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-woo in medicine.
A tale of quackademic medicine at the University of Arizona Cancer Center (David Gorski)
The father of a child with leukemia discovered that the UA Cancer Center offered reiki, reflexology, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, and other alternative treatments they claimed would “heal” and boost the immune system. His complaint to the Director went unanswered. Further investigation revealed even more nonsense like distance healing. Under the rubric of “integrative oncology,” quackery has been embraced by academic medicine, hopelessly confusing science with pseudoscience in the patient’s mind.
A bit of shameless self-promotion: Dr. Gorski interviewed by Point of Inquiry about Stanislaw Burzynski (David Gorski)
Includes a link to the interview about the notorious doctor who profits from the desperation of cancer patients.
Nature vs. Technology (Harriet Hall)
In a new book, Nathanael Johnson questions the “natural” beliefs of his hippie parents and investigates the science behind diet, childbirth, healing, and the environment. He fully accepts science-based medicine, but his understanding of the “natural” perspective provides insights about how an over-reliance on technology risks trading away the things that make life worth living. He envisions ways to integrate “natural” values with technology.
Medical Conspiracies (Steven Novella)
A recent survey of belief in conspiracies about cancer cure cover-ups, GMO foods, vaccines, cellphones, and fluoridation found that 49% of Americans agreed with at least one conspiracy, and 18% agreed with three or more. Conspiracy belief correlates negatively with medical behaviors: believers are more likely to turn to alternative medicine and to refuse vaccines. It is important to understand the conspiracy phenomenon and to combat it by improving public understanding of the science of medicine.
Naturopathy vs. Science: Allergy Edition (Scott Gavura)
Allergies are one of the top conditions treated by naturopaths. Along with some useful advice, they promote unvalidated and useless tests, unproven and ineffective treatments, potentially harmful practices, and arrant nonsense like homeopathy and “cleanses.” They prioritize philosophy over science, disregard scientific knowledge about allergies, and fail to offer treatments known to be effective.
Agnotology: The Study of Ignorance (Mark Crislip)
Ignorance can be overcome or embraced. It can be generated by secrecy, stupidity, apathy, censorship, disinformation, faith, and forgetfulness. It can be the result of selective choice, and it is often used as a strategic ploy in the pseudo-medical world. One example is a naturopath’s rejection of everything science has learned about tetanus. He claims the disease is due to filth, not to a germ, that it should be treated only with fasting and hygiene, and that vaccination is unnecessary: advice that is certain to kill.