Medicine

Category archives for Medicine

If there’s one thing that proponents of “integrative medicine” (or, as it’s been called in the past, “complementary and alternative medicine,” or CAM) take great pains to emphasize whenever defending their integration of prescientific and pseudoscientific medicine into medicine, it’s that they do not recommend using “alternative medicine” instead of real medicine but in addition…

Back in the day, quacks and cranks liked Wikipedia. Because anyone can become an editor on Wikipedia, they assumed that they could just sign up to edit Wikipedia pages and change them to reflect their views on alternative medicine or whatever other pseudoscientific topic they believed in. When Wikipedia first emerged on the scene, I…

The unreality of reiki and distance healing

Well, it’s 2017. In a mere 17 days, unreality will become reality, as the most unlikely and terrifying President in my lifetime is sworn in. Consequently, as I was thinking about what I’d like to write about for my first post of the new year, only one thing came to mind. Only one thing that…

2016: The year bullshit was weaponized

Conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, quackery, and belief in things that can be objectively demonstrated not to be true have always been with us. Unfortunately, 2016 was the year that this bullshit was weaponized, and we may never recover.

Quackademic medicine. I didn’t invent the term. (Dr. R. W. Donnell did—nearly nine years ago.) However, I sure use it a lot, because it perfectly describes a phenomenon that has proliferated and metastasized throughout the body of academic medicine like the cancer it is. I like to think that, in my own way, I’ve popularized…

Naturopathic oncologists think that they’re real cancer doctors, to the point of even studying their specialty as though it were real. They couldn’t be more wrong.

To all those who come here regularly for a dose of Insolence, Respectful or otherwise, skepticism and science, best holiday wishes for whatever end-of-year holidays you might celebrate. I’ll probably be on a less intensive blogging schedule until after the New Year, depending on things go (sometimes, even between Christmas and New Years, something happens…

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been at this blogging thing for 12 years now. In fact, it’s been so long that this year I didn’t even remember to mention it when it happened nearly two weeks ago. Over that time period, I’ve dealt with a large number of conspiracy theories. Indeed, skeptics…

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post that, much to my surprise, went viral, garnering more Facebook “Likes” than any before it, although it only came in maybe third in traffic after the all-time record-holding post from a couple of years ago. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was, after all, about Tom Price,…

One of the oldest antivaccine tropes that first encountered is one that I like to call the “toxins gambit.” Basically, this is an antivaccine lie that portrays vaccines as being laden with all manner of “toxins” because they have—gasp!—chemicals with scary sounding names and even some chemicals that are toxic. The lie derives from the…

Blogging is a funny thing. Sometimes the coincidence involved is epic. For instance, as I do on many Mondays, yesterday I crossposted a modified and updated version of a post from a week ago from my not-so-super-secret other blog. This time around, it just so happened to be a post about what I like to…

I write quite a bit about placebo effects. Of course, part of the reason is that placebo effects are just plain interesting from a scientific perspective. After all, if one can relieve symptoms with inert sugar pills or other ineffective interventions because of the power of expectation, that’s something we should want to understand. Also,…

There are times when I wonder: How on earth did I miss this? Usually, I pride myself on being pretty timely in my blogging, writing about new stuff that’s fairly fresh. Sure, barring a fortuitous confluence of events and timing, I’m rarely the “firstest with the mostest” on a topic. I do, after all, have…

I don’t know if other bloggers out there have experienced anything like this, but I’ve experienced this a few times since starting this blog. Last night I started writing about an article that—or so I thought— was the perfect distillation of the message of the NCCIH and its desire to co-opt nonpharmacological treatments for pain…

I’ve seen it noted that our new President-Elect seems to be selecting his cabinet officers and directors of federal bureaucracies based on how much they oppose the mission of the department they are supposed to head. For instance, to head the Department of Health and Human Services, he picked an orthopedic surgeon who belongs to…

I wasn’t always a skeptic. Maybe I should rephrase that. I’ve probably always been a skeptic since a young age. It’s just that I didn’t start self-identifying as one until around 1998 or so. Oddly enough, my “gateway drug” into more organized skepticism was refuting Holocaust denial. I’ve told the tale on multiple occasions before,…

Old fart that I am, I’ve been a fan of The Rolling Stones since the mid-1970s, when I was in junior high school. Over the years, I’ve accumulated pretty close to all of their studio albums—and even bought multiple remastered versions of classics like Exile on Main Street and Beggar’s Banquet—and got access to the…

Yesterday, I noted the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, a Hobson’s choice of a bill for those of us who support increased biomedical research funding that basically said: You can have an increase in the NIH budget. You can have the Cancer Moonshot. You can have President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and his…

Well, it’s done. Today, the Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill designed to weaken the FDA and empower pharmaceutical companies, sending it to President Obama’s desk. There’s no way Obama won’t sign it, as it contains provisions funding his Precision Medicine Initiative, and he supported it all along. For all its flaws,…

If there’s one thing about the reporting of the 2016 election that irritated me, it was the massive underreporting of certain antiscience views held by the man who is now our President-Elect. Sure, there was coverage about his denial of anthropogenic climate change from time to time. Much less reported was his long history of…

What “functional medicine” really is

I’ve frequently written about a form of medicine often practiced by those who bill themselves as practicing “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or “integrative medicine” (or, as I like to refer to it, “integrating” quackery with medicine). I’m referring to something called “functional medicine” or, sometimes, “functional wellness.” Over the years, I’ve tried to explain…

Back in the day, I used to write posts with titles like When the outbreaks occur, they’ll start in California. I even wrote a followup, When the outbreaks occur, they’ll start in California, 2014 edition. The reason, of course, was that California was one of the epicenters of vaccine hesitancy as well as the home…

A week and a half ago, a conference was held at the NYU Langone Medical Center, Confronting Vaccine Resistance: Strategies for Success. It featured speakers and panelists whom I admire quite a bit, including Paul Offit, the man who is to antivaccine loons Satan, Darth Vader, Voldemort, and Sauron all rolled up into one. Also…

I’m always hesitant to write about matters that are more political than scientific or medical, although sometimes the sorts of topics that I blog about inevitably require it (e.g., the 21st Century Cures Act, an act that buys into the myth that to bring “cures” to patients faster we have to neuter the FDA and…

I don’t have many “rules” per se about blogging, but one informal rule that I do live by is that I never blog about a study if all I can access is the abstract. In general, I insist on having the complete study before I will blog it, because to me the abstract isn’t enough.…