Bleach injections and tanning beds as treatments. The false link between 5G and COVID-19. This onslaught of bullshit claims and quackery around COVID-19 is an "infodemic," as the World Health Organization says. In the science journal Nature, University of Alberta law professor Timothy Caulfield, the Canada research chair in health law and policy, explains why "all scientists — not just a few of us — must stand up for quality information." From Nature
There is some evidence that alternative treatments and placebo effects can relieve distress — a common justification for tolerating unproven alternative treatments. But it’s inappropriate to deceive people (even for their benefit) with magical thinking, and it is inappropriate for scientists to let such misinformation go unremarked.
Second, more researchers should become active participants in the public fight against misinformation. Those pushing unproven ideas use the language of real science — a phenomenon I call ‘scienceploitation’ — to legitimize their products. It is, alas, all too effective. Homeopathy and energy therapies, proponents argue, depend on quantum physics. Colonic hydrotherapy is justified using phrases borrowed from microbiome studies. And the language of stem-cell research is used to promote a spray claiming to have immune-boosting properties.
We need physicists, microbiologists, immunologists, gastroenterologists and all scientists from relevant disciplines to provide simple and shareable content explaining why this hijacking of real research is inaccurate and scientifically dishonest.
"Pseudoscience and COVID-19 — we’ve had enough already" (Nature)
Read the rest
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill into law protecting minors from "gay conversion therapy," a bullshit, discredited, harmful "method" of trying to psychologically change a person's sexual orientation. The new law prohibits health "professionals" from practicing the "treatment."
"I think it's fantastic, because it will save the lives of young people in our state," said bill sponsor Sen. Richard Madaleno (D).
From CBS News:
Read the rest
Mathew Shurka, an activist who has campaigned for the measure and experienced conversion therapy for five years between the ages of 16 and 21, said the new law marks another step toward ending the practice.
"We know 700,000 people in the United States have been through conversion therapy, and 78,000 teenagers will go through it in the next five years, and this is getting us closer to zero," Shurka said.
California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington also have laws on the books, as well as the District of Columbia. New Hampshire and Hawaii recently passed similar measures that have gone to the governor in those states.
In the early 1990s, former professional wrestler and police officer Michael Stivers launched a career as a hypnotist, but with the unusual specialty of "breast enlargement hypnotism."
According to his pitch, "The larger-breast style of self-hypnosis relaxes the subject, then allows her to will an increased blood flow into the fatty tissues of the breast, much like that during menstruation or pregnancy. Daily conditioning through self-hypnosis allows what amounts to a permanent enhancement."
As George Constanza once said, "It's not a lie if you believe it."
It may comes as a surprise then that according to an article from the Des Moines Register posted by Weird Universe, not all of Stivers' customers were satisfied.
"A 58-year-old Tampa woman who wouldn't give her name said her bust measurement grew 3 inches through hypnosis in April, but then shrank 1 ½ inches," reads the article.
Read the rest
Skepticblogger Orac writes about the sad saga of Fabio Lanzoni’s sister Christina’s ovarian cancer, which killed her, but with help from "University General Hospital and at the Burzynski Clinic." It's no accident that this hospital, which has been sued for fraud and is associated with America's famous non-jailed cancer quack, goes by the abbreviation "UGH." Read the rest
Oncologist and cancer-woo-debunker Orac has more on the legal details that allow this man to keep practicing medicine in Texas: "the dubious doctor known as Stanislaw Burzynski, who charges desperate patients with advanced (and usually incurable) cancer tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in his 'clinical trials' of antineoplastons, compounds that he claims to have isolated from urine and that he now represents as a promising new treatment that can do much better than existing therapies with much less toxicity, even though there’s no evidence that it can."
The Texas Medical Board has abandoned its prosecution of Burzynski, as noted in a previous Boing Boing post here with guest commentary by fellow anti-cancer-woo writer Robert Blaskiewicz.
The legal underpinnings of the case will be interesting to some, and too tedious for others, but here's the tl;dr from Orac's post: the outcome does not make the case that Burzynski's "science" is valid. The board simply found that, "as a matter of law, the TMB couldn’t bring action against Burzynski on the basis of actions performed by doctors under his supervision." Read the rest
I loved Science Blogs contributor Orac before I was diagnosed with cancer. I love him a whole lot more now. I'll get to why in a moment, but I want to share something personal first (cracks knuckles).
Well-meaning friends have suggested I try coffee enemas and Burzynskian "antineoplastons" and oxygen therapy to cure my breast cancer; others have told me the reason some of my cells went mutinous is because I offended the Great Invisible Beardy Man in the Sky.
Dude, I've heard it all.
I am active on Twitter in talking about cancer, sharing the experience of my treatment (which fucking sucks), and connecting with fellow persons with cancer.
One of those fellow travelers yesterday tweeted this link, which praises the work of "ND" Judy Seeger. In alternative healing parlance, ND stands for naturopathic doctor. I like Orac's definition better: "not a doctor."
Let me be blunt: I think people who sell fake cancer cures are murderers.
I spoke about the content of that blog post with my radiation oncologist yesterday, after I lay down under the linear accelerator for another daily (yep, daily) blast of rays to kill any remaining lurking cells that might want to off me a few years down the road.
I hate radiation treatment, by the way. HATE IT. But I hate cancer more. Read the rest
My introduction to Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury happened around the age of 8, when I discovered my father's anthology collections. (I was extraordinarily up on early 1970s pop culture for a late 1980s grade schooler.) Reading the new strip and the daily archives is still part of my morning routine. But, given that I was born in 1981, I don't always get all the references. Sometimes, that leads me to discover weird bits pop history.
For instance, the strip above ran on July 19, 1977. My first response this morning, "What the hell is Laetrile?" I mean, it's Duke, so I assumed it was a drug. But I wasn't expecting it to turn out to be a quack cancer treatment, the promotion of which led to a strange bedfellows situation where alt-med proponents joined forces with the John Birch Society to fight the federal government for the right to sell desperate cancer patients a potentially dangerous treatment that had never been tested for effectiveness or safety. Read the rest
In Wales, 77 year old Reginald Gill has been sent to prison for 8 years after falsely "diagnosing" cancer for women who sought health aid.
Gill, who is not a doctor, gave the women phony homeopathic treatment for their phonily-diagnosed cancer, including the use of these bogus healing machines and a form of electroshock therapy.
He told one woman she could be cured of cancer if a man sucked her breasts for half an hour each day. Read the rest