Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine.
How low can Oprah Winfrey go? Promoting faith healer John of God to the masses (David Gorski) Oprah’s TV show descended into new depths of woo when it featured John of God, a Brazilian faith healer. He taps into religious beliefs, does magic tricks, and sets up a “heads I win tails you lose” scenario where treatment failures are redefined as spiritual healings or attributed to failures on the part of the patient. Oprah’s credulous “medical expert” was fooled by old side show tricks; the whole segment was an irresponsible puff piece.
Bill Clinton’s Diet (Harriet Hall) After two heart surgeries, Bill Clinton is now attempting to reverse his heart disease with a very restrictive vegan diet. Similar but not identical diets are based on research by Dean Ornish, T. Colin Campbell, and Caldwell Esselstyn; but the actual evidence for their efficacy is flimsy.
Be thankful: No anti-vaccine propaganda at the movies this weekend (David Gorski) A blatant piece of anti-vaccine propaganda falsely billed as a “public service announcement” was scheduled to run in theaters during the holiday weekend. AMC theaters cancelled it after skeptics protested.
What’s with the new cough and cold products? (Scott Gavura) Regulatory agencies have taken actions to discourage the use of cough and cold remedies for children because they are ineffective and have a small potential for harm. Homeopathic and other “natural” remedies have emerged as the only marketed alternative — not because they are effective, but because of regulatory double standards and loopholes allow the sale of these products without demonstrated efficacy.