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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free..., United Kingd...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:Right....during my time here on HoP I have noticed many conflicting veiws. (most based around religion wink) but was wondering, Many here seem to have a scientific background / belief system (please lets not descend into a disscussion on belief) and others a more alternative thought process.

I was looking at some threads and visualised 2 groups disscussing. in the blue corner, a group of (for sake of a better word) hippies, and in the red corner, a group of (for sake of a better word) scientists.

I was wondering about peoples thoughts on modern medicine verses alternative therapies.
Can reflexology alieviate asthma. or are inhalers the best cure?

Whats the best way to fix a bad back?

seconds out round 1. ubblol


A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Very true. Know that I respect you Dave.

I will point out when someone is talking out their ass, though.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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TheWibbler
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

old hand
Location: New Zealand

Total posts: 920
Posted:Jeff, there's a lot of people who say the 'double blind trial' is inadequate to test things like homeopathy. SO i'm afraid science IMO is not adequate to prove or disprove it.

And i'm not offended in the slightest, i just skip past the bits that are infantile wink


Spherculism ~:~ The Act of becoming Spherculish.

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TheWibbler
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

old hand
Location: New Zealand

Total posts: 920
Posted:NOw i realise you're just gonna dismiss this but here's a very interesting link to that experiment i mentioned a few days ago,

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3817
br>
Personally i consider the memory of water a pretty far out concept.

I think it's important to state my position on this so i don't get tied up in rediculour (time wasting) arguments

I am not fighting the corner for homeopathy, i use it rarely and it wseems to do what i want it to

I am concerned that so many scientists dismiss stuff like this without any regard for what IMO could be a massive breakthrough in modern science.

Newton was an Alchemist, alchemy still has it's place in modern science IMO


Spherculism ~:~ The Act of becoming Spherculish.

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Sphereculist, that article is about as related to homeopathy as an article on light refraction is related to warp drives.

And, as I said before, but you were apparently unwilling to listen, alchemy and nuclear physics are not exactly one and the same.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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spiralx


spiralx

veteran
Location: London, UK

Total posts: 1376
Posted:Written by: spherculist

Jeff, there's a lot of people who say the 'double blind trial' is inadequate to test things like homeopathy. SO i'm afraid science IMO is not adequate to prove or disprove it.


There's a lot of people who say that God created the Universe 6000 years ago in six days, but that doesn't mean that they're right, just that they've decided that in their case somehow science magically fails to work. Much like you're claiming. "[insert topic here] does work, unless you're actually measuring whether it works, in which case it suddenly seems not to!". Heh, maybe the water "remembers" when it's being subjected to a scientific study and "decides" not to unleash it's magical healing powers.


"Moo," said the happy cow.

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Written by: spherculist

Jeff, there's a lot of people who say the 'double blind trial' is inadequate to test things like homeopathy. SO i'm afraid science IMO is not adequate to prove or disprove it.



I would like to propose the following test as a hypothetical example.

Take an adequate sample size for an initial study, say 500, with a mundane ailment. We'll use the example of hayfever. Get a homeopath to individually make personalised treatments for each of them (might take a while, but this is hypothetical for now). Now exchange (by autamated means) 250 of those remedies (selected at random by computer) for an appropriate placebo, made up of the base of whatever the remedy was. Now after an appropriate length of time, say a few weeks, ask each individual to score their fever as having a)improved a lot b)improved a little c)no change d)slightly worse e)a lot worse and record this. Then you can use the data of which remedies were exchanged with which (which was kept secret until now) and the responses of the subjects to produce a statisticle analysis of what had what effect.

Thus a double blind test is capable of analysing the effectiveness homeopathic medicines.

With all due respect I'd like to address some possible arguments people might some up with.

1:The patient needs to know what they are taking for the homeopathic medicine to have an effect.

This is easily solved by telling the patient exactly what the remedy produced for them contained, and telling them that that is what they are recieving. You are lieing to 250 people but it deals with arguement 1

2:Both patient and administer has to know exactly what is being given.

This is solved by neglecting to tell the homeopath that half of the solutions are being changed with placebos in adition to the solution to 1. This involves lieing to 251 people, but deals with 2.

3:Lying to so many people will cause the remedies to not work.

I'm afraid I don't have an answer to this, except that it is far more reasonable to reach the conclusion that the remedies don't work (if that is what the results show).

If anyone can think of reason that the above would not work (forgiving any procedural errors I may have miswritten) I would like to hear.

Written by: spherculist

And i'm not offended in the slightest, i just skip past the bits that are infantile wink


I'm reinventing my online persona now I've seen the wisdom in Dave's words. In my defence I had been splattered with amniotic fluid and chunks of cow ovary earlier in the day so I was slight techy.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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DrBoo
BRONZE Member since Oct 2005

DrBoo

I invented the decaffinated coffee table.
Location: Cornwall, United Kingdom

Total posts: 453
Posted:Written by: jeff(fake)

Jeff, there's a lot of people who say the 'double blind trial' is inadequate to test things like homeopathy. SO i'm afraid science IMO is not adequate to prove or disprove it.



This theory has been tested, and it was concluded that it is possible to do strict trials double blind trials with homeopathy and homeopathy practitioners.
c.f. for example:
Wiesenauer M, Gaus W, 1985. Double-blind trial comparing the effectiveness of the homeopathic preparation Galphimia potentiation D6, Galphimia dilution 10(-6) and placebo on pollinosis.Arzneimittelforschung. 35(11):1745-7.
Andrade LE, Ferraz MB, Atra E, Castro A, Silva MS.1991. randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of homeopathy in rheumatoid arthritis.Scand J A. 20(3):204-8.

What scientific evidence is there that a double-blind trial wouldn't work with homeopathy? I'm genuinely interested here, as I can't see any reason why it wouldn't yield a reliable result.
The point of a double-blind trial is that no-one can "cheat". The results should be totally independant of both researcher and participant potential bias.
If scientists who have used this technique to test the claims of homeopathy, and have found that it doesn't prove that it works, how is it that the test itself ends up being blamed and not the homeopathy itself?
No other drug is allowed to use this excuse and petition for it's continued use and claims to work. Why homeopathy?

I'm actually not ranting here (there really should be a calm, curious font for times like these), I am genuinely intrigued as to how this theory works for homeopathists (?! wink
biggrin


Boo x

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If it costs "a penny for your thoughts", but people give you their "two-pence worth", who is getting the extra penny?

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Written by: spherculist

Jeff, there's a lot of people who say the 'double blind trial' is inadequate to test things like homeopathy. SO i'm afraid science IMO is not adequate to prove or disprove it.



In this instance I believe that you have been lied to by people with a vested interest. If we look at the actions of cigarette companies in America when scientific tests on cancer rates were first introduced you can get an idea of why people would do this. shrug


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Jeff- your double blind testing for homeopathy is well-thought out.

I suspect (not certain, but if I had to choose), that the outcome would be that homeopathic remedies were no more effective than placebos (when given in the scenario you're talking of).

I just don't think that this necessarily means homeopathy is bad.

It is unfortunate when supporters of homeopathy insist on claiming that it can be justifed scientifically in that way; even worse when they then go on and try to demonstrate this, but end up using innapropriate procedures.

But, as I said in posts above, many who use alternative medicines are not overly concerned that they have no scientific basis, if by 'scientific' we mean purely the ability to produce specific measurable results in double blind trials.

'Holistic' is a popular phrase in alternative health circles, it means looking at the 'whole' picture.

So, when the modern west has supposedly the most advanced medical system in the world, looking at the whole picture, why is there so much illness?- in particular, illnesses of the mind- why is depression so prevalent in the modern west?

Why is so much of physical illness, actually caused by the victims themselves (smoking related cancers being the main avoidable cause of death in the west, alcohol, bad diet and lack of exercise also contributing).

Why, given that our medical system so potent, are so many people sick?

This does not necessarily justify homeopathy, but it does indicate that, despite its rigid use of double blind testing for its medicines, somewhere, orthodox medicine is missing the mark.

------------------

After we've run your double blind testing on homeopathy, how about we run this-

A strict double blind test on two groups, one of which relies purely on orthodox practitioners and remedies, the other which relies on a mixture of orthodox and alternative remedies.

We measure, insofar as it is possible, the health of the two groups after, say, ten years.

All aspects of their health- physical ones and also mental ones. In particular, we try and quantify levels of contentment/happiness.

I can't claim to know what the results would be, but I suspect that it is in those kinds of tests that the value of alternative remedies may manifest.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Written by: onewheeldave

Why, given that our medical system so potent, are so many people sick?

This does not necessarily justify homeopathy, but it does indicate that, despite its rigid use of double blind testing for its medicines, somewhere, orthodox medicine is missing the mark.



I completely agree. I belive that there is a dimension is missing from the health care system at present and there is a terrible lack of emotional care for patients. I do not believe that the answer to this is in superstition. It is possible to be both 'holistic' and 'scientific', caring for a patients mental wellbeing and general health whilst regecting both 'pill popping' and the superstitions of 'alternative medicine'.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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boopoi
BRONZE Member since Aug 2005

boopoi

Member
Location: , United Kingdom

Total posts: 99
Posted:I hope to go to study nutrition/dietetics next year and feel very strongly that we ovruse medicine such as antibiotics. The bugs that we fight with these drugs are now learning to fight the drugs! Therefore, new superbugs are being created that we don't know how to cure.

We should leanr to eat the right food, and most disese can be prevented in the first place (most disese comes from what we put in our bodies in the first place. I think us humens are just too clever and that will be our downfall. We cannot beat nature, it will win in the end....


Always remember... one MUST protect thy bread....

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Written by: Jeff
I completely agree. I belive that there is a dimension is missing from the health care system at present and there is a terrible lack of emotional care for patients. I do not believe that the answer to this is in superstition. It is possible to be both 'holistic' and 'scientific', caring for a patients mental wellbeing and general health whilst regecting both 'pill popping' and the superstitions of 'alternative medicine'.



I'm glad we're in agreement on something smile

But, for some, the answer does lie in (what you call 'superstition') alternative health systems.

You say it's possible to be both holistic and scientific, but what these people want, isn't what's possible, but what's actual: and, currently, orthodox medicine is not 'holistic', nor does it cater for the emotional needs of these people.

Arguably, it is unlikely to become so in the near future, as the system is a victim of its own success, with far too many 'clients' than it has funds and practitioners to cope with.

Like I said before, when it comes to the choice between orthodox treatment, and alternative treatment, let's have a study which examines which, of the two, tends to lead to better 'well-being' of the people who use it- where 'well-being' includes how content/happy they are, rather than just straight scientific measurement of presence/absence of disease elements.

Becasue, I do believe, that what many who do choose alternatives, are actually doing is, in their own way, using the admittedly limited sub-set of examples from their own lives, and friends/relatives experiences; are actually, in effect, running their own studies.

The fact is, that for some, when they do that calculation, it looks like their, and others, experiences with orthodox medicine are bad, and those with alternatives, better.

This is not scientific in the sense of being double-blind etc, but it is a factor in making that choice.

Lastly, let's not forget that substantial minority of such people, who, once the level of invasiveness offered is above a certain level (eg major surgery, removal of organs, chemotherapy for example), are simply not interested- even if told by the doctor that they will die without the treatment, they simply do not want it.

And if they then want to go on and try unproven alternatives, or superstition/magic, then so be it- assuming they've made that decision to not use the orthodox treatment, then they've really got nothing to lose.

Obviously, this is not the same situation, as when a gullible patient is duped by a devious (or misguided) alternative practitioner, that they can be saved by the alternative and put under pressure to turn down orthodox treatment which they otherwise may have accepted.

I hope that's clear- there are people who do go for alternative treatments, not because they necessarily think it gives them a better chance, but because they are simply not going to have orthodox treatment that is overly invasive, or which means cutting out a substantial portion of their body, or which will leave them disabled.

Like I said earlier, if I was diagnosed with a brain tumour that needed surgery, I would refuse it- not because I'm a gullible individual who's going to run off and try faith-healing, or homeopathy, or whatever- but because I'm not going to have my head cut open and have surgery on my brain.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

addict
Location: Ohio, USA

Total posts: 674
Posted:Here's one for ya... a friend of mine had really bad knees from skateboarding years ago. Got cortazone (?) shots, etc. all the time to deal with the pain, but they were really bad. He couldn't walk uphill for very long on a vacation a few years ago that I went with him on.

He's fine now. His knees are still bad, but they no longer bother him. Medical science had nothing to offer him. What did he do? He found an old herbal cure which involved burning a certain mix of herbs into three or four acupunture points around the kneecap. He has to repeat it every 3 or 4 months. But it worked for him. And I mean his knees were really bad, and for the pain to just go away overnight after that? Seems like more than a placebo effect.

Just thought I'd share.


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Written by: onewheeldave

And if they then want to go on and try unproven alternatives, or superstition/magic, then so be it- assuming they've made that decision to not use the orthodox treatment, then they've really got nothing to lose.


I'm just quoting this paragraph as it's really the only part I disagree with. We both agree that a situation where someone forgoes an effective orthdox treatment is unacceptable. It is the apparently hopeless cases we part with. Sometimes the alternative remedies are expensive. That money could have gone to the next of kin or a charity, but instead will help keep an industry afloat that will, although mostly unintentially, cause others to make choices that are detremental their health.

Additionally I would argue that you should have to prove that something is effective before you are legally allowed to market it as a remedy, but this is a moral point.

Written by: i8beefy2
Here's one for ya... a friend of mine had really bad knees from skateboarding years ago. Got cortazone (?) shots, etc. all the time to deal with the pain, but they were really bad. He couldn't walk uphill for very long on a vacation a few years ago that I went with him on.

He's fine now. His knees are still bad, but they no longer bother him. Medical science had nothing to offer him. What did he do? He found an old herbal cure which involved burning a certain mix of herbs into three or four acupunture points around the kneecap. He has to repeat it every 3 or 4 months. But it worked for him. And I mean his knees were really bad, and for the pain to just go away overnight after that? Seems like more than a placebo effect.


Since I'm not privvy to the full details of the case I can't make any specific comments but I will say say that it isn't impossible that acupuncture or herbs have aided your friend. I would advice a note of caution since you do say he still has problems with his knees.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:I can come up with story after story after story about "I had this horrible pain and went to doctors for years and then I took this herb/saw this accupuncturist/smoked this weed/was abducted by this alien and now I'm cured."

They're called anecdotes and they're good because they can lead to serious inquiry into new therapies. But anecdotes prove nothing in and of themselves. Anecdotes also include such lovelies as "Prilosec made me gain 50 pounds," and "I had knee surgery and ever since I've been constipated." (Both complaints I've had from patients).

An anecdote is worthless.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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spiralx


spiralx

veteran
Location: London, UK

Total posts: 1376
Posted:One of my favourite expressions is "the plural of anecdote is not data" ubblol

"Moo," said the happy cow.

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

addict
Location: Ohio, USA

Total posts: 674
Posted:Maybe its worthless to you in your practice. But now he does this simple ritual every three months and doesn't have to go through the painful shots of crap into his knees every few months as his doctors had him on. When I say his knees are still bad, I mean he's not going to be jumping off half-pipes any time soon, but they no longer hurt. I never claimed it cured his knees, just his pain, which is all the cortizone shots do.

Anecdote or not, it worked for him, and there was no RISK to trying it, just took a little research to find it since no self-respecting doctor would ever tell him about it. I understand with malpractice suits and all that it might be... scary to suggest alternate forms of therapy, but in the end isn't the patient's health and happiness what's important? It seems arrogant to discount something that worked just because it is outside your realm of experience or current exceptance. I understand the worry of course with more serious things, where one might stop going to other therapies for a quacky answer, but last time I checked, it was the patients choice. I know as a doctor it might not make sense that people wouldn't want to try your tried and true methods all the time, but sometimes your tried and true may be overkill for a much simpler problem that an unorthodox method would work better for, for that individual.

Im not saying that some kind of placedbo effect might not be at work here... just that it worked, and he doesn't need to know how it worked, just that it did. He's happy, even though his doctor may not be.


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Written by: i8beefy2

He's happy, even though his doctor may not be.


Why would the doctor be unhappy if his patient's pain has gone away? umm You have some strange ideas about a medical practicioners motivations. People need to be left the choice of what to do and take. My objection is that with the case of alternative medicine you should have to prove that it works before you can say to people that it does. It's simply a case of equal standards.

What Doc meant when he said that an anecdote is worthless is that you simply cannot stand up and say that something works because it worked for one or a few people that you know. People will forget the times that stuff like this hasn't worked and only remember and talk about the times it has, thus creating an artificially positive feedback. This is why large scale studies are essential. i'm not saying that the treatments don't work for your friend, just that it would be unethical to advice other people to do the same based solely on the experience of one man.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

addict
Location: Ohio, USA

Total posts: 674
Posted:Im making a brash assumption about his doctor, based on the apparent feeling about these methods from the two of you in this thread... Im not saying the doctor might be upset that the patients pain went away: obviously that is the ultimate goal. Im saying he might be upset that something else worked better than what his training prescribed.

I believe an anecdote is NOT worthless though. You're correct that no one... well at least not me... is going to make the assumption that this is a valid treatment option for everyone. But I get the feeling that if I went to either of you as a doctor and said I was going to try this, that you would outright suggest that there is no way it could work, and is a foolish move... which when put that way does sound arrogant.

I feel a better answer would be "There is no accepted evidence of it being objectively a good treatment, but I have heard of one or two people who did try it and did have positive results" rather than "There's no evidence to support it and thus it's foolish to even consider such an option", which is how it has sounded as I read through this thread.


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh

Total posts: 1189
Posted:Written by: i8beefy2

But I get the feeling that if I went to either of you as a doctor and said I was going to try this, that you would outright suggest that there is no way it could work, and is a foolish move... which when put that way does sound arrogant.

I feel a better answer would be "There is no accepted evidence of it being objectively a good treatment, but I have heard of one or two people who did try it and did have positive results" rather than "There's no evidence to support it and thus it's foolish to even consider such an option", which is how it has sounded as I read through this thread.


Actually what I would say is:

"There is no accepted evidence of it being objectively a good treatment, but I have heard of one or two people who did try it and did have positive results but also of a substantial number for whom it hasn't worked."

They may be arrogant and/or patronising but more often than not doctors are right.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

addict
Location: Ohio, USA

Total posts: 674
Posted:Ok then, I'm fine with that. smile

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Written by: jeff(fake)

1:The patient needs to know what they are taking for the homeopathic medicine to have an effect.
...
2:Both patient and administer has to know exactly what is being given.
...
3:Lying to so many people will cause the remedies to not work.




If the patient needs to know what is in the remedy for it to work, then by definition, the remedy has no organic effect.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Written by: i8beefy2

Anecdote or not, it worked for him,



Not "anecdote or not." It *IS* an anecdote.

So it worked for him in this single anecdotal situation. It's anecdote after anecdote that leads to studies.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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