Snake Oil Science

For my first blog entry, I wanted to write about something important, and I couldn’t think of anything more important than a recent book by R. Barker Bausell: Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine. If you want to understand how medical research works, if you want to know what can lead

Popular Fallacies: Ancient Wisdom, It Works for Me, and Natural is Good

Advocates of so-called alternative medicine (i.e. unproven treatments) don’t always use the best critical thinking skills. False assumptions and logical fallacies abound.  Three that I encounter constantly are (1) “ancient wisdom,” (2) “it works for me,” and (3) “it’s natural.” Ancient Wisdom The argument usually goes something like this: Our wise ancestors used X to

CAM Scam

Book review of: Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All, by Rose Shapiro. London: Harvill Secker, 2008. 296 pages. £12.99. ISBN: 978-1-846-55028-7/ Political correctness has emasculated our language. We walk on linguistic tiptoes for fear of offending someone. British journalist Rose Shapiro refuses to be cowed. With refreshing directness, she titled her new

Andrew Weil: Harvard Hatched a Gullible Guru

Book review of Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-care for Optimum Health. By Andrew Weil. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004. ISBN 0-618-47903-1. 432 pp. Softcover, $14. Andrew Weil’s Natural Health, Natural Medicine is a dangerous book. The preface states: “All the information is consistent with the best scientific evidence currently available.”

Three Perspectives on Longevity: Fantasy, Reality and Confusion

A book review of three books on longevity: Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, M.D. Rodale, 2004. 400 pp. $24.95 ISBN: 1579549543. Anti-Aging Medicine: The Hype and the Reality, edited by S. Jay Olshansky, Leonard Hayflick, and Thomas T. Perls. The Gerontological Society of America, 2004. 195

Keeping an Eye on Alternative Medicine

In case you hadn’t noticed, snake oil is alive and thriving under the shield of alternative medicine. As the Baby Boomers approach retirement age and develop health problems, we can expect an even greater boom of quackery, pseudoscience, and misinformation. Even the most critically thinking scientist may think less critically when he’s sick. This column

LIVING PROOF: A MEDICAL MUTINY

Book Review of LIVING PROOF: A MEDICAL MUTINY By Michael Gearin-Tosh 334 pp. New York: Scribner, 2002.  ISBN 0-7432-2517-1, $25.00. The author, an Oxford professor of English literature, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and advised to have chemotherapy. He rejected that advice because of the toxicity of chemotherapy, the uncertain prognosis, and his aversion to

My Response to An Alt-Muddled Friend

I’ve been discussing “alternative medicine” with a friend who is very intelligent but has no training in science. She uses chiropractic, magnets, vitamins, and acupuncture, and she says she doesn’t care what science says because science can be wrong, she trusts her personal experience more, and if something “works” for her, she doesn’t care how

Chiropractic Information in a Public Library

ABSTRACT Background:  Chiropractic is based on a theory that most disease results from spinal subluxation and interference with nerves.  The theory is not supported by experimental evidence nor recognized as plausible by medical scientists.  Chiropractic manipulation is known to cause infrequent but devastating complications including death and paralysis.  Despite this knowledge, chiropractic has been increasingly