Month: July 2009

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Not every post will be an in-depth, authoritative review of a topic like yesterday’s on Dr. Sears.  A change of pace can be nice, and I have always liked history. JAMA likes to run articles called “JAMA 100 YEARS AGO” and the reprint from the July 24, 1909 issue is interesting. It...

/ July 31, 2009

Cashing In On Fear: The Danger of Dr. Sears

I generally know what’s coming next when a parent asks about altering their child’s vaccine schedule: “I was reading Dr. Sears….” Dr. Sears is a genius. No, not in an Albert Einstein or Pablo Picasso kind of way. He’s more of an Oprah or a Madonna kind of genius. He’s a genius because he has written a book that capitalizes on the...

/ July 30, 2009

Beware the Spinal Trap

Last year Simon Singh wrote a piece for the Guardian that was critical of the modern practice of chiropractic. The core of his complaint was that chiropractors provide services and make claims that are not adequately backed by evidence – they are not evidence-based practitioners. In response to his criticism the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) sued Simon personally for libel. They refused...

/ July 29, 2009

Incorporating Placebos into Mainstream Medicine

Alternative medicine by definition is medicine that has not been shown to work any better than placebo. Patients think they are helped by alternative medicine. Placebos, by definition, do “please” patients. We would all like to please our patients, but we don’t want to lie to them. Is there a compromise? Is there a way we can ethically elicit the same placebo...

/ July 28, 2009

Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Darrell Issa declare war on science-based medicine

In discussions of that bastion of what Harriet Hall likes to call “tooth fairy science,” where sometimes rigorous science, sometimes not, is applied to the study of hypotheses that are utterly implausible and incredible from a basic science standpoint (such as homeopathy or reiki), the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), I’ve often taken Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) to task,...

/ July 27, 2009
Chairman Mao propaganda poster

‘Acupuncture Anesthesia’ Redux: another Skeptic and an Unfortunate Misportrayal at the NCCAM

A neglected skeptic Near the end of my series* on ‘Acupuncture Anesthesia’, I wrote this: Most Westerners—Michael DeBakey and John Bonica being exceptions—who observed ‘acupuncture anesthesia’ in China during the Cultural Revolution seem to have failed to recognize what was going on right under their noses. I should have added—and I now have—Arthur Taub’s name to that tiny, exceptional group. Taub, a neurologist and...

/ July 24, 2009

Magic diet? Not so much

Alternative medicine practitioners love to coin magic words, but really, how can you blame them? Real medicine has a Clarkeian quality to it*; it’s so successful, it seems like magic. But real doctors know that there is nothing magic about it. The “magic” is based on hard work, sound scientific principles, and years of study. Magic words are great. Terms like mindfulness,...

/ July 23, 2009

Functional Medicine II

In searching for just what FM is, one has to in a way read between lines. Claiming to treat the “underlying cause” of a condition raises the usual straw man argument that modern medicine does not, which of course is untrue. It also implies that there are underlying causes known to them and not to straights. FM claims to treat chronic disease which...

/ July 23, 2009

Why False Positive Results Are So Common In Medicine

Have you ever been surprised and confused by what seem to be conflicting results from scientific research? Have you ever secretly wondered if the medical profession is comprised of neurotic individuals who change their mind more frequently than you change your clothes? Well, I can understand why you’d feel that way because the public is constantly barraged with mixed health messages. But why...

/ July 23, 2009