alternative medicine

Respectful Insolence

Tag archives for alternative medicine

I’ve been a bit of a bad, bad boy. Well, not exactly. Rather, I’ve just been a bit lazy and/or forgetful. I know, I know. How can the ultimate Tarial cell-fueled supercomputer in the neat, compact form of a Plexiglass-encased cube of multicolored blinking lights be lazy or forgetful? Maybe “lazy and forgetful” are the…

Quacks really hate Wikipedia. It’s understandable, really. Wikipedia has some fairly tight standards regulating its form and content. Quacks, thinking that because anybody can edit Wikipedia articles it must mean that they can edit the entries on their favorite bit of woo to their hearts’ content in order to make it look more scientifically supported…

Alternative medicine as religion, again

Over the years, I’ve often likened alternative medicine to a religion—or even a cult. Basically, it requires belief in a set of precepts that have at best little and more commonly no evidence to support them that is often accompanied by magical thinking that a god-substitute, be it nature, one’s body, or, of course, the…

Dr. David L. Katz is apparently unhappy with me. You remember Dr. Katz, don’t you? If you don’t, I’ll remind you momentarily. If you do, you won’t be surprised. Let me explain a bit first how Dr. Katz recently became aware of me again. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a short (for me)…

If there’s one thing a budding skeptic quickly learns is that at the core of any good woo almost invariably lurks at least one conspiracy theory. At the risk of flirting a little too close to Godwin territory, this simple fact about pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and other non-evidence-based belief systems was first driven home to me…

The vast majority of what is known as “alternative medicine” is quackery. Let’s just get that right out front right from the very beginning of this post. That’s where I’m coming from, and where I’m coming from is a science- and evidence-based viewpoint. To quote a cliche that is true and modified to my own…

If there’s one thing that I write that I don’t feel I repeat too much (although some might disagree), it’s that, unlike other centers and institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is not, and never was, a compelling scientific justification for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to exist…

Recently, I got an e-mail from someone who had just discovered my blog that made me think a bit, which is usually a good thing. At least, in this case it was. Basically, this reader asked me a question I hadn’t been asked in a very long time and hadn’t thought about in a very…

Mike Adams (a.k.a. the “Health Ranger”) has been a regular blog topic for several years now. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that, among supporters of quackery, no one quite brings the crazy home the way Mike Adams does, be it writing antivaccine rap songs, abusing dead celebrities by…

Do you believe in magic in medicine?

Sometimes, between blogging, a demanding day (and night) job doing surgery and science, and everything else, I embarrass myself. Sure, sometimes I embarrass myself by saying something that, in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t. More often, I embarrass myself by letting things slide that I shouldn’t. For instance, when friends send me a prepublication copy…

For a long time, going back almost to the beginning of this blog eight and a half years ago, I’ve referred to the “bait and switch” of alternative medicine. What I mean by that is the manner in which advocates of alternative medicine—or, as they like to call it these days, “complementary and alternative medicine”…

On “helping” that is anything but

Cancer is a bitch. Depending upon what organ is involved and what kind of cancer it is, it can be incredibly hard to cure. All too often, it is incurable, particularly when it involves the brain, pancreas, esophagus, or other organs. People wonder why, after over 40 years of a “war on cancer,” we don’t…

Dr. Oz versus science—again

That Dr. Mehmet Oz uses his show to promote quackery of the vilest sort is no longer in any doubt. I was reminded yet again of this last week when I caught a rerun of one of his shows from earlier this season, when he gazed in wonder at the tired old cold reading schtick…

One characteristic of cranks, quacks, and pseudoscience boosters is a love-hate relationship with science. They desperately crave the respectability and validation that science confers. In the case of medicine, they want to be seen as evidence- and science-based. On the other hand, they hate science because it just won’t given them what they want: Confirmation…

Another year, another Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While most people who have either been touched by breast cancer or who have a professional interest in it, the significance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is that it is a time, well, to increase awareness and to promote breast cancer research. There is another side to Breast…

A different kind of breast cancer testimonial

For my international readers, it’s a holiday here in the U.S. That means I plan on taking it easy, which means I’ve decided on doing, in essence, a “rerun.” I chose this particular rerun based on my post from last Thursday. I thought that rerunning this particular post is a good reminder of what the…

Alternative medicine as religion

Over the years, I’ve often likened non-science-based medical belief systems to religion. It’s not a hard argument to make. Religion involves believing in things that can’t be proven scientifically; indeed, religion makes a virtue out of ignoring the evidence and accepting various beliefs on faith alone. Similarly, alternative medicine frequently tells you that you have…

Jamy Ian Swiss on science-based skepticism

As the last full weekday of my vacation passes, I thought about whether I’d bother to post anything or not, given that I happen to be traveling. After yesterday’s post, the subject of which was profoundly depressing to me because I hate it when quacks take cynical advantage of a grieving family to promote their…

An aromatherapist versus science

Things are getting back to normal here at Casa Orac. it’s always a come down after going to TAM and being able to mingle, argue, and party with people who share my skeptical world view. Yesterday was back to reality, though, at least as much as jet lag and sleep deprivation allowed. Fortunately, Monday is…

It’s good to be home. True, while I was away for five days, first to NECSS and then to the AACR Meeting, mail piled up, and I had to go through it last night. Also, just for the heck of it, my wife and I went out to dinner at a local diner. Finally, to…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m not really a political blogger. True, I do from time to time succumb to the blogger’s temptation of being a pundit on current events or pontificating on politics, but in general I don’t do that very often because political bloggers are a dime a dozen…

Has Dr. Oz finally crossed the Woobicon?

I’ve had it with Dr. Oz. Although I haven’t seen his show today (for one thing, I work for a living; for another thing, even if I had today off I wouldn’t waste it watching Dr. Oz’s show), readers have informed me that yesterday, on March 1, 2010, Dr. Oz threw away whatever shred of…

If there is one aspect of “complementary and alternative” medicine (CAM) that can puzzle advocates of science-based medicine, it’s why, given how nonsensical much of it is given that some of it actually goes against the laws of physics (think homeopathy or distance healing), CAM is so popular. Obviously one reason is that there are…

Telling “both sides”

This may be a bit over the top, but it does rather point out what is in effect done when journalists lazily present “both sides” of issues that don’t really have two sides, at least not two sides that are anywhere in the same universe as far as scientific validity: I do rather think that…

I really need to rein myself in sometimes. Yesterday, all pleased as punch with myself for my mad Google skillz and for thinking I figured out just what “alternative” therapy it was that Farrah Fawcett had undergone that had resulted in what sounded for all the world like a rectus sheath hematoma, I wrote about…