Bioethics

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Bioethics

Last year, a seeming victory for the protection of human subjects from being subjected to pseudoscience. It began when Kimball C. Atwood IV, MD; Elizabeth Woeckner, AB, MA; Robert S. Baratz, MD, DDS, PhD; and Wallace I. Sampson, MD published a lengthy criticism of the NIH Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) in Medscape, pointing…

Vaccines have saved more lives and prevented more suffering than any medical invention ever conceived by humans. However, to be most effective, a large enough fraction of the population to produce herd immunity needs to be immunized. When the herd immunity threshold is reached, then the chances of anyone carrying a microorganism to cause disease…

Today is a very good day indeed. I say that because Daniel Hauser, the 13-year-old boy with Hodgkin’s lymphoma who ran away with his mother to avoid having to undergo chemotherapy ordered by a judge, who had found that his parents were engaging in medical neglect in not getting him effective treatment, and returned on…

About a year ago in Wisconsin, an 11-year-old girl named Madeleine Neumann died of diabetic ketoacidosis thanks of the irrational religious beliefs of her parents, who prayed for her but did not take her to a physician even as Madeleine became weaker and more ill, her deterioration leading to a most unpleasant death. Highly unusual…

Remember about a week ago, when I lamented how scientific publisher Elsevier had created a fake journal for Merck that reprinted content from other Elsevier journals favorable to Merck products in a format that looked every bit like a peer-reviewed journal but without any disclaimers to let the unwary know that it wasn’t a peer-reviewed…

It’s times like these when I’m happy that I haven’t published in too many Elsevier Journals during the course of my career. I say that because on Thursday, it was revealed that pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp & Dohme paid Elsevier to produce a fake medical journal that, to any superficial examination, looked like a real…

Enough. I don’t know about you, but as a surgeon and a biomedical researcher, I’m fed up with animal rights terrorists who threaten biomedical research with their misinformation about animal research, their terroristic attacks on scientists who engage in such research, and listening to the despicable self-righteous idiot who is a disgrace to surgeons everywhere,…

Last week, there was a bit of a scandal of sorts over an editorial published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which I blogged about in a rather long post. The short version is that a flawed study that tested using Lexapro that neglected to report a rather important comparison that would…

About a month and a half ago, I happened to be fortunate enough to be able to swing the time to attend a symposium in which Brian Deer (whom anyone reading this blog lately is well familiar with) spoke. It was an opportune time, coming as it did around the time when he had just…

Oh, goody! Vox Day wants to play. You remember Vox “Hey, it worked for Hitler” Day,” don’t you? It’s been a long time. In fact, I had to do a search to find the last time I had a run-in with him, and it appears that it’s been about a year since I last noted…

It’s probably an understatement to say that I’ve been critical of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Indeed, I consider it not only to be a boondoggle that wastes the taxpayers’ money funding pseudoscience, but a key promoter of quackery. Worse, its promotion of highly implausible (one might even say magical) modalities…

The most massive scientific fraud ever?

Science as it is practiced today relies on a fair measure of trust. Part of the reason is that the culture of science values openness, hypothesis testing, and vigorous debate. The general assumption is that most scientists are honest and, although we all generally try to present our data in the most favorable light possible,…

Animals in research and medical training

Over the weekend, some readers sent me a link to a story that, presumably, they thought would be of interest to me, given that I graduated from the University Michigan Medical School back in the late 1980s. Specifically, it’s a report that U. of M. has halted the use of dogs in its surgical training:…

A surgeon visits Body Worlds

Unfortunately, as we have been dreading for the last four months or so since her relapse was diagnosed, my mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer in hospice. She died peacefully, with my wife and the rest of her family at her side. As you might expect, I do not much feel like blogging, and even…

Being involved in clinical research makes me aware of the ethical quandaries that can arise. Fortunately for me, for the most part my studies are straightforward and don’t provoke much in the way of angst over whether what I am doing is ethical or whether I’m approaching a line I shouldn’t approach or crossing a…

I almost feel sorry for homeopathy Jeremy Sherr. Almost. You see, he is busily learning a lesson that HIV/AIDS denialist Celia Farber learned a couple of weeks ago, namely that, unlike the fictional nation of Oceania in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, memory holes do not work very well in the Internet age. I’ll backtrack a…

The price of anti-vaccine fanaticism

Welcome back. I hope you and yours who celebrate Christmas have had a happy one. Ours was kind of mixed and bittersweet for reasons that I don’t particularly feel like going into now, although sooner or later I will probably have to say something about it. In the meantime, as much as I hate to…

Was Nazi science good science? (Part II)

My original post that asked the intentionally provocative question Was Nazi science good science? provoked a lot of comments, some of which made me think, which is good. This post was inspired by an article in which historian of the Nazi era Richard Evans was featured in a story about Nazi science and expressed his…

In 2007, I wrote a series of posts about what I found to be a fascinating yet at the same time disturbing phenomenon, specifically self-experimentation by cancer patients using an as yet unapproved drug called dichloroacetate. If you’ll recall, DCA is a small molecule drug that was used to treat congenital lactic acidosis in children…

Believe it or not, sometimes even Orac has a life. I know, I know, between the ridiculously logorrheic blogging here and other online activities, coupled with even more ridiculous long hours working at his day job, it’s hard to conceive. However, my wife and I had a whole passel of relatives over, several of whom…

Yesterday, I wrote about the sad case of Motl Brody, a 12-year-old Orthodox Jew whose brain tumor had rendered him brain dead and whose parents are fighting the efforts of the hospital to disconnect him from the ventilator and to stop all the powerful cardiac drugs that are keeping his heart beating and his blood…

Brain death and fundamentalist religion

I realize that the title of this post might sound as though I’m equating brain death and fundamentalist religion. As tempting as it is sometimes to do so, I’m not. What I’m more interested in is a story I came across by way of ScienceBlogs Big Kahuna blogger P.Z. Myers last night, mainly because it…

Using placebos outside of clinical trials

The other day, I thought it was about time that I did some of that cool and fancy ResearchBlogging.org stuff, you know, to keep this blog from being nothing more than a collection of not-so-Respectfully Insolent spleen venting at generalized stupidity. I realize that those are some of the funnest posts here and that people…

The gentle art of persuasion

There are times in every physician’s career when he or she faces a patient with a serious, even life-threatening disease or condition, who, for whatever reason, does not want treatment. These can be incredibly frustrating and challenging patients. Most physicians try reason, cajoling, and persuasion. Believe it or not, physicians are still held in enough…

I must be slipping. Well, not really. It doesn’t bother me that blog bud and fellow skeptical physician PalMD beat me to an important publication that came out a couple of days ago in the Annals of Internal Medicine. I’m a surgeon and a translational/basic scientist; so Annals is not usually one of the journals…