Category: Religion

Fear mongering about vaccines as “racist population control” in Kenya

There are many conspiracy theories about vaccines, and they circulate almost continuously. Some are relatively new, but most are at least a few years old. They all tend to fall into several defined types, such as the “CDC whistleblower” story, which posits that the “CDC knew” all these years that vaccines cause autism but covered it up, even going so far as...

/ November 15, 2014

NY federal court hands triple loss to anti-vaccination ideology

The state of New York allows religious and medical (but not philosophical) exemptions from school vaccination mandates. New York City has a policy of excluding unvaccinated schoolchildren from classes when there is an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease reported in a particular school. Two sets of parents whose children had religious exemptions sued New York City and the state in federal court when...

/ June 26, 2014
University of Arizona Cancer Center

A tale of quackademic medicine at the University of Arizona Cancer Center

NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers like the University of Arizona should provide rigorously science-based treatment. Unfortunately, magical mystical "treatments" like reiki are offered to UA patients, as I learned from a father of a child treated there.

/ March 17, 2014

When healing turns into killing: religious and philosophical exemptions from parental accountability

Parents have a fundamental right to guide the upbringing of their children protected under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This includes the choice of medical care for the child. They also have a First Amendment right to the free exercise of their religious beliefs, including the right to care for their children in accordance with the tenets of their...

/ March 13, 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

The sad saga of an Amish girl with a curable cancer whose parents are refusing chemotherapy in favor of “natural healing”

In Ohio, an Amish girl named Sarah Hershberger is refusing chemotherapy for her leukemia, and her parents are supporting her. Akron Children's Hospital has instituted legal action to ensure that she receives life-saving treatment. As a motley crew of consisting of supporters of alternative medicine and anti-government libertarians are rallying to Sarah's cause. Will this girl receive the life-saving treatment she needs?

/ November 4, 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

CAM and Creationism: Separated at Birth?

Over the past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend CSICon in Nashville, Tennessee. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (“CSI”) combats all sorts of pseudoscience, including creationism/creation science/intelligent design and alternative/complementary/integrative medicine. Our own Team SBM was ably represented by Harriet Hall, David Gorski and Kimball Atwood, whose presentation highlighted the credulous acceptance of CAM in some medical schools, and by Steve...

/ November 1, 2012

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

Vaccination mandate exemptions: gimme that ol’ time philosophy

Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia require vaccination against certain diseases as a prerequisite to public and private school attendance, most commonly polio, mumps, measles, diphtheria, rubella, chicken pox, Heamophilus influenza type b, pertussis, tetanus, pneumococcal disease and hepatitis B. Unfortunately, mandatory vaccination for home-schooled children is rare. (1) All states provide medical exemptions to vaccination mandates for...

/ December 15, 2011