Ebola conspiracy theories: Same as it ever was (David Gorski) In pandemics and epidemics, fear impairs critical thinking and brings out the worst in people. Alternative medicine is offering alleged Ebola cures such as baking soda, homeopathy, intravenous vitamin C, essential oils, and colloidal silver. And delusional conspiracy theories abound; for instance, anti-vaccine activists have called Ebola a fake pandemic set up to poison us with drugs and vaccines.
Questions and Answers about Chiropractic: The Bottom Line (Sam Homola) A skeptical chiropractor answers some of the questions he is most commonly asked. Chiropractic continues to be based primarily on the anti-medical subluxation theory, to use a variety of untested, disproven, and alternative healing methods, and to occasionally cause strokes. The few good chiropractors are hard to find; there is little hope of reforming chiropractic, and it can’t be recommended as a career choice.
What naturopaths say to each other when they think no one’s listening (David Gorski) In online discussion groups, naturopaths reveal their faulty thinking and their unpreparedness to handle the diseases they try to treat. Examples from their exchanges show how they mix quackery with conventional medicine, reject vaccination, make bogus diagnoses, use dangerous remedies like corrosive black salve, and blame the victim when patients die horrible deaths.
An Overly Pessimistic View of Medicine (Harriet Hall) Sandeep Jauhar wrote Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician to relate his personal experience as an attending cardiologist in a teaching hospital and to express his frustration with the current system of medical care in America. He is overly pessimistic; he admits he is being treated for depression. He points out some real problems, but they are not unsolvable. There is reason to hope many of the faults he identifies can be corrected, but it will require action rather than just complaining.
A TCM Challenge (Steven Novella) A Chinese doctor who is critical of Traditional Chinese Medicine is offering a 100,000 yuan prize to any TCM practitioner who can use pulse diagnosis to determine if a woman is pregnant. Pulse diagnosis has no scientific legitimacy; it is an example of diagnostic systems that are disconnected from reality, like medieval diagnosis by urine color. We can expect applicants to fail a well-designed study; the responses of believers to that outcome will be interesting to watch.
Lessons from the dubious rise and inevitable fall of green coffee beans (Scott Gavura) Dr. Oz called green coffee beans a “miracle” aid to weight loss; he promoted it and even did a “clinical trial” on his TV audience. The published study he based his opinion on was poorly conducted, sloppily written, and provided unimpressive results. Now it turns out that it was fraudulent and it has now been retracted. The entire trajectory was predictable; we should be skeptical of any weight loss “miracle.”
The “It’s All Good!” Fallacy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine…” (Clay Jones) When a doctor prescribes an antibiotic, he prescribes a specific dose of a specific antibiotic that has been tested and proven effective for the condition being treated. He can’t just write the word “antibiotics” on his prescription pad and argue that “antibiotics” have been around for a long time and work for infections and lot of people use them. But that’s the kind of sloppy thinking that abounds in alternative medicine. Just as with antibiotics, every “alternative” treatment must be investigated for efficacy and safety with the tools of science. We can’t assume that “It’s all good.”