Category: Medical Ethics

Pseudoscience North: What’s happening to the University of Toronto?

  Today’s post is a reluctant challenge. I’m nominating my own alma mater, the University of Toronto, as the new pseudoscience leader among large universities – not just in Canada, but all of North America. If you can identify a large university promoting or embracing more scientifically questionable activities, I’ll happily buy you a coffee. Yes, it’s personal to me, as I...

/ February 26, 2015

Significant Ruling Against Conversion Therapy

The standard features of quackery are all there. Proponents of this particular therapy claim that a normal condition is a disease. They make false claims about the cause of this disease. They then charge thousands of dollars for their fake treatment to cure the fake disease, and claim success rates that are not backed by any statistics. In this case the fake...

/ February 11, 2015

Facing Decline and Death

Note: Atul Gawande and his book will be featured on a Frontline episode airing on PBS tonight. We’re all going to die. (There’s nothing like starting on a positive note! 🙂 ) We’re all going to die, and if we are fortunate enough to survive long enough to become old, we’re all going to experience a decline of one sort or another...

/ February 10, 2015

Selling complementary and alternative medicine: An business ethics perspective

Is it ethical to sell complementary and alternative medicine? This presentation — by a philosopher and a pharmacist — considers CAM from the perspective of commercial ethics.

/ January 31, 2015
Stem cell clinics should be better-regulated than a Starbucks

Stem cell clinics and unapproved, for-profit human experimentation

Editor’s note: I met Dr. Paul Knoepfler online in the wake of my two posts on Gordie Howe and his stem cell treatment for stroke. I was impressed by his posts on the topic and what I saw at his own blog. Given that he’s a stem cell researcher, I wanted him to write a post on stem cell clinics like the...

/ January 19, 2015
Gordie-Howe

Stem cells versus Gordie Howe’s stroke, part 2

Another Christmas has come and gone, surprisingly fast, as always. I had thought that it might make a good “last of 2014” post—well, last of 2014 for me, anyway; Harriet and Steve, at least, will be posting before 2014 ends—to do an end of year list of the best and worst of the year. Unfortunately, there remains a pressing issue that doesn’t...

/ December 29, 2014
GordieHowe1

Stem cells versus Gordie Howe’s stroke

Note: There is now a major update to this story published here, which explains a lot of the questions remaining in this blog post. Seven years ago I returned to Michigan, where I was born and spent the first quarter century of my life, after an absence of more than 20 years. In the interim, I had done my surgical residency and...

/ December 22, 2014
langer cbs this

Eminent Harvard psychologist, mother of positive psychology, New Age quack?

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas. – Marie Curie’s advice to journalists Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer was on CBS This Morning News explaining plans for a psychosocial intervention study with women with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. The project would attempt to shrink women’s tumors by shifting their mental perspective back to before they were diagnosed. Seeing her...

/ November 16, 2014

Legislating Ignorance

Science is under attack, and not just from anti-vaccine celebrities and parents with degrees from Google University. Scientific illiteracy is being woven into the very fabric of our society through legislative assault. If you dismiss this as alarmist hyperbole, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. Every day thousands of pediatric health care providers throughout the country provide safety advice to patients...

/ September 12, 2014

The false dichotomies of CAM and “integrative medicine”

A lot of medical specialties have throwaway newspapers/magazines that are supported by advertising and somehow mysteriously managed to show up for free in the mailboxes of practitioners. In my case, I’ve found myself on the subscription list for such papers about oncology, but also general surgery (I’m Board-certified as a general surgeon). When I have to recertify in about three years, it...

/ August 17, 2014