One of our goals here at SBM is to do more than just blog about the issues of science and pseudoscience in medicine that are our raison d’être. We also want to publish our science-based critiques in the peer-reviewed medical literature. Our first crack at this was an article by Steve Novella and myself published last month in Trends In Molecular Medicine entitled “Clinical trials of integrative medicine: testing whether magic works?” Even better, thanks to a press release and how the editors made the article free to all, it garnered more social media attention than any article previously published in TMM, and the editor has informed me that it “shot straight to the top of TMM’s ‘Most read’ article list and I anticipate it staying there for quite some time.” For this, Steve and I thank you, our readers, and those of you who spread the news. We’re hoping that this success garners more offers to write review and commentary articles for the peer-reviewed literature about topics near and dear to us.
Now, I’m happy to announce another commentary in the peer-reviewed literature. It’s an article I wrote for Nature Reviews Cancer that just appeared online yesterday entitled “Integrative oncology: Really the best of both worlds?” I must say, I’m quite proud of this one, and it is a big deal, hopefully to more people than just me. If you look up the impact factor for NRC, you’ll see it’s around 35, which is between The Lancet and JAMA.
I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before, but I will be speaking at Skepticon in November. (Holy crap, that’s just over two months away. I’d better get my talk ready. It’ll be about the central dogma of alternative medicine. Or some such medically-related topic.) In any case, now’s crunch time, the time of year when Skepticon’s fundraising needs to go into high gear, given that the bills are coming due for the conference.
So give. Give until it hurts. Or buy swag. Or both. And if you’re planning on going, register now instead of later. You’ll be glad you did.
I suppose it was inevitable. In fact, I’m a bit surprised it took this long. SGU Productions, the Society for Science-based medicine, and I are being sued for an article that I wrote in May of 2013 on Science-Based Medicine. My SBM piece, which was inspired by an article in the LA Times, gave this summary:
The story revolves around Dr. Edward Tobinick and his practice of perispinal etanercept (Enbrel) for a long and apparently growing list of conditions. Enbrel is an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of severe rheumatoid arthritis. It works by inhibiting tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which is a group of cytokines that are part of the immune system and cause cell death. Enbrel, therefore, can be a powerful anti-inflammatory drug. Tobinick is using Enbrel for many off-label indications, one of which is Alzheimer’s disease (the focus of the LA Times story).
The claims and practice of Dr. Tobinick have many of the red flags of a dubious medical practice, of the sort that we discuss regularly on SBM. It seems that Dr. Tobinick does not appreciate public criticism of his claims and practice, and he wants me to remove the post from SBM. In my opinion he is using legal thuggery in an attempt to intimidate me and silence my free speech because he finds its content inconvenient.
Of course, we have no intention of removing the post as we feel it is critical to the public’s interest. This is what we do at SBM – provide an objective analysis of questionable or controversial medical claims so that consumers can make more informed decisions, and to advance the state of science in medicine.
We also feel it is critical not to cave to this type of intimidation. If we do, we might as well close up shop (which I suspect the Tobinicks of the world would find agreeable). Defending against even a frivolous lawsuit can be quite expensive, but we feel it is necessary for us to fight as hard as we can to defend our rights and the work that we do here at SBM.
For the first time, ScienceBasedMedicine.org has reached a million page views in a month, thanks to a surge in social media buzz. We’ve come close before, but finally pushed comfortably past that major milestone earlier this week. As of today, SBM served 1,051,943 pages to 649,315 visitors in the last thirty days. These are mainstream-scale numbers: SBM is now competing effectively with many popular websites about not-so-science-based medicine.
What articles are attracting so much attention? The traffic surge is powered by several popular recent posts, but mostly two of Dr. Gorski’s, about the Food Babe and John Oliver skewering Dr. Oz. Dr. Novella’s Food Fears post isn’t far behind. Other respectable slices of the traffic pie chart include Dr. Hall’s perpetually popular Isagenix post, and Scott Gavura’s coffee enema post — which also happen to be the two busiest SBM pages of all time, with Aspartame — Truth vs Fiction in third place.
SBM’s inaugural post was on January 1, 2008. Unfortunately, we have no traffic data until the middle of 2013. Since then, we’ve seen a doubling in average monthly traffic. It’s been a team effort, of course, but Facebook and Twitter have been huge factors in that steady growth. Bobby Hannum manages those accounts for us, and somehow manages to post and tweet for us almost every single day while going to medical school. If you haven’t already, please like and follow.
Next stop: a million views per week…
~ Paul Ingraham, Assistant Editor
Weekends seem to be the time for shameless self-promotion. At least, some weekends are. So, in that tradition, I can’t help blowing my own horn a bit and urging SBM readers to head on over to listen to The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, Episode #455, March 29, 2014. There, Bob Blaskiewicz and I are interviewed about Stanislaw Burzynski and what you, as supporters of science-based medicine, can do to counter the efforts of his supporters to pressure the FDA to let children with cancer receive antineoplastons, efforts that are yielding fruit.
Bob Blaskiewicz has set up a Change.org petition “Protect Desperate Patients from the Houston Cancer Quack“. Bob and I urge you to check it out and sign it.
In the meantime, for those of you in Rep. Darrell Issa’s district, note that I will be in San Diego from April 5th to 9th attending the American Association for Cancer Research Meeting. If there are any skeptics in the San Diego area who would like advice on getting this message to Rep. Issa and/or having a meetup, drop me a line at my e-mail address on our contact page.
We are proud to announce a new organization: The Society for Science-Based Medicine.
A Society for a community of like-minded individuals, both in and out of health care, who support the goals of Science-Based Medicine.
People should not suffer, die, go bankrupt, and lose time and hope because of complementary and alternative pseudo-medicine.
We celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday in November. Because I live in the U.S. and Thanksgiving falls on my regular blogging day this year, I get the day off.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for the cornucopia of blog fodder coming up as we move toward the end of 2013 and into 2014. The Bravewell Collaborative is shutting down this month although it is not giving up on pushing the integrative medicine agenda. On December 13th, the Council for Chiropractic Education, which is only provisionally accredited now due to failure to follow numerous regulatory requirements, will have its day in court before the National Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. The NAICI will then recommend to the Department of Education whether or not the CCE should continue as the approved accrediting agency for all chiropractic colleges. On January 1, 2014, Section 2607 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination against state-licensed CAM providers, kicks in along with the rest of the ACA. Lawsuits to follow. Early next year will undoubtedly bring a new batch of proposed state legislation seeking to license naturopaths as primary care doctors. These are always interesting reading as they inevitably include a laundry list of legally permissible quacky naturopathic treatments such as colonic irrigation, organ repositioning and homeopathy. And, given the ACA’s emphasis on, and reimbursement for, primary care, chiropractors will certainly continue their campaign to convince everyone that they are actually PCPs. I expect legislation will be introduced seeking expansion of chiropractic and naturopathic scope of practice. Perhaps acupuncture too.
So stay tuned. And Happy Thanksgiving wherever you live.
Should anyone be in Ashland, Oregon the afternoon of Sunday the 10th of November, and is sober after an afternoon of watching the NFL, I will be giving a talk on Supplementary, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Myths. Sponsored by the Jefferson Center, details on their website.
For those in the Portland, Oregon area, I will be giving same talk on Monday November 18th.
Portland State University
Science Bld. 1 – Room 107
Although the Patriots-Panthers game may be more exciting.
Sponsored by Oregonians for Science and Reason and the PSU Department of Physics.
Both talks are free.
I will be giving a free talk entitled Acupuncture: A Science-Based Evaluation of a Popular SCAM to the Bay Area Skeptics on Wednesday, October 2 at 7:30 pm.
Information at the Bay Area Skeptics site on how to get to the La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley.
A wonderful time will be had by all. Well, those who drink first.
Earlier this year, after getting hacked, we made some major changes. It all had to be done, but of course there are some new headaches. We’ve published a new help page explaining the changes, why you do not have to have a Facebook or Twitter account, and why some comments are held for moderation (one normal reason, one buggy reason). Obviously we are working as fast as a volunteer-powered organization possibly can to fix the bugs, and we thank you for your patience. Meanwhile, if you’ve been frustrated trying to comment, this page should offer some relief.
Help with logging in & commenting
Good news update: the “vanishing submit button” problem has (probably) been solved at last, eliminating one of the major reasons we originally published the help page.