The Ethics of CAM: More Harm than Good?

Edzard Ernst is arguably the world’s foremost expert on the claims and the evidence (or lack thereof) for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Now he has teamed up with a medical ethicist, Kevin Smith, to co-author a new book, More Harm than Good? The Moral Maze of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Much has been written

Doc Doc Zeus: A Glimpse Behind the Scenes of Medical Boards

A novel about a doctor who raped a minor and is being investigated by his state medical board provides behind-the-scene insights into the workings of medical boards. It helps explain why these boards are so often ineffective, why medical malfeasance so often leads to a token disciplinary action rather than to loss of license. In

Stem Cells for Macular Degeneration: Meticulous Science vs. Unethical Carelessness

Rigorous scientists stabilized a patient’s macular degeneration with a cutting-edge stem cell treatment; less rigorous scientists misapplied stem cell science and left three women blind. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of vision loss in people over 50. Thirty percent of us will develop it by age 75-85. There is no cure. For

Is Homeopathy Unethical?

Homeopathy is full of crap! Borrowed with loving attribution from Hell’s News Stand. Go to He…go there! “A gentle ethical defence of homeopathy” by Levy et al. was recently published in an ethics journal. A full-text preprint is available online. They say: Utilitarian critiques of homeopathy that are founded on unsophisticated notions of evidence, that adopt narrow perspectives

Cancer Centers and Advertising Practices

Video advertisement for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, hosted on their website. Note at the bottom the statement “No case is typical. You should not expect to experience these results” (click to embiggen). You have probably seen the TV commercials or other ads for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. They make it sound like

Facing Decline and Death

We’re all going to die. (There’s nothing like starting on a positive note! ? ) We’re all going to die, and if we are fortunate enough to survive long enough to become old, we’re all going to experience a decline of one sort or another before we die: reduced hearing and vision, less strength, poorer memory, etc.

Tribalism and Medical Ethics

Science is intended to discover the “is”, not the “ought;” facts, not values. Science can’t tell us whether an action is moral; it can only provide evidence to help inform moral decisions. For instance, some people who believe abortion is immoral reject birth control methods that prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum on the grounds

Answering Our Critics, Part 2 of 2: What’s the Harm?

Last week I posted a list of 30 rebuttals to many of the recurrent criticisms that are made by people who don’t like what we say on SBM. I thought #30 deserved its own post; this is it. At the end, I’ve added a few items to the original list. What’s the harm in people trying CAM? Science-based

Meet Your Microbes: uBiome Offers New Service

We are not alone. Walt Whitman didn’t know how right he was when he said, “I contain multitudes.” The microbes on and in our bodies outnumber our own cells 10:1.  Perhaps that creeps you out. Perhaps that makes you curious to know just who all these billions of creatures are that are using your body

Rituximab for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Jumping the Gun

Now that the XMRV myth has been put to rest,  patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are no longer jumping the gun to demand anti-retroviral treatments. But they are jumping the gun in new ways, based on very preliminary data coming out of Norway. A correspondent in Norway wrote to tell me patients from Norway with myalgic encephalitis/chronic