Stick some coffee up the tailpipe and you've got yourself some complementary and alternative auto care!

Stick some coffee up the tailpipe and you’ve got yourself some complementary and alternative auto care!

It’s April Fools’ day in the US of A. One of the internet traditions is to come up with a story that is weird or unlikely, but not so weird or unlikely that it is not believable, in order to fool people that the story is real.

I gave it the old SBM try, I really did, but I couldn’t do it. I wanted to come up with a SCAM therapy so weird, so unlikely, that I could not find an example of it actually being practiced.

It can’t be done. Like a Trump utterance*, you can’t invent a SCAM (Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine) that someone, somewhere, has already pulled out of, er, well, thin air and are using it on patients.

Of course, what would you expect given that many SCAMs were in fact, pulled out of, er, well thin air. Think chiropractic and DD Palmer, iridology by August von Peczely, and reiki by Mikao Usui. Making up fantastical stuff is what they do.

But even within the spectrum of pseudo-medicine there are those are practices and papers that are so bizarro they should be an April Fools’ joke. But are not. It may be a matter of taste, what one person considers wack-a-loon another would find imminently reasonable. There are certainly assigned delegates that prove that assertion. But even within the wack-a-loon world of SCAM, there are those practices and papers that are more wack-a-loon than others and should be April Fools’ jokes. Maybe it is like more unique. Unique is one of a kind, so something can’t be more one of a kind. More wack-a-loon? Such is the world of SCAM.

Acupunctures and voodoo

There are dozens and dozens of forms of acupunctures, probably as many as there are practitioners of the art. Art as in a blacklight velvet Elvis painting. The variety is remarkable. But almost all are some variation of literally sticking it to the patient. Not Tong Ren.

In this form of acupunctures, the patient hits a meridian-covered voodoo doll with a magnetic hammer to alter energy. Really. Watch the video.


Virtually any substance can be turned into a homeopathic nostrum.

Homeopathic remedies can also be made from non-material sources, for instance, electricity, musical frequencies, magnetic fields, and even moonlight. In fact, the possibilities are infinite.

If you can use duck liver and heart at 200C, you can use anything. But the most wack-a-loon is sound, digitalized into an mp3 as a cure for Ebola<. EBOLA!!

It turns out that the energetic signal in homeopathic remedies can be extracted via a device consisting of a simple coil connected to an amplifier and digitizer, and the resulting signal can be stored on a computer as a .wav or .mp3 file. A .wav file? You would trust your digitized homeopathic cure to a .wav/Windows format? With Ebola it gives a new meaning to blue screen of death.

At least there was no waterboarding

There is a lot of basic animal pseudo-science on acupuncture, AKA rat abuse. There have been thousands of rats used in acupuncture studies, all for no good purpose. Especially from the rat’s viewpoint.
But who wants to know the effect of electroacupuncture at different acupoints on hormones and neurotransmitters of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in rats under simulated weightlessness? It is just not a question that needs answering on Planet Reality.

These researchers do. Probably the only ones in the entire world. NASA could have/should have been in the April Fools’ business as well with the headline “Astrobiology Acupuncture“, although they were just using an acupuncture needle to probe a rock, no chi or meridians involved.

I do not have access to the full text of Zhongguo Zhen Jiu, the Chinese journal that published the rat abuse. So I only have the abstract , but they used:

tail suspension to simulate weightlessness effect.

Suspending a rat from its tail is in no way simulating weightlessness. Hanging me from my ankles is not going to simulate weightlessness.

So if I understand the article, they hung rats by their tails, stuck them with needles, and shocked them. I think that’s called the Guantanamo method. All to answer a question no one gives a rat’s ass about.

Worst. Animal. Study. Ever.

Medical Time Cube

The Time Cube, the archetype of pseudo-physics, is gone. Long live the Time Cube!
The Time Cube suggests (all errors, grammatical, mathematical, logical, factual, rational, ecumenical, theological, and/or historical from the glorious original):

If Earth stood still, it would have mid-day, mid-night, sun-up and sun-down as 4 corners. Each rotation of earth has 4 mid-days, 4 mid-nights, 4 sun-ups and 4 sun-downs. The sixteen(16) space times demonstrates cube proof of 4 full days simultaneously on earth within one (1) rotation. The academia created 1 day greenwich time is bastardly queer and dooms future youth and nature to a hell. Ignorance of 4 day harmonic cubic nature indicts humans as unfit to live on earth.

Fortunately, there is nothing in medicine that can be described as a spinning…oops!

Vital Force receives a modern incarnation as a metaphorical multidimensional spinning gyroscope.

But at least it is not quantum…oops!

Quantum theoretical discourse has previously illustrated (1) the therapeutic process as three-way macro-entanglement (between patient, practitioner, and remedy, called PPR entanglement), and (2) depicted the Vital Force (Vf) as a quantized spinning gyroscope.

And 45 others. The most extended Sokal riff in the history of Pubmed? Nope. As serious as a heart attack.


There is no end of gadgets not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, but nothing is as impressive as the SweatEvaporating/Sauna/HealthyUrn/NanoAnion/NegativeIon/FarInfraredRay/Hyperthermia/Fumigate/PulseMagneticField/PurpleClay/Underglaze Pastel And Brown-glazed—Birds Chirping In Plum-Flowering Shrubs…hinged pot? ChairVase? Elaborate bucket? Spare bedroom?

It has anion therapy, fumigating therapy, hyperthermia therapy, molecular-friction-heat reaction, and pulsed magnetic circulating field therapy. Impressive. It actually surpasses the revolutionary new insoles that combine five forms of pseudoscience.

Although they do warn:

Because of traditional handmade product, it is kindly for your understanding that actual product dimensions have slightly errors.

I suspect it is more than the dimensions that have slightly errors.

Some would say that $24,900 would be a bit much for such power in an urn but it has free shipping. And if chirping birds are not your thing, they have a bird-free version for $ 26,900. You have to pay extra to avoid being given the bird.

Legislating reality

Legislatures have tried to make of pseudo-science the law of the land. The most infamous may be the attempt to make pi equal to 3.14, although that is a bit of a myth. The altitude is getting to the Swiss. They have decided that:

Homeopathy, holistic medicine, herbal medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine will acquire the same status as conventional medicine by May 2017.


The ministry has finally come to the conclusion that it impossible to verify the efficacy of these therapies in their entirety. It has therefore opted to accept them on par with other medical disciplines.

Really. The mind boggles. Every SCAM meets that criterion.

By that standard they might as well add SweatEvaporating/Sauna/HealthyUrn/NanoAnion/NegativeIon/FarInfraredRay/Hyperthermia/Fumigate/PulseMagneticField/PurpleClay/Underglaze Pastel And Brown-glazed—Birds Chirping In Plum-Flowering Shrubs to their health care system. But it is no different than Oregon, where naturopaths are primary care docs. I have been getting the odd referral (deliberate choice of words) from NDs as they try to apply their form of medical Guitar Hero to patient care.

I see lots of curious antibiotic usage by other providers. Usually it is overkill due to the fog of medicine, the fear, uncertainty and doubt that occurs in the hospital around acutely ill patients. But here is a real quote from the chart I saw a couple of months ago in a patient with no diagnosis after extensive testing:

Initiation of penicillin as an attempt to eradicate anything that may be present of an infectious nature.

I read that out loud in clinic and my office mate laughed and said “has to be a naturopath.”

Yep. Even with my 35 years of work in infectious diseases I can’t think of any infection, however improbable in this case, that would be expected to respond to 10 days of 500 mg po of Penicillin VK.

That one sentence encapsulates a tremendous lack of understanding about the nature of infectious disease and the proper use of antibiotics. The inchoate idea that there is this ‘anything’ that could be the vague idea of ‘infection’ that can be ‘eradicated ‘with an antibiotic. Just what would be expected for a provider with no education or training in reality-based medicine.

April Fools’ jokes. They just cannot surpass the reality of SCAM.


*The most reliable way to get me to make a snide political comment is to complain of a prior one. I must, just must, poke the monkey with a stick.




Posted by Mark Crislip

Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, since 1990. He is a founder and  the President of the Society for Science-Based Medicine where he blogs under the name sbmsdictator. He has been voted a US News and World Report best US doctor, best ID doctor in Portland Magazine multiple times, has multiple teaching awards and, most importantly,  the ‘Attending Most Likely To Tell It Like It Is’ by the medical residents at his hospital. His growing multi-media empire can be found at