Quackery

Category archives for Quackery

California’s new law that eliminates personal belief exemptions has been a success, increasing vaccine uptake after just one year. That isn’t to say that there aren’t problems. One potential problem is the increasing number of medical exemptions, likely fueled by doctors willing to write letters of support for them based on reasons that are not science-based.

Naturopaths are fake doctors who fancy themselves to be real doctors, so much so that they call themselves “physicians” even when explicitly barred from doing so by law.

In March, it was widely reported that a young woman named Jade Erick had died suddenly of a hypersensitivity reaction while undergoing an infusion of intravenous curcumin ordered by a naturopath named Kim Kelly to treat her eczema. The FDA investigated and found egregious problems with the injectable curcumin used. This tragic incident serves to demonstrate how dangerous a combination naturopaths and dubious compounding pharmacies can be.

Eleven years ago, Abraham Cherrix and his parents chose quackery over science-based medicine to treat his cancer, and Cherrix was one of the earliest cases of teens who chose quackery to treat a life-threatening disease that I discussed in depth. Recently, I learned that Cherrix is still alive. The reason? He finally realized the error of his original decision and underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

Many are the stories of those who have embraced quackery to treat their cancer. Few are followup stories when such a person realizes she’s made a mistake and returns to conventional therapy. This is one such story, but you’re unlikely ever to see the media outlets that touted Carissa Gleeson’s choice of quackery to treat her cancer run the story of her having changed her mind and saved her life with real medicine.

I recently took a review course in general surgery to prepare for my board recertification examination in December and realized just how much the standard of care had changed in the decade since I last recertified. Then I learned that laetrile is still a thing. If there’s one thing that demonstrates the difference between alternative medicine and real medicine, it’s how no alternative medicine treatment ever goes away, no matter how often it’s shown not to work. Ever.

Dr. Aviva Romm, one of Goop’s doctors, tried to distance herself from Goop’s pseudoscience. It didn’t go well.

Although it’s not uncommon for there to be conspiracy theories about police shootings, it is unusual for such a conspiracy theory to touch upon topics covered right here on this blog. Sadly, it’s happened in the wake of the police shooting of Justine Damond in Minneapolis.

The ubiquity of quackery and pseudoscience of the sort epitomized by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop empire can be depressing if you’re a skeptic. Sometimes it feels as though it’s not worth refuting the nonsense she peddles. But it is. Just maybe not in the way you think.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop website is a wretched hive of scum and quackery peddling dubious “wellness” products like vaginal “Jade Eggs” to affluent women. Yesterday, she corralled a couple of her “medical experts” to strike back at a persistent critic of goop’s pseudoscience and mystical woo. It did not go well—for goop or its enabling “integrative” physicians.

I’ve been warning about how school vaccine mandates have become increasingly politicized. HBO’s. VICE agrees.

An old “friend” of the blog, Kent Heckenlively, has started a WhiteHouse.gov petition for a five year moratorium on childhood vaccines, until the government answers his questions about vaccines that can never be answered and shows evidence of their safety that he’ll never believe. Yes, the delusion is strong in this one, but, sadly, he’s not alone.

When HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price announced that Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald would be the new CDC Director, he breathed a sigh of relief because in her previous job as Georgia Commissioner of Public Health she was suitably pro-vaccine and pro-science. He should have looked a bit closer and gone a few years further back.

The usual stereotype of an antivaxer is a hippy dippy left wing granola cruncher. The case of Texas shows that increasingly the antivaccine movement is right wing. Worse, it’s becoming more political and harder for Republican legislators to ignore. I fear vaccine science is becoming as politicized as climate science, with results disastrous for public health.

Because of Donald Trump’s long history of antivaccine statements, his meeting with Andrew Wakefield during the presidential campaign, and his meeting with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. during the transition, antivaxers thought Trump would give them what they want. They were wrong, just the latest to realize that they’ve been conned. Is it so wrong for me to feel serious schadenfreude here?

A recent systematic review has been touted as demonstrating that “mind-body” practices like yoga can reprogram our DNA. There are several reasons to doubt these claims, not the least of which is the history of bias in past studies on this topic.

Before I delve into the next topic, I can’t help but congratulate John Oliver yet again for his excellent deconstruction of the antivaccine movement on Sunday night. As I noted on Tuesday, it clearly hit the mark, given how angry one antivax blogger got over it. As of yesterday, over at that wretched hive of…

On his most recent Sunday show, John Oliver did a tour de force segment on the antivaccine movement. Not surprisingly, antivaxers are not pleased.

A reader asks me why I hate naturopaths. I don’t hate naturopaths, but I do oppose naturopathy. Earlier this week, Tim Caulfield reminded me of one reason why: You can’t have naturopathy without antivax. Antivax views are baked into naturopathy.

Ten years ago, I liked to make fun of a pudgy, middle-aged guy named Bill Nelson, not because he was pudgy and middle-aged (which is increasingly describing me), but rather because he used to sell some serious quantum energy quackery known as the Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface. Little did I know then that Nelson was ahead of his time and all that he really needed was a celebrity endorsement and a company selling his products using beautiful scantily clad models using his products.

The Court of Justice of the European Union just issued a muddled ruling being proclaimed by clickbait headlines as allowing courts to blame any disease on vaccines without evidence. It does nothing of the sort, but it is concerning nonetheless, as it is confusing and does appear to lower the bar of evidence for vaccine injury claims. That’s plenty bad enough.

Alternative practitioners invent and treat fake diseases like adrenal fatigue and chronic Lyme disease. Unfortunately, as a recent CDC report on complications due to treating chronic Lyme disease with long term antibiotics shows, treating fake diseases can cause harm and, in some cases, even kill.

Emergency acupuncture! (2017 edition)

For whatever reason, acupuncturists and acupuncture believers think that acupuncture can be useful in emergency situations. They even do studies purporting to show that. This is yet another of such a clinical trial, albeit larger than usual. Guess what? It doesn’t really show what it’s advertised to show.

What is an “altie”?

How does one identify a hard core believer in alternative medicine, sometimes called in the distant past an “altie.” Well, this helpful list, culled from nine years ago, will aid you in spotting the identifying signs…

Nikola Tesla was a physicist known to dabble in strange ideas, and that’s probably why pseudoscientists have appropriated them to justify quackery and fringe ideas. However, I doubt even Tesla can be used to justify the Tesla Purple Energy Shield and various other “Tesla Purple Energy” products.