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Dr. Oz revisited

We here at SBM have been very critical of Dr. Mehmet Oz, who through his relentless self-promotion (and with more than a little help from his patron Oprah Winfrey) has somehow become known as “America’s doctor.” Back in the early days, when he was the regular medical expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Oz was at least tolerable. Much of what he discussed was reasonably science-based and even sensible, mainly advice to eat better and get more exercise, which is what most primary care doctors tell their patients every day. True, he did “integrate” some non-evidence-based therapies in with the evidence-based therapies, which was not good given how a typical viewer wouldn’t be able to tell where the science-based advice ended and the magical thinking began, but for the most part, even on Oprah’s show, he kept his woo somewhat in check. At least, there were boundaries beyond which he wouldn’t pass, even though Dr. Oz’s wife is a reiki master and he has been a fan of reiki (gaining fame for inviting reiki masters into his operating room during cardiac surgery) since at least the 1990s. More recently, Dr. Oz has testified in front of NCCAM patron Senator Tom Harkin’s committee to promote “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, as its advocates like to call it now, “integrative medicine.” He’s also been the Medical Director for the Integrative Medicine Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center since 2001. (How he does his TV show, holds a job as a professor of surgery at Columbia University, and holds positions as Clinical Trials of New Surgical Technology, Attending Surgeon, and Director, Clinical Perfusion Services at the same hospital, I’ll never know. He must have the most understanding partners ever.)

Be that as it may, even after Dr. Oz landed The Doctor Oz Show, for the first half of his first season he kept it fairly straight and science-based. However, two years ago the mask began to slip when Dr. Oz first aired a credulous feature about reiki under the title Dr. Oz’s Ultimate Alternative Medicine Secrets. Not long after that, Dr. Oz featured a man who is in my opinion arguably the foremost promoter of quackery on the Internet, Dr. Joe Mercola, along with the master of quantum quackery, Dr. Deepak Chopra. It was at that point that one could rightly say that Dr. Oz had “crossed the Woobicon.” Since then, it’s been one thing after another, beginning in earnest about a year ago. For instance, in January 2011, Dr. Oz featured Dr. Mercola again in a completely credulous portrait that painted him a “brave maverick doctor,” only without a hint of irony. A couple of weeks later, he featured a yogi who advocated “detoxing” and a faith healer from my old stomping grounds in Cleveland. Then, just when I thought Oz couldn’t go any lower, he featured psychic scammer John Edward.

Finally, back in April 2011, Dr. Oz’s producers apparently figured out that there was a problem with Dr. Oz’s image, except that they saw it as an opportunity to gin up a little controversy on the show. They invited our very own Dr. Steve Novella on the show as the “skeptic” who criticizes Dr. Oz. I very much admire Steve for going into the lion’s den, where, he knew in advance, he would be the underdog and the audience would be against him. Steve acquitted himself well, and after his appearance, I have to admit, I pretty much stopped paying attention to Dr. Oz for several months. He basically faded into the background of quackery, a prominent voice “integrating” quackery with medicine, pseudoscience with science, in the apparent belief that mixing fantasy with reality somehow improves medicine. Personally, I prefer Mark Crislip’s take and will steal his statement about “integrative medicine”:

If you integrate fantasy with reality, you do not instantiate reality. If you mix cow pie with apple pie, it does not make the cow pie taste better; it makes the apple pie worse.

I just learned last week that Dr. Oz, while trying to make the cow pie taste better, is only continuing to succeed in making the apple pie taste worse. Witness an episode from last week featuring a long segment entitled Dr. Mercola’s Most Radical Alternative Cures, or, as the banner on the segment calls it, “Radical Cures Your Doctor Thinks Are Crazy.” Not surprisingly, Dr. Mercola has been bragging about his fourth appearance on Dr. Oz’s show yet again. (Video: Part 1 and Part 2).

Schopenhauer a-go-go

In the first part of the segment, we’re immediately treated to what have now become standard tropes favored by Dr. Oz’s producers when introducing Dr. Mercola. Dr. Oz first opines about how much he believes that the greatest breakthroughs in medicine come from thinking “outside of the box,” which makes me want to ask him, “What about outside of reality?” Well, Oz does concede that sometimes “even I’m challenged by unorthodox thinking.” Apparently he’s not challenged enough to decide that he’s promoting quackery and stop making his show into an infomercial for Dr. Mercola’s quackery. No doubt his shows featuring Dr. Mercola bring in the ratings, and that, apparently, is enough. Oz claims he put his “medical team” on the case to investigate these treatments. One wonders who is on his medical team. Oh, wait. I know: Michael Roizen and Tanya Edwards.

In any event, next up is the obligatory video segment introducing Mercola thusly, “Your doctor may consider him the most dangerous man in America.” The “most” dangerous? Probably not. Incredibly dangerous to your health if you listen to his quackery, well, yes, I’d agree with that. Mercola then makes four teaser claims to draw the viewer in:

  • You can eliminate the most common cancer with a fruit.
  • Your body might be loaded with a toxic poison that your doctor hasn’t talked to you about, but, don’t worry, Dr. Mercola has a “simple solution” to eliminate these “dangerous toxins.”
  • There’s an “all natural” way you can make yourself healthy.

I’ll cut to the chase in case you don’t want to watch the full video. What Mercola claims is this:

  • Eggplant cream can cure skin cancer.
  • Amalgam fillings release mercury that causes “brain fog,” but you can cure yourself with algae.
  • “Grounding” (i.e., walking barefoot and/or sleeping on a sheet or mat that is connected to ground with wire) will significantly improve your health.

Now that you know what we’re dealing with, let’s check out the videos. Dr. Oz’s first question is a nice hanging curve that Mercola attacks the way our new Tiger slugger Prince Fielder attacks pitcher’s mistakes. Dr. Oz basically asks Mercola why he thinks that anything “outside the mainstream” is considered by medicine to be “radical.” If a straw man that size were set on fire, you could easily see it from space. Mercola then quotes Arthur Schopenhauer’s famous quote that he probably didn’t say:

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

This quote is just plain silly, and I’ve hated it for a very long time. Indeed, whenever I see anyone cite this quote, my skeptical antennae start a’twitching because I consider use of this quote as a strong indicator of a crank. The quote isn’t even correct. For instance, in science Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity wasn’t exactly “violently opposed,” and a lot of other scientific findings that challenge the existing paradigm have been embraced. When cranks invoke Schopenhauer the implication behind their parroting the above quote is that they have The Truth. They then invoke the quote to argue that the reason that they are being ridiculed or opposed is that they simply haven’t made it to the “third stage” of Schopenhauer’s view of how Truth is accepted—but that they will be! In other words, “They’ll see! I’ll show them! They thought me mad, but I’ll show them!” Unfortunately, they just can’t seem to get it through their head that, even if Schopenhauer was correct, “untruth” never makes it to stage three—nor should it!

Again, I will cite Mark Crislip because, as we all know, the world needs more Mark Crislip. He discussed Schopenhauer in the context of the antivaccine movement:

All antivaccination truth passes through three stages. First, it is based upon feelings instead of reality. Second, it is opposed by the rationally inclined. Third, the more complete the information that falsifies it, the more vehemently it is embraced as self-evident.

I consider this quote perfectly appropriate, given that Mercola is rabidly antivaccine; so I’ll call this the Crislip vaccine variant of Schopenhauer. Now I’ll add the Gorski variant for alt-medicine:

All “alternative medicine” truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed by the rationally inclined because it is based upon feelings and prescientific beliefs instead of reality. Second, it is opposed by the rationally inclined. Third, the more complete the information that falsifies it, the more vehemently it is embraced as self-evident by its non-rationally inclined believers.

Mercola is nothing if not non-rationally inclined when it comes to medicine, as evidenced by his response to Dr. Oz’s asking him why he thinks these “cures” work. Basically, he says it’s because of anecdotes and evidence. Note how he mentions anecdotes first. That’s how Dr. Mercola rolls.

Eggplant: A “cure” for cancer

The first claim Mercola makes is that a skin cream made of eggplant extract can cure cancer. However, compared to what he said in the opening segment, his claim turns out to be a lot less impressive than it initially sounded. Basically, Mercola claims that this cream, known as Curaderm, can cure non-melanoma skin cancers, particularly basal cell cancers. This is a lot less impressive than saying that “eggplant can cure cancer.” For one thing, basal cell cancers are not particularly malignant. They can grow locally, sometimes reaching impressive sizes, but they are cured by complete excision and rarely metastasize. Squamous cell carcinomas of the skin are a little nastier, but not hugely. They are cured with complete excision as well and are rarely fatal if treated promptly. Indeed, for all comers, there are an estimated 700,000 cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin per year in the U.S. and only 2,500 deaths. It just isn’t a particularly lethal cancer. Now, if Curaderm were shown to be potentially curative for melanoma, then I’d sit up and take notice.

Let’s get one other thing straight. Certainly, it’s possible that an extract from eggplant might have therapeutic value. As I’ve said before many times, herbal or plant-based medicines are about the only kind of “alternative” medicine that has significant prior scientific plausibility based on what we know about science. That’s because plants often contain biologically active molecules; i.e., they often contain drugs. Of course, the problem with plant-based medicines is that they are, in essence, highly contaminated drugs, the predictability of whose responses is variable because the amount of active ingredient can vary widely. However, there’s a big problem when claims for a plant-based compound become grandiose. It immediately makes me suspicious, even when there might be some biological plausibility that some compound with derived from a plant might have anticancer properties, when I see claims of “cancer cures” or the extensive use of testimonial evidence, which is all that Mercola had. Mercola seems to have derived his claim from someone named Dr. Bill Elliot Cham, who basically claims that eggplants cure skin cancer. Naturally, I know it’s true because I saw it on the Internet, and I’ve even seen some credulous reporting on it:

This is how Dr. Cham’s book The Eggplant Cancer Cure is described in its foreword:

Perfection or near-perfection is rare in any area of medicine. Dr. Bill Cham has achieved it in the treatment of two common cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

And:

Even better, for those who want to know “how does it work”, this book tells us exactly how. The explanation is simple, easy to understand, and yet scientifically elegant, a molecular ballet. Here’s the explanation in one line of simple English: Dr. Cham has found substances which can penetrate and kill skin cancer cells but can’t penetrate normal skin cells, so normal skin cells are untouched and unhurt while the skin cancer cells die!

Can this “eggplant cure” actually do what Dr. Cham claims it can? In the video, he claims it’s been tested in “randomized trials” in the U.K.; so I figured that I could find the results of those randomized trials by searching PubMed. Silly me. A search of “eggplant” and “skin cancer” revealed…two references, neither of which are by Dr. Cham and neither of which present evidence that an eggplant extract can cure cancer, while a search of “solasodine glycosides” and “skin cancer” revealed only three. Meanwhile a search on Dr. Cham’s name plus “cancer” revealed six publications, one of which looked like a review article, and the most recent of which is over 20 years old. Only one of them showed any sort of clinical study suggesting that a cream formulation containing high concentrations (10%) of a standard mixture of solasodine glycosides (BEC) might be effective in treating non-melanoma skin cancers. The problem with the study, however, is that it did not appear to be randomized or to have matched its tumors for size and depth very well.

Somehow, though, Dr. Cham claims that he’s done Phase I, Phase II, Phase III, and even Phase IV (post-marketing) trials. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily expect phase IV trials to be published; postmarketing surveys often remain unpulished. However, I would expect to see the phase III trial supporting his “Curaderm” to have been published. Oddly enough, many of the studies listed on Dr. Cham’s website don’t appear to be even particularly relevant to the question of whether his cream cures skin cancer. Particularly suspicious are a couple of articles that could have come straight from Kevin Trudeau, The skin cancer cure so effective, it’s being kept secret and The skin cancer cure nobody wants you to know about.

Now we’re talking crankery!

The odd thing is that the compounds isolated by Dr. Cham appear promising. Basal cell carcinoma, for example, is a type of cancer that is rarely fatal and rarely metastasizes. However, it can grow to large sizes and become disfiguring if neglected. Currently, surgery is indeed the only treatment of basal cell carcinoma. Simple surgical excision is curative (as they say, nothing heals like surgical steel). Consequently, a topical agent that caused basal cell carcinoma to regress would be very useful to dermatologists and skin cancer surgeons. I’m less enthusiastic about using such compounds to treat squamous cell carcinoma, because these tumors can invade and metastasize. Their treatment can require lymph node dissection and radiation. Treating such tumors is often more than just a matter of simple surgical excision. At least Dr. Cham doesn’t claim that his Curaderm can treat melanoma. That would be truly irresponsible.

So how, if it works, does Curaderm supposedly work? That’s where I see more red flags going up. There’s a long and seemingly plausible explanation in his book. There’s a listing of clinical trials, but none of them appear to have been published, at least not by Dr. Cham. Then, of course, there’s the conspiracy-mongering by Dr. Cham himself:

These dermatologists put pressure on the government health regulators who then decided to put Curaderm BEC5 as a prescription only drug.  Because of this no public awareness of Curaderm BEC5 was allowed and of course these dermatologists did not support Curaderm BEC5.  Consequently, I attempted to reason with the Health Authorities that Curaderm BEC5 should be widely available to the public.  This fell on deaf ears. The health regulators reasoning was the glycoalkaloids BEC were toxic because they were extracted from the Devil’s Apple plant.

I then examined a whole host of solanum plant species and found that the exact replica of BEC was present in the eggplant.  Most importantly the amount of BEC in one tube of Curaderm BEC5 is the equivalent to approximately 5g of eggplant (approximately 1 table spoon).  So how can the BEC in Curaderm BEC5 be considered toxic, especially after we had done full toxicological studies with the BEC where it was shown that it was completely safe at the concentrations found in Curaderm BEC5.  With this new information in hand I again approached the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to have Curaderm BEC5 back as an OTC (over the counter) item.  The TGA said they would get back to me.  I have been waiting for over 8 years but they have not responded to my request. I finally gave up on them and sought and obtained registration of Curaderm BEC5 as an OTC in the Republic of Vanuatu.

He then says he would love it if the FDA would approve his drug, apparently clueless that the FDA doesn’t come looking for drugs to approve. The inventors have to submit their treatment to the FDA for approval. Indeed, Dr. Cham has flirted with, if not outright crossed, the border from being a physician-scientist into becoming a crank. After all, he claims to have done all these studies on the BEC compound in extensive clinical trials, but they do not appear to be published in the peer-reviewed medical literature. Rather, they’re only discussed in his books, which, of course, you have to buy. Oddly enough, a few years ago, another group did actually do a clinical trial using a related compound and reported some efficacy.

So what we have here is a salve that might have some efficacy but has not yet been adequately validated (or validated at all) in adequate clinical trials. One notes that Dr. Cham is also claiming efficacy for terminal “internal” cancers, but that he also hasn’t managed to publish anything. Good physicians and scientists would see this and say something like, “Hmmm. This is interesting. There might be something here.” Then they’d do the work to figure out once and for all if there is, in fact, anything there. They would not recommend it as a “cure” for a disease for which we already have a treatment that is more than 95% effective, instead opting for conspiracy mongering about why his cure isn’t yet accepted.

No wonder a quack like Dr. Mercola likes him.

Here we go again…

Next up, Dr. Mercola tells Dr. Oz that people are being “poisoned” by their amalgam fillings and that the mercury allegedly being released from such fillings is responsible for a whole host of chronic health issues and diseases, including psychological, neurological, and immunological problems. Basically, if you have a chronic health complaint and amalgam fillings, the alt-med world will frequently tell you that it must be due to the fillings. In any case, this is an alt-med myth so hoary that it probably crawled up out of the primordial ooze (apparently, along with mercury), which is why I don’t feel the need to discuss it in detail, particularly given that Harriet Hall has covered the issue before. I will, however, mention that in his article discussing his appearance with Dr. Oz, Mercola posts the infamous “smoking teeth” video that Harriet had so much fun mocking (and rightfully so, I might add; that’s one of the silliest videos I’ve ever seen).

Instead, I’ll look at Dr. Mercola’s “cure” for this nonexistent health problem. Basically, it’s an algae known as Chlorella, which, if you believe Mercola, is a lot like the Oil of Aphrodite and the Dust of the Grand Wazoo. (I know, I know, another Frank Zappa reference in a mere week. It fits, though.) In any case, back in the 1940s and 1950s, Chlorella was seen as a new and potentially promising food source that had the potential to provide large amounts of high-quality food at a low cost. For whatever reason (probably mainly the clearing of more arable land and huge increases in the efficiency of farming, this potential was never realized, but Chlorella maintains its cachet as a “superfood” and alt-med cure-all. If you Google Chlorella, you’ll find lots of sites selling Chlorella supplements, and near the top of the list is Joe Mercola’s Chlorella supplement.

But does it do what’s claimed for it?

Well, with respect to treating problems caused by mercury from amalgams, the answer is certainly no, because there’s no good evidence that mercury from amalgams cause any disease. As for Chlorella, searching PubMed leads me to a bunch of articles looking at this particular algae as a food source, as a a test for hazardous effluents management and adsorbing mercury using Chlorella immobilized on silica gels. Chlorella, apparently, can bind mercury and heavy metals. Of course, there’s a disconnect here. While it might be somewhat plausible that an algae like Chlorella could bind mercury and other metals in the GI tract, it’s not so plausible that it could do so in the blood and tissues, because that would require a chelation agent being absorbed that can chelate heavy metals and lead them to be excreted through the urine. Let’s also not forget that amalgams don’t lead to the absorption of harmful amounts of mercury anyway, so even if Chlorella did what Mercola claims it wouldn’t mean that it’s a useful therapy for “brain fog.”

One can’t help but note that Dr. Mercola has been selling Chlorella for quite some time now. In fact, the ever-reliable Quackwatch notes that in 2005 Mercola received a warning letter from the FDA telling him to cease and desist, in part, from claiming that Chlorella can fight cancer and normalize blood pressure. In 2006, he received another FDA warning letter telling him to stop claiming that one of his Chlorella supplements can “help to virtually eliminate your risk of developing cancer in the future.” Basically, what Mercola is doing here appears to be extrapolating from in vitro and animal studies that suggest that Chlorella extracts can bind heavy metals and using them to justify selling them for human use to treat—you guessed it—heavy metal poisoning as a “detoxification” method. Again, Mercola puts the cart before the horse and massively exaggerates the potential benefits.

Barefootin’?

Mercola’s final claim is basically the naturalistic fallacy on steroids. To hear him tell it, shoes are the root of all evil. You shouldn’t wear them any more than you have to because, well, they keep the soles of your feet from contacting Gaia the earth. Here’s what he says on Dr. Oz’s website (where the video of the segment in question can be found):

Dr. Mercola claims that a process called “grounding” or “earthing” can significantly change your health. Grounding or earthing refers to contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, transfering the energy from the ground into the body. Emerging research supports that this may result in reduced pain, better sleep and less inflammation. The logical explanation for the reduction in inflammation is that the Earth’s negatively charged antioxidant electrons enter the body and neutralize positively charged free radicals in the body. To get this benefit, Dr. Mercola recommends grounding or earthing sheets, made with fine thin strands of silver and which connect to an outlet; these cost about $200.

How does Dr. Mercola know this? Here’s how:

Many people realize while on vacation, how great it feels to walk barefoot on the beach. I have personally prioritized grounding myself to the earth as much as possible for over 5 years. The preliminary information confirms what I have believed for years, grounding yourself to the earth may significantly improve your health. The soles of our feet are the best contact to make with the earth, and will naturally discharge inflammation.

Because it couldn’t be all that exercise Mercola boasts about doing, could it? It has to be the contact with Mother Earth. In any case, he also features a video of himself discussing “earthing” with one of the men who started it all, Clint Ober:

I’ve heard of “grounding” before. But where? Where? Oh, I remember now. The original website to which P.Z. Myers linked doesn’t exist anymore, but there is a successor website, Earthing.com, which has a whole bunch of pseudoscientific nonsense on it. It must be Clint Ober’s new website, along with the Earthing Institute.

So what is the rationale? Here’s (allegedly) how. First, it’s because of thunderstorms:

The earth’s electrical field is maintained by thunderstorms — 1,000 to 2,000 thunderstorms are continually active across the earth. Since the earth’s surface is highly conductive, this electrical charge is evenly and rapidly dispersed across the earth. Standing barefoot on the earth (or otherwise connecting to the earth) connects the human body with the unlimited supply of free electrons resident in and on the surface of the earth. The whole circuit is referred to as the global electrical circuit. It is estimated that this current would disappear in less than an hour if all thunderstorm activity ceased. Standing barefoot on the earth also connects the human body with rhythmic cycles of the earth’s energy field. These are essential for synchronizing biological clocks, hormonal cycles and physiological rhythms.

And because free electrons from the earth neutralize free radicals in our bodies:

The earth is a vast reservoir of naturally produced electrons. This is important because these electrons stabilize (neutralize) free radicals and stop free radical damage. The earth is therefore the best antioxidant available – and it’s free. Connecting with the electrons on the surface of the earth can stop the destructive cycle that causes free radical damage. No wonder re-connecting with the earth is so important for our well-being.

Regular readers of this blog should immediately recognize the above as being nonsense. Basically, it’s the overlaying of “science-y”-sounding terminology to earth worship, where the power of the earth somehow maintains and protects us, and the cause of all illness is because of man’s “disconnectedness” from the earth. Basically, it’s magical thinking on par with homeopathy. Yet it is the rationale for why Clint Ober recommends that everyone go barefoot and sleep on the ground.

But how can you accomplish this? What if you live in Chicago (like Mercola) this time of year? You’re not about to be out and about going barefoot. What if you have a job, as most of us do? I don’t know about you, but people would frown on it if I tried to go barefoot to work, and it’s not just because I have ugly feet. Patients would be appalled, and who knows what’s on the floor of my lab? Fortunately for people like me, there are lots of places that sell conductive mattress pads. Basically, they’re pads with a cord that you hook up in various ways to “ground” the pad to the earth. I kid you not. If you want a good belly laugh, read this FAQ about grounding pads. Basically, this variety of earthing pad is a blanket made with silver threads that’s hooked up to a wire that can be used to ground the pad. Particularly amusing is this question:

Q. I don’t want to spend any money for any grounding device when I can make one myself. All I have to do it get a ground rod, some 20 gauge wire, and then wrap the wire around my ankle or foot at night.

A. You can certainly do it. People have done it many times. However, it is not particularly comfortable. You could possibly cut off circulation if you wrap the wire too tight around your extremity. Secondly, a sharp end on a wire wrapped around the ankle could tear the sheet.

What about one’s skin, I wonder?

So what does Dr. Oz have to say about this amazing new health intervention? This:

Before spending money on a device for grounding, try just stepping outside, in your yard. Avoid wood surfaces, as wood insulates you from the earth. See if doing so improves your energy levels.

Can you say “placebo effects”? Sure, I knew you could.

Dr. Oz: Still “America’s doctor” of quackery

It’s been ten months now since Steve Novella appeared on Dr. Oz’s daytime TV show. In that time, there has been no evidence that the scientific standards have improved on The Dr. Oz Show and lots of evidence that they’ve gotten even worse, if this latest appearance by Dr. Mercola is any indication. It goes beyond just this silly episode, however. In recent months, Dr. Oz has ignited a scare over arsenic in apple juice and had Dr. Mercola on his show other times, telling people not to take blood pressure medication, statins, or antidepressants and not to get flu shots. Other times, he’s pushed moxibustion, ubiqinol, and Bonito peptide supplements.

Whenever I’m asked why things are so bad and getting worse when it comes to the infiltration of quackery into medicine, particularly the phenomenon of quackademic medicine, I look at Dr. Oz. He reaches millions of viewers every day with his “bread and circuses”-style of medical infotainment, where anecdotes trump studies and snake oil hucksters like Joe Mercola are welcome. I keep hoping that some day he’ll have an epiphany and realize that he is no longer a scientist. Worse, he is no longer a responsible doctor. Instead, he’s become an enabler and cheerleader, either wittingly or unwittingly, for quackery. I fear that epiphany will never come. Promoting quackery is just too lucrative.

Posted in: Cancer, Energy Medicine, Science and the Media

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218 thoughts on “Dr. Oz revisited

  1. sarah007 says:

    Well maybe David if the CDC and the NIH didn’t keep cranking on about swine flu pandemics that are not happening their credibility might get off the floor. There is no point whining on and on about quackery when the biggest orthodox health orgs in the world are full of it.

    The idea that you can replace natural immunity with artificial herd immunity has no basis in fact, it’s a theory, people have woken up to this.

    Have you seen the new Harvard study on factory feedlot farmed milk being carcenogenic, whereas milk from cows who eat raw grass does not ? Probably not.

  2. I couldn’t get more than a third of the way through this article without having to quit reading because it enrages me so. My wife DVRs Oz and I look at the “info” on the shows sometimes, amd it seems that one in two or one in three shows is featuring quackery now. I simply cannot understand the anti-intellectual movement that is taking over America. It’s as if it’s trendy to believe in stupider and stupider things. Each of these beliefs is so ridiculously stupid and yet people believe them due to the naturalistic fallacy. They’ll willingly shove handfuls of dubious quality and efficacy unknown supplements and vitamins that actually increase mortality, heart disease, and cancer down their throats, but the moment you suggest a statin because their LDL is double what it should be, they freak out because “its medicine!” Mesnwhile these quack idiot are suggesting lethal diets (Kat James, Sally Fallon) that promote high (saturated) fat diets which only reinforce bad behavior (sure! You can be healthy by eating bacon, butter, and steak all the time!)

    My mothers’ father died of a heart attack at age 50. My mother is lazy and has not exercised in twenty years. She has elevated cholesterol and was started on a statin years ago. Her liver enzyme raised slightly (I’m talking about 20 IU/L over upper limit of normal.) Bevause of the naturalistic “propaganda” on statins she freaked out and quit taking her statin. She’s been so brainwashed by these naturalistic idiots that she is convinced the stain will cause liver failure. Meanwhile she has been misled in terms of diet and is eating a diet high in saturated fats. So she has family history of early cardiac death, doesn’t exercise, is overweight, eats poorly, and does not take a statin. My mother will die early because of assho1es like Oz, Mercola, Weil, and Hyman. I do not refer to these bastards as doctors, because they should not be advocating anything that does harm to patients, and in my opinion, they do harm patients.

    I do not understand how this idiocy is so pervasive in America, but I sincerely appreciate the efforts of sites like this and it’s authors, and all of the rest of you who run blogs and make people aware of medical quackery.

  3. tgobbi says:

    “Mercola’s final claim is basically the naturalistic fallacy on steroids. To hear him tell it, shoes are the root of all evil. You shouldn’t wear them any more than you have to because, well, they keep the soles of your feet from contacting Gaia the earth. Here’s what he says on Dr. Oz’s website…”

    Although it’s so long ago that I no longer remember the source, I know I once read that Jerome Rodale (“Prevention” magazine founder) believed that walking barefoot in the morning dew was a terrific way to pick up the earth’s energy. Rodale, you may recall, is the guy who claimed that he was going to live to be 100 because of his “health” practices. He only missed his goal by 28 years, dying at 72 of of a heart attack (or stroke) while taping an interview for a late-night TV broadcast! He claimed “I’m going to live to be 100, unless I’m run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver.”

  4. Alia says:

    Hey, I do love the part about walking barefoot – if only because I have very sensitive feet and most shoes will rub my skin. And of course I’m lucky enough to work from home for half a day, where nobody cares if I sit in front of my computer barefoot.

    My mother in law is unfortunately a fan of alternative therapies. She doesn’t watch dr Oz (we’re not American) but she reads all those colourful magazines that advertise supplements, homeopathy, touch healing and so on. And she’s very unhappy, when we turn all her bright ideas down.

  5. Bogeymama says:

    There’s a Canadian journalist who writes skeptically about medical topics, and she interviewed Dr. Oz a few weeks ago. She tried to make him cough up why his shows are so full of crap: (sorry, don’t know how to make the link clickable.)

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/02/14/dr-oz-faith-healer/

  6. sowellfan says:

    To the extent that grounding works, I think it’s because it makes people feel like hobbits. Perhaps they could test whether glueing hair to their feet makes for a greater effect size.

  7. nybgrus says:

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

    The thing that all quacks and pseudoscientists conveniently forget is that all untruths pass through the first 2 stages in exactly the same manner.

  8. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Heh, I’m reading Bogeymama’s link. There’s one fantastic line:

    I’d take you back to a time of 1,000 years ago, in little villages where there was always a healer. They didn’t do hernia operations on you. They heard you, they listened to you, they let you tell your story.

    And a month later you died of gangrene. How Oz thinks that “healing” (i.e. helping people feel better about their illnesses) comes before “treatment” (i.e. actually preventing people from dying) I’ll never understand.

    And some other interesting ones:

    Fifteen per cent of what goes through your body goes through undigested. So it’s not quite calories in. Also, we have different flora in our guts and those flora help you absorb calories differently—not huge differences—but we’re looking more and more at that.

    Really, it’s about the 85% of calories that actually get absorbed into your body, isn’t it? That’s the meaningful in part of “calories in”. And if the bacterial flora has only a tiny inflence on the number of calories absorbed, why focus on it? Why bother with the 0.5% difference that gut flora makes on your “calories in” when the important part is the 99.5% purely based on how much mayo you put on your ham sandwich?

    We spend three-quarters of the show in subtle ways going at those same points, trying to get that message across in a way that resonates with you.

    Really? So the episode on raspberry ketones spent 25% of the time on the ketones, and 75% on how important it is to eat right and exercise? It’s not just one minute at the end saying “you have to exercise”? It’s surprising he has any viewers.

    If you went line by line through the show and try to figure out what part of it is glitzy stuff, like icing on the cake, and what part is the meat of the cake, I bet that’s the right ratio: three-quarters is meat and potatoes, hard-core stuff you got to do but that’s the medicine. And if you just give people medicine, no one is going to watch the show. You have to give people information that seems like it’s novel and different and actionable. And do it in a way that’s defensible and exciting. Otherwise, you’re not going to have a show.

    First, it’s amusing he makes reference to “meat and potatoes” in a discussion about the importance of diet to weight loss :)

    Second, “you have to be exciting otherwise you won’t have a show” just comes across as “we basically have to ignore the real science so we have a show”. Astonishing.

  9. BobbyG says:

    @SkepticalHealth -

    “I simply cannot understand the anti-intellectual movement that is taking over America. It’s as if it’s trendy to believe in stupider and stupider things.”
    ___

    Like these guys.

    http://www.bgladd.com/ConstitutionalExpert.jpg
    http://www.bgladd.com/TeaBagger.jpg

    Welcome to the Proudly Ignorant Idiocracy. The world has simply gotten too complex, crowded, and frightening for a lot of people.

  10. DevoutCatalyst says:

    @tgobbi

    That would be The Dick Cavett show, and Mr. Cavett’s account of it — complete with the asparagus boiled in urine quip — is pretty good,

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/05/03/when-that-guy-died-on-my-show/

  11. qetzal says:

    The logical explanation for the reduction in inflammation is that the Earth’s negatively charged antioxidant electrons enter the body and neutralize positively charged free radicals in the body.

    Riiiight! Like the superoxide radical, which is negatively charged. Or the hydroxyl radical, which is uncharged. Or nitric oxide, also uncharged. How about the peroxy radicals that often result when hydroxyl radicals react with lipids in the cell membrane? Uncharged. OK then, what about peroxides, which aren’t truly radicals, but are a major type of reactive oxygen species that can cause damage in biological systems? Uncharged.

    Positively charged free radicals do exist, but I’m not aware of any that play a significant role in biology. Certainly not at the level of the above neutral and negatively charged radicals.

    This is something that always tickles me about CAM. Everything always has to have some simple, definitive explanation, which is always delivered as if it were proven fact – no how much the evidence may be lacking or (as in this case) contradictory. Just once I’d like to hear a (s)CAM artist say something like “I believe grounding is really good for you (based on all these unscientific anecdotes), but I’m not sure why it works!”

  12. Earthman says:

    “…sitting, working or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, transfering the energy from the ground into the body. ”

    If using such a device I would not want to have a nearby lightning strike. Sounds horrendously dangerous to me.

  13. CarolM says:

    It all makes sense that this should happen now, as the Baby Boomers hit retirement age, carrying all the baggage from the Sixties.
    Health worries, and time on their hands to watch daytime TV. There never was a lot of respect for science there.

    They’re a prime audience for this crap.

  14. Earthman says:

    “…the earth’s surface is highly conductive…”

    Errr, well, as a soil scientist I can say the opposite is true. Soil is a pretty good insulator. It is possible to get a bit of a charge through it if the soil is moist or wet, but it is still a pretty good resistor if there is none or only a little electrolyte in the soil water, which is the normal situation. Salt works as an electrolyte, and the only places you get good soil conductance is where you have large concentrations of salt in the soil – indeed we use electrical conductance as a measure of salt content.

  15. superdave says:

    If you can sell people the health benefits of walking barefoot, I am pretty sure now that you can make up damn near anything and get people to buy it.

  16. Earthman says:

    Oh, and if you think that my second post contradict my first….lightning has an enormous voltage so even though the soil is a pretty good insulator it has a big enough charge to cause a localised area of high voltage where it hits. Indeed the insulation of the soil slows down the dispersal of the lightning charge such that there are extreme effects within a small area around the strike. If the earth was highly conducting then the lighting would just disperse into the ground, but instead it blows things apart because the charge cannot get away fast enough.

  17. sarah007 says:

    Skeptical health ranted “My mother will die early because of assho1es like Oz, Mercola, Weil, and Hyman”

    Not true actually, if she dies, and that I don’t say lightly, it is because as you said she eats a saturated fat diet and doesn’t excersise. If she wants to live statins are irrelavant. It is this lie that doctors promote, ie you can abuse your body because we can sell you a drug that lets you, what the hell is your point you numpty!

  18. bgoudie says:

    “Have you seen the new Harvard study on factory feedlot farmed milk being carcenogenic, whereas milk from cows who eat raw grass does not ? Probably not.”

    No Sarah we haven’t and you know why, because there is no actually study on that. Dr Ganmaa Davaasambuu has made claims of a correlation between levels of estrogen compounds in milk fat and cancer rates in certain countries, but there is as of yet nothing that shows actual evidence of there being any causation.

    Just so you understand, getting your information from places like Natural News is the same as going to Answers in Genesis for geology or The Watcher Files for details about politics and exobiology.

  19. sarah007 says:

    Septikal health said “They’ll willingly shove handfuls of dubious quality and efficacy unknown supplements and vitamins that actually increase mortality, heart disease, and cancer down their throats”

    How’s this for a medical anecdote, masquerading as a hard science fact then? And you wonder why people are starting to realise that doctors are ranting ill informed nutters?

    Bobby G rightly pointed out ““I simply cannot understand the anti-intellectual movement that is taking over America. It’s as if it’s trendy to believe in stupider and stupider things.”

    Yeah like presidents that bomb third world countries to bring peace to the world and norks in white coats who tell us we are all going to die, again, from some viral crap that is spreading unseen. How about raising the debt overdraft allowance to 100 trillion so you can carry on spending.

    There is so much anger on this site, you need some Reiki or maybe a nice smelly massage.

  20. @sarah, I’m ashamed to even reply to someone as utterly devoid of intellect as yourself, but with regards to my statement of vitamins and supplements increasing the risk of mortality, heart disease, and cancer, you should look up the results of the ATBC, NORVIT, SELECT, Iowa Women’s Health, and PHS II trials. You’re a true fool.

  21. rwk says:

    @sarah007
    Thanks for extracting the Michael out of this bunch. They need it constantly. It’s now more fun than
    angering to check these posts regularly.

  22. lilady says:

    Please do not feed the Troll 007.

    Dr. Oz on his website states,

    “Dr. Mercola claims that a process called “grounding” or “earthing” can significantly change your health. Grounding or earthing refers to contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, transfering the energy from the ground into the body. Emerging research supports that this may result in reduced pain, better sleep and less inflammation. The logical explanation for the reduction in inflammation is that the Earth’s negatively charged antioxidant electrons enter the body and neutralize positively charged free radicals in the body. To get this benefit, Dr. Mercola recommends grounding or earthing sheets, made with fine thin strands of silver and which connect to an outlet; these cost about $200.”

    This is interesting. Here is Mercola’s “take” on the dangers of electromagnetic fields/sleeping with electric blankets which “…connect to an outlet.”

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/02/24/Is-Your-Electric-Blanket-Safe.aspx

    Joe should be culling the old articles on his blog, before he goes on the Dr. Oz show touting energy fields and earthling sheets.

  23. EricG says:

    question for sarah007

    “…with artificial herd immunity has no basis in fact, it’s a theory, people have…”

    might you kindly explain how facts are superior to theories?

  24. sarah007 says:

    rwk, thanks for that. Tell all your friends that they don’t like it up em, to log on and enjoy flushing.

  25. Pman says:

    Would love to see SBM delve into some of the harder hitting issues of our medical time – stents + CAD, for instance.

  26. Harriet Hall says:

    @Pman,
    See http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/an-owners-manual-for-the-heart/
    Among other things, it points out that stents do not prevent future heart attacks.

  27. Pman says:

    http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20120227/stents-overused-stable-heart-patients

    My question will be, will the cardiologist who chooses to continue to place stents in stable CAD patients (assuming it’s a black and white issue, which it’s not) be given the ‘quack’ label if their intervention conforms to current physiological thinking despite being unproven in the literature? For the subgroup in question, it’s a placebo intervention.

  28. Harriet Hall says:

    @Pman,
    As that article says, the practice is slowly changing in response to new and better evidence. “Most people are trying to do the right thing and are following the appropriate use criteria to make sure these interventions are being given for the right reasons,”

    This is not an example of quackery, it’s an example of science in action. When the standard of practice changes, doctors who continue obsolete practices become liable for lawsuits.

    And as you say, this is not black and white yet.

  29. papertrail says:

    I’m so glad you’re taking Mercola and Dr. Oz to task here on SBM. It is crazy how popular Mercola is becoming, just astounding. I first saw Dr. Oz’s name when he came out in support of John of God’s fake surgery. This faker shoves metal up your sinus cavity to supposedly heal cancer, or whatever. Oz reported to the media that maybe the brain is stimulated by the probe.

    I think the world is going mad, falling for all this garbage. I’m not sure what can be done to redirect it. To me, the biggest threat to medical advancement is that resources are going to “integrating” voodoo with medical practice. I wouldn’t mind if they kept it under the umbrella of religious and spiritual support.

    We are not talking about stupid people here; I know brilliant, often well-educated, professional people who use (and recommend, and defend) homeopathy, reiki, silver, acupunture, etc. I see a strange disconnect. What can be done to change the direction? Nasty won’t do it; logic only seems to persuade some that are on the fence. Maybe petitions to medical schools and hospitals so that they know there are many people who don’t support this trend away from science-based practices? I’m sure part of their motive is that they need the business/money that “alternative” medicine and spiritual support brings in. People want it, that’s what I’ve been told.

    Anyway, thank goodness for SBM and other sites like this!

  30. Lytrigian says:

    The earth is a vast reservoir of naturally produced electrons.

    Naturally produced electrons? As opposed to… what? All those nasty ARTIFICIAL electrons cranked out by Big Pharma’s notorious electron mills?

    Strange they’ve neglected the industry that’s practically obsessed with grounding. Electronics manufacturing of any kind must be very careful about electrostatic discharge (ESD), a fancy word for the kind of sparks you get after dragging your feet across the carpet and touching something metal. Only, in the world of microelectronics, the tiniest sparks that you’d never even notice can destroy a chip. So EVERYTHING is grounded, including the workers, who at the very least wear conductive straps connecting their ankles to the ground. They might also wear a wrist strap that grounds them to their workbench, which is itself grounded, and they sit on metal-framed stools that are grounded too. By this logic, workers in electronics assembly must perforce be healthier than all the rest of us put together, since they spend their entire workdays grounded.

    Right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  31. jimbog81 says:

    Mixing science with pseudoscience is a dangerous game–for patients, not “doctors”. After all, these “doctors” make money off of it. One has to wonder how many people have become seriously ill or have died as a result of listening to such people’s “medical advice”. What’s worse is these scam artists are everywhere.

    I searched Google for videos before I started writing this post and arbitrarily picked any video as an example as to how rampant and how ludicrous this quackery has become. I searched “wheat allergy” because it’s the new black. Or is wheat allergy soooo 2011? I’m not even sure. I don’t keep up with these trends. And that’s exactly what these “doctors” are doing, turning diseases into trends–real actual diseases. They take a real disease, pervert it so much that they create an entirely new fake disease, market this new disease to the masses, and then sell them the cure.

    I could write pages and pages as to why this is extremely dangerous for people who may actually have the real version of the disease.

    Below is the link to the random video I chose. I you were have awake in any high school science class, red flags should be going up when you watch this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAK-SfOYMCE

    (Actually, I shouldn’t say I randomly chose this video. I clicked on it because the thumbnail had what looked like an ACTUAL doctor giving a lecture.)

  32. stanmrak says:

    Apparently, no one here has bothered to investigate any of the double-blind studies that have been done on the effects of earthing. Any real believer in science wouldn’t make blanket statements like those made here without actually checking the evidence.

    The derogatory comments made here about earthing exhibit a complete lack of understanding of even the basic concept!

  33. stanmrak says:

    Actually, Lytrigian, Earthing was “discovered” by a cable executive who has more experience with grounding than anyone here. He didn’t “neglect” the electronics industry – he worked in it his whole life!

    And the person who tried to compare earthing with electric blankets? Learn some basic electrical principles before you shoot off your mouth.

  34. lilady says:

    “Any real believer in science wouldn’t make blanket statements like those made here without actually checking the evidence.”

    I made the BLANKET STATEMENT and I provided the link to what Mercola reported two years ago about the dangers of ELECTRIC BLANKETS and their “dangerous electromagnetic fields”:

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/02/24/Is-Your-Electric-Blanket-Safe.aspx

    Now he is touting earthling sheets and the wonders of electromagnetic fields. I suggest you contact Mercola to see why he has flip-flopped on his opinion. Did he actually “check the evidence”?

  35. Lytrigian says:

    @stanmrak — LOL! An executive! In cable, no less. Sorry, but that’s not sufficient cred. Maybe he took a few days to look over things “on the floor” and had to ground himself then — although that’s far from normal in the cable business unless you’re pawing around inside graphics hardware or something — and then noticed how much better he felt. Sure. He was on his feet walking around, not sitting on his executive butt all day. That’d make most people feel better.

    No, I don’t know that for a fact. But it’s at least as plausible as the idea that the earth’s “natural electrons” somehow fix you up.

    Just so you know, I’m speaking from firsthand experience having spent several years supporting an electronics assembly line when I routinely had to ground myself. No, some cable executive does not have more experience in it than I do.

    Please provide references to your double-blind studies. I’m sure there would be interest. Lacking that, the idea fails a basic plausibility test.

  36. sarah007 says:

    ATBC Skeptical health, just one thing again the trial with vitamin A used artificial vitamin A, which funnily enough has the exact opposite effect on cancer as the real thing. I wonder how you got to the point where quoting a study,( like others on the hay is the same as raw grass, corn is the same as grain therefore……..)
    That is not testing anything but the researchers deviceiness, stupidy or grant funding convinced you that this SBM was the real macoy?

    However hard you medical scientists try you can’t reduce everything to molecule chains and synthesis nature, nothing to do with god or religion either.

    Everytime I wonder who is right in this large mess I just think back to swine flu and it all becomes clear, the people still dying from heart disease, cancer, asthma that wasn’t even listed as a fatal condition, just debilitating before the advent of bronchdilators. You have a hell of a marketing task on your hands.

    Keep painting, the rust is shining through.

  37. papertrail says:

    “I wonder who is right in this large mess I just think back to swine flu…”

    The only “mess” was that the pandemic wasn’t as bad as people worried it would be (better to be prepared just in case, though), and the vaccine was not available early enough to prevent more cases and save more flu complications and lives.

    CDC reported: “…impact from vaccine and antiviral treatment are as follows: 713,000 to 1.5 million cases, 12,300 to 23,000 hospitalizations, and 620 to 1,160 deaths averted. Of these, 713,000 to 1.5 million cases, 3,900 to 10,400 hospitalizations, and 200 to 520 deaths were averted as a result of the vaccination campaign (CDC, unpublished data, 2011), whereas the use of influenza antiviral medications is estimated to have prevented another 8,400 to 12,600 hospitalizations and another 420 to 640 deaths.”

    “… estimates of the burden of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which resulted in approximately 43 million to 89 million cases, 195,000 to 403,000 hospitalizations, and 8,900 to 18,300 deaths, including 910 to 1,880 deaths among children aged <18 years, during April 2009–April 2010 (3). CDC-supported evaluations have shown that the vaccine was effective in preventing influenza medical visits during the pandemic (4). However, because there was early widespread circulation of the 2009 H1N1 virus, many persons in the United States became ill before vaccine was available."

  38. sarah007 says:

    Papertrail said “The only “mess” was that the pandemic wasn’t as bad as people worried it would be (better to be prepared just in case, though)”"because there was early widespread circulation of the 2009 H1N1 virus, many persons in the United States became ill before vaccine was available.”

    This is a joke, what preparation was that then Pt?

    (CDC, unpublished data, 2011) Who the hell believes these guys and you are quoting them as evidence, where was your head during this bollocks?

    “estimates of the burden of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic,” Lots of science there then!

    It is getting funnier PT, keep it up I can’t wait for the next round of evidence.

  39. papertrail says:

    Earthing? Life expectancy since the days of humans walking barefoot has gone up. And since the world of alternative treatments depends on correlation always meaning causation, wearing shoes and sleeping in beds causes increased longevity.

  40. sarah007 says:

    Gobbit said “To hear him (mercola) tell it, shoes are the root of all evil. You shouldn’t wear them any more than you have to because, well, they keep the soles of your feet from contacting Gaia the earth.”

    2 weeks ago a good friend of mine had mortons neuroma, the doctor explained the pathway of treatment. Steroid injections, if no good cut out the nerve.

    Went to alt med who told her to take off her shoes and walk barefoot as much as possible for the next week. The pain has now gone.

    What the fuck was the doctor on? Protocols and research guidelines. Funnily enought orthopedic research shows us that cultures that wear shoes get bunions, MN in fact all of the foot pathologies, hammer toe……

    Barefoot cultures don’t. So you can package it up as wacky but experience is more real than medical research, yet again. God, and I am not religious, I hope you get bunnions, you deserve the best medicine has!

  41. qetzal says:

    @stanmrak

    Apparently, no one here has bothered to investigate any of the double-blind studies that have been done on the effects of earthing.

    How about you give us a link? No need to link to *all* of them, of course. (Probably waaay too many for that!) Just point out one of the most compelling.

  42. David Gorski says:

    Stanmrak should be very careful what he wishes for. He might just get it. I have looked at a couple of the studies touted by Earthing advocates as “evidence.” I also saw a more recent one that doesn’t look so hot either. If stamrak’s really nice to me, maybe I’ll do a followup post next Monday looking at the “evidence” for Earthing in more detail.

  43. sarah007 says:

    “If stamrak’s really nice to me, maybe I’ll do a followup post next Monday looking at the “evidence” for Earthing in more detail.”

    Is this peer review David?

  44. stanmrak says:

    sarah007, it’s “peer review” as practiced by the medical and pharmaceutical industry. Also known as “cherry-picking.”

  45. Scott says:

    I don’t care in the least what “double blind studies” stanmrak claims support the validity of earthing. It’s in the same category as homeopathy. Even if the studies demonstrate that there is SOMETHING happening (i.e. they reject the null hypothesis), it wouldn’t actually support earthing. The prior probability of that is so low compared to innumerable other explanations (up to and including deliberate fraud) that no possible such study could be convincing.

    Refute all the basic science that says it’s impossible FIRST. Only then would direct tests of “earthing” have any meaning.

  46. stanmrak says:

    lilady – I don’t know much about electricity, but enough to know that an Earthing Sheet is not the same as an electric blanket, just because they both have wires running thru them and plug into a socket. The blanket has electrical current running thru it, and produces an electromagnetic field that can be measured. An earthing device has no current running thru it, and no electrical field. Actually, it is said to dissipate any effect from AC electrical fields. This again can easily be measured on a human body using basic electrical meters.

    Most of the comments here seem to lack even a fundamental grasp of science-based arguments; they instead reek of prejudice and skepticism without any investigation. “If Dr. Oz says it, it must be BS” seems to be the main criteria for judgment, often, the only one.

  47. stanmrak says:

    Scott – thank you for illustrating my point so clearly.

  48. Scott says:

    Hardly. If anything, it illustrates just how much you’re demanding open-mindedness to the point where one’s brains fall out.

    No single study (heck, no thousand studies) of “earthing,” however large or well designed, can have any prayer of refuting the entire body of electromagnetism. Which is what would be required to accept the hypothesis being advanced. Pretending otherwise is the complete antithesis of science and skepticism.

  49. stanmrak says:

    Sorry, Mr. Gorski, but you have disqualified yourself as a legitimate peer-reviewer on the subject of Earthing. You’ve already demonstrated your bias by posting half-baked opinions as facts, as if you had actually done some serious research.

  50. Quill says:

    Ooh. I’d love to see a post about “earthing” and all the wonders it brings. If there isn’t enough evidence I’d like to apply for funding for a study. It will involve three groups. The control group will sleep under regular blankets, the earthers will sleep under the grounding blankets, and the third will (attempt to) sleep under standard blankets but with an active fifteen-foot tall Tesla Coil in the room. (Ok, I confess: I’m not so much interested in doing the study as getting enough loot to buy my own fifteen-foot tall Tesla Coil. But still. I bet I could get funding from NCCAM if I throw in some post-sleep therapeutic touch or something.)

  51. Calli Arcale says:

    Lytrigian:
    That’s exactly what I was thinking too!

    Earthing is definitely done in the high tech industries. And if it has the health benefits claimed, then we shouldn’t expect to see many health problems among the workers at, for instance, Foxconn’s big factories in China….

    If somebody wanted a grounding mat for their mattress, one can easily be purchased at an electronics supply source. A brief Google search showed me where I could get a six foot grounding mat, 30″ wide, with one snap and a grounding cord, for $67.46, plus shipping and handling. I wonder how much the woo-woo ones cost? (Google is my friend: a small mat is sold for $49.99, with a $10 discount that is currently being offered. Very little information on the site is provided to ascertain the performance of the mat. So I strongly get the impression that if you want to try grounding your way to better health, don’t get ripped off by the health stores. Buy it from an electronics supply house. Heh — and the store I found selling that links to the Dr Oz video discussed above!)

    And whether or not they actually work? Well, I know when I’m grounded at work, I can’t perceive any difference at all. I have to check the light on the box that I plug my strap into. Which is why those boxes test for a proper ground at all times — human beings can’t actually perceive it. They emit a very loud squeal if a proper ground is not achieved. Oh, and by the way, lying on a mat probably won’t ground you very well, given how hard it is to get a good ground through the damn strap, which puts bare metal to my skin. Standing on a grounding pad barefoot and working on exposed ESD-sensitive product would possibly get you fired at my company. It would certainly get you a warning. (And not just because we have closed-toe-shoe requirements in the manufacturing facility. Because our computers are freakin’ expensive, and we can’t afford lots of failures due to ESD damage.)

  52. sarah007 says:

    Hi Stanmrak “Most of the comments here seem to lack even a fundamental grasp of science-based arguments; they instead reek of prejudice and skepticism without any investigation.“

    It’s called Septik thinking, nothing to with science really. The big problem is they always default to published papers, when you read them they are testing something else and then they magically become evidence. The vitamin studies on effects on pathologies are ridiculous, they use synthetic vitamins and then claim they have no effect!

  53. nybgrus says:

    ok, sorry, I couldn’t resist:

    just because they both have wires running thru them and plug into a socket. The blanket has electrical current running thru it, and produces an electromagnetic field that can be measured. An earthing device has no current running thru it, and no electrical field.

    So moving ions through wires doesn’t generate an electrical or magnetic field? REALLY? I mean, lets just be really frakkin’ clear here… the ENTIRE POINT of the “earthing blanket” is to REMOVE the deadly positive ions via the “natural” negative ones. How, in any universe, is that NOT a current through a wire????

    Actually, it is said to dissipate any effect from AC electrical fields.

    Home Depot called. They need their shovels back.

    How, dear sir, would you propose that an electrical field (AC or otherwise) would be dissipated WITHOUT MOVING ANY IONS OR CURRENT?

    I don’t know much about electricity,

    That is so abundantly clear you could have just finished your post there.

  54. David Gorski says:

    Most of the comments here seem to lack even a fundamental grasp of science-based arguments; they instead reek of prejudice and skepticism without any investigation. “If Dr. Oz says it, it must be BS” seems to be the main criteria for judgment, often, the only one.

    You have it backwards. The message is not, “If Dr. Oz says it it must be BS.” The message is, “Dr. Oz is promoting BS, and here’s a particularly egregious example.”

    There, fixed that for ya.

  55. David Gorski says:

    Sorry, Mr. Gorski, but you have disqualified yourself as a legitimate peer-reviewer on the subject of Earthing. You’ve already demonstrated your bias by posting half-baked opinions as facts, as if you had actually done some serious research.

    I’m sorry, Mr. stanmrak, I just can’t stop laughing at the incredibly obvious way you call me “Mr.” instead of “Dr.” It’s so childish and just plain obvious that I had to chuckle heartily, given how many others like you have done it. Thanks. You brightened an otherwise not-so-great day.

  56. mdstudent says:

    “To get this benefit, Dr. Mercola recommends grounding or earthing sheets, made with fine thin strands of silver and which connect to an outlet; these cost about $200.”

    Is there any health myth Dr. Mercola hasn’t exploited to make a buck?

  57. MerColOzcopy says:

    I am new here, first post, so be gentle:)

    I have to admit I watched Oz and subscribe to Mercola. I liked Oz because of the segments he use to do on symptoms that could be signs of serious illness. Lately it’s all about supplements and diet. I remember that segment with Dr. Steve Novella, I was kind of pissed at him because he kept his cool and made some very valid points. And how dare he challenge my Dr. Oz:)). I actually went to Mercola’s website from info on the Oz. show. I just read the “Story at a Glance” section and usually not the whole piece.

    Recently I went to the comment section to challenge some of the stuff he talks about. I was very surprised and some what amused how the comment section is set up. You are given a label and description like; Dissenter, Stumbler, Getting Started, Novice User, all the way to Founder, Mercola himself. There is also a point system. In all, I think I made comments on three topics, and went from “Getting Started” to a “Dissenter”…which means in Mercola’s own words “This user has posted comments that are in disagreement with the Mercola.com community; their comments should be viewed with caution.” My Last comment on his article “The Silent Time Bomb on Your Plate – When Will Your Moment of Truth Arrive?”, was deleted and I received this message in my email. “Content contained within your posting violated our terms of service and your posting has been deleted. Repeat or flagrant offenses of this nature may result in your account being banned”.

    This is the comment that was deleted:

    Mercola, really??? If the statement, “(CAFOs), all driven by large corporations whose chief motivation is maximizing profit”, is true, then how can this be valid, that “small independent farms cost more to operate and are less profitable is a myth that has been disproven by science”???

    Comparing $150/acre to $3000/acre is just ridiculous. You know there is farm land in places other than California!!!, where the growing season is 3 or 4 months. Lets see, would I rather spend all my time on 10 acres, at $3000/acre ($30,000), or about 200 hours on 3000 acres at your number of $150/acre. ($450,000) By the way, guys have been making $400-$500/acre in the last few years with round-up ready Canola, that’s $1.2-$1.5 million. Maybe if some of your readers would go and replace the cheap migrant workers that work the fields across the US, that $3000/acre would probably be a loss.

    Speaking of maximizing profits, instead of selling pills over the internet…go do some organic farming, you seem to know how profitable and great it is. Or maybe selling pills to puppets is maximizing profits???

    And also, do you really believe land that just three years ago, that was growing GMO’s for the previous 10, and is now growing organic grops, has no volunteer GMO’s in the final product???

    I guess you have to read the article to see my point.

    So, to come to this site and see that postings seem not to be censored was great, if they were I guess “Sarah007″ would have been long gone:)) I am happy to say that I never ordered anything from Mercola. Though my favorite thing he has is a make shift bidet that plumbs into the water supply on your toilet. I live in the country and that water temperature comes at about 34 deg.F, ooouch!! He even has a video promoting this thing.

    Anyways a quick comment about grounding, I heard bare foot, in the rain, on a golf course, holding lightning rod, in a thunderstorm, works really well!!!:)) As far as the Dr. Oz show, I am sad to say I think it has “Jumped the Shark”. Also, I am really glad that Dr. Oz does still believes in some Science Based Medicine and had the Colonoscopy.

    Thanks for this Site:))

  58. Scott says:

    Holy mackerel – 34 degree water’s no fun in any context, but the thought of a 34 degree BIDET makes me shudder (literally).

    Welcome to SBM – I hope you continue to enjoy it.

  59. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    It’s funny when quacks criticize skeptics for providing (so they claim) biased evidence – then provide no evidence, citations or substantiation. Or criticize peer review as providing no guarantee of quality (as if we weren’t aware of that, ignoring that peer review is but one aspect of the scientific process, not all of it). Or criticize the scientific community for being baised because Big Pharma keeps bribing them, ignoring the money and fame that CAM practitioners accrue by pretending to be iconoclasts when really they’re little more than self-interested hypocrites. Unless Joe Mercola has stopped shilling his products on his website and started giving them away for free? I mean, if his products really worked he is doing the world a great disservice by not actually proving it. If he’s right about his products, his greed and selfishness at refusing to conduct any actual research is killing people. How people reconcile “Big Pharma is bad because they just want to make money” with “Joe Mercola is good and deserves to make money” is beyond me.

    The problem is a fundamental lack of parity in how each group treats evidence. While skeptics ask “where is the evidence and how good is it”, quack-followers ask “what evidence supports what I already wanted to believe”. Then Gish gallop an enormous number of empty insults and ignorant accusations. While skeptics attempt to ground their beliefs in evidence and reality, quack-swallowers don’t even realize how wrong and ignorant they are. The groups are playing by fundamentally different rules – skeptics and scientists require evidence to make a claim; for woo-ers the claim is the evidence. If they can think of any reason to reject information they don’t like, then that immediately means the information is wrong.

  60. Calli Arcale says:

    stanmak:

    Actually, it is said to dissipate any effect from AC electrical fields.

    Wait a second — I missed this the first time through.

    Grounding mats are not intended to dissipate any effect from AC electrical fields. They are intended to dissipate *static* electricity. If you are receiving a charge from an AC current, being ground may not be such a great thing, actually.

    Watch a lineman at work to see why. They “latch on” to the high voltage wires, becoming part of the AC electrical circuit so that they can safely manipulate them. Then, they carefully leave the circuit when they are done. They take great care not to become grounded during this process, because if they do, they become *toast*.

    Static electrical fields are real, and there are meters that you can get to detect them. And grounding mats will help dissipate them. So will grounding straps and ionizers, and of course you must take care not only to prevent charge build up in yourself, but also in the device you’re working on — charged device model discharges account for far more field failures than charged body model discharges. Also consider that the majority of discharges are below the human pain threshhold; you will not be aware of them. With modern electronics, it is possible to destroy a product with a discharge a thousandth of what a human being can feel. Seriously. (There is luck involved, of course. It all depends on exactly *which* circuit trace burns through during the discharge.)

    Of course, all of these do in fact move electrons around; ESD protection is all about:

    1) avoiding charge build up (keep static generators such as paper away from exposed product, use antistatic pouches and mats which do not generate charge, use tools rated for the same)

    2) shielding against rapid discharges (variations on the theme of a Faraday cage)

    3) allowing for a constant ground to continuously dissipate any static charge that is being generated despite your best efforts (grounding mat, grounding strap, ionizer)

  61. Lytrigian says:

    @stanmrak:

    You’ve accused Dr Gorski of “cherry picking”. Why don’t YOU provide some references to papers YOU think are good evidence then?

    Come on. What do you have to lose?

  62. weing says:

    @Lytrigian,
    These ignorant stupid trolls just say there is a paper that supports their ludicrous fantasies or a lab report that says their never immunized cat is immune to rabies. Their attitude is “Papers? Papers? We don’t need no stinking papers. We have the truth.”

  63. papertrail says:

    @sarah007
    RE: Morton’s Neuroma:

    From the Mayo Clinic site: “Morton’s neuroma may occur in response to irritation, injury or pressure. Common treatments for Morton’s neuroma include changing footwear or using arch supports. Sometimes corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary.”

    So, it makes sense that walking barefoot, and thus removing the offending irritant for awhile, could also work. No need for anyone to invoke implausible, convoluted notions of “earthing”. My (science-based) doctor told me to change shoes, which worked for me.

    RE: The CDC’s estimates about h1n1: You’re balking at honest use of the word “estimate”? The scientific process is usually not about absolutes; it’s a dynamic process involving uncertainties and probabilities. How easy do you think it is to discern the effects of an intervention on huge populations? Even their lowest estimates of averted cases show that having prepared the public by distributing the vaccine widely was well worth the effort, saving disease burden and lives.

    Your knee-jerk reaction to the CDC exemplifies the crux of the tension between your general posture and mine (and probably most people posting here). We are on opposite sides on the question of what constitutes credible information or sources.

    The CDC is a (mostly, nothing is perfect) credible source; they employ a broad range of experts; they are remarkably transparent (look how VAERS is right out there); and they are continually scrutinized from outside their own agency and held accountable. On the other hand, I see Mercola, Oz, and others like them as replete with red flags – dubious, fringe, profit-motivated, suspect, deceptive – but not always, which makes them appear credible to the public.

    I think most people here seek the preponderance of the most plausible and credible scientific evidence and question the opposite. If you can’t even begin to go there, then you close yourself off from what this blog can offer.

    @Dr. Gorski, I’m looking forward to your Earthing analysis. Btw, I saw one site warning against using their earthing blanket during a storm. Problem is, lightning doesn’t always provide a warning before it strikes, especially in the middle of the night when you’re sleeping. If only I could dispense with ethics, I can contrive some kind of BS product and get sooooo rich.

  64. EricG says:

    @sarah007

    you said:

    “”…the root of all evil. You shouldn’t wear them…”

    2 weeks ago a good friend of mine had mortons neuroma, the doctor explained the pathway of treatment. Steroid injections, if no good cut out the nerve.

    Went to alt med who told her to take off her shoes and walk barefoot as much as possible for the next week. The pain has now gone.”

    let me share a story:

    1 week ago (more recent than your story) my BEST friend had mortons neuroma, of far worse a nature than your not as good of friend. the naturopath he went to suggested earthing. he almost died.

    he went to the doctor, the doctor told him to change his shoes. he now has a 73″ vertical and can play the piano with his toes.

    i think my anecdote beats yours – in any event, they cancel each other out. so you were telling me about facts and theories…?

  65. sarah007 says:

    PT said “The scientific process is usually not about absolutes; it’s a dynamic process involving uncertainties and probabilities.”

    Dynamic hey, what open to publication bias, funding bias and plane old belief bias.

    “We are on opposite sides on the question of what constitutes credible information or sources and question the opposite .If you can’t even begin to go there, then you close yourself off from what this blog can offer. ”

    This is the funniest statement I have read yet, there are about 5 or 6 medical zealots on this blog, about as convincing as a JW reading from the bible! They actually believe in the woo of swine flu!

    I am struggling to find what this blog has to offer, do you have any idea how ridiculous it looks? I am devil advocate for a bit and gee whiz, no defence is offered, just took the hook.

  66. sarah007 says:

    Weing, wong again “Their attitude is “truth?truth We don’t need no stinking truth. We have papers.”

  67. papertrail says:

    Just a SECOND ago, my SOUL MATE presented with a CRIPPLING cased of mortons neuroma, and I gave him a HOMEOPATHIC dose of all-natural electrons diluted 200C (yes, extremely powerful stuff), and he…well, he appeared to be running just fine when he bolted for the door, so he must have been cured.

    Seriously, how long will it be before someone will try to market homeopathic natural electrons?

  68. papertrail says:

    “I am devil advocate for a bit and gee whiz, no defence is offered, just took the hook.”

    What does this mean? You’ve been faking your real position or what?

  69. EricG says:

    @ papertrail

    I just consulted my psychic. In the future, my very own mortons neuroma will cause a zombie apocalypse. I have secured the fate of human kind by carrying around a 10,000 year old crystal of salt secured from the highest point of the Himalayas, painted with organic heirloom tomato resin to resemble Joe Mercola’s profile. While I discourage any attempts to understand this, I do expect thanks for freeing this lot from brain-eating doom.

  70. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    My favourite thing in the world is absolutism, because it decisions so much easier! If something isn’t absolutely perfect, it’s obviously worthless! By the FSM, I’ve been paying attention to evidence and nuance when I should have simply ignored everything but what I think is right!

    For that matter, I could parlay my ignorance into certainty! Why bother understanding anything when I could just assume I’m right and never bother actually checking? Surely my common sense is better than hundreds of thousands of PhDs and MDs arriving at a consensus, backed by the complete eradication of a dangerous disease, right? I know, I’ll call everyone who insists on evidence to be zealots, that way I don’t even have to consider their arguments!

    The most important thing is to completely avoid dissenting information. And above all, never, ever actually learn anything about how science is really done. Just assume you know and ignore any indications to the contrary.

  71. Lytrigian says:

    @weing — We must be as fair as possible. If there are studies, they should be looked at. I suspect that the positive ones fall into one or both of the following categories: 1) Small pilot studies, either single-blinded or unblinded, that tend toward false positives that evaporate when a large, well-designed experiment is carried out; or 2) Not really a positive at all, but with some interesting statistical tricks in the analysis to make it look as if it is.

    Honestly, though. Sara? You’re the only person I’ve encountered who can turn the fizzling of a potentially deadly epidemic into bad news. You must be young. My grandparents both lived through the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918, and both lost siblings. Nearly every house on their block lost at least one person to the disease. Better an occasional false alarm than that we should ever be unprepared for such a thing ever again.

  72. weing says:

    @Lytrigian,
    I would also add 2 more, no studies at all, just claims that there are studies, and studies that show something completely different but requiring the ability to be able to read and understand.

  73. Lytrigian says:

    Oh, there are always studies. The naturopath at my local herb shop is happy to whip out the “research” on just about anything he’s ready to sell you. (He used to work in the supplements aisle of the local organic food store, but quit when they insisted he avoid making specific medical claims.) It was pretty much always some kind of unblinded experiment carried out on a few dozen subjects 10 or 20 years ago, but it was there.

  74. weing says:

    I guess you are right. But, I’m not sure whether these trolls are capable of even doing that.

  75. papertrail says:

    @EricG
    “I just consulted my psychic. In the future, my very own mortons neuroma will cause a zombie apocalypse. I have secured the fate of human kind by carrying around a 10,000 year old crystal of salt secured from the highest point of the Himalayas, painted with organic heirloom tomato resin to resemble Joe Mercola’s profile. While I discourage any attempts to understand this, I do expect thanks for freeing this lot from brain-eating doom.”

    Yes, but what you didn’t realize was that your psychic was channeling my energy when she came up with that prediction, as I am an Indigo adult as well as a crystal star child, sent to this planet with new DNA, making me immune to all disease, as proven by UCI. Thank you for resonating your vibration to receive my message.

    Oh man, we could be rich!

  76. Chris says:

    papertrail, is your new DNA double or triple stranded? That could make a difference in the crystallization of your telepathic frequencies.

  77. papertrail says:

    Chris, this website will “scientifically” explain all about my starchild dna. http://www.starchildproject.com/dna2011marchlaymans.htm

    Seriously, practically all you have to do is make something up, then Google it, and voila, there’s some sciency looking website promoting it.

    I’ll sue if someone steals my homeopathic natural electrons remedy.

  78. Chris says:

    I am so glad I had already placed my beer on the table before clicking on your comment. That is hilarious.

  79. I’m rather embarrassed to admit this, but I recently lost my temper and yelled at a “energy healer” who was going on about sucking negative ions out of a patient and making snide comments about medical doctors. I laid into her so hard verbally that she became belligerent, but it was when she said “I’m a healer” that my incredulity flared to epic proportions. If I have one flaw (and I have many) its that I’m not known for suffering stupidity.

    It’s just fascinating how evident the Dunning-Kruger effect is in the SBM trolls. The general knowledge base between a medical doctor and these promoters of quackery is about a thousand times bigger than the Grand Canyon, or as we say in Ghana the Akosombo gorge. They promote the most ridiculous quackery and utilize modalities that are as useless as a young girl to a priest. In contrast, by the time a medical doctor earns their degree, we are capable of everything from managing disease to doing basic surgery and delivering babies (of course, residency is required to actually master these skills. Keep in mind this means 7 to 9 years of education after college.)

    The knowledge we possess is simply lightyears ahead of an idiot that believes they are sucking “negative ions” out of a persons feet with a “foot detox” machine, or that we can cure disease with pure water, or that cracking a back removes mystical interference in the nervous system, or that they are “removing toxins” with ear candles. It’s seriously laughable. It’s just so damn ridiculous. Which leads me to my point. With trolls like sarah and stanmrak, it’s just hilarious reading their posts because they truly are incapable of appreciating the vast difference in knowledge between “us” and “them.”

    Sure, as medical doctors we simply can’t be aware of everything. Today I was reading about curcumin and how it actually promotes colorectal and lung cancer and has never been shown with randomized controlled trials to be effective in any human condition and that humans are essentially physiologically incapable of obtaining blood concentrations that could possibly by remotely therapeutic, and wasn’t surprised that it is the latest garbage being promoted by the “natural” crowd. But I would never expect nor fault a colleague for being unaware of these potential benefits. Nobody can know all this crap. Especially when the “natural” crowd is constantly promoting different crap everyday.

    ….. :)

  80. Chris says:

    SkepticalHealth, have a virtual beer on me.

    By the way, I’m not a medical doctor. Just a parent of kid who turned out to be much too interesting, so I’ve spent a bit too much time in hospitals, waiting rooms, doctors’ offices, therapy observation rooms, special ed. school meetings. Well, you get the picture.

    I have been dealing with these people in real life, starting before the internet, and when we thought it was great that our new computer had a 10 Mb hard drive. It wastes too much energy to get mad at them. Mostly they deserve a roll of the eyes and a giggle at their expense.

    Even though I almost choked on a peach when someone in real life suggest I try cranial sacral therapy for my son’s severe speech disability, I did love the look on her face when I replied that a light head massage was not going to fix damage in Broca’s Area an inch or so past the scull (I just guessed the distance). She avoided me from then on during the rest of the function. Pity, I was going to ask how waving of hands reduces abnormal heart muscle from HCM.

  81. MerColOzcopy says:

    Dr. Gorski, about Chlorella, if it can in fact bind mercury and heavy metals, can it also bind to other essential vitamins and particularly nutritional minerals consumed in food, or is it that discriminate?

  82. MerColOzcopy says:

    SkepticalHealth, where were you reading about curcumin and how it actually promotes colorectal and lung cancer? Thanks.

  83. mdstudent says:

    @ SkepticalHealth

    “The knowledge we possess is simply lightyears ahead of an idiot that believes they are sucking “negative ions” out of a persons feet with a “foot detox” machine, or that we can cure disease with pure water, or that cracking a back removes mystical interference in the nervous system, or that they are “removing toxins” with ear candles.”

    It’s not the uneducated trolls that bug me. As you said the Dunning-Kruger effect can be easily invoked to rationalize their stupidities. I lose sleep over the “educated” quacks like Dr. Oz or Dr. Mercola who have completed medical school and are licensed physicians.

  84. DW says:

    “Mostly they deserve a roll of the eyes and a giggle at their expense.”

    Well, except that they really do cause untold harm. My parents fell for every single bogus health claim promoted by a charlatan that is out there – I swear they did not miss one. If they had back the money they forked over to con artists (medical and others, but the medical was a huge portion of it), they’d be on easy street. Just the other day, my mother got a mysterious check for $600 in the mail that it took us awhile to figure out the origin of. Turns out, about 10 years ago they signed on to some class action suit against the manufacturer of some preposterous herbal concoction that had ended up killing a couple of people. She didn’t even remember anything about this lawsuit. It wound through the courts and eventually a handful of victims got a few hundred dollars each. She has no recall of what they actually paid the guy, but I’m certain it was way more than $600.

    And still, my father died miserably, after developing leukemia, having two heart attacks, and finally a stroke that left him paralyzed. Years of “supplements,” protein powders, mystical cures, herbs, and naturopathy etc. somehow didn’t stave all this off. Taking the Plavix the doctor prescribed might have been a better idea, but he thought – much like the vicious nonsense that Sarah promotes here – that the doctor was trying to kill him.

    This is the REALITY of CAM. The people who supposedly got cured by, like, taking their shoes off, rather than taking the doctor’s advice, are mythical. They don’t exist. These are lies. If you got cured because you took your shoes off, maybe you had a little ache or pain, but nothing was really seriously wrong with you in the first place. This is the basis of all the “testimonials.”

    My parents were extremely vulnerable due to other problems in their lives. But they aren’t the only ones. CAMsters make a living off folks like that. My mother was paying HUNDREDS per month to her local “natural foods store” until I finally got control of their finances. I felt like going into the place with an Uzi. (I didn’t …)

  85. DW says:

    And the “Sarah’s” of the CAM scene always show their hand – they show the viciousness right below the surface, i.e., on another thread Sarah suggested that fat people should pay higher taxes, and the parents of fat children should be thrown in jail. This tells you a lot. I think serious mental disorders are prevalent in the CAM-promoting population. (Someone should do a study.) Sarah’s entire way of relating to other humans is deranged.

  86. sarah007 says:

    “Surely my common sense is better than hundreds of thousands of PhDs and MDs arriving at a consensus, backed by the complete eradication of a dangerous disease, right?”

    Just give it the context of swine flu and the whole sentence falls into a dark void of medical anecdote!

    “I lose sleep over the “educated” quacks like Dr. Oz or Dr. Mercola who have completed medical school and are licensed physicians.”

    Doesn’t mean you are right though, maybe they saw something that you were blind to?

    “And still, my father died miserably, after developing leukemia, having two heart attacks, and finally a stroke that left him paralyzed. ” So are you telling us he did no orthodox treatments at all for the leukemia?

  87. Scott says:

    As you said the Dunning-Kruger effect can be easily invoked to rationalize their stupidities. I lose sleep over the “educated” quacks like Dr. Oz or Dr. Mercola who have completed medical school and are licensed physicians.

    Dunning-Kruger is an even stronger explanation there. “A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing,” after all. Oz and Mercola aren’t scientists – it’s been often lamented here how little real science is in medical school, as opposed to a more mechanistic level of understanding. So they don’t have the ability to properly evaluate sCAM claims. But since they’ve been through grueling medical training, they THINK they do.

  88. EricG says:

    @ papertrail

    ftw. i cant compete with the tri-level nature of your cosmic dna. that being said, should you or a loved one turn into a zombie, i charge three easy payments of $129.95 to bring them back.

  89. DW says:

    Sarah “So are you telling us he did no orthodox treatments at all for the leukemia?”

    You can’t actually read, can you?
    You are really offensive.

  90. mdstudent says:

    @ Scott

    “So they don’t have the ability to properly evaluate sCAM claims.”

    Or maybe they’re just con-artists with no moral qualms in exploiting the general public’s lack of medical understanding in pursuit of fame and riches.

  91. @ MerColOzcopy:

    A great start is here:

    Burgos-Morón E, Calderón-Montaño JM, Salvador J, Robles A, López-Lázaro M. The dark side of curcumin. Int J Cancer 2010, Apr 1;126(7):1771-5.

    Link to full PDF:

    http://personal.us.es/mlopezlazaro/2010.%20Int%20J%20Cancer.%20The%20dark%20side%20of%20curcumin.pdf

  92. Chris says:

    mdstudent:

    It’s not the uneducated trolls that bug me. As you said the Dunning-Kruger effect can be easily invoked to rationalize their stupidities. I lose sleep over the “educated” quacks like Dr. Oz or Dr. Mercola who have completed medical school and are licensed physicians.

    DW:

    Well, except that they really do cause untold harm.

    I guess I should have been more clear that I meant the random consumer and advocate of the alt-med nonsense, the real life versions of Troll007.

    When I was on a listserv for my son’s disability I tried to steer people away from cranial sacral therapy, chelation and relying too much on supplements. I know at least once I had to alert the list moderator that our emails were being used to spam cures (one involved magic soap).

    Once at a conference organized by the organization the grew out of that listserv a person in the audience asked the presenter about the use of cranial sacral. Despite being a nationally recognized expert on the disability she had no clue on what the question was about. I had to pipe up and explain. So not only is it disappointing that people who should know better promote nonsense, other real medical care providers do not have a clue what nonsense it being promoted to their patients.

    DW, I am terribly sorry about your parents. I know and understand your frustration because it has happened in our family. I have had arguments with my niece over the validity of homeopathy, and we had a family member dive deeper into mental health issues after deciding the naturapath knew more than the psychiatrist. I actually found it easier to discuss this with people who are not relatives, and I suspect that there may be something that makes it easier to listen to folks outside ones own family.

    After the death of our relative we were given her computer to wipe and donate to charity. I was a bit evil and looked into the emails, and it was frightening. DW, she was on listservs that consisted almost entirely of people like Troll007. They were there promoting all of the nonsense we’ve seen spouted here lately, plus there were a set of email newsletters from a Mercola wanna-be. Plus complaints about their family members who could not be converted to the “truth.” Going through the computers of some of these people postmortem would could be several psychology PhD theses.

  93. DW says:

    Thanks Chris, you are right. I’m still trying to get my mother off various awful mailing lists (not online, just US mail). (My parents’ online adventures were another story.) They are just appalling to look at, I have to toss them immediately or my blood pressure goes up. Many of the organizations operate very unethically. I’ve had to write letters threatening legal action if they won’t cancel an automatic credit card charge for “health newsletters,” that sort of thing.

  94. sarah007 says:

    Sarah “So are you telling us he did no orthodox treatments at all for the leukemia?”

    You can’t actually read, can you?
    You are really offensive.

    I asked you did he have any orthodox treatment for the leukemia?, what is offensive about that?

  95. DW says:

    He did no “orthodox” treatment for the leukemia because it was never symptomatic. He did all kinds of batshit crazy “natural” treatments for the leukemia and everything else under the sun. He was persuaded by one “naturopath” (or some Deepak Chopra-type idiot, I don’t remember) that cancer would go away if you took enough vitamin C. He was obsessed with “building his immune system” to fight the cancer, for years. His nephew who is a doctor tried to tell him that building his immune system was a nice thing but might just as well help the cancer as hinder it, but this didn’t impress him.

    So, no I was not trying to tell you that he did no orthodox treatment for leukemia. I was saying that despite many years of taking natural organic everything, eating mainly crap sold to him by the “natural health foods store” to do things that you tout, like “restoring gut flora,” and submitting to treatment by nuts like yourself, he came down with cancer, heart disease, and stroke ANYWAY. Get it? Two heart attacks, and two strokes, fourteen months in a nursing home, paralyzed, speaking gibberish, and finally not speaking at all. There’s no magic that guarantees a person won’t get ill, Sarah. He was JUST LIKE YOU, he believed ALL THE CRAP YOU BELIEVE, and he died horribly of all sorts of painful and completely incapacitating ailments anyway, unable to walk, talk, or sit up.

    This is the real story of CAM. You are fooling yourself, and hurting people at the same time. Real people – old people in wheelchairs, Sarah. There’s plenty of them. You think they don’t exist, probably because you are much younger and still able to fantasize you’ll live forever and never suffer any pain if you eat your lentils and wheat grass. It isn’t true. Sorry.

  96. EricG says:

    great story from seedmagazine:

    http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/on_curing_everything/

    i suspect that science will win the race over woo – i suppose woo would first have to adopt germ theory to approach the starting line…

  97. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Ya gotta be careful with Kary Mullis though. Developed polymerase chain reaction, denies HIV causes AIDS, climate change and takes a lot of drugs.

    The idea does seem neat

  98. papertrail says:

    DW, what you describe is sad and frustrating, and all too familiar within my own family too. My mother refused cancer treatment for a long time and made me crazy with fear while she tried her various “alternative” techniques, believing the tumor was shrinking. She did finally go for conventional treatment after pressured by us, her kids, and even though she lived many years and died of something else, she never stopped blaming the doctors and her cancer treatments for everything that ailed her after that. (Cancer treatments are awful, I agreed with her about that, but she did live.) My father was a perpetrator of a dubious therapy, helped some people, they felt, but hurt others by overstating his credentials and what he could do for them while taking their money. Almost landed himself in prison. Ugh, haven’t thought about this in a long time.

    I knew several people who died of cancer after putting off treatment to try alternative things first. Later I found out that conventional treatment may not have changed the outcome in these cases anyway. i hate cancer!

  99. ConspicuousCarl says:

    Does Stan Mrak still promote his 100-year-theory of heart disease? It’s the most moronic thing I have ever seen, but he seems happy with it.

    For those who don’t know, Mrak’s view on the causes of heart disease is based on his foolish observation that 100 years ago hardly anyone had heart attacks. Of course, he fails to notice that 100 years ago most people didn’t have heart attacks because they were all dying of infections at age 50, leaving them very little time to have heart attacks in their 60′s. (If Sarah007 ever develops a sense of creativity, maybe this is the level of nonsense she can rise to.)

    For those who already know, why don’t we keep bringing this up whenever he wanders in, until he finally admits that he was/is an idiot? “Sorry Stan, but before we respond to your wacky comments on filthy barefoot hippies, we need you to address one of your previous blunders.”

  100. EricG says:

    @WilliamLawrenceUtridge

    i suppose that might be a regretful side effect of being a “non-specialist” – he feels content to comment on things in which he….well, by his own admission, lacks expertise. just a brief look at his wiki page…pretty wacky guy. lol

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