quackery

Tag archives for quackery

What is an “altie”?

How does one identify a hard core believer in alternative medicine, sometimes called in the distant past an “altie.” Well, this helpful list, culled from nine years ago, will aid you in spotting the identifying signs…

Nikola Tesla was a physicist known to dabble in strange ideas, and that’s probably why pseudoscientists have appropriated them to justify quackery and fringe ideas. However, I doubt even Tesla can be used to justify the Tesla Purple Energy Shield and various other “Tesla Purple Energy” products.

Bloggers at the Age of Autism blog, like most antivaccine activists, vehemently deny that they are antivaccine, claiming instead that they are “vaccine safety” advocates. Their denials are belied by their having published many posts about a “Vaccine Holocaust.”

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.

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.

Antivaccine activists have been targeting the community of Somali immigrants in Minnesota for over a decade now, with devastating results. In the midst of a growing measles outbreak, antivaxers have descended upon the community to keep promoting antivaccine quackery.

This week, the FDA sent warning letters to 14 companies making unsupported claims that their products can treat cancer. Given the new administration’s determination to deregulate almost everything, but especially the FDA, is this the last time in the foreseeable future that such a crackdown will occur?

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.

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.

Cancer huckster Belle Gibson was recently fined for deceiving the public by claiming that she had brain cancer, a story that she used to sell all manner of dubious treatments. Was she delusional or a run-of-the-mill con artist? Does it matter?

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.

The legal world’s foremost defender of quacks issues a warning that the ACCME will stop accrediting continuing medical education courses that teach quackery credulously. Gee, he says that as though it would be a bad thing.

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.

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.

Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD, wants you to know she is a doctor. She also wants you to know that you can “reset” your hormones and genes with food and saunas. In the case of the saunas, she’s put the preclinical cart before the clinical horse and extrapolated animal and early molecular epidemiological data off of a cliff.

It takes a lot to stop Orac from applying Insolence to pseudoscience and quackery. One of the biggest windstorms in his lifetime did it. No jokes about wind.

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.

I’ve been blogging fairly regularly about Houston cancer quack Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski since 2011, and now the story is over…sort of. Unfortunately, as you will see, the ending is far from ideal. It is, however, somewhat better than I had feared it might be. What I’m referring to, of course, is the final ruling of…

Mike Adams the “Health Ranger” runs NaturalNews.com, arguably the wretchedest of wretched hives of scum and quackery on the web. Yesterday, Google delisted it. You’ll forgive me if I indulge in a bit of schadenfreude, given Adams’ long history of promoting quackery, gloating over the deaths of celebrities with cancer who used conventional treatment, and character assassination directed at science advocates, including yours truly.

I like to refer to homeopathy as The One Quackery To Rule Them All, so much so that I almost always call it that within the first two paragraphs of any post I write about some tasty bit of homeopathy pseudoscience. It’s also a wonderful tool for teaching critical thinking because it’s easy to explain…

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.

Whenever I hear an antivaxer claim that she’s “not antivaccine,” I listen to what she’s actually saying. For instance, when she compares “vaccine injury” and the medical system to being tortured (specifically waterboarding), I tend not to believe their denial.