Quackery

Category archives for Quackery

The saga of SB 277 just keeps getting stranger and stranger as its end game comes into view. SB 277 is, of course, a big deal. If it’s passed by the California Assembly and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, it would eliminate nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates, making the largest state in…

Antivaccinationists like Holocaust analogies. I’ve described this particularly loathsome phenomenon more times than I can remember, most recently when Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. compared the “vaccine-induced autism epidemic” (vaccine-induced only in RFK, Jr.’s imagination and that of antivaccinationists) to the Holocaust. True, even he was forced to apologize, although it was a classic “notpology”: “I…

A common question, rhetorical or otherwise, that skeptics are asked about alternative medicine is, “What’s the harm?” It’s seemingly an effective ploy for some modalities, so much so that years ago Tim Farley felt obligated to try to answer the question on a website (whatstheharm.net) that catalogues examples of the harm alternative medicine, supernatural and…

Before 2005, I did pay attention to the antivaccine movement, but it wasn’t one of my biggest priorities when it comes to promoting science-based medicine. That all changed when Robert F. Kennedy published his incredibly conspiracy-packed black whole of antivaccine pseudoscience entitled Deadly Immunity. Sadly, almost exactly ten years later, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. hasn’t…

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. – attributed to Hippocrates Who said anything about medicine? Let’s eat! – attributed to one of Hippocrates forgotten (and skeptical) students   Who hasn’t seen or heard Hippocrates’ famous quote about letting food be your medicine and your medicine your food? If you have Facebook…

One of the odd things about having been a blogger as long as I have been is that, occasionally, posts that I wrote years ago rise up to bite me long after I’ve forgotten that I even wrote them. Actually, that’s usually not the right way to put it. Blogging is a very short term…

As depressing as the litany of quackery and patient harm that I follow nearly every day can become, occasionally I am heartened to learn of a victory for science-based medicine and, more importantly, for the patients being victimized by pseudoscientific treatments. One of the most simultaneously ridiculous and vile of these treatments is a solution…

I’ve been following Mike Adams a long time, going back to 2007 and even before. It’s difficult to find anyone who can pack more pseudoscience, conspiracy mongering, and outright hateful bile into an article when he has a mind to do so. I’ve documented this tendency many times, so many times that, each time I…

In Memoriam: Wallace Sampson, MD

I have some sad news for my readers today. It’s even sadder given that it’s only been two and a half weeks since I last had to mourn the passing of one of our own, a champion of science-based medicine, a regular commenter of five years, lilady. Unfortunately, this time around, it is my sad…

I’ve frequently written about the “arrogance of ignorance,” a phenomenon that anyone who’s paid attention to what quacks, cranks, or antivaccine activists (but I repeat myself) write and say beyond a certain period of time will have encountered. Basically, it’s the belief found in such people—and amplified in groups—that somehow they can master a subject…

When it comes to the use of what is sometimes called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, increasingly, “integrative medicine,” there is a certain narrative. It’s a narrative promoted by CAM proponents that does its best to convince the public that there is nothing unusual, untoward, or odd about CAM use, even though much of…

Antivaccine activism endangers children. Of that there is no longer any doubt. As vaccination rates fall, the risk of outbreaks of dangerous vaccine-preventable infectious diseases among children rise. In the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak earlier this year, several states introduced measures to restrict nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine requirements. The record in passing…

Epigenetics. As I’ve described before, to alternative medicine practitioners, epigenetics seems to mean something akin to what the word “quantum” means: Magic. I’ve covered, for example, the woo-filled stylings of Deepak Chopra invoking things like “quantum consciousness,” and seemingly for quite a few years the best way to slap a patina of “sciencey”-sounding credibility on…

Autism One: As quacky as it ever was

Once again, the yearly autism quackfest known as Autism One is fast approaching. In fact, it will begin in Chicago tomorrow: five days of “autism biomed” quackery and antivaccine pseudoscience. Ever since the Great Schism in the autism antivaccine quackery community, which severed Generation Rescue from Autism One and ended Jenny McCarthy’s run of being…

Dedicated to lilady. One of the disadvantages of writing for this blog is that sometimes I feel as though I spend so much time deconstructing bad science and pseudoscience in medicine that I’m rarely left with the time or the opportunity to discuss some interesting science. Of course, even when I do that, usually it’s…

As much time and effort as I spend deconstructing, refuting, and otherwise demolishing the misinformation that is routinely promulgated about vaccines by the antivaccine movement, it’s important never just to reflexly dismiss a claim or news story that gains traction among antivaccinationists. After all, it is always possible that the story is as the antivaccinationists…

After having written yesterday’s piece about the fallacy known as the appeal to nature, a favorite fallacy of the alternative medicine crowd. The idea that if something is somehow “natural” it must be superior to anything viewed as “unnatural” or “man-made” is deeply ingrained in pseudoscientific medicine. Heck, there’s even a brand of quackery known…

If there’s one fallacy that grips the brains of proponents of “natural healing,” “holistic medicine,” or, as the vast majority of it is, quackery, it’s an appeal to nature. Basically, the idea that underlies the appeal to nature is a profane worship of nature as being, in essence, perfect, with anything humans do that is…

I’ve been blogging for over a decade now, a fact that I find really hard to believe looking back on it right now. I’ve told the story before, but it’s worth briefly recounting again because doing so will explain why the story I’m about to discuss caught my attention. My “gateway drug,” if you will,…

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been spending a significant part of my time countering pseudoscience for close to 17 years, so long that it seems that I’ve always been doing it. Of course, that’s not true; I didn’t actually become involved in this seemingly never-ending Sisyphean task until I was in my…

Every so often, real life intrudes on blogging. So it was last night when I had to go to a work-related meeting and didn’t get back until late. Still, that means today’s a perfect opportunity to do what I’m usually not very good at: A brief post. I’ve related time and time again how when…

A common criticism aimed at those of us who are highly critical of various alternative medicine treatments and, in particular, of the “integration” of such treatments into conventional medical treatment is: What’s the harm? What, they ask, is the harm of homeopathy, acupuncture, iridology, or traditional Chinese medicine? They argue that it’s pretty much harmless,…

If there’s one thing that will annoy an antivaccinationist, it’s to call her what she is: Antivaccine. While it’s true, as I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, that there are some antivaccinationists who are antivaccine and proud, unabashedly proclaiming themselves antivaccine and making no bones about it, the vast majority of antivaccinationists deny they are…

Maya’s Marvelous Acupuncture?

As hard as it is to believe, there was once a time when I didn’t think that acupuncture was quackery, an ancient “Eastern” treatment that “evolved” from bloodletting not unlike bloodletting in ancient “Western” bloodletting. This time was, hard as it is to believe, less than eight years ago, right around the time just before…

I’ve written on multiple occasions of what I like to refer to as “antivaccine dog whistles.” In politics, the term “dog whistle” refers to things politicians can say to certain groups, usually groups with odious views, that they are with them without actually echoing the views for which the group at which the dog whistle…