ScienceSkepticism

Will the Blood of Innocent Children Help You Live Forever? SCIENCE!

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Sorta transcript:

WAS DRACULA ONTO SOMETHING??? That’s the intriguing question answered by The Daily Mail’s health section with an enthusiastic “YEP!” So what was he onto, exactly? Well, science has shown that we can reverse aging using THE BLOOD OF THE YOUNG!!!

To be fair, that’s not actually a thing that Dracula was “onto.” Dracula had to suck blood or else he starved to death, because a vampire, not an old rich guy who was terrified of death and willing to try anything. No, I think The Daily Mail was actually thinking of Peter Thiel, the ultra-conservative uber-litigious Silicon Valley asshole who supposedly has been buying young blood in a vain attempt to live forever.

Anyway, the study The Daily Mail is talking about has also been discussed by other more trustworthy outlets like New Scientist, with a headline proclaiming “Human tests suggest young blood cuts cancer and Alzheimer’s risk.” Well that’s exciting, right? Wrong. It’s stupid and that’s a stupid headline.

The “study” involved giving young-blood transfusions to older people and seeing how it affects them, and apparently they found that the patients saw a 20% drop in antigens that are found in large quantities in people with cancer. They also found a 20% reduction in plaque that is found in the brains of people with Alzheimers.

You can probably already identify at least one problem with all this, because you’re a smart person who watches my videos: a drop in antigens and plaque does not equal a drop in the diseases. The antigens are found in people with cancer — there’s not a 1-to-1 ratio of antigen to cancer incidence. So maybe those drops are significant, but maybe they’re not. We don’t know.

Let me tell you a few other problems: for a start, we don’t actually know what the study found, because it hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal. All these outlets are reporting on a press push from Ambrosia, a start-up corporation that performed the study, which again has not been peer-reviewed.

Secondly, the study had no control group. That’s a huge, baffling omission. With no control group, we have no way to tell how much of the results are due to the placebo effect.

Thirdly, patients in the study paid to be in it. That creates a huge conflict, including the fact that those patients are financially invested in the procedure working, which could enhance the placebo effect.

In other words, this is garbage, not science. It belongs in the Daily Mail health section, because that’s where garbage goes, but not in New Scientist, who reported on it with a completely credulous headline and buried criticisms.

So for those of you who are desperate to live forever, maybe don’t start luring kids into your basement phlebotomy lab just yet. You’re probably better off just, like, eating healthy and getting some exercise.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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3 Comments

  1. June 5, 2017 at 2:26 pm —

    Rebecca Watson,

    Personally, I find the whole idea of young blood helping you live longer to be kind of creepy.

  2. June 5, 2017 at 3:23 pm —

    Actual cannibal, Peter Thiel.

  3. June 7, 2017 at 1:04 pm —

    After I read the study, I was all set to begin adoption proceedings. Oh well…

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