Pseudoscience

Category archives for Pseudoscience

Over the years, I’ve frequently made the points that the vast majority of physicians are not scientists and, in fact, that many of them suffer from a severe case of Dunning-Kruger when it comes to science. Even going back to the very early history of this blog, you can find examples, the most common of…

Naturopathy is quackery. I like to start most, if not all, posts about naturopathy with that simple statement. The reasons are simple. First, it’s true. Second, most people—including doctors—are unaware of this simple fact. Finally, it irritates naturopaths and their fans. It also has the benefit of setting the tone I want to convey whenever…

A week ago, I noted that one of the stranger and less credible conspiracy theories promulgated by quacks and their believers was still going strong nearly three months after the first death that triggered it, the death of autism quack Jeff Bradstreet, apparently by suicide. Basically, three months ago, Dr. Bradstreet, who has long been…

Early in the history of this blog, I had a running gag that I’d use every now and then. Basically, it involved humorously extravagant descriptions of how I wanted to hide my face behind a paper bag in sheer embarrassment at the antics of fellow physicians, particularly fellow surgeons. Over time, the gag evolved to…

Antivaccine quackery is arguably one of the worst forms of quackery. First, the pseudoscientific beliefs undergirding such quackery are based on the fear and demonization of one of the greatest medical advances in the history of the human race, the result of which are children left unprotected against preventable diseases that routinely used to populate…

Ever since late June, I’ve been intermittently taking note of a new conspiracy theory in the alternative medicine world. It began when notorious autism quack Jeff Bradstreet, one of the longest practicing, most prominent purveyors of the scientifically discredited notion that vaccines cause autism, was found dead in a North Carolina river on June 19.…

Homeopathy is a frequent topic on this blog, for reasons that regular readers no doubt understand all too well by now. Homeopathy is, as I like to call it, again borrowing from Tolkien, The One Quackery To Rule Them All. When it comes to quackery, few can even come close to homeopathy for the sheer…

It just occurred to me that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is fast approaching, not the least of which because I did a Komen event last night as one of the breast cancer experts. I sometimes wonder if I suffer from a bit of the imposter syndrome, because sixteen years on I still sometimes can’t believe…

Regular readers of this blog will find it no surprise that I don’t think much of Dr. Mehmet Oz. The reason, of course, is that his daily television show, The Dr. Oz Show, has been a font of misinformation about medicine almost since it began airing six years ago. It’s not for nothing that I…

Note added 9/17/2015: I knew it. The vaccine issue came up during the second debate and Donald Trump repeated basically the same nonsensical antivaccine tropes that he’s been repeating for at least eight years. It rather puts the lie to his claim that he listens to experts and changes his opinion based on what they…

The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine

[Note: My flight home from London was delayed until quite late; so unfortunately another “rerun” is in order. This one’s from three years ago, and I actually consider it one of my “classics.” It was also originally published at my not-so-super-secret other blog and represents the first time I tried to put together my concept…

Orac is recharging

This is a public service announcement—with skepticism. Orac needs a recharge: Some of you might have seen it alluded to in the comments that I am on vacation this week. It is true, although it’s not entirely a vacation. Basically, I was invited by a collaborator to give a talk at a two-day conference at…

As hard as it is to believe after over ten years of existence and over 5,000 posts on SBM, every so often, something reminds me that I’ve missed paper that cries out for some not-so-Respectful Insolence. So it was a couple of weeks ago, when I saw a familiar name in a news story that…

The Woo Boat

File this one under the category: You can’t make stuff like this up. (At least, I can’t.) Let’s say you’re a die hard all-conspiracy conspiracy theorist and alternative medicine believer (a not uncommon combination). You love Alex Jones and Mike Adams and agree with their rants that there is a New World Order trying to…

I frequently call homeopathy The One Quackery to Rule Them All, but there are times when I am not so sure that that’s the case. You see, there is…another. I’m referring, of course, to what is referred to as “energy medicine.” What energy medicine modalities have in common is that they postulate that there is…

Aside from deconstructing the misinformation and pseudoscience of the antivaccine movement, another of the top three or so topics I routinely discuss here is the infiltration of pseudoscience into medicine. In particular, I’ve found and discussed more examples than I can possibly remember of what I like to call quackademic medicine, defined as the infiltration…

I’ve frequently written about the “arrogance of ignorance,” a phenomenon that anyone who’s paid attention to what quacks, cranks, or antivaccine activists (but I repeat myself) write and say beyond a certain period of time will have encountered. Basically, it’s the belief found in such people—and amplified in groups—that somehow they can master a subject…

When it comes to the use of what is sometimes called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, increasingly, “integrative medicine,” there is a certain narrative. It’s a narrative promoted by CAM proponents that does its best to convince the public that there is nothing unusual, untoward, or odd about CAM use, even though much of…

Epigenetics. As I’ve described before, to alternative medicine practitioners, epigenetics seems to mean something akin to what the word “quantum” means: Magic. I’ve covered, for example, the woo-filled stylings of Deepak Chopra invoking things like “quantum consciousness,” and seemingly for quite a few years the best way to slap a patina of “sciencey”-sounding credibility on…

Why do doctors deny evolution?

Yesterday was a long day, starting in the operating room and finishing at a dinner reception for our visiting speaker today. As a result, when I arrived home, I was sawing the proverbial logs within five or ten minutes of hitting the couch, more or less without realizing it. I was going to just skip…

Dedicated to lilady. One of the disadvantages of writing for this blog is that sometimes I feel as though I spend so much time deconstructing bad science and pseudoscience in medicine that I’m rarely left with the time or the opportunity to discuss some interesting science. Of course, even when I do that, usually it’s…

As much time and effort as I spend deconstructing, refuting, and otherwise demolishing the misinformation that is routinely promulgated about vaccines by the antivaccine movement, it’s important never just to reflexly dismiss a claim or news story that gains traction among antivaccinationists. After all, it is always possible that the story is as the antivaccinationists…

After having written yesterday’s piece about the fallacy known as the appeal to nature, a favorite fallacy of the alternative medicine crowd. The idea that if something is somehow “natural” it must be superior to anything viewed as “unnatural” or “man-made” is deeply ingrained in pseudoscientific medicine. Heck, there’s even a brand of quackery known…

I’ve discussed on many occasions over the years how antivaccine activists really, really don’t want to be known as “antivaccine.” Indeed, when they are called “antivaccine” (usually quite correctly, given their words and deeds), many of them will clutch their pearls in indignation, rear up in self-righteous anger, and retort that they are “not antivaccine”…

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been spending a significant part of my time countering pseudoscience for close to 17 years, so long that it seems that I’ve always been doing it. Of course, that’s not true; I didn’t actually become involved in this seemingly never-ending Sisyphean task until I was in my…