Respectful Insolence

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Pretty much everyone who’s gotten through junior high recognizes the line from the William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, when Juliet says, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, retain that dear perfection which he owes…

Over the years, the criticism of “evidence-based medicine” (EBM) that I have repeated here and that I and others have repeated at my not-so-super-secret other blog is that its levels of evidence relegate basic science considerations to the lowest level evidence and elevate randomized clinical trial evidence to the highest rung, in essence fetishizing it…

Practitioners of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) have a love-hate relationship with randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Actually, it’s mostly hate, but they do crave the validation that only randomized clinical trials can provide within the paradigm of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Yes, I intentionally said EBM, rather than science-based medicine (SBM), because, as I’ve described so…

To say that I haven’t been much of a fan of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) throughout the years is a gross understatement. If you want to see the depths of my—shall we say?—lack of enthusiasm for NCCAM, feel free to type “NCCAM” in the search box of this blog and…

I’m not alone in pointing this out, but if there’s one thing about research and clinical trials into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) that has become very apparent to me over the years, it’s that the more rigorous the study the less likely it is to show an effect. In normal research, the usual progression…

The “success” of NCCAM grants on homeopathy

One of the great benefits of having been a blogger for nearly eight years now is that I now have a rich history of thousands of posts. True, there are the occasional posts that I wish I hadn’t written and even the occasional post that I consider to be not particularly good, but for the…

I’d like to publicly thank Dr. John Killen, Jr. I was looking for something to write about yesterday evening, and, just when I was beginning to despair that I might have to do another post on the lunacy that is antivaccine nonsense (even I get tired of taking on antivaccine idiocy, as regular readers know),…

One of the overarching issues, if not the overarching issue that makes so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM)—or, as it’s now more commonly called, “integrative medicine”—so problematic is prior plausibility. It’s also one of the most difficult to explain to the lay public, because to someone not trained in science it can sound like not…

Oh, goody. NCCAM has a blog.

Oh, goody. I don’t know how I’ve missed this, given that it’s been in existence now for over a month now, but I have. Regular readers (and even fairly recent readers, given that I write about this topic relatively frequently) know that I’m not a big fan of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative…

Over the years that this blog has been in existence, beginning very early on, there has been one overarching theme. That theme is that the best medicine is science-based medicine. Sure, we could quibble about how that was originally defined, and I used to be more of a booster of evidence-based medicine until its blind…

NCCAM in the news: Why does it still exist?

I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Trine Tsouderos. Whether it be her investigations into the rank quackery of prominent members of the mercury militia wing of the anti-vaccine lunatic fringe, Mark and David Geier, who seem to think that chemical castration is a perfectly fine and dandy treatment for autism because testosterone binds…

I’ve frequently been critical fo the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) for funding dubious studies of pseudoscience and, in essence, promoting unscientific quackademic medicine (is there any other kind?) by giving it the patina of seeming respectability. I can’t recall how many times I’ve seen promoters of woo justify their woo by…

I’ve made no secret about the fact that I am not a fan of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). I consider it a useless, redundant center within the National Institutes of Health because it does nothing that could’t be done as well or better in the institutes and centers of the…

It’s probably an understatement to say that I’ve been critical of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Indeed, I consider it not only to be a boondoggle that wastes the taxpayers’ money funding pseudoscience, but a key promoter of quackery. Worse, its promotion of highly implausible (one might even say magical) modalities…

Yesterday, I wrote about Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) little woo-fest in the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which he called Integrative Care: A Pathway to a Healthier Nation. I and a lot of the rest of the medical blogosphere (such as PalMD, Val Jones, and Tufted Titmouse) shook our heads in disbelief…

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) owes me a new irony meter. I’ll explain in a minute, but first you have to know why I even give a rodent’s posterior about Harkin. As you may recall, no single legislator in the U.S. has done more to damage the cause of science- and evidence-based medicine than Tom Harkin.…

What’s an advocate of evidence- and science-based medicine to think about the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, better known by its abbrevation NCCAM? As I’ve pointed out before, I used to be somewhat of a supporter of NCCAM. I really did, back when I was more naïve and idealistic. Indeed, as I mentioned…

P.Z. Myers turned me on to a phenomenal proposal at Change.gov, the website of President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team: Defund the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Here’s a way to increase the available funding to NIH without increasing the NIH budget: halt funding to NCCAM, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.…

I thought I might start developing chest pain when I read it, but to my shock NCCAM has actually funded some worthwhile research! Even more amazingly, NCCAM described it in a press release! Too bad it supports the contention that acupuncture is nothing more than placebo and that the attention given by the practitioner is…

I used to be somewhat of a supporter of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). I really did. This was back when I was more naïve and idealistic. Indeed, when I first read Wally Sampson’s article Why NCCAM should be defunded, I thought it a bit too strident and even rather close-minded.…

“Woo-omics” at NCCAM

Just when I start to think that maybe, just maybe, I could stop worrying and learn to love the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM, with apologies to Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers), damn if it doesn’t go and do something that renews my cynicism about the entire Center. This time around, Dr.…

Only really long time readers will remember this, but back in the day (June 2005, to be exact), I discovered Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and his antivaccine nuttery when he published his epically bad piece of antivaccine conspiracy mongering, Deadly Immunity, both in Salon.com and Rolling Stone (the latter of which doubled down on it…

Of all the alternative medical systems out there, chiropractic is one of the oddest. Unlike many of the others, it has a modicum of plausibility, at least for back problems due to musculoskeletal strains. After all, the science-based specialty of physical therapy uses spinal manipulation to treat back problems. Of course, the big difference between…

After having returned from TAM, I was pumped up by how much interest was shown in the case of Stanislaw Burzynski. More importantly, I was heartened to learn while I was there that the Texas Medical Board had submitted an amended complaint against him containing 202 pages worth of charges. Sure, the descriptions of the…

Dr. David L. Katz is apparently unhappy with me. You remember Dr. Katz, don’t you? If you don’t, I’ll remind you momentarily. If you do, you won’t be surprised. Let me explain a bit first how Dr. Katz recently became aware of me again. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a short (for me)…