Respectful Insolence

Yesterday, I expressed dismay at how Dr. Mehmet Oz, the protege of Oprah Winfrey who now has his own popular syndicated daily show, recently named the quackery known as reiki as number one in his list of “Dr. Oz’s ulimate alternatie medicine secrets,” leading me to characterize him as having “gone completely over to the Dark Side.” You, my readers, kindly provided me with a YouTube video of actual segments from the show in which Dr. Oz has a reiki master demonstrate reiki on an audience member:

Ugh. Get aload of this introduction:

Now you’re about to see things that are going to challenge everything you think you know about what makes you well. Now I’ve worked and trained in some of the finest medical schools and hospitals in this country, and I know first hand the amazing miracles we can achieve with modern Western Medicine. But I also know that for centuries people around the world have developed alternative therapies that treat the body, mind, and the soul. So today I’m revealing my ultimate alternative medicine secrets. If you’ve got a medical problem you can’t solve, you may find the answer in the next few minutes.

It’s much worse when you actually see it on TV. First off, I really, really wish that Dr. Oz would stop wearing scrubs on his show. I realize that it’s designed to scream to the audience that “I’m a doctor, dammit! Listen to me! I know what I’m talking about!” As a surgeon, I just find TV doctors who wear scrubs on the air to be pathetic and risible. The sole exception is a doctor who just happens to be interviewed at work for a news show. Dr. Oz is in his TV studio doing a partially scripted talk show, and he just looks silly. There’s no other way to describe it.

Also, one can’t help but note that, back when most of these so-called “alternative” therapies were developed, they weren’t really “alternative” at all! Herbalism, for instance, was medicine for centuries because practitioners couldn’t identify and isolate the active components of plants; they just knew from uncontrolled observations that some plants and plant extracts produced profound physiological effects, some of which were beneficial and some of which were deleterious. Cupping, which Dr. Oz recommends, is based on a prescientific understanding of how the human body works. One exception to the rule that most of what we call “alternative” medicine dates back to prescientific days is Dr. Oz’s favorite, reiki. As I’ve pointed out before, reiki is nothing more than faith healing using Eastern mysticism rather than Christianity as its base, and the “demonstration” on Dr. Oz’s show really is more akin to the sorts of demonstrations at a Benny Hinn or Peter Popoff revival. (Can I get an amen?) Reiki is different as well in that it was only developed in 1922 by Dr. Mikao Usui. Scientific medicine existed back then, but somehow the charismatic Usui popularized this particular form of faith healing quackery, although he had been interested since the 1870s in spiritual healing like what Jesus is described to have done in the scriptures. Unfortunately as well, it turns out that Dr. Oz has been at the woo a lot longer than I had thought.

As appalling as all this is, it’s actually not what I meant when I entitled this post “Whoops. Maybe I spoke too soon about vaccines.” Remember when I said that one thing Dr. Oz gets props from me about is that he appeared to be pro-vaccination? Well, his pro-vaccination stance appears to be slipping, and the evidence that it is appeared on the very same morning as my post in which I gave him a pass on this issue. Indeed, as the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism crows, Dr. Oz appears to be buying into the whole “too many too soon” thing and hasn’t gotten his children vaccinated against seasonal flu and H1N1, as he discusses in this transcript of an interview he did a week ago with Joy Behar:

BEHAR: Well first of all, someone want to know there`s a rumor that your kids did not get flu shots or swine flu shots is that right?

OZ: That`s true, they did not.

BEHAR: Do you not believe in them for the kids or what?

OZ: No, I would have vaccinated my kids but you know I – I`m in a happy marriage and my wife who makes most of the important decisions as most couples have in their lives.

BEHAR: Yes.

OZ: Who absolutely refuses. And listen the kids are pretty healthy. We actually think two of them caught swine flu very early on anyway. So there`s no point vaccinating them again. And you know -

I realize that this doesn’t sound that bad on the surface. However, reading between the lines, I gather that Dr. Oz’s wife is almost certainly vehemently anti-vaccine and that there is a bit of tension in the Oz household over the issue of vaccinating the children. If that’s the case, Dr. Oz actually has a bit–just a little bit–of my sympathy, but also a bit of my contempt. He needs to grow a backbone and admit his responsibility; throwing his wife under the bus by in essence blaming her for the decision and washing his hands of it on national TV is cowardly, and, worse, he gives the impression that he’s not involved in the health decisions for his children. Dr. Oz is a frikkin’ doctor, for cryin’ out loud!

Dr. Oz’s apparent discomfort with his wife’s refusal to vaccinate their children according to CDC recommendations notwithstanding, here’s where Dr. Oz makes me think that he’s starting to slide into antivaccinationist beliefs:

BEHAR: What do you, on that same subject, what do you think about this controversy that`s going around about vaccinations and autism and other little things that happens to kids?

OZ: I think kids like the canary and the coal mine. That they are more susceptible to some of the toxins maybe our generation was able to overcome. That`s why we have a lot more allergies now. Perhaps one of the reason why we have more autism. But I don`t think it`s just the vaccine.

BEHAR: No.

“I don’t think it’s just the vaccine”? What does he mean by that? Certainly he seems to be implying that the vaccine is part of the cause, as here Dr. Oz spews nonsense about “toxins” that is not validated by science. While it’s true that there may be an environmental component contributing to the development of autism, there hasn’t really ever been one demonstrated convincingly (except, ironically, rubella infection during pregnancy infecting the fetus; i.e, congenital rubella–the very thing a vaccine can prevent). Moreover, if there is an environmental component, one thing we have copious evidence that such a component is not is vaccines.

In essence, Dr. Oz is talking out of both sides of his mouth, as they say, because in the very next segment he both parrots the “too many too soon” mantra and at the same time says that vaccines don’t cause autism. He is to be applauded for the latter to some extent, although his thinking seems very muddled on this, given that he just said that he doesn’t think it’s “just the vaccine.” Again, reading between the lines, I suspect that Dr. Oz is being influenced by his wife, who sounds roundly anti-vaccine:

OZ: Although, I don`t want to ignore the potential role they have. So what we do with our kids is we spread the vaccine out.

BEHAR: Right, so why don`t the doctors just do that?

OZ: It`s a lot more expensive and kids fall through the cracks.

BEHAR: Yes.

OZ: It`s hard enough to get in there once a year for the shots and imagine if you have to bring them in every other month. And those two factors are a big issue.

BEHAR: I see.

OZ: Plus, we have no evidence at all, Joy, none, that they actually cause autism.

BEHAR: Right.

“I don’t want to ignore the potential role they [vaccines] have” in causing autism?” and “we have no evidence at all…that they actually cause autism”? There you go again, Dr. Oz, trying to have it both ways! Which is it, Dr. Oz? Again, even though he acknowledges that there is no scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism (and, implicitly, that there is a lot of evidence that they do not), Dr. Oz still seems to think that they might, or at least he doesn’t believe the science that says that they don’t strongly enough to stand up to his wife. Again, Dr. Oz needs to grow a backbone. Either stay science-based and state unequivocally that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism, or let your freak flag fly and go full antivax! Come on, Dr. Oz! You know you want to. Or at least you know your wife wants you to!

Here’s where Dr. Oz buys into the “too many too soon” nonsense:

OZ: And a lot of doctors very reasonably say, listen, why you want to spend more money, cause more hardship for the kids and their families, if we don`t think it`s really a problem. But you know if you want to be cautious, you can do what we did.

BEHAR: Well, I don`t remember getting this many shots when I was a kid. Or my daughter getting as many shots.

OZ: We did Joy. When you and I were –

BEHAR: She got the measles on her own. She got chicken pox on her on, so what?

OZ: We got exposed to ten vaccines when we were kids. Children today are now getting closer to 30. So there`s a big difference between the exposure amounts and, plus, we have a much purer environment that we grew up in and compared to what kids are exposed to today.

I’m not sure what Dr. Oz means by a “purer” environment. When I grew up, pollution was much worse than it is now because the laws regulating it were either nonexistent or much weaker. In any case, what Dr. Oz said above could have come right off the pages of Generation Rescue’s website (except for the bit about vaccines not causing autism, of course). As has been pointed out time and time again, vaccines have become “smarter.” Back in the 1980s, children were exposed to over 3,000 antigens in their vaccination schedule, even though there were fewer diseases vaccinated against. Now they are exposed to around 150. The idea that we are “overvaccinating” our children is nonsense based on that alone. In fact, it’s actually a good thing that we can vaccinate against more and more disease with fewer antigens. the propaganda of the anti-vaccine movement takes advantage of the inherent fear of needles we all have and how much parents hate to see their children stuck with a needle. Morever, there’s simply no good evidence, the bleats and brays of the anti-vaccine movement notwithstanding, that the current vaccination schedule is even weakly associated with autism or any other neurodevelopmental disorder.

I also can’t help but note the breathtaking stupidity of Behar’s question about getting the “measles on her own.” Measles can kill; it can cause permanent neurological damage. It is not a benign disease. Fortunately, in developed countries with good nutrition and sanitation, a relatively small percentage of measles victims succumb to these complications, but back when hundreds of thousands of children a year got the measles, those numbers of children who died and suffered permanent neurological damage were not insignificant at all. That’s why there was an impetus in the 1960s to develop the measles vaccine in the first place. We’ve forgotten just how nasty measles can be, thanks to the vaccine. They haven’t forgotten in Africa, though. Abject lessons of how deadly measles can be assault us even now.

Sadly, I have a vision for Dr. Oz. (Hey, maybe I’m a psychic.) First, I see him abandoning all pretense of being science-based and writing a reiki book with his wife. It will be on the New York Times bestseller list for months. Next, I see him going all Dr. Bob Sears on us and writing a book with an “alternative” vaccine schedule or doing episodes of his show espousing such a schedule. It’s coming sooner or later, I fear.

Finally, Dr. Oz demonstrates one thing about “alternative” medicine. Anti-vaccine beliefs are very strongly associated with alt-med–joined at the hip, if you will. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they’re part and parcel of believing in alt-med, but they are so pervasive in virtually every form of alt-med that it’s very hard even to dabble in alt-med and avoid them. After all, when so much of the woo that makes up alt-med blames disease on the modern day equivalent to miasmas or evil humors in the form of vague and undefined “toxins,” vaccination can easily be seen to be superfluous or even dangerous. A victim of its own success, vaccination is perceived by all too many alt-med believers as all risk and no benefit, and, besides, vaccines are a product of that evil reductionist “Western” science. So far, Dr. Oz clearly has apparently not yet completely fallen for anti-vaccine beliefs. Clearly, if this interview is any evidence, he still to some extent supports vaccination and appears very uncomfortable about having to admit that his children have not been vaccinated according to recommended standards, so much so that he blames this lapse on his wife. However, the longer one believes in, promotes, and practices “alternative” medicine, the further from science one will drift, and that appears to be what’s happening with Dr. Oz. Indeed, I fear that, the longer Dr. Oz stays down the rabbithole of quackery like reiki, the more likely he is to go completely anti-vax on us. I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable, but I would say that it’s highly likely.

And the process has clearly already begun.

Comments

  1. #1 attack_laurel
    January 13, 2010

    Yay for a lifetime of outbreaks of shingles instead of getting the nasty toxin-filled shot! (/sarcasm)

    I was discussing this with my husband (who characterized anti-vaxxers as “abusively stupid”, I do love him), and he suggested that in the future, every time a person gets shingles because their idiot parent thought getting the measles was better than getting the shot, they should call up their parent at 3am every morning for the duration of the outbreak and yell at them for an hour. It would make me feel better, anyway (except there wasn’t a measles vaccine when I was young, so it’s not my mother’s fault).

    I rage, I really do. I’m just old enough to remember the special schools for children neurologically affected by HiB, and my husband, who is 20 years older than me, remembers getting whooping cough, measles, chicken pox, scarlet fever, and mumps. I got chicken pox (with only one permanent scar, thank heavens – do people remember that it isn’t just smallpox that leaves permanent scars?) and measles, which left me unconscious for over a week, and out of school for three. Believe me, I’d much rather have had a shot. My mother remembers the constant fear of polio, how every fever was terrifying, and wards full of iron lungs.

    They’ve never experienced the severe forms of these diseases, and if it was just them being affected, I’d let them be stupid. But they’re doing real harm, to the point that I now think of them as wilful murderers.

    Ooh, I’m cranky this morning.

  2. #2 Rose Colored Glasses
    January 13, 2010

    You can cleanse your body of toxins. Just grow a pair of kidneys and a liver.

    Mehmet Oz shills for woo as he woos the moolah to make himself rich, maybe not Oprah rich, but at least Dr Phil rich.

  3. #3 kae
    January 13, 2010

    He did say that the Missus Oz practices Reiki.

    I guess the non-vaccination thingy goes with the swampiness of the Reiki practice.

    My ex neighbour was a Reiki practitioner. He was creepy.

  4. #4 realinterrobang
    January 13, 2010

    When he was a kid, the entirety of North America was still being blanketed by huge amounts of particulate lead from leaded-gasoline automotive exhaust.

    So much for that “purer environment.”

  5. #5 DrWonderful
    January 13, 2010

    It really is amazing, actually insane, that people would organize a campaign against something when there is only a rare statistical association with that thing and a potenital adverse event. Without any direct cause and effect relationship as demonstrated by science how can they justify attacking it so confidently? I guess when you partner with the media you’re pretty much capable of doing anything nowadays. Even taking complete bullshit and manipulating it to become the “new truth,” huh? Pretty crazy, I’d say.

  6. #6 Anne from B'more
    January 13, 2010

    WTF? He’s the worst kind of panderer–someone who knows better but can’t help himself. As long as there are weak minded, fantasy-prone people out there, there will be snake oil peddlers like Dr. Oz. And what’s with the scrubs? Are we actually supposed to believe that he is ready to leap into the OR to perform life-saving (Western) surgery?

  7. #7 squirrelelite
    January 13, 2010

    Once you marry into the woo side, forever will it dominate your path.

  8. #8 BlueMaxx
    January 13, 2010

    WHY, oh WHY GOD can’t a rational mainstream coherent scientifically based physician get a daytime talk show?

    you know… sort of Marcus Welby meets The Fat Man, he (or she) wears professional attire /shirt and tie sort of thing, and a nice crisp labcoat even…

    Maybe because rationale conversation has little space on TV programming? Maybe because there is a sort of libertarian /liberal undercurrent to the media… and it is more commercially viable to resist requirements and reject objective scientific recommendations and public health mandates, instead embracing vague conspiracy theories, suspicion about a fictional evil empire called “BigPharma” (perhaps sort of a Bond/Smart villain organization like SMERSH/ SPECTRE/ KAOS ?).

  9. #9 JD
    January 13, 2010

    He’s an entertainer. Regardless of the wooitude in the land of OZ, he (must) know (on some level) that an audience would get bored with pragmatic medical advice and scientific methodology.

    The morons in our culture prefer possibility and magic over practicality … and they always will.

  10. #10 Todd W.
    January 13, 2010

    @attack_laurel

    One minor correction: it’s chicken pox that leads to shingles, not measles.

    @Orac

    I really, really wish that Dr. Oz would stop wearing scrubs on his show. I realize that it’s designed to scream to the audience that “I’m a doctor, dammit! Listen to me! I know what I’m talking about!”

    Y’know, it’s funny, because to me, him wearing scrubs says “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”

  11. #11 Owen
    January 13, 2010

    someone who knows better but can’t help himself

    Oh, he can help himself. He just won’t, there’s too much money in pitching this woo stuff on tee vee.

  12. #12 Gus Snarp
    January 13, 2010

    the modern day equivalent to miasmas or evil humors in the form of vague and undefined “toxins,”

    Seems like I’ve never heard it put quite that way (though I expect you’ve done so before). That’s such a simple and clear explanation though, I like it.

  13. #13 Gus Snarp
    January 13, 2010

    Good lord, after watching that I really see what quackery reiki is. I never really paid any attention to it, and when I heard it I just assumed it was some kind of massage. It really is just laying on of hands. I can’t believe a medical doctor is promoting this woo.

  14. #14 Katharine
    January 13, 2010

    “WHY, oh WHY GOD can’t a rational mainstream coherent scientifically based physician get a daytime talk show?”

    Because most people are fucking stupid, that’s why, and the media industry isn’t exactly composed of people with a high IQ. No, individuals with a high IQ tend to prefer professions that actually create knowledge instead of just telling the knowledge someone else creates to other people.

  15. #15 Owen
    January 13, 2010

    I am passing this on to you because it definitely works and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Oprah show, you too can find inner peace.

    Dr. Oz proclaimed, ‘The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.’

    So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn’t finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Tequila, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now.

    Pass this on if you know anyone you think might be in need of inner peace.

  16. #16 Diane
    January 13, 2010

    @Katherine. I disagree. People aren’t stupid. People scare easily. There are lots of very intelligent people I know who embrace sCAM. Undoing fear is huge. And “toxins” feels intuitively right. It’s just that intuition is wrong about this.

  17. #17 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 13, 2010

    No, I would have vaccinated my kids but you know I – I`m in a happy marriage and my wife who makes most of the important decisions as most couples have in their lives.

    HAHAHAHAHA!

    Dr. Oz is WHIPPED!!!

  18. #18 DrWonderful
    January 13, 2010

    @Diane – you are oh so right. All you need to do nowadays is use the emdia to scare the crap out of people and then they’ll believe anything you want. Even if there is no demonstrable direct cause and effect relationship between two particular events (just some witness testimony), all you need to do is hire the right publicists and get some manipulated and distorted stories in the media and it all becomes the “new truth” anyway. Crazy, huh? What is this world coming to? Amazing. Simply amazing at this all works when someone is up to no good.

  19. #19 Paul from NH
    January 13, 2010

    Er… Reiki isn’t “faith healing using Eastern mysticism rather than Christianity as its base”. It’s faith healing using a mixture of Eastern mysticism and Christianity as its base. Its founder was a Christian monk who said he was trying to duplicate the way Jesus healed people. Of course, knowing this backstory makes it much funnier when New Age people go on anti-Christian rants and praise the “benefits” of reiki in consecutive sentences…

  20. #20 Kristen
    January 13, 2010

    @Diane

    I agree with you about the fear. Yesterday I went to the Pediatrician with my two daughters. Even with the complete conviction in my mind that vaccines are very safe and don’t cause autism, I still couldn’t help but have a moment of fear, just a fleeting ‘what if’ in the very back of my mind.

    It is easier to scare people than to unscare them. Once the fear is planted the thoughts become automatic, even when intuitively we know they are ridiculous.

  21. #21 isles
    January 13, 2010

    Oz should be ashamed of himself. Even if he is smart enough to know that what he’s pushing is BS and he’s only doing it because the average American is dumb enough to lap it up and thusly enrich him by increasing his TV ratings – and even if he’s cutthroat enough to realize that they deserve what they get for not applying critical thinking – he accepted a medical license and has responsibilities flowing therefrom. Like not taking advantage of the fact that lots of people are stupider than he.

  22. #22 Orac
    January 13, 2010

    Reiki isn’t “faith healing using Eastern mysticism rather than Christianity as its base”. It’s faith healing using a mixture of Eastern mysticism and Christianity as its base.

    Well, yes and no. I’d say it’s faith healing using Eastern mysticism trying to emulate Jesus’ healing. I’ve read the story of Dr. Usui. Apparently, in some accounts Usui trained at a Buddhist monastery and became a zaike, which is a lay Tendai priest. My understanding was that the claim that he was a Christian minister was added by Western reiki practitioners in order to make him more palatable to the West, although it may have gotten mixed up with his having apparently lived with a Christian family for a time. However, I could be wrong about this. Even Reiki.org is ambiguous on Usui’s religious background, stating:

    There has been a lot of speculation about where Reiki came from, but there has been little confirmation of most of these ideas. Some say that Reiki originated from Buddhism or that it contains Buddhist concepts or techniques. I spoke with a Japanese Reiki master who is also a Buddhist and has done historical research into Reiki in Japan. He said that he could see no connection between Reiki and Buddhism and that he felt that Reiki is religiously neutral. While Dr. Usui may have been a Buddhist, he had also studied Christianity and had lived with a Christian family for a time. It is clear he had a very broad background in many religious teachings and philosophies

    The clearest and most authentic understanding we have been able to discover is that Dr. Usui originated the system of healing he taught and practiced based first on his mystical experience on Mt. Kurama and then later by making use of his studies in many different areas of knowledge. Usui Reiki has no connection to Buddhism, nor is it connected to Tibetan Buddhism or Tibetan shamanism or any other religion. One of the stories says Dr. Usui discovered the Reiki symbols in a Tibetan sutra, but even though people have carefully looked, no one has been able to find a Tibetan sutra with Reiki symbols in it. This is further validated by Dr. Usui’s own writing in which he says, “Our Reiki Ryoho is something absolutely original and cannot be compared with any other (spiritual) path in the world.” (Taken from his Reiki Ryoho Handbook)

    http://www.reiki.org/FAQ/HistoryOfReiki.html#usui

  23. #23 jj
    January 13, 2010

    More proof that scientists can be as closed minded as the next peson. There ARE credible, controlled, peer reviewed studies proving the efficacy of Reiki, to wit, from medline/pubmed:

    Int J Behav Med. 2009 Oct 24. [Epub ahead of print]

    Biofield Therapies: Helpful or Full of Hype? A Best Evidence Synthesis.
    Jain S, Mills PJ.

    UCLA Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, Los Angeles, USA, sjain@ucsd.edu.

    BACKGROUND: Biofield therapies (such as Reiki, therapeutic touch, and healing touch) are complementary medicine modalities that remain controversial and are utilized by a significant number of patients, with little information regarding their efficacy. PURPOSE: This systematic review examines 66 clinical studies with a variety of biofield therapies in different patient populations. METHOD: We conducted a quality assessment as well as a best evidence synthesis approach to examine evidence for biofield therapies in relevant outcomes for different clinical populations. RESULTS: Studies overall are of medium quality, and generally meet minimum standards for validity of inferences. Biofield therapies show strong evidence for reducing pain intensity in pain populations, and moderate evidence for reducing pain intensity hospitalized and cancer populations. There is moderate evidence for decreasing negative behavioral symptoms in dementia and moderate evidence for decreasing anxiety for hospitalized populations. There is equivocal evidence for biofield therapies’ effects on fatigue and quality of life for cancer patients, as well as for comprehensive pain outcomes and affect in pain patients, and for decreasing anxiety in cardiovascular patients. CONCLUSION: There is a need for further high-quality studies in this area. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

  24. #24 Mojo
    January 13, 2010

    If “there ARE credible, controlled, peer reviewed studies proving the efficacy of Reiki”, then why is there “a need for further high-quality studies in this area”?

  25. #25 Jane
    January 13, 2010

    I had a friend with end stage emphysema. I used to massage her back and rub her feet (foot reflexology). I have done foot reflexology on myself so I know that it works. The theory is that the heel corresponds to the crotch and the toes to the head and everything in between on the foot corresponds pretty directly to everything in between on the torso. But you just use that as a guide. The real process is touchy feely (horrors) feeling bumps or tight spots on the foot which when pressed usually cause pain to the person. You go back and as gently as possible work out the bumps and tightness. Often, the person will feel a shot of “electricity” go up their leg to a place in their upper body. Sometimes this was a pain they knew they had in shoulder or back or neck or head or whereever. sometimes it was just a tense place in the body they didn’t even notice until it was untensed. Anyway, it made my friend feel better. Faith, don’t think so, but even if it was, it made her feel better. The doctors couldn’t do any more. What’s the problem?

    I also did a little reiki, or just energy work, running my hands over her body to “smooth out” her energy. I have never read about this, just saw it once and figured to try it. I often felt myself relax when I did this and my friend often said she did too. Faith, what is wrong with faith?

  26. #26 Vindaloo
    January 13, 2010

    “The theory is that the heel corresponds to the crotch…”

    I need a woo-ette to lick my heel.

  27. #27 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    January 13, 2010

    @12 As usual, people are worried too much about the wrong things. Like airplane crashes vs. car crashes. The odds of injury and the level of anxiety are out of whack.

    With regard to environmental toxins, it’s becoming clear our rivers, lakes, and oceans are awash in the chemical detritus of our modern society. Issues of these chemicals altering the sexual characteristics of fish and accumulating in our fatty tissues don’t get much media attention. Well, maybe for a few minutes when some new study comes out about the levels of some fire retardant in breast milk, but not long enough for the public to demand investigation into potential harm.

    Most of these chemicals don’t get tested for toxicity in humans because their intended use “shouldn’t” affect us, but the stuff seems to have a way of accumulating in the environment and in us. Maybe they don’t really have any negative effect, but we don’t know.

    We’ve done these studies for vaccines and found they don’t cause the problems attributed to them (though some people won’t be convinced by any amount of actual evidence).

    I’ll use the same expression I do with global climate change deniers in my midst: We’re conducting a giant experiment and we’re in the test tube.

    Just sayin’.

  28. #28 Todd W.
    January 13, 2010

    @Jane

    What you describe is likely simply helping the person to relax and to lift their mood. It is unlikely, however, to actually be treating the targeted condition.

    So, psychological, potentially helpful. Physiologically, you may as well be whistling Dixie for all it helps.

    Now, you may wonder “What’s the harm?” The harm comes when someone opts for something like reflexology or reiki instead of medicines that have an actual physiologic effect that cures or mitigates their condition. Where this danger is most apparent is when someone has, for example, type I diabetes and opts for “energy healing” rather than insulin. More likely than not, that person is going to suffer significant complications as their diabetes progresses. If they stick with the “energy healing” full through, they will very likely die in significant pain.

  29. #29 marcia
    January 13, 2010

    Oz’s wife:

    “I’m a Reiki Master,” she told the crowd. ” I use energy to heal.” She paused to let that sink in. “I was skeptical, too,” she said. “My father’s a doctor, my brother’s a doctor, my husband’s a doctor. I was actually a little contemptuous of Reiki at first. But life is energy. The difference between those body organs over there and you is energy. Everything is energy.” Using Einstein’s world-changing equation (E=mc2) to make her point, Mrs. Oz said, “Physics has evolved. It’s not the old mechanistic model anymore. But medicine hasn’t.” She showed us an image of an operating room centuries ago (from “Thou: The Owner’s Manual,” she joked), and then the same image her husband had used that morning of closed-chest heart surgery.

    “Scientific advances are linear,” she said. “We view the body as a complex machine. We also see the body as chemical, but still, a complex chemical machine. The next wave of medical advances will be when we come to recognize the body as an energetic system.”

    http://reikidigest.blogspot.com/2007/08/its-all-about-you-and-some-of-it-is.html

    Oh, and the obligatory statement from the Mehmet’s youtube snake oil Reiki gal, always taught in their “Start your own Reiki Practice weekend program:

    Class 10: Cover Your Ass, Avoid a lawsuit:
    “Just be sure to get the medical attention that you need.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEoqD5ZBFtQ&feature=player_embedded

    (Because, Reiki has nothing to do with medicine?)

  30. #30 Brian
    January 13, 2010

    Uh… did you even read the abstract, jj?

  31. #31 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 13, 2010

    Jane:
    Your friend was fortunate to have someone like you to help relieve her distress. However, I think the value in what you were providing is not explained by “mapping” the body onto the sole of the foot, or “smoothing” energy that fits no concept of energy in physical science.
    Touch and massage from a compassionate friend would be comforting to anyone, particularly someone who is ill. What is the point of dressing it up with pseudoscience?

  32. #32 rob
    January 13, 2010

    i have new term to coin:

    deja woo

    it is the overwhelming feeling that you have seen all this crap before.

  33. #33 Scott
    January 13, 2010

    @ Jane:

    So, you’ve observed that foot rubs and massage make the recipient feel better. I don’t think that’s news to anybody. Care to provide any evidence that reflexology and reiki have any specific effects beyond that?

    The answer is, of course, no – because there isn’t any such evidence, as a result of the fact that they DON’T have any such effects.

  34. #34 gaiainc
    January 13, 2010

    Owen, thank you. Thank you very much. My morning started off with the main highway to my clinic closed due a fatal accident and spending way too much time in traffic. Your post nearly made my spew my coffee over my computer.

    Dr. Oz is a flippin’ idjit. Seriously. Then again, he probably doesn’t have much if any experience with kids other than his own. if he did, then maybe he’d realize that childhood diseases aren’t benign, they have really costs, and they can be significantly mitigated if not eradicated by a vaccine. Yeah… I still think he’s an idjit.

    For my son, I make the medical decisions. Then again, I am the doctor whose practice involves taking care of kids. My husband is a computer geek (who can’t remember to take an analgesic when his back really hurts him and he’s whinging to me about it). In my clinic, I am the vaccine advocate. It’s what I do.

    That said, I hadn’t realized how insidious fear could be until I took my son in for his vaccines. Like Kristen, for a nanosecond I had the fear that something was going to happen to him. Then I got over myself, remembered why I’m doing this for him, and made sure he got his shots.

  35. #35 T.Bruce McNeely
    January 13, 2010

    jj:
    The study that you have presented is a review. It does not state what the controls for the various “biofield” interventions are. Did they compare the interventions to other personal interventions (massage, non-specific touch, talking etc)? Did they compare them to physical therapy? Biofeedback? Hypnosis? Nothing?
    This information is important.

  36. #36 MartinM
    January 13, 2010

    A quick glance through the cited review reveals that their one and only ‘strong’ result depends on three low-quality studies; restricting attention to only high-quality studies would drop it from level 1 down to level 4 in their scoring system, the lowest possible result.

  37. #37 Elfie
    January 13, 2010

    I sat next to a nice lady on a plane recently, and started chatting about medical research. Wonderful, she claims she’s in the field – and then starts talking about how the founder of her “medical research” business “had the physiological body of a 30-year old, even though he was 72, even his insurance had to put him into a special classification”. Of course, all due to the wonderful anti-aging supplements she was willing to sell (Univera). She was at a “diamond-level” conference. One of the tag-lines in her packet of information was, “Go out and sell! This isn’t a silver-level, or gold-level conference, it’s a diamond level!! Sell like it!”

    What scared the daylights out of me, was I could see that she actually *believed* everything about these supplements (“we can actually change your DNA!!”). Part of me wanted to ask her if she was nuts. But I chickened out, smiled, and just read my book.

  38. #38 Sid Offit
    January 13, 2010

    autism and other little things that happens to kids?

    …and other little things? What a moron you are Joy!

  39. #39 Katharine
    January 13, 2010

    “I also did a little reiki, or just energy work, running my hands over her body to “smooth out” her energy. I have never read about this, just saw it once and figured to try it. I often felt myself relax when I did this and my friend often said she did too. Faith, what is wrong with faith?”

    Because it is unsubstantiated by proof.

  40. #40 a-non
    January 13, 2010

    Jane,

    There is nothing wrong with faith. It is when faith supercedes reason that we get into trouble.

    Faith alone cannot heal a broken bone or stem the tide of diabetes. It cannot cure a sick child in a third-world country of malaria or measles. We need medicine for that.

  41. #41 Prometheus
    January 13, 2010

    My limited experiences with doctors who wear surgical scrubs outside of the hospital/clinic is that they are posturing and insecure. I suspect that Dr. Oz is simply trying to remind his audience that he’s a “real” doctor, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    Most surgeons of my acquaintance would refuse to wear surgical scrubs at home or – even worse – in a public place. Yet I’ve never seen Dr. Oz without them, whether it is on television or on a book cover.

    Curious.

    Prometheus

  42. #42 Jeff Read
    January 13, 2010

    Woo-meisters seem to have a foot fetish. First there’s reflexology and then there’s that whole foot soak thing, where you stick your feet into a salt water bath with electrodes in it and it supposedly cleans the “toxins” from your body.

    What is it with feet?

  43. #43 Jeff Read
    January 13, 2010

    A doctor who wears surgical scrubs everywhere is like a semiconductor engineer who wears that shiny “bunny suit” everywhere: not only does it look silly but it kind of defeats the utilitarian purpose of the clothing.

  44. #44 Sid Offit
    January 13, 2010

    Funny, back in November he was on board with the vaccine crazies. He did a show called “The 4 Vaccines That Can Save Every Woman’s Life,” and spouted all the killer measles nonsense usually seen on this blog. I for one am glad to see he is, with the help and guidance of his wife, turning his life around.

  45. #45 Nick
    January 13, 2010

    I really do not find this very surprising, Orac. As Dr. Dean Edell has mentioned, the constant pressure of day-time television physicians to cater to their less-than-intelligent audience is extraordinarily strong. The day-time-TV demographic tend to be relatively uneducated and a willing conduit for magical thinking. Think Oprah.

    In effort to keep respectable rating, Dr. Oz simply proves the type of stories that these folks want to hear. Types of stories that fall into two general categories 1) Magical cures that involve as little effort as possible. Along the lines of “don’t exercise, practice calorie restrictions, just take this magical alt-med diet pill”. 2) Health fear-mongering stories. You know, the one that has the same voice tone of the next WWE or monster truck event, but regarding something like vaccines. I think a study found such fear-related health stories to resonate most with people.

    When it comes down to it, Dr. Oz has never had a real backbone and his views are merely shaped by his ability to retain publicity. The medical community has been far, far to easy on this guy- I have heard several well-regarded skeptical physicians simply write him off as a nice guy that doesn’t do any harm. It well-past time to simply label him what he is a cheap, petty medical demagogue.

  46. #46 Melissa (oddharmonic)
    January 13, 2010

    @Vindaloo: if you don’t mind a skeptic licking your heel, I can do it… for reasonable compensation. Maybe you could help me recalibrate my irony meter. This Dr. Oz stuff keeps redlining it.

  47. #47 Militant Agnostic
    January 13, 2010

    During a summer job I heard a construction describe someone derogatorily as “The kind of guy who wears his hard hat into the bar.” Dr. Oz is that kind of guy.

    My wife is a Reiki master – All it takes is three classes of one or 2 days each (Level 1, Level 2 and Master) from a Reiki Master. Since a Reiki Master can train more Masters, it tends to grow like an MLM pyramid scheme, rapidly saturating the market.

    Reiki is just relaxation with some silly rituals.

  48. #48 Damien
    January 13, 2010

    I recently had an epiphany about all of this woo, short of anti-vax woo: the people choosing this stuff are actually doing us all a major favor. How? They’re voluntarily shortening their lives, voluntarily giving up life-saving procedures and chemicals to someone else, and helping us to conserve valuable medicines. Truly these people are the real heroes.

    They are happily choosing to endure unimaginable pain and suffering, even though the scientifically valid alternative is readily available, allowing those of us who understand science and medicine to extend our own lives.

    Stupid people, I salute you!

  49. #49 Damien
    January 13, 2010

    Sid Offit, my salute extends to you.

    TSTKYS

  50. #50 Katharine
    January 13, 2010

    “He did a show called “The 4 Vaccines That Can Save Every Woman’s Life,” and spouted all the killer measles nonsense usually seen on this blog.”

    Someone’s not old enough to see what measles actually did.

  51. #51 Margaret
    January 13, 2010

    Some time ago I got an email talking nonsense about the H1N1 vaccine and it mentioned Dr. OZ prominently. It quoted from “Why Dr. Oz Won’t Take the Swine Flu Vaccine By Sylvia Anderson, AHJ Editor — Published: November 12, 2009.”

  52. #52 T.Bruce McNeely
    January 13, 2010

    Some time ago I got an email talking nonsense about the H1N1 vaccine and it mentioned Dr. OZ prominently. It quoted from “Why Dr. Oz Won’t Take the Swine Flu Vaccine By Sylvia Anderson, AHJ Editor — Published: November 12, 2009.”

    I hope Dr. Oz has given up active surgery and seeing patients, otherwise Infection Control at his hospital should come down hard on his ass.

  53. #53 Kristen
    January 13, 2010

    @Damien

    TSTKYS? Just curious what it means. Urban Dictionary and Google came up empty.

    @Margaret

    No, Sid just doesn’t care if other people get sick. As long as it isn’t him or his family, it is a-okay for people to get sick, become maimed and/or die.

  54. #54 DayOwl
    January 13, 2010

    What worries me most about the “anti-vaccine” crowd and other movements that try to get around medical care through various devices is what they have in commom: They seem to be trying to convince people not to use health care. I have a moral problem with any campaign to convince people not to get care or that certain people don’t deserve care.

    I worked for a polarity practitioner for a while. It is one of the “energy based” practices. While I doubt it has healing capabilities, it can reduce pain for a lot of patients and reduce the need for pain medications. It is a lot like massage therapy, but might be descibed as “more gentle”.

    If they can’t help, a good practitioner will say so. Some of the more “advanced” ideas of polarity do seem like woo, but the main areas of practice mostly improve pain management. That is why they call it complementary. It is done in addition to conventional treatment. It is an alternative to conventional pain management. That said, when they start promising to cure cancer through diet, spirituality, etc, they are going too far.

    The attraction of altmed, for many, is that it offers are far less dehumizing experience for patients. Most people who turn to alternative pratitioners have already been through a conventional mill that seemed indifferent to their pain and left them feeling out of control. Often they have been trying to find appropriate treatment for their condition but have been unsuccessful. The number one complaint is that the doctor didn’t listen or take them seriously. Altmed practitioners make listening their number one priority. Responsible ones act as an advocate and will often try to coax patients toward effective conventional care–the operating term here is effective, which they weren’t able to find through mainstream practices. So, the rise of popularity for altmed can partly be laid at the feet of a hostile conventional system.

  55. #55 Kemist
    January 13, 2010

    My mom remembers getting the measles at age five. My grandma was deathly scared – because she remembered quite vividly how it had meant losing a child for many people she knew.

    My grandma also remembered how “clean” (not) city air was at that time. And also what happened to kids who had learning disabilities in school – the teachers and their parents slapped them for being lazy slackers. There sure wasn’t any fancy shmancy ADHD and autism back then. Just the robust and lucky ones who made it through and those who just… didn’t. Peanut allergies ? Pfft. Kid just wasn’t strong enough. Let’s have another, honey. And if you die giving birth, I’ll just remarry (my grandma comes from what is euphemistically called a “second bed”).

    Ah ye goode olde tymes.

  56. #56 Kemist
    January 13, 2010

    I have done foot reflexology on myself so I know that it works.

    Sorry, but that is not how we know something works. If I tell you that watching the Simpsons has worked on me as a way to avoid migraine, would you believe me ?

    I hope not – migraine (which I unfortunately have – crippling ones) – wax and wane on their own. At some points of your life you have more, at others you don’t have any. To know if something helps you avoid migraine, you need to try it on groups of people and compare frequencies.

    The theory is that the heel corresponds to the crotch and the toes to the head and everything in between on the foot corresponds pretty directly to everything in between on the torso.

    What is the point that corresponds to the foot ?

    You see the problem with the “theory” is that it has absolutely no correspondance to reality. None.

    Nothing in proper physiology has anything to do with either this, meridians, bio-energy fields or subluxations – you might as well talk about the garden gnomes up your nose causing you to sneeze. These ideas all come from a time where there was very little knowledge of how a body was made and how it works.

    This is knowledge we have much more now – so much in fact that you need to spend a lot of time to learn just part of it doing biology, biochemistry, physiology, endocrinology… and some of us, in addition to learning what is known, get to add to this knowledge.

    In fact, you’re giving yourself and your friend a nice foot massage. That is enjoyable by itself, and may help to relax a little and make problems and pain bearable for a while. No need to resort to a weird theory to explain that.

  57. #57 Sid Offit
    January 13, 2010

    TSTKYS? Just curious what it means. Urban Dictionary and Google came up empty.

    I think it means too stupid to know your stupid

  58. #58 Joe
    January 13, 2010

    Woo-meisters seem to have a foot fetish. First there’s reflexology and then there’s that whole foot soak thing, where you stick your feet into a salt water bath with electrodes in it and it supposedly cleans the “toxins” from your body.

    What is it with feet?

    Their preoccupation with feet disturbs me much less than their preoccupation with poop. From Wakefield’s “theory” about toxins from a “leaky bowel” causing autism, to cleansing protocols that are supposed to remove 20 lbs of crap from your colon, to colonics being indicated for virtually every condition.

    It all seems very Freudian to me.

  59. #59 Joe
    January 13, 2010

    Woo-meisters seem to have a foot fetish. First there’s reflexology and then there’s that whole foot soak thing, where you stick your feet into a salt water bath with electrodes in it and it supposedly cleans the “toxins” from your body.

    What is it with feet?

    Their preoccupation with feet disturbs me much less than their preoccupation with poop. From Wakefield’s “theory” about toxins from a “leaky bowel” causing autism, to cleansing protocols that are supposed to remove 20 lbs of accumulated crap from your colon, to colonics being indicated for virtually every condition.

    It all seems very Freudian to me.

  60. #60 Kristen
    January 13, 2010

    @57

    Thank you.

  61. #61 Jane
    January 13, 2010

    Thanks to people who responded to my account of doing back and foot massage on my friend. She believed that I kept her alive for years beyond her time. Her doctors predicted she would die in six months. She lived six years and claimed it was with my help.

    Massage, maybe that is all it was. I believed that she had a heart to live and that I was just a…help. But to claim as some posters have, that, of course foot reflexology and reike had nothing to do with it are guilty of prefab, ideologue, unempirical thinking. If you have a pain somewhere, try playing with your feet. Maybe they need it. We need more home experiments and less book knowledge.

    I have done much thinking about medical science. When I went to college in the 60’s, my professors warned about the danger of money corrupting scientific research. I thought, well, not seriously, maybe just bend it a little. I could not have imagined the profound effect money and pharma have had on research. Bypass operations, hysterectomies, and antidepressants that have gone on for decades with dubious help are exhibits for this profound corruption of medical “scientific” research.

    Science is a fine thing, but corrupted science has become common enough to undermine the reputation of good science.

    In addition science is a wonderful thing, but there are other wonderful things beyond the scientific pale. One problem with science is that it undercuts the legitimacy of a person making her own judgment about what helps and what doesn’t. Oh, it is just coincidence or placebo. But if you do it repeatedly, (science depends on repeatablity) then it still doesn’t count. This is a huge change in power from the patient to the doctor. The doctor no longer believes anything the patient says, unless it is validated by studies. But if it is validated by studies, the doctor still doesn’t believe the patient, he believes the studies. If you don’t think patients don’t pick up on this lack of respect, think again.

    Most patients don’t go haring off after alternative treatments for no reason at all. They go because their doctors did not help them, seemed to disrespect them, and only had drugs or surgery to offer. When those don;t work, patients try something else.

    Orac and medical ideologues seem terrified of the do it yourself wild west independence of patients. I say it is healthy. When conventional medicine offers no hope, try something else. This is human ingenuity and freedom and courage at its best.

    Some patients go too far and do not remember to check back with conventional doctors. They die for sad reasons. But, there are maybe 100,000-200,000 who die under conventional medical treatment every year. Statisitacly, conventional medicine seems to kill more people than alternative.

    Few people use only alternative medicine. MOst use both. What is the problem?

  62. #62 Jane
    January 13, 2010

    Thanks to people who responded to my account of doing back and foot massage on my friend. She believed that I kept her alive for years beyond her time. Her doctors predicted she would die in six months. She lived six years and claimed it was with my help.

    Massage, maybe that is all it was. I believed that she had a heart to live and that I was just a…help. But to claim as some posters have, that, of course foot reflexology and reike had nothing to do with it are guilty of prefab, ideologue, unempirical thinking. If you have a pain somewhere, try playing with your feet. Maybe they need it. We need more home experiments and less book knowledge.

    I have done much thinking about medical science. When I went to college in the 60’s, my professors warned about the danger of money corrupting scientific research. I thought, well, not seriously, maybe just bend it a little. I could not have imagined the profound effect money and pharma have had on research. Bypass operations, hysterectomies, and antidepressants that have gone on for decades with dubious help are exhibits for this profound corruption of medical “scientific” research.

    Science is a fine thing, but corrupted science has become common enough to undermine the reputation of good science.

    In addition science is a wonderful thing, but there are other wonderful things beyond the scientific pale. One problem with science is that it undercuts the legitimacy of a person making her own judgment about what helps and what doesn’t. Oh, it is just coincidence or placebo. But if you do it repeatedly, (science depends on repeatablity) then it still doesn’t count. This is a huge change in power from the patient to the doctor. The doctor no longer believes anything the patient says, unless it is validated by studies. But if it is validated by studies, the doctor still doesn’t believe the patient, he believes the studies. If you don’t think patients don’t pick up on this lack of respect, think again.

    Most patients don’t go haring off after alternative treatments for no reason at all. They go because their doctors did not help them, seemed to disrespect them, and only had drugs or surgery to offer. When those don;t work, patients try something else.

    Orac and medical ideologues seem terrified of the do it yourself wild west independence of patients. I say it is healthy. When conventional medicine offers no hope, try something else. This is human ingenuity and freedom and courage at its best.

    Some patients go too far and do not remember to check back with conventional doctors. They die for sad reasons. But, there are maybe 100,000-200,000 who die under conventional medical treatment every year. Statisitacly, conventional medicine seems to kill more people than alternative.

    Few people use only alternative medicine. MOst use both. What is the problem?

  63. #63 Katharine
    January 13, 2010

    “They go because their doctors did not help them, seemed to disrespect them, and only had drugs or surgery to offer.”

    The second one we can help.

    The first and third points – sometimes physicians can’t help. Sometimes the only way to correct a condition is drugs or surgery.

    That’s how life works. It may scare you, but that’s

  64. #64 Peapoh
    January 13, 2010

    “But to claim as some posters have, that, of course foot reflexology and reike had nothing to do with it are guilty of prefab, ideologue, unempirical thinking”

    How? You’re the one claiming (yet simultaneously not) that with the power of reiki, your friend lived an extra six years. THAT is an extraordinary claim.

    Your entire diatribe contradicts itself. Praising medical science while dismissing its very purpose. Saying it could have only been massage while, really pushing the idea that you DID assist your friend’s health with reiki.

    Medical science isn’t about hope, faith, blah blah *rose colored glasses*. It’s about reality…a matter of life and death sometimes. Medical science can accept its limitations because the science part makes for no choice. Sadly people turn to alt medicine in the FALSE HOPE of a “cure”. And there are people in that field who pretend to offer it. THAT is messed up.

    So no, I don’t think anyone here is “terrified” of patient’s choices. Frustrated at the credulousness would be a better description.

  65. #65 Damien
    January 13, 2010

    @Kristen:
    Sid’s right, which is ironic.

  66. #66 Kemist
    January 13, 2010

    Her doctors predicted she would die in six months. She lived six years and claimed it was with my help.

    The thing with these predictions, is that they are an average. Many doctors I know (particularly oncologists) really hate to give them for that reason, but will give them when a patient insists. A stand-alone average gives you practically no information while seeming to be an absolute.

    Remember, an average is adding the survival times of the patients, divided by the number of cases – this means some will be outliers, ie, people who will have much longer or much shorter survival times. Keep that in mind when discussing the “predicted survival time” told to a patient by a doctor.

    Science is a fine thing, but corrupted science has become common enough to undermine the reputation of good science.

    If there is one thing that is universally scorned among scientists, it is scientific fraud. It’s literally a career suicide : fraudsters lose all the credibility they ever had, forever – that is a big risk, and the more prominent you are, the more you have to lose. Also, odds are that you will be found out : science papers are written so anybody can repeat what is in them. Thinking you’re so smart you won’t be found out is really, really stupid, as has been demonstrated multiple times.

    It’s also very difficult to have a great collusion of scientists over anything. Most of the people I know do their research in hot competition with other teams around the world. Nobody wants to get “scooped”; if you want to enrage a researcher, you just ask him to wait before publication. It used to happen a lot when pharma companies used to finance some projects in my university.

    But one thing I’ve seen in the last few years is a pronounced decline in the financing of pharma companies in academic research. While you may think it a good thing, it has meant the end of many research groups, and a really high demand for government grants.

    Another point is that pharmas don’t control the whole of fundamental research – Some of the money comes from private non-profit associations, most of it comes from the different governments, which have different priorities.

    My country’s government, for example, has absolutely no interest in pushing for costly or inefficient treatments – it runs a public healthcare system. If research found a low-cost treatment for anything, many governments in the world would be very happy indeed to decrease the expenses of something that eats around 50% (and increasing – older populations mean higher healthcare expenses) of their overall budget.

    One problem with science is that it undercuts the legitimacy of a person making her own judgment about what helps and what doesn’t. Oh, it is just coincidence or placebo.

    Not really. Science is made by humans just like you, not by pointy headed aliens. Its methods help humans overcome their great tendencies to see patterns where there are none – to see what’s really going on, not what you feel, assume, is going on. The human still calls the judgments, except he/she has evidence to back it up.

    Another thing is that placebo is a real effect – clinical tests must take it into account. And curiously, its converse, nocebo – thinking a medicine will harm you – also exists. It is especially important when discussing perceptions such as pain and quality of life.

    Repeatability is one thing, but the complexity of living systems also means that in clinical research, you must make sure to control for other major variables – thus control groups when testing treatment and homogenization of groups (making sure one group doesn’t contain more healthy patients than the other at the start of an experiment) for example.

    Science is about 10% imagination and 90% sweat. You think you know something, then you have to do your homework, that is, bringing the evidence. The main rule is that another human, seeing your work, will be able to repeat your findings – they drill us for that.

    Most patients don’t go haring off after alternative treatments for no reason at all.

    The “worried well” are numerous among alternative treatment seekers. As are people who have self-limitating illnesses, those whose doctors have told them : “Give it some time, it will go away.” (or maybe, unfortunately : “Stop wasting my time.”). Some people are just not satisfied with that answer (understandably in the second case !), even if it is true – for some things, doing nothing is the best you can do, because your body is a self-repairing entity.

    I say it is healthy. When conventional medicine offers no hope, try something else.

    Hope is one thing, false hope is another. As one who has had to pick up a friend who had cancer relapse despite this “hope”, I would say there are two sides to this “empowerment” movement.

    One really dark side of it is its special power to induce extreme guilt and depression in people who are already sick. Making judgments means you are responsible for them.

    Another one is that very few people are able to make a trully informed choice – they lack the knowledge to understand what is going on. That is ok : no one can know everything – there’s litterally no time to learn it all. That means you have to trust somebody. It always comes back to trust, whether it is a doctor or an altmed practicioner.

    If you think altmed isn’t lucrative, think again. And contrarily to doctors, no amount of studies will get them to stop doing (and charging for) something that has been proven ineffective.

    Statisitacly, conventional medicine seems to kill more people than alternative.

    Among scientists, we often say that you can make statistics say anything – that a lack of pirates is at the root of global warming, for example.

    If you are looking at statistics, remember that context is everything – don’t compare apples and oranges. First, you must look at the numbers themselves : how many used this modality vs the other, and what the numbers represent when you compare them.

    Second, you have to know what they were treated for. A person presenting him/herself in the ER for a cardiac problem has much more chance of dying suddenly, through no one’s fault, than I would have if I were to seek a massage to help me with migraines. Saying that most people die in a hospital is like saying that most dead bodies are found in a cemetary to justify avoiding nighttime strolls there (except if what you’re scared of is zombies, of course).

    Third, medicine is about balancing risk vs benefit. Every effective treatment carries some risk – sometimes it is very small, sometimes greater. A bone marrow graft for example , carries enormous risks. For some types of leukemia, however, it may be the only chance at survival you have, even if it does kill some patients. Risky treatments will often be needed for people who are really, really sick – people who would already be dead if they were not in an hospital at that point.

  67. #67 Pareidolius
    January 14, 2010

    Kemist, I’m sorry you must endure migraines, but what a beautifully capable brain you have as a consolation for your suffering. Your post @66 is a compassionate and informative rebuttal to a well intentioned but self-hypnotized commenter. Critical thinking and compassion set a great example for all SB regulars. And as a former member of the “worried well”, I can say that posts such as yours might very well have made me reexamine my beliefs back in my magical-thinking days.

  68. #68 David N. Brown
    January 14, 2010

    When I grew up, pollution was much worse than it is now because the laws regulating it were either nonexistent or much weaker.

    Don’t forget, people were also still building things in the US instead of China!

  69. #69 has
    January 14, 2010

    Few people use only alternative medicine. MOst use both. What is the problem?

    Few people tell only lies. Most tell both lies and the truth. Can you see a problem there?

  70. #70 Akiko
    January 14, 2010

    I have never liked his over the top delivery and the scrubs thing. Why wear them if you are not in surgery and they are kind of revealing when he is jumping all over the stage. I think he is an egomanaic and an exhibitionist. Every other time I see him he is in scrubs or a bathing suit sitting in a hot tub or running with no shirt on. Yucky.

  71. #71 jane
    January 14, 2010

    People seem to believe I claimed that foot reflexology and reiki caused my friend to live longer. I did not claim it, because I don’t believe it. I believe they might have caused her to live longer. Or, so could plain massage. Or just her courageous spirit. Or none of the above. There WAS as Association between longer life than expected and massage and reiki and foot reflexology and courage. Causation? I don’t know. But there was an association. And she said she felt better, for whatever reason, especially right when that “electricity” went up her leg to a sore spot.

    Seriously, folks you have substituted a particular kind of science, the so called “gold standard” for real science which includes but is not limited to down to earth empiricism. If you have an ache, try rooting around on your feet and see what happens. Less arguing and more try it out and see. That is real science.

  72. #72 Calli Arcale
    January 14, 2010

    a-non@40:

    There is nothing wrong with faith. It is when faith supercedes reason that we get into trouble.

    Faith alone cannot heal a broken bone or stem the tide of diabetes. It cannot cure a sick child in a third-world country of malaria or measles. We need medicine for that.

    There was a great line on Babylon 5 (during the Season 4 finale, The Deconstruction of Falling Stars) that fits here:

    “Faith and reason are like the shoes on your feet. You can get a lot farther with both of them than you can with just one.”

    (Note before anyone goes off on a tangent about religion: though the line was said by a monk, he wasn’t a monk of any faith which exists today. He wasn’t talking specifically about belief in God. The discussion was about whether the difficult work of his order could ever really pay off, bringing Earth back into the fabled time when people had electricity and combustion engines and flight and even space travel. He had faith that it would.)

  73. #73 kev
    January 14, 2010

    any one thinking that reiki is anything other than faith healing or placebo might have difficulty associating placebo effect or woo woo with bateria !!!just a quick search of pubmed.gov broght this up with out having to dig
    In vitro effect of Reiki treatment on bacterial cultures: Role of experimental context and practitioner well-being.
    Rubik B, Brooks AJ, Schwartz GE.

    Institute for Frontier Science, Oakland, CA 94611, USA. brubik@earthlink.net
    OBJECTIVE: To measure effects of Reiki treatments on growth of heat-shocked bacteria, and to determine the influence of healing context and practitioner well-being. METHODS: Overnight cultures of Escherichia coli K12 in fresh medium were used. Culture samples were paired with controls to minimize any ordering effects. Samples were heat-shocked prior to Reiki treatment, which was performed by Reiki practitioners for up to 15 minutes, with untreated controls. Plate-count assay using an automated colony counter determined the number of viable bacteria. Fourteen Reiki practitioners each completed 3 runs (n = 42 runs) without healing context, and another 2 runs (n = 28 runs) in which they first treated a pain patient for 30 minutes (healing context). Well-being questionnaires were administered to practitioners pre-post all sessions. RESULTS: No overall difference was found between the Reiki and control plates in the nonhealing context. In the healing context, the Reiki treated cultures overall exhibited significantly more bacteria than controls (p < 0.05). Practitioner social (p < 0.013) and emotional well-being (p < 0.021) correlated with Reiki treatment outcome on bacterial cultures in the nonhealing context. Practitioner social (p < 0.031), physical (p < 0.030), and emotional (p < 0.026) well-being correlated with Reiki treatment outcome on the bacterial cultures in the healing context. For practitioners starting with diminished well-being, control counts were likely to be higher than Reiki-treated bacterial counts. For practitioners starting with a higher level of well-being, Reiki counts were likely to be higher than control counts. CONCLUSIONS: Reiki improved growth of heat-shocked bacterial cultures in a healing contex

  74. #74 kev
    January 14, 2010

    again from pubmed, no believe system required!!!
    Reiki improves heart rate homeostasis in laboratory rats.
    Baldwin AL, Wagers C, Schwartz GE.

    Laboratory for the Advances in Consciousness and Health, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0068, USA. abaldwin@u.arizona.edu
    OBJECTIVES: To determine whether application of Reiki to noise-stressed rats can reduce their heart rates (HRs) and blood pressures. RATIONALE: In a previous study, we showed that exposure of rats to 90 dB white noise for 15 minutes caused their HRs and blood pressures to significantly increase. Reiki has been shown to significantly decrease HR and blood pressure in a small group of healthy human subjects. However, use of humans in such studies has the disadvantage that experimental interpretations are encumbered by the variable of belief or skepticism regarding Reiki. For that reason, noise-stressed rats were used as an animal model to test the efficacy of Reiki in reducing elevated HR and blood pressure. DESIGN: Three unrestrained, male Sprague-Dawley rats implanted with radiotelemetric transducers were exposed daily for 8 days to a 15-minute white noise regimen (90 dB). For the last 5 days, the rats received 15 minutes of Reiki immediately before the noise and during the noise period. The experiment was repeated on the same animals but using sham Reiki. SETTING/LOCATION: The animals were housed in a quiet room in University of Arizona Animal Facility. OUTCOME MEASURES: Mean HRs and blood pressure were determined before Reiki/sham Reiki, during Reiki/sham Reiki, and during the noise in each case. RESULTS: Reiki, but not sham Reiki, significantly reduced HR compared to initial values. With Reiki, there was a high correlation between change in HR and initial HR, suggesting a homeostatic effect. Reiki, but not sham Reiki, significantly reduced the rise in HR produced by exposure of the rats to loud noise. Neither Reiki nor sham Reiki significantly affected blood pressure. CONCLUSION: Reiki is effective in modulating HR in stressed and unstressed rats, supporting its use as a stress-reducer in humans.

  75. #75 Chris
    January 14, 2010

    kev posted this study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16494563 , which was published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine. It would be more believable if it had been replicated, and one of the authors was not the psychiatrist Gary Schwartz. That study was addressed by Dr. Harriet Hall here:

    Schwartz’s style of reasoning was revealed when an experiment to influence E. coli bacteria with Reiki didn’t produce the desired results. Instead of accepting that it didn’t work, he tried to find a way to make the experiment look like it worked. He did some inappropriate “data mining” and tried to show that before the trials where the Reiki practitioners apparently failed, they had been under more stress than before the trials where they apparently succeeded.

  76. #76 Chris
    January 14, 2010

    kev, you should try to find stuff not written by Gary Schwartz.

  77. #77 kev
    January 14, 2010

    Harriet hall. I guess It would be nice to absolutely know every thing and have our believes so set in stone and narrow minded without the wide view that we don’t know every thing yet ! I wonder if she is afraid to go to sea incase she falls off the end of the flat world . The best researchers and scientist are willing to except that we don’t have all the answers and are willing to be open minded, NOT that which we don’t know doesn’t excist !

  78. #78 kev
    January 14, 2010

    Whan I had a headache I took paracetamol with no effect at all does that mean it does not work!!! Of course not!! just as I have experienced reiki and know that had an effect does that mean reaiki is real? In my experience yes but I still keep paracetamol in my cupboard.What teaches us the most? What we are told by some one else or that which we experience for ourselves.Believe everything your taught and not what you experience for yourselve and you will know very little.
    i except that every one has their own views and believes and we get caught up in trying to convince others their point is wrong there is room for both! i dont want to be responsible for anyone else believe only mine to which i have experianced.

  79. #79 Chris
    January 14, 2010

    Not just Harriet Hall, but lots of articles about him (and due to HTML fail, I shall try again without it):
    http://www.skepdic.com/garyschwartz.html
    and
    http://www.csicop.org/search?cx=partner-pub-7990294390318881%3Akq7omegpkyf&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8&q=schwartz&sa=%C2%BB#1091

    And next time, post the study that replicates Schwartz’s studies.

  80. #80 kev
    January 14, 2010

    all i did is copy and pasted the first relevant articles from pubmed i wasnt aware that posted articles on that site could not be trusted

  81. #81 Chris
    January 14, 2010

    Just because it is on PubMed does not mean it is a credible study (case in point: Wakefield’s 1998 paper in the Lancet, which has been retracted). The process of science includes criticizing research, plus some of the journals on PubMed have a better impact factor than others.

    You cannot look at one study and claim it has the definitive answer (the term is “cherry picking”). You have to look at the whole body of research, and it is very important to find studies that replicate the original study because for something to be accepted it has to be reproducible. Which is why I asked you to list the studies that replicated Schwartz’s results.

    For more information on looking at medical studies read this book: Snake Oil Science.

  82. #82 kev
    January 14, 2010

    thankyou i stand corrected dont believe everything you read or told!.will watch that.
    only that which you experience for yourselve , and people will allways interpret an experiance differently from the next person.so i do except that research can be poor or lax or discredited but i am happy to stand by my experiance just as you would be offended if someone tried to tell you that some thing that you has experianced was wrong or from their point of view misinterpreted!!! at what point does popular belief collapse in an unscientifically proven modality if there truely no experianced results .interesting thought who would foot the bill for a large scale double blind research study? how would they benifit from such a study

  83. #83 Chris
    January 14, 2010

    You have to remember, your one experience is an anecdote. The plural of anecdote is not data.

    There are many examples of popular belief that have had to collapse because of more science research. Here is one website that looks into Old Wives Tales.

    And even Orac has written about medical procedures that change with more research: The life cycle of translational research:

    One thing that you may notice on the table above that Dr. Ioannidis also did was that he also looked at some treatments or interventions that had been highly cited and were later refuted.

    If you read some history of science progress, you will find many examples of how popular concepts have changed over the years. Many examples include how the planets move, geology (like plate tectonics), human behavior, and even in the news today the evolution of the Y-chromosome. It is all fascinating stuff, and there are many interesting books and even podcasts (I like listening to podcasts from SETI’s “Are We Alone”, Nature, NPR’s Science Friday and Scientific American). Some books I have read include (I keep an Excel spreadsheet of books I check out of the library, so this is a cut and paste, though there is enough information for you to search on your library’s website):
    The invention of air : a story of science, faith, revol
    Postcards from the brain museum : the improbable search for meaning in the matter of famous minds /
    The ghost map : the story of London’s most terrifying e
    Mosquitoes, malaria, and man : a history of the hostili
    Polio : an American story / David M. Oshinsky.
    Vaccinated : one man’s quest to defeat the world’s deadliest diseases / Paul A. Offit.

  84. #84 Todd W.
    January 14, 2010

    @kev

    In addition to Chris’ comments, I would also recommend heading over to Science-Based Medicine. They had a series of articles geared toward a lay reader on how to evaluate a source.

  85. #85 kev
    January 14, 2010

    i dont recall saying it was only one experience. as an electrical engineer i have a very mechanical logical view of the world with a deep desire to understand the mechanics and workings of things. just as an field of energy inside an armature can lift 10 people in a lift up 10 stories a simalar electric field can effect cell division and grouth direction the last thing im about to do is move my bed next to the electric meter so if fields can have a detrimental effect,seeing as we are fundermentally a biochemical electrical system. reiki proposes that the field of energy of the practitioner has an effect on a patient. just as the primary created field of energy on a winding of a transformer creates the same on a completly electrically unconnected secondry winding,purely due to a field of energy.(any flow of electricity will produce a field whether in a wire or in the body). without research nothing moves forward and i am open to any outcomes as Dr. Ioannidis says nothing happens overnight. at no point am i taking anything away from science based medicine, but i do think Knowledge has a long way to go otherwise we could cease all research tomorrow.

  86. #86 Prometheus
    January 14, 2010

    kev asks:

    “at what point does popular belief collapse in an unscientifically proven modality if there truely no experianced results”

    The answer to that can be approximated by looking at history.

    Bleeding as a treatment for everything from fever to infection dates back to the 5th century BCE and was only abandoned in the early 20th century. Even though there was no data showing that bleeding was effective for fever, infection, etc., it was popularly believed (by both physicians and patients) to be highly effective.

    Just to show that bleeding isn’t an exception, homeopathy was introduced in 1796 and is still popular with many in the general public (and not a few physicians, as well). While the homeopathy apologists claim that it “works”, even the studies claiming to show its effectiveness fail to show a dramatic difference between homeopathy and placebo. The bulk of published studies show homeopathy to be indistinguishable from placebo. Yet, its popularity continues.

    Closer to home we have the public popularity of using antibiotics to treat viral upper respiratory tract infections (“colds”) for which they are utterly ineffective. This dates back to the 1950’s and is only now showing some signs of abating (unfortunately, much of the reason this belief is disappearing is because of a growing – and irrational – fear of “mainstream” medicine).

    I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. Once a belief in medical efficacy gets entrenched in the general public, it can take anywhere from decades to millenia to remove it. In fact, the best way to eradicate an unsupported medical belief in the general populace seems to be to replace it with another one.

    Prometheus

  87. #87 Chris
    January 14, 2010

    kev:

    i dont recall saying it was only one experience. as an electrical engineer

    Then you should know better. Any small field generated by your body would have dissipated at a very tiny distance away (inverse square law), or canceled out. If you feel there is a real energy created that is measurable, then you should hae access and understanding to measure those fields.

  88. #88 Mojo
    January 15, 2010

    Once a belief in medical efficacy gets entrenched in the general public…

    …or in the medical profession…

  89. #89 steve
    January 15, 2010

    I believe that has all ready been done back in the 80s by Dr. John Zimmerman and repeateded in 1992 Seto and colleagues, in Japan and many times since using a “squid”

  90. #90 Jane
    January 15, 2010

    I will say it again. The current fixation on controlled “gold standard” studies has turned medical research and its ditto heads into a ritualized, stylized, mandarinized way of seeing the world. There is more to science than controlled studies.

    Has anyone played with their feet? I and others have given anecdotal evidence of possible efficacy of foot reflexology and reiki. Not proof, but food for further research. The first step would be to try it on yourself in your own home in your own spare time. No cost, no risk, no embarrassment. 15 minutes. To refuse to try this, is, I say, driven by fear or true believer mentality.

    Where is your exploratory spirit? This nay nay nay, the holier than thou attitude of the medical research mandarins posting here has has more in common with the medieval church spouting dogma than the adventurous scientific heroes they supposedly honor.

  91. #91 squirrelelite
    January 15, 2010

    @Jane 90:

    What you refer to as “controlled ‘gold standard’ studies” are a careful procedure developed over the last 50-100 years to avoid fooling ourselves.

    Scientists (and Medical Doctors who get involved in scientific research) are still looking for new, interesting and surprising areas to study. And, the funding for research in these areas has not totally dried up. This is partly why there are so many published studies for advocates of alternative medicine to dig through to find one that at least seems to support their claims.

    However, progress in science and medicine depends on finding results that are better than would turn up from random chance (if you roll the dice enough times, you will eventually get a double 6) and better than can already be achieved with standard treatment modalities.

    It is not sufficient to “know” something. You have to know that you know and that depends on being able to repeat your results and, especially, on someone else at a different location with different test subjects being able to repeat your results. “It only works for me” is not science.

    Playing with your feet or having an apple fall from a tree and hit you on the head may give you an interesting idea for future research. But, actually doing the science requires a lot of perspiration and, almost always, a little money.

    Fortunately, real science is not completely devoid of surprises. Who would have guessed 20 years ago that stomach ulcers were caused by a bacterium? (I hope I got that one right.) Or, that E. Coli could evolve the ability to eat a food source that they could not previously digest? (I especially like that one because I went to Michigan State.)

    Unfortunately, the NCCAM has spent $2.5 billion studying complementary and alternative medicine techniques and failed to find a single one that really works. (I think they are starting to meet the Everett Dirksen criterion.)
    http://www.dirksencenter.org/print_emd_billionhere.htm

    So, when I need medical treatment, I prefer treatment methods that have been carefully studied and shown to have a repeatable, beneficial effect and where the possible negative consequences are also discovered and documented. I do not choose to help someone fish for an interesting anecdote to support possible future research.

    Strictly as an aside, I am also curious if any supporters of traditional Chinese medicine think of any of their detractors as having a “mandarinized way of seeing the world”.

  92. #92 Chris
    January 15, 2010

    squirrlelite:

    Strictly as an aside, I am also curious if any supporters of traditional Chinese medicine think of any of their detractors as having a “mandarinized way of seeing the world”.

    What do you have against the Cantonese? :p

  93. #93 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 16, 2010

    The first step would be to try it on yourself in your own home in your own spare time. No cost, no risk, no embarrassment. 15 minutes. To refuse to try this, is, I say, driven by fear or true believer mentality.

    Would you recommend that I “scientifically” try out for myself in my own home whether I have “good luck” or “bad luck”, by buying scratch tickets and seeing whether I win or lose? Does that seem so “scientific” that the only reason you could imagine someone not doing it is if they’re “driven by fear or true believer mentality”?

    Unfortunately, neither the “verify-the-existence-of-‘luck’-with-scratch-tickets” experiment or the “verify-the-existence-of-‘reiki’-on-your-own-feet” experiment represents actual science. That’s because science isn’t done by trying to verify hypotheses, but by trying to falsify them. If sufficient attempts are made to falsify a hypothesis, and those attempts fail, then we may be able to safely conclude that the hypothesis has instead been verified. But attempts to falsify the hypothesis “Reiki accomplishes some sort of effect that placebo alone does not” have … successfully falsified the hypothesis. Saying “Well, when I do reiki on myself at home I experience an effect that placebo definitely couldn’t achieve!” is not only not science, it’s not even logical since you are the last person who could determine whether you are reacting to anything besides placebo effect.

  94. #94 Jane
    January 16, 2010

    What you refer to as “controlled ‘gold standard’ studies” are a careful procedure developed over the last 50-100 years to avoid fooling ourselves.

    And a very good method it is. But, it is not sacred. A number of people, respectable medical thinkers and doctors have begun to see problems with the gold standard study in the past ten years. The most common criticism is that drug company researchers have learned how to game the gold standard study to get the results most flattering to their drugs: choosing the right subjects for study, eliminating high placebo responders from the study, failing to publish “negative” results when the drug’s effect comes out no better than placebo, and so on. This fiddling all falls under the heading of the effect of drug money on medical research.

    Some would say that the basic gold standard study is sound, but that the effects of money need to be neutralized. Well, exactly how would you do that? Disclosing conflicts of interest is a first step, but only a first step.

    Do it yourself empiricism is a good counterweight to biased formal “gold standard” research. It is certainly not the final answer, but it should be part of the mix of study protocols as alternatives to the “gold standard.” It is cheap, low tech, low risk, and should be the first step in research. (The buy a scratch ticket experiment mentioned above fails the no risk test, and no one, even a lottery winner will claim that buying a winning ticket is a reliably repeatable event.)

    Mandarins had an elaborate, in group knowledge that took years of study to acquire and become competent in. It was a method of reducing competition for government jobs. It was originally useful (they had to be literate and able to write and good at administration, but overtime became overgrown with elaborations and protocol which choked originality and flexibility. Their “solutions” became increasingly irrelevant to real world problems.

    To call someone an mandarin is no more insulting to the Chinese than calling someone a mediaeval scholastic is an insult to religion or Europeans. Both were late, decadent forms of vibrant, useful modes of thought.

    In the real world, many patients with chronic diseases have found that the drugs offered for their symptoms either do not work or have unacceptable side effects. So, in the real world they look for alternatives. They start trying things. If it works the first time, they use it again and again. A treatment that continues to work reliably with one person survives the repeatability test.

    This is what I mean about mandarin gold standard studies providing solutions that are irrelevant to real world problems.

    Aside from money bias problems with the “gold standard” study, there are conceptual problems as well. It assumes that all the subjects are alike. If drug A helps one with a problem, it must help everyone with that problem. We know intuitively that this is not so. One does better on one medicine that another. The controlled studies try to tease out these subsets of subjects with controlled studies with men, women, kids, old people, with high bp and low bp or whatever. And sometimes this works, but it is a slow and tedious was to address patients needs. What if the miracle of medical treatment is that each of us needs different treatments? That we are biochemically unique?

    If we look at vitamins and minerals, this problem of the difference between patients become much more understandable. If I am low on vitamin E, I may do very well with E supplementation. If I have plenty, my blood may get too thin and I may have a hemmorrhage. If I am low on magnesium,my heart will probably benefit from supplementation. If I am not low, then the extra magnesium might throw my other minerals out of balance. The controlled studies showing efficacy or not of various nutrients systematically miss the uniqueness of individual chemistry. Yet patients are rarely tested for vitamin deficiencies, or only for the basic few, B12 and iron.

    I may be intolerant to wheat, another not. or eggs, or anything. Controlled studies do not elucidate these unique issues. We need other ways of studying these problems. These problems really are opportunities in disguise, since many patients have been cleared of long standing symptoms of diabetes, overweight, arthritis regular and rheumatoid, back pain, bronchitis, chronic fatigue, inability to conceive, IBS, GERDS, depresssion, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, autism. That is the real reason I challenge the “gold standard” studies. I have experienced and talked to others who have experienced, and read of environmental doctors who report. Clearing one’s particular, unique “allergic” triggers from a person’s environment can have huge healing effects. Test again and againd with periodic exposure, and the symptom can be reliably evoked and then reliably cleared by taking away the trigger.

  95. #95 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 18, 2010

    It is cheap, low tech, low risk, and should be the first step in research.

    And when we have gone far, far beyond the first step of research, and our subsequent steps indicate “no, there really isn’t anything here, even though it sure looked like there was,” you’re recommending that we run all the way back to the first step, the step in which we got the results that made us happy and excited, and re-do that first step over and over again, as if we didn’t know what the later steps would show.

    That’s what you’re advocating; it’s intellectually bankrupt, and it isn’t science.

  96. #96 mark
    January 18, 2010

    I, too, thought the scrubs was a silly act.
    It reminds me of the old cigarette commercial, where someone in a white lab coat informs the audience about this brand’s filter, “It would take a scientist to explain it.”

    I didn’t know Oz was so deeply wooed. I had seen a reference to him (at Quackwatch) regarding some quack product, saying that he wanted it known that he was in no way associated with it. I’ve since seen him talk about herbs and accupuncture. Too bad television can’t do better.

  97. #97 DNAC
    January 19, 2010

    Sadly most of you bitter morons are nothing more than clones of one another.
    Reading through this pompous, wordy, garbage makes me ill.
    Some of you are calling Dr. OZ an anti-vaxxer, which I find to be absolutely hilarious.
    He’s the opposite of an anti-vaxxer.
    All he is doing is slowly winning over the sheep and when they have his full attention and trust he will CASH in big time.
    You see, Dr. OZ is a major share holder in a vaccine tech company called SIGA.
    Ever heard of it?
    Did you idiots even know that?
    OZ knows exactly what he’s doing.
    He’s winning the New Age’rs too.

    Here’s a link to the SEC document detailing Dr. Oz’s ownership of these 150,000 option shares:
    http://sec.gov/cgi-bin/own-disp?action=getowner&CIK=0001139299&sortid=period-of-report-ASC

    The current value of SIGA shares can be verified here:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=SIGA

    Information about SIGA Technologies and their vaccine technology can be found on their website:
    http://www.siga.com/index.php?ID=2

    The press release announcing SIGA’s receipt of $3 million from the NIH is available here:
    http://www.siga.com/?ID=120

    In addition to holding stock options in a vaccine technology company, Dr. Oz. is also a front man for the RealAge website, a sort of “health front group” for the pharmaceutical industry that uses information provided by RealAge members to solicit consumers with pro-pharma marketing message targeted by age or health condition.

    Corporate sponsors of RealAge include most of the major drug companies and their most profitable pharmaceutical products such as Adderall, Ambien and Celebrex. The companies sponsoring RealAge include GlaxoSmithKline, Genentech, Wyeth and many others. *RealAge is essentially a marketing platform for Big Pharma, disguised to look like a consumer health information service.

    So please…he’s just cashing in.
    Just like all the other drug pushers.
    The guy that sells crack in the hood is no different from Merck.
    They just want a profit.
    Side effects?
    Who gives a shit.
    Fuck them.

  98. #98 Peapoh
    January 19, 2010

    That was deep. ^^^

  99. #99 Mendel Potok
    August 27, 2010

    reiki? Seriously? Before you know it, “Dr” Oz’s next Ultimate Medical Secret(TM) will be balancing of the humors.

  100. #100 Serius Lee
    November 7, 2011

    There are more opinions stated here than facts.

    When Louis Pasteur came up with his vaccine, the “scientists” of the day (establishment doctors) dismissed and castigated him as a purveyor of mystical germ theories.

    If it ain’t science yet, don’t mean it’s wrong.

  101. #101 lilady
    November 7, 2011

    @ Serius Lee: Was there a point you wanted to make? I must have missed it.

  102. #102 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 7, 2011

    When Louis Pasteur came up with his vaccine, the “scientists” of the day (establishment doctors) dismissed and castigated him as a purveyor of mystical germ theories.

    Really? That’s interesting; I’ve never encountered anything suggesting that Pasteur faced anything like that, or that his germ theories were considered “mystical.” Semmelweis certainly faced opposition, but since Pasteur was working several decades later, it’s surprising to hear your claim. Do you have citations?

    If it ain’t science yet, don’t mean it’s wrong.

    Agreed, but you must admit that the corresponding proposition is also true: If it ain’t science yet, don’t mean it’s right. And much of what is not science “yet” would be better described as “not science, ever” because it’s not trying to figure out rational explanations for the evidence, it’s trying to ignore large portions of the evidence so that people can cling to beliefs that the evidence actually contradicts. This applies to most of what Oz promoted on the show in question.

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