Category Archives: DISPUTES & CONTROVERSIES

Bernie Sanders and the Christian Vote

I became a democratic socialist in 1985 because, in large part, this approach seeks to address many societal and Red_Rose_(Socialism)other ills by addressing underlying (as opposed to superficial) causes. Many of these problems and their solutions lie in redressing specific moral failings such as unbridled corporate greed, which is something democratic socialists such as Senator Bernie Sanders tackle head-on with genuinely progressive, transformative ideas and proposed legislation. And, at the heart of democratic socialism, is a sharing and “level the playing field” ethic that is consonant with core Jewish and Christian beliefs and teachings.  Luke Tomycz “cores the apple” on an article titled “Bernie Sanders and the Christian Vote” which I wholeheartedly recommend you read and then share with others in your orbit: https://medium.com/@ltomycz/bernie-sanders-and-the-christian-vote-2350b31a6bbf#.94h2wp30g

Bernie Sanders and the Christian Vote

 

Is the Shemitah upon us? (Divine judgment in the form of economic collapse)

By

Anthony G. Payne

Lightning from Blue Cloud

Reports are beginning to surface indicating that retail sources for emergency preparedness or survival gear, dehydrated foods, seeds and such cannot keep up with demand. It isn’t hard to figure out why with articles and tweets and such appearing almost every few minutes on what is happening or lies ahead in term of climate spawned global upheaval, tectonic activity that is triggering volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and other calamities, fracking induced quakes, super droughts and massive wildfires, epidemics, increasing social conflict & unrest and gun violence, economic instability in nations great and small, the unrestrained barbarity of ISIS, not to mention terrorist acts taking place worldwide by people of every extremist stripe, and a seemingly endless litany of calamities both human-made and natural that are sending millions of refugees streaming into Italy, Hungary, and elsewhere. And this hardly begins to scratch the surface of how many ways life is now making various doomsday movies, books and such that appeared in the 1950s,  1960s and beyond almost prophetic.

As you might expect, many well known televangelists and other prominent figures in the evangelical world are frantically linking  headlines to their reading of ancient prophecies in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelations and other biblical books. Some are even offering emergency preparedness or survival supplies for donations.

At this moment messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s books such as “The Harbinger” (2012) and especially “The Mystery of the Shemitah Unlocked” (2015) are selling like hotcakes and keeping him booked on various religious programs aired on TBN, CBN and such. Just in case you haven’t read anything by Cahn or about his spin on prophecy, he basically claims that certain laws, principles and promises originally given solely to Israel and restricted to her, apply to the United States.

Of course, it is almost a given that any attempt to tie in “end times” prophecies to America (which isn’t remotely alluded to anywhere in the Bible according to both Jewish and Christian scholars, historians and others), requires building a house on speculation and linkages that are typically tenuous at best.

Mind you, I very much believe that the ancient prophecies will be fulfilled. And yes, I see many, many patterns and events unfolding that indicate that what was promised will be fulfilled. But this does not lend credence to futurist predictions that are based on reading prophecies that apply solely to Israel into unfolding events in the US (and the EU for that matter).

Now let me sit back and throw a few thoughts at you:

(1) As I write this (9-2-2015) world economic markets are in upheaval. Economists and others see this as an expected “course correction”.  Many proponents of “The Shemitah” thesis argue that this signals a fast approaching economic tsunami and all the chaos and sociopolitical insanity this would likely unleash.

While it is possible Rabbi Cahn and those in his camp could be right, I would not see such a major economic crisis as prophecy fulfilled at all, as the “Shemitah” has no connection to the US. I would put it on the same level of prognostication as the old joke that “even a broken clock is right twice a day”.

If you need convincing that spinning predictions that plug America into biblical prophecy is problematic, go online and buy used copies of prophecy-based books such as Hal Lindsey’s “The Late, Great Planet Earth“. Then go through historic records and see how much of the speculation in these tomes came to pass.

(2) Now a word about ministers and others who are urging their congregants and TV/virtual viewers to donate money to get literally years of dehydrated foods, grains, etc., plus solar power generators and such: I think having a preparedness stash to make it through a 3-14 day power outage or such is a prudent move (Hurricane Katrina and other recent natural disasters alone argue for this). But for most people buying and storing years of supplies and solar generators and such is not only cost prohibitive, but would actually make them targets if our society was plunged into total chaos. I have often wondered how long these people think it would be before roaming hordes of hungry people would break into and pilfer their stockpiles. Some of these “Christian survivalists”, yes, are probably setting up underground bunkers to hide in and also have enough firepower and ammo to fend off scores of the desperate, but it is doubtful they can hold out interminably (The last 3.5 years of the “Great Tribulation” anyway, when evil has its way on a grand scale). And how, I ask, is this living out the Bible and Yeshua/Yehoshua’s admonition to share with those who are hungry, cold, etc.? It amazes me that neither the ministers and Bible teachers who are feverously hawking these survivalist supplies or their supporters see the inherent problems and (biblical) contradictions in what they are advocating and doing.

If you are interested in reading exposes on the biblical difficulties presented by Rabbi Cahn’s books (“The Harbinger” and “The Mystery of the Shemitah Unlocked”) read these articles:

“The Shemitah” (A critical response)

THE MYSTERY OF THE SHEMITAH: Is it real?

That God expects or will impose a Shemitah upon any nation other than Israel has no scriptural basis. Neither do the Scriptures provide any indication that the Shemitah is some sort of universal principle that operates throughout or even at various times in history.

And these “yours truly” penned:

Biblical prophecy is primarily about Israel & the Jewish people, not America!

When these specific events happen, you will know “doomsday” is near

Is global upheaval knocking at the door? (Red moons, ancient prophecies, and more)

If you are a believer who is fearful the “end times” is fast approaching — and it may well be (But be aware of those things that must precede it as laid out in When these specific events happen, you will know “doomsday” is near) — my advice is to steep yourself in faith-edifying teachings and prayer, bring your conduct and actions into obedience to what the Almighty requires, learn to discern what is evil from what is not (And yes, they are getting increasingly confused these days, i.e., evil is called good and good, evil), and connect with other believers who worry less about “worshipper friendly” banter and political correctness and more about holiness and empowerment (Spirit baptism, Grace, the fear of God). I highly recommend these books as a sort of “Faith & Empowerment 101” crash course:

Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything is Possible by Larry Sparks

Go and Sin No More: A Call to Holiness by Dr. Michael L. Brown

Good or God? by John Bevere

But let me add this caveat: A lot of Christian theology and beliefs (including portions of the books above) draw on the very flawed letters (epistles) of Paul (Saul of Tarsus). It is therefore important that you also acquire the knowledge and insight to identify what is edifying and true from what is not. These two free, online resources will help you mightily in this regard:

http://www.judaismvschristianity.com/

Jesus’ Words Only (Second Edition 2007) (Free online in its entirety) by Douglas J. Del Tondo, Esq.

I am, by the way, a novice monk in the Knights of Prayer Monastic Order (Full monk in 2018) as well as in service as a monk to several other religious communities & monastic organizations which are part of the New Monasticism movement, and have my own website devoted to spiritual matters and resources at http://summerclouds.weebly.com/ which is geared to help people “sort the wheat from the chaff”. Unlike some believers especially clerics you might have read, watched or listened to (especially fundamentalists and many evangelicals), I do not have all the answers in every area of life and faith. I have come to adhere to certain core truths and am morally conservative, yes, but like many of you am still wrestling with and working out some aspects of what is most consonant with God’s word (Hebrew & Christian scriptures).

Anthony G. Payne (American Indian name “Summer Cloud”)

© 2015 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

A critical look at bias among scientists

Scientists are not immune to bias as this insightful article lays out beautifully: http://nautil.us/issue/24/error/the-trouble-with-scientists [The timing is great too as “yours truly” is tentatively slated to begin doing bench research alongside a molecular biologist (PhD) and a stem cell biologist (PhD) starting during the fall of 2015]

 

THE TROUBLE WITH SCIENTISTS

From the “sure to throw off your spiritual gyroscope” department: 3 books — 2 free online & 1 cheap through Amazon

Books - free MS photoWill Islam Be Our Future? A Study of Biblical and Islamic Eschatology (This book is FREE online in its entirety) by Joel Richardson

Jesus’ Words Only (Second Edition 2007) (This book is FREE online in its entirety) by Douglas J. Del Tondo, Esq.

The RAPTURE QUESTION Answered: Plain & Simple by Robert Van Kampen

 

What to do with militant extremists in our midst? It’s a question Americans have faced before

cropped-choices-ms-photo.jpgA lot of people are wrestling with how this country should deal with militant Muslims in our midst. I think most of us have no issue with American Muslims who do not advocate for anything at odds with our US civic virtues and democratic traditions and practices. Concerns naturally arise with US-based Muslims who post, preach and otherwise advocate for the things we hear being said by members of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) and other radical Muslim groups. Many advocate deporting anyone who engages in this sort of thing. Of course, we have homegrown militants in our midst, among them neo-Nazis and Klansmen who preach things that inspire hatred and sometimes violence on the part of their members and sympathizers. One could argue are they are citizens and enjoy certain legal and constitutional protections which renders deportation or “quarantine” a nonissue, but then some extremist Muslims in the US also are citizens (Some born here). Deporting a US citizen to the country their ancestors came from might be emotionally satisfying to some folks but it would open a door that could quickly be abused by the state.

Has America faced the issue of how to deal with antidemocratic, intolerant ideologues in modern times (20th century forward)? Sure thing. In the 1930s there were more than a few individuals and organizations that wanted to see Nazism replace democracy in the US. Some were immigrants (many of these, Germans), others naturalized citizens and others US born. More than a few spokesmen for and leaders of prominent pro-Nazi organs wound up running afoul of the law and in jail or prison. A few were deported and others interned in camps built to house enemy aliens and such after America went to war with Japan and then Germany.  The solution then was pretty much this: Outspoken Nazis were rebuffed by their fellow citizens, monitored by law enforcement especially the FBI,  and prosecuted when they did anything illegal and were caught. Yep, the people back then were doing pretty what we are doing now with extremists and antidemocratic elements in our midst (With the exception of establishing internment camps).

Should we do more? I guess your answer to that depends on how much freedom you are willing to sacrifice for your sense of  security. It’s not an easy equation to work out without risking opening the floodgates to terrorism on one hand — and turning American into a police state on the other.

Whatever your answer, I’d wager many of you reading this will find certain remarks made back in 1938 by Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Henry (on the heels of the conviction of a group of Nazis in Suffolk County,  NY State) appealing:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYWlSmn2Ou4

The salient part is 45 seconds into this 1m:23s video. Quoting Mr. Henry, “If these persons prefer some other form of government let them get out of the United States and stay out.”

 

Biblical prophecy is primarily about Israel & the Jewish people, not the US!

Judaism Starburst grunge backgroundhttp://summerclouds.weebly.com/summer-clouds-blog/prophecy-is-primarily-about-israel-the-jewish-people-not-America

Jury nullification as a way to fight back against unjust, immoral-unethical or wrongly applied laws

Vintage Balance ScaleHow can you help fight back against unjust, immoral-unethical or wrongly applied laws? Let people know about “jury nullification” and, if you are called on to serve on a jury that involves an unjust or wrongly applied law, use it yourself.

This article lays it all out: http://www.exposingthetruth.co/peoples-law-nullification/#axzz2ejSFhFAF

Sexting, Sex Tapes & Sexual Exhibitionism: Why have so many folks thrown caution to the wind?

VIDEO CAMERA - FREE MSCELL PHONE - Free MSTime flies. If you were around to see the debut of the classic comedy “Animal House” 35 years ago you are likely feeling a tad old. But like so many great movies, Animal House managed to both reflect and illuminate certain aspects of our culture. And in light of today’s headlines one is tempted to think some of our political leaders have been running their lives as though they live in the Delta Tau Chi fraternity house.

Who can forget Dean Vernon Wormer’s pointed comment to Faber College freshman & Delta Tau Chi member Kent Dorfman that “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son”.

Given the middle-aged shenanigans of more than a few prominent politicians just in the past few years one can’t help but picture them standing in front of Dean Wormer and hearing:

“Old, horny and reckless is no way to go through life, son”

What gives with all these indiscretions? And let’s not just focus on big name powerhouse figures.  I mean, why are so many people of all ages, sexes and ethnicities posting sexually explicit photos and videos on the Web? I’m no prude by any means, but there is something deeply weird and unsettling about the seeming endless stream of people photographing and videotaping what they do behind closed doors and sharing it with the world.

Most are hardly adult movie star material and yet seem almost proud of their (ahem) shortcomings and imperfections. And while some might say it’s a good thing to strike a blow against the Madison Avenue world of plastic smiles & plastic bodies, I somehow do not think the antidote is for people to toss modesty to the wind and share themselves “warts and all”.  I’m sure some do what they do because they think highly of their “performance” and “mentally inflate” their assets. I suspect many if not most have become the butt of cruel putdowns and heartless jokes by Web browsers. I’m also sure some come to deeply regret their actions especially when confronted by a child, grandchild or other relative concerning something explicit they posted long ago and had hoped would somehow disappear with the passage of time (Apparently nothing posted on the Web ever does).

No doubt some of these self-styled sex performers suffer from body image & performance misperceptions if not delusions, but beyond this I have to wonder what else bedevils them. I’m not saying they all have personality defects or struggle with emotional or mental problems or sex addiction, but even so I am pretty sure at least a segment of them do what they do as an expression of narcissism, an attachment style disorder or mood disorder.

One expert on relationships and how reckless sexual behavior can endanger and even derail them, Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach, wrote this in a 2011 Examiner article concerning the sexual antics of Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton:

These are all men who live with an unending craving for love and incessant need for attention, forever proving themselves, and therefore despising their very existence which involves an eternal feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness. Men who hate themselves this much and strive eternally for the validation of others harbor a secret wish that, in way or another, the inner torment will cease. That’s why they play Russian Roulette with their lives. Anything to dull the pain.

I think in some instances it boils down to something much simpler: In psychology it is well established that rewards (pleasure) derived from any activity makes people want more. This cycle of reward-reinforcement becomes a vicious, ever entrenched cycle for some folks. As they feed it over time they begin to feel helpless to resist and it becomes so normative they may not feel it is a problem (That is, until they get caught doing something that offends their mate or violates a local ordinance or state or federal law). Some become alienated from themselves and those who love and care about them.

To paraphrase a biblical observation concerning unrepentant sinning, their “conscience becomes seared”.

Oh, Choctaw Doc, you’re just conjecturing and in-a-way judging these people without any real evidence. Judging, no. Concerned about, yes. I could dredge up studies to buttress the mental health aspects of this “let it all hang out” social phenomenon, but prefer instead to share real life examples of what sometimes lies beneath the surface in some instances.

I interact with many licensed mental health professionals who occasionally share specific cases that they have found especially troublesome or unnerving (They do not, of course, mention names or details that might reveal their patient’s identities). Here are but a few:

A woman in her 50s sought help with mood swings and eating binges. As her female psychologist dug into her life story, she was told about more than 3 decades of “sexual abandon”. Specifically, her husband had convinced her to “spice up their sex life” first by filming their bedroom life and posting these clips to various websites and, when the thrill wore off of this, pressured her into having sex with other men while he filmed this (“Cuckold lifestyle”). She felt “dirty”, “nasty”, “used” and was “plagued by endless intrusive mental images of degrading sex”. The funny (pathetic) thing was that her husband sent her to therapy because he felt “she has problems, but I don’t”. Yeah.

A young woman in her 20s sought help with depression and insomnia. One of the things her therapist discovered was that this lady was racked with guilt and shame over explicit photos and videos her boyfriend had posted on a very popular porn site. The boyfriend had long since taken a stage left and found a new victim…eh..girlfriend..and left this young woman to live with the torment “giving in” had spawned in her heart and soul.

Now these are just a few examples of the “real world” consequences of “airing one’s peccadilloes”. Many pastoral counselors, priests and rabbis feel the immediate and downstream spiritual damage is even greater and have plenty of their own horror stories that attest to this.

For those who are involved in the sorts of things I’ve shared in this article and have no shame, guilt or concerns, there is no way to convince you that your chickens may come home to roost down the line. Where there is no insight, there can be no realization anything is wrong or could go wrong.

For those who are or have been caught up in these activities and feel shame and regret and/or are experiencing compulsive-additive behavior, my advice is to get thee to a licensed, competent mental health professional who is experienced in helping people with these issues.

And finally, for those of you who are tempted to “play with fire” or who are already doing so but aren’t sure why and don’t feel you need professional evaluation, at least take a few free on-line psych & personality tests to see if you are depressed or have some other issue or tendency such as:

What is your attachment style?  This interactive survey takes about 5 minutes to complete. The questionnaire is designed to measure your ‘attachment style’–the way you relate to others in the context of intimate relationships. When completed, the site will reveal your attachment style, and provide a brief summary of what is known about your attachment style on the basis of contemporary scientific research.

Attachment in Past and Present Relationships

Depression Screening Test by Ivan Goldberg, MD – -brief 18-question online automated quiz to help you determine if you may need to see a mental health professional for diagnosis
and treatment of depression

Cybersex Addiction Test

Internet Addiction Test

Partners of Internet Addicts Test

Sexual Addiction Screening Test (Women)

Sexual Addiction Screening Test (Men)

And here are some books and articles that I believe will prove helpful:

Alienation: Pervasive and insidious

Problems relating well to God & your fellow man? Your attachment style may be a major contributor

The dog you feed the most will dominate your life

Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families by Pamela Paul

Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality by Dr. Gail Dines

The Broken American Male: And How to Fix Him by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Marriage Builders® (Lots of free help on this website)

For those who have a problem or suspect they do, here are a few reputable sources of help:

If you live in southern California one highly regarded clinic that specializes in treating additions of all kinds including sexual is the Alternative Options Counseling Center. Call 562-921-5701 or 714-995-0359 (Outpatient primarily but “partial hospitalization” available for some patients)

Salvation Army (Residential) Rehab Centers (nationwide)

 A simple Google search will likely turn up at least a few qualified therapists and programs in your particular neck-of-the-woods.

 © 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

State sanctioned executions: What’s wrong with “Hang ’em high!”?

Prisoner Holding Cigarette Between BarsHardly a month passes without one US state or another putting a convicted murderer, rapist or what-have-you to death (It’s 7-26-2013 and Reuters just ran an on-line article titled “Alabama executes man advocates said was mentally ill” at http://reut.rs/13h21aj). While I understand where folks who view this as closure for the victim’s family or “just deserts” are coming from, I quite honestly detest the idea of the state possessing the power to terminate a life under any circumstances. History clearly shows how easy it is for governments to slip into abusing this sort of thing in the name of national security, the war on this or that real or imagined nemesis, or what-have-you. To my way of thinking no modern state should ever have the power to take from any citizen that which it can’t later restore.  I actually took this conviction and planted it squarely in a literary brainchild of mine that incorporates satire and humor to convey certain realities & truths.  You’ll find it on page 1 of my “FUP Manifesto” at http://www.scribd.com/doc/115383259/The-Fook-U-Party-Viva-La-Revolution.

Or if you are too busy, lazy, drunk or stubborn to click the link and find it, here is the salient entry:

Party Prime Directive: The (Seig!) State should never be able to take from anyone that which it can’t later restore if required or compelled, for whatever reason.

If you think this “excessively liberal”, imagine yourself awaiting execution in one hour’s time.   Or what if your daughter, son, nephew, niece or other blood relative were to be executed shortly? 

 

Is bias, corruption & hypocrisy now normative in science & medicine?

Signature:1aa0edd3f00ecb0adc8aa215f572f8061f81f2bd7ee14d34f53c48d50acdcb69SKEWED: BIAS, CORRUPTION & HYPOCRISY IN CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE & MEDICINE by Choctaw Doc

 HARM: A compendium of statistics & information  (Harm done by conventional health care v. AltMed practices & supplements)      Web address: http://bit.ly/N5xk3t 

NEJM editor: “No longer possible to believe much of clinical research published”

NEJM editor: “No longer possible to believe much of clinical research published”

The article below is reprinted in its entirety with permission of its author, Carolyn “The Ethical Nag” Thomas.  The original article can be readily accessed by clicking this link: http://ethicalnag.org/2009/11/09/nejm-editor/ 

 

NEJM editor: “No longer possible to believe much of clinical research published”

NEJM posterHarvard Medical School’s Dr. Marcia Angell is the author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It. But more to the point, she’s also the former Editor-in-Chief at the New England Journal of Medicine, arguably one of the most respected medical journals on earth. But after reading her article in the New York Review of Books called Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption, one wonders if any medical journal on earth is worth anybody’s respect anymore.

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

Dr. Angell cites the case of Dr. Joseph L. Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of pediatric psychopharmacology at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital. She explains:

“Thanks largely to him, children as young as two years old are now being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with a cocktail of powerful drugs, many of which were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose, and none of which were approved for children below ten years of age.”

Biederman’s own studies of the drugs he advocates to treat childhood bipolar disorder were, as The New York Times summarized the opinions of its expert sources, “so small and loosely designed that they were largely inconclusive.”

In June 2009, an American senate investigation revealed that drug companies, including those that make drugs he advocates for childhood bipolar disorder, had paid Biederman $1.6 million in “consulting” and “speaking” fees between 2000 and 2007.

“Two of Biederman’s colleagues received similar amounts. After the revelation, the president of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the chairman of its physician organization sent a letter to the hospital’s physicians expressing not shock over the enormity of the conflicts of interest, but sympathy for the beneficiaries: “We know this is an incredibly painful time for these doctors and their families, and our hearts go out to them.”

Biederman’s failure to disclose his Big Pharma payments to his employers ar Harvard (as is required for all Harvard employees) has been under investigation* for the past two years by Harvard Medical School, in as journalist Alison Bass describes this: “what must be the longest investigation in that school’s history”).

Dr. Angell’s article contains bombshell after bombshell, all gleaned during her tenure as NEJM editor. For example, on the subject of doctors who are bought and paid for by Big Pharma, she writes:

“No one knows the total amount provided by drug companies to physicians, but I estimate from the annual reports of the top 9 U.S.-based drug companies that it comes to tens of billions of dollars a year in North America alone.By such means, the pharmaceutical industry has gained enormous control over how doctors evaluate and use its own products. Its extensive ties to physicians, particularly senior faculty at prestigious medical schools, affect the results of research, the way medicine is practiced, and even the definition of what constitutes a disease.”

Revelations like this from medical profession insiders cast serious doubt on more than what’s printed on the pages of these medical journals.

Your physician reads these journals, treatment decisions are changed, care is affected, drugs are prescribed – all based on Big Pharma-funded medical ghostwriter-prepared journal articles from physicians who fraudulently claim to be the study authors. Then you walk out of your doctor’s office with a prescription for a drug that may or may not kill you, based on treatment protocols written by doctors like Biederman who are on the take from Big Pharma.

A very recent example of the sad reality over at the once-prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is their decision to publish a drug company-funded review article. This review attempts to discredit emerging research suggesting that many years of using Merck’s Fosamax or Procter & Gamble’s Actonel (both osteoporosis drugs in a class called bisphosphonates) could actually result in more leg bone fractures.

Not surprisingly, drug manufacturers of bisphosphonates are fighting back ferociously against this emerging (independent) research.  A Merck-funded review paper published in the NEJM on March 24, 2010 concludes:

“The occurrence of fracture of the subtrochantericor diaphyseal femur was very rare, even among women who had been treated with bisphosphonates for as long as 10 years.”

Sounds promising for Big Pharma. But if you look very, very closely, the article’s fine print confesses:

“The study was underpowered for definitive conclusions.”

You might justifiably ask yourself why a medical journal would stoop to publishing a meaningless scientific paper that the paper’s own authors admit lacks any conclusion. Even more troubling than a journal article that was itself bought and paid for by Merck, is the conflict of interest disclosure list at the bottom of this NEJM article.  It reads like a Who’s Who of Big Pharma.

Of the 12 study authors listed in the NEJM article, at least three are full-time employees of Merck or Novartis. Each one of the other nine admit owning equity interests in or receiving cash, travel expenses, or “consulting and lecture fees” from companies including Merck, Novartis, Amgen, Roche Nycomed, Procter & Gamble, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Medtronics, Nastech, Nestle, Fonterra Brands, OnoPharma, Osteologix, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis, Tethys, Unilever,Unipath, Inverness Medical, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, OSIProsidion, or Takeda.

Why is the New England Journal of Medicine or any other credible medical journal accepting for publication articles submitted by paid employees of pharmaceutical companies?

As a cardiac patient, I’m gobsmacked by what appears to be this systemic corruption of not only medical journals who continue to publish what they clearly know is tainted research linked to drug marketing, but of the very doctors whom patients trust to look out for us. Since my heart attack in 2008, I take a fistful of cardiac meds every day, and I have no clue which of them were prescribed for me based on flawed research or tainted medical journal articles funded by the very companies that make my drugs.

And worse, neither do my doctors.

Happily, there are other decent physicians out there who, like Dr. Angell, are just as outraged as she is. Her targets are not just guilty of unethical conflict of interest – they are criminals who should be charged with endangering our health while padding their wallets.

Read Dr. Angell’s article from the New York Review of Books, called Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption.

* NEWS UPDATE:  “Massachusetts General Hospital Discloses Sanctions against Three Psychiatrists for Violating Ethics Guidelines”, July 1, 2011:   The Boston Business Journal said today that three psychiatrists have been sanctioned for failing to adequately report seven-figure payments they received from drug companies.

Drs. Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens disclosed the disciplinary actions against them in a note to colleagues. According to a copy of the note made public upon request by the hospital, the three doctors:

• must refrain from “all industry-sponsored outside activities” for one year

• for two years after the ban ends, must obtain permission from Mass. General and Harvard Medical School before engaging in any industry-sponsored, paid outside activities and then must report back afterward

• must undergo certain training

• face delays before being considered for “promotion or advancement.”

The three doctors have been under the political microscope since June 2008 when Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, began investigating conflicts of interest involving clinicians. Biederman and Wilens have since admitted to accepting $1.6 million from drug companies whose drugs they were promoting; Spencer took $1 million.

Senator Grassley said, according to an online version of the Congressional record:

“These three Harvard doctors are some of the top psychiatrists in the country, and their research is some of the most important in the field. They have also taken millions of dollars from the drug companies.”

See also: 

 

SUPPLEMENTAL READING

 SKEWED: BIAS, CORRUPTION & HYPOCRISY IN CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE & MEDICINE by Choctaw Doc

 HARM: A compendium of statistics & information  (Harm done by conventional health care v. AltMed practices & supplements)      Web address: http://bit.ly/N5xk3t 

 

The Paula Deen train derails yet again (A Southerner shares his thoughts)

Train 2 - free morguefileNo doubt you’ve come across more than a few TV segments or Web items or both on the many eye-opening episodes from Paula Deen’s past involving racially insensitive words and deeds  (The latest being a just released NY Times story at http://nyti.ms/12mBZaO). What I found troublesome in all this was the argument (rationalization) she offered a while back to the effect that the South she grew up in was in some ways a bastion of antebellum bigotry and thus by extension it is almost expected that folks who grew up in it would harbor such notions. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this is true. In fact, I know this is true because I grew up in the South (Texas and Louisiana) during the very time Deen did. I am Southern born & bred and have ancestors on both sides of my family that go back to before the Revolutionary war in South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi. My great, great grandparents and their offspring lived as citizens of the C.S.A. and some actually fought under the stars & bars as Confederate soldiers. However, my Euro-American father and American Indian (Choctaw) mother never used racist terms or tolerated racist jokes nor even once used the N-word. Not once. And while I heard this pejorative word tossed about by other Southerners as both a put-down of African Americans and as a way to defuse their own fears of (I gather) being upstaged by them, I wanted no part of it. So it follows that a Southerner can grow up around racist words & thinking and yet not wind up perpetuating them in word or deed. This lends me to be wholly unsympathetic to Deen’s attributing what she said and did in the past to exposure to what amounted to “acceptable bigotry”.

At this moment many of my fellow Southerners are rallying to Deen’s side and marshaling all kinds of arguments to excuse her past “sins” and in-a-way redeem her person and legacy.   From what I see they are well meaning people, not hood wearing types or sympathetic to these living anachronisms, though most seem unaware that forgiving Deen’s actions is one thing but trying to rationalize them is quite another.

But let me add this: Attacks on the person who is Paula Deen should not be sanctioned or perpetuated. Attack bad ideas and actions, not the person in the sense of interpreting their motivations or what they feel (None of us can pull this off when it comes to our own being much less anyone else, as most of this takes place at a nonconscious level and is not accessible to conscious processes in our brains).

Let us reject racist ideas and actions and any rationalizations meant to excuse them, but not act as if this reveals what is in the hearts of those who toss them about and by virtue of thus defines their character or very soul (Unless the doer flat out says that their actions stem from heartfelt beliefs and convictions and actually does reflect their soul of souls. Then we should pity them and pray they wise up).

Choctaw Doc

Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

   

 

Why is America so messed up? Blame the Founding Fathers & Disney!

CONSTITUTION - free MSPETER PAN - FREE MSDo we live in a messed up culture or what? Congress is gridlocked (aka constipated) and Wall Street seems to have terminal IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome – alternating constipation & diarrhea). It looks like virtually everything is illegal or soon will be which surely is linked to the phenomenal growth of the prison industry.  And single folks, they flock to on-line dating services where they find legions of married people looking for “afternoon delight” or its equivalent. People in general are now so jaded and fearful that just about anything from a sour look to a bag of skittles and a bottle of iced tea qualifies as a deadly threat.  And the boxers in the ring – that’s you and me folks – are so punch-drunk we longer hear the bell, see the canvas… or even care.  To hear the most vocal among us we are either one step from becoming the Fourth Reich or else on the slippery slope to some form of communalism or communism or some ism no one seems to favor or else believes signals the advent the “End Times”. I’m pretty sure if an extraterrestrial intelligence actually visited this veil of tears it would not conclude we are “Mostly Harmless” and would stick a quarantine beacon in high orbit to warn off other space travelers.

So how did we wind up so utterly messed up? I’m sure you have your own pet theories and suspicions. Me? I think it all started with the Founding Fathers and then Disney. Yep, the Founding Fathers and Disney. You see, those venerable Übermensch who founded our empire..uh…republic, elected to write some nonsense about our being entitled to pursue happiness. The problem is, they didn’t posses a roadmap to happiness or anything like it, nor did they seem to have the remotest idea  what exactly it is or would even look like (Albeit some folks tried heartily to achieve it by abusing every vice known to humankind). But then came Walt Disney and his cadre of mythmakers and propagandists who spoon fed us Baby Boomers (as well as those who had the misfortune of following in our wake) versions of reality in which all wrongs are righted; the Princess, puppet turned human, talking cricket and exceedingly cute fawn and most of her family beat the odds and lived; and the wicked witch and all those like her ultimately get theirs, and everyone somehow lives happily ever after. Now what do you think happens when you fill impressionable kids with notions of being entitled to pursue happiness and then feed them a steady diet of Disney films as though it were some kind of  magical roadmap? Why, hell yeah, you get a bunch of disappointed, anxious, spoiled, conceited neurotics who spin their wheels and fritter their lives away trying to dull the pain of not having a Disney-esque life, family, job, or future. Most wind up chucking their St. Whatever statue out their car, van, truck or armored personnel carrier window, and placing one of St. Al (Al Bundy) or St. Sam (Kinison) in its place.  This pathetic existential state naturally gives rise to a host of evils such as drunkenness, cheating, sexless relationships, career burnout, road rage, shoplifting, hoarding, running over the neighbor’s dog, tossing litter out of vehicle windows, overeating and fudging on income tax returns.  In the end, many find themselves wondering if happiness is something only those in the local cemetery found and this by making a permanent stage left.

Is there hope for this messed up state-of-affairs? There is. Forget the pursuit of happiness and instead pursue loyalty, faithfulness, virtue, and honesty. And toss all those Disney DVDs in the rubbish bin and make a point of exposing your children and/or grandchildren to stories that do not necessarily end with everyone living “happily ever after” but do teach them something about sacrifice, hard work, persistence, set-backs, tolerance, righting wrongs and doing what is good and right, as well as championing justice and equality for all while steadfastly resisting injustice and inequality in whatever guise. At least this way they will not be looking for a Disney world or Disney ending that will never come, though if they hang on and keeping doing what’s right and virtuous they might just get pretty darn close.

Choctaw Doc (Philosophizing from his porch swing)

 Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.  

 

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