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Sunday, 31 July 2016

The vile vitriol of some alternative medicine promoters | Edzard Ernst

If you feel that, on this blog and elsewhere, some sceptics sometimes use harsh language, you haven’t recently read what ‘the other side’ of the debate regularly publish. A good example is ‘NATURAL NEWS’; slander and insult seem to be the daily fare of this publication. A good example is this recent article; it is so disgustingly vile that […]

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Vaxxed threatens Fiona O’Leary – Phillipe Diaz doubles down

In a previous post, I addressed the question whether there was any basis to the threat of a defamation suit by Phillipe Diaz, CEO of the Vaxxed distributor, Cinema Libre, against Irish autism advocate Fiona O’Leary, and concluded that most likely there isn’t. Since then, Ms. O’Leary has been interviewed and spoken on the issue in Irish newspapers (here and here), Jezebel, and an Irish radio show, and it’s clear the attempt to silence her failed, and probably backfired. This article is an update to what has happened after Vaxxed threatens Fiona O’Leary.

 Read the full post: Vaxxed threatens Fiona O’Leary – Phillipe Diaz doubles down

Promoting Rhino horn as medicine at an Australian university: Has this contributed to the exponential rise in Rhino poaching? | Edzard Ernst

Guest post by Frank Van der Kooy 

Something happened in 2008. Something, or a number of things, triggered an exponential rise in the number of rhinos being killed in South Africa. Poaching numbers remained quite low and was stable for a decade with only 13 being killed in 2007. But then suddenly it jumped to […]

Friday, 29 July 2016

Ansbach suicide-bomber had alternative treatments for severe psychological trauma | Edzard Ernst

Last Sunday evening, the Syrian, Mohammad D., tried to enter an open air festival in Ansbach, Germany. As he had no ticket, he was barred from entering. Later he exploded his bomb in front of one of the entrances of the festival. It killed him and injured 15 others, 4 seriously. 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Does the tolerance of extreme quackery makes acupuncturists quacks? | Edzard Ernst

Acupuncture Today is a much-read online publication for people interested in acupuncture. It informs us that:
... Chinese medicine is quite complex and can be difficult for some people to comprehend. This is because TCM is based, at least in part, on the Daoist belief that we live in a universe in which everything is interconnected. What […]
Read on: Does the tolerance of extreme quackery makes acupuncturists quacks?

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Is there something rotten in the state of Denmark? | Edzard Ernst

A survey published in 2011 showed that one-third of Danish hospitals offered alternative therapies. In total, 38 hospitals offered acupuncture and one Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Light Therapy.

The most commonly reported reason for offering CAM was “scientific evidence”. Many readers of this blog might be amazed with both the high level of alternative medicine presence in […]

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Chiropractic care increases costs to Medicare | Edzard Ernst

Several investigations have suggested that chiropractic care can be cost-effective. A recent review of 25 studies, for instance, concluded that:
... cost comparison studies suggest that health care costs were generally lower among patients whose spine pain was managed with chiropractic care. 
However, its authors cautioned that:
... the studies reviewed had many methodological limitations. Better research is […]

Monday, 25 July 2016

A revealing map of the world’s most and least ethnically diverse countries - The Washington Post

Ethnicity, like race, is a social construct, but it's still a construct with significant implications for the world. How people perceive ethnicity, both their own and that of others, can be tough to measure, particularly given that it's so subjective. So how do you study it?

When five economists and social scientists set out to measure ethnic diversity for a landmark 2002 paper for the Harvard Institute of Economic Research, they started by comparing data from an array of different sources: national censuses, Encyclopedia Britannica, the CIA, Minority Rights Group International and a 1998 study called "Ethnic Groups Worldwide." They looked for consistence and inconsistency in the reports to determine what data set would be most reliable and complete. Because data sources such as censuses or surveys are self-reported – in other words, people are classified how they ask to be classified – the ethnic group data reflects how people see themselves, not how they're categorized by outsiders. Those results measured 650 ethnic groups in 190 countries....

Read the full story: A revealing map of the world’s most and least ethnically diverse countries - The Washington Post

I was wrong about homeopaths! They do have sense of humour after all! | Edzard Ernst

Yes, I admit it: over the years, I had formed a vague impression that homeopaths lack humour. Certainly, many comments on this blog seemed to confirm the notion. But now I changed my mind: some homeopaths are intensely funny. 

Yesterday, I found a tweet which read: “NCH and homeopathy to be highlighted at the 2016 American Public […]

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Video campaign: "Vaccines do NOT cause Autism"

Acupuncture found to be pointless | Edzard Ernst

A thorough report by the Australian group ‘Friends of science in medicine’ has just been published. It casts considerable doubt about the therapeutic value of acupuncture. As I think it is a report well worth reading, I reproduce (with the permission of the authors) a large section below: 
What could be the mechanisms by which acupuncture […]
Read on: Acupuncture found to be pointless

Friday, 22 July 2016

Vaxxed anti-vaccine film distributor threatens autism rights advocate | reasonable hank

Cinema Libre Studio, the distributor of the dishonest, Andrew Wakefield anti-vaccination fiction-film, Vaxxed, has threatened an Irish, autism-rights advocate with defamation.

 Fiona O’Leary has posted the threats, from Cinema Libre Studio CEO Philippe Diaz, on her Facebook profile...

 Read full story: Vaxxed anti-vaccine film distributor threatens autism rights advocate | reasonable hank

Chinese officials admit that their TCM-exports are of dubious quality | Edzard Ernst

On this blog, I have discussed the lamentable quality of TCM products before (e. g. here, here and here). In a nutshell, far too high percentages of them are contaminated with toxic substances or adulterated with prescription drugs. It is no question: these deficits put many consumers at risk. Equally, there is no question that the problem has been known for decades.

For the Chinese exporters, such issues are a great embarrassment […]

Read on: Chinese officials admit that their TCM-exports are of dubious quality

Thursday, 21 July 2016

“Don’t mention the war when speaking to a German” | Edzard Ernst

On a good day, I get several emails from complete strangers; some are complimentary, others are critical, and others again are just strange. Few are stranger than the exchange I am about to disclose.

The author asked me twice to treat his/her emails with ‘trust and confidence’; after the second email, I nevertheless felt that I should not respect […]
Read on: “Don’t mention the war when speaking to a German”

@ShaulaEvans on the Faustian bargain of Twitter's blue 'Verified' checkmark

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

How does acupuncture work? | Edzard Ernst

What a silly question! At least this is what most sceptics would say: if we are not sure that it works, we do not need to spend any thoughts on a potential mechanism! 

However, in the realm of acupuncture, the potential mode of action remains a hotly debated and fundamentally relevant issue. 

The TCM folks, of course, […]

Monday, 18 July 2016

Informed consent in alternative medicine? | Edzard Ernst

Informed consent is a basic ethical principle and a precondition for any medical or surgical procedure (e. g. a therapeutic intervention or a diagnostic test). Essentially, there are 4 facets of informed consent: 
  1. the patient must have decision-making capacity, 
  2. the patient’s decision must be free from coercion or manipulation, 
  3. all relevant information must be disclosed to the […]

Friday, 15 July 2016

Another cancer quack dies…of cancer. – Respectful Insolence

As a cancer surgeon and physician, I can’t stand Ty Bollinger. I’m sure that comes as a surprise to absolutely none of my regular readers, given what a massive cancer quack he is. Most recently, he has become known for a series of deeply dishonest videos about cancer, chemotherapy, and alternative treatments for cancer called The Truth About Cancer. If there’s one rule I’ve learned in skepticism, be it about quackery or any other outlandish claims, it’s that any time I see a book, movie, or article called “The Truth About…” chances are at least 95% that the content is not the truth about anything and is instead pure BS. Bollinger’s video series is no exception, as Harriet Hall discussed. I’d also like to point out that I now have a copy of the series and have watched part of the first episode. Let me just tell you, it’s even worse than Harriet tells...

Continue reading -> Another cancer quack dies…of cancer. – Respectful Insolence

The (lack of) ethics in alternative medicine | Edzard Ernst

Medical ethics are central to any type of healthcare – and this includes, of course, alternative medicine. The American Medical Association (AMA) have just published their newly revised code of ethics, AMA Principles of Medical Ethics

It has long been my impression that, in alternative medicine, ethics receive no or far too little attention. Some alternative […]Read on: The (lack of) ethics in alternative medicine

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Homeopathy as a way of reducing antibiotic use in livestock ? | Edzard Ernst

The UK petition to ban homeopathy for animals has so far achieved well over 3 000 signatures. Remarkably, it also prompted a reaction from the Faculty of Homeopathy which I reproduce here in full:

Response to petition calling on the RCVS to ban homeopathy 
Homeopathy has a long history of being used successfully in veterinary practice for […]

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The first traditional Chinese treatment granted a traditional herbal registration in the UK | Edzard Ernst

Yesterday, a press-release reached me announcing that a Chinese herbal medicine, ‘Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief Tablets’, containing the active ingredient Sigesbeckia, is now on sale in the UK for the first time in Boots The Chemist:
Sigesbeckia is the first traditional Chinese treatment granted a traditional herbal registration (THR) under the traditional herbal medicines product […]
Read on: The first traditional Chinese treatment granted a traditional herbal registration in the UK

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Deepak Chopra enters my ‘ALT MED HALL OF FAME’ | Edzard Ernst

Yes, I know, lately I have been neglecting my ‘ALT MED HALL OF FAME’. This is entirely my fault; there are so many candidates waiting to be admitted that, I have been hesitant as to who should be next. Today, I came across an article about Deepak Chopra and his latest book, Super Genes. It tells “how lifestyle shifts […]

Monday, 11 July 2016

Random thoughts on politeness | Edzard Ernst

Politeness means showing consideration for others and observing accepted social rules. Those who know me personally would probably confirm that I am a fairly polite person. And I had always hoped that politeness might also become a feature of how all of us deal with each other on this blog. Sadly this has not proven […]

A breakthrough in the field of homeopathy: organic + non-GMO remedies | Edzard Ernst

Nobody can doubt that, during the last 200 years, conventional medicine has made monumental progress. Homeopathy, however, has remained more or less like Hahnemann invented it. But now it seems as though homeopathy can celebrate an unprecedented step ahead. As so often in medicine, it originates from a commercial enterprise. Genexa is a US firm that produces […]

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Tricks of the quackery trade (part 5) | Edzard Ernst

It would be easy to continue this series on ‘tricks of the trade’ for quite a while. But this might get boring, and I have therefore decided to call it a day. So here is the last instalment (feel free to post further tricks that you may know of [in the comments section below]): 

Read on: Tricks of the quackery trade (part 5)

Friday, 8 July 2016

The tricks of the quackery trade (part 4) | Edzard Ernst

This series of post is quite good fun – at least for me who is writing it. But I also hope that it is useful to those readers who are tempted to consult alternative practitioners. My intention is to stimulate people’s ability to think critically and to provide some sort of guide for patients which might help them in deciding which practitioners to avoid.

In this spirit, I now offer you the next instalment of three ‘tricks of the trade’ […]

Read on: The tricks of the quackery trade (part 4)

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The tricks of the quackery trade (part 3) | Edzard Ernst

In part one and part two of this series of posts, we have discussed altogether six ‘tricks of the trade’:
Now it is time to disclose three […]

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Autistic children are like chimps and dogs, don’t you know?

If you need any more proof of the kind of stupidity being thrown around by anti-vaccine loons, look no further than this video:

(Someone stored the whole video on Google Drive since these things tend to disappear.) In the video, Del Bigtree is sitting at a table with some anti-vaccine luminaries talking about autistic children. […]

Read more at: Autistic children are like chimps and dogs, don’t you know? by Reuben

See also:
Respectful InsolenceAndrew Wakefield and Del Bigtree: Privileged white males harming African-Americans with antivaccine propaganda

The tricks of the quackery trade (part 2) | Edzard Ernst

In part one, we have dealt with three common tricks used by quacks to convince the public to consult them and to keep coming back for more. It has been pointed out to me that some of these tricks are used not just by alternative practitioners but also by real physicians. This is, of course, […]

Monday, 4 July 2016

Common tricks of the quackery trade (part 1) | Edzard Ernst

We were recently informed that Americans spend more than US$ 30 billion per year on alternative medicine. This is a tidy sum by anyone’s standards and we may well ask:
Why do so many people opt for alternative medicine?

The enthusiasts claim, of course, that this is because alternative medicine is effective and safe. As there is precious little data to support […]Read on: Common tricks of the quackery trade (part 1)

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Kid lets his true colors show

We haven’t talked a lot about The Kid lately. This was partly because he’s not worth the time and partly because he hasn’t had a whole hell of a lot of interesting things to say. But something caught our attention the other day, something that may very well earn The Kid a nomination for this year’s Douchebag of The Year award. In a blog post titled “Neurodiversity Is Social Justice Cancer,” The Kid shows us his true colors. He managed to be racist, elitist, and ableist at the same time […]

Read more at: The Kid lets his true colors show by Reuben

When orthodox medicine has nothing more to offer | Edzard Ernst

When orthodox medicine has nothing more to offer” is the title of an article by Dr Elizabeth Thompson, a UK medical homeopath. The article was written years ago, but it is still an excellent example for disclosing the dangerously false and deeply unethical reasoning used by many alternative practitioners. The notion that all sorts of disproven treatments like homeopathy are justified when orthodox medicine has nothing more to offer is so very prevalent that I decided to do this post analysing it. […]

Read on: When orthodox medicine has nothing more to offer