Profile for Joel M. Kauffman > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Joel M. Kauffman
Top Reviewer Ranking: 601,062
Helpful Votes: 27

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
Joel M. Kauffman (Berwyn, PA United States)
(REAL NAME)   

Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
Should I Be Tested for Cancer?: Maybe Not and Here’s Why
Should I Be Tested for Cancer?: Maybe Not and Here’s Why
by H. Gilbert Welch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 45.56
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Clear Expose of The Cancer Industry, May 24 2004
H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH, has written an unusually understandable revelation of the folly of testing for cancer in people with no symptoms. He explains how only a few people will benefit from common tests such as PSA, fecal blood, mammograms and others. He is enough of an insider to be able to explain the flaws in clinical trials being used by "authorities" to recommend extensive testing, and the lack of trials in some cases. The unneccessary biopsies, surgeries, radiations, chemotherapies for slow-growing cancers or even non-malignant ones are presented bravely. The uncertainty of testing is exposed where a positive for cancer may be wrong 1/3 of the time. And it is up to the patient to get second opinions.
The financial and legal pressures on MDs to test excessively are brought out. There is advice on talking or writing to your MD to indicate your unwillingness to undergo too many tests, and not to hold your MD liable if a cancer was "missed" - that is the big thing.
The deaths caused by cancer treatment are aired. This is something very few people, even MDs, know. Even when a treatment can cut the deaths from a particular cancer in half, most current treatments create non-cancer deaths, many of which will be improperly reported.
Welch is a special expert on the misleading nature of 5-year survival rates how they can rise because of early detection, yet with no change in the cancer plus cancer treatment mortality rate.
There are good explanations of how 5-year survival rates are calculated, how age-adjustments are made, how randomization for trials is done, and other things not even taught in medical school, but reserved for medical researchers. And quite easy to comprehend with clear figures and tables.
No errors that I can find; a really excellent book.

Life's Matrix: A Biography of Water
Life's Matrix: A Biography of Water
by Philip Ball
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 34.77
25 used & new from CDN$ 1.46

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but error prone, May 20 2004
Full of quotations of classics and poetry, written as literature with wonderful similes and metaphors, this "Biography of Water" roams from ancient civilizations to outer planets. The middle third was the most satisfactory, with details of the various forms of ice, how organisms cope with freezing, and what makes water so unusual. Explanations of its hydrogen bonding patterns and how they might change to make ice less dense than liquid water, and the funny shrinkage of water above its melting point and are all interesting. The many functions of water in biological systems, right down to the molecular level are given, and there are a number of cleverly done diagrams.
Ball's major blunder in this middle part was his complete failure to explain what holds normal liquids together, that is, what are the van der Waals forces (p165)? This leads to an absurd reason for the cohesion cell membranes, where the hydrocarbon tails of lipid bilayers are said to be held together merely by their repulsion of water (p253). Most college chemistry texts do better on both counts (including Linus Pauling, "General Chemistry", 3rd ed., 1965). The UV light from the sun is presented as detrimental only (p235). Ball seems unaware that vitamin D is formed from the action of UVB on cholesterol in the skin, and that there is less cancer the closer humans live to the equator. In recounting all the effects on the development of life (atmospheric composition, heat, cold, nutrients), Ball ignores the contribution of 10 times the radioactivity the Earth now has in promoting chemical reactions and mutations long ago (see T. D. Luckey, "Radiation Hormesis", 1991).
More minor problems are speaking of a vacuum "sucking" (p240), the pH of stomach acid as 1 rather than 1-3 (p247), missing the true function of the Glomar Challenger as a submarine salvage vessel (p47), a confusion of the effect of pressure on a melting point by comparing with the effect of pressure on the the boiling point of water (p51), implying that the reaction of sulfur dioxide with water gives sulfuric acid (p101) rather than sulfurous acid, and that paraffin wax has a viscosity anywhere near as low as 15 centipoises (p282).
It is when Ball enters the realm of politicized science that serious misinformation flows. Water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas and human activities add plenty of it to the atmosphere by irrigation, burning methane which puts 2 molecules of water into the air with just 1 of carbon dioxide, of burning gasoline, jet and diesel fuel, unlike p66. See "Hot Talk, Cold Science" by S. Fred Singer. Cold fusion has been replicated in half a dozen laboratories; the reality of the effect cannot be dismissed by ignoring the publications and merely listing ones that do not show the effect) (p307). See "Excess Heat" by Charles G. Beaudette, 2001. Memory effects in water at really high dilutions are real (see Lionel Milgrom, New Scientist, 11 Jun 03). Homeopathy effects were demonstrated against placebo in trials (BMJ 1991;302:316-323), all contrary to p334.
Read this "chocolate and cherry syrup coated" book at your own risk.
--Joel M. Kauffman 20 May 04

Nine Crazy Ideas in Science: A Few Might Even Be True
Nine Crazy Ideas in Science: A Few Might Even Be True
by Robert Ehrlich
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 31.48
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars How a Scientist Can Make a Fool of Himself, April 22 2004
Robert Ehrlich reveals his potential for bias as early as p10, where he dismisses die-hard enthusiasts of cold fusion. The reality of the effect, observed in at least a half dozen labs, may be seen in the book by Charles G. Baudette, Excess Heat, Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed, 2000. The effect is being re-investigated by the Dept.of Energy.
In Chap 2, More Guns Means Less Crime, Ehrlich did indeed catch John Lott in a double faux pas in the graph on p23. First, the ordinate does not begin at zero, and this is not indicated on the Y-axis with a break, so the effect noted is exaggerated. Secondly, the perfect fit of points to the curves was an artifact of the computer graphing program in which the points calculated by the program from the real data are shown, not the real data. This may come as surprise, but I have seen this before, in a curve used by the Heart Institute of the NIH to predict all-cause death rates from blood pressure (BP) as a continuous graded thing. In fact, there is little risk until BP reaches the 90% percentile for age and sex (Port S, et al., Lancet 2000;355:T175-180).
But Ehrlich promotes trigger locks on guns in the complete absence of evidence they reduce accidental shootings of children. Ehrlich used an increase in violent crime rate without an adjustment for population growth. He tried to use a selected 10 states to give an overall picture USA robbery rates relative to gun ownership laws. Ehrlich also failed to note crime rate changes in other countries that passed anti-gun laws. All in all, Lott makes his case despite his mistakes; Ehrlich does not.
In Chapter 3, p48, a graph of HIV-positive hemophiliacs in the UK shows no drop in death rates after the year in which AZT was introduced. Ehrlich has no conception of the toxicity of AZT (Moss RW. Questioning Chemotherapy, Brooklyn, NY: Equinox Press, 2000, p124). HIV passes only the first of Koch's postulates. It has not been isolated in pure form and passed on in pure form. The HIV test gives false positives with TB and other diseases, and has not spread as alarmists predicted in developed countries (Hodgkinson N, AIDS: Scientific or Viral Catastrophe, J Sci Exploration 2003;17(1):87-120).
In Chapter 4, Ehrlich falls into the trap of using relative risks without absolute risks, a common error [Joel M. Kauffman, Bias in Recent Papers on Diets and Drugs in Peer-Reviewed Medical Journals, J. Am. Physicians & Surgeons, 9(1), 11-14 (2004).] He is blank on the difference between UVB, which produces vitamn D, causes sunburn and the easily treated skin cancers, and UVA, which causes the deadly melanomas. He fails to note the benefits of UVB in reducing rates of breast, colon and prostate cancer. He fell into the trap that eating cholesterol causes coronary heart disease, and that red wine significantly prevents it. He is blank that vitamin D is made from cholesterol by UVB. (See The ProteinPower LifePlan, by Michael R. Eades, MD & Mary Dan Eades, MD. New York, NY:Warner Books, 2000.) He wrote that diet is not related to obesity, as shown by trials; but he was blank that all the trials he referred to were on low-fat diets, and that all the low-carb trials he ignored have been beneficial for obesity [Joel M. Kauffman, Low-Carbohydrate Diets, J. Scientific Exploration , 18(1), 83-134 (2004)]. On p67, Fig. 4.3, he shows cholesterol concentrations with no units, a sure sign of an amateur. On p71 he thinks that the disappearance of all ozone from the stratosphere would zap everything with UV from the sun; this shows his abysmal ignorance that ozone is made from oxygen by very short UV from the sun, and it would soon re-appear.
In Chapter 5, Ehrlich's dismissal of radiation hormesis manages to avoid all the papers by Calabrese, Wolff, Cuttler, Luckey, Feinendegen, Muckerheide, and many others with 4,500 examples of hormesis in 1,000 papers. By drawing straight line thru data in in Figures 5.4 and 5.5 (pp85,87) he ignores effects at low levels, and shows his bias [See Joel M. Kauffman, "Radiation Hormesis: Demonstrated, Deconstructed, Denied, Dismissed, and Some Implications for Public Policy", J. Scientific Exploration, 17(3), 389-407 (2003).]
This comedy of errors made it foolish for me to continue reading the rest. Buyer beware. -----22 Apr 04

Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming
Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming
by Ross McKitrick
Edition: Paperback
22 used & new from CDN$ 2.57

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest Revelations on the Difficulty of Climate Forecasting, Jan. 11 2004
Many professors of Climate Science realize that carbon dioxide generated by human activity has caused little or no global warming. Essex and McKitrick, even as outsiders to the field, provide the most entertaining exposé of climate modeling nonsense I have seen. The flaws in climate modeling, the absence of
water vapor as the most important greenhouse gas in most enviro manifestoes, the fraud behind the "hockey stick" graph of temperature over the last 1,000 years that claims that the 20th century has been the warmest of the millenium, and the lack of coverage of the remaining ground temperature measurement
stations are all revealed, and backed with citations to peer-reviewed journals. Even the dynamics of human group polarization are explained at length as the reason why this subject receives almost no serious scientific discussion.
The hockey stick temperature vs. time graph was defended by its perpetrator (Mann). A new peer-reviewed article defends the work in the book and amplfies it: Stephen McIntyre and Ross
McKitrick.Corrections to the Mann et al (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series. Energy and Environment 14(6) 751-772. This is one of the few journals on climate that will consider articles with the facts: there is no correlation, as the books shows, with CO2 levels and lower atmosphere temperatures. [...]
The views in the book are supported by other authors in the books Hot Talk, Cold Science; Fragile Science; Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths; and The Skeptical Environmentalist.

HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
by Gerd Schmitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 215.66
4 used & new from CDN$ 215.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading Expertise, Oct. 6 2003
HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors are essentially the statin drugs: atorvastatin (Lipitor™), cerivastatin (Baycol™,
withdrawn 8/01), fluvastatin (Lescol™), lovastatin (Mevacor™), pravastatin (Pravachol™), simvastatin (Zocor™),
pitavastatin and rosuvastatin (Crestor™), which were introduced to lower total cholesterol (TC) levels, and especially
LDL-cholesterol (LDL) levels, ostensibly to prevent coronary heart disease (CVD).
The book consists of 8 chapters by nominally highly qualified authors in the form of review articles of the sort
normally found in medical journals. These are devoted to the pharmacology and supposed benefits of statin drugs.
The writing is in expert medical language and is consistent, well-written, well-edited and very well-referenced, in
quantity if not in quality. The index is inadequate.
All chapters attempt to justify the wide use of the statin drugs to lower TC and LDL by citing references in support
of the claims that high levels have been correlated with cardiovascular disease (pp1,19,35,81,84,99,121,126). Such
claims are unfounded (Ravnskov U, The Cholesterol Myths, Washington, DC, New Trends, 2000).
The supposed benefits of the statins, beyond a large, but meaningless lowering of TC and LDL, are usually given
as lowered relative risks (RR) of mostly non-fatal heart attacks without the slightest indication of the magnitude of the
more meaningful reduction of absolute risk (pp101,103,106,115,122,124,137). This misrepresentation has been
noted (Ravnskov, 2000; Gigerenzer G, Calculated Risks: How to Know When Numbers Deceive You, New York,
NY, Simon & Schuster, 2002). So the usual tout of pravastatin in the WOSCOPS trial of a 22% drop in all-cause
mortality was noted without the information that this was only an 0.9% drop absolute in the 5-year trial period
(p106). The higher all-cause death rates in 2 of the big trials were ignored, as was the higher breast cancer rate (RR
= 1500%) in the CARE trial (Ravnskov, 2000).
Besides cancer, the other side effects of statins listed were incomplete, and should have included myalgia,
myopathy, polyneuropathy, liver and kidney damage, congestive heart failure and amnesia. Side-effects were said to
affect 2% of patients (p115-6) and 2-6% (p123). In fact, a recent review noted side-effects in 20% of patients above
the placebo rate, and no change whatever in the all-cause death rate for atorvastatin (Newman CB, Palmer G,
Silbershatz H, Szarek M. Safety of Atorvastatin Derived from Analysis of 44 Completed Trials in 9,416 Patients.
Am J Cardiol 2003;92:670-6).
Statins decrease the body's production of the essential coenzyme Q-10 and dolichol, among other things. This
was not mentioned as a problem in any chapter. While this was shown in one biochemical diagram (p65), it was not
in another (p82). Low Q-10 levels are strongly associated with congestive heart failure.
"Statins are contra-indicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The reason for this is that cholesterol is an
essential component for fetal development, including the synthesis of steroids and cell membranes" (p116). The
authors seem unable to comprehend that cell membranes, steroids and coenzyme Q-10 are needed by all humans.
The rare familial hypercholesterolemia, in which TC > 400 mg/dL, was represented as more deadly than it really
is (p99,111), (Ravnskov, 2000).
There was some recognition that statins operate to lower non-fatal heart attack rates by mechanisms other than
cholesterol lowering, but not that their desirable effect on thromboxane A2 is less than men can obtain with buffered
aspirin (p71), or that the desirable effect of raising nitric oxide (NO) levels is less than one can obtain with the
supplement L-arginine with no side-effects. There was no understanding that these effects of statins are independent
of initial or final TC or LDL levels (Nielsen JV. Serun lipid lowering and risk reduction? Where is the connection?
Br Med J Rapid Response, 19 Nov 01, to Kmietowicz Z. Statins are the new aspirin, Oxford researchers say. Br
Med J 2001;323:1145), and thus there is no way to determine who should be treated, or what the dose should be.
An entire chapter is devoted to the cost-benefits of statin use (p138ff). Since the use of statins for primary
prevention of CVD has been shown to increase all-cause mortality by 1% over a 10-year period (Jackson PR, et al.
Statins for primary prevention: at what coronary risk is safety assured? Br J Pharmacology 2001;52:439-446), and statins
have very little effect in secondary prevention, it would seem that there is no cost-benefit (Kauffman JM, "Do
Hypolipidemic Drugs Lower Medical Expenses?" Pharmacotherapy 2001;22(12),1583-1586).
This book may be of use for a pharmacologist looking for an overview, however narrow in outlook, with literature citations.
---Joel M. Kauffman, 6 Oct 03

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
by Michael Pollan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
83 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Humanist's Attempt to be a Botanist, May 9 2003
BOOK REVIEW - Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World, Random House, NY, 2001.
A Humanist's Attempt to be a Botanist
The main thesis is that plants quietly manipulate animals, including insects, as much or more than the other way around, which is the commonest view. There are several main sections to carry the story, and and epilogue. Pollan's writing is exquisite, nearly poetry in prose with very few incomprehensible lines; the nirvana of his writing is 5-star.
Apples: Pollan found that there really was a Johnny Appleseed. I had not known that apples were drunk as cider, hard cider or applejack until better cloned varieties appeared in the late 19th century, which being much sweeter, could be eaten. The wild Asian origins of the inedible apple were compared unfavorably with the reduction in biodiversity that yielded our 10 or so favorite varieties.
Tulips: Pollan's parentally enforced tulip plantings were confessed. The origin of the domesticated tulip in the Ottoman Empire and the wild speculation in 17th century Holland were brought out. Pollan believes that flowering plants that produced sugars and proteins (p109) made mammals possible.
Marihuana: Pollan's own experimentation was justified by results - heightened awareness with no bad side-effects. The US government's war on marihuana was described with the implication that it had no technical basis. Why were the obvious motives of tobacco, alcohol and drug companies not aired? The cultivation of marihuana clones hydroponically on a huge scale was described. The obstruction to the medical uses of marihuana was deplored, and, in my opinion, this is highly justified.
Potato: The failure of the Irish potato crops in the 1840s due to lack of biodiversity was described. GM potato with Bt gene (Monsanto's NewLeaf) was compared as an undesirable monoculture, opposite to organic farming of a number of varieties. The advantages of biological (still chemical, remember) control of pests over chemical control was properly described. The inherently higher costs of organicly grown potato were acknowledged. But Pollan ate NewLeaf potato on a farm in Idaho, more of them as French fries from McDonald's, and then refused to eat his own or serve them at a picnic! All this fuss over possible dangers of eating Bt, yet not a word about the absolutely known dangers of trans fat in those fries!...Like too many non-chemists, Pollan made some blunders: "...since sugar is the form in which nature stores food energy" (p19). Other than in sugar cane and beets, the primary storage in plants is as starch and cellulose. In animals it is glycogen and fat. (John de Man, Food Chemistry, 3rd ed., Aspen, Gaithersburg, MD, 1999.)
Here and there global warming by humans is noted as a given, when of course nothing of the sort has been proven, or even accepted by a majority of scientists and engineers (S. Fred Singer, Hot Talk, Cold Science, The Independent Institute, Oakland, CA; Bjørn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cambridge University Press, 2001; and now C. Essex and R. McKitrick, Taken by Storm, Key Porter, Toronto, 2002, available from Amazon Canada).
One of the most egregious eco-lies of all time is repeated as gospel (p211): that DDT caused thinning of bird eggshells, and loss of bird populations. This nonsense is exposed in S. Fred Singer, Science does not justify Ban on DDT, Environment & Climate News, 2003;6(3):2; Adam J. Lieberman, Facts vs. Frears: A Review of the 20 Greatest Unfounded Health Scares of Recent Times, American Council on Science and Health, 1997...
Another is that "we" have no idea how to safely dispose of nuclear wastes (p215). In 1978, Norman Rasmussen, Professor of Nuclear Engineering, MIT, described how nuclear fuel assemblies were placed under water until the short-lived isotopes decayed, then reprocessed to recover uranium and plutonium, the remainder being cast into cement in stainless steel drums which could safely be stored. All the uproar has been over where to store the drums because eco-nuts have labeled them as highly dangerous. (See Dixy Lee Ray, Trashing the Planet, Regnery, Washington, DC, 1990, pp147-156.)
Some pesticides are described as "chemicals of unspeakable toxicity" (p216). This epithet should be saved for nerve gas, aflatoxin, botulinum toxin and coral snake venom. Pollan should give thanks that we do not have to use bleach or drain cleaner as pesticides.
In the end the main thesis is not supported. Plants do what they do, and the presence of animals and insects will favor some of their activities. Pollan's view is actually extremely humanistic, which is OK, but with a technophobic slant, some of which may turn out to be justified; but it is anything but "a plant's-eye view of the world". Pollan often failed to check viewpoints on which there is legitimate controversy, and parroted anti-technology views consistenly. How appropriate that this book is classified under the Dewey Decimal System as philosphy rather than science or technology!

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
by Michael Pollan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
83 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Humanist�s Attempt to be a Botanist, May 7 2003
The main thesis is that plants quietly manipulate animals, including insects, as much or more than the other way around, which is the commonest view. There are several main sections to carry the story, and and an epilogue. Pollan's writing is exquisite, nearly poetry in prose with very few incomprehensible lines; the nirvana of his writing is 5-star.
Apples: Pollan found that there really was a Johnny Appleseed. I had not known that apples were drunk as cider, hard cider or applejack until better cloned varieties appeared in the late 19th century, which being much sweeter, could be eaten. The wild Asian origins of the inedible apple were compared unfavorably with the reduction in biodiversity that yielded our 10 or so favorite varieties.
Tulips: Pollan's parentally enforced tulip plantings were confessed. The origin of the domesticated tulip in the Ottoman Empire and the wild speculation in 17th century Holland were brought out. Pollan believes that flowering plants that produced sugars and proteins (p109) made mammals possible.
Marihuana: Pollan's own experimentation was justified by results - heightened awareness with no bad side-effects. The US government's war on marihuana was described with the implication that it had no technical basis. Why were the obvious motives of tobacco, alcohol and drug companies not aired? The cultivation of marihuana clones hydroponically on a huge scale was described. The obstruction to the medical uses of marihuana was deplored, and, in my opinion, this is highly justified.
Potato: The failure of the Irish potato crops in the 1840s due to lack of biodiversity was described. GM potato with Bt gene (Monsanto's NewLeaf) was compared as an undesirable monoculture, opposite to organic farming of a number of varieties. The advantages of biological (still chemical, remember) control of pests over chemical control was properly described. The inherently higher costs of organicly grown potato were acknowledged. But Pollan ate NewLeaf potato on a farm in Idaho, more of them as French fries from McDonald's, and then refused to eat his own or serve them at a picnic! All this fuss over possible dangers of eating Bt, yet not a word about the absolutely known dangers of trans fat in those fries! (Search PubMed <[website edited]> for Riserus U and Oomen CM and de Roos NM and Lemaitre RN)
Like too many non-chemists, Pollan made some blunders: "...since sugar is the form in which nature stores food energy." (p19) Other than in sugar cane and beets, the primary storage in plants is as starch and cellulose. In animals it is glycogen and fat. (John de Man, Food Chemistry, 3rd ed., Aspen, Gaithersburg, MD, 1999.)
Here and there global warming by humans is noted as a given, when of course nothing of the sort has been proven, or even accepted by a majority of scientists and engineers (S. Fred Singer, Hot Talk, Cold Science, The Independent Institute, Oakland, CA; Bjørn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cambridge University Press, 2001; and now C. Essex and R. McKitrick, Taken by Storm, Key Porter, Toronto, 2002, available from Amazon Canada).
One of the most egregious eco-lies of all time is repeated as gospel (p211): that DDT caused thinning of bird eggshells, and loss of bird populations. This nonsense is exposed in S. Fred Singer, Science does not justify Ban on DDT, Environment & Climate News, 2003;6(3):2; Adam J. Lieberman, Facts vs. Frears: A Review of the 20 Greatest Unfounded Health Scares of Recent Times, American Council on Science and Health, 1997. <[website edited]>
In the end Pollan's main thesis is not supported. Plants do what they do, and the presence of animals and insects will favor some of their activities. Pollan's view is extremely humanistic with a technophobic slant, some of which may turn out to be justified, but it is anything but "a plant's-eye view of the world".
Because of this and the common humanistic blunders indicating superficial research, only 2 stars can be given.

Five Equations That Changed the World: The Power and Poetry of Mathematics
Five Equations That Changed the World: The Power and Poetry of Mathematics
by Michael Guillen
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.42

3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Optimistic and Sloppy, March 13 2003
Delightfully written, easy to follow, Guillen describes the personal situations and scientific context of Newton's Law of Gravitation, Bernoulli's Law of Hydrodynamic Pressure, Faraday's Law of Electromagnetic Induction, Clausius's Second Law of Thermodynamics, and Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity (the equivalence of mass and energy).
As is the recent custom outside of textbooks, Guillen has given an exceptional amount of personal detail, letting us be amazed once more about how much these five scientists achieved despite personal situations that varied from ordinary to awful. Furthermore, the resistance from other scientists of their times is still surprising to some of us, while the resistance of the Catholic Church is not.
Guillen's efforts to provide clear explanations for the discoveries mostly succeed, least well for Clausius's Second Law of Thermodynamics, in my opinion. Many clever similes are used. A better explanation of the inverted delta in Clerk-Maxwell's equation on Faraday's Law of Electromagnetic Induction is needed. Guillen defines it as "the amount of" (p158), while "the rate of change" might be better. The math does not go beyond high school algebra, with that one exception, so the mathematically challenged such as this reviewer need not fear.
What is very disappointing is the number of errors:
1. On p27 globes are said to 2-dimensional, when they are actually 3-dimensional; circles are 2-dimensional.

2. On p36 et seq planetary motion around the sun is said to follow oval paths, when the paths are actually elliptical. These are different shapes.
3. On p137 the Leyden jar was said to be the forerunner of the modern battery. In fact is was the ancestor of the modern capacitor.
4. On p139 Volta's piles were said to provide more current the higher the pile, meaning the more plates). In fact, more plates gave more voltage, not more current. The two terms are not interchangeable. The piles were said to be the ancestor of today's storage batteries, while, in fact, they were the precursor of today's "dry" cells, which are not rechargeable.
5. On p158 the general term "electricity" was used instead of the proper term "voltage" (E).
6. On p162 a perpetual motion machine seems to be described inadvertently by the supposed possibility of using an electric motor to spin a dynamo that, in turn, powers the motor. This is not possible, of course.
7. On p163 the term "current" is used instead of "voltage"; these have never been interchangeable. The current is the number of electrons passing a certain point per second, while voltage is the unit of electrical pressure.
8. On p163 the term "heat" is used instead of "temperature". Thermometers measure temperature; calorimeters measure heat.
9. On p187 there seems to be total confusion between heat capacity and conduction. The apple filling in a pie is mostly water which has high heat capacity and good conduction, so it is easy to be burned on hot filling. The crust is mostly carbohydrate with air pockets, almost a foam, and the combination of low heat content at a given temperature and poor conduction makes it harder to be burned by the hot crust.
10. On p246 the speed of light was said to be constant. This should have been qualified from the start as being in a vacuum, as was done from p248 et seq.
11. The gross structure of the atom was worked out by Ernest Rutherford et al. in 1911 by bombarding gold foil with a beam of alpha particles from radium, not in the 1930s with "atom smashers" (particle accelerators), p258.
12. Einstein's 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics was for his discovery of the photoelectric effect, not for quantum mechanics (p259), which Einstein never even accepted!
Other Amazon.com reviewers found other mistakes as well.

Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food
Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food
by Marc Lappe
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fearful but Sloppy, Feb. 13 2003
The authors warn against the dangers of genetically modified (GM) grains and cotton. These dangers involve possible escape of the artificially inserted gene(s) for pesticide or insect resistance, overspray of pesticide onto non-resistant crops, insects acquiring resistance to the Bt gene, corporate control of seeds to be used with specific herbicides, failure of transgenic crops, and the lack of increase in crop yields. All of these are genuine concerns, for which the authors admit that there is no proof, just worries; but the advantages get short shrift.
No evidence is presented on actual failures except for one set of transgenic cotton plants. Escape of genes could be fought with new seeds not containing the gene. The dread that insects will build resistance to the natural bacterial toxins of the Bt gene is poorly couched, because all prior experience is that insects will do so in time, and the amount of time is all that is in doubt. Corporate control of seeds and herbicides will last only as long as the patents, and then "generics" are likely to appear. We have had corporate control of hybrid seeds and pesticides for 3/4 century as it is. If crop yields become significantly lower, the transgenic strains will be dropped. It is unlikely that all crops will fail at the same time.
Nobel Prize winner Norman E. Borlaug, the father of the green revolution, and not an inventor of transgenic plants, could have spoken against them, but has done the opposite. In the Wall Street Journal, 22 Jan 03, pA.14, he wrote: "Although there have always been those in society who resist change, the intensity of the attacks against GM crops from some quarters is unprecedented and, in certain cases, even surprising, given the potential environmental benefits that such technology can bring by reducing the use of pesticides. Genetic engineering of crops -- plant breeding at the molecular level -- is not some kind of witchcraft, but rather the progressive harnessing of the forces of nature to the benefit of feeding the human race. The idea that a new technology should be barred until proven conclusively that it can do no harm is unrealistic and unwise. Scientific advance always involves some risk of unintended outcomes. Indeed, "zero biological risk" is not even attainable.
"Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa says he's been told by anti-biotechnology groups that donated American corn is "poison" because it contains GM kernels. Based on such misinformation, he is willing to risk thousands of additional starvation deaths rather than distribute the same corn Americans have been eating for years with no ill effects."
Another cautious, reasonable view is that of Bjørn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2001, pp342-348. Examples of faked data on the toxicity of GM potatoes on rats and overblown fears of the effect of Bt corn on the monarch butterfly were given. Lomborg thinks the gains are worth the risks, and advises proceeding very cautiously, thus not to drop all the GM programs.
*****
The main reason for my 1-star rating for this book is not its conclusions, but its style. Despite academic-style referencing, albeit with almost no peer-reviewed papers on the actual subject of GM foods, the authors use practically every ploy practiced by propagandists.
The herbicide bromoxynil is said to have a toxic nitrile function (p.viii). The most common nitrile, acetonitrile, has an LD50 orally in rats of 3800 mg/kg, thus is less toxic than salt!
A "...horrible debacle from overuse of DDT..." (p.16) is not exemplified, but we are to think it had to do with thinning of birds' eggshells, which was disproven before DDT was banned in the USA by the EPA.
"Many countries like India are at the balance between survival and famine" (p.17). Then how is it then that 1/2 of south Asian adults are overweight and 1/3 are obese? (Lancet 2003;361:79).
"But the metabolic fate of DBHA [metabolite of bromoxynil] in the mammalian body has never been studied -- or at least reported" (p.42). A quick search of PubMed turned up: St John LE, Lisk DJ. Fate of the herbicides bromoxynil and casseron in cows. J Dairy Sci 1967;50(4):582-4.
The paucity of chemical knowledge of these authors is shown by the following: "Bromoxynil octanoate, the active ingredient in bromoxynil, is converted into bromoxynil phenol (what we have been calling DBHA) when it is metabolized in mammals. Although this step is designed to detoxify bromoxynil and make the molecule more easily excreted by the body, the by-product remains at least as toxic as its parent compounds" (p.43-4). The octanoate ester is the oil-soluble form of bromoxynil used in formulations; it is not the active form, which is bromoxynil itself, which is a phenol, so should not be called "bromoxynil phenol". Since most bromoxynil is metabolized to its acid derivative, DBHA, this "by-product" cannot be more toxic than its parent.
"Roundup [glyphosate] may also damage many non-target plants" (p.54). Well, of course! How many of us use Roundup to knock off all plants before seasonal planting?
"In 1993, 6 out of 7 plots...showed lower yields for conventional vs. transgenic soybeans" (p.83). This is exactly the opposite of one of the main points these authors tried to make -- that GM plants give lower yields!
Several times the authors trot out the old vegetarian aphorism that cattle convert their food to meat with only 10% efficiency (p.87), with 12% efficiency (p.112,135), and with 40 % efficiency (p.147). The authors do not seem to understand that humans do not like to eat wild grass, hay, alfalfa, or soybean hulls.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES) which had been used in cattle feed with some health problems in humans is trotted out like DDT as a scare mechanism, but it is not a plant product or a result of GM foods.
The "undesirability" of corporate profits is emphasized many times.
An attempt is made to foment alarm in orthodox religionists by hinting that GM foods may not be kosher or Halal.

Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World
by Greg Critser
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.56
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars [modified 25 Jan 03], Jan. 25 2003
[text 925 words]
With the talent for writing that gets him published in USA Today, Harper's Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times, Critser has produced an easy-to-read, well-edited, and highly entertaining expose of American fattening. A number of unsurprising trends are highlighted and their origins uncovered, such as increasing portion sizes at fast food chains and in soft drinks; the pollution of school cafeterias by big junk food corporations; and the use of high-fructose corn syrup to sweeten and thicken almost everything. TV and other food ads aimed at children come in for their fair share of blame as well.
One of Critser's more glaring blunders, even if by omission, shared by The American Diabetes Association, which is cited, is that simple sugars do all the damage leading to type 2 diabetes and obesity. The notion of glycemic index (GI), now >80 years old, never entered Critser's mind. The GI is measured in humans by checking blood glucose levels after eating. The GI of a food shows the % glucose levels rise compared with the same weight of glucose (GI = 100). One of the things that creates high (bad) insulin levels is high blood glucose levels. Since all the common complex carbohydrates (starches) in foods are polymers of glucose, and some of them are metabolized very rapidly into glucose, and we eat more of them by weight, the contribution of wheat, corn, potato and other forms of high-GI starches to poor health is greater than that of many of the the simple sugars. The so-called low-carb diets must be low GI diets to be effective, and they really are for weight loss, and the prevention of type 2 diabetes (Bernstein 1997, Ottoboni 2002).
This relates to the next blunder claiming that the Atkins, Sears, Eades diets do damage because of Critser's false representation that unlimited calories are recommended or allowed. This was accompanied by the blunder that all carbohydrates were eliminated, including the ones with very low GI from fruits and vegetables. As it happens, clinical trials have shown that low GI diets are the only ones most people can maintain. The usual sensible recommendation is for 40% calories from low-GI carbohydrates, 30% from fats, and 30% from proteins (Eades 2000, McGee 2001, Ottoboni 2002).
On the same plane in blunderland, Critser actually succumbed to the biggest misinformation in the history of medicine: that eating saturated fat and cholesterol causes obesity or clogged arteries or heart disease (p15,140). This nonsense originated with a campaign by the American Heart Association (AHA) begun in 1961, and its anti-cholesterol, pro-polyunsaturated fat campaign, which peaked in the 1980s. Nothing in the Framingham, MRFIT, or any other honest study actually supports this anti-fat stand, despite the politically correct summaries of many of the studies. (Moore 1989, Smith 1991, Fehily 1993, Fraser 1997, Tunstall-Pedoe 1997, Eades 2000, Enig 2000, Kauffman 2000, Kauffman 2001, McCully 2000, McGee 2001, Ottoboni 2002, Ravnskov 2000). The occasional success of people on the Pritikin and Ornish diets may be due to lower total calories or avoidance of bad fat. Also, many other lifestyle changes were made in addition to diet. Fat makes the stomach empty more slowly, thus keeping the blood glucose concentrations lower (Enig 2000).
Speaking of bad fat, Critser's dump on palm oil (p13-19) is totally unfounded based on actual cohort studies (Wood 1993, Enig 2000). To "compound the felony" Critser failed to warn about the really bad fats, namely the omega-6 fatty acids among the polyunsaturated fats such as soybean, corn, safflower and sunflower oil (Wood 1993, Enig 2000, Vos 2003), nor was there much on eating the good omega-3 fats (Vos 2003). Not a word about avoiding trans fats, as though this were still in doubt (Willett 1993, Oomen 2001). Even the AHA began to warn about trans fats in 2002. Among the saturated fats, the medium-chain ones are lower in calories (8 kcal/g) than the unsaturated ones (9 kcal/g), and the 18-carbon stearic acid in cocoa butter and tallow are so indigestible that these fats provide only 5.5 and 7.5 kcal/g (Finley 1994).
"When new immigrants were asked whether rest was more important or better for health than exercise, a large portion 'always says yes'. The attitude was doubly corrosive..." (p70-71). Critser seems not to be able to imagine that most new immigrants do hard manual labor in their employment, and they are correct to choose rest. Critser's unquenchable recommendations for exercise have some merit (Bernstein 1997), but the only prospective, randomized study of exercise after heart attack found no effect of exercise on all-cause death and a slight benefit of exercise on cardio-vascular mortality for the first few years, disappearing at 5 years (Dorn 1999).
While Critser was correct to pick on Reuben Andres, MD, for certain reasons, Critser fell for the nonsense that being leaner is better and leads to longer life. Granted there was confounding, but one of the best studies found that in both men and women the relation between weight or body mass index (BMI) and heart deaths or all-cause deaths was U-shaped, not inverse; that is, those of middle weight and middle BMI lasted the longest (Tunstall-Pedoe 1997). And so it was also with energy intake (Fehily 1993, Tunstall-Pedoe 1997). Smoking was indeed very bad for lifespan.
If the reforms Critser recommends were implemented, based on only the problems he described, my guess is that about 1/3 of the obesity problem in the US would disappear, thus a rating of 2 stars.
For complete references cited e-mail me.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3