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

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

Fun with Spanish Flu Myths

There are many myths about the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Some of them are pretty funny. In the SBM comments section, someone recently posted this gem: “That ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic was actually caused by a typhus vaccine. They called it Spanish flu so the vaccine didn’t get blamed.” Other commenters quickly pointed out that time travel

Magnets Provide Amusement, But Not Health Benefits

Over the years, the claims for health benefits of magnets have provided me with much amusement. Here are just a few examples: A skeptic pointed out that if magnets in health products really attracted red blood cells as claimed, an MRI scan with magnets many orders of magnitude stronger would be deadly: your blood would

Oxygen Is Good, Even When It’s Not There

Note: This article originally appeared in Skeptical Inquirer, 28(1), 48-50 & 55, January/February 2004. I’m recycling it now because I have been at The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas instead of home at my computer writing new posts. It’s still timely: despite multiple debunkings and FTC actions, vitamin O is still for sale. Amazon has it for

Integrative Medicine is the Butt of a Sokal-Type Hoax

In 1996, Alan Sokal got a bogus paper published in the journal Social Text. It was a parody full of meaningless statements in the jargon of postmodern philosophy and cultural studies. The editors couldn’t tell the difference between Sokal’s nonsense and the usual articles they publish. Now a British professor of medical education, Dr. John