Medicine

Category archives for Medicine

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…

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about the intersection between the law and science in medicine. Sometimes, I support a particular bill, such as SB 277. Sometimes I oppose a bill, such as right-to-try or laws licensing naturopaths. The case I will discuss here is unusual in that it is a case of the…

Regular readers might have wondered why there was no post yesterday. The answer’s simple: A combination of work and having to fly out to Buffalo for the CFI Reason for Change conference, where I’ll be on a panel on (of course!) alternative medicine later today. That same combination means that this post will be uncharacteristically…

I bet antivaccinationists would be annoyed if they knew what I was up to yesterday. This week, our department had a visiting professor for Grand Rounds, and that professor was a Nobel laureate. Of course, it’s not every day that we have a Nobel laureate visiting us (actually, it’s rare). This time around the Nobel…

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…

I’ve been paying attention to the antivaccine movement a long time. Indeed, it’s been just under a decade since I made what was my first big splash in the blogosphere, namely my particularly “Insolent” takedown of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s conspiracy-laden, pseudoscience-spewing super-concentrated antivaccine nonsense known as Deadly Immunity. So here it is, almost ten…

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…

I’ve been at this skeptical blogging thing for over a decade now. I realize that I periodically remind you, my readers, of this and that perhaps I do it too often, but my reminders generally serve a purpose. Specifically, they serve to put an exclamation point on my surprise when I discover a new purveyor…

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…

When I wrote yesterday about the cruel sham that is “right-to-try,” , one criticism (among many) that I made of these misguided, profoundly patient-unfriendly laws was that I have as yet been unable to find a single example of a patient who has managed to obtain access to an experimental therapeutic through such a law,…

Last year, I did several posts on what I consider to be a profoundly misguided and potentially harmful type of law known as “right-to-try.” Beginning about a year and a half ago, promoted by the libertarian think tank known as the Goldwater Institute, right-to-try laws began popping up in state legislatures. I wrote about how…

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…

Why do doctors deny evolution?

Yesterday was a long day, starting in the operating room and finishing at a dinner reception for our visiting speaker today. As a result, when I arrived home, I was sawing the proverbial logs within five or ten minutes of hitting the couch, more or less without realizing it. I was going to just skip…

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…

It’s been a long time since I bothered to care if readers know where I live or who I am. That’s why when a newbie troll shows up in the comments, as newbie trolls periodically do, and castigates me for somehow being a “coward” or “hiding” my identity, I generally get a hardy laugh out…

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…

In memoriam: lilady

As I write this, I am sadder than I have been for a long time. I recently learned that a frequent commenter here, a woman whose efforts on behalf of children’s health I admired greatly, has passed away. I’m referring to the commenter who went by the ‘nym lilady and sometimes signed her comments with…

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…