November 28, 2014

3:10 PM | The invasion of well-meaning quacks into West Africa continues apace, part three
I hope my U.S. readers have all had a happy Thanksgiving. Today has been known at least since the mid-1970s as Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Whether it’s still true or not, given the relentless proliferation, progression, and metastasis—yes, the use of terms related to cancer is intentional—of holiday sales right…

November 26, 2014

11:00 AM | Can you destroy a meter other than an irony meter?
I don’t think I mentioned this, but I’m on a bit of a staycation this week. I figured, what the heck? After coming home from Skepticon I could do with a little R&R. Of course, fool that I am, I still can’t resist blogging a bit. On the other hand, the day before Thanksgiving I…

November 25, 2014

3:00 PM | The invasion of well-meaning quacks into West Africa continues apace, part deux
I realize that I risk getting repetitive by writing about this again, but it’s a rich vein that just keeps on producing and producing. It also demonstrates that, for every tragedy as huge as the ongoing Ebola outbreak that has killed over 5,000 people in West Africa thus far, there always exist well-meaning people who…

November 24, 2014

2:45 PM | Evolutionary selection on alternative medicine
(Orac note: I was away at Skepticon over the weekend, where I gave a talk entitled The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine. (When the talk’s up on YouTube, I’ll provide a link, of course.) Because of all the fun and travel delays I didn’t get a chance to turn my slides and notes into a…
2:45 PM | Evolutionary selection on alternative medicine
(Orac note: I was away at Skepticon over the weekend, where I gave a talk entitled The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine. (When the talk’s up on YouTube, I’ll provide a link, of course.) Because of all the fun and travel delays I didn’t get a chance to turn my slides and notes into a…

November 21, 2014

2:00 PM | Off to Skepticon…
As this goes live I’ll be heading to the airport, my purpose being to wing my way to Skepticon 7, where I’ll be speaking tomorrow on a little ditty I like to call The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine. It’ll be fun, and I’m looking forward to it. However, in true Orac fashion, I haven’t…

November 20, 2014

1:15 PM | The invasion of well-meaning quacks into West Africa continues apace
Here we go yet again. I’ve been interested in the Ebola outbreak that’s been going on for months in west Africa for a number of reasons. First, it’s a bad disease, and this is the largest outbreak in history. over 5,000 people have died. Second, there’s been a lot of unreasonable fear mongering about the…

November 19, 2014

2:05 PM | An amusing bath of crank magnetism
It was a long day in the operating room again, albeit unexpectedly so as a case that I had expected to be fairly straightforward turned out to anything but. Let’s just say, when I’m peeling tumor off of a major blood vessel, my anal sphincter tone is such that if someone were to stick a…

November 18, 2014

11:00 AM | An Ontario court dooms a First Nations girl with cancer: Who’s to blame?
I figured that yesterday’s post about the First Nations girl in Ontario with lymphoblastic leukemia whose parents stopped her chemotherapy in favor of “traditional” medicine would stir up a bit of controversy, and so it did, albeit much more at my not-so-super-secret other blog, which featured an expanded version of this post. Don’t worry, you…
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November 17, 2014

3:30 PM | An Ontario court dooms a First Nations girl with cancer
A few weeks ago, Steve Novella invited me on his podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, to discuss a cancer case that has been in the news for several months now. The case was about an 11-year-old girl with leukemia who is a member of Canada’s largest aboriginal community. Steve wrote about this case…

November 14, 2014

2:00 PM | Your Friday Dose of Woo: Naturopathy and “bioresonance”
It’s been a long and entertaining week. Well, at least part of the week was entertaining. After all, it was hard not to be mightily amused at what happened when Dr. Mehmet Oz, known to the world as America’s Doctor but to skeptics as America’s Quack, asked his Twitter followers to ask him anything under…

November 13, 2014

1:00 PM | Catholic doctors and priests versus the tetanus vaccine in Kenya
Of the many lies and myths about vaccines that stubbornly persist despite all evidence showing them not only to be untrue but to be risibly, pseudoscientifically untrue, among whose number are myths that vaccines cause autism, sudden infant death syndrome, and a syndrome that so resembles shaken baby syndrome (more correctly called abusive head trauma)…

November 12, 2014

1:59 PM | America’s quack Dr. Oz asks people to ask him questions on Twitter. Hilariously, the results aren’t quite what he expected.
Getting old sucks. I had a relatively long and busy day in the operating room yesterday, the kind of day that not so long ago I’d handle with no problem. This time around, though, it wiped me out, to the point where not long after dinner I crashed. Hard. Then I woke up around midnight…

November 11, 2014

12:00 PM | Reiki propaganda in U.S. News & World Report
Sigh. Just a week ago, I deconstructed an awful article touting how the mass of prescientific quackery known as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as somehow being “validated” by modern science. Specifically, some truly misguided scientists were attempting to use modern systems biology techniques to look for biomarkers associated with TCM diagnoses such as “hot” or…

November 10, 2014

5:06 AM | Better late than never: Conspiracy theories about the CDC and Ebola
Medical conspiracy theories tend to involve “someone” hiding something from the public. I like to refer to this as the fallacy of “secret knowledge.” That “someone” hiding the “secret knowledge” is usually the government, big pharma, or other ill-defined nefarious forces. The “secret knowledge” being hidden comes invariably in one of two flavors. Either “they”…

November 07, 2014

2:30 PM | “Autism-induced” breast cancer
Gayle DeLong has been diagnosed with what she refers to as “autism-induced” breast cancer.” She’s even given it an abbreviation, AIBC. Unfortunately, as you might be able to tell by the name she’s given her breast cancer, she is also showing signs of falling into the same errors in thinking with respect to her breast…

November 06, 2014

2:00 PM | Did the “CDC whistleblower” William W. Thompson apologize to Andrew Wakefield in a text message? A hilarious challenge is issued!
Two months ago, one of the strangest stories ever to be flogged by antivaccine activists was insinuating its way throughout social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else, where antivaccine activists were engaged in a frantic effort to get the attention of mainstream media regarding their belief that there was a “CDC whistleblower” who had…

November 05, 2014

9:52 AM | Here we go again: The vile tactic of blaming shaken baby syndrome on vaccines, part 3
I was a bit angry yesterday. I’m never happy when I see the overarching narrative that prescientific and pseudoscientific beliefs are equivalent and worth doing clinical trials on them. But the irritation I feel when I see examples of journalists credulously swallowing that narrative whole and regurgitating it in mainstream publications like the Wall Street…

November 04, 2014

8:00 AM | Tooth Fairy science about traditional Chinese medicine, promoted in the Wall Street Journal
They are winning. I’ve spent nearly ten years on this blog and nearly seven years at my not-so-super secret other blog (where I will likely crosspost this over the weekend) discussing the infiltration of quackery into medicine, both in academic medical centers and, increasingly, even in community medical centers. There’s a term that I wish…

November 03, 2014

12:00 PM | Throwing everything but the kitchen sink, quackery-wise, at Ebola
You know how I sometimes lament that I’ve been writing too much about the hijinx of the antivaccine movement, its crimes against reason, science, and medicine? It’s become a bit of a trope around here at times, to the point where, when I bring it up, I tell myself I shouldn’t be repeating myself so…

October 30, 2014

7:50 AM | R.I.P., McKenzie Lowe. Stanislaw Burzynski failed you.
R.I.P., McKenzie Lowe. Unfortunately, Stanislaw Burzynski was no more able to save you than anyone else, his claims of great success treating pediatric brain tumors notwithstanding: HUDSON — Thirteen-year-old Hudson resident McKenzie Lowe died Friday evening after a 2-year-battle against an aggressive and inoperable brain stem tumor. McKenzie died at 10:27 p.m. in her own…

October 29, 2014

12:45 PM | Here they come to save the day! Homeopaths vs. Ebola, again
If there is one thing that the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Africa has revealed to the world, it’s the full extent of quackery that is out there and advertised as being able to treat deadly diseases such as Ebola. The deadlier the disease, the more quackery is out there, amplified by the scariness of the…
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