Bioethics

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Bioethics

Countering the misinformation regularly promulgated by the antivaccine movement, be it antivaccinationists who are completely off the deep end, like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the crew at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism, or that epitome of the Dunning-Kruger effect mixed with an annoying self-absorption and coffee klatch vibe (that is when it’s not…

There are times when supporting science-based health policy and opposing health policies that sound compassionate but are not are easily portrayed as though I’m opposing mom, apple pie, and the American flag. One such type of misguided policy that I’ve opposed is a category of bills that have been finding their way into state legislatures…

We all seek immortality in some way. Death has been a terror of nearly all since humans first started realizing that everybody dies. After all, no one wants to face the end of everything that one has been, is, and will be, so much so that a key feature of many religions is a belief…

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been almost three years since I first started taking an interest in the Houston cancer doctor and Polish expat Stanislaw Burzynski. Three long years, but that’s less than one-twelfth the time that Burzynski has been actually been administering an unproven cancer treatment known as antineoplastons (ANPs), a…

It’s been three days since America’s quack, Dr. Mehmet Oz, had his posterior handed to him by a wily old prosecutor who is now a Senator, Claire McCaskill. The beauty of it is that, not only was Dr. Oz called, in essence, a liar to his face and not only was he called out for…

Well, it snuck up on me again, the way it has a tendency to do every year. Maybe it’s because Memorial Day is so early this year. Maybe it’s because there’s just so much work to do this week given the multiple grant deadlines. Whatever the case, it just dawned on my last night that…

One of the frequent topics on this blog is, unsurprisingly, cancer quackery. Be it the Gerson therapy and its propensity for encouraging patients to take hundreds of supplements and to shoot copious amounts of coffee where it really doesn’t belong (where the sun don’t shine), the Gonzalez protocol, homeopathy, naturopathy, or various other nonsensical and…

I’ve made no secret of how much I despise Stanislaw Burzynski, the self-proclaimed cancer doctor and medical researcher who has been treating patients with an unproven, unapproved chemotherapeutic agent since 1977, seemingly slithering around, under, over, and past all attempts to investigate him and shut him down. Along the way, Burzynski has become a hero…

Here we go again. Over the last month or so, I’ve been intermittently writing about a very sad case, a case that reminds me of too many cases that have come before, such as Abraham Cherrix, Kate Wernecke, Daniel Hauser, and Jacob Stieler. All of these are stories of children who were diagnosed with highly…

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on the story of 10 year old Amish girl in northeast Ohio with cancer whose parents, alarmed by the side effects of chemotherapy, had decided to stop the chemotherapy and treat their daughter with folk medicine instead. As a result, alarmed at the likelihood that Sarah Hershberger would…

One type of story that I’ve fairly frequently commented upon since the very beginning of this blog is the story of children or teens with cancer whose parents decide to pursue quackery instead of effective therapy or children with other serious diseases whose parents reject effective therapy for them. Think way, way back to Katie…

“Alternative medicine,” so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), or, as it’s become fashionable to call it, “integrative medicine” is a set of medical practices that are far more based on belief than science. As my good bud and collaborator Mark Crislip so pointedly reminded us last week, CAM is far more akin to religion than…

I realize that I’ve been focusing on Stanislaw Burzynski the last couple of days, but it’s just been one of those weeks. Between the release of Eric Merola’s latest paean to the Brave Maverick Doctor and BBC Panorama’s report on Burzynski and his activities, it’s been an eventful week. My review of the second Burzynski…

Here we go again. Every time I think I can get away from this topic for a while, I get sucked back in. Indeed, it seems that hardly a week can go by when I don’t find myself pulled inexorably back to this horrible, horrible clinic and what I consider to be the abuses of…

The “myth” of placebo effects

Heidi Stevenson amuses me. The reasons are legion. Be it the time when Heidi lectured scientists on anecdotal evidence (which she values far more highly than scientists, of course, declaring it the “basis of all knowledge”); launched a vile and nonsensical attack on Stephen Barrett; argued against prior plausibility with using a straw man argument…

More sad news about a Burzynski patient

As much as I try, even when I’m on vacation in an undisclosed warm location near a beach (actually, our hotel room has a balcony overlooking the ocean), occasionally news finds its way to me. Part of it is because I still get the odd e-mail or two, and I do check my e-mail every…

I’ve made no secret of my opinion of a certain “alternative” cancer doctor named Stanislaw Burzynski, MD, PhD, of the infamous Burzynski Clinic. When last we left Burzynski, his propagandist lapdog bootlicker documentary film maker Eric Merola was most unhappy with bloggers like me for having the temerity to tell it like it is when…

It’s no secret that I have little but contempt for radical animal rights activists. I make no apologies for this and, quite frankly, consider my contempt for them well-justified based on their behavior and words. Be it their fetishization of violence against researchers who use animals, their threatening of students in order to frighten them…

Homeopathy is what I like to call The One Quackery To Rule Them All. Depending upon my mood, I’ll use more or less of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous poem about the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings, but the point is usually made. Homeopathy is major quackery. And it is, too. On the off…

One major point I’ve tried to make over the last few years is that the so-called “individualization” or “personalization” of treatments claimed by practitioners of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) is not “individualization” at all, but rather a sham that appears superficially like individualization but in reality is not. I say that because the “individualization”…

I’ve pointed out before that pover the last couple of years I’ve become a bit of a fan of old time radio, having discovered Radio Classics on Sirius XM Radio. I don’t remember how I discovered it, but I rapidly became hooked on shows like Suspense, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, The Whistler, Gunsmoke, Dragnet, The…

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…

I realize I repeat this a lot, but it bears repeating a lot. Vaccines are, without a doubt, one of the greatest advances in health care devised by the human mind. Arguably, vaccination campaigns have saved more lives and prevented more suffering and death than pretty much any other medical preventative intervention ever invented. I…

I thought that a solid basic understanding of basic and clinical science was a prerequisite to be a bioethicist. AFter all, the prefix “bio” is in the word “bioethicist,” which implies to me that bioethicists study the ethics of biology and medicine, which, of course, they do. Some bioethicists are even physicians. After all, to…

“Patient-centered care.” It’s the new buzzword in patient care. Personally, I find the term mor ethan a little Orwellian in that it can mean so many things. Basically, it’s a lot like Humpty Dumpty when he says to Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither…