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Homeopathy at the HuffPo

by Steven Novella, Oct 19 2009

The Huffington Post, an online news source, from its creation has embraced anti-scientific pseudomedicine. It has been a home for a number of anti-vaccine cranks, as well as promoters of all kinds of medical nonsense. Occasionally there appears a brief flower of reason (token efforts at best) – for example our own Michael Shermer recently publicly called out Bill Maher on his anti-vaccine nonsense in the HuffPo. Here’s the money quote:

As well, Bill, your comments about not wanting to “trust the government” to inject us with a potentially deadly virus, along with many comments you have made about “big pharma” being in cahoots with the AMA and the CDC to keep us sick in the name of corporate profits is, in every way that matters, indistinguishable from 9/11 conspiracy mongering.

But these brief incursions of reason aside, the HuffPo has been in continual free fall into medical woo since its inception. Although in retrospect it has been hopeless for a long time, for me it crossed the veil into complete an utter advocacy of woo when it hired Dana Ullman as a regular blogger.

Ullman is notorious as a homeopath and internet lurker, spreading undiluted nonsense as far and wide as his typing fingers can manage.  I will have to resist the urge to deconstruct every bit of medical misdirection he will spread with his new forum – that would be a full time job for one blogger. But as I have already received numerous requests to take a look at his latest post, I will give him some deserved skeptical attention.

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Is Homeopathy So Bad?

by Kirsten Sanford, Jul 10 2009

This video is a brilliant piss-take on holistic healing. We are quite lucky the Brits evolved such a fantastic, dry wit. This kind of programming would never make it on US television for fear of offending an advertiser. Found via Boing-boing and Cory Doctorow.

That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E

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Homeopathy Awareness Week

by Steven Novella, Jun 15 2009

According to the British Homeopathic Association (does that mean the fewer members they have the more powerful the group?) June 14-21 is Homeopathy Awareness Week. I would like to do my part to increase awareness of homeopathy.

I would like people to be aware of the fact that homeopathy is a pre-scientific philosophy, that it is based entirely on magical thinking and is out of step with the last 200 years of science. People should know that typical homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point that no active ingredient remains, and that homeopaths invoke mysterious vibrations or implausible and highly fanciful water chemistry.  I would further like people to know that clinical research with homeopathic remedies, when taken as a whole, show no effect for any such remedy.

In short, homeopathy is bunk. But here is a somewhat longer description of its history. Continue reading…

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Young Scientists Condemn CAM in the Third World

by Steven Novella, Jun 01 2009

As much as unscientific medicine is a problem in relatively wealthy Western nations, it is even more so in developing and third world countries. In the US so-called CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) is largely consumed by the “worried well” – people with disposable income who use it to treat common everyday ailments or symptoms. CAM does also infiltrate the treatment of serious diseases, but to a much smaller degree.

In the third world, however, unscientific treatments for serious public health threats is a real problem. Malaria, HIV, TB, influenza, and childhood diarrhea are all epidemic in Africa and other locations, all exacerbated by the lack of adequate health care resources. The impact of this lack of resources is worsened by reliance on ineffective pseudoscience treatments, and sometimes (as with HIV) the denial of scientific treatments.

The World Health Organization (WHO) whose very purpose is to serve the public health worldwide, especially in developing and struggling nations, has failed to adequately address the problem of unscientific medicine. The WHO, unfortunately, is an imperfect political organization and as such is vulnerable to sectarian interests. It has a poor record on combating unscientific medicine, and in fact promotes it.

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