I didn’t think I’d be writing about acupuncture again so soon after deconstructing another “bait and switch” acupuncture study less than a week ago. True, the quackery that is acupuncture and the seemingly unending varieties of low quality studies published to make it seem as though there is anything more than nonspecific placebo effects invoked…

If there’s one thing that is true of the antivaccine movement, it’s that its members are rarely willing to admit that they are, in fact, antivaccine. Sure, there are uncommon exceptions who say it loud that they are antivaccine and proud and through their refreshing honesty and lack of self-delusion cause no end of problems…

I must admit that I’m surprised. Pleasantly surprised, but quite surprised. The reason is that yesterday the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Mike Zimmer rejected the recommendation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Review Panel to add autism to the list of qualifying conditions for which cannabis can be prescribed in the state of…

File under “only in America”

After a busy day yesterday and falling asleep early on the couch, I only have time for a quick take today. So file this under “only in America”: A 23-year-old Metro Detroit man robbed a South Lyon credit union earlier this month for his daughter, he told investigators according to South Lyon Police Lt. Chris…

It’s always disappointing to see a good journal fall for bad medicine, particularly when it’s in your field. For example, the Journal of Clinical Oncology (affectionately referred to by its abbreviation JCO) is the official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and probably the most read clinical journal by those involved in…

I don’t review books that often. The reason is simple. My posts for this blog sometimes take as much as a several hours to write (particularly my more “epic” ones that surpass 5,000 words), and I usually don’t have the time to add several more hours to the task by reading an entire book. Also,…

As hard as it is to believe after over ten years of existence and over 5,000 posts on SBM, every so often, something reminds me that I’ve missed paper that cries out for some not-so-Respectful Insolence. So it was a couple of weeks ago, when I saw a familiar name in a news story that…

How should we treat stage 0 breast cancer?

I’ve written more times than I can remember about the phenomenon of overdiagnosis and the phenomenon that is linked at the hip with it, overtreatment. Overdiagnosis is a problem that arises when large populations of asymptomatic, apparently healthy people are screened for a disease or a condition, the idea being that catching the disease at…

Acupuncture is a theatrical placebo, but it’s hard not to grudgingly admire just how—shall we say?—malleable or adaptable a placebo it is. What I mean by this is that, if you believe its practitioners and adherents, acupuncture can treat almost literally any disease or health problem. Any! Pain? Acupuncture. Allergies? Acupuncture. Biliary colic? Acupuncture. Infertility?…

Readers of this blog of a certain age and above are likely to remember a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin named William Proxmire. Sen. Proxmire made a name for himself in the late 1970s and throughout much of the 1980s by issuing what he dubbed “The Golden Fleece Award,” which was meant to “honor” public officials…

A recurring topic on this blog involves my discussion of stories about children with cancer whose parents refuse chemotherapy, thus endangering the children’s lives. These stories usually take this general form: The child is diagnosed with a deadly, but treatable cancer that has a high probability of cure with proper chemotherapy. The child receives the…

The approval of new drugs and medical devices is a process fraught with scientific, political, and ethical landmines. Inherent in any such process is an unavoidable conflict between rigorous science and safety on the one side, which tend to slow the process down by requiring large randomized clinical trials that can take years, versus forces…

The Woo Boat

File this one under the category: You can’t make stuff like this up. (At least, I can’t.) Let’s say you’re a die hard all-conspiracy conspiracy theorist and alternative medicine believer (a not uncommon combination). You love Alex Jones and Mike Adams and agree with their rants that there is a New World Order trying to…

If there’s one thing about how cancer is discussed in the media that drives me absolutely bonkers, it’s how seemingly whenever a public figure announces that he has cancer information is rationed to the point where the announcement is basically meaningless. I can understand why someone might not want to disclose more about his disease…

There’s a delightful meme going around Facebook right now, featured above, that portrays five African women, fists raised, all wearing aprons proclaiming “Kick out polio!” Accompanying the meme is a message from the American Academy of Pediatrics celebrating that yesterday marked one full year since the last case of polio was recorded on the continent…

Alright, alright already! I get the message. Over the course of the day yesterday I was bombarded by e-mails with a link to a New York Times article that shows a rather shocking lack of understanding of the science—more specifically, the lack of science—behind alternative medicine. Whenever something like this happens and I get so…

I learned over the weekend that a historic figure in science-based medicine has died. If you know anything about the history of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you will know this woman’s name, Frances O. Kelsey, MD, PhD. It turns out that Dr. Kelsey died on Friday at the age of 101. Somehow I…

Listicles. I hate Listicles. I don’t do them. Yet, as much as I hate them, I can’t deny that in this brave new world of click bait, listicles bring the clicks, which is why so many blogs and websites post them. Indeed, there’s a website, Thrillist, that is dedicated to pretty much nothing but listicles.…

When I first started writing about the claims made for medical marijuana and the cannabis oil derived from it, it didn’t take long for me to characterize medical claims for cannabis as the “new herbalism,” as opposed to pharmacognosy, the branch of pharmacology devoted to the study of natural products. The reason is simple. Although…

Here we go yet again. I’m half tempted to use a YouTube clip of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part 3, where he says, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.” I’ll restrain myself this time. Instead, I’ll just tell you what I’m talking about, which is the…

About a month ago, a number of news stories were published reporting that the University of Toronto had offered a course in alternative medicine taught by a homeopath named Beth Laundau-Halpern that presented a segment that was clearly highly biased towards antivaccine pseudoscience. It was worse than that, though, because this homeopathy just happened to…

Homeopathy is The One Quackery To Rule Them All. There, I’ve started off this post the way I start off most posts about homeopathy, with a statement of just how enormous a pile of pseudoscientific (or rather prescientific) quackery that it is. You’d think that in 2015 no one would believe that diluting a substance…

I frequently discuss a disturbing phenomenon known as “quackademic medicine.” Basically, quackademic medicine is a phenomenon that has taken hold over the last two decades in medical academia in which once ostensibly science-based medical schools and academic medical centers embrace quackery. This embrace was once called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) but among quackademics the…

A couple of weeks ago, I first took note of a new conspiracy theory that’s been brewing in the antivaccine crankosphere, namely the claim that big pharma has been systematically murdering alternative medical doctors, starting with autism quack Jeff Bradstreet, who committed suicide the day after the FDA raided his office. Of course, it didn’t…

Antivaccine activists amuse me. Obviously, I think they are a major risk to public health. Their relentless demonization of vaccines as causing autism, autoimmune diseases, “shaken baby syndrome,” and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) serves no purpose other than to frighten parents and discourage them from vaccinating. As despicable as some of their antics…