Weekend Reading

Homeopathic overdose

It’s been a staggering week, news-wise. As we all watched the events in Boston and Texas, here’s what you may have missed.

Winning antivaccine hearts and minds – good post on the influence of social networks on vaccination intentions. Also, Parents Who Veto Vaccinations Often Seek Like-Minded Opinions.

Naturopathy, functional medicine, and other quackademic medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center – with a nice summary of the pseudoscience of “orthomolecular” medicine and vitamin C injection therapy.

If you want a single resource on the lack of credible science supporting “paleo” diets, this presentation from Alan Aragon is it.

Good post from Mark Crislip at Science-Based Medicine on the new flu variants.

Naturopathy is a collection of pseudoscientific practices with vitalism, and not science, at its core. Yet The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) has applied for accreditation for a new Bachelor of Naturopathic degree program in Ontario. In response to a consultation, the Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism responded, pointing out the problems will considering naturopathy to be degree-worthy:

The underlying conflict between naturopathy andmedical science, however, goes much deeper than the lack of an evidence basis for many of the treatments offered. For naturopathy is based on the foundational principle of vitalism–the idea thatliving beings are animated by a vital force not found in inanimate nature– and the complete rejection of this principle is the cornerstone of modern biology. For this reason, even those courses which appear to provide standard medical knowledge (anatomy, microbiology) cannot be expected to adhere to what we know about living systems; the curriculum is infused throughout with a failed medieval paradigm.

In the midst of a measles outbreak in Wales, Parents need to know homeopathy does not protect against measles, says MP. And in the same outbreak, the first measles death in years.

Despite the evidence, Parental Fears Toward HPV Vaccines Is Growing.

And Temple Grandin is wrong on vaccines and autism.

Also unfortunate: Jane Goodall’s new book is filled with errors, plagarism and bad science.

Why does the UK’s National Health Service still fund homeopathy in the midst of a measles outbreak? We’ve seen sense on measles, but we’re not yet rid of quacks. Catherine Bennett argues:

With the greatest of respect to the government scientists, “rubbish” and “mad” still seem kindly descriptions of a licensed, potentially harmful idiocy that, so long as it is protected within the NHS, affords professional respectability to the sort of homeopathy writers and practitioners who have nurtured parental suspicion and resistance to the MMR, even after measles epidemics began to threaten children’s long-term health. You can tell people to get immunised, in accordance with the science, or you can fund homeopathy in defiance of it: you can’t rationally do both.

This should surprise no one: Cancer patients who use alternative medicine die sooner.

Analgesic use before marathons can be damaging.

From US-based pharmacist Jerry Fahrni, a provocative post on the American retail “big box” pharmacy: Don’t confuse retail pharmacy with pharmacy practice:

Retail pharmacies are the scourge of my profession. I’ve worked retail. It’s a soul-sucking environment of profit over patient care, and can quite literally cause pharmacists to rethink their career choice. Have you ever met a retail pharmacist that loves his/her job? I haven’t. Best case scenario they tolerate it. Worst case scenario they hate it so badly that they change careers and leave pharmacy behind.

Should the FDA continue to allow drugs to stay on the market, even if they were approved based on fraudulent research?

Drug Patents Don’t Ensure Innovation says Jessica Wapner. And here is Dr. Michael Wosnick’s take on the Novartis Gleevec patent. He sees a regulatory Catch-22.

A founder of the anti-GM food movement on how he got it wrong. Also on GM food, Thinking beyond Argumentum ad Monsantum.

Brian Dunning, creator and host of the popular Skeptoid podcast, (which I have listened to for years) has pled guilty to wire fraud, related to the manipulation of eBay affiliate links through which he earned millions of dollars. Dunning’s podcast was one of my early steps in developing an explicitly skeptical perspective. How this conviction will impact the podcast and the credibility of Skeptoid  remains to be seen. Some reaction here and here.

And unrelated to SBP, but don’t miss: where children sleep around the world.

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2 thoughts on “Weekend Reading

  1. I’ve never liked Brian Dunning and wondered about his “wire” activities since learning of them. He made millions, but begs for donations to turn himself into a “personality”. I don’t think he offers anything that isn’t already out there. I think he’s an opportunist and thought so before I learned of his legal problems.

    • Ain’t that a shanda for the neighbours. I don’t know Dunning from a hole in the ground save from reading his Skeptoid site, but he’s always kind of come off to me in his writing as a smarmy glibertarian creep, and I guess it’s nice to know my creep-dar is functioning correctly.

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