Archives for September, 2017

Like many advocates of science-based medicine, I was dismayed at the $200 million gift given by Susan and Henry Samueli to the University of California, Irvine in order to vastly expand its integrative medicine offerings. John Weeks, a noted promoter of integrative medicine, was not pleased at how the mainstream press covered this gift, and in particular he was most displeased that skeptics were heavily quoted in the reporting. In response, he launched a spittle-flecked, spelling-challenged broadside against his perceived enemies, full of misinformation and logical fallacies. Naturally, Orac can’t resist applying some not-so-Respectful Insolence to it.

A new analysis reveals that there are antivaccine bots on Twitter. Why am I not surprised?

Last week, I wrote about a truly execrable bit of science by Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic purporting to show that aluminum adjuvants cause brain inflammation, which causes autism. Since then, I’ve learned that, not only is it bad science, but that there are red flags about several of the figures to raise the specter of fraud. This might not be just bad science. It might be fraudulent science. The only way to resolve this would be for the authors to release the original full resolution images of their blots.

Last week, UC-Irvine announced a $200 million gift from Susan and Henry Samueli to create a new integrative medicine center. Since then, UC-Irvine has tried to scrub any evidence of homeopathy use on its website. It didn’t work. Unfortunately, thanks to the Samuelis, homeopathy and other pseudoscience are deeply embedded in UC-Irvine, which has become the new epitome of quackademic medicine.

Recently, the Hope4Cancer Institute, a quack clinic in Mexico has added a treatment known as Rigvir to its other offerings. But what is Rigvir? It turns out that it’s an import from Latvia with a mysterious history. Its proponents claim that it targets cancer specifically. Unfortunately, there is a profound paucity of evidence for its efficacy. The story of Rigvir is the story of an unproven treatment that, because of its origin in a small country, has flown mostly under the radar. Until now, that is.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop is continuing to sell snake oil promoted as the “empowerment” of women. Yes, that even includes a psychic vampire repellent, reiki charged.

Over the last couple of days I noted a disturbance in the antivaccine force, another study claimed to be slam dunk evidence that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines cause autism. It’s not. Also, a word to antivaxers challenging Orac to look at this study: Be very careful what you wish for…

Yesterday, the University of California, Irvine announced that Susan and Henry Samueli had donated $200 million to establish integrative medicine quackery there. Is this the shape of medicine to come?

Five years ago, IBM announced that its supercomputer Watson would revolutionize cancer treatment by using its artificial intelligence to digest and distill the thousands of oncology studies published every year plus patient-level data and expert recommendations into treatment recommendation. Last week, a report published by STAT News shows that, years later, IBM’s hubris and hype have crashed into reality.

An antivaccine blogger is amazed that big pharma has allowed its lackeys in the press to publish negative stories about the flu vaccine. Naturally, she thinks she knows why and sees a conspiracy. Not surprisingly, her conspiracy theory doesn’t make much sense.

Does the flu vaccine cause miscarriages?

A recent study claims to have found a link between influenza vaccination and miscarriage, and antivaxers are rejoicing. The study itself suffers mightily from post hoc subgroup analyses and small numbers in the subgroup, so much so that even its authors don’t really believe its results.

The antivaccine group SaneVax, which specializes in spreading misinformation about the HPV vaccine, has released part one of a three-part series of short films. Unfortunately, these are propaganda films disguised as an issue documentary.

Last week, I wrote about a naturopath imitating the worst of real doctors by running his very own dubious stem cell clinic. He even cosplays an interventional radiologist doing it. Unfortunately, he’s far from alone. There are many more naturopaths going down this road. Even more unfortunately, it is MDs who are showing the way. Basically, naturopaths don’t just cosplay doctors. They cosplay the worst of doctors as well.

Many are the PR firms and astroturf groups out there trying to influence the public. One favored technique is to publish an op-ed by an expert or “thought leader” in a major media outlet. Not infrequently, these op-eds are ghostwritten. Unfortunately, to its sorrow, STATNews found that out this week.

Britt Hermes is an ex-naturopath who realized that she had become a quack and had the bravery to quit and study to become a real scientist. Because she is an apostate, the church of naturopathy has a special antipathy reserved for her, which is why a “naturopathic oncologist” named Colleen Huber has engaged in legal thuggery to silence her. Not-a-Dr. Huber has apparently never heard of the Streisand Effect, because a look at her website and her incredibly badly done and incompetent clinical study claiming that her treatments plus eliminating processed sugar results in much better cancer survival would be very embarrassing…to her.