The fallout from the social media firestorm from the antivaccine rant written by the Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and published by Cleveland.com last Friday has abated but far from faded away. The offending physician, Dr. Daniel Neides, was forced to issue an apology, which was one of the least convincing apologies I’ve ever seen, and The Cleveland Clinic issued a statement announcing its commitment to vaccines and that Dr. Niedes would suffer some as yet undetermined “disciplinary action.” Reactions outside of The Cleveland Clinic ranged from the suitably outraged, with an intense desire to refute the specifics of the antivaccine misinformation in Dr. Daniel Niedes’ blog post and his initial reaction to criticism to utterly missing the larger point and focusing on “lessons” from the resulting kerfuffle as an example of how not to do social media, both as an institution and a physician.

I, of course, took the position that an antivaccine rant from the Medical Director of The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute should come as no surprise for a simple reason. When an institution embraces magical thinking in the form of quackademic medicine, as The Cleveland Clinic has for the last decade at least, eventually that magical thinking will manifest itself in ways that blissfully oblivious shruggies who view the woo at “wellness institutes” as harmless herbal medicine don’t expect but are entirely predictable to those of us who have been paying attention. When you “integrate” alternative medicine modalities like traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic, naturopathy, and reiki into real medicine, the affinity for antivaccine views in those forms of pseudomedicine will infect other areas, and you shouldn’t be surprised that many of your “integrative medicine” practitioners will adhere to varying degrees of antivaccine belief.

Indeed, as of this writing, only two mainstream medical journalists, Casey Ross and Eric Boodman of STAT News, have stepped back from the controversy and seen the bigger picture that I’ve been trying to communicate, both here and at my not-so-super-secret other blog. Their article yesterday, Anti-vaccine rant exposes conflict over hospitals’ embrace of alternative medicine is the only article I’ve seen thus far that more or less “gets it,” asking:

But those reactions will not entirely contain the damage caused by the rant, which has already been picked up by anti-vaccine organizations, or address a more fundamental question: Why do hospitals that espouse evidence-based medical care operate alternative medicine institutes that offer treatments with little foundation in science?

And trying to answer the question, quoting Dr. Paul Offit:

Dr. Paul Offit, a professor of pediatrics and director of the vaccination education center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said doctors in integrative medicine institutes sometimes “cross the line into this fuzzy, metaphysical thinking, which is what [Neides] did.”

He said Neides displayed a total lack of knowledge about the preservatives and activating agents used in vaccines, and did not even properly distinguish between them in his column. “It’s the usual bull[expletive],” he said, “which is to say that everything with a chemical name is bad for you.”

Offit noted that his own hospital has a division of integrative and holistic medicine. “I too fight this fight internally,” he said. “We all do. Harvard does. Yale does. It’s not uncommon to have this, and the reason is that hospitals cater to a marketplace, and there is a market out there for this kind of medicine.”

I am very fortunate in that the academic medical center for which I work has very little of this “integrative medicine” nonsense. Certainly, it has far less than Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and, yes, The Cleveland Clinic, institutions, that, truth be told, tend to be more highly regarded. For that I am grateful. I am also vigilant, because, to be honest, if anything I’m surprised that there isn’t more or that there hasn’t been a push to bring in more. That’s not to say it’s nonexistent. The medical school teaches some “integrative medicine,” but, then, it has no choice, as the body that certifies medical schools now requires it. Be that as it may, seeing how much woo has infiltrated Yale, I don’t know how, for instance, Steve Novella puts up with it, given that Yale is also the home of David Katz, and his “more fluid” approach to evidence.

Ross and Boodman even note the conflict by pointing out something I hadn’t noticed before. Did you know that the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute has a store? I didn’t, but I do now. It sells the usual “wellness” stuff, like exercise plans, mugs, recipe books, Fitbits, makeup and beauty products, and the like, but it sells more than that. For example, it sells something called the BodyAnew 30 Day Detox Box, which is described thusly:

From the Manufacturer… Homeopathic Remedy This product is a kit that contains:

  • BodyAnew Fatigue™ Alertness Aid Oral Drops
  • BodyAnew Purity™ Urinary Pain Relief Oral Drops
  • BodyAnew Rejuveo™ Digestive Discomfort Oral Drops

Relief doesn’t need to come with frequent side effects which can be bothersome or even serious. The healthy way to feel better is to strengthen your body’s own natural defenses. Heel uses ingredients found in the natural world, so you can feel better about feeling better.

Yes, the Cleveland Clinic is selling a homeopathic remedy, containing remedies like Aranea diadema 6X, Calcarea phosphorica 12X, *Equisetum hyemale 4X, Ferrum iodatum 12X, *Fumaria officinalis 4X, *Gentiana lutea 5X, *Geranium robertianum 4X, Levothyroxine 12X, *Myosotis arvensis 3X, Natrum sulphuricum 4X, *Nasturtium aquaticum 4X, *Pinus sylvestris 4X, *Sarsaparilla 6X, *Scrophularia nodosa 3X, *Teucrium scorodonia 3X, *Veronica officinalis 3X, among others. Of course, these are “weak” homeopathic remedies as homeopathic remedies go, given that they are not very highly diluted, but they’re still homeopathy. They’re still quackery.

The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Store also sells vitamins, Metagenics products, orthomolecular products, fish oil supplements, curcumin supplements, essential oils, digestive enzymes, melatonin, resveratrol, antioxidants, aromatherapy, and a wide variety of herbal remedies.

So clearly, woo is a profit center at The Cleveland Clinic.

I suppose this shouldn’t have come as a surprise. If anything, I blame myself for never having noticed the Clinic’s Wellness Store before. After all, I have documented on numerous occasions just how far down the rabbit hole of quackademic medicine The Cleveland Clinic has gone, as you can find out by simply searching for “Cleveland Clinic” on this blog. Basically, The Cleveland Clinic is a foremost center of quackademic medicine, defined as the adoption and study of medical quackery as though it were real medicine, in the US. Its Wellness Center and Tonya I. Edwards Center for Integrative Medicine are packed with woo, and, contrary to the defense of Dr. Delos Cosgrove, the president and CEO of The Cleveland Clinic as being “a very big proponent of vaccination,” apparently Dr. Cosgrove wasn’t so strong in his beliefs that any of this quackery bothered him.

Certainly, as I documented yesterday, it wasn’t enough to prevent him from recruiting functional medicine quack Dr. Mark Hyman to open the Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. There’s even a functional medicine store linked to at the Center, although it’s not Cleveland Clinic-branded. (I’m sure the Clinic gets a cut, though.) This store sells more quackery than the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Store, including 10-day detox kits, immune and inflammatory balance products, detoxification support, and more. I didn’t examine the products in detail because the shop makes you log in before you can see any of the products, and I wasn’t about to create a new account just to be able to see what Mark Hyman is selling.

Of course, integrative medicine practitioners were quick to invoke the “no true Scotsman” fallacy:

Plenty of physicians in the integrative medicine community disagree vehemently with Neides’ questionable views on vaccines.

“There’s no one that I know in integrative medicine who would say you should use an alternative approach to preventing communicable diseases in children,” said Dr. Greg Fricchione, the director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, who added that his daughter is the medical director for immunizations for the city of Chicago.

The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute is well-regarded, he said, but he did not worry that Neides’s comments will affect the credibility of integrative medicine as a whole.

“This is one guy, and I’m not sure of what his motivation was,” Fricchione told STAT. “I don’t think it will impair our ability to continue to provide integrated approaches, whole-person approaches, to health care … and I don’t think it will impair our ability to do the best basic and clinical research in integrative medicine.”

Let’s just put it this way, just because Dr. Fricchione claims never to have met an integrative medicine practitioner who is antivaccine doesn’t mean that there isn’t a high prevalence of antivaccine beliefs in integrative medicine. For one thing, he’s at Massachusetts General, which is the very epitome of the ivory tower. I’d be willing to bet that he’s just oblivious, working as he does in his own little bubble. More importantly, he runs a “mind-body” medicine center. Supplements are generally not part of this sort of medicine, and his center’s website doesn’t indicate that it is an exception.

The bottom line, of course, is that The Cleveland Clinic threw Dr. Neides under the bus, portraying him as, in essence, having “gone rogue” and publishing a blog featuring his affiliation with The Cleveland Clinic, complete with official logo. However, it’s now clear that those initial disavowals were a bit—shall we say?—disingenuous, as evidenced by a story published in Cleveland.com in which Chris Quinn, Vice President of Content, explains how Dr. Neides came to be blogging for Cleveland.com in the first place, in the process throwing The Cleveland Clinic under the bus to join Dr. Neides.=:

In January 2014, Bridget Peterlin, then manager of public relations for the Clinic’s Wellness Institute, sent me a note asking whether I’d be interested in a column from Neides, the institute’s new director. Neides wanted to write about wellness for the weekly Sun newspapers. Peterlin included a sample column, about the benefits of eating nuts.

We welcome high-quality content for cleveland.com and the Suns, and this column had the benefit of being free. We discussed a title, came up with “Words on Wellness” and set up Neides as a trusted user on the system that feeds content to our website. That gave him the ability to publish columns directly.

Neides did not publish his columns himself, however. The Clinic’s corporate communications staff handled that, using the account we had set up for him. I do not know if the corporate communications staff edited or revised Neides’ columns before publishing them.

You read that right. The Clinic’s corporate communications staff knew what Dr. Neides was doing and actually published his columns for him, and no one at Cleveland.com edits or approves Dr. Neides’ column. What does happen is that Bob Smith in The Cleveland Clinic’s Corporate Communications office, who is a former Plain Dealer reporter, normally sends an email to Linda Kinsey, the editor of the Sun newspapers, to alert her. According to Quinn, Kinsey would often take a look at the column but “never found anything objectionable.” Quinn then explains:

But Smith didn’t send an alert after the column was published Friday. The column is published in the Lyndhurst-South Euclid page of cleveland.com and copied to other community pages. Without an alert from Smith, Kinsey did not know it was there.

If we had noticed the column soon after it was published, I’d like to think we would have had a conversation about it, both internally and with the Clinic. Possibly, before the thing caught widescale attention, we would have unpublished it and sought revisions. That’s hindsight, though, so I can’t say for sure.

There’s definitely more than a whiff of Mr. Quinn covering his posterior for having permitted a system that allowed Cleveland.com to publish a regular health column by a prominent physician at The Cleveland Clinic without paying for it. Of course, the Clinic deserves its share of the blame, as it sought this arrangement because it thought it would be good PR. It probably was, until Dr. Neides started going down the rabbit hole of anti-GMO ravings and then, last week, published antivaccine ravings.

Quinn also explains why Dr. Neides’ column mysteriously disappeared for a few hours on Sunday, only to reappear Sunday night:

Around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, I received an email from a reader expressing outrage about the removal of the Neides column from our site. I was surprised by the email, as nothing should be deleted from our site without my approval, and we very rarely remove articles and columns from our site and do so only with much deliberation. We own the rights to everything published on our site, with rare exceptions.

I checked, and the column was not just unpublished, it was entirely gone from our system.

I sent a note to the reader to thank him for the alert, and we set about restoring the column, and the many comments associated with it. We found it in an archive, and within an hour or so, we republished it.

Upon review and after consultation with the Clinic, we learned that Smith was the one who deleted it. As that violates our policy, we have removed the access of Neides and the Clinic staff to the system that feeds content to our site.

So it was The Cleveland Clinic’s communications office, specifically Bob Smith, who removed the post, no doubt because he had become aware of the uproar the column had caused. Perhaps he feared for his job. Now here’s the part I like the best, because it illustrates so well what’s wrong with online journalism these days:

Why is the column staying on the site even though the Clinic has disavowed it and Neides apologized for it?

This column has become the topic of a widespread conversation. At cleveland.com, we strive to be the center of conversation, so we are loath to remove something that has become central to a debate.

As I said, if we had learned that Neides was pushing discredited anti-vaccination arguments before the column had become part of a bigger conversation, we might have asked him or the Clinic for revisions. By the time we knew of it, the conversation was raging.

In other words, Cleveland.com loves the traffic the post is getting. That’s what “striving to be the center of conversation” means here. Thanks to the controversy, Dr. Neides’ column went viral, and its leadership doesn’t want to remove the source of those clicks. It wants to ride the wave of traffic until it subsides to background. Then and only then, I predict, will Cleveland.com remove the article.

So what we have is a situation in which The Cleveland Clinic published Dr. Neides’ blog post with the full knowledge of its communications office of the content of each one. For whatever reason, last week Dr. Neides felt “inspired” to write a well-nigh incoherent antivaccine rant more suitable for NaturalNews.com or Age of Autism than even for Cleveland.com. True, previous columns had contained less—shall we say?—intense rants against GMOs and glyphosate, but a lot of the previous columns had also been fairly benign bits of medical advice regarding eating healthy and exercising. For whatever reason, Dr. Neides’ column didn’t raise any red flags with Bob Smith—or anyone else—until after it had been published and gone viral.

You can look at this as cluelessness on Smith’s part, and it probably was. You can look at it as incompetence on the part of The Cleveland Clinic’s communication office, and it was probably that too. (Did Mr. Smith actually read the column before sending it out on Friday?) However, I also think that this PR debacle reflects just how much a culture of accepting quackery has taken hold in the Clinic, such that even an antivaccine rant like Dr. Neides’ didn’t raise an eyebrow. It also belies the Clinic’s later claims about how pro-vaccine it is, because if that were the case it would have communication policies in place that would never have let Dr. Neides’ article get past Smith.

This whole debacle was a major PR disaster for The Cleveland Clinic, but it was also very harmful for vaccine advocates in general. A major player at a major academic medical center just created a national news story by regurgitating the worst of the worst antivaccine lies. Let’s just put it this way, when the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism and one of my local antivaccine quacks defend you, you’ve screwed up big time and potentially done damage to public health. Worse, I can see where this story is going, because, as Elton John put it, I’ve Seen That Movie Too. I can see the evolving narrative, because that, too, is entirely predictable. If Dr. Niedes is fired or strongly disciplined, antivaccine cranks will portray him as being a martyr “persecuted” for speaking the “truth.” (I’m surprised Mike Adams hasn’t done this already. Maybe he’s waiting to find out whether Neides is fired or not.) Antivaccine cranks will point to his story to show that real academic doctors share their views and that The Man can’t stand dissent. It’s coming. Be prepared.

And never forget: When you let quackery in, you can’t control how far it will spread or what it will infect. The Cleveland Clinic would do well to learn from this disaster. I’m also hoping that this is the wakeup call needed to shine a light on quackademic medicine centers at otherwise respectable academic medical centers like The Cleveland Clinic.

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Hickie
    January 10, 2017

    That’s a pretty pathetic hand washing of responsibility by Mr. Quinn and his newspaper. If Quinn had any journalistic integrity (instead of simply accepting the revenue of increased site traffic via Neides’ column” and being a “center of conversation” he’d at least publish a counter-editorial calling Neides grossly incompetent, apologize for his complete lack of oversight of the Cleveland Clinic column and state the importance, safety and efficacy of vaccines in preventing diseases that kill and maim.

    I’m not holding my breath on that one.

    Also, Neides made the NVIC Facebook page yesterday, which is at least as big a sign of screwing up big time and damaging public health as appearing on AoA (though the queen of anti-vaccine Fisher has yet to pen Neides formal endorsement). Perhaps there is still time for Neides to be a speaker for (starting today) one of the worst-ever anti-vaccine online events –a “docu-series” called “Vaccines Revealed” (which is so downright bad I won’t post a link to it).

  2. #2 Chris Preston
    Australia
    January 10, 2017

    The article made the facebook page of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network as well. It is in the best of anti-vaccine company there.

    There seems to be some serious egg on faces at the Cleveland Clinic as one excuse after another is shown to be a tissue of lies. If only Donald Trump could keep his mouth shut and not suck all the oxygen away.

  3. #3 Joewv
    January 10, 2017

    Selling integrative medicine in these institutions is like selling a extended service warranties on consumer goods. They’re worthless, usually covered by other areas, are pure profit for the organization, generally are pushed by people not forced to lie to the face of the person being fleeced of their money, and are an embarrassment to those who actually care about providing quality customer service. It wouldn’t be fixed by single payer or any other healthcare reform and probably would be worse in government run healthcare systems because politicians would get their cut and whatever woomeister who is based in the district of the most powerful senator or congressman would get their nonsense pushed on the rest of us.

  4. #4 Dangerous Bacon
    January 10, 2017

    It should be noted that the Cleveland Plain Dealer is the major news source for cleveland.com, which is viewed as an online version of the paper, so some of the embarassment for not vetting Neides’ column splashes back on the Plain Dealer.

    The Plain Dealer has previously had problems with uncritical gushing over medical woo (as in its reporting of how an alternative medicine doctor supposedly relieved former Browns’ quarterback Bernie Kosar’s neurologic symptoms).

    As for hospitals/medical centers profiting from woo/quackery, it can be eye-opening just looking at what’s for sale in the hospital gift shop.

  5. #5 Cowboydoc,PH.D.,MD
    Prescott, AZ
    January 10, 2017

    I was blissfully enjoying retirement from medicine when I discovered the existence of a vaccine rant published under the auspices of the Cleveland Clinic. Then I discovered more: I learned they now have a, so called, Wellness Clinic and store which apparently peddles unproven woo woo treatments for ill-defined conditions. You know, those dreadful “naturally occurring” self contaminating conditions resulting from living life!

    What could be a better money generator? Provide a, so-called, “natural” cure for a so-called “naturally” occurring condition, that will, obviously, damage one’s “naturally” occurring good health. Gee Whiz, if I could only live in a vacuum I would be so healthy. May I remind the Cleveland’s Execs. Just because a particular woo woo treatment their Institute is peddling for profit in their woo woo store doesn’t mean its not harmful.

    So the Cleveland Clinic is now promoting unproven cures and CAM? What is going on? I thought they were the transplant center of the world? I used to return their critically ill transplant patients after they had fallen ill while traveling, i.e., after I had managed to stabilize them. Is the Cleveland Clinic going to become the World Center for Woo Woo now? Shame on them!

    One more point regarding the anti-vaccine rant appearing on one of their official websites. I feel the urge to remind the Cleveland Clinic Execs., and all the vaccine naysayers out there, of one empirically undeniable fact: In the US, have they seen a recent victim of polio lately? No they have not! And why, because the polio vaccine works, and works well. In fact, last I checked polio has been effectively eradicated from the United States; no thanks to the anti-vaccine movement. I guess they would prefer we were either all dead or limping through life. Thanks Cleveland Clinic, thanks anti-vaccine movement.

    Finally, I grew up in the early 1950’s when parents lived in fear, for days, when their child came down with a high fever. When I was growing up I had two friends who had to use braces in order to ambulate. I guess the Cleveland Clinic would like those days to return, after all, think of the income!

  6. #6 JDK
    January 10, 2017

    @ Joewv #3
    Up here in socialized medicine land, the gov’t healthcare system doesn’t pay for woo, not even chiropracters anymore. You need extra private insurance for these type of reimbursements. However, it may change with the gov’t establishing Boards of homeopaths and naturopaths to oversee licencing and regulation of these folks.
    As an aside, it is depressing to see how people can get degrees in health related sciences and so not pay attention that they can go head first down the rabbit hole to become promoters of magical thinking.

  7. #7 Christine Rose
    Ann Arbor
    January 10, 2017

    I think it’s pretty clear what happened. Neides sent the article to Smith, and Smith posted it without actually reading it, or at least not without actually thinking about it. He also forgot to send the alert to the newspaper staff.

    By the time Smith figured out what had happened, the genie was out of the bottle and the Plain Dealer really couldn’t take the article down without looking bad.

    And truthfully, they should have looked bad because it was a mistake to set up this process in the first place, because it was a mistake to trust the clinic, because it was a mistake for the clinic to have hired an anti-vaxxer in the first place.

  8. #8 WLU
    January 10, 2017

    I’m amused that the comments have been shut down, even though the page is still up.

    Amused, and a bit relieved at how much of my time has been freed up.

  9. #9 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    January 10, 2017

    Orac writes,

    And never forget: When you let quackery in, you can’t control how far it will spread or what it will infect.

    MJD says,

    Let it play out, Orac.

    Eventually, these quack Doctors will get what they want (e.g., mercury-free, aluminum-free, preservative-free, and most important: vaccines not manufactured with natural rubber latex).

    Thereafter, these so called quack Doctors will be working the night shift at Walmart pushing carts while the sensible Doctors will continue to promote, and profit from, better health though vaccinations.

  10. #10 MG
    Cleveland
    January 10, 2017

    An editor on the print side recognized the ludicrous nature of the column and rejected it. The setup that allows such nonsense to be posted without editing, and the decision to let it remain on the site as is, are solely the responsibility of Mr. Quinn and Cleveland.com. The Plain Dealer and the site have the same owners, but very different management. Also, Mr. Smith had no role in medical coverage, and no experience with medical subjects, before going to the Clinic.

  11. #11 John
    Cleveland, Ohio
    January 10, 2017

    Dr. Neides has published several other spectacularly idiotic and woo-filled “articles” in the Sun newspapers. The content of those pseudoscience and medical science-denier articles would make even homeopathic practitioners blush, and should have embarrassed the Cleveland Clinic into taking action against Dr. Neides long, long ago.

  12. #12 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake, (the bottom end that is)
    January 10, 2017

    5 Cowboy

    I grew up in the early 1950’s when parents lived in fear, for days, when their child came down with a high fever.

    I remember my parents checking by prodding my stomach and trying to feed me a dill pickle. I am not convinced that this was an approved diagnostic method.

    I remember the air of suppressed terror .

  13. #13 Mark Thorson
    January 10, 2017

    That’s the Cleveland Clinic? Those rocks in front of the building are aligned to channel negative energy toward the building! This can’t be an accient. Only a skilled feng shui practitioner who has turned toward evil would have done that! This must be part of a plan by the Cleveland Clinic to keep people sick so they can make more money off of them!

  14. #14 jrkrideau
    At the bottom of the lake, (the bottom end that is)
    January 10, 2017

    # 6 JDK
    Up here in socialized medicine land, the gov’t healthcare system doesn’t pay for woo,

    Keep your fingers crossed. Much to my surprise we in ON have had a College of Naturopaths since roughly the 1920’s. No payments so far.

    Given the pressure on health budgets, unless we get some really clueless, woo-oriented health ministers at provincial level, I would hope we don’t see the woo idiots on the payroll.

    If nothing else, the CMA and provincial associations are likely to fight such a move tooth and nail, since any money would come out of their slice of the pie.

  15. #15 Narad
    January 10, 2017

    I am not convinced that this was an approved diagnostic method.

    That was clearly before the criteria were changed to make it appear that the fraudulent vaccine actually worked.

  16. #16 sirhcton
    What? A new year already?
    January 10, 2017

    . . . At cleveland.com, we strive to be the center of conversation, so we are loath to remove something that has become central to a debate.

    Translation: Cickbait! We love this stuff. “We don’t have to show you no stinkin’ integrity when we have integrative medicine!”

  17. #17 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 10, 2017

    The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Store also sells vitamins, Metagenics products, orthomolecular products, fish oil supplements, curcumin supplements, essential oils, digestive enzymes, melatonin, resveratrol, antioxidants, aromatherapy, and a wide variety of herbal remedies.

    I note they also sell home-brew beer kits (also hard cider kits), cocktail shakers (OK, you *can* make salad dressing in them too), cocktail stirrers, shot glasses, whisk(e)y and wine glasses, kitchen gadgets including a banana slicer (seriously) and cake servers (cake is apparently as important as beer to ‘wellness’), sprays to keep your poop from stinking when you drop a duce, laptop bags, purses, cosmetics, and a jewelry tree.

    Based on my spot checking, all of theses and more can be yours for 5 to 20% more than other stores charge for the exact same item.

  18. #18 Mark Thorson
    January 10, 2017

    It’s in today’s Daily Mail. I’d say the situation is still unfolding.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4105682

  19. #19 AB
    January 10, 2017

    You’re hilarious Orac, I haven’t checked out your blog for a while and it doesn’t look like I’ve missed much.
    You remind me of someone talking and talking on the phone, so you put it down for 20 minutes because you (the talker) won’t even notice the other person isn’t on the other end anymore.you carry on with your life and then go back to the phone and the talker(you) is still raving on about the same stuff.
    Seriously you’re a bloody broken record.

    Do a story on that Women (ex NEMJ Editor) who wrote a book saying big pharma can’t be trusted because they pay off everyone involved in the unethical world of medical/science/research

    People like you.

    You’re a weak, cowardly idiot, pure evil I reckon.
    Your agenda is so obvious.
    You’re a joke.

  20. #20 Narad
    January 10, 2017

    Translation: Cickbait! We love this stuff. “We don’t have to show you no stinkin’ integrity when we have integrative medicine!”

    Is the, ah, misstep of the Cleveland Clinic really the problem of cleveland.com? The former approached the latter with the supply of free advertorial copy in the first place, as I understand it.

  21. #21 Dorit Reiss
    January 10, 2017

    Maybe Cleveland.com can solicit articles from Sherrie Tenpenny next to solidify their reputation as a platform for anti-vaccine articles and a medium for undermining children’s health.

  22. #22 Gray Squirrel
    January 10, 2017

    And get this: ““There’s no one that I know in integrative medicine who would say you should use an alternative approach to preventing communicable diseases in children,” said Dr. Greg Fricchione…” (Rats!, my “return” key just stopped working in this text-box so pardon the crappy formatting.) Let’s unpack that just a little: no sane person would support using an “alternative approach” to preventing communicable diseases in children. Right: because alternative medicine isn’t medicine. But apparently it’s OK to use not-med for (whatever) and (whatever). Just not when it’s really important.

  23. #23 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    January 10, 2017

    @ AB, first the blogger gets to pick the subjects; don’t read if you don’t like them. Secondly, you didn’t add a single neuron to the commentary. How about picking an actual point on the subject. No one is making you read here.

  24. #24 TBruce
    January 10, 2017

    @AB:

    Go away and be boring someplace else.

  25. #25 rs
    January 10, 2017

    I just performed an AB test. Either way all I got was the same content free 135 word ad hominem.

  26. #26 Lighthorse
    January 10, 2017

    Today, I learned a new word: volksverraeten, meaning ‘traitor of the people’. In an annual contest held in Germany, volksverraeten won as the ‘ugliest unword of the year’. When I learned that Cleveland Clinic was allowing the on-site sale of homeopathic detox pills, the same word, and a few others, came immediately to mind. Perhaps someone could up with a contest for the ugliest unmedicine of the year, or the most unethical medical institution of the year.

  27. #27 herr doktor bimler
    January 10, 2017

    I remember my parents checking by prodding my stomach and trying to feed me a dill pickle.
    I remember the air of suppressed terror .

    Dill pickles aren’t that bad!

    That’s the Cleveland Clinic?
    It appears to be designed as a solar furnace. Do not stand at the focus.

  28. #28 Chris Hickie
    January 10, 2017

    @ Dorit #21 –well, Tenpenny practices medicine (if you can call it that–I can’t) in Ohio, so maybe Neides can open a satellit “wellness clinic” at her site.

    I wouldn’t trust Tenpenny to care for Sea Monkeys, let alone children And, unless Cleveland Clinic shows some gumption, I’ll be tossing their glossy mailing as to how great their children’s hospital is straight into the recycle bin.

    What a waste.

  29. #29 TBruce
    January 10, 2017
  30. #30 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    January 10, 2017

    From MSN:

    After the meeting concluded, Kennedy told reporters that Mr. Trump had asked him to “chair a commission on vaccination safety and scientific integrity.” Kennedy said he told Mr. Trump he would chair such a commission, and that their meeting was held at Mr. Trump’s request.

  31. #31 Narad
    January 10, 2017

    Dill pickles aren’t that bad!

    Aside from the dill.

  32. #32 Narad
    January 10, 2017

    Maybe Cleveland.com can solicit articles from Sherrie Tenpenny next to solidify their reputation as a platform for anti-vaccine articles and a medium for undermining children’s health.

    Ah, but cleveland.com’s position appears to be that the Cleveland Clinic doesn’t get to disappear its embarrassments. This is different from soliciting antivaccine content in the first place.

  33. #33 Eric Lund
    January 10, 2017

    This must be part of a plan by the Cleveland Clinic to keep people sick so they can make more money off of them!

    Shhh, you don’t want them to send the kung fu assassins after you.

  34. #34 squirrelelite
    January 10, 2017

    @Chris Hickey,

    I wouldn’t trust Tenpenny to care for waterbears!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tardigrade

  35. #35 Reality
    January 10, 2017

    As Orac’s above article, quoting Qluinn,
    Upon review and after consultation with the Clinic, we learned that Smith was the one who deleted it. As that violates our policy, we have removed the access of Neides and the Clinic staff to the system that feeds content to our site.

    It appears that Smith and the Cleveland Clinic operate from the same playbook as does Scientology – “We run this show, not you.”
    In the comments of the article(s) there were some complaints from locals that CC ran the county and bullies everyone who may disagree with some of their political/civic business machinations, à la Scientology & Clearwater, Fla.

    The analogy seems apt: alt-med magical thinking medical clinic and weird ufo cult.

    Have fun.

  36. #36 Chris Preston
    Australia
    January 10, 2017

    Well Donald Trump has created some more hilarity to come. Robert F Kennedy Jr is to head a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity.

    Kennedy is going to struggle with the scientific integrity part as much as he will with the vaccine safety part.

    Trump seems to think running a country is like appearing on a television show.

  37. #37 JustaTech
    January 10, 2017

    TBruce @29:
    And by “brighten my day” you mean “make me scream into the abyss”, right?

    Ffffffaaaaaaa…….

  38. #38 JustaTech
    January 10, 2017

    Johnny @17: If you’re ever in need of a laugh, look up the video ad for Poo-pourri (the stuff you spray in the toilet to make your poops not smell). It is hysterical.

    (The stuff itself I guess works OK.)

  39. #39 Wzrd1
    January 10, 2017

    Aside from the dill.

    I happen to love dill in many things, alas, pickles is not one of those things.

    More on topic, Scientific Parent has a slightly different take on this:
    http://thescientificparent.org/cleveland-clinic-doctor-apologizes-for-anti-vaccine-comments/

    Frankly, I suspect Smith received the article toward the end of the day and just blasted it off, sight unseen. When he heard of the kerfluffle, he deleted it.
    Likely thinking the entire time (and likely currently), “Oh, I am soooo fired!”.
    Still, this is, despite its appearances, a win for Cleveland Clinic, as their woo shop of horrors will likely be doing quite the brisk business.

    Well, back to cooking. I’m in the process of turning 5 pounds of ground meat into meatballs.

  40. #40 rs
    January 10, 2017

    “I’m in the process of turning 5 pounds of ground meat into meatballs.”

    You need a spherical cow.

  41. #41 Wzrd1
    January 10, 2017

    You need a spherical cow.

    They’re on backorder.
    I need a bigger oven, I have a full sheet (18×26 inch) on each shelf and still have mixture left.

    Once that’s done, I’ll have to start making the pasta sauce. I cook it in batches of two gallons, once done, I freeze the sauce in quart containers.
    I used to also can the sauce, but my pressure cooker got lost in the move and I haven’t had the spare cash to replace it.

  42. #42 JP
    January 10, 2017

    Trump seems to think running a country is like appearing on a television show.

    Speaking of the Orange One…

    …when I was deciding to go into Slavic studies, never did I think that I would have to read the phrase (allegedly) connecting the President-elect to golden showers.

    And yet here we are.

  43. #43 JP
    January 10, 2017

    Aside from the dill.

    Narad would not like the cucumber salad I made recently, which had copious amounts of dill.

    He may possibly have liked the pierogi (cheese-potato and mushroom), and roast that it accompanied, and the pączki I made for dessert.

  44. #44 herr doktor bimler
    January 10, 2017

    Well Donald Trump has created some more hilarity to come. Robert F Kennedy Jr is to head a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity.

    The only source for that claim was RFK Jnr himself, whose elevated self-image is matched only by his mendacity. Trump himself denied that any decision had been made.
    Any encounter between two extreme narcissists is likely to end in tears before bedtime and a Highlander “There can only be One!!!” moment.

  45. #46 MarkN
    January 10, 2017

    A hundred bucks on what tomorrow’s RI topic will be, any takers???

    • #47 Dorit Reiss
      January 10, 2017

      The benefits of energy healing in treating cancer. I think Orac has seen the light of that.

  46. #48 herr doktor bimler
    January 10, 2017

    what tomorrow’s RI topic will be, any takers?
    The culinary virtues of dill. Especially as flavouring for akvavit.

  47. #49 Delphine
    January 10, 2017

    The healing power of a golden shower.

  48. #50 JP
    January 10, 2017

    “Urine therapy” is, in fact, a thing…

  49. #51 Gray Squirrel
    January 10, 2017

    Re. RFK: I saw this in the news and thought “President Measles.” Yes it’s only RFK’s word so far, but there haven’t been any tweets to deny it. There is still time for a deluge of phone calls, email, and postal mail, to try to douse this before it becomes a five-alarm fire. Pretend you voted for him if you have to. And someone out there needs to develop a database that can be used in case Price takes over at CDC and stops reporting communicable disease data to the public. Because dollars to donuts there are going to be more & bigger outbreaks over the next four years.

  50. #52 Chris Preston
    Australia
    January 10, 2017

    I wouldn’t doubt that Trump said something similar to what RFK is claiming. After all we have seen that Trump tends to state the first thing that comes into his head, only to deny saying it later.

    This smacks of RFK announcing it to big himself up as usual.

    We have seen Trump walk away from so many things that he has promised, that it is really hard to know which of his promises he intends to keep. I also suspect that RFK’s anti-vaccine hysteria may be a bridge too far for Congress. But then what do I know. I thought the people of America would easily see through the empty rhetoric of Trump.

    In any case, it looks like Donald Trump might have quite a lot more on his hands over the next few weeks to worry about responding about any promises he made to Kennedy.

  51. #53 mho
    January 11, 2017

    and, in the meantime,… “An unvaccinated adult may have exposed people to measles in the past month at several locations in Denver, Aurora, Englewood, Centennial and Boulder County, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced Monday.The adult, whose name was not released, contracted measles while traveling abroad and was hospitalized for three days at Parker Adventist Hospital starting on Dec. 29.”
    Coughing his/her way through Walmart, 3 grocery stores, a mall, 3 restaurants, two t-mobile stores, an “apothecary”, an Urgent care facility, and a fitness center before being admitted to the hospital. (in an area covering five city/suburbs)

  52. #54 Chris
    January 11, 2017

    Narad: “Aside from the dill.”

    It is better than cilantro.

    I actually plan on planting some soon in my sunny room, along with basil.

  53. #55 sadmar
    January 11, 2017

    Well, I got onto the The Wellness Institute Store early yesterday, having clicked the link to general page for the Institute, immediately spotted the “Wellness Store Online” link in the navigation menu on the left, and thought (as I am wont to do) ‘Follow the money.’ What I found was that the Institute is very, very big into Those Deadly Toxins, and not just into avoiding them (as you’d guess a ‘wellness’ angle on that woo would go) but, equally or more into flushing out whatever Deadly Toxins you’ve already absorbed. Yes, good friends, there’s no need to worry, because, for a nominal fee, we can rid you of this horrible problem you didn’t know you had! On the store’s front page, right under the Detox Kit Orac described, featured product #2 is Mark Hyman’s 10 Day Detox Diet Cookbook. The price: “$24 $30” though hardcovers go on Amazon for $17.85.

    Imho, the coverage and critique of Neides’s cleveland.com piece is missing ‘the big story’ by hanging the discussion on the anti-vax peg instead of the toxins peg. The former could be a idiosyncratic peculiariity, but the latter is the heart of the beast of the whole Hyman/Neides operation at the CC. Even on my first read of the cleveland.com piece, it seemed to me the anti-vax was secondary to Neides, too. That is, as his title indicated, he was just trotting out the familiar AV playbook as a strategy to sell the core gospel of detox.

    The copy on the store site and the Institute site was all of a piece with the ‘toxins’ prose in the cleveland.com post. Not just the same concepts, but similar tone, voice, use of language. In short, the toxins bunko Neides dished out for public consumption wasn’t idiosyncratic or off-the-reservation, but what this whole wing of the CC is doing all-the-time, every day. I say ‘wing’ because the store and Institute pages gave me a strong subjective impression that Neides is functioning here as Mark Hyman’s wingman. This isn’t a case of one bad apple, it’s a team of bad apples with a sizable well-funded posse behind them.

    BTW, when I typed Hyman’s name in the search field at Amazon to price-check his 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook I discovered a different product called “The Detox Box” listed under his name: not a collection of homeopathic oral drops, but a kit containing a 64-page study guide, 2 CDs, 70 flash cards, and 2 self-evaluation questionnaires “to help you assess your levels of exposure”.

    And while the schtick at the Wellness Store isn’t quite Mike Adams, it’s basically The Food Babe, more or less straight up… Oh right, The Food Babe Way shows up on page 2 (of 9) of Amazons hits for “Mark Hyman”, listed as “by Vani Hari and Mark Hyman” thanks to Dr. Mark having provided the Foreword, as prominently displayed on the cover. I don’t know if Vani is shilling homepathic detox kits. But even w/o the Veronica officinalis 3X, the Food Babism of The Wellness Institute is so Jughead Extremis that the fact it’s being promulgated with this depth and force within a high status institution isn’t just a serious concern, but one that ought to pose questions of “Why?’ and ‘How did this this happen?’

    And I do have to say I don’t find Orac’s Idealist (in the philosophical sense) slippery-slope thesis persuasive. Which is to say, I don’t buy aggressive Food Babist enterprise is the logical end-result of any and every deviation from a zero-tolerance policy for any bit of CAM – that once you let a little magical thinking in the door, “you can’t control how far it will spread or what it will infect.” For one thing, hospitals with religious affiliations operated for generations without Faith-stuff spreading or infecting. For another, there are no shortage of historical examples to illustrate what Marcuse called ‘repressive tolerance’: letting a little opposition in the door as a means of defusing and controlling it. I’d also note any number of ‘IM” things – like Dr. Fricchione’s stress-reduction institute at Mass General or the many cancer clinics now using placebo theatrics for pain management – that have not been accompanied by anything remotely resembling the CC’s toxins bunko at their respective institutions.

    I could say ‘ideas’ can only become viral when the there’s a material weakness in the host – exposure alone is never enough. But beyond that… If there are greased down-slopes in social relations among homo sapiens sapiens, I sure as heII haven’t landed on any of them. I take the nature of our species to be not just upslopes, but ones filled with obstacles in addition to slipperiness that works only toward back-sliding. Which is to say I can’t think of any examples of ideas getting anywhere, much less gathering force, without a considerable push from money, power, and privilege.

    So, I would start looking for the real ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the Wellness Institute Store in the political economy of the Cleveland Clinic, and the larger position in the healthcare economy in which it sits. I don’t think we can ever really know what’s what’s unless we do ‘follow the money’ beyond broad assumptions about “they’re in fir the money” into specific concrete evidence of whose money is buying what exactly. And one of my starting hypotheses would be that whatever income the CC may derive from the Wellness Institute and Functional Medicine Center is likely not enough to explain the level of detox WTF. So one of the first questions I’d ask is where the CC got the money to start-up Neides’s and Hyman’s units. And, of course, I’d want to know who besides the CC might be making bank on this stuff, or gaining some broader economic/political advantage. I’d want to see if anyone like Orac’s good buddy [sarcasm] Glen Sabin of FON Therapeutics is lurking about, connecting the IM operations at the CC to the interests of Big Supplement. Then, casting the net a bit wider, I’d look for economic connections or mutual interests to the big pharmacy chains, given that the weekly circulars I get from CVS and Walgreens are full of promotions for Zicam, Cold-Eeze and vitamin supplements.

    Finally, I’d want to know where the big insurance companies are on this stuff. If I consider Neides/Wellness and Hyman/Functional as two prongs of a single ‘IM’ strategy, I see benefits for insurers in both. The ‘Functional’ prong pulls the moneyed swells who expect a lot of attention to an uncovered/un-reimbursed service, while the ‘Wellness’ prong encourages substituting supplements, online ‘education’ and and ‘interactive online programs’ for visits to a PCP.

    [Ultimately, my concerns connect to what I’ve been thinking lately about the ‘big picture’ of CAM, and that’s that office-visit quackery is a relatively limited threat, and the real danger is DIY ‘natural healthcare’ and the growth of businesses profiteering off of and promoting that ideology and practice. But I’ll have to save explaining/justifying that (admittedly still tentative) thought for another time…]

  54. #56 sadmar
    January 11, 2017

    On Trump and RFKJ:

    While is certainly take hdb’s point about RFKJ being the only source here, which amounts to no source given his track record, I wouldn’t put it past Trump to put him on some commission of the typical Washington ‘give lip-service to a special interest that will never get anything in policy’ variety. My first thought was maybe he did get enough campaign contributions from the Blaxill-led AV moneybags contingent he gave a brief audience to at that fundraiser that he has to toss them something as payback. But my second thought is that his notorious obsession with celebrities and blue bloods is enough to have him groveling before anyone from clan “Kennedy”.

    I will say three things with high confidence:
    1. A “deluge of phone calls, email, and postal mail, to try to douse this” is about as bad an approach to Trump as you could get, since any he responds to any criticism with full-bore attack and doubling down on whatever he was criticized for. That deluge is gasoline to Trump, and is more likely to turn RFKJ’s feeble cinders into a 50-alarm wildfire than douse it.
    2. Given the GOP Congress refusing to find the Putin bridge too far to ride the Trump train, the chances they’ll waste any political capital on standing between The Donald and RFKJ are nil.
    3. There’s neither enough money or power in anti-vax or pro-vax for anyone in the White House or in Congressional leadership to do anything beyond lip service about it one way or the other. Vaccine policy is a forlorn sub-minnow in a pond where piranhas fight to get 15 seconds of attention away from the sharks. If Trump does anything it will get rubber-stamped, but it will be no more than a blip of inconsequential noise forgotten by the time the next Twitter-storm greats the next dawn.

  55. #57 Gray Squirrel
    January 11, 2017

    Good analyses, Sadmar. (Drat, my “return” key still isn’t working on this site!, sorry for the bad formatting.) Agreed, “follow the money.” Agreed, not every instance of a clinic going for some IM placebo hand-waving is an immediate risk of a Reiki and homeopathy infestation, though we’all need to keep our eyes open and make noise

  56. #58 Gray Squirrel
    January 11, 2017

    …(Rats!, trying the Tab key caused my comment to submit prematurely, is anyone else having these problems?)… anyway: we need to keep our eyes open and make noise if we see it getting beyond placebo pain relief or stress/relaxation stuff. Orac’s approach is to have a low “positive” threshold, which IMHO is better than the opposite. Re. RFK: Agreed, criticism is gasoline for Trump. Though here’s the risk: if RFK or any of those loons gets any sort of Presidential appointment or commission or whatever, they are going to use it for all it’s worth to get The Base riled up and screeching. That will a) cause us trouble in various states, and b) produce more vaccine refuseniks, thereby c) producing more and worse outbreaks. So one way or another we have to find a way to bog ’em down in quicksand so they don’t get traction. As with a number of other issues, it may fall to us to do all of the fighting ourselves (such as in social media), rather than expecting any support from Trump or Congress.

  57. #59 LouV
    France
    January 11, 2017

    @AB #19

    Do a story on that Women (ex NEMJ Editor) who wrote a book saying big pharma can’t be trusted because they pay off everyone involved in the unethical world of medical/science/research.

    I assume you are talking about Marcia Angell (ex NEJM editor), and her book “The truth about the drug companies : how they deceive us and what to do about it”. That book was published in 2004 ; Orac tends to react to fresher news.
    More important : the “broken record” here is how consistently Angell is misquoted and used by people who don’t want to bring constructive criticism of real problems in current research ; they quote her to reject any research they don’t like, by pretending she shares their cartoonish representations of medical research.
    It’s even more ironic when they quote her in vaccination debates, since she is very pro-vaccination.
    – In her book she is far more POed at “me-too” drugs and regrets vaccines aren’t more available (see chapter 5 p.91-92)
    – She uses immunization rates as a measurement for health care quality here : http://www.pbs.org/healthcarecrisis/Exprts_intrvw/m_angell.htm

  58. […] And, make no mistake, The Cleveland Clinic embraces “detox,” even selling such products on its website, while Dr. Neides is very much into “detox” […]

  59. […] has gone when the director of its Wellness Institute published a blatantly antivaccine article for a local publication, which led to a firestorm of publicity in the medical blogosphere, social media, and conventional […]

  60. […] A Cleveland Clinic doctor’s antivaccine rant: Facilitated by a culture of pseudoscience and pu… […]

  61. […] Dr. Daniel Neides, had antivaccine tendencies, as evidenced by an op-ed that he wrote. That’s what happens when you allow pseudoscience to take hold at an institution like the Cleveland Clinic, and, make no mistake, quackademic medicine reigns […]

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.