Articles to 2020-03-12

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First the link to this week's complete list as HTML and as PDF.


There is not much science in Anderson et al. but a lot of sense and in the current situation vis-à-vis a pandemic worth reading.


I wanted to criticise Dalenberg et al. strongly but looking closely I found that to their credit they have addressed all the points, I wanted to make, themselves. That said, let's look at what it is they have actually done:

They gave a single drink, the size of a small bottle of 12 US fluid ounces, very slightly over the standard third of a litre for a small beer, of a drink to a group of less than 15 adults every second day for a fortnight. They then found changes in their sugar metabolism as a result. That amount is small fraction of the normal daily fluid intake of adults and the drinks given are similar or identical to those on the shelves of every supermarket. There was little or no control of their other food and drink intake. The result while (barely) statistically significant was small, observed in a control group, and well inside the natural variability. So does it tell us anything? It might. I may well be one more step to explaining how exactly those ingredients sold as slimming drinks are successfully being used as fattening enhancers in livestock. The positive correlation between slimming additives and obesity need not be all inverse causality after all. It warrants a closer look.

A few more points. You need to read the article very closely to see what they actually did and measured. Looking at their figures 1Aii. and 1Av. naively, they seem to have found that drinking an artificial sweetener with no carbohydrates at all will significantly spike blood sugar and insulin levels for an hour. This is not the clear reporting demanded by Feynman’s Caltech address. Further down they repeatedly use the uncommon abbreviation NNS (no, not National Numeracy Strategy, although that might have helped) without defining it once, anywhere. Bad practice.

Far more disturbing is another point. The broke off a similar study in adolescents prematurely after only two slightly disturbing data points. As said above all their intervention comprised of were small helpings of an innocuous drink, the like of which can be and is bought off any supermarket shelf. Much more of the same is habitually consumed by very many adolescents. If those freak results were at all real, it is totally irresponsible not to pursue them, close their eyes, and stick their heads in the sand. This irresponsibility borders on the criminal. As I said, I'm convinced those two outliers would have gone away when continuing as planned, but we shall never know. Believing something bad was happening, as they obviously did, and deliberately looking the other way, would be a criminal offence in Germany at least.

These very weak and preliminary results might warrant planning and setting up a study, conducting it, and then reporting results. As it stands it's meaningless, irrelevant and cluttering up the literature.


There is one surprising omission in Albouy et al.: Except for the fMRI part they seem to have completely discarded the possible confounder of handedness. As far as can be told from their methods and supplement they seem not even to have noted the handedness of their subjects. It's possible this is purely an omission in their reporting, but it's surprising none the same.


I’m not sure why I only come across this seven years late, my fault entirely probably, but Kushida is a comprehensive summary of the events at Fukushima in 2011.

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