Restricting Freedom, from Typhoid Mary to Covid-19

We are seeing a lot of pushback on government restrictions imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19. Many people refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing. Some claim that the disease has been conquered, pointing to improvement in survival rates, and manage to ignore the increasing number of new infections and hospitalizations. Some continue

Ian Harris on “Surgery, the Ultimate Placebo”

Ian Harris explains that more than half of commonly performed surgical operations may be placebos. Adequate studies using a blinded control group are essential. Ian Harris, a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, wrote a book titled Surgery, The Ultimate Placebo. I haven’t read the book, but I

Shooting the Messenger: Activists Persecute Scientists Whose Findings They Don’t Like

Alice Dreger’s book recounts many instances of shooting the messenger, when scientists were persecuted for research findings that activists found objectionable. Social justice matters, but it should rely on science and reality, not ideology. Don’t shoot him. He’s just bringing a message. Alice Dreger is an academic historian who has been active in supporting those

Nurse Practitioner Pushes Dubious Aesthetic Treatments

Nurse practitioner aggressively advertises a plethora of aesthetic treatments, some of which are dubious. It’s legal, but is it ethical? Facelifts by plastic surgeon improve appearance. Aesthetic nurse practitioner’s offerings are more dubious. Larson Medical Aesthetics, an organization with three locations, is run by a nurse practitioner named Margaret Larson. It is being promoted through

American Family Physician Endorses Acupuncture

A CME article in American Family Physician misrepresents the evidence, claiming acupuncture has been proven safe and effective. An accompanying editorial gives despicable advice on how to manipulate patients to accept this theatrical placebo. The flagship journal of my specialty of family medicine is the American Family Physician. Each issue contains a quiz that qualifies for continuing medical

Medical Apartheid

Harriet Washington’s book tells the dark history of medical experimentation on black Americans. It also reveals broader problems of inequality, poor science, and human failures. In a recent post, Clay Jones reminded us that “the unconscious need to avoid cognitive dissonance serves as a powerful motivation to rationalize even the most horrific beliefs and behaviors.”

Health Freedom, Right to Try, and Informed Consent

Starting with the Terrible Twos, when toddlers hear the word “No” on a regular basis, people don’t like to be told they can’t do something. They often believe government regulations interfere with their rights. The government requires vaccinations for school attendance; parents complain that they should be able to make their own decisions about whether

The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: A Fiasco with a Silver Lining

The Tuskegee syphilis experiment studied black men with advanced syphilis for 40 years. Patients were lied to and prevented from getting treatment. A black mark in the history of American medicine, it led to important reforms. The Tuskegee experiment was one of the most regrettable incidents in the history of medicine in the U.S. Conducted

Health Freedom, Right to Try, and Informed Consent

Starting with the Terrible Twos, when toddlers hear the word “No” on a regular basis, people don’t like to be told they can’t do something. They often believe government regulations interfere with their rights. The government requires vaccinations for school attendance; parents complain that they should be able to make their own decisions about whether

BladderMax: Fake News and Outrageous Headlines

A newspaper ad for BladderMax is disguised as a news story reporting “the end of bladder leakages.” The information is inaccurate and the headlines are preposterous. There is a half-page article in my newspaper. The headline announces, “Scientists Predict End of Bladder Leakages by 2019.” This is reinforced by accompanying statements: “New developments in scientific

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