Quackery

Category archives for Quackery

Ever since the beginning of this blog, there’s one topic I’ve explored many, many times, mainly because of its direct relationship to my profession as a cancer surgeon. That topic is, of course, the question of why people fall for alternative medicine cancer “cures.” It started with one of my very earliest posts and continued…

Last week, I wrote about how conspiracy theories have been flowing fast and furious about the Zika virus and microcephaly. Even if you didn’t see that post (perhaps instead having seen this one), you’ve probably seen the news reports describing how last fall the observation of a large number of cases of microcephaly, characterized by…

A quack goes to prison, but it’s not enough

If there’s one thing that’s frustrating about the U.S. justice system, it’s just how slow the wheels of justice grind. For example, it’s hard to believe that it was over two years ago that “pH Miracle” quack Robert O. Young was arrested for fraud, grand theft, and practicing medicine without a license, producing one of…

Katie May was a model, and by all accounts a very successful one, having appeared in Playboy, Sports Illustrated, and other magazines and websites. Self-proclaimed the “Queen of Snapchat,” she also had nearly two million Instagram followers and was a major social media force, having recently parlayed her modeling and social media career into becoming…

It’s an oft-stated cliche that our children our our future. That’s the reason stories involving dire threats to children are considered so terrifying. It’s why, for instance, Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End resonated so creepily. After all, as part of the end of civilization, a frightening change came over the children, who became far superior…

Well, it’s finally done. The grants that have been taking up so much of my time are finally with the grants office and, hopefully, won’t have too many errors flagged as they go through the validation process. So it’s time to get back into that blogging thing again, even though I’m admittedly tired. So I’ll…

I know I must be getting older because of Friday nights. I also know that I’m getting older because (1) there was no new post yesterday and (2) even today this post will look familiar to a significant number of our readership. Mea culpa, but trying to put the finishing touches on two R01 grants…

Politicians and activists know that one of the most effective ways to discredit critics is to try to portray them as (1) being in the pay of someone else, such as a big corporation, or (2) part of an “organized” effort to criticize them, or (3) preferably both. That’s why antivaccine cranks are so fast…

It’s been nearly three weeks since I wrote about how an imperative to save money at all costs combined with gross incompetence to poison Flint’s children with lead. In (very) brief, the city of Flint decided to switch from buying water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) to a new water source. Unfortunately,…

I know I really shouldn’t peruse NaturalNews.com too often. It’s bad for my blood pressure, and, like many old farts on the wrong side of 50, I do have a touch of the ol’ hypertension. Reading Mike Adams’ blather risks raising that blood pressure either through causing me to laugh uproariously at the sheer idiocy…

I like to say that homeopathy is The One Quackery To Rule Them All (although of late I’ve debated whether homeopathy or reiki is the most properly referred to as that). It’s a strange beast, homeopathy. Its two main “Laws” are so clearly pseudoscience that you’d think that no one could ever fall for something…

One of the cool things about being a longtime blogger in the skeptical world with a reasonably high profile is that I’ve met, either virtually or in person at various skeptic conferences, a wide variety of people from all over the world. One place in particular that has a vibrant skeptic movement is, of course,…

I’ve been a big fan of David Bowie ever since high school. True, I didn’t appreciate his less mainstream stuff as intensely as I do now until I had been in college a couple of years, but it’s not an inaccurate to characterize the effect of David Bowie’s art on my life as significant. Basically,…

One of the recurring topics I write about is, of course, cancer quackery. It goes right back to the very beginning of this blog, to my very earliest posts more than 11 years ago. Over the years I’ve covered more cases than I can remember of patients relying on quackery instead of real medicine. In…

One of the stories dominating my blogging in 2015 was a manufactroversy that started in August 2014 when, after several months of rumbling in the antivaccine crankosphere that there was a CDC scientist ready to blow the whistle on an alleged coverup of evidence that vaccines cause autism, Andrew Wakefield, ever the publicity hog, released…

It always irritates me when I discover a new antivaccine crank in my state; so you can imagine how irritated I become when I discover one right in my very city (OK, metropolitan area). When that happens, it becomes a bit more personal than my usual mission to refute antivaccine misinformation. So I was most…

Vaccines and the antivaccine movement were in the news a lot in 2015. The year started out with a huge measles outbreak originating at Disneyland over the holidays last year and dominated news coverage in the early months of 2015. This outbreak had enormous consequences. It galvanized public opinion such that something I had never…

Several years ago, Harriet Hall coined a term that is most apt: Tooth fairy science. The term refers to clinical trials and basic science performed on fantasy. More specifically, it refers to doing research on a phenomenon before it has been scientifically established that the phenomenon exists. Harriet put it this way: You could measure…

Christmas and New Years are almost here. As a result, as is always the case this time of year, we’re being flooded with “year end” lists. These lists are a fun distraction that I actually rather look forward to as an amusing (and sometimes annoying) year end tradition. In particular, I’m a sucker for “best…

[NOTE added 12/23/2015: It would appear that the offending article has been taken down. I, of course, have screenshots, and, of course, the Google cached version is still around for the moment.] Anaphylaxis can be deadly. Anaphylaxis can kill. More than that, anaphylaxis can kill pretty quickly. Even the most dimwitted purveyor of “natural” cures…

Even though I’ve taken on the ‘nym of a fictional computer in a 35-year-old British science fiction series whose key traits were an arrogant and condescending manner and the ability to tap into every computer of the galactic federation any time he wanted to, in reality I am just one person. That means, try as…

We have a problem with antivaccinationists here in Michigan. It’s a problem that’s been going on a long time that I first started paying attention to in a big way a few years ago when we started seeing pertussis outbreaks again due to low vaccine uptake. It’s a problem that’s persisted as last year we…

Although I don’t write about him as much as I used to, there was a time a couple of years ago when Houston cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski was a frequent topic of this blog. His story, detailed in many posts on this blog and in an article I wrote for Skeptical Inquirer, is one that…

Many are the “alternative” medicine therapies that I’ve examined with a skeptical eye over the years. The vast majority of them rest on concepts that range from pre-scientific to religious to outright pseudoscientific to—let’s face it—the utterly ridiculous. Examples abound: Reflexology, reiki, tongue diagnosis, homeopathy, ear candling, cupping, crystal healing, urine drinking, detoxifying foot pads,…

Et tu, Scientific American? A few of you seem to know what will catch my attention and push my buttons, because over the past couple of days a few of you sent me an article published in Scientific America by an internal medicine resident named Allison Bond entitled Sometimes It’s Okay to Give Patients a…