Pseudoscience

Category archives for Pseudoscience

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.

Thanks for the measles yet again, Andy

Yet another population is learning why you shouldn’t trust Andrew Wakefield. There is a large Somali immigrant population in Minnesota, and unfortunately they’ve been targeted by antivaxers. As a result, their MMR uptake has plummeted, and now they’re in the midst of another measles outbreak. Andrew Wakefield screws yet another group.

Naturopaths claim that licensing their profession will ensure a high standard of care and protect patients. The case of Jade Erick, who died as a result of intravenous curcumin administered by a naturopath puts the lie to that claim. We now know that the naturopath who killed Erick has pending complaints that the Naturopathic Medicine Committee has done little to act on, revealing its ineffectiveness.

Ill-advised right-to-try bills are spreading like kudzu through state legislatures. Now federal legislators want to insert right-to-try language into the bill that funds FDA drug approval. Given the support of powerful Republicans for right-to-try, is it too late to stop this juggernaut and protect patients?

Orac contemplates a reason why doctors become antivaccine that he missed the last time he discussed this topic.

Even though they should know better based on their training, too many physicians embrace the dark side and become antivaccine. How does this happen? What personality traits common among physicians can facilitate a descent into pseudoscience?

To antivaxers, it’s always the vaccines. Now they’re claiming vaccines cause autism in dogs. The problem, of course, is that vaccines don’t cause autism in humans, and labeling dog behavior as “autistic” is problematic in the extreme.

Antivaxer Guggie Daly thinks that manipulating and twisting speech will help spread her antivaccine message. She could be right, but fortunately for prescience advocates she’s just really bad at it.

The numbers are in. SB 277, the new California law banning nonmedical exemptions, works. Vaccine uptake is up, and personal belief exemptions are down dramatically.

A patient is dead because a naturopath dosed her with intravenous curcumin. Instead of learning from the debacle, naturopaths circle the wagon, and the chair of the Naturopathic Medicine Committee for the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs shows his intent to try to exonerate the naturopath responsible.

Naturopaths claim that licensure will guarantee that only naturopaths practicing based on scientific evidence are allowed to see patients. The real situation is that licensed naturopaths are just as quacky (and dangerous) as any other naturopath. This is demonstrated by a recent case in which a fully licensed naturopath who trained at the “finest” naturopathy school killed a patient with intravenous “turmeric.”

A few dozen antivaccine activists descended upon Washington, DC to protest and lobby their legislators. The protest itself was not impressive, but pro-science advocates shouldn’t let this pathetic march lead them to be complacent. Antivaxers are meeting with legislators, and President Trump is sympathetic to their aims.

In a forthcoming book The Boy in 7 Billion, Callie Blackwell claims that cannabis oil, which she had started giving her son Deryn to relieve his symptoms during a bone marrow transplant for two cancers, actually saved his life when the bone marrow transplant appeared to be failing. Unfortunately, her story appears to be another testimonial that confuses correlation with causation.

Elissa Meininger argues that homeopathy is better than vaccines, going so far to ask the question, “Is this the end of vaccines?” Vaccines have nothing to worry about from homeopathy, although those of us who don’t want to see the return of vaccine-preventable diseases have to worry about antivaccine cranks like Meininger.

“Battlefield acupuncture,” which is really a form of ear acupuncture based essentially on a homunculus on the ear, continues to invade and metastasize in the military, complete with Dr. Seuss monsters.

Just because people think that sticking needles into their meridians will somehow unblock their qi and fix whatever ails them doesn’t mean it’s OK to inflict the same nonsense on our pets. Unfortunately, a local TV station disagrees.

I’ve written before about how our vaccination rate here in Michigan are…suboptimal. Indeed, a couple of years ago, health officials were so alarmed at the increases in personal belief exemptions to school vaccine mandates that a new regulation was instituted that require parents seeking nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates to travel to an office…

Out of southern California, comes a lesson that something as seemingly benign as turmeric can kill when weaponized in the hands of a quack.

The grieving widower killed the naturopath who treated his wife with cancer after telling her that “chemo is for losers.” Where I see a tragedy, naturopaths see an opportunity to argue for naturopathic licensure.

Beginning a little over a year ago, Romania has been enduring a massive measles outbreak. The cause is familiar: Low MMR uptake below what is needed for herd immunity. Is this a warning to the US?

Quacks love to invoke experts who made predictions that turned out to be wrong or point to Galileo or Semmelweis as examples of scientists whose findings were rejected by the scientific or medical establishment of the time, as though poor prediction or rejection by the establishment means there must be something to their science. Guess what? As Michael Shermer put it, heresy does not equal correctness.

Every story must have a victim, a hero, and a villain, and the central antivaccine conspiracy myth is no different.

There might be an antivaxer in the White House right now, but it’s at the state level where vaccine policy and school vaccine mandates are decided.

I’ve been writing a long time about a phenomenon that I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine,” defined as the infiltration into academic medical centers and medical school of unscientific and pseudoscientific treatment modalities that are unproven or disproven. Few seem to listen. That’s why it’s reassuring to see a mainstream news publication get it (mostly) right about this phenomenon.

Antiabortion antivaccine activists like to claim that “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines mean that vaccines are contaminated products of evil. In reality, there are no “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines. A cell line derived from an aborted fetus in 1962 did, however, lead to huge advances in vaccine technology and the prevention of many millions of deaths worldwide.