An Elmorite bites back – at last

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Well it seems that at last someone has challenged me on the whole elmore thing. See previous articles here, herehere and here. This correspondent seemed to think putting me down was the way to make his point. So as is my prerogative, here’s a point by point review of his letter:

I just want to say that I have been using elmore oil for a few years now and it I think it’s amazing. It’s not just me who seems to think so either, but many of my friends and family (including my wife) also use and love elmore oil. I had terrible pain in my back, as well as crippling arthritis in my hands which made it difficult to hold objects (brought on from years as an electrician). But elmore oil fixed me up like no amount of glucosamine ever did and I swear by it, and so does my wife.

I’m glad you feel better. However, I bet you would feel exactly the same using vegetable oil, and that’s what the experts found.

I stumbled across this blog and I have to say it made me pretty angry to hear somebody slagging off a wonderful product, after doing little more than reading the website and calling it “research.”

Actually I did more that read the website, if you had done your research and read the other blog entries. Yes I checked their website, and the many ‘front’ companies they have set up. I also tracked down what they say passes for testing, and also the CV of each of the so-called researchers. I also tracked down, and interviewed the two researchers here who were approached by the company to do testing.  One tested the product and found no beneficial effect. The other didn’t proceed but gave an opinion based on sound science, which I think is credible. I would stack their credentials up against the famous hospital in the Phillipines, and the bogus doctors there, especially Dr. Bill who is a known snake-oil salesman. Have you followed these up? I’ll give you a starting point – have elmore’s ‘researchers’ published anything else relevant to this topic? The answer is NIL, ZIP. What about our local people, from Latrobe University? They have a long list of prior publications and obviously a keen interest in understanding how things work. So, whom do YOU believe?

Did you even bother to go and get a bottle to try for yourself before you wrote this? And what about the thousands of testimonials from people just like me that use elmore oil and say how great it is? I guess they’re all wrong and you’re the only one who is right? It seems to me that you’re just one of those types who likes conflict, who likes to be on the outer. Why else would you start your own blog and use it to can products you’ve never even tried or tested?

Because that’s not how science works. Here’s some science for you: anecdotes<>data. This means anecdotes are not the same as data. Millions of people swear by homeopathy, but it’s bogus. Millions of people swear by chiropractic, but it’s of limited value other than temporary relief of some back issues. Millions of people use acupuncture – also bogus, (and don’t get me started on religion). This stuff has been tested over and over and over, and still no positive results. What do I make of all the millions who ‘swear’ by it then? And yes, I like conflict, if it exposes the nonsense being perpetuated by the ill-informed.

I understand that you created this blog to “to encourage conversation, not simply be a one-way rant by me” and yet that’s exactly what it is. This post is months old and you’ve only had 4 lousy replies. I’m guessing 3 of them were by a friend or family member who only even bothered to write anything to humour you.

OK, firstly, I’m not in it for the fame. So the stats don’t worry me at all. Secondly, if you would like some data, WordPress provide some good stats, and as it happens, the elmore articles are THE MOST VIEWED articles on the site, and number in the THOUSANDS. The only negative comment I’ve had is, well, yours! Perhaps one other which I suspect came from the elmore marketing people, and who never responded to my challenge to provide evidence for their claims. It seems no one else wants to lynch me. On the contrary, there were many supportive comments, so I guess you got that wrong. By the way, one of those supportive comments was by Professor David Colquhoun. I know his credentials won’t impress you, but go ahead, google him.

But enough about you, more to the point.

Yes, well too late. You’ve played the man already, and displayed a typical tactic of those who are really uninformed and misguided. Yes, I’m the bad guy, not elmore who have lied to your face about their so-called research, and who continue to avoid providing it to me. No to mention sucking up your cash at a great rate. Barry, you’re 61 I’m guessing, you should be saving your $, not splashing it about on over-priced vegetable oil.

You seem to insist that elmore oil only works if it can be proved in a lab by a bunch of white coats in a fancy duble whatever study. Which brings me to my earlier point. Do you actually believe that tens of thousands of people are all lying? Are you calling me a liar?

Nice try Baz. I would never call you a liar but you sound pretty keen for me to do so!. It sounds like you believe what you are saying, and therefore you’re not lying. But I’m glad you got the whole point of the article – that remedy can only be said to work if one can demonstrate that it works in a double blind study. You seem not to know what that even is – am I right?  It’s a study that removes wishful thinking and the placebo effect and all sorts of other biases from the equation, and answers the question: does this provide any beneficial effects? Simple really. And no it doesn’t need to be in a lab, nor done by people in white coats. However, if by white coats you are referring to people who are actually trained in science and know what they’re doing, then sure, why not white coats?(By the way, if I were a betting man, I’d wager that you also don’t believe in human-induced climate change. Right? After all, someone’s got to stand up to all these scientists)

Without this amazing product I wouldn’t even be able to hold my pot glass or bend to tie my shoes. My wife wouldn’t be able to walk up a set of steps. Now I can do what I bloody well like and my wife could run up a mountain if she bloody well chose too. And it’s all thanks to elmore oil. It does work, and there’s a reason why so many people love it and why it’s all over the news. If you want to go ahead and “encourage conversation” then I’d like to see you publish this reply.

I’ve done more that just publish the reply – I’ve made it a feature, as you can see.

Again, I’m glad you feel better, and especially that you can still down those pots. Go for it. Yes there’s a reason “why some many people love it”: wishful thinking and self-delusion. Please read my earlier entry on confirmation bias – but beware, there are white coats involved.

If the fairy dust is working for you, then great! But don’t expect me to share your beliefs without evidence.

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9 thoughts on “An Elmorite bites back – at last

    MyBrainHurts said:
    June 2, 2011 at 11:59 am

    RB, I think science forgets that we are human sometimes. Regardless of certain therapies & religion being on your bogus list, they do make people feel good (even if it’s a placebo effect). It gives humans some control over their life and makes you feel you are at least trying to do something to help yourself. I know how it feels to be ‘helpless’ and I’ll try most things once. I don’t however want magic potions & creams promoted ‘in my face’ as cure-alls as results obviously depend on the user. I don’t think it hurts to at least give it a try. I’ve made the point before, we are all adults and we can choose to spend lots of $$$ on products we ‘think’ work or not.

      rationalbrain said:
      June 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      Hi MBH, welcome back.
      Yes of course you’re right that we have that choice to try things, and sometimes, if it makes us feel better, then that was the right choice. But (and you would expect me to put a ‘but’ here, right?) when you say ‘I don’t think it hurts’ is a crucial point. With some things you’d be right. It doesn’t hurt (much) to get acupuncture. It doesn’t hurt to take homeopathic solutions, as they are just water. It doesn’t hurt to believe in god, or to pray, or to have fun with horoscopes.
      Or does it? Would you allow your mother to have a heart issue or cancer treated with homeopathy or with any of those things I listed above? Or with the Secret? I certainly wouldn’t.
      And don’t forget, ‘hurt’ isn’t just physical hurt – it can also be psychological, or financial. People pushing bogus treatments can raise false hopes and expectations, which in itself can be traumatic when the treatment doesn’t pan out.
      Also, science doesn’t forget that we are human. Rather, it developed because we are human. Why do I say that? Let’s look at science as it applies to medical treatments. The very reason that we developed a scientific approach to medicine (e.g. double blind crossover testing) is to eliminate our human biases and get an objective view of the efficacy of the treatment. Using this approach, science can also determine that people respond even to bogus treatments simply because they are getting attention from someone, or, because they feel they are in control – very human traits.
      Ultimately, science was developed by humans, for humans, to help us understand the world in which we live, rather than relying on superstitions, sacrifices to the gods, and reading goat entrails. Isn’t that a better way to be?

    MyBrainHurts said:
    June 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    RB what happens when science’s solution does not help an individual? I can vouch that a lot of pain relief on the market doesn’t give me any relief but I assume they are made because they work for some people???

      rationalbrain said:
      June 3, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      That’s the reality. Our knowledge is not perfect. We’ve all been to doctors and had results that could be have been better. That’s called reality-based medicine. But when science can’t help you – what is the alternative? non-science? fantasy? wishful thinking? As I said in the last comment, sometimes we can talk ourselves into feeling better. We can take that sugar-flavoured water, and feel better, or that special jungle juice one gets on the internet, and feel better. This only goes so far – for non-specific and general ailments. Feeling better is not the same as curing an illness – such as an infection or faulty organ or bad tooth.
      As I’m sure you know, for some things there is no answer. Yet.
      And that’s the thing about science. It doesn’t make promises it can’t keep, unlike the majority of alternative medicines which offer unproven, improbable and even impossible alternatives to real medical intervention.

    Jenny Mantle said:
    June 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Hi RB, long time reader, first time writer. As a former high school science teacher it is fair to say I have an understanding of how the scientific community works so I feel I should weigh in here. After reading your articles I took it upon myself to review the studies mentioned and look at the evidence for and against. You presented some good arguments in relation to the absence of scientific studies and evidence supporting the efficacy of Elmore Oil but you’ve jumped to a few conclusions of your own, and as the theme of your blog seems to be rational thinking I think you may have got a little bit ahead of yourself.

    First of all I read the studies you mentioned about Elmore Oil, both the study done in the Philippines and at La Trobe university, and it seemed to me that although the report for the Philippines study was a little brief (3 or 4 pages as you mentioned) the methodology was sound and the evidence was there to show that in fact Elmore Oil did lead to a reduced level of pain and joint stiffness in arthritis sufferers. Also, the La Trobe study, which found no significant difference was unfinished, and used a significantly smaller sample size.

    First, let’s discuss the Philippines study. The researchers there used an adequately powerful sample size (n=60), and found that the group administered the Elmore Oil treatment reported a mean reduction of pain and stiffness of approximately 33%, and a reduction in the number of days of poor sleep by 73%. Sounds pretty good to me when you compare it to the La Trobe study which had an inadequate sample size of 11 and was unfinished. To compare the two studies is unfair, and in the interest of thinking rationally, conclusions can’t be drawn from unsuitable pieces of research purely because they’re favourable to our opinion.

    Also, I noticed that you disregarded the Philippines trial because it was run by “an unpublished principal researcher” yet you acknowledged Dr Bill Paspaliaris as the co-ordinator for the study, and criticised him for being a “researcher known to peddle unproven (and controversial) therapies.” Ok. Now we’ve got a problem. First of all, stem-cell therapy is only really controversial because of the Church’s standpoint on the matter, and you’ve made your feelings about religion pretty well known here (https://rationalbrain.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/time-for-religion-to-give-up-the-moral-high-ground/), here (https://rationalbrain.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/the-heats-on-access-ministries-at-last/#more-650) and here (https://rationalbrain.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/god-does-not-provide-a-basis-for-morality-so-sayeth-the-bible/). Second, while stem-cell therapies are essentially a new frontier for research, they have been proven to be effective in reversing damage to cardiac tissue (http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2009/07/update-on-a-us-autologous-stem-cell-therapy-trial.php), regenerating damaged tissue caused by osteoarthritis (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.11365/full), and healing stroke victims in as little as a few days (http://www.medra.com/stroke-treatment.html?gclid=CMfSktroqqkCFc0eHAodxyXWMg). Oh and did I mention stem-cells have been used to cure AIDS (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/06/05/eveningnews/main20069146.shtml)?

    Furthermore, Dr Bill Paspaliaris is far from an unpublished researcher. According to this website (http://www.stemcellpioneers.com/showthread.php?t=2618) Dr Bill has published over 20 papers and given more than 50 lectures, as well as serving in the French Foreign Legion, and being knighted by the Greek Orthodox Church. Also, he has a PhD with Melbourne University, so we can safely say that Dr Bill is more than capable of ensuring that the study adhered to strict methodological principles. But like you, I wondered why Elmore Oil, an Australian company, went all the way to the Philippines to conduct a study that any University here in Australia would be happy to conduct. Why did the La Trobe study go unfinished, when Bundoora has a whole Research and Development Centre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Trobe_University#La_Trobe_University_Research_and_Development_Park) specifically designed for the purpose of carrying out research projects?

    Then you contacted the researcher and answered that question for me. To quote Dr Tania Pizzari, lecturer in the school of physiotherapy:
    “After a few days of thinking about potential methodology I decided that it would be impossible to run any type of robust clinical trial (particularly with no funding).”

    So money is the game. Is she actually saying that she couldn’t possibly keep sitting around in her office trying to think of a way to do the study, unless someone started paying her? No wonder they decided to do a study in the Philippines. And a veteran’s hospital, rather than a hospital run by the Department of Health makes sense, because sufferers of arthritis do tend to be the elderly.

    While I do read your articles from time to time, (and I have somewhat enjoyed the articles on religion) I have found your tirade against Elmore Oil pretty tiresome. I understand your argument that homeopathy is lacking in scientific evidence and that’s fine. But what I don’t understand is why you continue to focus your vitriol on a small Australian business rather than the homeopathy industry? (Yes I am aware of “TT does a number on the homeopathy scam”, but copying and pasting one video doesn’t compare to the number of stories you’ve done on Elmore Oil).

    I’m a little disappointed because “rational brain” implies an objective and calculated method of thinking, something I agree the world needs a lot more of. But you seem to have lost your touch, and these articles come across more as bitter cynicism, and I’m afraid you’re at risk of losing some readers. Not a personal attack RB, just something to consider.

      rationalbrain said:
      June 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm

      Jenny
      Thanks for the interest.
      I’m sorry reading about Elmore was tiresome. It did become a bit of a whipping boy, but I’m pretty sure I rant about homeopathy just as much – in fact, homeopathy is discussed in one form or other in at least a dozen articles at a quick count, which is more that the Elmore references, so I don’t really get your veiled barb comparing my Elmore articles against ‘copying and pasting one video’.
      I don’t want to rake over the coals again, but make a few points and correct some errors of fact in your comment:.
      1. You must be very trusting to be persuaded by the Phillipines report. Where was it published? Was it peer reviewed? Has anyone replicated it? In effect, it’s basically some A4 pages that anyone could have typed up in half and hour. And why was this report even so hard to find, compared to the gazillions of marketing sites for Elmore?
      2. By what mechanism would such a thing work? Are you convinced by the ‘triple maturation’, or the fact that it ‘bonds the actives in the essentials oils to the circulatory components found in Vanilla’? Ok, that’s a bit of sarcasm, sorry.
      3. The local testing used 25 participants as I reported. I think you are referring to a pilot study of 11 mentioned in the Phillipines report, but not referenced – no surprise there. In fact, the Latrobe study was not unfinished – Dr.Pizzari did not conduct a test, but Dr McBurney did.
      4. I think you’ve also got your researchers confused. The principal researcher, Dr. Sy, is unpublished, as far as I can tell. But Dr Bill was listed as a research coordinator, so I’m not sure what point you were making.
      5. My stance on stem cell therapy has absolutely nothing to do with religion. Stem cell therapy certainly isn’t controversial, unless it’s the autologous variety. I’m happy that there have been some promising recent signs in early testing in humans, with perhaps a more balanced review here. However, Dr. Bill has been pushing such treatment for years, way before there was any evidence of efficacy – basically peddling false hope for a wide range of illnesses and syndromes, for example, autism and locked-in syndrome. Try counting the number of companies he’s involved with, and has been for years. Yes, he’s a PhD, and well known in Melbourne. Infamous perhaps. And knighted by the Greek Orthodox Church and the French Foreign Legion qualifies him for what? No, I’m not impressed by an argument from authority, only the runs on the board.
      6. Regarding Dr. Pizzari’s comments, why is it that honest researchers are always pilloried for some perceived issue with money? She was honest in declining to test something which she believed would have no efficacy. Did you expect her to do it in her spare time?
      Yes, I agree, I’ve jumped to a few conclusions – but at least those are founded on some clear thinking and basic research, rather than grandiose claims and hype. Not to mention the dishonest representations I believe were made by these people, claiming to be sufferers who have been magically cured. As I said to the last correspondent on this subject – I’m glad you feel better after using it. But I still don’t accept that it’s any better that using baby oil, which is what the only reliable trial found, and which is what common sense tells me.
      If you’re going to suggest I’ve ‘lost my touch’ with respect to objectivity and calculated thinking, how can you then expect me to take on faith what the vendors tell me? That’s what you’re asking me to do, isn’t it?
      Besides, my definition of rational includes using the ability to reason, not just crunch numbers. That translates to the old one about having an open mind – but not so open that your brains fall out.
      Look forward to some more spirited discussion, and thanks for keeping my on my toes.
      Cheers.

    Elmore Oil feedback please… « rationalbrain said:
    June 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    […] errors, while the other two got a bit feisty. If you’re interested, you can see them in this thread, and here. But by far the majority of viewers of the relevant pages have not […]

    Dan Rea said:
    December 13, 2011 at 4:56 am

    I just finished looking into Elmore Salad Dressing myself, as my old man uses it. Your first article had pretty much summed up my opinion, and kudos on eliciting comments from the people behind the Elmore ‘clinical trials’.

    I really don’t mean to condescend to Jenny in saying the following, though I feel a need to point it out: The four page ‘clinical trial’ report (the n=60 one) was pretty laughable. I’d compare it with something like this one:
    ard.highwire.org/content/63/8/931.full.pdf
    Personally I immediately discount anything that talks about means without mentioning confidence intervals, interquartile ranges and what not. I mean it mentions lovely things like p-values, but no data is shown, no tables, nothing. With the kind of awesome and easy to use statistical packages around today it’s so easy to fit a just a plain only linear regression line to a graph of data, so I don’t see much excuse for a four page (((explanation of how we will do things, nice and proper))) with an unsupported piddly little ‘conclusion’ on the end. Where’s my data eh? This document was supposed to “secure registration of Elmore Oil in the Philippines”- apparently not so hard to do. A trained monkey could Google a proper clinical trial, copy and paste the tiny bits that doesn’t totally confuse them and write a crap conclusion containing three mean percentage values with no information on CI’s, P-values, … I mean a box plot would have been something!
    Did you know that 100% of people who drink water die? It’s true! It’s ‘Science’.

    That being said, I agree with Jenny in that there are bigger fish to fry. That kind of makes me a hypocrite as it’s 4:56am and I’m jibbering my worthless opinion on some random blog to people who are unlikely to read it, and if they did it would be preaching to the converted, and in any case an act of mental-narcissism on my part. Someone had to say that the trial seemed dodgy as hell though…

    And thanks for the chuckles ‘rationalbrain’.
    Next time someone tells you that 10000 testimonials proves them right, tell them to eat dog poo because a million billion blow flies couldn’t possibly be wrong.

      rationalbrain said:
      December 13, 2011 at 6:54 am

      I know this blog is kind of insignificant in PZMyers terms, but your comment will be read by quite a few. Those elmore articles are constantly hit by people cruising the net for the stuff. There have been hits every day to one degree or another. Who knows, we may even have opened some eyes. Thanks for weighing in, and complementing my own mental narcissism!

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