Month: August 2016

No Compromise on Vaccine Refusal

A few years ago some colleagues and I at the Institute for Science in Medicine were debating what our official position should be regarding non-medical vaccine exemptions. We all agreed that the ideal situation would be no non-medical exemptions. There is no legitimate reason for such exemptions and the evidence clearly shows that states who allow non-medical vaccine exemptions have lower vaccination...

/ August 31, 2016

Efforts to Encourage Breastfeeding Like the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) May Have Unintended Consequences

“Breast is best,” but current efforts to increase the rate of breastfeeding may be misguided. A recent article in JAMA Pediatrics by pediatricians Joel Bass, Tina Gartley, and Ronald Kleinman is titled “Unintended Consequences of Current Breastfeeding Initiatives.” They criticize the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), saying “there is now emerging evidence that full compliance…may inadvertently be promoting potentially hazardous practices and/or having...

/ August 30, 2016
Right-to-try

The cruel sham that will not die: Right-to-try marches on in California and beyond

State "right-to-try" bills are springing up like kudzu all over the US. Their advocates promise that they would save lives by allowing terminally ill patients access to experimental therapeutics. This is a delusion; even the most fervent supporters of right-to-try have trouble pointing to a single patient who has benefited from such a law. In reality, right-to-try laws are a cruel sham...

/ August 29, 2016
homeopathy in the UK flag

Good Thinking Society’s successful challenge to NHS homeopathy

[Editor’s note: For no reason whatsoever other than to share great news, we bring you this contribution from Michael Marshall, project director of the Good Thinking Society and vice president of the Merseyside Skeptics Society.] As regular readers of this blog may know, skeptics here in the UK have been campaigning for some time to end the funding of homeopathic remedies by...

/ August 28, 2016
Fire cupping

An Unexpected Miscellany of Medical Malarkey

  I had originally intended a focused discussion of a single topic, but life circumstances have conspired to prevent me from doing so.  In the place of my intended post, please enjoy the following collection of hastily assembled pseudomedical odds and ends brought to my attention over the past few weeks.

/ August 26, 2016

Do pill organizers help or hurt?

In order for medication to work, getting a prescription filled isn’t enough. You have to actually take the medication. And that’s where you (the patient) come in. Estimates vary based on the population and the medication, but a reasonable assumption is that 50% of people given a prescription don’t take their medication as prescribed. In pharmacy terminology we usually call this medication...

/ August 25, 2016

Patient Groups and Pseudoscience

The biggest challenge we face promoting high standards of science in medicine is not making our case to the community. Our case is rock solid, in my opinion, and backed by evidence and logic. There is no question, for example, that homeopathy is 100% bogus and should not be part of modern medicine. Our challenge is that there are literally billions of...

/ August 24, 2016

Genetic Testing: Does Knowing Risk of Disease Make a Difference?

The complete sequencing of the human genome by the Human Genome Project was a remarkable accomplishment and a cause for celebration. Several companies including 23andMe, Navigenics, and deCODE have capitalized on that scientific achievement by offering genomic testing directly to the public. They promise more than they can deliver, and consumers don’t understand the limitations of the test results. The subject has...

/ August 23, 2016
It's generally not a good indication that their treatments work when doctors use the same hard sell techniques as used car salesmen.

The stem cell hard sell

There are, unfortunately, a lot of clinics in the US that offer stem cell therapies for indications ranging from heart disease to anti-aging to even autism without good evidence that these therapies are actually efficacious. Real stem cell scientist Paul Knoepfler attended an informational seminar on stem cell therapies offered by a major clinic. Not surprisingly, it was more marketing than informational....

/ August 22, 2016

Building a Case for CAM

[Editor’s note: Mark Crislip is taking a well deserved vacation from blogging, and James Thomas has kindly agreed to provide another guest post to fill the gaping need left in all of your lives. Enjoy!] According to the Orwellian-named National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, roughly 33% of adults aged 18-44 and about 37% aged 45-64 use some form of CAM....

/ August 19, 2016