Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category

Homeopathy: Modern Day Snake Oil

August 27, 2009

08-27-09 imageThis blog has been up for nearly a month and I have yet to weigh in on homeopathy (minus a couple of linked videos).  The homeopaths have been quiet as of late.  Or at least they had been at the time I started writing this.  I didn’t finish the post (it’s quite difficult to fit the amount of stupid inherent in homeopathy into one little article) and left town for a few days.  By the time I got back, homeopathy was very much in the public eye.  The World Health Organization came out against the use of homeopathy for treating HIV, TB, and other diseases.  I’ve come across multiple articles and blog posts advocating the efficacy of homeopathy in preventing and treating swine flu.  Oh, and this nutbag was on TV in Australia.  Sadly, the video has been taken down (here’s a transcript of the interview).  I suspect the backlash against the television station that aired the interview led them to file the copyright claim to try and save themselves future embarrassment.  But I’m going to tackle homeopathy anyway.  We’ll briefly explore its history and why its practice is complete and utter idiocy.

In the late 18th century, conventional medical treatment was unquestionably dicey.  Common treatments of the time included bloodletting and purging.  Unsurprisingly in this age of medical ignorance, the treatment was often worse than the disease.  Enter Samuel Hahnemann.

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August Is National Immunization Awareness Month

August 19, 2009

Yeah, I didn’t know either. I wish there’d been a bit more of a PR campaign. Anyway, there was an open letter published today signed by a long list of institutions, doctors, nurses, and other individuals. Give it a read and sign it for yourself.  I’ve reproduced the letter after the jump.

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Quack Chiropractic: Addendum

August 18, 2009

Ugh.  This one is painful.  In the comments to yesterday’s post about chiropractic, drlisamarie was kind enough to provide me with a link to an article (the abstract for the original paper can be found here) discussing the apparent benefits of chiropractic adjustment for sufferers of dyslexia and other learning disorders.  While it appears this article was meant as an ‘in your face’ to yours truly, it is little more than another sad example of what passes for evidence in chiropractic.  With apologies to Orac: The stupid.  It burns.

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Quack Chiropractic

August 17, 2009

Can chiropractic really get rid of with [sic] earaches and ear infections?  That was the title to an article posted on an alternative medicine blog last week.  The answer is, of course an emphatic  NO! Unfortunately, the author of the article didn’t consult me (or any credible scientific evidence) prior to submission and went on to answer the question in the affirmative, providing evidence that the title to this post may be redundant.  Oh boy.

I understand that this is just one junk article on one alternative medicine blog.  I don’t even know if it’s a well known alternative medicine blog.  This is more a situation of just one ridiculous claim too many that finally sent me to the keyboard.  Claims like this are, unfortunately, not sparse in the chiropractic community, and I feel like I’ve been coming across them way too often recently.  It is depressingly easy to find a practitioner that will claim to treat ear infections, colic, and asthma.  Look a little harder, and it’s not much more difficult to find individuals who will treat autism, infertility, ADHD, Parkinson’s, etc.  There was a chiropractor in my hometown (population: a paltry 25,000) that publicly asserted he could treat pancreatic cancer.  As you might have guessed, there is absolutely zero credible scientific evidence to back up these claims.

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Simon Singh Libel Case Update

August 11, 2009

For my original post on Simon Singh and the BCA, click here.

Lifted from Science-Based Medicine

Legal Update BCA v Singh

Simon Singh announced today that he will continue the fight in his libel case with the British Chiropractic Association after his application to appeal the preliminary ruling was rejected last week. He has now has the option to try and overturn that decision at an oral appeal. If this fails his case will be tried on a meaning of a phrase he did not intend and is indefensible. This highlights the problem of narrow defences that, along with high costs and wide jurisdiction, make the English libel laws so restrictive to free speech.

Simon said today: “I can confirm today that I have applied for a hearing to ask the Court of Appeal to reconsider its recent denial of permission.  A great deal has happened since my original article was published back in April 2008 and I suspect that the libel case will continue for many more months (or maybe years). While my case is ongoing, it continues to raise a whole series of arguably more important issues, particularly the appalling state of English libel laws. I am pleased that the Culture Secretary has agreed to meet with signatories of the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign statement to hear how the laws affect writers. We are also pursuing a meeting at the Ministry of Justice and with front benchers in other departments to lobby for a change in the law.”

Read Simon’s full statement and more about his next steps here: http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/freedebate

Antivaxxers Under Fire

August 7, 2009

I’m leaving for the weekend, but wanted to share some good news on the anti-vaccination front before I took off.  As you may or may not have heard, the Australian Vaccination Network (an utterly misleading name) is going to be investigated by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission for its dissemination of misinformation and outright lies about vaccination.  I don’t have time to write a nice long piece about the suffering this group has caused, but I will link to one particularly disturbing case.  Do some searching about the aftermath to get a real look into the AVN’s agenda.

In addition to word of the impending investigation, the Australian Skeptics ran a scathing ad in The Australian on Thursday.

Australian Skeptics Ad

Here’s a link to a story on the story behind the ad, and a link to Phil Plait’s thoughts on the subject.  Okay, I gotta run.  Have a good weekend.

Profile Of A Quack: Matthias Rath

August 7, 2009

Matthias Rath is a German physician.  At least he used to be.  As far as I’m concerned, he lost the privilege to call himself a doctor long ago.  He is, instead, a snake oil salesman, ignoring any and all scientific evidence that invalidates his claims and would hurt his bottom line.

Rath made his fortune as a vitamin entrepreneur.  Through his website, he claims to have discovered the cause to a myriad of chronic and incurable diseases, ranging from atherosclerosis and hypertension to metastatic cancer.  And, lucky us, the very vitamin pills he sells will cure you of that nasty lymphoma.  Rath’s claims (lies) have led many people to abandon genuine medical treatment in exchange for his magic pills.  Many have died.  These actions are enough to earn Rath a lifetime of contempt, but it is his claims and actions concerning the treatment of AIDS that have been the most damaging.

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Homeopathy Explained

August 5, 2009

There’s a great video featuring Ben Goldacre giving a brief breakdown of homeopathy and its (complete lack of) efficacy.  Unfortunately, I’ve only seen it hosted on Vimeo, so I can’t embed it.  While I haven’t yet touched on homeopathy in any great length in this blog, I imagine I will sometime in the future.  It is the most ridiculous of the alternative medicine modalities; pseudoscientific quackery to the extreme.  As Goldacre explains in the video, an average homeopathic ‘medicine’ is diluted to such an extreme, it is equivalent to one molecule of the original substance in the middle of a sphere of water that’s roughly the size of the distance from the Earth to the sun.  Anyway, click the link, watch the video.  It’s a good one.