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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“New vaccine replaces statins?” Not So Fast!

News reports suggest new drugs may replace statins. PSCK9 inhibitors are useful, but only along with statins in high risk patients not controlled on statins alone, or for patients who can't tolerate statins. They're not about to replace statins.

/ September 5, 2017
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ZYTO: An Electrodermal Diagnostic Device Is Tested and Fails Miserably

ZYTO is a bogus, illegal electrodermal diagnostic device that claims to evaluate organ function and make dietary recommendations. Repeat testing produced results that were wildly inconsistent. The device produces noise, not meaningful information.

/ August 29, 2017
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Viotren and Other Dietary Supplements for Erectile Dysfunction: Buyer Beware

Viotren and other dietary supplements are being illegally marketed to treat erectile dysfunction. Some of them work, but only because they are adulterated with prescription drugs like Viagra (at up to 31 times the prescription dose). Using them can be risky.

/ August 22, 2017
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The Hormone Myth

"Mary is really bitchy today; she must be on the rag." Comments like this are all too common, and are misguided. In her new book, Robyn Stein DeLuca dispels the myths about how hormones affect women's moods and mental health, myths that have contributed to unequal treatment of women. Junk science supported the myths; good science debunks them.

/ August 15, 2017
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Doc Doc Zeus: A Glimpse Behind the Scenes of Medical Boards

A novel about a doctor who raped a minor and is being investigated by his state medical board provides behind-the-scene insights into the workings of medical boards. It helps explain why these boards are so often ineffective, why medical malfeasance so often leads to a token disciplinary action rather than to loss of license.

/ August 8, 2017
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The Antithesis of Science-Based Medicine:  The Medical Medium’s Fantasy-Based Health Advice

Anthony William, the Medical Medium, hears voices that give him advanced scientific information from the spirit world. He offers reams of health advice based on nothing but fantasy. He even tells readers to call on 12 angels out loud by their name. I call bull.

/ August 1, 2017
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AllerVarx: A Questionable Remedy for Allergic Rhinitis

AllerVarx, a new dietary supplement, claims to relieve nasal allergy symptoms, but the only "evidence" is a single disreputable clinical trial with no control group. There is no reason to try this unproven remedy when there are so many effective remedies offered by mainstream medicine.

/ July 25, 2017
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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