Category: Book & movie reviews

Edzard Ernst Does It Again

Publishing one excellent book is an accomplishment; publishing two in one year is a truly outstanding achievement. In 2008 Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh published a landmark book Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine. I reviewed it on this blog last summer.  It is particularly important since Ernst is a former advocate for CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) who...

/ February 17, 2009

Where Does Sanjay Gupta Register On The Quackometer?

Four weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Sanjay Gupta’s nomination by the Obama administration as our potential new Surgeon General. Many of you voiced concerns about Sanjay’s nomination, specifically because of his poor handling of the Raelians’ Clonaid fiasco, his inability to counter Michael Moore’s health statistics as presented in Sicko and his relationship to the pharmaceutical industry. As I...

/ February 5, 2009

Reality Deniers

“You have an irrational belief in rational thought.” ~Dr David Scholes, directed towards me. “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” ~T.S. Eliot I just finished the book Mathematical Cranks by Underwood Dudley, part of a trifecta of skeptical mathematics books. Doctor Dudley is a professor of mathematics at Depau University and a connoisseur of cranks with a mathematical bent. What is a...

/ January 30, 2009

Science-based Longevity Medicine

Much nonsense has been written in the guise of longevity medicine. In Fantastic Voyage, Ray Kurzweil explains why he takes 250 pills every day and spends one day a week at a clinic getting IV vitamins, chelation, and acupuncture. He is convinced this regimen will keep him alive long enough for science to figure out how to keep him alive forever. In...

/ January 20, 2009

Guest Book Review of “Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Ethics, the Patient, and the Physician”

The following book review was written not by your poster (although I’ve added the hyperlinks), but by his friend Cees Renckens, who is a gynecologist in the Netherlands and the chairman of the Dutch Society against Quackery. A short bio of Dr. Renckens, including references to several articles in English, follows the review. Most impressive to me is that he is, as far as I...

/ January 18, 2009

Bad Science: Four Things I Learned From Dr. Ben Goldacre

“You cannot reason people out of positions they didn’t reason themselves into.” — Ben Goldacre, MD Dr. Ben Goldacre is the author of the popular Guardian column, Bad Science. He has recently published a book by the same name. Bad Science received a very favorable review from the British Medical Journal and although I was tempted to write my own review for...

/ November 13, 2008

What’s for Dinner?

Diet advice changes so fast it’s almost a full-time job to keep up with it. Avoid cholesterol; no, avoid saturated fats; no, avoid trans-fats. Avocados are bad; no, avocados are good. Wheat germ is passé; now omega 3s are de rigueur. The supermarket overwhelms us with an embarras de richesses, a confusing superabundance of choices from “organic” to low-sodium. How can we...

/ September 30, 2008

Autism’s false prophets revealed

Dr. Paul Offit has written a book about the false prophets of autism, those who promote the idea that vaccines cause autism and those who sell quackery to treat autism, which are often the same people. If you want a good history of how the "vaccines cause autism" myth started, this is a great primer.

/ September 29, 2008

Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster?

Quacks and their apologists often cite surgery and emergency treatments of traumatic injury and a few other catastrophic or potentially catastrophic events as the only “conventional” or “allopathic” methods that they consistently recommend. Explicitly or implicitly, for most problems they tout “holistic” or “CAM” treatments. In modern medicine, however, there are plenty of non-surgical and non-emergency treatments whose outcomes are so manifest that even the most exuberant advocates of implausible medical claims (IMC) seem careful to steer...

/ September 5, 2008

“Patient-Centered Care” and the Society for Integrative Oncology

Should Medical Journals Inform Readers if a Book Reviewer can’t be Objective? At the end of last week’s post I suggested that book reviewer Donald Abrams and the New England Journal of Medicine had withheld information useful for evaluating Abrams’ review: that he is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO), the organization of which Lorenzo Cohen, the first editor of the...

/ August 29, 2008