attack recently. He survived but he was told to go vegan – he jokes about it but I don’t think he really enjoys it. His daughter does though, as she was already vegan. He’s lost about 25kg in the last few months and looks a different person. He jokes that he would lose in a Silent Bob lookalike competition because he’s too skinny now to play himself.

    Here’s one of the interviews he did. He makes it funny, but it’s pretty amazing he’s still alive.

    syzygy @thane16


    I liked that. Mum showed me the first one you made a few weeks ago? Really liked the ‘ums’ sped up. Hope you’re not in agony at all. Or it’s bearable.



    @mudlark @cathannabel @craig @jimthefish

    Thanks all – much appreciated.

    No agony, but a lot to absorb (in a non-sugary way).

    Craig @craig


    Here’s Kevin Smith on his diet – which he got from Penn Jilette (of magicians Penn & Teller) who also had a health scare.

    I don’t know if this is of any use, hopefully not condescending – but it shows you’re not alone.

    Good luck.

    syzygy @thane16

    @pedant Hi I have read this information (finally) on the Pub pgs . You said :

    PSA: Anecdote is not the singular of evidence.

    What did that mean?

    There was discussion of something to do with aspirin which indicates excellent health benefits for people with heart conditions. So, one more day for Episode 2.



    Excellent question.

    It means that one needs to be very, very cautious of generalising from personal experience. That doesn’t in any way negate those experiences, but underlines that it is from a specific point of view in a specific set of circumstances. It is, in essence, storytelling. Now, nobody (least of all here!) is going to denigrate the importance of storytelling, but personal anecdote is subject to a lot of thinking errors.

    The most common of these is confirmation bias (you are thinking of a tune, turn the radio on and that tune is playing and we think: “Whoa…freaky”. Not telepathy, confirmation bias because we give zero weight to the things that don’t happen, the 1000s of times we have turned the radio on and it wasn’t playing a tune we were thinking about).

    So to count as evidence we need to eliminate these flaws as best we can.

    We need, say:

    • multiple examples,
    • that are representative of the population and chosen at random
    • in which the experimenter is blind to the selection
    • And in the case where the sample is people, the people are also blind (so don’t know if they are getting the medicine or a placebo) – these two together is what is meant by double blind.
    • where the sample is big enough to be meaningful
    • and using methods that someone else can replicate (with their own sample) to see if they get the same results.

    Even then there are still traps (there’s a thing call p-hacking where the experimenter keeps sampling until they get the result they expect (or want: 8 of to 10 cats prefer whiskas (in 1 test, ignoring the 50 where the cat just scoffed on whatever they were offered first)). Usually the dishonest ones are obvious (but not always) but the honest errors are far harder to spot.

    But the tl;dr is one example tells us nothing of general applicability, no matter how compelling. Some time ago the poster formally known as puro told me that there is a Crohns severity scale on which the average is 22, and she is a 90. To which:

    a) OUCH!


    b) we cannot generalise from her experience because it is such an outlier;

    c) that knowledge was gathered the methods outlined (VERY briefly) above. So we know immediately why she is a walking medical emergency, and also something of a miracle.

    (See what I did there?)



    Thanks Craig – shall watch with interest while trying to ignore my gloaty vegan friend!


    Mudlark @mudlark


    Re Anecdote v. data.  As an illustration;  on this forum recently someone adduced the example of a smoker who had lived into her 90s without developing lung cancer (anecdote) as evidence against there being a link between cigarette smoking and cancer. Of course there are individuals who smoke and don’t develop lung cancer, just as there are people who develop lung cancer who have never smoked. But data gathered systematically over decades from many thousands of medical records and processed statistically shows that the correlation between cigarette smoking and people who develop lung cancer is very high indeed. Correlation does not in itself equal causation, because there may be other factors involved, but it is reason enough to investigate further, and so to identify the carcinogens in tobacco smoke and the tars deposited in the lungs

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @arbutus Katharine Hepburn (sorry, pet peeve, my own first name is Katharine.)

    syzygy @thane16

    @mudlark thank you Ms Mudlark. I appreciate it.

    @pedant  Blimey:

    We need, say:

    multiple examples (really?)
    that are representative of the population and chosen at random
    in which the experimenter is blind to the selection (OMG, seriously?)
    And in the case where the sample is people, the people are also blind (so don’t know if they are getting the medicine or a placebo) – these two together is what is meant by double blind. (I thought it meant they were visually impaired)
    where the sample is big enough to be meaningful
    and using methods that someone else can replicate (with their own sample) to see if they get the same results. (I’m about to hang myself)

    I appreciate the teaching moment. But I’m not a duffer. I am actually aware of these issues: STEM, philosophy, parents; they’ve taught me these elements of representativeness…. The question was: “What’s PSA?” (in part)

    I should have expressed what I suspect was meant originally by the post.


    “this happened because someone didn’t read the packet properly & took nurofen not realising it was actually aspirin. ” That was the bit where it looked as though someone didn’t quite understand that this story was funny. The anecdote demonstrated something  interesting or ironic.  Which was why I asked the question. This “story” (evidently found boring) wasn’t about whether nurofen/aspirin was helpful or medically ‘harmless’ or whether the research was “in” or not or whether one person’s experience is evidence or not. It was about not understanding what the story was about in the first place.

    Kind of like this entire conversation.

    Thank you, though, Mr P. I appreciate the evidence, what with your knowledge about these issues. And I am not being sarcastic. In case I get wacked. Which I expect will happen anyway.

    Thank you.




    Tip for future reference: only quote the bit you want explaining 😉

    PSA: Public Service Announcement.

    Example: See above. Being precise is also important, and anecdotes are rarely precise.

    (curious feature of discourse: it is easy for a discussion about something big to get derailed by the perspective of personal experience, which may be earnest and sincere or jaundiced and sarcastic. There are also those who exploit this, for example blathering on about weather (why is it so cold outside?) in a discussion about climate change (what the fuck are we going to do with all the refugees?).)

    I highly recommend this book. The first 50 pages will totally freak you out about how much your brain lies to you. But in the context of this discussion and the way it started, it may be the most important book of the decade.

    syzygy @thane16


    Clarity didn’t happen did it?

    What was meant, I reckon (but now I can’t ask her) was:

    • read the packet
    • know what’s in it
    • most Doctors believe aspirin is pretty good
    • some Doctors don’t like aspirin (probably those who haven’t kept up with the research)…
    • keep up with the research
    • read the literature and know from which area or pharm industry it ‘germinates.’

    In other words the posts were completely in agreement. Hence my “wot? What’s PSA?”

    It means Public Service Announcement. I should ‘of ‘ googled it. This is largest set of posts I’ve ever typed. And you too. All because of a lack of understanding or of reading. Also because its really distracting and I need it.

    Now if you want a nightmare scenario, try heart disease at the same time as kidney disease.

    We are all so sorry to hear about your dad. Sometimes people express things in a way that is relevant to their emotions and memory. Sometimes theres even a tendency to say, “try having THIS or that.” Like a competition. I think most people have some pretty sh** situation happening.  Often it  explains why things are said the way they are. Also she used to apologise a lot didn’t she? Not exactly sure why. Insecurity? Fear? Not wanting to offend? An over-mannered approach? Not one to be competitive myself, I’ll gently mention this:

    Try having kidney disease, stercoral colitis, crohns and ischemic colitis. It happens. It’s rare.  It’s rarely not morbid.

    Also there’s a post flying to this email box from you…..But I may need to get back there. Thank you for your patience at this difficult moment.

    syzygy @thane16


    Thankyou. It looks like a top book and obviously very necessary (the “very” is the funny part. I hear at school things like “very unique, very very clever, really pregnant….LOL)

    And I have a lot to learn. I keep forgetting “thank you” is not one word.

    Mum would of said: “yee-hah”

    Thank you.  🙂

    PS; I believe some students in the physics class don’t understand sampling and evidence including whats now referred to as ‘binary data selective processing at micro levels”

    Thanks for getting me! I’m a hard egg to crack.

    syzygy @thane16

    @pedant (soz, this is really the last post): if personal experience is the beginning of discourse and if discourse leads to group discussion and if THAT discussion leads to the decision to create surveys, or further study and if that study then leads to even more experiences listed in say, one place or many places then “stories” are the back-bone of progress. The stories indicate movement. Not necessarily movement forward but not information in stasis either.

    Also, without stories, there are no people.

    The “stories” could be wrong, sure,  if the information in them is not recognised as growing from one persons experience. # People reading it might think this information is knowledge when its not. Or that it is  fact when it isn’t. Caveats are very essential 🙂

    But anecdotes are not always imprecise#. I would say that anecdotes are  “quite” precise if you look, for example, at the source of the anecdote. At the nature of the person who experienced this “story.”

    Stories create curiosity which can kill the cat who had the personal story mentioned in the first place. But without the curiosity there’s no one to follow up what happened to the cat who died.

    See what I did there? Also there are no ‘real’ miracles. I understood that. But, say, not walking into a building that falls over later because a person took a call, or some medical advice which was wrong, and therefore lived -I guess those situations happen constantly and we never know until it’s too late or just much later.



    Bookmark your last post here and come back to it once you’ve read the first 50 pages or so of the book. Seriously. That’s an exercise you won’t regret.

    But maybe not just now.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Well, the saga of Puro and nurofen made me smile, at least, though it was a somewhat drastic way of learning the wisdom of reading the label and the instructions in the packet, even for over-the-counter drugs.

    One thing puzzled me, though, because in the UK at least and I presume elsewhere, nurofen doesn’t contain aspirin. It is just a brand name for ibuprofen. Like aspirin, though, ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug, and as with all NSAIDs, it is a gastro-irritant, so no more advisable for anyone with Crohn’s or any other gastro-intestinal disorder even though coated in a buffering agent.

    syzygy @thane16

    @mudlark @pedant

    You’re right, it’s an anti-inflammatory.  I got that quite wrong.

    Stories are important. Why else vlog a Diabetes story?



    Never said stories aren’t important!

    But when you have a quiet moment read up on the research into the reliability of eye witness accounts.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @pedant and @thane16

    Indeed. But also read up on the various ways that the legal profession and historians (to name two of the areas that use eye witness accounts) have developed to cross check such accounts.

    syzygy @thane16


    Anecdote is not the singular of evidence.

    Well, yes, see, because you can call it “anecdote” or a “story.” And either way the issue/anecdote/thing that happened DID actually happen. Did I write down everything that was said? Yes. Did I repeat it to another who wrote it also? Yes.


    Was it even on film? YES. The store caught it. Welcome to the new age.

    It also served to demonstrate something. Something important. Not that it matters either way.

    Forgive me, I’m very tired.

    syzygy @thane16

    @pedant @mudlark

    Too much morphine clearly, “it’s on film”

    Really? The bit where I said “aspirin?? shit!” except it was ibuprofen.

    Christ, it IS on film: and that’s obviously quite embarrassing.  Particularly now.

    As you were.


    Mm? Yes, I had heard of that issue -with eyewitnesses.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @miapatrick  the things I love about Moffart Who the most are the things that made it difficult for him to follow

    Exactly!  So heading in new directions, in search of different strengths, is an excellent strategy for Chib & co.  It feels a bit ploddy by contrast, but that can make room for good character work — which is definitely needed for Jaz, for example.  Maybe next ep.

    @janetteb   I fear I am going to miss Moffat.

    I already do; quite a bit.  Am trying to adjust by remembering the pleasures of first reading Jules Verne, as a kid, and loving it’s more — Victorian? — pace . . . and it was sort of Steam Punk, too, wasn’t it?

    @missy  After watching the episode with JD he told me that he’s rather watch a SM than’”this Chibnall bloke.”

    Haw!  That’s funny.  Well, me too, but as has been pointed out, Moffat had plenty of haters, and I think a period of less high-profile writing (which this seems to be so far) can be refreshing for them, if a bit pedestrian for Moffat fans.

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