White Coat Underground

PalMD

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…

In memoriam

According to my family’s recollection, none of our relatives has died fighting for the United States. My grandmother was from a small town in what is now Belarus and most people in the family were born, lived, and died there. One of her brothers, though, did something remarkable. If family memories are correct, he left…

Blogkeeping

I’m off to watch my daughter march in some sort of neo-fascist parade (Daisy scouts) and then off to the hospital, but first some quick housekeeping issues: You can subscribe to WCU’s feed here. You can have updates delivered by email. There is a facebook page on which updates are posted. The PalCast is on permanent…

A cruel hoax

As summer approaches and people spend more time outdoors, many parts of the country will start to see cases of Lyme disease. It is carried by deer ticks and is especially common in the Northeast. Tick bites often go unnoticed, but the rash of Lyme disease is pretty characteristic and occurs in about 70-80% of…

As my regular readers know, I’m not a big fan of our current health care system. Our bloated, industry-driven system manages to deliver less effective care at a higher cost than most other industrialized nations. The system is Byzantine, unnavigable, and dangerous, and is kept that way in the name of the Holy Market. But…