Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

The Court of Justice of the European Union just issued a muddled ruling being proclaimed by clickbait headlines as allowing courts to blame any disease on vaccines without evidence. It does nothing of the sort, but it is concerning nonetheless, as it is confusing and does appear to lower the bar of evidence for vaccine injury claims. That’s plenty bad enough.

Alternative practitioners invent and treat fake diseases like adrenal fatigue and chronic Lyme disease. Unfortunately, as a recent CDC report on complications due to treating chronic Lyme disease with long term antibiotics shows, treating fake diseases can cause harm and, in some cases, even kill.

Emergency acupuncture! (2017 edition)

For whatever reason, acupuncturists and acupuncture believers think that acupuncture can be useful in emergency situations. They even do studies purporting to show that. This is yet another of such a clinical trial, albeit larger than usual. Guess what? It doesn’t really show what it’s advertised to show.

Breatharians claim that it is possible to exist only on air and that human beings can reach a state where they do not require food. Stories about Breatharians pop up in the media from time to time, even though they are patently ridiculous. One such story made the rounds as Orac was wending his way home from Europe. Given that it’s been years since he’s discussed Breatharians, he couldn’t resist looking at this story.

What is an “altie”?

How does one identify a hard core believer in alternative medicine, sometimes called in the distant past an “altie.” Well, this helpful list, culled from nine years ago, will aid you in spotting the identifying signs…

When it comes to expansion and infiltrating medicine, “integrative medicine” has frequently seemed like the Terminator: utterly relentless. Recent setbacks at major integrative medicine “Crown Jewels” resulting in their closure cast that narrative in doubt. However, I never forget that after its seeming destruction, the Terminator always comes back.

Nikola Tesla was a physicist known to dabble in strange ideas, and that’s probably why pseudoscientists have appropriated them to justify quackery and fringe ideas. However, I doubt even Tesla can be used to justify the Tesla Purple Energy Shield and various other “Tesla Purple Energy” products.

Cassandra Callender made national news a couple of years ago when at age 17 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and refused chemotherapy. The court ordered that she undergo appropriate treatment, but unfortunately she relapsed and chose treatment at a quack clinic in Mexico. Continuing to progress, she finally chose real medicine to treat her cancer. Let’s hope that it’s not too late to save her.

Bloggers at the Age of Autism blog, like most antivaccine activists, vehemently deny that they are antivaccine, claiming instead that they are “vaccine safety” advocates. Their denials are belied by their having published many posts about a “Vaccine Holocaust.”

As quackery in the form of “integrative medicine” has increasingly been “integrated” into medicine, medical journals are starting to notice and succumb to the temptation to decrease their skepticism. The BMJ, unfortunately, is the latest to do so. It won’t be the last.

There’s a new clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing a beneficial effect due to cannabidiol, a chemical isolated from marijuana, on drug-resistant seizures due to Dravet syndrome. Medical marijuana advocates are crowing, “I told you so!” As is usually the case, the real story is more nuanced.

A story in The Washington Free Beacon claims that Tipper Gore will be appearing at a fundraiser for Kathleen Murphy, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates running for reelection to be held by Claire and Albert Dwoskin, two rich antivaxers and donors to the Democratic Party. If the story is true and not fake news that’s bad, but even if it turns out not to be true I just had to discuss the Dwoskins, who have been funding antivaccine “studies” for several years now.

Thanks to social media, fake news, conspiracy theories, and health scams spread faster and farther than ever. The world is in need of critical thinking skills now more than ever. Fortunately, there is hope. Critical thinking can be taught, but teaching these skills works best if you start young.

Chiropractors and acupuncturists have lobbied for a greater role in treating pain. They might well have won it. Last week, the FDA released proposed changes Wednesday to its blueprint on educating health care providers about treating pain, which now recommend that doctors learn about chiropractic care and acupuncture as therapies that might help patients avoid opioids. There’s still time to stop this, but you have to write the FDA.

In the Journal of Integrative Medicine, acupuncturists argue for modernizing acupuncture by uncoupling it from its traditional Chinese medicine background and avoiding the mystical language about qi and meridians. Hilarity ensues, because acupuncture can’t be separated from the prescientific mysticism from which it arose.

Two badly designed, incompetently performed “studies” that claimed to show that unvaccinated children are healthier than unvaccinated children were briefly published by a bottom feeding, predatory “open access” journal, and then they disappeared, having apparently been retracted. Now they’re back, like Freddie Krueger, Jason, or Michael Myers, and antivaxers are rejoicing. I guess the check must have finally cleared.

Antivaxers are planning on publishing the personal information of employees of the Boston Herald because the paper published an editorial saying that promoting antivaccine misinformation among a vulnerable population should be a “hanging offense.” Meanwhile, overblown allusions to the Holocaust are going into overdrive. Same as it ever was.

Last week, the Boston Herald published an editorial about how antivaxers deceived a community of Somali immigrants in Minnesota, referring to the spreading of deadly misinformation as a “hanging offense.” Antivaxers took an ill-advised idiom and turned it into a threat of mass lynchings, ignoring their own violent imagery about vaccines and portraying themselves as “pro-vaccine,” and used it as justification to threaten to publish the home addresses and phone numbers of newspaper employees. Yes, they are disingenuous and hypocritical as hell.

Acupuncturists complain that the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends treatments for knee osteoarthritis for which the evidence is weak. They think that means that NICE should also accept acupuncture. In reality, it means that NICE should stop recommending treatments without support by strong scientific evidence.

Antivaxers targeted a. vulnerable community of Somali immigrants in Minnesota. The result: A large (and growing) measles outbreak. Thanks, Andy.

In the course of just a couple days, a pair of atrociously incompetent studies by Andrew Wakefield fanboy Anthony Mawson were published and retracted by a predatory open access publisher. Surveying the reactions of antivaccine activists, I can’t help but conclude that their tears of unfathomable sadness are delicious.

Antivaccine “studies” never die. They always return to promote disease among children.

Antivaccine activists have been targeting the community of Somali immigrants in Minnesota for over a decade now, with devastating results. In the midst of a growing measles outbreak, antivaxers have descended upon the community to keep promoting antivaccine quackery.

Since being given a slap on the wrist by the Texas Medical Board for his many years of peddling his antineoplastons, a treatment that’s never been shown to have significant anticancer activity, Stanislaw Burzynski is back in action again, preying on desperate cancer patients like it’s 1999.

It’s been a bad week for the Gray Lady in the science department. Hot off the heels of hiring a climate science denier for its op-ed section, it’s published a credulous article that uncritically touts a book full of dubious alternative medicine testimonials.