Respectful Insolence

Yesterday, I wrote about SB 31, a proposed law in North Carolina against which uber-quack Mike Adams had mobilized his “health freedom” minions and a crank organization Citizens for Health Freedom and apparently managed to bring some pressure to bear on legislators to water down the bill. The whole incident reminded me how fragile and easily dismantled even the most rudimentary laws and regulations designed to enforce a science-based standard of care and prevent the proliferation of quacks are. Dr. Rashid Buttar, for instance, can team up with a bunch of “integrative medicine” practitioners and pressure the North Carolina legislature to make it easier for him and physicians like him to use unscientific, pseudoscientific, or superstitious “remedies” on patients.

Something else happened that reminded me of past blogging, specifically the case of Dr. Rolando Arafiles. As you may recall, Dr. Arafiles is a physician in Winkler County, Texas who was reported to the medical authorities by two courageous nurses for his dubious medicine and selling supplements to emergency room patients. As a result, Arafiles’ good buddy and former patient (not to mention business partner in hawking supplements ) Sheriff Robert Roberts transformed himself from a combination of Inspector Jacques Clouseau and Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane into a veritable Sherlock Holmes. Basically, he tracked down the identities of the two nurses who had made the anonymous complaint against Dr. Arafiles, even going so far as to access their computers in order to find evidence that they were the ones who had written the complaint to the Texas Medical Board. Then he got his buddy Winkler County Attorney Scott Tidwell to prosecute the two nurses, who were both fired from their jobs at Winkler County Memorial Hospital. When it all was over, the nurses were out jobs, out thousands of dollars (which, fortunately, were replaced by the Texas Nurses Association legal defense fund), and out many months of their lives. True, the one nurse of the two who actually ended up going on trial was acquitted, and the Texas Medical Board continued to go after Dr. Arafiles. Even better, the administrator who abused his power and fired the nurses was sentenced to jail time while the Texas Attorney General pursues cases against Sheriff Robert Roberts and County Attorney Scott Tidwell.

Leave it to Texas legislators to try to make sure that this never happens again, but not in a good way:

The House Public Health Committee put its stamp of approval this morning on a much-watered-down version of State Rep. Fred Brown’s Texas Medical Board bill, a measure designed to protect doctors from unfounded complaints.

As altered, HB 1013 would ban all anonymous complaints other than those filed by patients, their guardians or their family and open up the process by which doctors are investigated. These measures would include setting statutes of limitations, providing doctors with details of the charges against them and giving them more time and legal remedies to respond or appeal.

In an interview, last week, Brown said he’s gotten tired of watching Texas doctors get pursued for minor infractions or crippled by long, drawn-out investigations based on anonymous complaints. “We want the Texas Medical Board to go after bad doctors,” Brown said, “but we want it to be fair.”

Not surprisingly, Brown can’t actually provide evidence that the acceptance of anonymous complaints led to the frivolous investigation and prosecution of good doctors, which is the ostensible reason for this bill. In fact, only 2% of complaints against doctors are filed anonymously. there are serious questions about the motivations of the bill’s main supporters. It turns out that the bill’s biggest supporter is Dr. Steve Hotze:

Health care observers have said those elements mirror the very public concerns of the bill’s biggest proponent, Dr. Steve Hotze, a major Republican donor who has built a lucrative practice in suburban Houston around nontraditional therapies and treatments for allergies, thyroid problems and yeast infections. Hotze is best known for promoting natural progesterone replacement therapy for women, a treatment whose effectiveness has been questioned by the federal Food and Drug Administration. He also has a daily health and wellness show that airs on Republican Sen. Dan Patrick’s Houston radio station, KSEV.

It also turns out that Dr. Hotze runs a PAC known as Conservative Republicans of Texas and that many of the legislators supporting the bill have been beneficiaries of the largesse of this PAC, including the bill’s sponsors. He also trots out the same sorts of “health freedom” nonsense that opponents of North Carolina’s SB 31 have been spewing:

Hotze contributed at least $60,000 personally and at least $640,000 via his PAC to GOP House and Senate candidates in the last election cycle (Brown received less than $2,000). In testimony before the House Public Health Committee last month, Hotze espoused the merits of alternative therapies, as well as the off-label prescribing that led the public to discover what else the medications now known as Rogaine and Viagra — both originally intended to treat high blood pressure — could be used for. “Our opponents have said this is all about snake oil. What they mean is these doctors use natural approaches to health,” Hotze testified. “This is a turf war between conventional medicine and alternative natural approaches to health.”

Advocates of alternative medicine frequently complain that the law is a tool that enforces the monopoly of conventional medicine. Would that were the case! If that were the case, then there would not be such a proliferation of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM), which “integrates” pseudoscience and quackery with science-based medicine and tries to argue that that’s a good thing. It’s not.

Dr. Hotze tries to argue that the reason he is pushing this bill is because he had been the victim of baseless anonymous complaints and believes that these complaints originated from competitors. While that is possible, one has to come back again to the fact that only 2% of complaints against Texas physicians are anonymously filed. It also ignores what happened to Anne Mitchell, RN, and Vickilyn Galle, RN. They are the two nurses who reported Dr. Rolando Arafiles and suffered as a result of it. Their story shows that the mechanism of anonymous complaints against doctors isn’t a trivial matter that isn’t needed. Their case demonstrates just how dangerous it can be to file a complaint against a physician, particularly a popular physician in a town that needs physicians, especially when that physician is connected. Mitchell and Galle demonstrate just how far some physicians and hospital administrators will go to track down whistleblowers.

In fact, Dr. Hotze reminds me of Dr. Arafiles in his advocacy of dubious therapies. For example, Dr. Hotze advocates woo such as bioidentical hormones, various remedies for hypothyroidism that is or isn’t, testosterone replacement therapy, and various allergy therapies. Dr. Arafiles treated Morgellons. Both clearly know how to make a buck plying therapies that are not based in science.

It’s not just alt-med practitioners, either. In Texas, at least, the anti-vaccine movement has hooked up with the “health freedom” movement, even going so far as to have Andrew Wakefield speak in favor of “functional medicine,” while in the meantime Texans for Health Freedom are promoting a variety of bills that include HB 1013, among others. Of particular interest is HB 2455, which would codify into law “integrative medicine” as a fully legal health care modality defined as:

…a medical system of diagnosing, treating, or correcting real or imagined human diseases, injuries, ailments, infirmities and deformities of a physical or mental origin and includes acupuncture, chelation therapy, homeopathy, minor surgery, and nonsurgical methods, the use of devices, physical, electrical, hygienic, and sanitary measures, and all forms of physical agents and modalities, neuromuscular integration, nutrition, orthomolecular therapy, and pharmaceutical medicine.

It would even establish a board of integrative medicine, with six practitioners and three lay members. Yes, HB 2455 would license quackery like homeopathy, making it perfectly legal in the state of Texas, co-equal with science-based medicine in the eyes of the law. I don’t know what the odds of this bill passing are, but given the history of Texas and pseudoscience, specifically the success creationists have had in the legislature, I wouldn’t necessarily bet against it.

Practitioners and advocates of CAM and IM like to paint themselves as being the underdogs. They especially like to portray themselves as being “persecuted” by conventional medicine and the law, the victims of a grand conspiracy between the AMA, big pharma, and the government to keep them down. Indeed, Mike Adams has made a veritable cottage industry out of just that bit of paranoia. In reality, the law in most states is incredibly lax, and most state medical boards underfunded, outgunned, and out-funded. CAM has become big business, even to the point where chambers of commerce promote it as a new health care industry. It’s also become politically powerful, as Drs. Rashid Buttar and Steve Hotze demonstrate. It is not the underdog anymore. Until advocates of science-based medicine understand that, they will never realize how to combat it.

Comments

  1. #1 Beamup
    April 8, 2011

    These measures would include setting statutes of limitations, providing doctors with details of the charges against them

    This part of the bill I would certainly support. Too bad they’re bolted on to such foolishness.

  2. #2 Denice Walter
    April 8, 2011

    I’ve become intrigued by how alt med proponents use language to portray themselves as “underdogs” or even victims: sometimes the verbal skill involved far surpasses the underlying level of thought. There’s an old study** where subjects are shown a car crash and asked to estimate how fast the car was going when it ( smashed, hit, or ran into) the other car. Of course, the speed estimates vary with the verb: trial lawyers knew this aeons ago. It’s easy to slant things verbally so that opinions will slide your way.

    A person who has a fair amount of ability in language and some capacity to *read* people can easily concoct convincing scenarios. I am always amused by how Adams talks about “science”. He portrays himself as well-versed in science( especially physics), he criticizes TV reports,peer reviewed lit, consensus views in medicine. No where does he tell us his unique qualifications to serve as critic- where did he go to school, where did he train? His bio (@ Health Ranger) tells us even less.

    So much of what I review involves “impression formation” by the salesman to convince the audience of his merit, genius,honesty, goodwill,revolutionary status, and humanitarianism. However, the “Establishment”, painted with a broad brush, is uniformly greedy, evil, backward, biased. This extreme black-and-white contrast tells another story: either the writer (speaker) is functioning at a lower level and/or intends the message for an audience of that level.

    There are so many ways to lie or manipulate information by ommission, distortion, *style*, or convoluted prevarication that it makes my head spin. When you hear someone speak grandly about wanting to assist you in managing your health and wealth and to protect you from the money-obsessed establishment ( or anyone, for that matter),watch out: the next offer is liable to be for that lovely suspension bridge, at bargain basement prices.

    ** E. Loftus

  3. #3 augustine
    April 8, 2011

    Denice Walter

    It’s easy to slant things verbally so that opinions will slide your way.

    I know what you mean. Like this?

    was reported to the medical authorities by two courageous nurses

    Not just 2 nurses. 2 “courageous” nurses.

    uber-quack Mike Adams had mobilized his “health freedom” minions and a crank organization Citizens for Health Freedom

    Not just Mike Adams but “uber-quack”.No objectivity there. Definitely a manipulation of what way the author wants the reader to slant by poisoning the well. Minions? Not people or citizens? What about crank?

    Dr. Arafiles in his advocacy of dubious therapies

    Shouldn’t it be up to the reader to determine if the therapy was “dubious”. Nah, that would be boring and emotionless. Anger works well for stirring up science bloggers and keep them active.

    All of these are tactics of manipulation. Pot meet kettle.

    If anyone knows how public relations works it’s Big Pharm, Big Science, Big Agenda, and Big Bloggers.

  4. #4 Gray Falcon
    April 8, 2011

    What augustine forgets to mention is that besides strong words, Orac also included something called “evidence” in his claims. For comparison purposes, augustine accused supporters of evidence-based medicine of playing “mind games” with people who claim vaccine injuries. When asked for evidence of this, he responded with a scenario he made up entirely:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/04/the_annals_of_im_not_anti-vaccine_part_6.php#comment-3588379
    And yes, I’m going to keep pressing this. It shows exactly how hateful and dishonest augustine really is.

  5. #5 Denice Walter
    April 8, 2011

    @ augustine: Oh, thank you so very much! In the future, I shall refer to myself exclusively as the “Dark Lady** of Big Pharm, Big Science, Big Agenda, and Big Bloggers”.

    ** despite my very fair complexion, light eyes,& blonde hair.

  6. #6 Scott Cunningham
    April 8, 2011

    Add Big Placebo to your list, augie.

    I can’t go anywhere in this town without finding another pile of CAM magazines, playing up claims of persecution by the establishment. But they have zero scientific support for what tey sell. It’s entirely emotional rhetoric and conspiracy theory. They deny germ theory. Why? Vitalism sounds more “spiritual.” So it pretends to play along with beliefs the audience already likes. That’s nice. It still doesn’t work. I don’t want to base my medical decisions on who’s got the schmultzier advertising.

  7. #7 Scott Cunningham
    April 8, 2011

    @Gray Falcon

    Wow. That SBMer in augie’s made-up conversation made some very good points. The parent was plainly confusing correlation for causation, and population-wide, the vaccines save far more lives than they harm, so it’s a net benefit.

    Now repeat those points, augie, until they bloody well sink in! Autism only appears to follow vaccines because the testing for it is scheduled months after the vaccines. Vaccines save a lot of lives and complications are rare, so there’s a big net benefit. You’ve heard it. You know it. Get. It. Into. Your. Head. Man.

  8. #8 Garrett
    April 8, 2011

    I love how, it’s, “functional” medicine, when 9 times out of 10 there’s no efficacy.

  9. #9 wintermute
    April 8, 2011

    Shouldn’t it be up to the reader to determine if the therapy was “dubious”.

    No, see, we have this thing called “science” that can tell whether or not a given treatment helps people with a given condition.

    Now, obviously, it’s possible for any given reader to plan and carry out a double-blinded placebo-controlled test of every single modality that Mike Adams sells, just as it’s possible for any given consumer to test their hamburger for arsenic before consuming it. It’s just that we, as a society, have decided that it’s safer and more efficient to appoint an official agency to determine this in advance.

    The difference being, of course, that McDonalds couldn’t just slap up a sign that says “Not tested by the FDA” and keep on selling food they know to be poisonous. Mike Adams can.

  10. #10 Lawrence
    April 8, 2011

    Boring troll continues to be boring – seriously, are you even trying anymore, cause lately you’ve just been silly.

  11. #11 prn
    April 8, 2011

    “hypothyroidism that is or isn’t”
    The endocriologists have lost so much credibility on this, they have had to retreat several times now, driven by customer outrage, ridicule and defection to old, now “integrative” generics. Perhaps only 2-3 more changes, if they can just own up to their fundamental misses.

    A lot of this sounds like a squabble over the insurance money, damn the patients. Patients who pay real dollars are hopefully more critical thinkers, to weed out the fakes – regular and alternative.

  12. #12 Clam
    April 8, 2011

    Today, the Cyprus Weekly carried a full-page article on Homeopathy (with a tiny demurral in one corner saying “what harm does it do?” even if it is placebo?).
    the digital edition is not available until Monday (it says), but here
    http://www.cyprusweekly.com.cy/main/887,0,0,0-lifestyle.aspx
    is the website for their Lifestyle section (as at today) which contains their Health Section (!) which, by Monday, may contain the offending article.
    Please assist and tell them. Only a few weeks ago they had an article on Chemtrails, so they do need some assistance, as do I. Thanks.

  13. #13 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    April 8, 2011

    @the Dark lady of Big Pharma, Big Science, Big Agenda and Big Bloggers (tDLOBPBSBAaBB for short? or just DW? ;) )

    That Loftus study was a bloody awesome examination of how the way that a question is asked can fuck up the retrieval of a memory so badly that the memory itself can stay fucked for as long as that person stays alive. My ex-wife and I use it in our course on why Facilitated Communication is total bollocks.

  14. #14 D. C. Sessions
    April 8, 2011

    HB 2455 would license quackery like homeopathy, making it perfectly legal in the state of Texas, co-equal with science-based medicine in the eyes of the law.

    I can’t think of another state more deserving than Texas to follow Arizona in this regard. Arizona’s Board of Homeopathic Examiners (as Our Flashy Host has mentioned previously) defines the practice of “homeopathy” so broadly that there is, for all practical purposes, nothing that one of their licensees can’t do. Including surgery.

    Therefore, any physician who actually manages to do the at-least-very-difficult and lose his license to practice medicine need only plonk down the rather modest sum to be relicensed as a “doctor of homeopathy” and keep doing the same business from the same address. If he loses his hospital privileges, he may have to make other arrangements — but there are, after all, woo groups who can get together to run their own clinics in place of hospitals.

    Frankly, I think the people of Texas are well on their way to the kind of society they really want.

  15. #15 Narad
    April 8, 2011

    Only a few weeks ago they had an article on Chemtrails

    Should have left the Lincolnshire Poacher on the air, I say.

  16. #16 Ben S
    April 8, 2011

    Big Science. Also known as science.

  17. #17 augustine
    April 8, 2011

    Cunningham

    ..the vaccines save far more lives than they harm, so it’s a net benefit.

    Vaccines save a lot of lives and complications are rare, so there’s a big net benefit. You’ve heard it. You know it. Get. It. Into. Your. Head. Man.

    Now repeat those points, augie, until they bloody well sink in!

    Thank you for providing an example of my point. Do they blast these talking points out of loudspeakers or something? Are leaflets being dropped out of airplanes? This is top notch brainwashing. The subject seems to have internalized the thoughts to think they are his own.

  18. #18 Lawrence
    April 8, 2011

    Boring troll, come back when you get a new schtick – this one is old and busted.

    Pathetic.

  19. #19 titmouse
    April 8, 2011

    Augie’s clutch slips a bit. He confuses conclusions based upon evidence with pre-investigation biases.

    For example, if I were to say, “Augustine is a troll” prior to reading any of his posts, that would be bias.

    But at this late date, “Augustine is a troll,” is a simple statement of fact.

  20. #20 augustine
    April 8, 2011

    Titmouse

    He confuses conclusions based upon evidence with pre-investigation biases.

    But at this late date, “Augustine is a troll,” is a simple statement of fact.

    Unfortunately for you and your ilk you can’t tell an opinion from fact. For example if I said titmouse is ugly and stupid that would be a subjective opinion. If, in fact, your were ugly and stupid it still would be an opinion not an objective fact. A picture and SAT test as “evidence” would not change that. Get it?

  21. #21 lilady
    April 8, 2011

    @ titmouse: But at this late date “Augustine is a troll,” is a simple statement of fact.

    He’s is also a nasty xenophobic, sexist idiot who “pretends” he is educated, “pretends” he is gainfully employed and has “imaginery” children. His only science reference is the scriptures and when he tries to use real reference material, he “cherry picks” the data and “cherry picks” any sentence that might fit into his warped opinions.

    He’s been “busted” so many times about his education and gainful employment that he invites the derision that he so richly deserves.

  22. #22 augustine
    April 8, 2011

    They especially like to portray themselves as being “persecuted” by conventional medicine and the law, the victims of a grand conspiracy between the AMA, big pharma, and the government to keep them down.

    It’s also become politically powerful, as Drs. Rashid Buttar and Steve Hotze demonstrate. It is not the underdog anymore.

    Until advocates of science-based medicine understand that, they will never realize how to combat it.

    This is how you do it fellas. This is Science-based medicine in action. Watch and learn. Wow, and they are the underdog?

    http://crooksandliars.com/2007/04/02/under-the-influence-how-lobbyists-wrote-and-bought-the-rx-drug-bill/
    ——————————————————-
    “I’ve been in politics for 22 years,” says Jones, “and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen in 22 years.”

    “I can tell you that when the bill passed, there were better than 1,000 pharmaceutical lobbyists working on this,” says Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.

    Says Kroft: “Your old friend, John Dingell, says that of the 1,500 bills over the last eight years dealing with pharmaceutical issues, the drug companies almost, without exception, have gotten what they wanted.”

    “Yeah … I would think he’s correct. They’ve done fairly well,” replies Tauzin.

    Why has this lobby been so successful? The former congressman says he believes it’s because they stood for the right things.

    If Tauzin sounds a lot like a lobbyist for the drug industry, that’s because now he is.

    In fairness to Tauzin and former Medicare chief Tom Scully, they weren’t the only public officials involved with the prescription drug bill who later went to work for the pharmaceutical industry.

    Just before the vote, Tauzin cited the people who had been most helpful in getting it passed. Among them:

    # John McManus, the staff director of the Ways and Means subcommittee on Health. Within a few months, he left Congress and started his own lobbying firm. Among his new clients was PhRMA, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Merck.

    # Linda Fishman, from the majority side of the Finance Committee, left to become a lobbyist with the drug manufacturer Amgen.

    # Pat Morrisey, chief of staff of the Energy and Commerce Committee, took a job lobbying for drug companies Novartis and Hoffman-La Roche.

    # Jeremy Allen went to Johnson and Johnson.

    # Kathleen Weldon went to lobby for Biogen, a Bio-tech company.

    # Jim Barnette left to lobby for Hoffman-La Roche.

    In all, at least 15 congressional staffers, congressmen and federal officials left to go to work for the pharmaceutical industry, whose profits were increased by several billion dollars.

    “I mean, they — they have unlimited resources. Unlimited,” Burton says. “And when they push real hard to get something accomplished in the Congress of the United States, they can get it done.”
    ——————-
    Makes what you say look like a joke.

  23. #23 Gray Falcon
    April 8, 2011

    Interesting, augustine. By the way, did you know that one of the big suppliers of traditional Chinese medicine is the Triad? It’s very hard getting your hands on endangered plant and animal parts otherwise. By your logic, if you support alternative medicine, you support organized crime.

    So much for guilt by association.

  24. #24 augustine
    April 8, 2011

    retired local county nurse lady

    He’s is also a nasty xenophobic, sexist idiot who “pretends” he is educated, “pretends” he is gainfully employed and has “imaginery” children.

    Thank you for your opinion. It means a lot coming from a crusador of forced necessary febrile seizures. Just remember. You didn’t do it. You didn’t cause it. Or it’s just a necessary evil in the grand scheme of things.

  25. #25 DW
    April 8, 2011

    @ David N. Andrews, M.Ed., C.P.S.E.
    Friends (and friends of reality, fairness, the English language, and the-getting-down-to-the-nitty-gritty-of-truth-whatever-it-might-be_eventually_) may address me by my given name, DW, or simply D.
    All others will require the proper honorifics in order for me to respond in any manner, shape, or form *if* it so behooves me. “Dark Lady……etc.” is an appropriate start.

  26. #26 Lawrence
    April 8, 2011

    Really, that’s the best you can come up with – seriously, you’ve lost your edge & are just a bore. Come back when you can compete with the really crazy trolls.

  27. #27 augustine
    April 8, 2011

    Really, that’s the best you can come up with – seriously, you’ve lost your edge & are just a bore. Come back when you can compete with the really crazy trolls.

    Really, You’ve said this 10 times. Is THAT all you can come up with? It’s not TOO boring. You’ve responded 10 TIMES!

  28. #28 The Analyst
    April 8, 2011

    If you knew anything about the Texas Medical Board (otherwise referred to the TMB), you would know it’s a board full of power hungry, corrupt politicians.

    Please note, I am not defending anyone’s actions, just stating a fact. It’s ugly.

    The fact that they allow anonymous complaints from virtually anyone is absurd. Doctors have “anonymously” persecuted other doctors, if only to boost their ego. And it goes far beyond that.

    The TMB is full of pitbulls, and needs to be replaced. Information provided by the TMB about disciplined doctor should not be take blindly, and instead taken with extreme skepticism. It is corrupt, and it needs to be replaced. We don’t need innocent doctors persecuted. Sure, some of these doctors may have a different view on medicine, but you don’t take someone’s license away when they have been practicing 30 years, and never had a single complaint from a patient.

    It’s insanity.

  29. #29 Militant Agnostic
    April 9, 2011

    you don’t take someone’s license away when they have been practicing 30 years, and never had a single complaint from a patient.

    Yes, you do if the reason they have never received a complaint from patients is because they always give the patients prescriptions for all the benzodiazapines, amphetamines or Oxycontin they ask for.

    A quack can go practice for a long time without complaints. Look at all the fans Wakefield has. People who are conned are often too embarrassed to admit it. This is great source of frustration for commercial crimes detective. A doctor can practice good medicine for years and then go off the rails. By the time one of his patients complains he may have killed a few. There are plenty of good reasons to make a complaint about a doctor before a patient does.

  30. #30 Glaxxon PharmaCOM Mobile
    April 9, 2011

    MESSAGE BEGINS———————

    Shills and Minons

    Apologies for the malfunctioning practice drone. We shall have it retrieved and reprogrammed to be less repetative. On a more festive note, kudos to Minion Walters for achieving the exalted rank of Dark Lady (V’ssstok Emvaach). Her Imperial Majesty ( may She Reich for all time) must have been most impressed by your service to the Corpus.
    Bonuses for all Class IV shills!

    Carry on until my return from the Scydyemza Cluster Subjugation Conference.

    Lord Draconis Zeneca
    HcVi7l 000100000010111101010
    Glaxxon Imperial Frigate Burning Vexation
    [cloaked]

    ——————–MESSAGE ENDS

  31. #31 The Analyst
    April 9, 2011

    Yes, you do if the reason they have never received a complaint from patients is because they always give the patients prescriptions for all the benzodiazapines, amphetamines or Oxycontin they ask for.

    These are not the doctors I am talking about.

    If the quack (a derogatory term I prefer not to use) is not injuring people, and if their patients like them, well, what’s the point of punishing them? Hell, they don’t normally take insurance anyway since it wouldn’t cover treatments that are considered dubious. It all comes down ego and showing off power.

    Unless someone is committing crime against humanity, just let people be.

  32. #32 Narad
    April 9, 2011

    Unless someone is committing crime against humanity, just let people be.

    Finally, a clear standard for the organization of civil society. And clearly, this is the sort of thing best handled on a case-by-case basis.

  33. #33 MartinM
    April 9, 2011

    The fact that they allow anonymous complaints from virtually anyone is absurd.

    …what? Either anyone is allowed to make anonymous complaints, or no one is. That’s kind of what anonymous means.

  34. #34 Lawrence
    April 9, 2011

    I don’t think a boor & an idiot can be told enough that they are, in fact, a boor and an idiot. I mean, really, you don’t respond to actual evidence so I think scorn is better.

  35. #35 Heliantus
    April 9, 2011

    they don’t normally take insurance anyway since it wouldn’t cover treatments that are considered dubious.

    In many countries, health insurances do cover acupuncture, homeopathy prescriptions, chiropractors…
    Case in point, my (job-related) insurance covers:
    Chiropractors $300 each calendar year and $50 for x-rays each calendar year
    Christian Science Practitioners Included
    Naturopaths $300 each calendar year

    And also Drugs Used To Treat Erectile Dysfunction $1,200 each calendar year (OK, this one is not quackery, but I don’t see the need – especially since 2/3 of my colleagues, who got the same insurance, are female).

    On the other hand, the insurance company provides no dental coverage (not even an optional one I can pay for) and a very minimal eyesight coverage. I wouldn’t mind my insurance covering less for dubious treatments and a bit more for visits to the dentist or optician.

  36. #36 Militant Agnostic
    April 9, 2011

    @The Analyst

    Nice to see you are one of those assholes who thinks there is nothing wrong with defrauding people or with misleading advertising. Why don’t you move to a libertarian paradise like Somalia. The rest of us prefer not to practice “alternative” morality.

  37. #37 augustine
    April 9, 2011

    I don’t think a boor & an idiot can be told enough that they are, in fact, a boor and an idiot.

    Hey Draconis,

    This one has a glitch too. It’s been in the field much longer. It may be the actual program.

  38. #38 lilady
    April 9, 2011

    Fortunately, Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Bureaus have tracked down some doctors who hand out prescriptions for oxycontin for patients who are on disability for nebulous injuries. Doctors who hand out prescriptions for the drug for patients on a “strictly” cash basis for “consultations”, have also been nailed by anonymous complaints or by records checks of pharmacies that fill the prescriptions. When doctors and nurses are truly incompetent, truly negligent or are impaired by drugs or alcohol, they do eventually, get caught.

    I suspect that many of the “anonymous” complaints are from doctors and nurses fearful of the repercussions and the real threat of job loss. What happened to the nurses is a cautionary tale.

    CAM practitioners are protected by their patients zombie-like devotion to them. Sad.

  39. #39 lilady
    April 9, 2011

    @ Augie: I’m waiting for you to quote your favorite philosopher Thomas Kuhn. We are also waiting for answers to the following questions:

    Where did YOU go to school?

    Where are you gainfully employed?

  40. #40 The Analyst
    April 9, 2011

    Nice to see you are one of those assholes who thinks there is nothing wrong with defrauding people or with misleading advertising. Why don’t you move to a libertarian paradise like Somalia. The rest of us prefer not to practice “alternative” morality.

    I don’t think you get it.

    It’s normally the patients that are looking for these type of doctors. They do have a choice believe it or not. Take that one doctor away, and they will find another doctor that you disagree with. I guarantee it.

    If you want to call it all fraud, is it fair to say that many of these people are intentionally defrauding themselves?

    The good news is people have a choice over what doctor and what type of doctor they see.

    And quite honestly, I think there are certain things that well-intentioned CAM practicioners generally understand better. Diet is one of them. The American diet and food pyramind is a fraud. Although I will admit, the new pyramid was a much needed improvement. It’s a sad fact that your average doctor really doesn’t know much about a good diet. It’s madness that this isn’t being taught (or retained?) in medical school.

    So what is a good diet? Well, diet books are generally crap (my opinion), but I think this book is an exception to that rule as it is entertaining and does get into the science of food:

    http://www.amazon.com/Paleo-Solution-Original-Human-Diet/dp/0982565844/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1302363953&sr=8-5

    I know someone who was 70 pounds overweight. They went to a CAM practicioner and boosted their testosterone from 250 to 700 (after their traditional MD said a testosterone of 250 was normal). Keep in mind that this person had all the symptoms of low testosterone so they sought a CAM practicioner on their own. They supplemented thyroid, got testosterone injections and transdermal cream, and were prescribed antifungals. They lost 70 pounds without changing their diet, their CRP went to normal, and their risk of heart disease basically went away, and they no longer needed blood pressure medication. And more importantly, now they can exercise.

    I can only conclude that this CAM practicioner did something good. Yet if it was up to some here, he would have his license ripped from his hands.

    And yes, while I am not into politics, I have noticed that I do have some traditional libertarian values. However, I do consider myself open-minded and a free thinker. Thanks for the compliment though.

  41. #41 Composer99
    April 9, 2011

    TheAnalyst, I think you are the one who is not getting it.

    Do you think health care service providers have a duty of care not to misrepresent their services, or not?

    If they do, then it is of no concern what treatments, legitimate or quack, their patients believe in – the health care provider has no business providing treatments of little or no supported efficacy.

  42. #42 prn
    April 9, 2011

    the health care provider has no business providing treatments of little or no supported efficacy.
    Health providers should not be penalized for the decades of blatant, persistent failures of NIH, NCI etc to provide unbiased, comprehensive data. Health providers ultimately need to be able to consider all facts and levels of evidence that their training and experience have surfaced. We, the *paying customers*, are, and should be, the primary decision makers of acceptance. Usurpation of this fundamental right is breathtaking in nature.

    An exclusionary, fixed system of “expensive evidence only” has many ways to be hijacked, and it has been.

  43. #43 lilady
    April 9, 2011

    @ prn: We need citations and your sources of information about Vitamins D and B6. Is your philosophy regarding vitamins based on “vitamins are good for you, therefore overdosing on certain vitamins must be better”?

  44. #44 Scott Cunningham
    April 9, 2011

    Prn

    We, the *paying customers*, are, and should be, the primary decision makers of acceptance. Usurpation of this fundamental right is breathtaking in nature.

    Really?
    Consider car sales. Do you want to buy a lemon, decietfully advertised by a crafty salesman, and learn its no good yourself, the hard way, be out your money and unable to get it back.

    Or would you rather some outside expert assessed the car and gave you a second opinion, namely that car is a heap of junk and the salesman has a criminal record the length of his arm?

    I’m leaning for that second opinion myself.

    Why is that? Burned and learned, that’s why. I’ve been tricked by the CAM crowd before. Pardon my anger – they worked hard to earn it.

    And yes, CAM modalities are lemons being sold dectifully. I read the local CAM promotional mags. It’s all conversion stories, conspiracy theories, and emotional gimmickry. They rely on naturalistic fallacies and occasional appeals to religion. Supporting evidence is often:

    a) Non-existant

    b) Replaced with “this is a magical mystery unapproachable by science!” or stories about the dreams of some magic guru.

    c) Limited to small studies published in poor to uncredentialed journals not subject to peer review

    d) Refuted by existing studies or high-school level basic scientific knowledge.

    Contrast that with the mainstream stuff, which may be supported by chemical characterisation of the active ingredient, animal studies and human studies. All of them published in peer-reviewed journals I have access to through my University library.

    This is not prejudice, it’s due diligence. We have seen the evidence for CAM, and frankly, it sucks. We are trying to warn others that it sucks.

  45. #45 lilady
    April 9, 2011

    @ Scott Cunningham: Amen; that sums it up succinctly.

  46. #46 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 9, 2011

    Health providers should not be penalized for the decades of blatant, persistent failures of NIH, NCI etc to provide unbiased, comprehensive data.

    One is reminded of Winston Churchill’s famous quote that “[d]emocracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” It’s all very well to allege that the assessment of medical effectiveness gathered by NIH, NCI, etc. fails to be “unbiased [and] comprehensive” but that leaves unanswered the question of why the mainstream medical view “supplemented” by the contributions of woo-peddlers would come any closer to that ideal. Do we not think that the Geiers might be “biased” towards their chemical castration “treatment” for autism? Do we believe that Boyd Haley’s promotion of his mining chemical OSR#1 is unbiased?

    One might as well say “Law enforcement and the court system do not always get things right; therefore it is breathtaking that they should be usurping our fundamental right to vigilante action.” The first premise, that the official institutions are not perfect, is undeniable. Very few would believe, however, that the offered conclusion follows naturally.

  47. #47 Travis
    April 9, 2011

    Scott Cunningham,
    I am sure this will be an amazing surprised but that sounds just like one of the local natural medicine rags we have here in Ottawa. Except I have yet to see any sort of reference to a real study. However, there was one issue where the author (and practitioner, most of the articles are written by the practitioner that advertises in the same article) did her own “study” at a party. She gave regular water to her guests, and energised water to her guests and they thought the energised water tasted so much better! I am sure she conducted it with a large sample and the appropriate blinding, right?

    *sigh*

  48. #48 Travis
    April 9, 2011

    I really need to reread what I write before submitting it. I hate seeing it later and finding problems.

  49. #49 Militant Agnostic
    April 9, 2011

    Travis

    I really need to reread what I write before submitting it. I hate seeing it later and finding problems.

    If you would get your chakras attuned and your energy field balanced things like that wouldn’t happen.

  50. #50 lilady
    April 9, 2011

    It seems that Texans are willing to believe all sorts of theories, based on CAM and junk science. The North Texas Autism Month Event is sponsoring book signings for Andy Wakefield on April 28th. Completing the trifecta from Austin Texas are Kristen Neff and Rupert Isaacson who will also speak about the treatment they sought in Mongolia from shamans for their son who has autism…as documented in their film “The Horse Boy”. (Age of Autism-April 9, 2011)

  51. #51 The Analyst
    April 9, 2011

    Health providers should not be penalized for the decades of blatant, persistent failures of NIH, NCI etc to provide unbiased, comprehensive data. Health providers ultimately need to be able to consider all facts and levels of evidence that their training and experience have surfaced. We, the *paying customers*, are, and should be, the primary decision makers of acceptance. Usurpation of this fundamental right is breathtaking in nature.
    An exclusionary, fixed system of “expensive evidence only” has many ways to be hijacked, and it has been.

    Amen. There is somebody with a brainl! :-D

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  52. #52 Sauceress
    April 9, 2011

    #22

    Jeremy Allen went to Johnson and Johnson.

    Johnson & Johnson which owns and runs Thoughtful House..peddlers of unproven alt med cures for autism. Also in Texas.

    On “Health Freedom”
    Out of curiosity, how many of the companies listed by augie also manufacture and sell CAM treatments and supplements?
    Just think how much could Big Pharma could increase their profits if those pesky overheads, like long expensive clinical trials, as well as other regulatory overheads were removed.
    I mean they already have the production infrastucture don’t they.

    I assume the alt meddies would be cool with the major pharmaceutical companies branching out (perhaps through seemingly unconnected subsidiaries)into the supplement market.
    With Big Pharma’s handle on pharmacological concepts, physiology and scientific terminology, I’m sure they’ll do really well. They could even hire a few genuine alt med loons to troll the net serving as PR and advertising.

    Oh how I love the smell of conspiracy and paranoia. Suck it all up Mike Adams.

  53. #53 Scott Cunningham
    April 9, 2011

    @Travis
    Could be the same promotional rags. I live in Ontario. The most overtly crazy of them is a rag called “alive + fit” that’s so off the walls crazy it amazes me that anyone believes it (and yet they do!)

    Here’s a website link. It illustrates the “unprofessional, screaming crazy” vibe of the sales rag. http://www.aliveandfit.ca/

    Over several issues, I’ve seen two articles in there mention “a study” or “two studies” without proper references. They took only a few minutes to find using a keyword search, and had sample sizes just barely big enough for running the statistical test (I remember one was a Chi-square test with n=8. No blinding.)

    Lately though, I’m seeing glossier woo mags in the coffee shops. They don’t have the same design features alive + fit has (eg. no big scary words like a glowing “radiotion!” besmirching the cover.) The presentation is much more professional and mellow, with fewer exclamation points. That bugs me, because I think CAM’s more dangerous when it doesn’t look like it was written by a man in a tinfoil hat.

  54. #54 The Analyst
    April 10, 2011

    It’s funny how people here call them self skeptics, yet they have blind trust in their own government to make the right decisions for them.

    Madness.

    I’m done now. Really.

  55. #55 Heliantus
    April 10, 2011

    It’s funny how some people here call themselves analytical, yet they have blind trust in their own judgement to make the right decisions for them.

    Hubris.

    Most of us don’t trust the government at all. I myself think my country is run by a bunch of teenagers on acid.
    However, we do put some trust on people who show some evidence of having studied a lot about some topic we don’t know much about.
    And if they mess up (which, in true, they regularly do – maybe they are human beings?), at least we know where to find them.

    I’m done now. Really

    We will be so lucky.

  56. #56 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 10, 2011

    It’s funny how people here call them self skeptics, yet they have blind trust in their own government to make the right decisions for them.

    Once again, The Analyst shows that he can’t analyze worth beans. A more accurate description of the general attitude among skeptics here would be “even though the process the government relies on to evaluate medical therapies and products is not perfect, nothing indicates that allowing individuals to circumvent that process whenever they disagree with its conclusions will produce better results.”

    Again, I offer the analogy to the system of law. No one can deny that the current system of law has numerous imperfections, from the legislators who make the laws to the judicial branch that determines their application to the law enforcement officials who carry them out. But is the solution to those imperfections allowing people to make and enforce their own “laws” however they feel like it? Only the most hopelessly naive would say so.

    By the same token, only the most hopelessly naive would say “Dr. Smith-Jones has absolutely failed to convince any of his medical peers that the cause of all diseases is insufficient fish oil in the skin and that his live-halibut massage technique is the cure for all those diseases; therefore, since Smith-Jones’ treatment is not accepted by the medical establishment, he should have the ‘fundamental right’ to sell it directly to any sick person desperate for some hope, on the chance that he is actually right and the medical establishment is wrong.”

  57. #57 Militant Agnostic
    April 10, 2011

    It’s funny how people here call them self skeptics, yet they have blind trust in their own government to make the right decisions for them.

    Which is why we skeptics all agree (out of blind trust) with government decisions that natural products are probably harmless and probably effective if they have traditional use and therefore should be subject to very lax regulations relative to pharmaceuticals. Headdesk

  58. #58 Denice Walter
    April 10, 2011

    @ Travis:
    @ Scott Cunningham:
    Re- “promotional rags”/ “studies”

    I frequently travel between SW Connecticut and Philadelphia- which includes NY metro and the Hudson Valley- and the amount and variety of promotional rags is truly astonishing! I wonder if that can have anything to do with the fact that these areas are rather *affluent*? (‘Fraid so!)

    Re Studies: Of course, woo-world is adrift in “ground-breaking studies”, “new research”, ad nauseum. The web woo-meisters I follow pass around the same tiresome studies between themselves to convince the supplement-buying audience to try this-or-that new product.

    More disturbingly, one of the “usual suspects” is promoting his own agenda by the enlistment of students, parents, and staff at a charter** grade school( Newark, NJ) for a study that illustrates how total life style change (e.g. veganism & increased exercise) can remedy health and learning problems. It involved “over 400″ children and adults, mostly African-American and of lower socio-economic status.It will be presented as a film ( more promo). Awful, no? Remember, “documentaries” like this helped to spread the gospel of anti-vax.

    ** less governmental intervention than in public schools.

  59. #59 Militant Agnostic
    April 11, 2011

    Scott & Travis – are you familiar with Alive and Vista. Both magazines are given away free in organic/natural food stores just about everywhere in Canada. In my opinion these magazines are somewhat overpriced :).

    Vista typically will have an article extolling the merits of say seal oil (this is a real example) on the left hand page with an ad for Seal Oil Capsules on the right hand page. Alive is a little more subtle in printing articles extolling their advertisers. I think a philosophy professor teaching a logic course could find good use for these magazines in teaching logical fallacies.

  60. #60 Calli Arcale
    April 11, 2011

    Scott:

    And yes, CAM modalities are lemons being sold dectifully.

    Case in point, I just learned an old family friend is working on getting qualified in Healing Touch. She’s not a con artist. Not at all. She’s the *mark*.

    She attended her fifth seminar (and I believe in this one won’t get her actually qualified). The seminar cost her around $350, which means she’s invested a significant amount of money in something which she has no legal basis for making money providing. She’s not a licensed health care worker in this or any other state; she’s a licensed K-12 educator. So it’s not like she can expect to go set up shop as a Healing Touch therapist without getting herself into some serious legal hot water. (This state does still have protections against unlicensed medical practitioners.) And she has no illusions about that. She’s getting qualified so she can heal friends and family, which basically means she’s wasting a considerable amount of money learning to do something which does not even work.

    It’s definitely a con that she’s been pulled into, right at the same level as the financial wizardry seminars where people are suckered into paying lots of money to get minimally useful (and sometimes downright harmful) advice.

  61. #61 Denice Walter
    April 11, 2011

    @ Calli : sounds much like Reiki and various other woo-ful modalities that market courses via the natural health promotional rags. I wonder often what the profit ratio is for courses sold: products & treatments sold.

  62. #62 Miss Skeptismo
    April 11, 2011

    Oh Augie, you’re so right. How dare someone refer to a doctor’s practices as ‘dubious’, after all, hammering needles through broken toes is standard medical practice.

    Filares is worse than dubious.

  63. #63 EJ
    April 15, 2011

    “It also turns out that Dr. Hotze runs a PAC known as Conservative Republicans of Texas and that many of the legislators supporting the bill have been beneficiaries of the largesse of this PAC, including the bill’s sponsors.”

    Yes folks, a lot of alties are also right-wingers. I think the pro-woo community needs to be gently smacked over the head with that fact every so often.