pseudoscience

Tag archives for pseudoscience

Earlier this month, cancer quacks everywhere were touting a study that suggests that chemotherapy administered before breast cancer treatment can stimulate the spread of cancer, pointing to it as evidence that chemotherapy doesn’t work and even makes cancer worse. In reality, the study was far more nuanced. It didn’t show that chemotherapy doesn’t work (quite the contrary) but does point to ways we can make chemotherapy more effective.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop website is a wretched hive of scum and quackery peddling dubious “wellness” products like vaginal “Jade Eggs” to affluent women. Yesterday, she corralled a couple of her “medical experts” to strike back at a persistent critic of goop’s pseudoscience and mystical woo. It did not go well—for goop or its enabling “integrative” physicians.

As quackery in the form of “integrative medicine” has increasingly been “integrated” into medicine, medical journals are starting to notice and succumb to the temptation to decrease their skepticism. The BMJ, unfortunately, is the latest to do so. It won’t be the last.

Thanks to social media, fake news, conspiracy theories, and health scams spread faster and farther than ever. The world is in need of critical thinking skills now more than ever. Fortunately, there is hope. Critical thinking can be taught, but teaching these skills works best if you start young.

In the Journal of Integrative Medicine, acupuncturists argue for modernizing acupuncture by uncoupling it from its traditional Chinese medicine background and avoiding the mystical language about qi and meridians. Hilarity ensues, because acupuncture can’t be separated from the prescientific mysticism from which it arose.

Acupuncturists complain that the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends treatments for knee osteoarthritis for which the evidence is weak. They think that means that NICE should also accept acupuncture. In reality, it means that NICE should stop recommending treatments without support by strong scientific evidence.

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.

The impetus for the creation of this blog, lo these 12+ years ago, was growing alarm at the rising tide of pseudoscience then, such as quackery, antivaccine misinformation, creationism, Holocaust denial, and many other forms of attacks on science, history, and reality itself. I had cut my teeth on deconstructing such antiscience and pseudoscience on…

Longtime vaccine advocates will likely remember Jock Doubleday’s “vaccine challenge,” in which he offered up to $150,000 to anyone who would drink a body-weight calibrated dose of the vaccine additives in the childhood vaccine schedule. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro have teamed up to issue a challenge every bit as nonsensical from a scientific standpoint, with the added bonus of its being a scam as well.

I remember when I first heard on Twitter yesterday afternoon that our President-Elect, Donald Trump, was going to meet with longtime antivaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Remembering how Trump had met with antivaccine “hero” Andrew Wakefield before the election and how after the election antivaccine activists were practically salivating over the thought of what…

Back in the day, quacks and cranks liked Wikipedia. Because anyone can become an editor on Wikipedia, they assumed that they could just sign up to edit Wikipedia pages and change them to reflect their views on alternative medicine or whatever other pseudoscientific topic they believed in. When Wikipedia first emerged on the scene, I…

2016: The year bullshit was weaponized

Conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, quackery, and belief in things that can be objectively demonstrated not to be true have always been with us. Unfortunately, 2016 was the year that this bullshit was weaponized, and we may never recover.

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been at this blogging thing for 12 years now. In fact, it’s been so long that this year I didn’t even remember to mention it when it happened nearly two weeks ago. Over that time period, I’ve dealt with a large number of conspiracy theories. Indeed, skeptics…

One of the great things about America has been the First Amendment, particularly the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. These are rights allow us to gather together to protest when we see something that we don’t think is right and want to change. Unfortunately, there is one downside to these freedoms,…

Of all the vaccines out there, it’s hard for me to decide which among them antivaccine activists fear and detest the most. Sure, there’s the MMR vaccine, the original granddaddy bete noire, demonized so successfully by Andrew Wakefield as causing autism based on some of the flimsiest evidence ever, evidence later shown to be fraudulent.…

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…

Whenever I write about homeopathy, I almost always refer to it at least once as “The One Quackery To Rule Them All.” It’s a phrase I’ve used to describe homeopathy for several years now, and for good reason. Of all the quackery out there, with the possible exception of reiki, homeopathy is the one that…

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…

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…

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…

I’ve frequently referred to “integrative medicine” as the “integration” of quackery with conventional, science-based medicine for the very good reason that that’s what it really is. However, advocates of medicine not based in science are nothing if not masters of marketing, which is how, over the course of three decades or so, “alternative medicine” morphed…

I’ve been writing about this topic so long—ever since the very beginning of this blog—that it seems as though I’ve always been doing it even though this blog has been in existence only 11 years and I didn’t really come to appreciate the problem until after I had started this blog. No, I’m not referring…

One of the most frequent complaints leveled at pro-science advocates who defend vaccines against antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience is that we’re way too fast to label them as “antivaccine,” that we use the term as a convenient label to demonize their views. We’re not really antivaccine, they tell us. We’re vaccine safety advocates. Really. Now,…

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of John Oliver. When my aging body allows me to stay awake late enough on Sunday nights and there’s a new episode on, I’ll almost always be watching. Since starting his own show Last Week Tonight With John Oliver on HBO, Oliver’s become quite the expert at…

[Note: Since this was written, Donald Trump won Indiana and Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign. This is why I changed the title of this post on Tuesday night. Meet your presumptive nominee, Republicans.] I haven’t written anything about Donald Trump and vaccines in a while. When last I did write about him, I enumerated…