reversals & such 2 (non-historical ‘fringe’ linguistics 21)

December 30, 2012

Hi again, everybody! I hope you’re all having a great festive season! All the best for 2013!

More on Reverse Speech:

Many of David Oates’ claims about RS are implausible on linguistic grounds, and he does not appear to have read more than superficially in the linguistic literature. And in fact the RS theory is prima facie implausible; it implies the existence of a major species-wide mental apparatus and a set of unconscious mental processes for which there is no other evidence and no persuasive explanation; and it arguably generates paradoxes with respect to the directionality of time.

Oates claims that the content of the messages produced in RS typically relates in a ‘complementary’ manner to that of the messages concurrently being produced in FS (albeit often couched in metaphors requiring analysis and elucidation). RS thus gives additional information to accentuate or strengthen the message of the associated sequence of FS. It may also reveal the speaker’s unconscious or unspoken thoughts, which may be in contradiction with their more conscious thoughts as expressed in FS. Oates believes that RS – being as it is unconsciously generated, free from conscious manipulation and indeed unperceived by the conscious mind – is always reliable as an indication of the speaker’s true opinions and attitudes; in other words, it is impossible to lie in RS, even while lying on the same issue in the equivalent sequence of FS.

Investigators, including trained phoneticians, typically find reversals much more difficult to hear in the absence of information about the corresponding FS, even after repeated listening. It might be granted that if RS were genuine some training might well be needed in order for it to be understood or even heard; but Oates himself, when questioned on this issue, is inconsistent, sometimes claiming that not only experience but training (by his organization) is required in order to hear RS reliably, but elsewhere stating that newcomers to the subject can immediately hear many cases of RS (perhaps after prompting, on which see below). The case for RS would be materially strengthened if several RS analysts could independently ‘find’ the same RS sequences, across a range of examples, without knowledge of the corresponding FS sequences.

Furthermore, the fact that many alleged reversals are supposedly couched in metaphors frequently renders interpretation difficult, even where the content of the FS is known.

Investigation of Oates’ claims is hindered by a number of obscurities in his discussion. The most important of these involves what appears to be a crucial methodological and theoretical inconsistency.

Oates and his followers seek to determine whether or not alleged cases of RS actually involve what he calls at different times ‘phonetic coincidence’, ‘coincidental reversals’ or ‘constants’, by which he means either a) the ‘accidental’ occurrence of very short sequences (typically single short words) which are (almost) the same in FS and RS (‘phonological palindromes’, such as dad) or b) cases in which the reversal of the FS sequence yields another equally possible sequence, so that there is a pair of corresponding forms, each of which is (approximately) the reversal of the other, such as say/yes. He accepts that in such cases the FS and reversed forms correspond consistently, and does not regard cases such as these as genuine examples of RS. (Oates suggest7 that there are some longer sequences such as Don’t regret (it/this) and I love my husband very much which also constitute phonological near palindromes but which he accepts as genuine RS sequences because of their length. However, these are not phonological near palindromes; the reversal of such an utterance is quite unlike the original.)

There are three major problems with Oates’ ideas at this point. Firstly, Oates is not consistent as to which sequences do and do not count as ‘phonetic coincidences’, ‘coincidental reversals’ or ‘constants’, treating very similar short expressions at times as belonging to this special category and at other times as genuine RS. Secondly, Oates’ explanation of the difference between cases of these two kinds is incoherent. His definition of ‘genuine RS’ involves reference to ‘the phonetic construction of the forward speech sounds as they were said in the instant they were captured on tape’; but this definition applies equally well to his ‘phonetic coincidences’ (etc.), and indeed to any reversal of a FS sequence.

Thirdly, Oates seeks to identify and exclude ‘phonetic coincidences’ (etc.) precisely because, if his general theory is to be deemed valid, he obviously has to claim that, in contrast with such cases, ‘genuine’ cases of RS are characterized by the occurrence of different reversed speech forms corresponding with the same FS form on different occasions. In other words, the very same FS sequence spoken by two different individuals, or spoken by the same individual on different occasions and when in different emotional states, may produce entirely different RS sequences. Oates needs to make this claim because he needs to argue that differences in the feelings and knowledge of different speakers uttering the same phrases (in the same accents), emotional shifts on the part of one speaker, or shifts in the style of the discourse, can be displayed through differences in the RS. However, this claim is quite implausible: there is nothing present in RS other than reversed FS sequences, which will obviously differ only to the extent that the FS differs. Certain differences of phonetic detail (including ‘supra-segmental’ effects such as intonation) might appear auditorily more salient in reverse than they do forwards; but this phenomenon could not account for the global differences between different reversals of the very same FS sequences which Oates often identifies. Neither could minor accent differences in FS have more than minor effects on the form of RS sequences.

In addition, if Oates’ distinction between ‘phonetic coincidences’ (etc.) and ‘genuine’ RS were accepted, evidence that a given FS sequence did not produce the RS sequence posited by Oates when reversed could be countered with the claim that there was no reason why it should produce the same RS sequence on different occasions. This obviously reduces the reproducibility of Oates’ investigations. Although there is no reason to accept Oates’ stance on this issue, careful replications of Oates’ experiments have used the recordings provided by Oates himself, so as to avoid such objections.

As ever, detailed references on request. More on RS next time!

Mark


This Week in Conspiracy (15 Dec 2012)

December 29, 2012

Goodeveninggoodeveninggoodeveninggoodeveninggoodevening goodeveninggoodeveninggoodevening and welcome to another episode of the Week in Conspiracy. Ours is a friendly environment where I compile the latest in conspiracy theory from around the web.

Honestly, I thought that the big news of the roundup would be the Oregon mall shooting (remember that?), but of course we had a rotten day in the States a few weeks ago, and we see people trying to make sense of it all. A LOT of confused and misleading information came out as the events in Connecticut were unfolding, and these will be the primary sources of the inevitable future conspiracy theories. I anticipate that the theories will come in the usual popular two varieties:

1) The shooter was brainwashed. This plot device allows conspiracy theorists to blame their preferred villain instead of the person who pulled the trigger. In fact, this one has already come out in a weird way. No you have no idea how weird this is. Stay with me. OK, so, Paul McCartney at the Sandy Relief Concert opened his set with Nirvana with “Helter Skelter,” which was the trigger for the shooter at the Sandy Hook School. QED. Some have floated the idea the shooter’s meds caused this. (Do they not see the natural correlation between people who are messed up in the head and psychiatric care?)

2) It’s (another) gun grab ploy by Obama. Dear Lord, hurry up, Obama! (Turns out the President is afraid the gummint is coming for his guns too!)

Mark at the Denialism Blog puts Mike Adams and his ilk over his knee, because the Health Danger wrote this.   Shepard Ambellas, uh, thinks that weaponized nuns pulled off the job.  Rush Limbaugh plugged the tired “Fast and Furious” angle.

I think that the most widespread conspiracy theory to have emerged is that the Colorado theater shooting and the Newtown massacre are somehow related to a financial scandal, and like a classic conspiracy theory, it relies on 1) superficial similarities between events and 2) arcane and irrelevant knowledge blown way out of proportion. But we’re also seeing a couple of anti-Israel conspiracy theories linked to this. Then there is this…odd timeline.

Elsewhere:

I think that if there were 3 Suns nearby, they would most likely be visible in other places too, and not just in China. (And that’s excluding the fact that we all be dead already.)

Secret documents (freely given) reveal that the vaccine denialist was never just a crazy person and was actually right all along, says denialist.

  • Merle Haggard is slipping. Here’s his anti-scary chemtrails anthem:

This Week in Mark Dice is a Horrible Person:

I stopped following him. He’s a pointless ass-clown.

Best Facebook update about the Sandy Hook shootings:

As much as I love a good conspiracy theory I please please ask my fellow conspiracy theorist friends to stop making yesterdays event into one! I beg of you !!!! I don’t wanna hear it really I don’t !!!!

Twit of the Week:

A level headed analysis of world events or hashtag abuse?

Shameless Smurf™ (@pansgrrl12/21/12, 6:08 PM Now the tyrants say “Let them eat genetically modified corn!” #Agenda21 #BilderbergGroup #NDAA #Monsanto #Corruption #GMO #Chemtrails

This one came from my other work, the Burzynski stuff. It just fell out of heaven, so I had to post it:

Jennifer @MadameBourdier @rjblaskiewicz @Malboury Anyway, the USA stole the A-bomb patent. France should steal back the cure for cancer. #Burzynski

Conspiracy theory of the Week:

  • William Tapley, the Third Eagle of the Apocalypse and the Co-Prophet of the End Times, continues to deconstruct “Gangnam Style”:

That’s all for now. I hope that we meet under happier circumstances next time.

RJB


reversals & such 1 (non-historical ‘fringe’ linguistics 20)

December 24, 2012

Hi again, everybody!

I turn here to another alleged phenomenon involving mysterious aspects of ‘normal’ language: ‘reversals’ and similar phenomena, including ‘Reverse Speech’ and special cases of ‘backward masking’.

Reverse Speech (henceforth RS) is a theory and an associated set of practices developed by David Oates and his followers. Oates, who has no background or qualifications in linguistics or other relevant subjects, is the ‘discoverer’ of RS. Oates began to develop his theory of RS in 1984, when he was managing a ‘half way house’ for ‘street kids’ in Berri, South Australia. He heard that an American evangelist was travelling through Australia preaching that rock and roll was ‘the Devil’s music’ and that if one played such music backwards one would hear strange, evil messages (see later). Oates found himself unable to refute these claims and eventually became convinced that backwards phrases existed not only in music lyrics (whether deliberately inserted or otherwise) but also in all human speech, and often quite spontaneously, with no deliberate insertion being required. He decided that these ‘reversals’ were systematic and of great significance; he and his then colleague Greg Albrecht produced the first book on RS. (Albrecht later claimed that Oates had ‘stolen’ his ideas.) Subsequently Oates produced a further book, and he and his followers have continued to publish on RS. By the mid-1990s there were many leaflets, articles and web-site entries produced by RS devotees, but many of these texts are naïvely expressed and argued, and the content is also rather repetitive.

Oates’ basic theory involves the claim that normal forward speech (henceforth FS), if heard in reverse, often yields short (1 2 seconds) sequences of intelligible syllables, at short intervals (often of only a few seconds). The RS sequences are supposedly accessed by simply recording a passage of FS and playing the tape in reverse. They represent genuine words or grammatically ‘correct’/normal phrases (normally in the same language as the FS; certainly in the language in which an adult speaker is thinking), mixed in amongst the ‘gibberish’ which one would expect to hear in reversed speech.

Oates believes that RS is another product of the important mental processes which generate normal FS. As the brain is constructing and delivering the sounds of speech, two messages are communicated simultaneously. One message (FS) is communicated forward and listeners hear and respond to it consciously, while the other (RS) is communicated in reverse and listeners hear and respond to it unconsciously. According to Oates, the existence of RS partly accounts for the apparent ability of human beings to obtain (sometimes) more information from a conversation or other interaction than is expressed in FS; in other words, it provides a physical basis for phenomena such as ‘intuition’ or ‘the sixth sense’. (Some of Oates’ supporters, such as Jim Stutt, argue that RS arose during the early history of Homo sapiens to compensate for the loss by most humans of active telepathic ability as language – in its FS form – became more important. (Compare the ideas of Julian Jaynes.)

Oates and his followers have applied the analysis of RS in various practical domains, some of them involving matters of great sensitivity and potential harm. If RS is not genuine, this work is valueless at best and quite possibly extremely damaging. The areas in question include child psychology, alleged cases of child molestation, other alleged criminal offences (this includes the ‘O. J. Simpson’ case) and the analysis and treatment of sexual and other personal problems and issues more generally. In addition, the RS enterprise has come to have an overtly commercial character. At one stage, one hour of tape analysis (typically involving much less than one hour of analysable tape) cost as much as $US125, or $US200 if performed by Oates himself.

As ever, detailed references on request. More on RS next time!

Mark


And I get email….

December 20, 2012

So apparently facebook has a feature that directs messages from people you’ve never been in contact with into a mailbox called “other”. If you look at the left-hand side of the screen under “messages,” the folder is in there. I had nearly 70 messages, and, let me tell you, I am a popular guy. (A shout out to Atlanta homegirl Angie Mattke who alerted me to this feature. You are sorely missed up here in the middle of the snowpocalypse!)

Here’s one that came to me in November, from Padz Evans from Petersburg, VA, apparently after I wrote something about Stanislaw Burzynski, the notorious cancer quack out of Houston.

Hey im sure you get this alot but im a fan of you ideas n the sense that i think your thoughts and beliefs are those of a fuck or fucking fucker that doesnt not posses the appropriate brian functionality to have a reliable or substantial opinion on matters that you cannot comprehend. I have one question for you and its really to satisfy my curiosity in how someone and feel such a way twords benificial activities that may cure cancer. My question is as follows.. how does cancers dick taste?

I’m glad you liked the article, Padz!

I was quite pleased to learn today that a complaint I sent to the ombudsman of PBS was quoted in Michael Getler’s column. It was about PBS putting up promotional material that seemed to be pushing a rather crummy and unconvincing straight-to-internet documentary on their website. Here’s the original letter:

I wanted to alert the viewer advocate about something that I saw on the PBS website and register a complaint. I notice that on the list of the most watched online videos at the PBS website that a 9/11 Truther video is currently very near the top. I understand that member stations maintain their independence, and that this is crucial to the mission. I do not see how it follows, however, that a video which is so misleading and factually inaccurate should be made available through PBS’s national website. It seems to violate basic program quality standards which PBS is known for. I am not advocating censorship, merely that PBS should examine the decision/process that led to this appearing on the national website and see if it aligns with the mission of public broadcasting to produce a better educated populace. I appreciate your attention to this matter.

Bob Blaskiewicz, Chippewa Falls, WI

Well, Jeff Sellars did not like what I wrote.

The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst. It rejects even the assumption that human creatures could espouse a philosophy which must ultimately destroy all that is good and decent…The conscientious citizen asks, “How can one be sure what the truth is?”…[We] must ascertain for [ourselves] what the facts are. [We] must accept nothing less than the facts— neither the majority version nor the minority version. [We] must view all the evidence until the face of truth is plain.
—President J. Edgar Hoover

Your cognitive dissonance is blocking your ability to accept Newtonian Physics. Building 7 collapses in 6-7 seconds at free fall speed. There’s nano sized thermite in the dust. www.RememberBuilding7.org

“Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light?”

Cognitive dissonance is invoked in the movie as a reason the whole country is wrong and why only the true believers are right. They do not, however, cover the topic of irony.

 

There were a number of birthday invites that I missed (which is probably why I’m such a social pariah), honest questions about things I’ve written, and other missives (as well as stuff so abusive that facebook automatically deleted it).

Ah, modern life on the Internet!

RJB


THE LAST VIRTUAL SKEPTICS EVER (19 Dec 2012)

December 19, 2012

Burzynski Patient Leslie Schmidt’s Story

December 18, 2012
  1. The diffuse pontine glioma is a recurring character in this web series, a serial killer whose name and M.O. we know, but who we just can’t get the jump on. In this case, again, Leslie’s first symptoms were a droopy eye and stumbling. According to her CaringBridge story (truly a wonderful resource for families undergoing treatment), Leslie began radiation and chemotherapy (Temodar) on the 28th of March.
  2. Leslie’s family seems surprised by how quickly her condition seems to deteriorate. They are eager to start treatment ASAP, and they are already shopping around for other treatments. Leslie’s mother, Mary, seems a little suspicious of doctors who are opting for an aggressive treatment that discounts long-term effects, a sort of fatalism the family seems not ready to accept:

    We know that the doctors think she will not be with us long and we are concerned that they may be “discounting” any long-term effects of the treatment. Although we have full confidence in her doctors, we would appreciate if anyone out there can give us any direction on this.
  3. The next entry in the journal comes from mid April, when Leslie is having surgery to sew shut her eye. There seems to be some damage to a badly healing scratched cornea. She wears an eye patch.
  4. At this time the journal reports: 

    Mike & Mary have been in contact with other families over the past few days that have kids with the same illness to determine what treatment & therapy choices they are making. We are looking into significant diet changes as well as some other alternative medicine options. We are also continuing to seek out clinical trials, but finding there are few choices, plus you have to meet eligibility requirements. These can range from having no treatment at all (which leslie wouldn’t qualify) or currently having a recurring problem. At this time, we feel that we should be “pro-active” and do something while the tumor is at least stabilized. 

    As I read this I suspect that the family is actually getting desperate. While it’s important, I’m sure, that a child is properly nourished during this treatment, I see so many people fighting this disease and turning to alternative medicine and then futzing with diet obsessively. Perhaps it gives a feeling of control, of doing something rather than sitting by. 

    Through April as the course of radiation nears an end, Leslie’s port seems to not be properly installed, not in a dangerous way, but in a way that might leave her open to yet another procedure, and she is getting weary of doctors.
  5. As the family celebrates Leslie’s last day of radiation on 9 May and her weaning off of the steroids, her mother Mary starts contemplating alternative treatments. She suspects that cancer thrives in acidic bodies, an alt med belief that seems common but seems implausible to me since all stomachs aren’t filled with cancer. If treating cancer were only so simple, we’d have discovered that long ago and there would be much higher survival rates.
  6. In early May, Leslie’s back in the hospital for an infection, and then again at the end of May, when Leslie is suddenly taken ill:

    While attending Camp Smile A Mile Family Camp, Leslie had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital on Saturday night. She was not feeling well initially and did not want to participate in any of the camp activities. Her Mom and Dad did not push her and gave her the option to go home but she really wanted to stay. They noticed that her legs were bothering her when she walked and that she began to have shortness of breath. As a result, they had her ambulanced to the hospital in Alexander City, AL. That hospital would not touch her due to the brain tumor so she was then ambulanced to Children’s Hospital in B’ham and did not arrive there until 4:00 am Sunday morning. Her oxygen level and heart rate were tested right away and her oxygen level was extremely low (in the low 80’s-which requires one to have oxygen given). Her heart rate was high and they think this was because of a fever. Her blood work showed no signs of infection which is why she was in the hospital last week. However, it did show that she was very anemic, so they are now giving her blood in hopes to correct that problem. 

    Leslie remains on intermittent oxygen into the next month, it seems. Her mother is excited when an MRI shows the effects the radiation had on the tumor, shrinking it as expected.  Soon Mary is talking about colon detoxification and Ph and nutritionists, not a good sign as far as evidence based medicine is concerned. Nonetheless, it seems that the parents are sort of forced to sail in uncharted waters here, as there are not any studies to give guidance about maintenance doses of their current chemo in children.  But then we see this:

    We are also still considering the Burzynski clinic in Houston if Leslie’s case is accepted, as the FDA has placed restrictions on who they can treat and who they can’t (based on the success rate of the “proven” therapies such as radiation/chemo) since they are in process of FDA approval for their treatment. As many of you know, the out-of-pocket expense for this would be substatial. If this ends up being the chosen route, you will probably see some things on the site about fund-raising!

    And this:

    ….but we also have her on Ruta 6 & CalPhos which is a homeopathic remedy and has shown success in brain tumor patients through a study done by a Dr. Banjeri in India in conjunction with someone at MD Anderson.
  7. This is in all likelihood the Prasanta Banjeri, who treated–in the most horrifying story I’ve yet encountered–Chase Sammut, a kid who had the same tumor as Leslie. They also start “visualization” exercises at the recommendation of their nutritionist.

    On the positive side, however, Leslie is well enough to take up karate classes again, which is good to hear. It seems that at some point in July the family got word that Burzynski would treat Leslie and they visited his office on July 26th, a few weeks after her 7th birthday:

    Here is a quick update on Mary and Mike’s visit to The Burzynski Clinic www.cancer.med in Houston today. They both feel very strong and hopeful about it and want to get Leslie there ASAP. It is very expensive and the cost up front will be around $30,000 and they will have 3 weeks after arriving to pay that fee. Then, in all, the treatment will cost up to $110,000 ($7000 a mth.)….if insurance does not cover it….which they do not expect it will. Leslie will have to have another MRI done in B’ham before her treatment starts at The Burzynski Clinic. She will need to be at the clinic 7 days after the MRI scan has been done. She will be at the clinic for 3 weeks and then go home with a pump (a little bigger than a cell phone) in a back pack and have to wear it most all of the time. It will be administered through her port. She will be able to take it off for 2 hrs a day (eg. for Karate class). This treatment will be done for about a year. 

    I’m guessing nobody at the Clinic mentioned that Burzynski was convicted of insurance fraud (and the conviction was upheld). I can’t imagine that insurance companies would like doing business with him or trust him. But he apparently exudes trust and concern:

    Mike and I both feel that this therapy will not hurt her since it is non-toxic and we would always wonder “what if” if we do not try it. We did not feel like we were being fed a “sales pitch” of any kind while we were at the clinic. They simply explained their treatment and let their cases speak for themselves. I almost expected Dr. B. to be sort-of an “untouchable” type of Dr., but found him to be very caring and down to earth, as the rest of the staff. Since I have designed medical buildings for over 20 years, I sort-of expected his office to be “state of the art” with a lot of “show”. We did not find that either. Although this may be a knock to my profession, I felt comfort in that they are not out spending a bunch of money trying to make things look fancy. Rather, their concern is treating patients to the best of their ability. Dr. B. is now also doing gene therapy which is a highly targeted cancer treatment to the specific genes involved. If antineoplaston treatment does not work for whatever reason, he indicated that gene therapy might be another option for Leslie. With gene therapy, they have seen cancer disappear very quicly. However, he wants to start her on antineoplastons first since he and his staff are much more experienced in this treatment. At this time, we are planning on starting Leslie on August 14th. One of us will be in Houston with her for 3 weeks to learn about administering the treatment at home and so they can get her regulated to the correct doseage. For the next 2 weeks (before we leave), we are getting the house ready to sell and will hopefully have it ready to show by the time we leave.

    There are so many warning signs in this statement. First, never once in my experience has a doctor ever cracked open a dossier of patient success stories for me. Hell, that’s so scummy not even drug sales reps do that! Parading success stories is the definition of a sales pitch. Secondly, the claim that ANP are non-toxic is ludicrous and unsupportable–you only need to look at the trips to the ER by the other patients on this site–and one can only wonder what weird definition of “informed consent” operates at the Burzynski Clinic. Lastly, Burzynski has that other miracle cure, his absurd “personalized gene-targeting therapy.” He sets the hook in deep and yanks hard, he does.

    Leslie begins antineoplastons in mid-August


    Oh, when they start ANP, it seems that there is a fluid-filled cyst. I don’t know what it is at this point, but it seems to happen a lot at Burzynski’s Clinic and it seems to never be a harbinger of success. Now, it’s on the tumor not in the tumor. Perhaps it is a remnant of radiation? Don’t know:

    Dr. Burzynski noted a fluid filled cyst on the tumor that they will be watching closely throughout treatment. As the treatment starts working, additional fluid is common due to the tumor dying off and creating necrosis (dead tissue). This additional fluid has to go somewhere and it may gather in that cyst causing it to grow in size causing neurological symptoms. At some point, it may become necessary to aspirate the cyst. I don’t know for sure and did not ask today, but I believe this is an outpatient procedure. I have heard of this in numerous other DPG children, so I believe this is a common problem with this tumor although any procedure in this area of the brain stem is cause for concern. To reduce problems in this regard and to reduce swelling during treatment, they will be prescribing Decadron (steriods). Although we do not like this idea, it doesn’t appear that we can avoid it as natural anti-inflammatories may not be strong enough. As many of you know, we have been on a pretty strict diet since May. We are meeting with the Burzynski nutritionist tomorrow (I believe) to review their dietary recommendations to see how our diet may need to be adjusted for optimal results with their treatment. We understand that salt will be an absolute no-no, as increased sodium levels are a common side-effect of treatment.

    When Leslie has headaches and dizziness following the start of ANP, we get a sort of animistic folk-explanation for what is happening to her:

    Leslie did wake up with headaches and felt dizzy on Thursday. This is to be expected since the medication is going up and “attacking” the tumor. The body’s natural response to this is swelling. Therefor, they slightly increased her decadron to combat this reaction and she has been fine since.

    During the week of August 25, they report that they have bought Leslie a true cowgirl outfit, which is truly adorable:
  8. Notice the advertisement on that wall. (Grumble.) This is Ms Carla, one of the people taking care of Leslie. She takes Leslie to a Joel Osteen’s megachurch: 

    We attended Lakewood Church on Sunday with Ms. Carla from clinic.Although we were seated in the upper level, Carla spoke with an Usher who kindly escorted us down to the floor when it was time for prayer. They took us directly to Dodie Osteen’s line (Joel’s mother). Dodie laid hands on Leslie and commanded that the tumor “come-out”. 

    At least this treatment didn’t have any side effects.

    The family is trying to sell their house at this point. 

    On Sept 21, the family puts out an ecstatic blog post about her MRI:

    I’m going to go ahead and post the entire report prepared by Vestavia Imaging. I don’t know what some of this means, but I do know that it is good!!!

    “Again demonstrated in is a large infiltrating mass involving the right side of the pons and right middle cerebellar penduncle. There is a fairly large exophytic component to the lesion extending inferiorly into the subarachnoid space lateral to the right foraman of Luschka. The medulla is also involved in this infiltrating process. The fourth ventricle is displatced to the left. There is, however, no definite indication of hydrocephalus. The supratentorial structures have a normal appearance. Following administration of intravenous contrast material, irregular contrast enhancement is noted. The appearance of the lesion on post-contrast images suggest an aggressive tumor histology.

    “Comparison is made to study dated 8/9/06. In the interval side since the preceding study, the previously noted central necrotic portion of the tumor now has a more solid irregularly enhancing appearance. The overall anterior-posterior dimension of the lesion in the axis parallel to the right middle cerebellar penduncle appears decreased. This could be secondary to aspiration of the patient’s cystic or necrotic central component of the tumor. Correlation with surgical history is suggested. Careful search is made for evidence of drop metastases. There is no indication of seeding of the subarachnoid space at this time.

    “Impression: The pattern of contrast enhancement has become more irregular and the central necrotic or cycsic portion of the tumor has decreased in size. Has there been interval aspiration of the cystic or necrotic portion of the tumor?

    Ok, so there we have it. This Radiologist has no idea what type of treatment we have been doing, but he is asking if the tumor has been aspirated. So all of you understand, there have been NO aspirations on this tumor, at all…ever. Dr. Barbara (from Burzynski) called yesterday and said it was a good report, but she did not have the scans. Scans were overnighted to them yesterday and we should have their reading sometime today or tomorrow morning.

  9. On Oct. 30, we get some bad news, and it really does seem by now that the cyst is not a good sign.
  10. Written Oct 30, 2006 9:35am


    A Rough Weekend


    Hello, I just wanted to update on this weekend. We had a weekend filled with activities scheduled and very tired on top of it which did not help matters. While shopping on Saturday afternoon, I noticed Leslie was not walking as well and had less engergy. She rested the rest of the day and seemed to be ok on Sunday morning. However, she started the same symptoms on Sunday around noon and her speech started becoming slurred as well. We had started to taper her decadron down and it might be that we simply tapered too much. After speaking with the Dr.’s in Houston, we started her on IV decadron to get her feeling better. She is better today although still lethargic with some signs of symptoms. Today, the doctors prescribed a higher pill dose of decadron and we will decrease over the next few days to determine where she needs to be. I have her at home resting today.


    The symptoms could also be a sign of necrosis (dead tissue created from the treatments) taking up more space in the brain. We should know more after tomorrow’s MRI although we will not have Burzynki’s reading right away since a CD has to be overnighted to them.


    Please keep Leslie in your prayers as she goes through this phase. We have always expected there will be many ups-and-downs through this although it is still difficult when the downs occur.

  11. I mean, I’m just a putz on a PC with no medical training. But this necrosis thing, the tumor dying at the middle, seems to presage bad things always. As Dr. Gorski has explained, the pattern of a tumor dying in the center is more likely to be a result of a tumor outgrowing the blood supply. Otherwise, one would expect the thing to open lots of holes, like a vile swiss cheese, or shrink from the outside in. Are we seeing this pattern AGAIN? Why the hell is there nobody at the Clinic who seems able to deliver this news?! Maybe if we post enough of these, someone with authority will notice. 
  12. The tumor has grown, it seems, and the doctors in Alabama are going to put in a shunt to try and relieve some of the pressure. They talk to Burzynski:

    On that note, we did speak with Dr. Burzynski today regarding the latest scans. We had been told before that the tumor was larger, which obviously had us concerned. However, Dr. B. says we need to consider the “net” tumor size. The “net” tumor size is actually smaller. It is only larger because there is a lot of dead tissue around it and inside of it. This obviously causes the diameter to increase which is how it is being measured. This means that the medication appears to be doing it’s job because it has turned active tissue into dead tissue. He noted that some of the dead tissue could also be from radiated tumor that is taking time to “die off”. However, the dead tissue can also cause a host of problems of it’s own. The bottom line is that a lot of inflammation and irritation is occuring (which is fairly typical from what I can tell). What we must now pray for is for Leslie’s body to work in the most optimal way to rid itself of the dead tissue so that the inflammation and irritation will cease. As the body does this, Dr. B. says we hope to see the tumor collapsing on itself, creating a much smaller image on the next MRI. He described it like a blister on your skin. Over time, the body carries that liquid dead stuff away, then the skin collapses down eliminating the “mass” of the blister. This is sort-of like the same thing in Leslie’s head. The problem is, there is only so much room in a person’s head for this inflammation and swelling. This is why we must pray for her body to eliminate the dead tissue in the most efficient manner possible.

    The disease seems to be progressing but the family seems to interpret this as “getting better”, but the doctors in Birmingham seem to be willing to try to remove at least some of the tumor. Maybe that’s why they are hopeful:

    We returned home on Thursday afternoon and Leslie has been getting better each day. She gained some additional weight due to the increased steroid dose, so we believe her mobility is still not as good simply because of the added weight. Her eye movement is still not normal and the right eye is starting to turn inward. This is most likely an effect from the tumor rather than the hydrocephalus. 

    At the end of November, we hear:

    By Sunday night, her balance had declined significantly requiring her to be “cradled” to walk. In addition, she had almost no appetite and increased apathy. These are obviously very disturbing developments. We stopped the eye therapy on Sunday night to determine what was caused by decreased vision vs. tumor/swelling. On Monday morning, Burzynski prescribed an increased dose of decadron steroid, as it was most likely swelling. After 24 hours and no significant improvement, Burzynski told us to have a CT scan done and contact the neurosurgeon (Dr. Wellons) since this could be related to her ETV procedure clogging up. 

    By December 18, Leslie has had some more problems. I’m not seeing anything in here that looks like improvement, just a long decline. 

    I don’t have much “official” news, but it’s been a while since the last update so I want to let you know what’s going on. Late last week, Leslie’s balance and speech seemed to start declining more. The doctors increased her decadron again (we can’t seem to get it tapered off) and we have seen some improvement although the increased symptoms are still a big concern. Today, we decided with the doctors to have another MRI. This way, Burzynski will have a chance to read it before closing for the holidays. Plus, we will know where we stand and the doctors can to respond to the symptoms more accurately rather than “guessing” over the 2 – 3 things that could be happnening. We had the brain MRI this afternoon and will return in the morning for a complete spine MRI. I am overnighting the Brain MRI’s to Burzynski today and will drop off a CD to Dr. Wellons tomorrow. We are hoping this will all keep us out of the Children’s ER for hours on end over Christmas. Please pray that we can avoid this and enjoy a nice break over Christmas. We all really just need some quiet time. We realize that it won’t be easy either way, but being home is always better than being in the hospital.

    The family had a relatively uneventful Christmas, which is a deserved relief, but at the beginning of the year, we learn the tumor is STILL growing. 

    Unfortunately, the last MRI showed growth which I guess explains Leslie’s increase in symtoms. We have also been diligent about trying to get her off of steroids which is a factor as well. Based on our latest attempt, it appears that she will have to stay on some amount of steroids for the long-haul. Although Burzynski clinic says the ANP therapy is our best bet against this tumor, we have ordered an additional blood test that has been sent to California to determine if Leslie might be eligible for their (Burzynski’s) latest gene therapy treatment.

    Well, if the first insanely expensive not-a-treatment doesn’t work, try another insanely expensive treatment. That’s how they do it at the Burzynski Clinic, at least. 

    By January 9th, Leslie’s having a tough go, swallowing and speech are difficult, and she is suffering from paralysis on her left side. By the 30th, we hear this, despite no good evidence that this poor girl is responding:

    Leslie has been back on Burzynski’s antineoplaston (ANP) treatment for over a week now. The doctors in Houston are still hopeful that the increased tumor mass is actually more swelling and necrosis (dead tissue) rather than active tumor. The thought is that if we can get a handle on these things, then the mass will show decrease at some point. Obviously this is no small task, as swelling and necrosis are very serious issues.

  13. This is merely cruel. But it’s another $7,500 in Burzynski’s pocket, I suppose. In early February, Leslie is in the hospital with pneumonia.  She was back home by the 15th, but still in the thrall of Burzynski:
    She only had the November scan to compare, but we had another scan done in December which showed a 32% increase from the November scan. This being the case, we were pleased with the news on the MRI although symptoms seem to have increased which is a concern. We have overnighted a copy of the scans to Houston and should be speaking with Dr. Burzynski on the results tomorrow afternoon (fri.). to determine the best course of treatment from here.
  14. Leslie never rebounded. Her parents made the courageous decision to contact hospice and Leslie passed away peacefully early on February 20th.

    These stories of desperate parents working very, very hard for their children are depressing. I’m learning a lot about suffering through their stories. At no point in this narrative did I see anything that looked like meaningful improvement. I wasn’t there. But this line about how the cancer’s dying and THAT’S why your child is getting worse is such an evil one. It’s the same thing that I keep seeing over and over. We must find a way to put an end to this and get the attention of people in authority that this cannot continue. I do hope that former patients will see that there is a horrific pattern here and realize that they have every right to complain about the treatment they received. They will be helping future children by taking action.

    For reliable information about clinical trials, visit clinicaltrials.gov. Please consider donating toSt. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, who unlike Burzynski, charges nothing to treat sick children. 


channelled languages and similar phenomena 10 (non-historical ‘fringe’ linguistics 19)

December 16, 2012

Hi again, everybody!

If extraterrestrial aliens genuinely visit Earth, it is obviously possible in principle that they may be able to learn to use contemporary human languages, and indeed it is frequently reported that aliens have been able to learn and use the languages known by the witnesses, or other human languages ancient or modern. For example, Marc Tolosano reports a (single-witness) case where ‘ufonauts’ allegedly encountered in 1983 in France spoke French fluently (and claimed that their species was familiar with all human languages).

There is a sub-set of cases of this general nature which involve alleged contemporary extraterrestrial knowledge of unexpected human languages, notably ancient languages such as Latin and Greek. M.H. Edwards (see earlier) discusses several cases of this kind. Obviously, one possible explanation for such ability (if genuine) involves visits to Earth in ancient times and the subsequent transmission of the knowledge acquired at that time (or the retention of the knowledge by aliens with very long life-spans).

John Dean reports contact with aliens from various planets, notably one known as Korender. His account involves a common interplanetary language called Galingua, which, is allegedly the source of Latin by way of ancient contact, or else has a common ancestor with Latin. Galingua and the language of Korender are both spelled alphabetically (with thirty-nine wholly novel letters with names bearing no relation to their phonetic values) and ‘phonetically’ (presumably this means ‘phonemically’); in Korendian, however, pronouns and numerals (cardinal and ordinal) are apparently represented logographically, with single symbols, despite being polyphonemic. Dean offers (often using non-standard terminology) a brief summary of Korendian grammar (very regular but otherwise suspiciously Indo-European in character, with only a few intriguing features) and punctuation, and a vocabulary.

Paul von Ward ascribes special status and universal applicability to the devanagari script used for Sanskrit and to the language itself. Like many non-mainstream writers on Indian matters, he ignores/rejects what has been learned about the Indo-European origins of the language, and he implausibly interprets Sanskrit and its script as the ultimate ancestors of all later languages and alphabets, which have allegedly deteriorated and suffered from loss of phonetic range and expressive power. He attributes the invention of devanagari to ‘Advanced Beings’, extraterrestrial or inter-dimensional beings whose activities are reflected in myths around the world. Von Ward is more widely read in linguistics (as in some other disciplines) than most such promoters of ‘ancient astronauts’, but his ‘understanding’ of the subject is very uneven and idiosyncratic.

One example of alleged extraterrestrial knowledge of ancient human languages involves the work of Paul Potter, who upholds the veracity of the very strange ‘messages’ which well-known abductee Betty Andreasson (now Luca) reportedly received (over a long period) from alien entities. Those which are not in English are simply strings of words familiar or otherwise, drawn (often with some distortion) from Latin, Greek and other languages; most of them are Latin or Greek words or English/pseudo-English words based or apparently based on these languages. Where a word exists in inflected forms in the source language, the citation (dictionary) form is virtually always the one which appears here, and there is no grammatical structure. The sequences do not exemplify language in use; they are lists of words. Potter translates the ‘messages’, adding grammar as is convenient to his proposed message. It is not at all clear why aliens would communicate like this; if they knew Latin or Greek, they could surely write in these languages. Human fakers (who may not actually be familiar with Latin or Greek but who could easily possess dictionaries and a conversion table for the Greek alphabet) must be suspected.

There are in fact other cases involving UFOs where a string of the citation forms of words taken from a foreign language is presented as if it were a meaningful sentence. One such case arose in the Garden Grove abduction case of 1975, later acknowledged as a hoax. The sequence (allegedly channelled) was nous laos hikanō (early Greek: ‘mind’, ‘people’ as in we the people, ‘[I] come’). A gloss ‘I come in the mind of man’ was offered; but all three forms are citation forms, and the grammar has merely been added by the translator. (See Larson, 2002.) Another case involves what appears to be a single Modern Greek word (in Greek script) in the written material displayed on artefacts supposedly associated with the Roswell Incident/Alien Autopsy case. However, the word includes a common spelling error grounded in the ignorance of many less-educated native speakers about the origin of the form. This again suggests the possibility of fakery.

Other UFO advocates also proclaim human languages (ancient or modern) as currently used by aliens. Often, the actual origin of the favoured language is said to be extraterrestrial (which would obviously require adjustment to accounts of the relevant human language ‘families’). The best current example is the Aetherius Society, founded by George King. The Society – like von Ward (see above) and other non-mainstream writers on India – ignores what has been learned about the Indo-European origins of Sanskrit, and regards it not merely as the ancestor of all human speech but as vastly ancient and the main lingua franca of a whole series of inhabited planets. They consider that it was ‘scientifically and metaphysically’ devised and is derived from fifty primeval sounds (which, by way of misconceptualisation, they confuse with the ‘alphabetic’ letters used to write the sounds of the language); these sounds themselves are derived from features of the Chakras (supposed energy vortices in the ‘subtle’ body of a human being).

The extraterrestrial ‘master’ Aetherius was extensively channelled by King, providing links with this complex inhabited universe and normally using King’s own Southern English English. The skeptical astronomer Patrick Moore exposed King’s claim that Aetherius/King could handle questions in any human language; the medium was nonplussed by very simple questions in Norwegian and even French.

As matters stand, the provisional skeptical conclusion on the reality of extraterrestrial languages (spoken and/or written) and on extraterrestrial knowledge of human languages must be that no known case is truly convincing.

As ever, detailed references on request. More next time!

Mark


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