Tag Archives: technology


A while back, The Telegraph posted a story.

Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study finds

They make some pretty sensational claims in this article that go far beyond the data of the study that they forgot to cite.

“Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as “remarkable”.”

“Although fasting diets have been criticised by nutritionists for being unhealthy, new research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection.”

“The researchers say fasting “flips a regenerative switch” which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.”

The study they’re referring to, which, again, they never bothered to cite, is here.

Prolonged Fasting Reduces IGF-1/PKA to Promote Hematopoietic-Stem-Cell-Based Regeneration and Reverse Immunosuppression

And the case series report is here.

Fasting and cancer treatment in humans: A case series report

They appear to be quoting one of the scientists on the study by the name of Valter D. Longo. He appears to be fairly well respected, however, he also shows up more often than anyone should like in the “natural” community websites, being cited for various diet and nutrition claims. Now, whether that stems from him or from the sensationalism that comes from those “journalists,” I don’t know. He does, however, appear far too often to promote various alternative medical claims.

That said, let’s look at the study itself. The article really pushes the idea of this “breakthrough” that even treats the elderly and cancer patients! Wow. It must have been SOME study.

Nope. Not so much.

The study included 10 people. They had a median age of 61, ranging from 44-78 years of age. They were all receiving chemotherapy. There was no control.

If anything, this is a hugely preliminary study. There is no good way to account for noise.  Even then, the“even in the elderly” quote from the article, mentioned as an aside, and the chemotherapy patients, also as aside, as if the data points to ANY other person in any other situation is demonstrably false. This is the poorest kind of science reporting possible.

Now, let’s consider the findings. What if they do a larger, placebo controlled study, and find that the results show that it DOES help with immune function post chemotherapy? That would be fantastic, however, it should still be taken tentatively. Asking chemotherapy patients, who are already struggling for nutrition and energy, to fast for 2-5 days, is potentially dangerous. Even if we find the effect to be actually present, it would be far better to then work to replicate the effect with drugs, as opposed to fasting.

So, is it possible? Sure. Is it a miracle discovery? Not even close. It’s more of a “Let’s turn them off, then turn them back on again, and see if that works” type of idea.

Not matter how you look at it, though, whether the scientists are right, or the critics are right, I think we can all agree that The Telegraph is just…wrong.



“Big pharma is only out for profits and wants to keep us all sick.”


“Big agriculture is complete unregulated.”


“Big government is watching you.”


“You must be a shill for big….”

There’s a very distinct problem in the public discourse today in regards to larger industries or entities. The thought process seems to be that an industry is one singular being with evil in its heart and acts as one mind to make the world a terrible place.

This, of course, is absolute nonsense.

Earlier today, I saw this meme.

It really strikes at the conspiracy strings, doesn’t? The problem  is that the argument is complete garbage.

The main problem is representing the production cost of a pill as the only cost in creating a medicine. It ignores the huge amounts of money required to develop the technology, the medicine itself. It also contains zero sources for what medicine it’s referring to, because who cares, right? It only matters that the ambiguous “big pharma” is out to get us.

The reality is far more complex. There ARE problems in the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, there are problems is pretty much every single industry. Those problems SHOULD be discussed and addressed.

An industry, however, is populated by entities, people, and structures that are diverse. There are countless moving parts. While regulatory problems may affect more of an industry, most of the problems people categorize an industry with only affect a fraction.

Doing so by caricaturing an entire industry by those problems and using hyperbole and bad arguments is the absolute worst way to have that conversation.

7 Websites Every Skeptic Should Be Using

Being a skeptic isn’t always easy. We encounter so many varied topics, and it’s impossible to master them all. We’re expected to be able to handle nearly any conversation, any subject matter, as if “skeptic” meant “human encyclopedia.”

The challenge is really knowing what sources to use, and where to find the best information depending on the subject matter.

Here are 7 websites every skeptic should be using in no particular order.

Skeptical Raptor


This guy is the gold standard for well-sourced articles. He covers a wide range of topics, though the focus is science in general.


Science-Based Medicine


This is a great blog with highly qualified contributors talking all things medicine. If you need a source to debunk medical woo, this is the place.




Quackwatch is sort of a catch-all on specific instances of harm by various forms of quackery and pseudoscience.




The is the skeptic version of Wikipedia. It covers all things pseudoscience and deceptive and typically is extremely well-sourced. It’s the perfect reference site.




This is another great catch-all that handles the paranormal and bizarre with a skeptical eye.


Skeptical Science


This is a pretty comprehensive resource on global climate change. They debunk the “climate skeptics” and give great, accurate information.


Biology Fortified


This site is a great source for GMOs and all things agriculture. It’s run by great people, working scientists, and is a fantastic resource.