Category: Faith Healing & Spirituality

Washington bills: Christian Science no longer an excuse for denying medical care

All states try to protect children from neglect, abandonment and mistreatment, such as deprivation of clothing, shelter, food and medical care. This includes civil laws which permit the removal of a child from the home and other protective interventions. Criminal laws protect children as well by, for example, making nonsupport a misdemeanor or criminal neglect a felony. Washington State law prohibits criminal...

/ February 5, 2015

Ontario fails to protect the life of a First Nations girl with cancer

A few weeks ago, Steve Novella invited me on his podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, to discuss a cancer case that has been in the news for several months now. The case was about an 11-year-old girl with leukemia who is a member of Canada’s largest aboriginal community. Steve wrote about this case nearly a month ago. Basically, the girl’s...

/ November 17, 2014
Reiki Energy

Astrology, Alchemy, ESP and Reiki. One Of These Is Not Like The Other

I knew that Jann was thinking of writing about reiki and fraud, but did not know the details of her most excellent discussion from yesterday until I had finished my penultimate draft for today. Think of them as a match set, two perspectives on the same elephant. Fraud: a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being...

/ June 13, 2014

What Whole Foods Markets Doesn’t Tell You

Whole Foods Market is a relentlessly hip American supermarket chain which prides itself on organic fruits and vegetables, gluten-free just-about-everything, and high-end touches like wine bars and exotic take out items (roasted yucca, anyone?). The health products aisle is stocked with Bach Flower and homeopathic remedies. For example, in-house brand Flu Ease: “an established homeopathic formula that should be taken at the...

/ April 17, 2014

Washington State’s Unconscionable, Unconstitutional Child Protection Law

I recently wrote about the conflict between child protection and the religious freedom of believers in faith healing. That issue has reared its ugly head again in the state of Washington. Washington law currently denies the children of Christian Scientists equal protection under the law governing child abuse and neglect, and it grants a special exemption from criminal prosecution for abuse and...

/ January 28, 2014
A thousand points of pseudo-medicine.

Faith Healing: Religious Freedom vs. Child Protection

We have written a lot about people who reject science-based medicine and turn to complementary/alternative medicine (CAM), but what about people who reject the very idea of medical treatment? Faith healing is widely practiced by Christian Scientists, Pentecostalists, the Church of the First Born, the Followers of Christ, and myriad smaller sects. Many of these believers reject all medical treatment in favor...

/ November 19, 2013
Dr. Oz with Penn and Teller

An open letter to Penn & Teller about their appearance on The Dr. Oz Show

  Dear Penn & Teller, I really don’t want to say this, but I feel obligated to. I’m afraid you screwed up. Big time. (Of course, if this weren’t a generally family-friendly blog, where we rarely go beyond PG-13 language, I’d use a term more like one that Penn would use to describe a massive fail, which, as you might guess, also...

/ February 11, 2013

Naturopathy Embraces the Four Humors

The ancient Greeks posited a system of health and disease based on the four humors: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. According to this system, health is defined as a harmony of these four humors and disease is caused by an imbalance among them. Restore the balance, and health is restored. Bleeding is a familiar example of humoral medical treatment based...

/ December 27, 2012

Vital Signs: Buteyko Breathing

As I have mentioned in the past, almost all of my practice is inpatient medicine, doing infectious disease consults in acute care hospitals. I only spend three hours a week in the outpatient clinic, so I have a skewed perception of medicine and disease. The patients I see are sick, really sick, often trying to die and are a complicated collection of...

/ June 29, 2012
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

Does thinking make it so? CAM placebo fantasy versus scientific reality

Last week, I discussed a rather execrable study. Actually, the study itself wasn’t so execrable, at least not in its design, which was a fairly straightforward three-arm randomized clinical trial. Rather it was the interpretation of the study’s results that was execrable. In brief, the authors tested an “energy healing” modality known as “energy chelation” versus a placebo (sham “energy chelation”) and...

/ February 6, 2012