The Strange remains the same for 16 January 2015

Pakistani Father Sacrifices Five Children ‘to Gain Magic Powers’ — Naharnet.

Police headquarters evacuated after ‘mystery’ noise | The Columbus Dispatch.

The bizarre ESP experiments conducted on aboriginal children without parental consent – The Washington Post.

The Skeptic’s Boot.: The Dos and Dolts… Ghost hunting rules. by morons, for morons..

‘Haunted Collector’ John Zaffis eyes former Adams funeral home for haunted museum – Berkshire Eagle Online.

Press Announcements > Federal judge approves consent decree with California dietary supplement maker.

How a crazy scientist duped America into believing vitamin C cures colds – Vox.

Witchcraft killings in Papua New Guinea to be condemned at community meeting – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Serial spoonbender Uri Geller to unveil Throne of Spoons – Get Reading.

His legacy is defective flatware. Nice.

A legacy of unusable flatware. Nice.


Editor and owner of Doubtful News. Writer, specializing in science and society, science policy and education.


  6 comments for “The Strange remains the same for 16 January 2015

  1. January 17, 2015 at 2:32 PM

    I’m confused about the Vitamin C/Pauling story from Vox (“How a Crazy Scientist…”). I thought that the presumed efficacy of Vitamin C had been debunked years ago, yet the cited article quotes a Cochrane review as indicating regular usage of C could reduce a cold by 10 hours. The article suggests that this is so slight as to be of no account…but I for one wouldn’t mind a half day’s early retirement of a cold.

    Looking more carefully at the Cochrane abstract, the efficacy of C actually seems to be somewhat reinforced — “modest but consistent” — and even stronger for extreme physical stress conditions — halving the risk (whatever that means):

    “However, regular supplementation had a modest but consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms, which is based on 31 study comparisons with 9745 common cold episodes. In five trials with 598 participants exposed to short periods of extreme physical stress (including marathon runners and skiers) vitamin C halved the common cold risk.”

    Can anyone clarify the Cochrane results?

  2. Colonel Tom
    January 17, 2015 at 4:36 PM

    One should likely be wary of giving overdo consideration that takes the amazing accomplishments of a Nobel award winning scientist and lumps him into the category of “crazy scientist”. No matter what his over enthusiasm of his later years, his accomplishments were many and impressive.

    You appear to fairly accurately summarized that latest and greatest studies have indicated that Vit-C reduces the duration but not severity of a “cold”. Some still doubt that “moderately” statistically verified results are that strong to warrant increased dose being taken during a “cold” event, personally I like the way that a hot acidic beverage clears out my throat.

    Multiple mainstream and by my estimate competent researchers follow in Dr. Pauling crusade into the benefits on Vit C. For all of their enthusiasm benefits for cancer and heart disease are modest at best. The observed benefits are not statistically sufficient to say, get FDA approval if VitC was a new drug. Dr. Pauling’s acolytes would say that the benefits are mainly obtained from injected vitamin, and most other clinical studies only consider ingested.

    Some rats and humans and most other primate are some of the few animals that do not create their own C. If you take an animal and stress it, they respond by increased internal C production. By first principles the assumption is made that therefore a non-C producing animal would need additional C during periods of stress. That was theory, observation hasn’t really supported the conclusion.

    So, the long and short answer is that while not completely “debunked” even those studies that show a benefit are modest are far below Dr. Pauling’s belief. In a practical sense of medicine as a business, those that hype the crap out of the C have not financial incentive to prove its benefits, those that don’t sell C have no financial incentive to disprove its benefits. Studies that are performed are generally small and the combining of them through “mega” statistics adds great uncertainty.

    The positive is that outside of stomach upset, over the counter C isn’t likely to do much harm.

  3. January 17, 2015 at 4:52 PM

    @Colonel “those that hype the crap out of the C have not financial incentive to prove its benefits” — I presume you meant “no” instead of “not”, right?

    Thanks for the thoughtful response.

  4. Colonel Tom
    January 17, 2015 at 5:30 PM

    Yes, I mixed my message once again. There is that observation that just as I am no longer the person I was before my dying of a heart attack 13 years ago, the senior Dr. Pauling was also not the same brilliant researcher that had been the young Dr. Pauling.

  5. Chris Howard
    January 18, 2015 at 9:23 AM

    OH! Those are the naked goofballs, you were talking about, on fort?!

    Sorry, it takes a while these days. 🙂

  6. Tony
    January 19, 2015 at 12:23 PM

    Pauling may have been wrong about the beneficial effects of megadoses of vitamin C, but Vox labeling calling him “crazy” does him a grave disservice in pursuit of page clicks.

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