Category: History

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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
Bellevue Hospital

Bellevue

Harriet is back! This time, she reviews Bellvue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by Pulitzer-prize-winning history professor David Oshinsky. Bellevue was, and is, a microcosm of American history and politics, as well as the history of modern medicine itself. Highly recommended!

/ January 17, 2017
Linda Hazzard (1867-1936)Quack, thief, serial killer

Natural Medicine, Starvation, and Murder: The Story of Linda Hazzard

History is replete with doctors who practiced quackery. Here is the story of one such quack whose fasting therapy resulted in many deaths, a story that is so bizarre and horrific that it's hard to believe it really happened, but it did.

/ December 13, 2016
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In Pursuit of Patient Safety

[Editor’s note: With Dr. Gorski enjoying a vacation to recharge his batteries, we present a second offering from contributor James Thomas. Enjoy!] Advocates of CAM* (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) have long argued that mainstream medicine is a dangerous undertaking using toxic drugs and invasive interventions that often do more harm than good, while the various quackeries huddled under the CAM umbrella are...

/ August 8, 2016
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The Gene: An Intimate History

Six years ago I reviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. It was hands-down one of the best books I have ever read on a medical topic. Now he’s done it again. His new book is titled The Gene: An Intimate History. Mukherjee is a superb writer. Much of what I said about his first book...

/ July 19, 2016
sciencebasedmedicine

Why Science-Based Medicine Matters

The regular contributors at Science-Based Medicine (SBM) work diligently every week to explore the world of science-based medicine and the gauzy, nebulous netherworld of fantasy-based medicine. They shine light on the leading edge of medical science, dissect the nuances of mainstream care, expose the misconceptions and sometimes the frank deceptions of so-called alternative medicine. Launching SBM on January 1, 2008, sbmadmin (Steven...

/ June 25, 2016
This was the reality of how DDT was used 65 years ago.

Zika virus, microcephaly, and calls to bring back DDT (Rachel Carson revisionism edition)

In response to the Zika virus threat, predictably the same group of anti-environmentalists are urging that we bring back DDT and "Spray, baby, spray!" To make their questionable case, they overstate the benefits of DDT, downplay its risks, and engage in some major historical revisionism regarding the legacy of Rachel Carson.

/ February 15, 2016

Worshiping at the altar of the Cult of the Brave Maverick Doctor

One of my favorite television shows right now is The Knick, as I described before in a post about medical history. To give you an idea of how much I’m into The Knick, I’ll tell you that I signed up for Cinemax for three months just for that one show. (After its second season finale airs next Friday, I’ll drop Cinemax until...

/ December 14, 2015

Matt Ridley’s not-so-mythical “myth” of basic science

I’m a clinician, but I’m actually also a translational scientist. It’s not uncommon for those of us in medicine involved in some combination of basic and clinical research to argue about exactly what that means. The idea is translational science is supposed to be the process of “translating” basic science discoveries in the laboratory into medicine, be it in the form of...

/ November 1, 2015
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Frontal Lobotomy: Zombies Created by One of Medicine’s Greatest Mistakes

Frontal lobotomies have a dramatic, thankfully rather brief, history in the treatment of mental illness. Janet Sternburg has written an illuminating, and humanizing, book on the history of lobotomies, both personal and societal.

/ September 15, 2015