Stem cell clinics and unapproved, for-profit human experimentation (Paul Knoepfler) A stem cell researcher explains the need for judicious regulation of stem cell clinics, many of which are offering dubious treatments to patients with unwarranted claims. The most worrisome are chains of stem cell franchising clinics offering experimental products that have not been tested for safety or effectiveness. Vulnerable patients are being subjected to an ill-conceived experiment for profit.
The Disneyland measles outbreak: “Dr. Bob” Sears says measles isn’t that bad, and an antivaccine activist invokes the Brady Bunch fallacy. (David Gorski) As the number of victims of the Disneyland outbreak rises, anti-vaccine activists are attempting damage control using fallacious arguments. They say the disease is only a mild inconvenience as depicted in a Brady Bunch episode; but before the vaccine it was responsible for 450 deaths a year in the US. In an attempt to avoid blame for their dangerous advice to delay vaccinations, Bob Sears and others are trivializing the very real harm the disease can cause and are showing despicable insensitivity to human suffering.
Shedding Light on Unreasonable Decisions (Harriet Hall) Why do some patients reject life-saving medical advice or stop taking their medicines? Decisions are often based on feelings rather than on facts and reason. We would like to believe that if people only knew what we knew, they would make the same decisions we would; but if we felt what they feel, we’d understand why they don’t.
Unfalsifiable Beliefs (Steven Novella) Promoting science can be a frustrating endeavor. Recent research shows how people use several different cognitive defense mechanisms to protect their beliefs from the facts. One common tactic is to incorporate unfalsifiable elements like moral opinions into their belief system.
Are skin-lightening glutathione injections safe and effective? (Scott Gavura) Naturopaths are offering IV injections that promise to lighten dark skin. The rationale is somewhat plausible; but the effectiveness has not been established, serious harms have been reported, and there are questions about the purity of the products being used. Consumers are warned to think carefully before accepting glutathione injections, especially as there is no medical need.
Gut Check (Mark Crislip) Probiotics are probably the wrong answer to a wide variety of medical questions. The evidence is mixed for preventing antibiotic associated diarrhea, and is less than compelling for treating inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, allergies, overweight, and SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth, which naturopaths blame for a whole laundry list of health problems).
Upcoming Toronto talk: Complementary and Alternative Medicine: a Business Ethics Perspective (Scott Gavura) Announcement of a free talk on Jan 28 in Toronto, a discussion by a philosopher and a pharmacist about the ethics of selling CAM.