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One of the things that first led me to understand the dangers of quackademic medicine was a trial known as the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy, or TACT. Chelation therapy, as you might recall, is the infusion of a chelating agent, or a chemical that binds heavy metals and makes it easier for the kidney…

I’m sure that most of you watched the Presidential debate on Monday night, just as I did. Over the years, these debates have always always painful for me to watch, given the candidates’ tendency to answer the question they want to answer rather than the question actually answered; to find ways to spew prepackaged talking…

It’s been nearly three weeks since we learned that the Medical Board of California had initiated disciplinary proceedings against the most famous antivaccine physician not named Andrew Wakefield. I’m referring, of course, to “Dr. Bob” Sears, author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child and creator of an “alternate” vaccine schedule…

One of the most effective spin techniques used by advocates of “integrative medicine” (also sometimes called “complementary and alternative medicine,” or CAM for short) to legitimize quackery has been to claim basically all non-pharmacologic, non-surgical interventions as “integrative,” “complementary,” or “alternative.” Thus, science-based interventions such as diet changes to treat and/or prevent disease, exercise, and…

If there’s one thing that irritates me more than government agencies making bold proclamations about making progress in cancer but not providing sufficient funding to have even a shot of realizing such ambitions (I’m talking to you, Cancer Moonshot), it’s people in other disciplines that are not cancer biology making bold proclamations about how they’re…

One of the most pernicious changes in medicine that’s occurred over the last 25 years or so is the infiltration of what I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine.” It’s a term that was, as far as I know, coined by Dr. Robert W. Donnell in 2009 to describe the infiltration of pseudoscience and…

Has another celebrity embraced quackery?

I never in a million years thought I’d be writing a blog post involving Selena Gomez. Gomez, as many, if not most, of you are probably aware is currently a young pop star and actress who got her start as a child actress. Oddly enough, she was on Barney & Friends with Demi Lovato. These…

The Cancer Moonshot. It’s a topic that I’ve been meaning to address ever since President Barack Obama announced it in his State of the Union address this year and tasked Vice President Joe Biden to head up the initiative. Biden, you’ll recall, lost his son to a brain tumor . Yet here it is, eight…

When I first heard that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, was scheduled to appear on The Dr. Oz Show, my first thought was, basically, “Of course he is. What took him so long?” After all, it’s a crank pairing made in heaven. Given that, I considered it my skeptical blogging duty at least…

As regular readers know, last Friday I was quite happy to relay the news that the Medical Board of California had finally acted against a rock star among the antivaccine movement, namely pediatrician “Dr. Bob” Sears. Dr. Sears (or Dr. Bob, as he likes to be called) rocketed to prominence among the vaccine-averse and downright…

I didn’t think I’d be revisiting this topic again so soon, but damned if Alice Dreger didn’t write something that comes pretty close to demanding that I do so. I tried to resist, but unfortunately could not. Basically, I’m getting really, really tired of Dreger. Why do I say that? It’s because I’m having a…

In the early days of this blog, I came up with a concept. That concept was based on the idea that on Friday I would try hard not to be so serious. On Fridays, I would seek out the finest woo in the world and aim a bit of my not-so-Respectful Insolence. Thus was born…

I’ve been critical of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which was until relatively recently known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) ever since I first discovered that it existed, lo, these many years ago. When I first discovered NCCIH, what struck me is how much pseudoscience it…

After all the bad news that I’ve been blogging about, it’s a pleasure for me to end the week with a bit of very good news, very good news indeed. That news came in the form of an article published in the Orange County Register with the glorious title Dr. Bob Sears faces medical board…

I’ve frequently called “right to try” laws that are popping up in various states like so much kudzu, to the point where 31 states have passed them in a little over two years, an amazing pace, a cruel sham, given how incredibly unlikely they are to help a single patient. Basically, state-level right-to-try laws are…

Remember Vox Day? Vox Day is the pseudonym used by a truly vile man named Theodore Beale. I first encountered him 11 years ago on the precursor to this blog, thanks to his antivaccine stylings and outright misogyny. Later, I learned the depths of his wingnuttery, such as his accepting pseudoscientific claims that vaccines cause…

It’s been nearly two weeks since a new “right to try” bill (AB 1668) passed the California legislature with overwhelming support and was sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk to be signed. Thus far, he has not signed it, which is good, but neither have I seen a story that he has vetoed it either.…

Believe it or not (and you probably won’t believe it), but I never intended to post today, as it’s a holiday, and I had to write my usual level post for my not-so-super-secret other blog. But then one of you had to send me this: I couldn’t resist at least a quick comment on this.

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been approximately 16 years since I first discovered that there was such a thing as antivaccinationists. Think of it this way. I was around 37 or so when, while wandering around Usenet (remember Usenet?), I found the newsgroup misc.health.alternative (or m.h.a. for short), a discussion group about,…

Last night was one of those nights where I was working late because I was asked to do a panel discussion on breast cancer last night. Such are the perils of being a breast cancer expert, I guess. That doesn’t mean I don’t have time for an uncharacteristically brief notice of some particularly dumb bit…

One of the great things about having achieved some notoriety as a blogger is that readers send me links to articles that the believe will be interesting to me. They usually come in waves. For instance, after anything having to do with Stanislaw Burzynski, “right to try,” particularly egregious antivaccine idiocy, and the like hits…

About three months ago, I was displeased to see in a normally reliable source of medical news (STAT News) a story about a patient of cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski, Neil Fachon, that fell victim to every trope that Burzynski’s used for 40 years to present himself to the press as a “brave maverick” doctor and…

Stem cells are magic. Stem cells cure everything. They are the next big thing in medicine. That’s the narrative one frequently hears about stem cells in the press and courtesy of offshore stem cell clinics in places such as Italy and direct-to-consumer marketing of stem cells in the US. Of course, stem cells aren’t mystical…

I’ve mentioned on quite a few occasions that there’s a quote attributed to philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer that is much beloved of cranks: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. I also like to point out that Schopenhauer probably never said…

There’s an old saying that basically asks the question, “With friends like these, who needs enemies? or, as Voltaire (or Marshal Villars, depending on the account) said, “May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies.” The point, of course, is that friends or allies can sometimes be as infuriating…