quackery

Tag archives for quackery

Naturopaths are fake doctors who fancy themselves to be real doctors, so much so that they call themselves “physicians” even when explicitly barred from doing so by law.

In March, it was widely reported that a young woman named Jade Erick had died suddenly of a hypersensitivity reaction while undergoing an infusion of intravenous curcumin ordered by a naturopath named Kim Kelly to treat her eczema. The FDA investigated and found egregious problems with the injectable curcumin used. This tragic incident serves to demonstrate how dangerous a combination naturopaths and dubious compounding pharmacies can be.

Much of the belief system that undergirds antivaccine views is rooted in superstition. That’s why it’s not a coincidence that antivaxers frequently speak in terms of contamination due to vaccines as a cause of autism and all the other conditions for which antivaxers blame vaccines and ritual purification in the form of “detoxification” as the treatment. These beliefs very much resemble religious beliefs, and antivaxers project them onto pro-science advocates.

Correcting antivaccine misinformation is hard. Real hard. Another study shows us just how hard.

Eleven years ago, Abraham Cherrix and his parents chose quackery over science-based medicine to treat his cancer, and Cherrix was one of the earliest cases of teens who chose quackery to treat a life-threatening disease that I discussed in depth. Recently, I learned that Cherrix is still alive. The reason? He finally realized the error of his original decision and underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

Many are the stories of those who have embraced quackery to treat their cancer. Few are followup stories when such a person realizes she’s made a mistake and returns to conventional therapy. This is one such story, but you’re unlikely ever to see the media outlets that touted Carissa Gleeson’s choice of quackery to treat her cancer run the story of her having changed her mind and saved her life with real medicine.

I recently took a review course in general surgery to prepare for my board recertification examination in December and realized just how much the standard of care had changed in the decade since I last recertified. Then I learned that laetrile is still a thing. If there’s one thing that demonstrates the difference between alternative medicine and real medicine, it’s how no alternative medicine treatment ever goes away, no matter how often it’s shown not to work. Ever.

Dr. Aviva Romm, one of Goop’s doctors, tried to distance herself from Goop’s pseudoscience. It didn’t go well.

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.

The ubiquity of quackery and pseudoscience of the sort epitomized by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop empire can be depressing if you’re a skeptic. Sometimes it feels as though it’s not worth refuting the nonsense she peddles. But it is. Just maybe not in the way you think.

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.

A reader asks me why I hate naturopaths. I don’t hate naturopaths, but I do oppose naturopathy. Earlier this week, Tim Caulfield reminded me of one reason why: You can’t have naturopathy without antivax. Antivax views are baked into naturopathy.

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.