The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Split

Homeopathy, Chiropractic and similar "alternative" views

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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#121  Postby generalsemanticist » May 27, 2010 12:34 am

Good post fact-man. My beef is that the medical establishment has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. We see many doctors giving up their conventional practices probably because they are unable to function within the current system. There are so many success stories coming from alternative healthcare that it is negligent to ignore it at this point in time. Things will change I have no doubt - they have already a great deal.

“I had been a practicing pediatric gastroenterologist for 25 years. During that time I watched some really beautiful children and young men and women die under my care because I had nothing more to offer, and unfortunately what I had offered many times only made their lives more miserable. Recent health problems led me to read about Linus Pauling and orthomolecular medicine and it has been like discovering an advanced ancient civilization that I had no idea had ever existed. After reading Doctor Yourself by Dr. Andrew Saul, I have become a very angry man. I've just realized that for 25 years I had been making my patients sick and big pharma rich. I've just realized that those chronic hepatitis patients that died waiting for a liver transplant could have been easily cured with vitamin C. I realize now that my toximolecular medical education only led me to do more harm than good. That is not a good feeling to have. I only wish that all my critically ill patients had read Dr. Saul's book and fired their doctor. Doctor Yourself in fact has inspired me to now open an exclusive orthomolecular medicine practice for children and adults of all ages, and copies of the book will be in the waiting room for all to read. In the names of all those I didn't help before, I hope this time to make a difference.”
(Edward Cichowicz, M.D.)
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#122  Postby Shrunk » May 27, 2010 10:38 am

generalsemanticist wrote:Good post fact-man. My beef is that the medical establishment has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. We see many doctors giving up their conventional practices probably because they are unable to function within the current system. There are so many success stories coming from alternative healthcare that it is negligent to ignore it at this point in time. Things will change I have no doubt - they have already a great deal.


By "success stories" I presume you mean "anecdotes". We all know, of course, that the plural of "anecdote" is not data, right?

“I had been a practicing pediatric gastroenterologist for 25 years. During that time I watched some really beautiful children and young men and women die under my care because I had nothing more to offer, and unfortunately what I had offered many times only made their lives more miserable. Recent health problems led me to read about Linus Pauling and orthomolecular medicine and it has been like discovering an advanced ancient civilization that I had no idea had ever existed. After reading Doctor Yourself by Dr. Andrew Saul, I have become a very angry man. I've just realized that for 25 years I had been making my patients sick and big pharma rich. I've just realized that those chronic hepatitis patients that died waiting for a liver transplant could have been easily cured with vitamin C. I realize now that my toximolecular medical education only led me to do more harm than good. That is not a good feeling to have. I only wish that all my critically ill patients had read Dr. Saul's book and fired their doctor. Doctor Yourself in fact has inspired me to now open an exclusive orthomolecular medicine practice for children and adults of all ages, and copies of the book will be in the waiting room for all to read. In the names of all those I didn't help before, I hope this time to make a difference.”
(Edward Cichowicz, M.D.)


So let me get this straight: This Dr. Saul has a way of curing endstage liver disease with nothing more than Vitamin C. So why doesn't he submit this revolutionary finding to a major peer-reviewed journal, and save thousands of lives? Oh, I see. "Big Pharma" and the "Medical Establishment" won't let him, so he has to go directly to the people with a cheesy website and a non-peer reviewed book. Which, I'm sure, he just gives away without any profit to himself. :roll:

Tell me something: How did an article like this one get by the "Big Pharma" conspiracy, just to choose one example? Its main conclusion could not have been very pleasing to the drug companies that had spent big bucks developing drugs that were newer, costlier and, (so they thought) more effective than the older thiazide diuretics:

Thiazide-type diuretics, in low to moderate doses, are recommended as initial therapy for two reasons. They are more effective than amlodipine (representing calcium channel blockers) and lisinopril (representing ACE inhibitors) in reducing the risk of hypertensive complications such as heart failure. Additionally, due to their lower cost, increased use of diuretics would reduce drug expenditures for hypertensive patients and society.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#123  Postby Shrunk » May 27, 2010 10:40 am

FACT-MAN-2 wrote: One of our more noted rebel MDs is Dr. Andrew Weill, who teaches at the University of Arizona and operates a large clinic. He started out a Harvard with Timothy Leary and after LSD had a life in which he was known as "Babba Ram Dass" and was a noted guru type. After 20 years of that he quit it and moved to Arizona and started his clinic and became Dr. Andrew Weill. In the course of things he built some major facilities at the UA school of medicine, started some new schools, wrote a number of best selling books on medicine and health, and is in high demand today as a speaker and as a practitioner.

I think Weill is among the best doctors we have practicing today. He is trained and educated in allopathic medicine and learned in other medical ways and in nutrition. He's the great blend East and West and modern "counter" medicine as known in the West. And that I think is what makes for the best kind of doctor. On top of that he's one of the nicest people you'd ever meet.


One of Weil's honours you forgot to mention: He has his very own page on Quackwatch! That article's conclusion:

As Weil clearly points out in his earlier books, alternative healing is based on a conception of nature and a theory of learning the truth about nature that is fundamentally at odds with the "straight," evidence-based thinking of mainstream medicine. As defined by Weil, and by most of the other gurus of alternative medicine, alternative and mainstream medicine are not simply different methods of treating illness. They are basically incompatible views of reality and how the material world works, and they cannot easily be combined into any rational and coherent "integrated" curriculum.

Is there an objective real world out there, of which human bodies are a part? If so, how do we learn about it? How do we determine whether a method of healing is effective or not? Do we follow the universal rule of science, as explained by Feynman, that objective, verifiable observation is the ultimate and final judge of the truth of an idea, or do we use the subjective methods advocated by the alternative medicine gurus and described by Weil in his "Stonesville" chapter? Without agreement on such basic issues, it is hard to know what Weil means by being "even-handed" in dealing with the two types of medical practice. Sometimes he seems to believe in the primacy of objective evidence and talks like a scientist, but more often he does not. This is inconsistency and confusion, not even-handedness. It is hardly a useful basis for the "new paradigm" of "integrative medicine" that Weil is promoting.

There is no doubt that modern medicine as it is now practiced needs to improve its relations with patients, and that some of the criticisms leveled against it by people such as Weil -- and by many more within the medical establishment itself -- are valid. There also can be no doubt that a few of the "natural" medicines and healing methods now being used by practitioners of alternative medicine will prove, after testing, to be safe and effective. This, after all, has been the way in which many important therapeutic agents and treatments have found their way into standard medical practice in the past. Mainstream medicine should continue to be open to the testing of selected unconventional treatments. In keeping an open mind, however, the medical establishment in this country must not lose its scientific compass or weaken its commitment to rational thought and the rule of evidence.

There are not two kinds of medicine, one conventional and the other unconventional, that can be practiced jointly in a new kind of "integrative medicine." Nor, as Andrew Weil and his friends also would have us believe, are there two kinds of thinking, or two ways to find out which treatments work and which do not. In the best kind of medical practice, all proposed treatments must be tested objectively. In the end, there will only be treatments that pass that test and those that do not, those that are proven worthwhile and those that are not. Can there be any reasonable "alternative"?
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#124  Postby generalsemanticist » May 27, 2010 11:28 am

Shrunk wrote:
We all know, of course, that the plural of "anecdote" is not data, right?

No, we all don't know this, this is your stupid saying that you like to repeat ad nauseum.

Shrunk wrote:
Which, I'm sure, he just gives away without any profit to himself. :roll:

I guess its hard for you to believe that some people are actually interested in helping others without making tons of money from it.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#125  Postby Shrunk » May 27, 2010 12:23 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:
Shrunk wrote:
We all know, of course, that the plural of "anecdote" is not data, right?

No, we all don't know this, this is your stupid saying that you like to repeat ad nauseum.


So you believe anecdotal evidence is sufficient to scientifically demonstrate something. Glad that's cleared up. I look forward to your introducing us to the Loch Ness monster.

(BTW, I don't believe I've ever quoted this before here. Are you mistaking me for someone else?)

Shrunk wrote:
Which, I'm sure, he just gives away without any profit to himself. :roll:

I guess its hard for you to believe that some people are actually interested in helping others without making tons of money from it.


Like Andrew Weil or Deepak Chopra, for instance?

BTW, would you care to answer any of the other questions in my post?
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#126  Postby natselrox » May 27, 2010 12:26 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:
Shrunk wrote:
We all know, of course, that the plural of "anecdote" is not data, right?

No, we all don't know this, this is your stupid saying that you like to repeat ad nauseum.


:popcorn:
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#127  Postby Elena » May 27, 2010 12:48 pm

FACT-MAN-2 wrote: It strikes me that you guys are arguing past each other. Homeopathy and Naturopathy are strategic methods that work in the long term, if indeed they work at all. Practitioners of these medicines dot not promise results tomorrow, although in some cases things can happen rather quickly. Alopathic medicine typically acts quickly, saw off a guys leg, replace a kidney, remove a tumor, flush the blood, repair a broken bone or cut flesh. One doesn't really compete very well with the other owing to their fundamental temporal differences. In alopathy, drugs are the preferred method of treating organic issues. All drugs have side effects (listen to the ads). But they usually work quickly. The Homeopath or Naturopath is limited to a much slower acting set of tools in their toolboxes. Their treatments take longer.


Not really. Conventional medicine can treat chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart failure and demonstrate a reduction in mortality rates in comparison to placebos. In heart failure, a breakthrough has been achieved for example with drugs that were introduced in clinical practice over the past two decades and with the ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which significantly reduces the incidence of sudden death.

FACT-MAN-2 wrote:One of our more noted rebel MDs is Dr. Andrew Weill, who teaches at the University of Arizona and operates a large clinic. He started out a Harvard with Timothy Leary and after LSD had a life in which he was known as "Babba Ram Dass" and was a noted guru type. After 20 years of that he quit it and moved to Arizona and started his clinic and became Dr. Andrew Weill. In the course of things he built some major facilities at the UA school of medicine, started some new schools, wrote a number of best selling books on medicine and health, and is in high demand today as a speaker and as a practitioner.

And remarkably, Weill has not published anything peer-reviewed. In these times, anyone (particularly anyone with a degree) can write (or commission) a best-seller. It is infinitely harder to write (an publish) scientifically rigorously papers. Some of Weill's writing would not stand the most basic scrutiny of the medical community.
On top of that he's one of the nicest people you'd ever meet.

That could be true. Still...
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#128  Postby Elena » May 27, 2010 12:55 pm

generalsemanticist,

It is true that there is money to be made by pharmaceutical and device companies. It is also true that they must spend billions of dollars in new agent development, to meet all the FDA regulation requirements. Even after spending millions on one promising new agent (drug or device), that agent may not be clinically safe or effective, and millions are lost.

It is imperative for anyone in business to make a profit -otherwise they disappear. While I agree with you that often that profit is out of control (here in the US), what is the alternative? CAM does not offer real cures. The NIH does not sponsor numerous trials that are otherwise required by the FDA. So how else would new, potentially effective treatments be tested?
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#129  Postby natselrox » May 27, 2010 12:58 pm

Big Pharma is fucked up but it's the only rational alternative we have at the moment.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#130  Postby Moridin » May 27, 2010 1:11 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:Good post fact-man. My beef is that the medical establishment has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. We see many doctors giving up their conventional practices probably because they are unable to function within the current system. There are so many success stories coming from alternative healthcare that it is negligent to ignore it at this point in time. Things will change I have no doubt - they have already a great deal.


You are only seeing the conservative forces in science, and not the innovative forces within the free marketplace of ideas that counteracts the conservative influences of peer review. If a journal refuses to publish papers that are supported by the evidence just because they go against the prevailing orthodoxy, what scientist would want to read or subscribe to that journal in order to keep themselves updated on the current research? What peer-reviewed scientific journal could survive and give their owners a profit if they did not attract scientists who wants to keep themselves updated on the current research? There is a clear free market rationale to publishing innovating papers that are supported by the evidence.

The problem with these so-called success stories are that they are anecdotal evidence, claims and stories that are colored by personal emotions and biases. The different world religions all make incompatible claims about the nature of reality, so there must be billions of people who believe in false religions, based on emotional needs and personal biases. This is why we need controlled, double-blind scientific tests, to try and eliminate this noise as much as possible.

Try to look beyond the emotional appeals and look for the scientific evidence, not anecdotal stories.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#131  Postby Moridin » May 27, 2010 1:12 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:Really? What pathogen does statin drugs treat??


Hence why i said "such as pathogens", not just "pathogens".
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#132  Postby Shrunk » May 27, 2010 1:12 pm

I kind of like this summary of the "classic stages of CAM research" outlined on this page by a veterinarian:

The SkeptVet wrote:1. An untested idea

2. An idea with support from a few random in vitro and animal model studies

3. An idea with a few supportive findings in small, poorly designed clinical studies

4. An idea clearly debunked in larger and better-designed studies but whose proponents cling to it tenaciously despite the lack of evidentiary support because they see themselves as visionaries ignored or oppressed by the unimaginative and venal mainstream medical establishment.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#133  Postby Moridin » May 27, 2010 1:14 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:
GenesForLife wrote:
Drugs such as antibiotics, antiretroviral drugs and several anticancer drugs deal not with symptoms, but the cause of the disease, so that eejit who made the quote has no clue about what she is commenting on.

What about research into why people get cancer and preventing it? What IS the real cause of cancer? Are you saying that the cause of cancer is cancer cells??


"Cancer" is just an umbrella term for errors in the genetic material of a cell that makes it go into mass reproduction, a mass reproduction that eventually harms the body so much that it dies. There is no single cause of "cancer", not just because there are probably many causes, but also because there are many types of cancers, some very different in symptoms than others.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#134  Postby Shrunk » May 27, 2010 3:25 pm

This is taking us back a ways, but at the beginning of this split, Dr. Nancy Malik cited this study to support her claim that homeopathy has efficacy beyond placebo. A review of the abstract of the study shows this not to be the case:

BACKGROUND: It has been hypothesised that randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials (RCTs) of classical (individualised) homeopathy often fail because placebo effects are substantially higher than in conventional medicine.

OBJECTIVES: To compare placebo effects in clinical trials on homeopathy to placebo effects on trials of conventional medicines.

METHODS: We performed a systematic literature analysis on placebo-controlled double-blind RCTs on classical homeopathy. Each trial was matched to three placebo-controlled double-blind RCTs from conventional medicine (mainly pharmacological interventions) involving the same diagnosis. Matching criteria included severity of complaints, choice of outcome parameter, and treatment duration. Outcome was measured as the percentage change of symptom scores from baseline to end of treatment in the placebo group. 35 RCTs on classical homeopathy were identified. 10 were excluded because no relevant data could be extracted, or less than three matching conventional trials could be located.

RESULTS: In 13 matched sets the placebo effect in the homeopathic trials was larger than the average placebo effect of the conventional trials, in 12 matched sets it was lower (P=0.39). Additionally, no subgroup analysis yielded any significant difference.

CONCLUSIONS: Placebo effects in RCTs on classical homeopathy did not appear to be larger than placebo effects in conventional medicine.


IOW, what the study is investigating is the validity of one of the excuses that homeopaths often make for the failure of RCT's to demonstrate any efficacy for their treatments: That there is a greater placebo effect in homeopathy, which prevents controlled studies from demonstrating this efficacy. I'm not sure I follow the logic of that argument, but that doesn't matter because this study shows that the basis of the claim is false: The placebo effect for homeopathic treatments is no greater than that of "conventional" treatments. Which means that, if homeopathy worked, this should be demonstrable thru RCT's. Unfortunately,just the opposite is the case.

The amusing thing is that Google reveals a number of other homeopaths, besides Dr. Malik, cluelessly making the same mistake and trumpeting this study as some sort of vindication, when in fact all it does is provide further evidence that homeopathy is nothing but quackery. Which only goes to show that, not only do homeopaths fail to understand the importance of scientific evidence. They can't even understand the scientific evidence that exists in their profession. (Interestingly, this chiropractic site seems to get it right, and serves to refute this hilariously inept response to the Lancet meta-analysis.)
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#135  Postby MedGen » May 27, 2010 3:52 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:
GenesForLife wrote:
Drugs such as antibiotics, antiretroviral drugs and several anticancer drugs deal not with symptoms, but the cause of the disease, so that eejit who made the quote has no clue about what she is commenting on.

What about research into why people get cancer and preventing it? What IS the real cause of cancer? Are you saying that the cause of cancer is cancer cells??


This displays a fundamental failing in your understanding of cancer progression and promotion. Cancer, in its simplest definition is merely uncontrolled cell division (benign) with additional changes that promote the ability to invade surrounding tissue (malignancy), and further, migrate to distal sites within the body and form new neoplastic growths (metastasis).

The "causes" of cancer are numerous, but do display common features in their mechanisms of action. For instance a mutation that allows the potential for uncontrolled growth and division of a cell does not "cause" cancer, but it is an initiator. An initiator on its own is insufficient to induce cancer. There is a requirement for multiple changes in a cell before it becomes cancerous, including environmental mitogenic stimuli to act as a promoter of cancer (induction of growth). A cell that harbours a single mutation in H-ras for instance acts a promoter because it provides a constant signal to the cell to divide, thus promoting cell cycle entry (of course there are cellular mechanisms in place to recognise such oncogenic/ inappropriate mitogenic signalling such as induction of ARF). This requirement for a series of changes and conditions is seen in the slow progression of sporadic cancers (on the scale of years), hence sporadic cancers are largely a disease of old age. Paediatric neoplasms are usually the result of hereditary defects (such as those in the retinoblastoma protein, pRB), but still require additional genetic (and epigenetic) changes and relevant promoters in order to develop into full blown cancer. Even a cell that contains the necessary changes and conditions to progress to a cancerous state still has other factors to contend with, namely our highly evolved immune system which has specific mechansims and cells that can target and eliminate cancerous growths. Of course cancers themselves are able to evolve such that they can evade detection and elimination of the immune system.

Importantly though, whilst there are common mechanisms to cancers, such as uncontrolled proliferation, prevention of apoptosis and immune-evasion, all sporadice cancers are ultimately different. There is no one single "cause" of cancer, but many different environmental and genetic factors that contribute to its aetiology.

p.s. this may have already been pointed out, but cancer is a catch-all term for uncontrolled cell growths and malignancies, it is not one single disease.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#136  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » May 27, 2010 4:39 pm

Shrunk wrote:
generalsemanticist wrote:
I guess its hard for you to believe that some people are actually interested in helping others without making tons of money from it.

Like Andrew Weil or Deepak Chopra, for instance?

W-e-i-l-l ...

I'd not mention these two gentlemen in the same breath. They are light years diffierent in philosophy, approach, and method. I'm not privy to the financial standing of either but I expect that Dr. Weill manages to earn a fairly decent living from his practice and his teaching.

Chopra is a preacher, Weill is a practitioner who has an MD, big difference there.

To mention these two gentleman together shows a deep lack of knowledge about them.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#137  Postby Shrunk » May 27, 2010 4:56 pm

FACT-MAN-2 wrote: W-e-i-l-l ...


Dr. Weil begs to differ.

Chopra is a preacher, Weill is a practitioner who has an MD, big difference there.



Wikipedia wrote:Chopra completed his primary education at St. Columba's School in New Delhi and graduated from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). After immigrating to the US in 1968, Chopra began his clinical internship and residency training at Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey. He had residency terms at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts, and at the University of Virginia Hospital.

He earned his license to practice medicine in the state of Massachusetts in 1973 and received a California medical license in 2004. Chopra is board-certified in internal medicine and specialized in endocrinology. He is also a member of the American Medical Association (AMA), a Fellow of the American College of Physicians[citation needed] and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepak_Chopra

To mention these two gentleman together shows a deep lack of knowledge about them.


I'm not the only one to link them together. From the Quackwatch page I linked earlier:

If Deepak Chopra is the mystical poet-laureate of the movement, then Weil is its heavy-duty theoretician and apologist.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#138  Postby generalsemanticist » May 27, 2010 5:03 pm

Shrunk wrote:
(BTW, I don't believe I've ever quoted this before here. Are you mistaking me for someone else?)

Maybe so but the fact remains there are many kinds of data or evidence. You are limiting yourself by only accepting a certain kind.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#139  Postby Shrunk » May 27, 2010 5:06 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:
Shrunk wrote:
(BTW, I don't believe I've ever quoted this before here. Are you mistaking me for someone else?)

Maybe so but the fact remains there are many kinds of data or evidence. You are limiting yourself by only accepting a certain kind.


There's a difference between limiting oneself to only one kind of evidence, and accepting the fact that some forms of evidence are more reliable and meaningful than others.

In my practice, I regularly make use of treatments for which there is only anecdotal evidence, but only when no effective treatments exist with more rigorous evidence to support them. And I always inform the patient that there is limited conclusive evidence to support the treatment I am recommending.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Sp

#140  Postby Moridin » May 27, 2010 5:17 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:
Shrunk wrote:
(BTW, I don't believe I've ever quoted this before here. Are you mistaking me for someone else?)

Maybe so but the fact remains there are many kinds of data or evidence. You are limiting yourself by only accepting a certain kind.


What other kinds of evidence? What other kinds of data? You merely assert it, but you do not provide any rational argument for it.
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