Parody beats political analysis

When out of town this past week I was bereft of tantalizing subjects, with our 5 other bloggers covering so many topics so well. I was about to toss in an empty towel, when two news absurdities fell into my driveway in the pages of the SF Chronicle. One was this morning’s (7/23) report that one Dragan Dabic, an alternative medicine healer...

/ July 24, 2008

Autism and Vaccines: Responding to Poling and Kirby

In response to my NeuroLogica blog post on Monday, David Kirby wrote a response in the Huffington Post and Dr. Jon Poling (father of Hannah Poling) wrote an open letter to me, placed in the comment section and posted at Age of Autism. It seems only polite that I respond to their kind attention.The primary focus of my original post (which I...

/ July 23, 2008

Can Psychosis be Prevented?

I recently read an article in Discover magazine entitled “Stop the Madness.” It was about a new treatment program that allegedly can prevent schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis. I found it very disturbing. The PIER (Portland Identification and Early Referral) program was founded by a psychiatrist, Dr. William McFarlane, in Portland, Maine. It has recently expanded to 4 other US sites...

/ July 22, 2008

Resistance is futile? Hell, no! (A call to arms)

Well, I won’t back down No, I won’t back down You can stand me up at the gates of hell But I won’t back down Gonna stand my ground Won’t be turned around And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down Gonna stand my ground And I won’t back down From “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty, 1989 This week,...

/ July 21, 2008

Science, Reason, Ethics, and Modern Medicine, Part 2: the Tortured Logic of David Katz

In Part 1 of this series* I asserted that a physician’s primary ethical responsibility is to honesty and integrity, which in turn must be largely based on science and reason (I apologize if that sounded preachy; if there had been more time I might have couched it in more congenial terms). I mentioned the fallacious reasoning whereby proponents of implausible medical claims (IMC) point to real and...

/ July 18, 2008

Chiropractic and Stroke: Evaluation of One Paper

Do not trust the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you or I were going to be hanged.” ~ Oliver Cromwell In the blogosphere, the proponents of chiropractic often quote the following paper, with the abstract: Risk of Vertebrobasilar Stroke and Chiropractic Care Results of a Population-Based Case-Control and Case-Crossover Study Spine. 2008 Feb 15;33(4 Suppl):S176-83. by Cassidy JD,...

/ July 17, 2008

A Guide for Confronting Patients

I sometimes lecture on science-based medicine to my colleagues and one of the most common questions I get is how to deal with a patient who expresses belief in unscientific treatments. The dilemma for the physician is that professionalism requires that we do not confront patients regarding their personal beliefs. We are there to inform and advise, not preach. And yet proper...

/ July 16, 2008

Should I Take a Multivitamin?

I’ll start with a confession. I used to do something irrational. I used to take a daily multivitamin, not because I thought there was good scientific evidence to support the practice, but for psychotherapy. I tried to eat a healthy diet and worried about it. By taking a pill, I could stop worrying. Then I found out that higher intake of vitamin...

/ July 15, 2008

When “investigative reporting” becomes anti-vaccine propaganda

Introduction: The following is the text of a letter that I mailed to Bob Sliva, General Manager of WXYZ-TV in Detroit in response to arguably the most biased and incompetent “investigative report” about mercury, vaccines, or autism that I have ever seen. I sent the letter by snail mail, because I was always taught that that gets a station manager’s attention far...

/ July 14, 2008

Science, Reason, Ethics, and Modern Medicine Part 1: Tu Quoque and History

Several weeks ago I argued here that a physician’s primary ethical obligation is to science and truth. In retrospect I probably should have put it a slightly different way: a physician’s primary ethical obligation is the same as everyone else’s. It is to honesty and integrity. For physicians, however, that means being true to real medical knowledge, among other things, and real medical...

/ July 11, 2008