Pesticides: Just How Bad Are They?

3D model of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), an insecticide I think everyone would agree that it would not be a good idea to put pesticides in a saltshaker and add them to our food at the table. But there is little agreement when it comes to their use in agriculture. How much gets into our food? What

Defending Science-Based Medicine: 44 Doctor-Bashing Arguments …and Their Rebuttals

Supporters of alternative medicine and purveyors of quack remedies love to criticize conventional medicine and science. They keep repeating the same tired arguments that are easily rebutted. This handy guide will help skeptics answer common criticisms from doctor-bashers. Doctor-bashing is a popular sport practiced by believers in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and purveyors of

An Introduction to Homeopathy

A brief guide to a popular alternative system of remedies based on a nineteenth-century concept that has no scientific validity. In 1800, conventional medicine was a disaster. Doctors weakened patients with bloodletting and purging, they poisoned them with mercury and other harmful substances, and they often killed more patients than they cured. Dr. Samuel Hahnemann

Philosophy Meets Medicine

Note: This was written as a book review for Skeptical Inquirer magazine and will be published in its Jan/Feb 2014 issue. Medical Philosophy: Conceptual Issues in Medicine by Mario Bunge. World Scientific Publishing, 2013. 300 pages. Price $48; Kindle version $25.19. ISBN 978-9814508940 Medicine is chock-full of philosophy and doesn’t know it.  Mario Bunge, a philosopher, physicist, and

Faith Healing: Religious Freedom vs. Child Protection

We have written a lot about people who reject science-based medicine and turn to complementary/alternative medicine (CAM), but what about people who reject the very idea of medical treatment? Faith healing is widely practiced by Christian Scientists, Pentecostalists, the Church of the First Born, the Followers of Christ, and myriad smaller sects. Many of these

Do You Believe in Magic?

Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine. By Paul Offit, MD. Harper Collins, New York, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-06-222296-1. 336 pp. Hardcover, $26.99. Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician and professor of vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania, codeveloped a rotavirus vaccine that has saved hundreds of lives. His previous books Autism’s

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

Thinking: An Unnatural Act

Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed! By Robert Todd Carroll. James Randi Educational Foundation, 2011. Available through Amazon.com and other electronic outlets exclusively in e-book format, $9.99. Robert Todd Carroll, the author of the invaluable Skeptic’s Dictionary, has written an e-book that makes a perfect complement to his Dictionary. Titled Unnatural Acts: Critical

Acupuncture, the Navy, and Faulty Thinking

A Navy neurologist, Capt. Elwood Hopkins, has posted a 3-part article on  “The Power of Acupuncture” on Navy Medicine Live, the official blog of Navy and Marine Corps Health Care. It can serve as a useful lesson in how not to think about medicine. It is a prime example of how an intelligent, educated doctor

Two Views of the War on Cancer

Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health. By Gayle Sulik. Oxford University Press, New York, 2010. ISBN: 0199740453. 424 pp. Hardcover, $29.95.  The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. By Siddhartha Mukherjee. Scribner, New York, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4391-0795-9. 571 pp. Hardcover, $30. The pink ribbon is a widely recognized symbol