White Coat Underground

Archives for June, 2010

How did we get here?

My wife is an accomplished professional. She loves her profession, and she’s damned good at it. But she is officially “unemployed”, and it kills her every time she has to put that down on a form. So how is it that she came to be unemployed? When we met, MrsPal and I were both working…

Plumbing the depth of quackery at HuffPo

One of the questions addressed in this space is, “what makes a particular condition susceptible to quackery?”  Some of the common features we’ve seen over time are: Diverse and protean symptoms: fatigue, “brain fog”, diffuse pain, and other vague symptoms are often used as diagnostic criteria for controversial entities such as morgellons and chronic Lyme…

I was catching up again on my favorite periodical (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report—the Dengue Fever story is Awe.Some.) I came across the official recommendations for Gardasil for males. Gardasil is the vaccine produced by Merck that can protect women against infection by four strains of human papilloma virus (HPV). The vaccine has been shown…

As we ramped up for the H1N1 influenza pandemic last year, one of the worries expressed by the public and by the alternative medicine establishment was Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS). As explained by neurologist Steven Novella, GBS is a serious auto-immune neurologic disease that causes weakness. It is often preceded by a relatively mild upper…

I’m not sure what to write about this, but I feel a need to write something. There has been an interesting and infuriating discussion going on at Jason and Zuska’s blogs. Jason, whose posts on learning and cognition rock, started the discussion with an examination of a small amount of scientific literature on pornography. He’s…

Not just stupid, but dangerous

Joe Mercola’s website has always been a “target-rich environment” for quack hunters. His rants against vaccines, his incorrect flu information, his support of homeopathy, and just about everything else at his website comes free of evidence and full of unfounded assertions (as well as some seriously side-splitting giggles). But his latest post up at—where else?—the…

Not an opium poppy I took this picture a couple of days ago. This poppy popped up as a volunteer in my front bed. It’s about four feet tall and the flower is about 5 cm in diameter. It’s not an opium poppy, but it could pass, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to…