Friday, 8 October 2010

Spontaneous generation.

Way back when the world was even more stupid than it is today (although in many ways, considerably less stupid), people believed in spontaneous generation. They believed that if you wanted to create mice, you merely had to leave a pile of grain in a barn and mice would form in it.

That's the correlation equals causation fantasy that is still prevalent in the minds of many today. Leave grain around, mice appear in it, nobody saw them arrive, therefore mice are spontaneously formed in piles of grain.

This was especially true of disease and spoilage, and was understandable because nobody had discovered bacteria yet, nobody had made a microscope and nobody had worked out how to make culture media. These things just spontaneously appeared.

Even when the first 'animalcules' were discovered, there were many in high position who believed they spontaneously formed from the material around them. Pasteur did a great job of knocking down that idea by making a glass sphere with a long spout that was open to the air, but which curved away from the main vessel so nothing could just fall in. He filled the sphere with broth and boiled it repeatedly. Then he left it alone. Nothing appeared. With that simple experiment he proved that microbes don't appear from nothing but are carried on the air. You can try it yourself by following this simple method. There aren't many who can afford Pasteur's specially blown glass vessels nowadays but the same result can be achieved with simple modern apparatus. Even with a (heat-proof) glass bottle and plastic tubing.

So you'd think that nowadays, in our modern, scientific times, there would be no utter morons in positions of high office and influence, wouldn't you? Unfortunately they are all still there, just as pompous and self-Righteous and arrogant and utterly, utterly stupid as they have been throughout the centuries. It's enough to make you believe in reincarnation.

Asthma is on the rise, and smoking is on the decline, yet smoking causes asthma. Nothing else. Not the exhaust fumes, the plasticisers, the chemicals we now use more and more for cleaning and air freshening, the myriad sprays and foams and vapours we are expected to apply to our bodies, that 'scent of Jasmine and Rose' that has been about as near to a flower bed as the Sun has been to an ice age, and all the rest of those modern chemical concoctions that have increased in use along with asthma prevalence.

None of those can be accused of causing asthma. No, it's because of smoking, which is declining as asthma increases. If that's science then I am an exceptionally dextrous camel. Or maybe a camel with a really big keyboard.

In 1668, Fancesco Redi proved that flies did not spontaneously generate from rotting meat.

In 1864, Louis Pasteur proved that bacteria did not spontaneously generate in broth.

In 2010, the chief medical officer for Wales, Dr. Tony Jewell, not only believes that a declining cause has an increasing effect, but that even being in the presence of a smoker causes the spontaneous generation of infectious micro-organisms in the middle ear. The part behind the eardrum. Something that was proven impossible in 1668 and again in 1864. He believes it.

As an encore, he delights in telling parents whose babies have died of that mysterious and absolutely unexplained phenomenon known as 'cot death' that it's their fault, they smoke and they have killed their own baby. Just like the Green October terrorist group, he needs no evidence, nothing at all, to blast his spiteful message of hate, blame and guilt at those he disapproves of.

This man is the Chief Medical Officer for Wales. He believes in something Pasteur disproved in 1864 and a rather marvelous Italian disproved nearly two hundred years earlier. (yah boo, Frenchie). He believes in the exact opposite of scientific and epidemiological logic. He believes in laying blame where it is not warranted for his own amusement.

If you're in Wales, get the hell out of there before you get sick. Your health service is overseen by someone less versed in modern medicine than was Merlin, and whose primary delight is the torment of the bereaved.

Our government, and the Flabber / Prawn Curry government-type-thing in Wales believe every word he says. So do the Cleggeron Coagulation and the Ed Moribund Group. Also the Fish who run Scotland. No need to ask about the Dreadful Arnott. If it means smokers get a kicking, she'll accept statements to the effect that smoking causes dandruff, rickets and shiny elbows on tweed jackets without question.

This man of the Tiny Jewels is an absolute, total, blithering, unthinking, gibbering moron with the scientific credibility of a Neanderthal who argues that the wheel would work better if it was triangular, the intelligence of a sloth on five bottles of cheap sherry a day and a conversation level that extends to 'Graaa!', the wit and presentation skills of those baboons with big red arses and all the sympathy and understanding of Jack the Ripper on a bad day.

The politicians who lap it up... there are no words yet. I'll have to think of some.

It might take a while for grammar to reach into the abyss of stupid they have dug for themselves.


richard said...

Modern plastics, sprays, and especially diesel fumes are more likely culprits, since asthma was a rare disease when I were a lad back in the days when the Banana Splits ruled saturday mornings. For fuck sake, how many hundreds of thousands of years has mankind lived and worked in smoke-filled huts, cabins, long-houses, caves, yurts, crofts, peaty cottages, dung-fired forges, or just gathered around the fire? By natural selection we're bound to be fairly smoke-proof by now, but sadly not being-a-dick-head proof, eh Dr. Jewell?

banned said...

Bravo Richard, something that I have long thought; mankind has spent most of its time since the discovery of fire in smoke filled huts waiting for daylight.

As a child I had very severe asthma, set off by all manner of animals, bed bugs (maybe), cold air, CHEMIST SHOP SMELL, exercise, air conditioning and etc. despite growing up in, so far as I can recall, an antirely smoke free environment.
In the interest of coolness I took up smoking as a young teenager and was threatened with death @20 by my school nurse and GP yet despite this here I am 30 years later, still smoking and almost asthma free. The last recurance was about 10 years ago due to accidentally spending an entire night in a room occupied by a cat.

One possible reason for this is that, as Leg-Iron mentions, I have instinctivly avoided all types of sprays and ungents be they deoderants, polish, air fresheners (particularly) without any apparent ill-effects.

Incidentally L-I,as a scientist you might be interested to know that I could often taste the imminent onset of am asthma attack and that if I found myself without an inhaler I could self medicate to a certain degree by the smell of urine (possibly because of the bleach content, dunno but it worked).

Anonymous said...

I'm going for diesel as the culprit in many illnesses today.
That however will not ever be released if found to be true. Every poxy large engine in ships lorries cars generators all kick out this shit.

View from the Solent said...

I work for a few hours each Saturday as a gopher at a buddies cafe. About 4 years ago a local council environmental health inspection resulted in a demand that an extractor be fitted in the window of the staff lavatory. The reason given? The smell of faeces is dangerous and could cause disease.

Miasma theory is alive and well! And this from people who called themselves professional.

(that faint whirring noise is the sound of John Snow's remains at 5000 rpm.
John Snow for those who, unlike LI, don't know the background)

Anonymous said...

Glue ear caused by gastric juices
"The team measured pepsin levels in middle ear 'glue' from 54 children in Newcastle and Nottingham. They found that 45 (83 per cent) of the samples contained 1000 times more pepsin than those found in ordinary blood samples."

"Children who experience gastric reflux are at particular risk of fluids entering their Eustachian tube because, until it matures, it tilts at an angle and is more receptive."

Pepsin assay: a marker for reflux in pediatric glue ear

Indigestion remedies may unstick glue ear

Anti-tobacco theory of Glue Ear
"A recent study of 7-year old children in Edinburgh found a direct link between middle-ear effusion ( glue ear ) and passive smoking as measured by salivary cotinine concentrations.

This association could not be explained by factors such as poor housing or social class.";jsessionid=76D46F2E1C983600AD5DD4836792868C?tid=aka14d00&page=12


Kitler said...

Cannabis smoking sorts out asthma. Every asthmatic I know who smokes cannabis rarely touches an inhalor. The only people I know who live for the inhalor are non-smoking middle class hygiene obssessives.

Anonymous said...

I used to like Finland. I will never go there again the fascist bastards...

Pogo said...

One suggested hypothesis I've seen for the increase in childhood asthma is that it is possible that changes in domestic circumstances have had a major contribution - centrally-heated houses with fitted carpets which provide a perfect environment for the house-dust mite, a known, strong, asthma trigger, are far more prevalent than in my youth of 50-or-so years ago (when childhood asthma was quite uncommon). Children spend far more time indoors playing with their "X-Boxes" and thus have more exposure. There's also a suggestion that many present-day children have relatively compromised imune systems when compared to their peers of 50 years ago - kids aren't exposed to "dirt" in the way we used to be...

Which adds up to a much better case for the increase in asthma than the standard control-freak cry of "second-hand smoke".

Dr Evil said...

This is very interesting because I was just looking at figures for the incidence and prevalence of smoking in the UK from a COPD perspective. In the UK, the lowest percentage of smokers are in Wales with 22%. But the highest incidence of COPD is in wales re the population in general. As you know I'm sure, the main cause of COPD is smoking, but not exclusively. Viral or bacterial lung infection, industrial gaseous and particulate pollution, solvents et al are all implicated. In Wales there must be another major environmental factor or factors in addition to smokin.

As for asthma, well, incidence is increasing in children in the UK. Not many of them smoke. Ergo the cause is environmental. most asthma is allergic asthma. Smoking doesn't cause asthma, but may exacerbate it. I know asthmatics who smoke and are OK, but if they have an event it can be very severe. Mind you all asthmatics, smokers or not are at risk of dying from an asthma attack. a big difference to COPD. Anyone with any medical experience knows that smokng does not cause asthma but may induce an attack in people with asthma. but so can house dust or dust mite faeces.

Dr Evil said...

Pogo, that is spot on with current thinking. Their immune systems are naive because they haven't been 'primed' by allergens. When they finally do meet allergens they react big time with a type 4 response which gives a severe asthmatic reaction. Most children aged around 6-9 don't smoke!

Anonymous said...

"statements to the effect that smoking causes dandruff, rickets and shiny elbows on tweed jackets without question."

As a professional anti, I know that there have been 'studies' by 'scientists' that 'prove' that the above statement is true.

Anonymous said...

"Beer yeast, when dispersed in water, breaks into an infinite number of spheres. When these spheres are transferred to an aqueous solution of sugar, they develop into small animals. These are endowed with a sort of suction trunk with which they gulp up sugar. Digestion is immediate and clearly recognizable because of the discharge of excrements.

"These animals evacuate ethyl alcohol from their bowels and carbon dioxide from their urinary organs. Thus, one can observe how a specially lighter fluid is exuded from the anus and rises vertically whereas a stream of carbon dioxide is ejected at very short intervals from enormously long genitales."

Justus Freiherr von Liebig in 1839,

Anonymous said...

If you ask me, they have conditioned many asthmatics to react to smoking propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Asthma around the world

Corrugated Soundbite said...

richard said:

"For fuck sake, how many hundreds of thousands of years has mankind lived and worked in smoke-filled huts, cabins, long-houses, caves, yurts, crofts, peaty cottages, dung-fired forges, or just gathered around the fire? By natural selection we're bound to be fairly smoke-proof by now"

Some of the truest bloody words I've read in a long while.

Anonymous said...

I've been idly wondering whether there is a collective noun for politicians. Doesn't seem to be but there are a few suggestions here:

Personally, I think one noun isn't enough.


Anonymous said...

...I've decided on an effluence of politicians...

Wonder how special Ed is going to spin his decision to appoint postman pat as chancellor when, within 5 minutes of the announcement, everyone had concluded that he'd done so to protect his position. I even heard Johnson practically boasting that it didn't matter that he had no economics training, after all he'd run the health service without being a clinician and Education without being a teacher...Nuff said.


Anonymous said...



A Herpes

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Dr. Jewell is paying too much attention to Stephen Hawking. Seems the latter believes in spontaneous generation, too. Too much reliance on credentials and titles, and not enough wide-reading and thinking being done these days.

Leg-iron said...

Richard - diesel is a big one, especially the switch from coal to diesel on the railways. Coal trains sent their smoke upwards and most of it was steam anyway. Diesel trains send it sideways and it's all particulates and fumes.

Chalcedon- Wales used to be big on coal-mining. My grandfather died of pneumoconiosis from the mines, my father (after a long battle) finally received compensation for what coal-face mining did to him. Both smoked, and both faced the coal board trying to blame smoking for the coal dust in their lungs.

There's not much coal mining left now. Smoking is declining there too. So there's something else... anyone looking at the dust blown from those old coal tips? I bet there isn't.

Leg-iron said...


This association could not be explained by factors such as poor housing or social class.

These were scientists? How could they imagine that predisposition to gastric reflux would be connected to poor housing or social class?

Genes and diet might have an effect there. If their eyes weren't full of smoke they might have thought to look.

Leg-iron said...

Pogo - when we had coal fires there was a constant updraught of air up the chimney. This brought fresh air into the house through the gaps and cracks. The air in the house was changed entirely several times a day.

Now we have double glazing and cavity wall insulation and hermetically sealed doors and no chimney. The air in the house stays the same for days.

Green policies are causing the rise in all kinds of respiratory problems. There's no point telling the government this, they are far too dim to grasp it.

They just find it so much easier to go along with what ASH tell them.

There is nobody with a brain running the country at any level.

richard said...

Don't forget ships, those big long ones, with engines with pistons the size of rooms. Wikipedia: "Exhaust emissions from ships are considered to be a significant source of air pollution, with 18-30% of all nitrogen oxide and 9% of sulphur oxide pollution. The 15 biggest ships emit about as much sulphur oxide pollution as all cars combined. By 2010, up to 40% of air pollution over land could come from ships."
Makes you wonder why the MOT man measures emissions from a tiny engine that one man could lift.
CS; ta!

Leg-iron said...

Anon 01:46 - Stephen Hawking is wrong.

He claims that the existence of gravity means that the universe will create itself, but gravity, like all physical forces, cannot exist until the universe does.

Nobody can ever know what predated the universe. Claiming that gravity (or anything else) already existed is a matter of faith, not science.

So, rather than 'God did it', science offers us 'It just sort of happened'. Both follow this with 'Just believe it'.

It's really not a difference at all as far as I can see.

robbo said...

In the first year of your life you are supposed to catch something nasty,therein kickstarting your immune system, but are immune systems are suppressed by vaccinations, inoculations, in the first year, and asthma is a immune system disease

zaphod said...

The difference between science and religion?
Well, although they both overreach themselves, science is willing, even eager, to learn; and acknowledge that it was wrong. Religion can't do this.

Anonymous said...


Swiping at "science" and "religion" in broad generalities is just too easy a hobby horse for some. Not meaning you, of course. My point was that allegedly respected, or at least authoritative, individuals like Jewell and Hawking are offering non-sense answers expecting consensus because of their titles, positions and reputations. They should be laughed out of their academies. Some scientists know where observation stops and philosophy begins, Hawking and Dawkins seem blurred in their thinking. I guess we'll leave a discussion about the Protestant Reformation for another time when we wish to talk about the overtly religious willing to think and acknowledge error. Time for a pipe!

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