Medicine

Category archives for Medicine

It’s no secret that I’m not particularly fond of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Formerly known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and before that the Office of Alternative Medicine, NCCIH has been the foremost government agency funding research into quackery and the “integration” of quackery into…

Nearly two weeks ago, a story that I had been blogging about almost nonstop for a week reached its conclusion when Robert De Niro decided to pull the antivaccine movie Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe from the Tribeca Film Festival, of which he was one of the co-founders. Before that, he had revealed that it…

All drugs are poisons, and that’s OK

There are a number of aphorisms that one imbibes over many years of medical education, especially in medical school. Some are useful; some are not; but some stick with you for reasons that even you can’t figure out. For example, I still remember my first day of medical school over 30 (!) years ago. It…

If there’s one thing that really animates me and angers me, it’s the unnecessary death of a child due to quackery. Competent adults, of course, are perfectly free to choose any form of quackery they wish for themselves or even to refuse treatment at all (which is less harmful than quackery). Children, on the other…

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of John Ioannidis. (If you don’t believe me, just type Ioannidis’ name into the blog search box and see how many posts you find.) Over the last couple of decades, Ioannidis has arguably done more to reveal the shortcomings of the medical research enterprise that undergirds our treatments,…

I wish this post were an April Fools Day joke, but it is not. Three weeks ago, Skeptical Raptor and I wrote posts describing how a particularly vicious, nasty antivaccine troll named Heather Murray had successfully gamed Facebook reporting algorithms intended to report abuse in order to silence pro-science bloggers. It is, unfortunately, a tactic…

Over the last week or so, I’ve noticed (or had brought to my attention) a series of articles discussing a phenomenon related to alternative medicine that I don’t believe that I’ve addressed before, at least not directly anyway. I had filed some of these in my folder of topics for blogging, but somehow never got…

Why some physicians embrace quackery

And now for something completely different. Yes, it’s about time for that, isn’t it? I’ve probably beat the Tribeca Film Festival story into the ground, even for me, having spent the last week blogging about it. Scratch that. There’s no “probably” about it. I frequently write at length about the quackery that is homeopathy. One…

Whenever a story like Robert De Niro’s decision to choose an antivaccine film by Andrew Wakefield for screening at his prestigious Tribeca Film Festival followed by his decision to drop the film like the proverbial hot potato upon being shown just how full of misinformation, distortions, and pseudoscience the film is shows up, I not…

I knew it wouldn’t take long. I just knew it. The moment I learned that Robert De Niro had reversed himself and decided to pull Andrew Wakefield’s dishonest antivaccine propaganda “documentary” from his Tribeca Film Festival after having admitted that he was the one who had greased the wheels to get it accepted for screening…

After a trilogy of posts on the lamentably bad decision on the part of the Tribeca Film Festival to screen a pseudoscience- and misinformation-filled documentary by hero to the antivaccine movement, Andrew Wakefield, that is basically one long conspiracy theory, I thought it was time for a change. I had briefly toyed with the idea…

Ever since I mentioned on Tuesday that the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival had taken a massive dump on reality and science by selecting for screening Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propaganda “documentary,” Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe, dedicated to the so-called “CDC whistleblower,” the topic has taken over, as topics sometimes tend to do here. In response…

I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about this again so soon, because one post seemed adequate to describe the massive dump that the Tribeca Film Festival just took on reality by announcing the screening of a pseudoscientific antivaccine propaganda film by The One Antivaccine Quack To Rule Them All, Andrew Wakefield. Any…

One of my favorite topics to blog about over the last six or seven years has been the topic of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. These are two interrelated phenomena that most people are blissfully unaware of. Unfortunately, I’d also say that the majority of physicians are only marginally more aware than the public about these confounders…

TruthKings: Not so truthful about vaccines

When I wrote about a systematic review of the medical literature regarding measles and pertussis outbreaks that demonstrated quite convincingly that, for these two diseases at least, the nonmedical exemptions and vaccine refusal endanger everyone, not just the unvaccinated, I was rather disappointed. I was rather disappointed because, although the article had been in press…

One of the more frequent claims of antivaccine activists often comes in the form of a disingenuous question. Well, maybe it’s not entirely disingenuous, given that many antivaccinationists seem to believe premise behind it. The question usually takes a form something like, “If your child is vaccinated, why are you worried about my children? They…

Last night was one of those nights where, for whatever reason, I ran out of steam. Whether it was residual effects from the change to daylight savings time this weekend or just a day in the operating room, I don’t know, but I crashed on the couch hard, at least until lighting and thunder from…

I write about homeopathy fairly regularly on this blog because there is no quackery that is (1) so obviously quackery and (2) such a perfect topic to use to illustrate a lot of issues relevant to medical science, such as issues in clinical trials resulting in false positives and, of course, placebo effects. Basically, homeopathy…

One of the most pernicious lies promoted by the antivaccine movement is a trope that I’ve labeled the “toxins gambit.” Basically, it’s the lie, oft repeated in hysterical terms, that there are all sorts of horrible toxic chemicals in vaccines, and it is those toxic substances that are responsible for the claimed adverse effects of…

A couple of days ago, I wrote about a story of a sort that I’ve had to write about far too many times over the last eleven years. I wrote about the death of a child—but not just any death of a child, the death of a child who could have—should have—lived. The child’s name…

Nearly eleven years ago, back in April 2005, I opened my work e-mail (I was working at a different university back then) and saw an e-mail from someone whose name I had seen before, one Mr. William P. O’Neill. Opening the e-mail, I was shocked to find an e-mail to Orac; worse, the e-mail was…

Another child dead from quackery

Naturopathy is quackery, and, like many forms of quackery, it kills. People who trust naturopaths to treat actual serious diseases instead of using real doctors and real medicine dramatically decrease their odds of surviving a serious illness. While competent adults have every right to make that choice, to use fake medicine instead of real medicine,…

Medical research is a scientific enterprise, but, like most areas of science, nonscientific considerations have a great deal of influence over what sorts of research are funded. This is true regardless of who is funding the research. When it’s the government, obviously it’s impossible to avoid some degree of politics. (Indeed, politics is largely responsible…

I write about vaccines a lot here at Respectful Insolence, and for a very good reason. Of all the medical interventions devised by the brains of humans, arguably vaccines have saved more lives and prevented more disability than any other medical treatment. When it comes to infectious disease, vaccination is the ultimate in preventive medicine,…

Acupuncture is quackery. As with naturopathy (a medical pseudo-“specialty” that embraces acupuncture and other so-called traditional Chinese medicine), when I write about acupuncture I like to start out with a provocative statement, a statement of—dare I say it?—judgment in order to shock new readers and let them know exactly where I’m coming from. Why I…