SEB Mailbag: “You are a dumbass” edition.

It wasn’t clear at first, but this email appears to be in regards to an entry I wrote back in 2004 about dumbasses paying money to sit in a mine full of radon gas on the belief that it will help alleviate any of a long list of ailments.

As you can see, the author has employed a time-tested Internet argument winning tactic:

From: sandie waddell <olivias.mama@hotmail.com>

Subject: you are a dumbass

HI DUMBASS!!

WHICH YOU ARE.  I KNOW PEOPLE WHO HAVE GONE THERE OVER 50 YEARS TO HAVE A NORMAL LIFE FREE OF PAIN.  I GO THERE FOR THE SAME REASON.  OSTEO ARTHRITIS WOULD HAVE ME CRIPPLED AND NOT WALKING IF IT WAS NOT FOR THE MINE.
THIS FORM OF TREATMENT IS A PRESCRIBED TREATMENT BY DOCTORS IN OTHER COUNTRIES.  THAT IS HOW WE FOUND OUT ABOUT THEM, FROM A DOCTOR.
THE MINERS WERE IN THOSE MINES EVERY DAY FOR 10 HOURS AND IT DIDN’T HURT THEM.  STILL SOME OF THEM ALIVE AND WELL INTO THEIR 80’S IN MONTANA, I HAVE MET THEM.
SO, DUMBASS, EXPLAIN THAT.  MAYBE TOU NEED SOME TREATMENT FOR YOUR BRAIN!!

OLIVIASMAMA

I’ll leave its deconstruction as an exercise for the reader.

8 thoughts on “SEB Mailbag: “You are a dumbass” edition.

  1. Too easy to pick apart. Just use another time-tested Internet tactic (lolspeak) and file that one under “A fail is you”.

  2. Huh. My dermatologist recognized my arthritis for what it was (psoriatic) just before I made an appointment with my GP (who I was seeing because I suspected gout.) He recognized it too and sent me to a rheumatologist who (surprise) also recognized the problem as psoriatic arthritis. The dermatologist suggested one drug, the rheumatologist suggested another one in the same class (difference: one requires weekly injections, the other, biweekly.)

    Imagine that – three doctors all on the same page with their diagnosis. Two specialists recommending essentially the same treatment. They explained the disorder (immune system attacking the joints causing pain and inflammation) and explained the different means of treating it plus gave me the names of a few drugs so I could look up how the drugs actually worked to keep my ‘boosted’ immune system from eating my joints. Pharma shills? Hardly. They asked if I was taking any pain meds and if they worked (yes, no) so they recommended the hard stuff (an immunosupressant.)

    I have an appointment with the rheumatologist on Friday. I’ll ask him about radon gas therapy but I’m pretty sure I know what he’ll say. It’s what I’d say to anyone who suggested I sit underground breathing a high concentration of alpha-particle-emitting radon gas to treat my arthritis.

    WHAT ARE YOU, FUCKING INSANE?

    There is no plausible way for radon gas to affect arthritis. However, breathing alpha-emitters is a fantastic way to boost your risk of lung cancer. Fun factoid: radon is halfway down the decay chain from U-238 to Pb-206 – once radon gives off an alpha particle, it’s not a gas anymore and it’s likely to stick in your lungs, pounding your cells with the remaining four beta particles and three alpha particles in its decay chain, happily ionizing atoms, and trashing your cells.

    But OLIVIASMAMA doesn’t have to take my word for it – the reason we know radon is a health hazard is from all the excess lung cancers noticed among German and Czech pitchblende miners over the past hundred years. You know, all those miners who allegedly spent 10 hours a day down in those mines without getting hurt.

    And how do I know this? Wikipedia? No – I’m old school: eight years of college, two engineering degrees, and four years as a radiological analyst doing safety analysis in a nuclear plant. The only time a doctor will tell you to sit in a mine and breathe radioactive gas is when you’re a blithering ignorant fuckwit who can’t figure out a CAPS-LOCK key.

  3. OLIVIASMAMA’s email is nothing. If you want some lengthy and somewhat amusing reading then check out the original thread which has around 120 comments in it. Some of them by owners of said mines.

  4. Bob, based on your description, I can see how “sitting underground breathing a high concentration of alpha-particle-emitting radon gas” could plausibly fix psoriatic arthritis.

    That is – by destroying the persons lungs and suppressing their immune system so much that it no longer has the ability to attack your joints – or anything else for that matter. Essentially it would be doing the same thing as the drugs you’re taking, except as an uncontrolled dosage, that may or may not actually fix the problem, with unknown side effects, and an unknown quantity of radiation damage.

    (Disclaimer: Though I have a keen interest in the fields of medicine and nuclear physics, I have no qualifications in them beyond a few introductory papers at university. I have also done absolutely zero research on arthritis of any sort.)

  5. @Edward

    Possibly; I think we’d both need a class in the workings of the immune system before either of us would consider it a reasonable probability. Regardless, radon wouldn’t have a direct effect; you could get cancer from cigarettes, etc., and we’d expect the same suppression of the immune system.

    FWIW, yesterday I asked my rheumatologist about radon gas and arthritis and – surprise – his response was that you’d get lung cancer. No effect on arthritis though. We did agree that lung cancer would probably ‘solve’ the arthritis problem by killing you, though he admitted that this was not the preferred treatment. 🙂

    I tend to ask my doctors about these crackpot ideas, prefacing the question with “This is a stupid question, but..”, to which they always say “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.”. Usually I convince them…

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