University of Maryland School of Medicine = Hogwarts?

Steve Salzberg is a man after my own heart. You’ll see why in a minute.

I’ve frequently written about the pseudoscientific nonsense that goes on at the University of Maryland. Indeed, the University of Maryland School of Medicine is a hotbed of quackademic medicine, including the use of reiki at its world-renowned trauma center along with other forms of quackery. Steve Salzberg is on the faculty at the University of Maryland, and he’s not happy:

So what’s going on at Maryland’s medical school? UMM is home to one of the nation’s premier “integrative medicine” programs, which promotes a wide range of questionable practices. Its clinical services include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Qi Gong

Although each of these has a different history, all of them are, well, nonsense. Let’s take a closer look homeopathy, which is perhaps the most ridiculous pseudoscience on the list. Homeopathy is based on two ideas: that “like cures like”, and that vanishingly small quantities of medicine are stronger than larger quantities. Both ideas were invented by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700s, back when most medicine was pretty bad for you. Unfortunately for Hahnemann, his ideas were no better.

The University of Maryland teaches homeopathy. Yes, homeopathy. It’s also the source of that scientifically weak acupuncture review article that found its way into the NEJM last summer.

It’s even worse than that. Apparently the integrative medicine elective has become one of the top choices for fourth year medical students:

The popularity of the Integrative Medicine elective is skyrocketing. When they were third year medical students, Kenez and Sahan rushed to register for the class because they were worried it would close quickly. More students than ever before are putting the elective on the top of their elective wish list and queuing up early to get into the class.

Of course, this is a “chicken or the egg” problem. Is the IM elective popular because the University of Maryland has become so woo-infused that its reputation attracts credulous medical students interested in quackademic medicine? Or is the IM elective so popular because the infusion of woo into the University of Maryland corrupted the students who are there and convinced them that IM is the wave of the future? Either way, perhaps we should rename the University of Maryland School of Medicine to the Hogwarts School of Medical Witchcraft and Wizardry.