Quackery

Category archives for Quackery

There are reasons that I’m not a pediatrician. First, and foremost, I like surgery. Indeed, when I first entered medical school, my intent was to become an academic internist, but things didn’t quite work out that way. To my surprise, when I did my surgery rotation I liked it way more than I ever thought…

What’s the harm? Cupping edition

There are so many ridiculous alternative medicine treatments being “integrated” via “integrative” medicine into medicine, no matter how ridiculous they are, that it’s not only hard to believe, but it’s hard to keep track. Homeopathy is, of course, the most ridiculous, although “energy medicine” definitely gives homeopathy a run for its money in the Department…

One of the most reliable indicators of a quack clinic that I know of (besides its offering homeopathy and reiki) is the inclusion of “detox foot bath” treatments on its roster of services. Detox foot baths, whatever the brand, are of a piece with other “detoxification” pseudoscience involving the feet, such as Kinoki foot pads.…

I’ve been writing about this topic so long—ever since the very beginning of this blog—that it seems as though I’ve always been doing it even though this blog has been in existence only 11 years and I didn’t really come to appreciate the problem until after I had started this blog. No, I’m not referring…

Yesterday, I took note of a meeting of advocates and lawyers with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), which makes him a very powerful Congressman. The group that met with him included Del Bigtree, the producer of Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propagandafest of a “documentary” VAXXED:…

I sense a disturbance in the antivaccine force. I had meant to write about it the other day, but other things intervened. Really, there’s so much pseudoscience out there at times that on some days it’s hard to decide what to tackle, and sometimes I feel as though I’m writing about vaccines too much. However,…

Living and practicing surgery in Michigan, it’s not surprising that I am very concerned about a bill being considered in the Michigan House of Representatives. The bill, HB 4531, would license naturopaths as health care providers. In fact, it would give them a very broad scope of practice, defined by a newly created board of…

One of the most frequent complaints leveled at pro-science advocates who defend vaccines against antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience is that we’re way too fast to label them as “antivaccine,” that we use the term as a convenient label to demonize their views. We’re not really antivaccine, they tell us. We’re vaccine safety advocates. Really. Now,…

I sensed a disturbance in the antivaccine (i.e, the dark) side of the Force yesterday. No matter where I wandered online and on social media, I kept running into a new article, an article by Neil Z. Miller about vaccines. For example, the merry band of antivaccine propagandists over at Age of Autism seem to…

Last week, I noted with great approval how a 12-year-old boy named Marco Arturo made a pro-vaccine video that was short, simple, and effective. Even better, it was as Insolent as anything Orac could expect to manage, making it that much more delicious. Indeed, I can’t resist including it again for those of you who…

A couple of days ago, I told the tale of a really bright and justifiably snarky 12-year-old boy named Marco Arturo, who posted a video of himself on Facebook with the caption “Vaccines DO cause autism”: I know I posted that video just two days ago, but it’s so epic that I can’t resist posting…

Those of us living in Michigan who support science-based medicine have been forced to deal with a bill that, if passed, would grant practitioners of unscientific “medicine” a wide scope of practice—almost as wide as that of primary care practitioners such as pediatricians, internists, and family practice doctors. I’m referring to HB 4531, a bill…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the antivaccine movement, it’s that its members dislike being criticized. Oh, hell, let’s be honest. The really, really hate criticism and react very, very badly to it. Whereas you or I or other skeptics might react to criticism by trying to address it using facts, science, and reason,…

One major thing that differentiated science-based medicine (SBM) from alternative medicine and quackery is that in SBM there is a generally accepted standard of care. This was even the case back in the days before the proliferation of evidence-based guidelines, in which professional societies and expert panels try their best to synthesize what is often…

After over 11 years at this blogging thing, I periodically start to fear that I’m becoming jaded. In particular, after following the infiltration of quackery in the form of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), now more commonly known as “integrative medicine,” because it integrates CAM with evidence-based medicine. Of course, in reality, what “integrative medicine”…

One common theme that has been revisited time and time again on this blog since its very founding is the problem of how science and medicine are reported. For example, back when I first started blogging, one thing that used to drive me absolutely bonkers was the tendency of the press to include in any…

With a bill to license naturopaths (HB 4531) wending its way through the Michigan legislature supported by supplement manufacturers, its current status being in consideration by the full House of Representatives, periodically I feel the need to provide ammunition to the bill’s opponents, because we need to protect the patients in the state of Michigan…

To say that I, as a cancer surgeon, am not a fan of Ty Bollinger is a massive understatement. He’s not exactly one of my fans, either, but I view the hatred of a man like Bollinger directed at me as a badge of honor. Indeed, if a man like Bollinger didn’t detest me, I…

Sigh. Here we go again. Robert De Niro is letting his antivaccine freak flag fly again, this time even higher than usual, by revealing that in the wake of the antivaccine debacle at his Tribeca Film Festival he is going to make his very own documentary about vaccines. It’s the continuation of a process that,…

Over the years, I’ve taken care of women with locally advanced breast cancer so advanced that it’s eroded through the skin, forming huge, nasty ulcers filled with stinky dead cancer tissue that’s outgrown its blood supply, leaving the patient in chronic pain. If the patient is fortunate, her cancer has not metastasized beyond her axillary…

After yesterday’s epic mid-week rant about a man who thinks he knows what skepticism is but clearly doesn’t, it’s time to get back to business. The best way to do that is to go back to an article that came out the other day and that I had meant to blog about but temporarily shelved…

Contrary to what some of my detractors think, I don’t mind criticism of my viewpoints. After all, if I never encounter criticism, how will I ever improve? On the other hand, there are forms of criticism that are what I would call less than constructive. One form this sort of criticism takes is obsessive repetition…

So-called “alternative” medicine is made up of a hodge-podge of health care practices and treatments based on beliefs that are unscientific, pre-scientific, and pseudoscientific. These modalities include practices as diverse as homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, reflexology, reiki and other forms of “energy medicine” based on vitalism, chiropractic, and naturopathy, and that’s a short list of…

It’s been a while since I paid attention to the movie, but the publicity among the antivaccine movement for Andrew Wakefield’s and Del Bigtree’s movie VAXXED: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe continues apace. Sadly, I missed my opportunity to see Bigtree himself doing a Q&A for the movie when it rolled through Detroit a a week…

I’ve written a lot about the language issue with respect to alternative medicine. As I like to put it (at least in shortened form), first there was quackery. Quacks did not like that name at all, and thus was born alternative medicine. And the quacks did think it good—for a while. There was a problem,…