The Top 5 Threats to Science-Based Medicine of the Decade

While I’m recovering fro Christmas this weekend and away a good chunk of tomorrow, here’s a question to ponder as 2009 draws to its inevitable close. Val Jones has listed what she views to be the top five threats to science-based medicine that dominated 2009 and look likely to continue to threaten science in medicine during 2010. So, to complement my previous question regarding the worst pseudoscience of the decade, I’d point to Val’s post on the top five threats to science-based medicine of 2009 and ask: What were the worst threats to science-based medicine, not just of 2009, but of the decade that is about to end?

Clearly, Senator Tom Harkin and Congress remain major threats, as all sorts of special interests try to insert provisions trying to legitimize quackery by making reimbursement for such services by the health insurance cooperatives formed under the Obama health care bill that just passed Congress. You can be sure that during the House-Senate conference committee negotiations there will be wheeling and dealing to try to keep the provisions that survived the Senate and perhaps to bring back ones that didn’t. I’d also agree that NCCAM is a major threat.

Val’s list is a good starting point, but I really think that the anti-vaccine movement needs to be inserted in there somewhere, if not near number 1. Whatever NCCAM or Congress does, these tend to be less acute threats to public health than the resurgence of vaccine-preventable disease likely to occur thanks to the efforts of Jenny McCarthy an her ilk. Don’t get me wrong. NCCAM and the infiltration of quackademic medicine into academia represent arguably the worst long-term threat to science in medicine, but, even though the forces behind NCCAM have come far their blurring the line between science and quackery in medicine will still likely not be complete for several more years at least. That’s one reason why I think the anti-vaccine movement needs to be in the top five, but I can’t think of what I’d demote in order to include it.