Friday, August 27, 2010
"Lindsay Lohan Poisoned"
How many times can one person be wrong in 11 minutes? Let's find out.
Lately, Jones has been telling his radio listeners what to search for on Google, exercising his awesome power to influence Google Trends. Top searches he has created in this way include "Barry Soetoro", "Google Spies", and "Poison Tap Water". The latest is "Lindsay Logan Poisoned". Jones also made a short video on this theme, which you can watch below.
Since I am neither a 14-year-old girl nor an avid reader of Us Weekly, I actually had to waste some of my life looking into this. I'm sure many of you are in the same boat, so here's the deal:
Earlier this month, a California judge ordered 24-year-old Lindsay Lohan to undergo three months of rehab for alcohol abuse and drug addiction as part of her jail sentence, after she failed to show up for a DUI/cocaine posession hearing. She was reportedly using methamphetamine as well as cocaine. Upon examining her, however, UCLA doctors determined that she was neither an alcoholic nor a drug addict. This was a surprising diagnosis, because Lohan has been in rehab three times in the past three years, and has sporadically attended AA meetings since the age of 20.
The UCLA doctors also concluded she doesn't have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Bipolar Disorder, as other doctors had reportedly diagnosed.
They took her off the smorgasbord of medications she had been taking for these and other disorders: Adderall for ADHD; Ambien for sleeping problems; Nexium for heartburn; Trazadone and Zoloft for depression, and the potent painkiller Dilaudid for God-knows-what. She was released from treatment after less than a month.
After a year of treating Lohan like a coked-out street whore, TMZ and other gossip outlets pounced on this news and declared that all of Lohan's problems may have been caused by "bad diagnosis". This is a very popular media tactic: Trample celebrities into the dirt, then offer them a scrap of last-minute redemption when they can't be brought any lower.
Jones hopped on that bandwagon. Adderall, he says in his video message, is a methamphetamine that causes such adverse health effects as "brain shrinkage" and "heart expansion". He claims a junior high classmate died of a Ritalin-induced heart attack.
I'm going to set aside the question of whether children are being misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD (IMO, they are) and just deal with the adverse effects of Adderall and other ADHD drugs for now.* There are some very important things to point out.
- We don't actually know if Lohan was diagnosed as having ADHD. An earlier tabloid report alleged she was taking Adderall for weight loss, as some people do (and she did drop a suspicious amount of weight at one time). Until this is resolved, we can't really blame some nameless doctors for misdiagnosing her.
- Her prior history of alcoholism and cocaine possession indicates that she does have substance abuse issues, so not all of her misbehaviour can be chalked up to prescription drug use.
- Adderall is an amphetamine. That means it's a stimulant. Contrary to what Jones says, though, Adderall effects are not just like the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine, which are more potent than prescription ADHD drugs.
- Jones claims in his video that "brain shrinkage" and "heart expansion" are two potential side effects listed on the insert for Adderall. Neither of these things are true. The most serious potential side effect of Adderall is increased blood pressure, which can pose a risk to children and teens with pre-existing heart conditions. It is apparently true that ADHD children, on average, have brains 3-4% smaller than the brains of children without the disorder, and a 10-year NIMH study concluded in 2002 that this holds true even for unmedicated ADHD kids. However, as I've repeatedly warned, it's foolish to concentrate on the results of a single study. More studies will have to be done before we can say with confidence that ADHD drugs do or do not cause a decrease in brain matter.
- "New reports have come out that over 80% of prescription drugs don't treat what they claim they're treating and have toxic side effects." This comes from a single source, New Jersey professor Donald Light, who presented a paper to the American Sociological Association earlier this month. It's curious that he presented it to sociologists, rather than to anyone in the medical field, but at any rate this paper ("Pharmaceuticals: A Two-Tier Market for Producing 'Lemons' and Serious Harm") has not yet been published, so it's impossible to check Light's facts at this time.
- Jones states that "fluoride-based" SSRIs like Prozac are hallucinogens, and repeats his misconception that most school shootings and infanticides are triggered by SSRI use. SSRIs are not "fluorine-based"; they contain a minute quantity of fluorine. This is explained very clearly on a JREF forum thread; you can check the details for yourself. Hallucinations are an extremely rare side effect of SSRIs, but SSRIs are not hallucinogens (which cause hallucinations in nearly everyone). As explained by Dr. David E. Nichols in this New York Times article, "While antidepressants like Prozac work by making the neurotransmitter serotonin linger in the gaps between brain cells, hallucinogens have a different mechanism of action. They are what are called serotonin agonists -- molecules that are very similar to the body's natural serotonin and, when taken in large doses, push the serotonin system into overdrive, making many brain systems more sensitive."
There's a glut of other mangled information and misinformation in this 11-minute video. Jones repeats the "lithium in the water" and "brain-eating vaccine" nonsense, as I knew he would. Probably the most flagrant *mistakes* he makes concern Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg's call for an inquiry into the possibility that WHO and pharmaceutical manufacturers conspired to hype the threat of H1N1.
First of all, Jones confuses the Council of Europe with the Council of the European Union when he states that Dr. Wodarg is on an "EU Commission". The Council of Europe is unaffiliated with the EU, though the two bodies do have common goals and a degree of cooperation. I know the names are similar, but let's get them straight. Wodarg was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Jones' EU/Council of Europe confusion is particularly weird when you realize that Wodarg was actually a guest on Jones' show in February (you can listen to that interview on YouTube; Jones repeatedly tries to lead Wodarg into agreeing with various Swine Flu conspiracy theories, but Wodarg doesn't take the bait).
Secondly - but far more importantly - Jones states that Wodarg's inquiry has "conclusively found" that the H1N1 vaccine is "toxic". This is absolutely false. The inquiry focused on whether WHO and/or vaccine manufacturers exaggerated the severity of the H1N1 pandemic, not on the efficacy or safety of the European H1N1 vaccines. The committee's 18-page provisional report can be read in its entirety at the PACE website. I read it, and aside from concerns of possible insufficient testing of the vaccines and their elevated price (due to the use of patented adjuvants), author Paul Flynn makes no conclusions about the vaccines themselves.
Dr. Wodarg (who is no longer a member of the Council of Europe, but acted as an advisor for the inquiry) hasn't made any allegations about the "toxicity" of the H1N1 vaccines, either. Like PACE members, he has only expressed concerns that the vaccines may have been inadequately tested. He is not an opponent of vaccination. On the contrary, in an interview posted on his personal website, he stated that one of his central complaints about the handling of H1N1 was that the medical establishment could have inexpensively vaccinated the population by simply adding H1N1 virus to the flu vaccines already in stock. This couldn't be done, he complained, because some of the additives in the vaccines are patented. As mentioned, this criticism is echoed in Flynn's report.
I repeat: The Council of Europe does not claim that the H1N1 vaccine is "toxic".
Jones goes on to say that England has suspended H1N1 vaccination because of a tenfold increase in convulsions in children under the age of 5. He even shows a screenshot of the July 31 London Telegraph article that supposedly imparts this information
Clearly, he did not read the article. It has nothing to do with H1N1. It concerns one particular brand of seasonal flu vaccine in Australia. Neither Australia nor England has suspended H1N1 vaccinations! To date, the only country to suspend vaccinations for non-shortage reasons is Finland, and that involved concerns that a particular brand of vaccine (Pandemix) had caused narcolepsy in 27 residents of that country. This was a precautionary measure. Doctors in Finland are currently trying to determine if there is any link between the vaccine and the disorder.
Where on earth is Alex Jones getting all this inaccurate information? How do you confuse Australia with England and Finland, convulsions with narcolepsy, the European Union with the Council of Europe? I don't like to imagine that he's simply creating factoids to fit his own perspective, but his consistent lack of fact-checking and his insistence on repeating invalid information are starting to eat away at the benefit of the doubt.
* I sometimes wonder if Jones has ADD. He doesn't seem to research any single topic for more than a few minutes, and he complained that an episode of Squidbillies went on forever. It was 15 minutes long.
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