How Can Smart People Be So Stupid?

This is a quick posting that begins to respond to the question posted today by Joe: What I don’t understand is why the majority of doctors at Columbia did not say “This is obvious abuse of patients, and it will not be tolerated here.” Given his richly-deserved malpractice record, why was [Gonzalez] even associated with Columbia? David Gorski answered it in part:...

/ March 28, 2008

The Ethics of “CAM” Trials: Gonzo (Part I)

Blogger’s note: This blog, which is rough going in places, will be presented in either 2 or 3 parts (I won’t know which until next week). I’ll post a part each week until it is complete, but due to overwhelming popular demand I promise to maintain the every-other-week posting of the far more amusing Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo/2. Introduction On Feb. 25,...

/ March 28, 2008

My Woo: A Confession

It’s a case of mind over matter. I have no mind but it doesn’t seem to matter. — George Burns I should be working on my taxes. Instead, I’ll dwell on the other, more pleasant, inevitability. Its been a bad couple of months for death. Everyone dies, and people often die of infection, but the flu season has been busy and with...

/ March 27, 2008

Airborne Settles Case On False Advertising

The story of Airborne – a popular supplement marketed as an “herbal health formula that boosts your immune system to help your body combat germs” – is representative of what is wrong with the supplement industry and how it is regulated in the US. Recently the company that sells Airborne – Airborne Health, Inc – agreed to pay $23.3 million to refund...

/ March 26, 2008

The Business of Being Born

One of our readers asked for a critique of the movie “The Business of Being Born.” I guess my sex and specialty make me the best qualified to comment. I delivered over 200 babies as a family physician. I had two babies of my own (at age 37 and 39), one with intervention (forceps) and one 9-pounder who almost “fell” out before...

/ March 25, 2008

When impressive science fails to impress patients

One of the greatest challenges in medicine can sometimes be to convince patients that the results of scientific and medical research apply to them, or, at the very least, to explain how such results apply. One of the reasons that medicine based not on science or evidence fluorishes is because it can be so hard to explain to patients why a particular...

/ March 24, 2008

The Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo #2

You Can’t Foo’ Stu with Woo! A Spitzerian (“pointed”) analysis Last week’s inaugural game elicited several amusing and penetrating analyses, including that of the hands-down Gold Medal Winner, Stu. His was the first entry, introduced in a concise and alliterative imperative, and was both hilarious and timely. It implied most of the points discussed by others. This distinctive combination has moved me to grant Stu a legacy here at the W^5....

/ March 21, 2008

Where Are We Going?

Where is it all headed? Medicine on another threshold. Allow me to present several previously unconnected news articles that illuminate the serious problem we face in today’s increasingly scientifically rootless world. Who are scientific medicine’s friends; on whom can we rely for support of reason and common sense, unbiased approaches to funding, unbiased efficacy evaluation, fair law enforcement, and a return to...

/ March 20, 2008

Be Wary of Stem Cell Pseudoscience

At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century electricity and magnetism were cutting edge science, full of excitement and unknown potential. Capitalizing on this excitement, Franz Anton Mesmer captured the imagination of the European intelligentsia with his bogus claims of animal magnetism. At the turning of the next century radioactivity was the new and fascinating scientific discovery, and...

/ March 19, 2008

Thoughts on Neuroplasticity

I recently read a fascinating book, The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. He describes case histories and research indicating that the brain is far more malleable than we once thought. We used to think each function was localized to a small area of the brain and if you lost that area of brain tissue the function was gone forever. We once thought...

/ March 18, 2008