Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

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,…

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.…

It’s been a long time since I’ve encountered Glenn Sabin. You might remember him, though. He runs a consulting firm, FON Therapeutics, which is dedicated to the promotion of “integrative” health, or, as I like to put it, the “integration of pseudoscience and quackery with science-based medicine. What I remember most about Sabin is how…

This post is a bit later than usual, but there’s a good reason for it. Last night, I was in full food coma, having consumed the traditional Thanksgiving feast, along with a fair amount of wine. Besides, even a sometimes arrogant bloviator like myself, who uses a pseudonym based on a fictional, near-all-knowing supercomputer from…

Acupuncture: Getting the point

I’ve frequently written about what I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine,” defined as the infiltration of outright quackery into medical academia, particularly medical schools and academic medical centers. There’s no doubt that it’s a significant problem as hallowed institutions like Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center embrace nonsense, pseudoscience, and quackery in the name of…

The Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) doesn’t like me much. I understand. I haven’t exactly been supportive of the group’s mission or activities. So it wasn’t surprising that SIO wrote letters trying to rebut a Perspectives article on “integrative oncology” that I published in Nature Reviews Cancer two years ago. What depressed me about that…

John Weeks has long been an activist for alternative medicine—excuse me, “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, as it’s more commonly referred to these days, “integrative medicine.” Despite his having zero background in scientific research or the design and execution of experiments and clinical trials, for some bizarre reason in May he was appointed editor…

If you’re a skeptic dedicated to promoting science and reason, these are scary times. My country, the United States of America, just unexpectedly elected a racist, misogynistic, conspiracy-mongering, scientific ignoramus (who, by the way, is rabidly antivaccine) as its next President thanks to the political relic known as the Electoral College. In actuality, Hillary Clinton…

Well, I’m back. Yes, late last night, I re-entered returned home from vacation in Mexico before our new President-Elect has a chance to build his wall. I was so exhausted that I had no time to write anything and remain so. At least I wasn’t stupid enough to go back to work today and instead…

Yesterday, I wrote about alternative medicine clinics in Germany that offer a combination of alternative cancer cures plus experimental therapeutics administered improperly outside the auspices of a clinical trial. In particular, I discussed two cases. The first was British actress Leah Bracknell, who is raising money to go to one of these alternative cancer clinics…

A couple of months ago, I discussed patient deaths at an alternative medicine clinic in Europe, where a naturopath named Klaus Ross had been administering an experimental cancer drug (3-bromopyruvate, or 3-BP) to patients outside the auspices of a clinical trial. 3-BP is a drug that targets the Warburg effect, a characteristic of cancer cells…

Orac is currently hiding from the Federation in an undisclosed location (somewhere warm and out of the country, the better to avoid election news after having cast an absentee ballot), where he is charging his Tarial cells, the better to return fully recharged and ready to dive back into the massive piles of woo awaiting…

That I’m not a fan of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH, formerly known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM) should come as no surprise to anyone. Basically, from its very inception as the Office of Alternative Medicine in the early 1990s to its growth to large…

Way, way back in the day, before I took an interest in pseudoscientific medical claims, I knew who Deepak Chopra was. Back then, though, like most doctors, I didn’t pay much attention to him and didn’t know much about him other than that he was some sort of alternative medicine guru, a physician who had…

As I write this, the 2016 Election is lurching painfully to its conclusion, with about a week to go. In my entire adult life, dating back to when I first reached the age where I started paying attention to politics in the late 1970s, I cannot remember a more bizarre or painful election, nor can…

As hard as it is to believe, it’s been nearly two years since the infamous Disneyland measles outbreak, which occurred after the holidays in 2014. It was an outbreak whose spread was facilitated by unvaccinated children and that had far-reaching implications. For one thing, in its wake, California passed SB 277, a law eliminating nonmedical…

Although I did not coin it, I frequently use the term “quackademic medicine” because, unfortunately, there’s a lot of quackademic medicine around. Although regular readers know what the term means, i always feel obligated to briefly explain what quackademic medicine is, for the benefit of any newbie who might happen upon this blog. Basically, it…

Here we go again. Naturopaths crave legitimacy for their brand of pseudoscientific medicine. Basically, they delude themselves into thinking that they are real doctors and can function as primary care providers, despite abundant evidence that they cannot. they One (of several) ways they seek to acquire that legitimacy for naturopathy and themselves is through promoting…

A little over a month ago, I wrote about how proponents of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), now more frequently called “integrative medicine,” go to great lengths to claim nonpharmacological treatments for, well, just about anything as somehow being CAM or “integrative.” The example I used was a systematic review article published by several of…

There are many myths that undergird antivaccine beliefs, such as the myth that vaccines cause autism, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome, and basically anything antivaccinationists like to blame on them. Basically, if you believe antivaccinationists, there’s nothing bad thta vaccines can’t do to children. The flip side of this myth is perhaps the…