All excerpted posts are © the original author. Please consult their blog for the full story and to comment.

rampant

Monday, 31 August 2015

Floppy Fascism | Losing In The Lucky Country

Since announcements that the Abbott government will from January 2016 introduce a “no jab, no pay” policy, noting the increasing misuse of particular terms became inescapable.

Fascism, Nazism, Nazi, Fascist, Mandatory, Forced, Freedom. These words are being used increasingly by anti-vaccine lobbyists to describe changes in public health policy. Changes planned to protect the wider community from the impact of increased vaccine preventable disease notification consonant with lower herd immunity.

The words are being used incorrectly due to error born of ignorance by some...

Read the full story: Floppy Fascism | Losing In The Lucky Country

Girl kidnapped by anti-vaccine mom is rescued

A little girl who was kidnapped by her anti-vaccine mother has been found in good health in Florida, according to CNN. The story of the kidnapping was shown on “The Hunt,” a show about cold cases hosted by John Walsh. The mother left behind a note for her boyfriend when she kidnapped the child:
“Dear […]


Read more at: Girl kidnapped by anti-vaccine mom is rescued by Reuben

Chelation therapy: should it be included in the list of ‘mind-numbingly stupid alternative therapies’? | Edzard Ernst

A recent article promised to provide details of the ’10 most mind-numbingly stupid alternative therapies’. Naturally I was interested what these might be. In descending order they are, according to the author of the most enjoyable piece:

10 VEGA TESTING
9 REIKI 8 CRYSTAL HEALING
7 URINE THERAPY
6 DETOXIFYING FOOT PADS
5  WHEAT-GRASS ENEMAS 4 […]

Read on: Chelation therapy: should it be included in the list of ‘mind-numbingly stupid alternative therapies’?

Sunday, 30 August 2015

AllTrials – Half of all clinical trials have never reported results

We’re sometimes asked if it’s still true that around half of clinical trials have never reported results. Yes, it is.

Some people point towards recent studies that found a higher rate of publication than that. Great! With all the campaigning, new laws, new regulations and emerging codes of conduct we and others have worked towards, it comes as no surprise that the situation is gradually improving. But these studies look at clinical trials conducted very recently, often on the newest drugs, and therefore represent a tiny fraction of all the clinical trials that have ever been conducted. There’s a massive backlog of unpublished trials reaching back decades. A large proportion of these past trials, or tens of thousands of new trials, would have to publish results for the percentage of unpublished trials to change significantly...

Read the full story and sign the petition here: AllTrials – Half of all clinical trials have never reported results

Another homeopathy fail | Zeno's Blog

Prof Ernst has covered the details of the Judicial Review brought by homeopathy user Honor Watt against NHS Lothian after their decision to withdraw funding for homeopathy referrals to the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital: Homeopathy: another day in court + another defeat. 

The judgement, published yesterday, names the three products she was prescribed and calls them ‘homeopathic […]

Read on: Another homeopathy fail

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Dialogue with a homeopath

... Emphasis of claimed homeopathy-fill-able niches was followed by a brief history lesson for the homeopathy-uninitiated, replete with some of the plethora of logical fallacies which tend to accompany these things, including links to material by one or two familiar homeopathy luminaries, and the ever handy argumenta ad populum, which all makes for ready marketing material...


[Read more... ]

Homeopathy: another day in court + another defeat | Edzard Ernst

A short report about a Scottish legal case is worth a mention, I think.

Honor Watt, 73 had sued Lothian Health Board after the authority stopped in June 2013 to provide homeopathic treatments to patients. Ms Watt, an arthritis sufferer, had previously received homeopathic medicine for this condition. There is, of course, no good evidence that homeopathic remedies are […]

Read on: Homeopathy: another day in court + another defeat

You never know who is listening or reading

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the anti-vaccine crowd is losing their collective minds over the so-called “CDC Whistleblower.” The CDC Whistleblower is a researcher by the name of William Thompson. Dr. Thompson made the mistake of confiding some of his anti-vaccine unease over some vaccine studies at CDC to BS Hooker, known anti-vaccine […]

Read more at: You never know who is listening or reading by Reuben

Friday, 28 August 2015

Anthroposophic medicine: an exercise in critical thinking | Edzard Ernst

Anthroposophic medicine is based on Rudolf Steiner’s mystical ideas. It is popular in Germany and is slowly also spreading to other countries.  Anthroposophic drugs are prepared according to ancient notions of alchemy and are fly in the face of modern pharmacology. Anthroposophic doctors treat all sorts of diseases, and their treatments  include anthroposophic medications, and a range of other […]

Read on: Anthroposophic medicine: an exercise in critical thinking

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Genital Cutting: It’s Not About Skin

Genital cutting – whether done to those designated female, intersex or male at birth – is not about skin. Yes – it’s skin that gets cut. But it’s not about skin. It’s about consent. In this video, Soraya Mire – a survivor of female genital mutilation and a leading activist for the right to bodily […]

Read the rest at: Genital Cutting: It’s Not About Skin}

The "Take This" blog is written by a collective of skeptics hunting down misleading, uninformed and sometimes outright insane claims on social media.

Four new papers on a promising ‘alternative’ therapy: massage | Edzard Ernst

Being constantly on the look-out for new, good quality articles on alternative therapy which suggest that a treatment might actually work, I was excited to find not just one or two but four recent publications on an old favourite of mine: massage therapy. The first paper described a study aimed to investigate the effect of whole body […]

Read on: Four new papers on a promising ‘alternative’ therapy: massage

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Vaccine Whistleblower: An antivaccine “exposé” full of sound and fury, signifying nothing | Science-Based Medicine

I don’t review books that often (...) Today, I’m making an exception for a book hot off the presses. The main reason is curiosity, because the book is about a topic that I’ve blogged about three times here and several times more for my not-so-super-secret other blog, and I really wanted to find out more about what was going on. I didn’t expect to find out what really happened, because I knew from the beginning that the book, Vaccine Whistleblower: Exposing Research Fraud at the CDC by an antivaccine lawyer named Kevin Barry, would be highly biased. However, as I found out a few weeks ago, the book promised four complete transcripts of telephone conversations between the “CDC whistleblower,” a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) psychologist named William W. Thompson who has been a co-investigator on important CDC studies since the late 1990s...

Read the rest here: Vaccine Whistleblower: An antivaccine “exposé” full of sound and fury, signifying nothing | Science-Based Medicine

Learning quackery for Continuing Medical Education credit � Science-Based Medicine

The Integrative Addiction Conference 2015 (“A New Era in Natural Treatment”) starts tomorrow in Myrtle Beach, SC. Medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, naturopaths and other health care providers will hear lectures on such subjects as “IV Therapies and Addiction Solutions,” given by Kenneth Proefrock, a naturopath whose Arizona Stem Cell Center specializes in autologous stem cell transplants derived from adipose tissue. Proefrock, who was disciplined for using prolotherapy in the cervical spine without proper credentialing in 2008, claims that stem cells treatments are an “incredibly versatile therapy” and uses them for variety of conditions, such as MS and viral diseases. At the same time, he admits that they are not FDA approved and he is not claiming they are effective for anything (and he’s right), which leads one to wonder why he employs them....

The rest of the exposé of this jaw-dropping WTF is here: Learning quackery for Continuing Medical Education credit � Science-Based Medicine

Truly horrendous

Monday, 24 August 2015

Chiropractic spinal manipulation = placebo! | Edzard Ernst

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the many bogus claims made by chiropractors. One claim, however, namely the one postulating chiropractors can effectively treat low back pain with spinal manipulation, is rarely viewed as being bogus. Chiropractors are usually able to produce evidence that does suggest the claim to be true, and therefore even most critics of chiropractic back off on this particular issue.



But is the claim really true?


A recent trial might provide the answer […]

Read on: Chiropractic spinal manipulation = placebo!

Anti-GMO activists and climate change deniers – no science

There is an evolving feeling that anti-GMO activists and climate change deniers are nearly the same. They both rely upon denialism (also known as pseudoskepticism), which is the culture of denying the established scientific consensus despite overwhelming evidence.

Admittedly, some of the denialism is based on political expediency. Climate change denialism is a fundamental aspect of many politically conservative voters across the world, but especially in the United States, where Republican legislatures in the United States have passed anti-anthropogenic global warming legislation.

But not to be outdone, the left-wing parties across the world have their own particular brand of science denialism–GMOs...

Read the rest here: Anti-GMO activists and climate change deniers – no science

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bringing My Dead Mother to their Disgusting Cause

Here's a glimpse into the bullying tactics used by the oh-so-caring anti-GMO lynch mob.

Just when you thought they could not get any lower. Now someone is posting truly evil information on the Gainesville, FL Craigslist page. Tomorrow would be my mother's birthday, she'd be 69 years old, if she was still alive. She died a few years ago, way too young, and we all still miss her tremendously. So imagine my joy when someone directed me to this on the local Craigslist...

Bringing My Dead Mother to their Disgusting Cause by Dr Kevin Folta

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The US ‘FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION’ is about to investigate homeopathy, comments are invited! | Edzard Ernst

I just came across an announcement which could be important. Here are what I consider the important passages:
The Federal Trade Commission will host a public workshop on Monday, September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC, to examine advertising for over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic products… 
Because of rapid growth in the marketing and consumer use of homeopathic products, the […]
Read on: The US ‘FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION’ is about to investigate homeopathy, comments are invited!

Breastfeeding advocate is anti-vaccine activist?

Of all the public health interventions the world has ever known, very few compare to breastfeeding… Wait, is breastfeeding a public health intervention? Yes and no. It isn’t because it’s something that is natural, and something that almost all women can do for their babies. Then again, it is because we have to remind women […]

Read more at: Breastfeeding advocate is anti-vaccine activist? by Reuben

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Charity Commission – from bad to worse | Majikthyse

It’s well over a year since I complained to the Commission about charities that promote homeopathy. The total lack of progress with that was documented recently. So far I have learned nothing about the Commission’s undertaking to review its policy on the public benefit obligation of such charities. To test whether anything has changed, on 30th July I sent in another complaint, this time against Homeopathy In Africa (charity number 1125981). Here is the complaint as I entered it on the Commission’s website (using their headings)...

Read the rest here: The Charity Commission – from bad to worse | Majikthyse

How much of alt med research is unethical? | Edzard Ernst

Medical ethics comprise a set of rules and principles which are essential for all aspects of medicine, including of course research. The main issues are: Respect for autonomy – patients must have the right to refuse or choose their treatments. Beneficence – researchers and clinicians must act in the best interest of the patient. Non-maleficence – the expected benefits of interventions must […]

Read on: How much of alt med research is unethical?

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Anti-vaccine activists are killing physicians left and right, maybe

I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but mostly in the context of a good novel of movie. In real life, multi-national conspiracies that reach down all the way to the everyday person are pretty much non-existent. Sure, big companies can and do get together from time to time to […]

Read more at: Anti-vaccine activists are killing physicians left and right, maybe by Reuben

Homeopathy: no sense, no science and no ethics | Edzard Ernst

Conventional cough syrups do not have the best of reputations – but the repute of homeopathic cough syrups is certainly not encouraging . So what should one do with such a preparation? Forget about it? No, one conducts a clinical trial, of course! Not just any old trial but one where science, ethics and common sense are absent. Here are […]
Read on: Homeopathy: no sense, no science and no ethics

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Sneak preview of the next issue of WDDTY!

Thanks to @Lennylaw we have obtained exclusive access to the tool used by the elite WDDTY editorial team to generate the spacefiller content of the magazine (the second largest segment after adverts). Earth your aura and head on over to the New Age Bullshit Generator. Warning: may contain nuts.

Just a quick update

Ah, the life of an epidemiologist. If I’m not responding to one thing, I’m responding to another. We always compare ourselves to firefighters because we sometimes sit around for hours or days and then spring into action when something goes down. Some of us are lucky enough to be thrown on a plane and flown […]


Read more at: Just a quick update by Reuben

Can we go back and change the past? asks Lynne McTaggart

The post Can we go back and change the past? asks Lynne McTaggart by Anarchic Teapot first appeared on Plague of Mice.

The Egregious Lynne, Saint and Martyr, is at it again. There are times when you wonder if the woman isn’t knowingly pushing bullshit for profit, à la Food Babe, then she brainfarts out something as dumbfuck Stoopid as this:
Can we go back and change the past?
One of the most basic assumptions about intention is that it operates according to a generally accepted sense of cause and effect: if A causes B, then A must have happened first. This assumption reflects one of our deepest beliefs, that time is a one-way, forward-moving arrow. What we do today cannot affect what happened yesterday. 

However, a sizeable body of the scientific evidence about intention violates these basic assumptions about causation. Research has demonstrated clear instances of time-reversed effects, where effect precedes cause. Indeed, some of the largest effects occur when intention is sent out of strict time sequence… 

There’s loads more … Continue reading

Monday, 17 August 2015

For the anti-vaccinationists out there: The results of a real “vaxed versus unvaxed” study – Respectful Insolence

In many ways, the anti-vaccine movement is highly mutable. However, this mutability is firmly based around keeping one thing utterly constant, and that one thing is vaccines. No matter what the evidence, no matter what the science, no matter how much observational, scientific, and epidemiological evidence is arrayed against them, to the relentlessly self-confident members of the anti-vaccine movement, it’s always about the vaccines. Always. Vaccines are always the root many human health problems, be they asthma, autoimmune diseases, autism, and chronic diseases of all types. Everything else is negotiable. For instance, back when Andrew Wakefield ignited a scare about the MMR vaccine by publishing a fraudulent case series linking the MMR to a new syndrome consisting of regressive autism and enterocolitis, it was the measles vaccine that caused this syndrome. Here in the U.S., it was the mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be used in many childhood vaccines until 2001 that was the cause of all evil. However, as scientists did more and more studies, testing vaccines to see if they were associated with an increased risk of autism and found zero, nada, zip association with either vaccines or the thimerosal preservative in vaccines, the anti-vaccine movement was nothing if not mutable. Before long, Jenny McCarthy was declaring that it was the “toxins” in vaccines that were causing autism, and Generation Rescue was asserting that children were getting “too many too soon.” Of course, as far as the anti-vaccine movement was concerned, the beauty of these ideas was (and is) that they are much harder to falsify scientifically because they are so much more vague...

 For the anti-vaccinationists out there: The results of a real “vaxed versus unvaxed” study – Respectful Insolence

Good news for naturopathy? No, not really! | Edzard Ernst

While my last post was about the risk following some naturopaths’ advice, this one is about the effectiveness of naturopathic treatments. This is a complex subject, not least because naturopaths use a wide range of therapies (as the name implies, they pride themselves of employing all therapeutic means supplied by nature). Some of these interventions […]
Read on: Good news for naturopathy? No, not really!

Homeopathic A&E? They would if they could

The post Homeopathic A&E? They would if they could by Anarchic Teapot first appeared on Plague of Mice.
In the outer reaches of the whackosphere, you can always be sure of finding a homeopath making insane claims for their little sugar pills, from curing imaginary ailments to treatments for very real ones. In spite of professing reverence for Hahnemann – it’s bad enough if you’re trying to claim scientific rigour if you treat texts written in the late 18th century as gospel – they nevertheless ignore his teachings that homeopathy should never be used as prophylaxis. Nor, as far as I can tell, did he advise using homeopathy to treat injuries. Nevertheless, like the fanatics who claim the right to refuse goods and services to beleaguered minorities in the name of Christianity, homeopathic “vaccines” and first aid kits are on sale everywhere. No links, the damn stuff is easy enough to find; just check out the usual suspects.

You’ll almost certainly remember a Mitchell and Webb sketch called … Continue reading

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Burzynski Patient Chelsea S.’s Story | The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group

In May 2012, 3 months after she gave birth to her second set of twins, 35-year old dancer Chelsea S. lost vision and experienced numbness in one half of her body. She was diagnosed with a brain cancer almost never seen in adults, a pilomyxoid astrocytoma (PMA). It was near the brain stem and could not be removed, though she received a diagnosis after a biopsy. It appears that she also had radiation. In August, after the radiation, she was told that palliative care was her best option...

Full story here: Burzynski Patient Chelsea S.’s Story | The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group

WDDTY: Sick or elderly person could be taking 30 drugs almost every day

This headline appeared recently on WDDTY’s appalling webshite: Sick or elderly person could be taking 30 drugs almost every day That’s an incredible amount, yet some people could be, although I doubt many young(ish) people fall into that category. Nevertheless, what’s surprising about the WDDTY headline is that it’s partly in the rough vicinity of … Continue reading WDDTY: Sick or elderly person could be taking 30 drugs almost every day

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Can we go back and change the past?

Can we go back and change the past? asks Lynne McTaggart in her latest blog post. And there we have a perfect example of Betteridge’s law of headlines.  The answer is, of course: no. One of the most basic assumptions about intention is that it operates according to a generally accepted sense of cause and … Continue reading Can we go back and change the past?

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Death of a child through naturopathy | Edzard Ernst

Proponents of alternative medicine regularly stress the notion that their treatments are either risk-free or much safer than conventional medicine. This assumption may be excellent for marketing bogus treatments, however, it neglects that even a relatively harmless therapy can become dangerous, if it is ineffective. Here is yet again a tragic reminder of this undeniable fact.

Japanese doctors reported the case of 2-year-old […]

Read on: Death of a child through naturopathy

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Lets Test Them: Evolution vs. Creationism

Testing the predictions made by both evolution and creationism / intelligent design.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Aromatherapy: trick or treat or treatment? | Edzard Ernst

Of all alternative treatments, aromatherapy ( i. e. the application of essential oils to the body, usually by gentle massage or simply inhalation) seems to be the most popular. This is perhaps understandable because it certainly is an agreeable form of ‘pampering’ for someone in need of some TLC. But is aromatherapy more than that? Is it truly a […]

Read on: Aromatherapy: trick or treat or treatment?

Monday, 10 August 2015

The Hypocrisy and Lies in Kevin Folta’s Case

Posted by @TakeThatGMOs:
Note: The contents of this post were written originally by the kind folks at Fit Strategy on Facebook. They post solid science-based advice on fitness as well as a healthy dose of skepticism. Their post is hosted here with permission.  

By now everybody has heard about Kevin Folta and the recent news about him. A lot are frustrated at the anti-GMOs community due to their exaggerations and lies and many people are very confused and/or unaware of the degree of hypocrisy and lies presented by USRTK and the anti-GMOs activist community. They are nothing but a bunch of unscientific, fear and woo mongering, liars. The amount of hypocrisy and fraud involved in this case is unbelievable, and to demonstrate that, Fit Strategy made an excellent post by the full meaning of the word […]


Read the rest at: The Hypocrisy and Lies in Kevin Folta’s Case

The "Take This" blog is written by a collective of skeptics hunting down misleading, uninformed and sometimes outright insane claims on social media.

In my view, this piece of acupuncture ‘research’ constitutes scientific misconduct | Edzard Ernst

When I come across a study with the aim to “examine the effectiveness of acupuncture to relieve symptoms commonly observed in patients in a hospice program” my hopes are high. When I then see that its authors are from the ‘New England School of Acupuncture’, the ‘All Care Hospice and the ‘Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, […]

Read on: In my view, this piece of acupuncture ‘research’ constitutes scientific misconduct

Friday, 7 August 2015

And this is what homeopaths believe to be a good defence of homeopathy | Edzard Ernst

This article is hilarious, I think. It was written by Heike Bishop, a homeopath who works in Australia. Here she tries to advise colleagues how best to defend homeopathy and how to deal effectively with the increasingly outspoken criticism of homeopathy. Below is the decisive passage from her article; I have not changed or omitted a word, not even her grammatical or other mistakes [only the numbers in brackets […]

Read on: And this is what homeopaths believe to be a good defence of homeopathy

Thursday, 6 August 2015

‘What happened to your research unit at Exeter?’ | Edzard Ernst

One of the questions that I hear regularly is: ‘What happened to your research unit at Exeter?’ Therefore it might be a good idea to put the full, shameful story on this blog.

After the complaint by Prince Charles’ secretary to my Vice Chancellor alleging that I had breached confidentiality over the Smallwood report, my University […]

Read on: ‘What happened to your research unit at Exeter?’

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Another myth about homeopathy? | Edzard Ernst

Homeopathy is very popular in India – at least this is what we are being told over and over again. The notion goes as far as some sources assuming that homeopathy is quintessential Indian (see below). One Website, informs us that homeopathy is the third most popular method of treatment in India, after Allopathy and Ayurveda. It is estimated […]

Read on: Another myth about homeopathy?

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Sanevax or insane anti-vax? | Edzard Ernst

Sanevax is a US organisation that claims to promote only Safe, Affordable, Necessary & Effective vaccines and vaccination practices through education and information. We believe in science-based medicine. Our primary goal is to provide the information necessary for you to make informed decisions regarding your health and well-being. We also provide referrals to helpful resources for […]

Read on: Sanevax or insane anti-vax?

Monday, 3 August 2015

University of Toronto adds homeopathy to health benefits, dilutes care | Dr. Jen Gunter

While universal health care in Canada covers doctors fees and hospital stays a lot of care is fee for service. Out of pocket costs can add up for dental care, prescriptions, mental health care, glasses/contacts, and in some provinces (like Ontario, home of the University of Toronto) physical therapy. Many places of employment offer supplemental health plans in their benefit packages to help defray these costs. The University of Toronto, like many employers, offers such a supplemental plan.

This year (2015-2016) they ADDED homeopathy...

Read more: University of Toronto adds homeopathy to health benefits, dilutes care | Dr. Jen Gunter

Is the media complicit in promoting quackery?

I despise articles like this: not just because they are (the celebrity/health-drecked online version of the) Daily Mail; not just because they are dumbly written/edited under the assumption that readers will be lost if they risk paragraphs containing more than one sentence. But because such sensationalist clickbait churnalism, though guaranteed to draw attention and instigate a good playground scrap, is not only irresponsible and misinformative; I would argue it is also, in its quackery-promoting complicity, potentially dangerous...

[Read more... ]

Homeopathy: from bad to worse to Dr Andrew Wakefield | Edzard Ernst

The notion that the use homeopathy instead of real medicine might save money (heavily promoted by homeopaths and their followers, often to influence health politics) has always struck me as being utterly bizarre: without effectiveness, it is hard to imagine cost-effectiveness. Yet the Smallwood report (in)famously claimed that the NHS would save lots of money, if GPs were to use more homeopathy. At the time, I thought this was such a serious and dangerous error that I decided to do something about it. My objection to the flawed report might have prevented it being taken seriously by anyone with half a brain, but sadly it also cost me my job (the full story can be read here) […]

Read on: Homeopathy: from bad to worse to Dr Andrew Wakefield

Understanding your enemy to the point that you love them

I watched the movie “Ender’s Game” the other night along with some friends. In it, a child named Ender is chosen to take on the task of confronting an alien threat. He is chosen because of his intelligence and his ability to confront a threat immediately and disable it (e.g. killing) so prevent future attacks. […]

Read more at: Understanding your enemy to the point that you love them by Reuben

Saturday, 1 August 2015

More bad news for homeopaths | Edzard Ernst

First it was the Australians who made life more difficult for homeopaths; then the FDA announced that they plan to have a critical look at homeopathy. Now the Canadians have joined in with the other regulators getting concerned about the most overt abuses of medical evidence and ethics by manufacturers of homeopathic products. Here is a statement […]

Read on: More bad news for homeopaths