Wow – almost got goaded into telling you about me…

… but those of you who know me and visit here regularly, already know most of what I’d be writing.  And those who have popped the Superiority Pill aren’t worth a blog post, because they won’t come round to read a second time, in any case.

It’s fun when strangers come waltzing in, never check my blog for anything I’ve written before on the subject and start lifting their leg because they misunderstood the drift of the post.  I haven’t had cause to give anyone a good bashing around the ears in a while.

On that note, what happened when Bakkies Botha tried to order a Brekkie Bun from MacDonalds at 11:05 and they refused him?

He kicked them around the house so hard they turned into a Wimpy and served him his brekkie bun.

haha…  old one, you say.

That’s the thing about the internet.  Don’t ask me to reference a post if I chose not to.

You know I ref a post when I want to.  But that’s the whole thing – the internet is big and fulla you-know-what.  I only reference when I feel I really want to.  It’s rare that I find an article of the quality that is actually necessary for decent referencing, if the discussion is in any way scientific.  Most “articles” on the internet are opinion.  Not peer- reviewed articles from a reputable scientific journal – and even there…  (*sigh*) … long difficult afternoons come to mind of wading through knee-high packs of articles trying to make head or tail out of cancer genetics.  And realizing that one researcher referenced to another, who referenced another, who referenced back to the first…  Jargon, as tough and clingy as chewing gum, they’re talking of translocation t(3;7) and gene locus p53…  BRCA wasn’t even discovered yet… and here am I trying to note down which translocations of which specific chromosomes go together with which brain tumour types…  a hopeless case, as no two articles come up with the same findings, and whenever they do I discover the one is actually quoting the other…

I’m done dragging through unintelligible jargon just to discover, in conclusion, that the article told me absolutely nothing, because it was a rehash of another article that I’d already read.  And some of these get so lost in their polysyllabic vocabulary, they don’t even complete their long, winding sentences…  you end up actively searching for the subject or the verb and failing to find it, I kid you not, these are peer-reviewed scientists…  And you go to the references and find them overlapping with the references of most of the other articles you have your hands on, and you realize that you’ve just read all there is published on the topic… and are none the wiser because there is no pattern…

And you get the suspicion that maybe, chomosome breakage and translocations are an effect, not a cause…  But you’re a heretic if you dare voice this thought…  because established science says it must be a cause, so that’s where we’re searching…

Makes me think of the policeman who stumbles over a drunk in the dark.  The drunk is on all fours, under the streetlight, crawling around and patting the ground.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m looking for my keys.”

“Doesn’t look like they are here, man.  Are you sure this is where you lost them?”

“No, Officer, I lost them over there, but there’s better light here.”

Twenty years later we’re still looking for the keys under the street light because it seems there’s more light.  And 20 years on, except for countless more randomized effects, we still don’t know the exact cause of cancer and can therefore still not design a genuine cure.

Yes, gipsika spent time in genetics (feels like I spent time behind bars).  6 years studying (of which four, full-time and the course included microbiology, zoology, biochemistry, virology and mycology among other subjects, passed summa cum laude); six years in full-time employ, three in part-time and about two more (give or take) in freelance.

Medical specialists exist because the knowledge one single GP needs to keep at his fingertips can only be finite.  Leonardo da Vinci was the last universal genius – even Albert Einstein could no longer comprehend every last aspect of the completeness of human knowledge.  A GP needs to know such an enormous load of facts about such a broad topic – human health – that it is no wonder he cannot be expected to know every detail about every detail of the field.  A GP is a generalist.  The second he specializes, he sacrifices learning more about the general field in favour of learning a whole lot about a very small area.

Immunology is such a field; virology is another.  Pharmacy is another such area, such a deep and complicated one that a pharmacist studies just as long as a GP, but specifically in the field of biochemistry, drugs and the chemistry of how they interact with humans, with disease and with each other and a myriad of other substances.  A GP needs a broad overview of pharmacology to be able to prescribe drugs; but he relies that the pharmacists will inform him of the relevant details he needs to know.  Else he will not cope.

It’s sad when a GP with his limited and highly valuable time goes online merely in order to seek out blogs that deviate from the mainstream, in order to strew arrogance all over them.  Dear GP, you are worth more than that.  But perhaps a good lesson would be not to make presumptions about people who seem on the surface a bit simple and naive.  Perhaps they only don’t feel like linking to poorly written web articles instead of real hard references.  Perhaps they give their readers enough credit to presume that when the reader wants a reference, he/she will be able to google it themselves.

Whatever, let me sign off, it’s very late and tomorrow a full day.  Sleep tight bloggies!

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12 thoughts on “Wow – almost got goaded into telling you about me…

  1. I wondered if I’d caused this when I commented on vaccinations, but having the odd functioning brain cell, I went back and read the subsequent comments…

    Do not start me on GPs. Just do not. Arrogant surgeons I can live with, but Jack and Jill of all trades?

    I’m the complete opposite to you as my quals are arts (BA Hons) and management (MBA). However that does not make me incapable of reading and understanding articles in The Lancet and BMJ about the clinical effectiveness of the latest brightest shiniest new drug for whatever cancer. It also means when I read this that BRCA meant something to me.

    But rather than write a lengthy comment, I’ll leave you with this…

    http://cloudsmovingin.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/health-issues-more-smears/

    • Og sweet Kate. Not at all. I don’t think you have it in your vocabulary to tick me off enough to trigger me writing an actual post “about the author”.

      That “chickie” person is definitely a blog troll, and his language indicates that he might not even have school leaver’s, let alone any kind of degrees. The other one is possibly a medical doctor. I did note a shift in his attitude once I pointed out that the article isn’t meant to inform about science but to express a political opinion about the vaccination “wars” going on. I did write articles about the principles behind vaccine production (because it ticks me off that they generally use live virus – always the cheapest option instead of the safest). Of course those are buried in the depths of this blog and I doubt the trolls will dig long enough to find them, but actually the only reason I’m not cleaning their comments off the blog at this point is to give my readers an indication what kind of rubbish piles up on an antivaxxer blog. Anyone who expresses an opinion that casts doubt on the safety or effectiveness of vaccines, or on the concept of “herd mentality”, is taken down by these (probably paid) blog trolls whose sole purpose is to discredit the person posting. (Presuming that I didn’t know about the rabies vaccine, honestly! Perhaps I didn’t express myself clearly enough.)

      It takes guts and a lot of work to do an MBA, rather you than me. & my respect for the arts is growing the more my daughter delves into them. Yes, and one doesn’t need to be an expert in the field to read BMJ and those; one needs to have a good head on one’s shoulders though. The part I’m still waiting for is where they declare that they have actually discovered what causes cancer…

    • I suppose it depends what you mean by cause, and by ‘cancer’.

      As I vaguely recall, in lay terms, and I get very annoyed about people demanding a cure for cancer like popping a paracetamol, the main issues are cell mutation, and what – if any – external factors cause those cells to mutate.

      So, we link certain lifestyle behaviours to certain cancers, eg smoking, (lung and oesophageal) drinking, (oesophageal again, and more tentatively, breast and colo-rectal) eating too much red meat, not enough fruit and veg (colo-rectal). But there is nothing certain in any of that, they are risk factors, not necessarily the actual cause.

      But it’s interesting. While the general public fixates on a mythical panacea for cancer (without realising each cancer is different and needs different treatment) the real trick would be to determine the cause.

    • While the general public fixates on a mythical panacea for cancer (without realising each cancer is different and needs different treatment) the real trick would be to determine the cause.

      That is exactly it. They are contributing factors, actually fudging the issue instead of clarifying it. We know that e.g. UV irradiation can cause enough random DNA damage that sooner or later it will most probably hit some housekeeping genes and trigger a melanoma.

      If you look at the way the body defends itself against cancer on every level, and then the medical guesstimate that every day about 30 cancer cells arise in a healthy body and are removed or repaired, then one might just conclude that life on Earth is carcinogenic. Look at the oxygen molecule, alone. Oxygen is such a reactive substance that it spontaneously forms free radicals. Inside the body, these free radicals go crashing into all sorts of molecules and causing a host of strange toxic reactions, some of them even radioactive. All aerobic organisms and those anaerobes that can survive in oxygen (even though they don’t breathe it) have a repertoire of oxygenases and other enzymes that specifically round up free radicals, disarm and handcuff them and put them into a safe place. Furthermore there are special nucleic enzymes whose sole function is to patrol the DNA and detect breakages, insertions, deletions, substitutions etc. Anything irregular. They then repair; if they fail to repair, they trigger a distress signal which activates other enzymes that activate the cell’s self-destruct mechanism. On the intercellular level, certain cells of the immune system (I forget which, is it B-lymphocytes or macrophages) patrol for abnormal signals in the tissue fluid, and when they find the cell putting out those signals, they eat it up. These are just a few of the mechanisms with which cancer is permanently being combated, which can explain why sometimes a person experiences spontaneous remission via PNI methods which are basically aimed at boosting the immune system.

      More and more I see cancer not as a result of chromosome breakage but as a failure of the many levels of defense systems, because chromosome damage, mutations etc happen all the time, but cancer is the result of the cell that escaped the repair system. This might explain too why it is so fiendish to find cures that work consistently, even once you’ve classified all the hundreds of sub-types of cancer.

    • Oh btw I still wanted to tell you, as journalist you get to find out a LOT of detail about a LOT of different fields. My sis is an auditor, and she’s also making that experience. One needs to learn very quickly about all the detailed, expert ins and outs of a field. It must be a very interesting job.

    • You do, that’s correct. In fact we are very much like GPs 😦 the trick is knowing to use it, to learn, and where to dig for more. And moreso, applying the learned skills in other fields.

      I did clinical audit at one point, and, as company secretary to the board, worked closely with auditors ie finance and procedures.

      Basic journalism palls after a while, which is why many of us extend our repertoire. I did enjoy publishing newspapers, newsletters, leaflets, annual reports, board papers, establishing standing orders, complaints procedures though. That was putting my skills to good use.

    • 🙂 So jealous… one of my first choices for a career was to be a journalist. But it was “verboten” ;-). It was firmly established that I’m too soft for that (soft, me?).

    • LOL sorry, I get carried away. ;-P I don’t know if I mentioned it but the field still fascinates me, especially the parts that deal with prehistoric evolution, microbial evolution and the like. Those little squishy things making their way through the primordial broth…

  2. Ha..ha..ha.. never heard of that one!

    Anyway, I imagine we once believed headache was a cause—not an effect. And now? Seeing how enthusiastic some of us are these days in ‘supplying demands’ and/or ‘demanding supplies’, I can’t help but think about ‘the industry’.

    Now back to the topic. Hey, can I title that ‘Drunk Enlightened’? 😀

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