The Case That CAM Is Unethical

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 on

How We Believe

In James Alcock’s classic 1995 article “The Belief Engine“, he said, “Our brains and nervous systems constitute a belief-generating machine, a system that evolved to assure not truth, logic, and reason, but survival.” Now he has expanded that thesis into a book, Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions Are So Compelling.

Announcing: Video Lecture Course on Science-Based Medicine

A couple of years ago, the James Randi Educational Foundation commissioned me to develop a series of 10 video lectures on Science-Based Medicine. After a lot of work and many vicissitudes, it is now available. The lecture titles are: Science-Based Medicine vs. Evidence-Based Medicine What Is CAM? Chiropractic Acupuncture Homeopathy Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine Energy Medicine Miscellaneous

Charlie Sheen’s HIV Goat Milk Doctor

On January 29, 2016, HBO Real Time host Bill Maher featured Samir Chachoua, a man who claims to have discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS, cancer, and a host of other illnesses. He is not licensed to practice medicine in the US; he operates out of Mexico where he charges rich visitors many thousands of dollars for treatment with

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

Confessions of a Quack: Holistic Harry Tells the Inside Story of Alternative Medicine

Confessions of a Quack is fiction, but it provides real insights into the thinking processes and motivations of quacks, alternative medicine providers, and their patients. He told her the butterbur had flushed out her triple heater meridian, spilling into Pingala Nadi, flooding her Agnya chakra and setting off a Herxheimer-like reaction. In the SBM comments section, someone (thanks,

Cure Is About Caring, Not Curing: Placebos, Alternative Medicine, and Patient Comfort

In a recent post, Dr. Gorski criticized two articles by Jo Marchant on placebos and alternative medicine. He mentioned that she had a book coming out and suggested I might want to review it. The title is Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body. I don’t know of any evidence that the mind has ever

This Book Won’t Cure Your Cancer, But It Will Help You Think More Clearly About It

Gideon Burrows has an inoperable brain cancer that is slow growing but is inevitably going to kill him. He has written a remarkable book about his experience, This Book Won’t Cure Your Cancer. A professional wordsmith, he is able to describe his experience of illness so vividly that the reader enters into his life, feels what

Homeopathy and the UK’s National Health Service

Homeopathy is arguably the silliest form of alternative medicine: the published studies show no evidence of anything beyond nonspecific contextual effects, and the underlying premise is incompatible with the existing body of scientific knowledge. Homeopathy has increasingly been questioned or denounced by organizations in several countries, most recently in FDA hearings in the US. I recently spoke

Evidence: “It Worked for My Aunt Tillie” Is Not Enough

Evidence means different things to different people. Even quacks and their victims claim to have evidence that their treatments work. Sometimes that evidence consists only of testimonials from satisfied customers or from personal experience. “I tried X and I got better.” “I know Y works because it cured my Aunt Tillie’s arthritis.” I had a