How We Believe

In James Alcock’s classic 1995 article “The Belief Engine,”  he said, “Our brains and nervous systems constitute a belief-generating machine, a system that evolved to assure not truth, logic, and reason, but survival.” Now he has expanded that thesis into a book, Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions Are So Compelling.It’s

Reflex Integration Therapy

Reflex integration therapy claims to relieve a variety of symptoms of a wide range of neurologic conditions including autism, ADHD, brain injuries, pain, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, and more. I touched on the subject in a previous article, but there are new developments. Now we have Quantum Reflex Integration with the addition of cold

Acupuncture miracle

Correspondent Lorne Oliver is highly skeptical of acupuncture, but faced cognitive dissonance because he believed acupuncture saved his life. He describes the experience on his blog at http://www.filletofseoul.com/2008/10/acupuncture.html Briefly, he developed itching after eating a dried persimmon, broke out in hives, developed a rapid pulse, then shallow, rapid breathing and dizziness. He concluded that his

Announcing: Video Lecture Course on Science-Based Medicine

A couple of years ago, the James Randi Educational Foundation commissioned me to develop a series of 10 video lectures on Science-Based Medicine. After a lot of work and many vicissitudes, it is now available. The lecture titles are: Science-Based Medicine vs. Evidence-Based Medicine What Is CAM? Chiropractic Acupuncture Homeopathy Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine Energy Medicine Miscellaneous

Book about Quackery Is a Hoot!

Lydia Kang, MD, and Nate Pedersen have written a delightful new book, Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything. Histories can sometimes be a bit dry and boring; this is anything but. It’s a page-turner. The authors ferreted out some of the most disgusting and ridiculous things people have subjected themselves

Ayurveda: Ancient Superstition, Not Ancient Wisdom

I frequently get emails asking whether I think a certain treatment is supported by evidence or is quackery. I recently got one from an elderly man who was wondering whether he should take a friend’s advice to consult an Ayurvedic doctor. That was the first time I’d ever been asked about Ayurveda. I knew it

Homeopathy

Introduction Homeopathy is a system of health care that was originated in 1796 by a single individual, Samuel Hahnemann, a German doctor who was critical of the medicine of his time. It is a discipline practiced by homeopaths, but homeopathic remedies are also sold over the counter in pharmacies for customers to self-treat. Homeopathy is

Ancient Navajo Cure for Hearing Loss: A Lesson in Spotting Red Flags

I’ve been getting emails advertising a lost Navajo remedy that can cure deafness. Nearly 33,500 people have allegedly reversed their hearing loss in just two weeks with this 100 percent natural treatment. The emails invited me to watch a free video presentation by Ben Carter. I did. What I found was a textbook example of

Fun for the Fourth

Is it OK to laugh when we encounter a ridiculous claim in alternative medicine? This video lecture highlights some hilarious claims and encourages both laughter and appreciation of the human creativity involved. Since today is a holiday, I decided to take a holiday from writing my usual posts and instead direct you to the video of

Functional Medicine: Pseudoscientific Silliness

Language keeps changing. We used to call questionable remedies “folk medicine,” “fringe medicine,” or “quackery.” In the 1970s, the term “alternative medicine” was coined, an umbrella term for all treatments that were not supported by good enough evidence to have earned them a place in mainstream medicine. Then came “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and