All posts by Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.

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Most Patients Get No Benefit from Most Drugs

Some people are reluctant to take statins because they don't benefit the majority of patients who take them. Actually, most drugs don't benefit most of the patients who take them. Since we have no way of identifying those who will benefit, we are stuck treating the many to benefit the few.

/ July 18, 2017
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What the Health: A Movie with an Agenda

The documentary "What the Health" espouses the fairy tale that all major diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many others) can be prevented and cured by eliminating meat and dairy from the diet. It is a blatant polemic for veganism, biased and misleading, and is not a reliable source of scientific information.

/ July 11, 2017
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Fun for the Fourth

Is it OK to laugh when we encounter a ridiculous claim in alternative medicine? This video lecture highlights some hilarious claims and encourages both laughter and appreciation of the human creativity involved.

/ July 4, 2017
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Consumer Reports Misses the Boat on Back Pain

Consumer Reports' recent articles on low back pain address anecdotal customer satisfaction rather than scientific evidence of effectiveness.

/ June 27, 2017
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Fun with Spanish Flu Myths

There are many myths about the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Some of them are pretty funny.

/ June 20, 2017
Essential oils smell good, but the claims of health benefits are exaggerated.

On Guard,  DōTERRA, Essential Oils, and a Lesson in Reading Research Studies

A study of On Guard™, a mixture of essential oils, showed that it reduced the infectivity of influenza virus in dog kidney cells in the lab; but that's irrelevant to the question of whether the product has any clinical effect in humans.

/ June 13, 2017
Money and pills

When Drugs Cost Too Much

Our ability to develop new drugs is fast outstripping our ability to pay for them; some are exorbitantly expensive and not very effective. Funds are limited, and as a society we need to have a serious discussion about how they are to be allocated.

/ June 6, 2017
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New Evidence for Chondroitin

Several previous studies showed chondroitin was ineffective for knee osteoarthritis, but a new study says it is as effective as celecoxib. There are reasons to be skeptical.

/ May 30, 2017
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Confessions of a Quack: Holistic Harry Tells the Inside Story of Alternative Medicine

Confessions of a Quack is fiction, but it provides real insights into the thinking processes and motivations of quacks, alternative medicine providers, and their patients.

/ May 23, 2017
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Acupuncturist Complains About Wikipedia

An acupuncturist complains about Wikipedia, saying it is under the control of self-styled skeptics who bias the content and bully anyone who disagrees. She only demonstrates her own bias; Wikipedia had good reason to ban her from editing.

/ May 16, 2017