January 23, 2014

Crisis: Watchdog report *2,  "evidence based medicine",  personal

   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next  

Watchdog Report Says N.S.A. Program Is Illegal and
     Should End

2. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Says NSA

3. Evidence based medicine: flawed system but still the
     best we’ve got

4. Personal

About ME/CFS


This is yet another
crisis issue, but it is very brief, in part because there is little to find, and in part because I am tired: I had to undo a PGP that didn't work as it should with my Thunderbird, which I use for e-mail. (See item 4: Not recommended).

1. Watchdog Report Says N.S.A. Program Is Illegal and Should End

To start with, an article by Charlie Savage in the New York Times:
This starts as follows:
An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down.

The findings are laid out in a 238-page report, scheduled for release by Thursday and obtained by The New York Times, that represent the first major public statement by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which Congress made an independent agency in 2007 and only recently became fully operational.

I agree with the conclusion, although I find it odd that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board "only recently became fully operational", namely 7 years after it was approved by Congress. Whence the seven years delay?

In fact, I have no idea. I do find it odd, because an institution like this was much needed all these seven years.

Also, while the reporting in the NYT is OK, there are no references or backgrounds linked, which is the case with the next item:

2. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Says NSA Spying Is ILLEGAL AND UNNECESSARY

Next, an article by Washington's Blog on his site (of which I restricted the length of the title to the following):
Actually, this starts from the same source as the previous item, from which I quote also this (also from Washington's Blog, with the bolding added there):

In its report, the board lays out what may be the most detailed critique of the government’s once-secret legal theory behind the program: that a law known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, can be legitimately interpreted as authorizing the N.S.A. to collect all calling records in the country.

The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.”

But this text (under the last link) does contain many links, that provide a considerable background.

As I said, I like the conclusions, which indeed seem ton me to be self-evident, and I like the report, but I am not yet convinced this will be a major player, though I hope it will be, if it continues as it started.

3.  Evidence based medicine: flawed system but still the best we’ve got 

Finally for today a brief editorial article Fiona Godlee in the British Medical Journal, that seems to me a bit strange - and the following link is to Phoenix Rising, where I found it:

Here are the first three paragraphs:

Evidence based medicine is so much part of the air we breathe it can be hard to remember a time before it. An oral history, filmed for a joint JAMABMJ celebration last year, has now been published on and the JAMA network. As summarised in an editorial co-published by the two journals this week, the story features a satisfying array of heroes and detractors, forward progress and backlash (doi:10.1136/bmj.g371).

Why did evidence based medicine take off? In the video, and quoted in the editorial, David Sackett provides two main reasons: it was supported by senior clinicians who were secure in their practice and happy to be challenged, and it empowered younger doctors—and subsequently nurses and other clinicians—to question received wisdom and practice.

Sackett and his generation also succeeded because they were natural iconoclasts. And now that evidence based medicine is part of the medical establishment and is itself an icon, it’s only right that it has become a target for the new iconoclasts. In a recent column Des Spence claimed that evidence based medicine was broken and that the research pond was polluted by fraud, sham diagnosis, short term data, poor regulation, surrogate endpoints, and clinically irrelevant outcomes (doi:10.1136/bmj.g22). and

I think I am with Des Spence, who is a Glaswegian GP, but I am no medical doctor. Then again, I find the whole concept and title of "evidence based medicine" pure crap, as indeed I would find "evidence based physics", "evidence based chemistry" and "evidence based history" total crap, and in each case for the same reason: There is no science without evidence, and therefore to add "evidence based" is a pleonasm.

And besides, as a psychologist I have seen what the psychiatrists made of their "evidence based medicine": Utter crap, with presently more than 400 "diagnoses" in the DSM-5 that are completely hopeless, and for a large part without evidence and/or with falsified evidence.

But OK...there is one good thing about the editorial: It seems that the days of "evidence based medicine" are ending, which must be good, if only because there is no medicine, no medical science, without evidence.

Also, there is another gripe, which I have as a philosopher, who has been very much concerned with evidence, statistics, and probability, and much more so than any medical doctor:

I have seen little evidence that the vast majority of medical doctors know much about evidence, for which reason, in conjunction with the utter nonsense of psychiatry, that also has been served as "evidence based medicine" without real evidence of any kind, and without being medicine, it seems to me that the whole idea of "evidence based medicine" was a particular approach to medicine, that was mostly mistaken.

I do hope it disappears fast: All I have seen from it, which is rather a lot for a non-medical man, was propaganda - as indeed would stand to reason: A scientist who insists on telling his fellow scientists that he is "evidence based" very probably either is not a scientist at all or is selling something.

4. Personal

Yesterday I repaired some in the Chamfort files, and uploaded the whole section again. This is evidence that I was feeling better yesterday, but then I got problems with Thunderbird (which I have to use for emails), on which I had installed PGP - that turns out to leave me no choice but non-html writing, and thus ruined much of my mailing, and that also turned out to be very difficult to make go away from Thunderbird, while leaving a decently working Thunderbird.

It took me many boring hours to undo PGP and at long last I succeeded. I still have a crippled Thunderbird, though less so than yesterday.

Anyway: PGP in Thunderbird on Ubuntu is not recommended, at least not if you do not know much about it.



[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, thay the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komarof

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)[2]

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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