Mike, the fact that Pearson and Shaw (P&S) provided some factually accurate content in their books, and some good and correct practical and philosophical arguments about the undesirability of aging and death, are irrelevant to the nature and purpose of my comments about them, and of of my overall characterization of them. Linus Pauling was one of the few minds I’d class near Newton’s, and had he seen Rosie Franklin’s X-ray crystallographs of DNA and intuited its structure correctly, I’d have ranked him with Newton. He was the antithesis of P&S: respectable, erudite, and for most of his life, a careful scientist. But his work on vitamin C was bunk and his wild claims for it ludicrous. This does not mean that there was not factual material present in his books and papers about vitamin C, just that the overall message was WRONG and that, on balance, it almost certainly did more harm than good.
I just sanded the pyrolysis products off the text blocks of P&S’s two books and “restored” the covers and dust jackets with a wipe down with drain cleaner. Ironically, their two books survived the fire, when so many, many more valuable ones were lost. It’s hard not to peruse the books I’m cleaning and I had looked through Life Extension just a few days ago. If you turn to page 468-469 of the first edition you will see a list of supplements they take:
Based on the clinical literature of the last two decades, the protocol listed above would be expected to cause significant statistical morbidity and mortality. The doses of niacin used are associated with increased Type II diabetes, increased overall mortality, and no show benefit in decreasing CVD. The doses of vitamin E, from the lowest to the highest, are associated with a large increase in intracranial bleeding. Chronic use of vasopressin is not innocuous and is associated with increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Vitamin C in doses of 3 grams QD is associated with accelerated atherosclerosis and systemic injury due to its up-regulation of the Fenton reaction – even in the presence of other antioxidant vitamins.
Their suggestion of sex hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for post-menopausal women nothing short of disastrous. Today, this treatment is used only in the most intractable cases of post menopausal syndrome for shortest possible period of time, and then only with the clear understanding that it is likely to significantly raise the risk of reproductive cancers. So many women that I personally knew in the life extension community used HRT, that it ended up being more common for them to have a reproductive cancer, than not – especially breast cancer. I think the very high incidence I’ve observed was due to far earlier and far more aggressive use of HRT than was the case for women given this treatment in the general population.
The majority of the molecules they recommended for specific diseases, such as BHT for Herpes, and later for HIV, simply didn’t work, or were far more toxic and vastly less effective than ethical pharmaceutical drugs available at that time. On a broader level, their message about the effective application of the scientific method, and about the validity of conclusions that should be drawn from animal studies was wrong, and anyone following their recommendations would be at much increased likelihood of suffering injury or death. I know of people who suffered from following these recommendations – some in ways that they and I still don’t understand. For instance, there is a medical physicist whom we both know who developed serious back pain while taking high dose vitamin C. This resolved after it was discontinued, however, even now, decades later, this individual cannot take supraphysiologic doses of vitamin C with a return of the back pain – which turned out to be renal in origin.
Both Scientology and the Catholic Church have true and valid things in their teachings, and both do charitable works that most would agree have merit. Similarly, both institutions have decent and caring people in them. Nevertheless, this doesn’t absolve them from the characterization of being purveyors of irrational nonsense, and not infrequently of verifiable, outright falsehoods. They are thus under the same umbrella as Tele-evangelists and itinerant tent preachers and at their core, they are profoundly anti-intellectual, anti-science and anti-reason, no matter how much they may cloak themselves in any of these things.
It’s entirely reasonable to classify individuals and institutions in this way, just as it is entirely reasonable to classify Hitler as an evil, ruthless, dictator, even though he loved animals, was kind to (some) children and was beloved as a boss by virtually all of his employees.