Bioethics

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Bioethics

I must admit that I never saw it coming. At least, I never saw it coming this fast and this dramatically. After all, this is a saga that has been going on for twelve solid years now, and it’s an investigation that has been going on at least since 2004. I’m referring, of course, to…

The news is finally filtering out to the rest of the world. As I pointed out a few days ago Dr. Steven Laureys admitted that Rom Houben, the unfortunate victim of a car crash that left him in what had been diagnosed as a persistent vegetative state, was in fact not able to communicate through…

A couple of months ago, I wrote about a case that demonstrated conclusively just how easily even respected researchers can be taken in by psuedoscience. Of course, I was not alone. A number of others, including Steve Novella, James Randi, bioethicist Art Caplan, Hank Schlinger, and myself, recognized the reports that a Belgian man named…

I hadn’t planned on writing about this topic again. Really, I hadn’t. The reason is mainly that politics is usually not my bag. I’ve said it time and time again: political bloggers are a dime a dozen, and I have no reason to suspect that my pontifications and bloviations on politics would be any more…

When burning stupid just isn’t enough…

…leave it to the Investor’s Business Daily to kick it up a notch to thermonuclear as an anonymous editorialist tries to criticize President Obama’s health plan by invoking the dreaded British NHS: People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of…

There is no doubt that the infiltration of quackademic medicine into medical schools in this country represents a profound threat to science-based medicine. By mixing mysticism, non-science, and pseudoscience along with science-based medicine, medical schools are in essence endorsing quackery and elevating it to the same level as science-based and science-tested modalities. Worse, they’re running…

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…