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Complementary and alternative medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

If only we had a real magazine like this about medicine…

Happy 4th of July!

I’m taking the day off, largely to indulge my patriotic duty to laugh at things like Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie (something all patriotic red-blooded Americans should be doing), but more importantly to work on a manuscript and especially to get ready for The Amazing Meeting. If you’re going to be there, sound off! Maybe we can touch bases and hang at the Del Mar. In the meantime, I’d like to thank my friends at Michigan Skeptics for sending around this lovely little magazine cover. We need a real magazine like this, don’t you think?

WQDTY

My only complaint is that Dr. Oz only won Quack of the Month. He should be at least Quack of the Year, if not the decade.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

26 replies on “If only we had a real magazine like this about medicine…”

Dr. Oz has recommends forskolin for weight loss.

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/best-belly-blasting-supplements

Forskolin raises cyclic AMP (cAMP), which is a chemical signal inside cells which regulates some important processes. One of these processes is synthesis of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which increases when forskolin is present:

http://web.mit.edu/dick/www/pdf/984.pdf

Another is the phosphorylation of tau protein, which is a critical step in the formation of neurofibrillary tangles:

http://medicine.yale.edu/lab/sestan/resources/635_184295_CarlylePNAS14complete.pdf

Wow! The two mechanisms most closely associated with Alzheimer’s Disease pathology are both up-regulated by forskolin! So much for the quality of research from Dr. Oz. He either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about this!

I got into several heated arguments with my then wife about home births (she was pro). Thankfully, we had both of our children at a local hospital.

Dr. Oz certainly has the fame, but quack of the year? I think there’s be some pretty stiff competition for that.

J @7
This document reports the stats for the state of Oregon (where homebirth is both popular and the state is keeping track): http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/CommunicableDisease/CDSummaryNewsletter/Documents/2013/ohd6220.pdf
The perinatal death rate is discussed at the bottom of the first page:

The term perinatal mortality rate for planned out-of-hospital births (4.0/1,000 pregnancies) was nearly twice that of in-hospital births (2.1/1,000).

Dr. Oz has recommends forskolin for weight loss.

Your list of recommended Dr. Oz approved weight loss aids is incomplete. However, it would probably be easier to list all the things that that the “good” Doctor hasn’t yet recommended.

At first glance I saw that comment as “Dr. Oz recommends foreskin for weight loss”.

Ewww.

We do need a magazine like this; maybe not as inflamatory, but a skeptic magazine that could appeal to a wider audience is something that really should be done. There are a lot of people that buy into this stuff only because they haven’t been exposed to better information, and it would help them to think more critically about these things.

@Adrian

There are plenty of skeptic magazines – but I would guess that most focus on general issues and not only on medicine or alt-med. Thing is: if you already believe in these things then you won’t seek out a magazine called “Skeptics Magazine”.

No the better solution is to get major magazines in supermarkets to stop posting all the fad diet and celebrity woo and replace it with more critical-thinking based articles. Those magazines do far more damage because they come clothed in the glossy “we’re telling you heart-warming stories that make you feel better about your life” facade. If they’d stop shoving the concept of anecdotes=evidence down people’s throats, we’d all be far better off. (You know the ones… “celebrity reveals secret to weight loss”, “cancer beaten by mum of three”, “nutrition and good food for healthy lifestyle”… all faced with ads from supplement companies and yoga)

Is it only me, or does the Wizard known as Oz have ears that appear vaguely Vulcan?

Anyway, yes, let’s see a magazine like that produced. Even if it is only one issue, like a ‘special.’ Then let’s sell them at cost of printing, to anyone of reputable standing here, so that we might sneak them into the racks at stores where it seems appropriate.

To be sure they make it through check-out, the bar code on them should be copied from one that belongs to some woo magazine or another. This will also automatically calibrate the price to the local currency. Nothing will be suspected until all of them have been sold. And since there is no stealing but rather quite the opposite, there are no laws broken.

Though, I would suggest a ‘stealth approach.’ Make it look just like another woo mag so it attracts the kinds of people who read that dreck.

‘The History of Homeopathy!’ (Article from ArsTechnica describing how homeoquacky was discovered & developed, a truly excellent takedown without inflammatory rhetoric.)

‘What THEY don’t want You to Know about Energy Healing’ (‘They’ being ‘energy healers,’ who don’t want you to know it’s a cart-load of steaming horse stuff.)

‘The Five Things (insert nonsense here).’ It isn’t a real magazine unless it has an article titled ‘The (number of) Things (blah blah).’

Use ‘nice’ photos that look complimentary, and pull-quotes in the margins that seem upbeat. Have full-page adverts in the style of Mad Magazine’s old takedowns of cigarette ads, that appear to be homeopathic remedies and quack energy machines and the like, but on closer inspection are tearing the relevant products to shreds.

This could be fun.

*gasps at the headine on the lower left* I’ve got to replace my bananaphone!

At least I understand where that notion comes from. Bananas are particularly rich in potassium. There are three naturally occurring isotopes of potassium, one of which, potassium-40, is radioactive with a half-life of ~ 1 billion years. But I have noticed, on a bunch of dubious-looking web ads, that bananas are at the top of a list of Foods You Must Never Eat. Is there anything more to that than the K-40, or is the (well within background level) radiation all there is to it?

@EricLund

Best as I can tell the fructose (although bananas generally have a more even fructose:glucose ratio than other fruits) in bananas was declared much more able to cause belly fat than the fructose from other things that apparently have the good chemically identical fructose like honey or agave nectar. Without, you know, that resistant starch that keeps you feeling full longer.

I’m not sure what other food stuff the anti-banana people are shilling for.

I will be at TAM. Look forward to seeing you. I will have games to play in the Del Mar including Cards Against Humanity, join us 🙂

@ Eric Lund:

Probably because of the ((shudder)) carbs. See ubiquitous web ads about elminating weight, bloat, bulge.

At any rate, don’t worry about radiation, Mikey has developed a new product that ‘sorbs up cesium. ( Only to be taken in emergencies) It contains zeolites and seaweeds IIRC.

Very nice news indeed Narad, thanks for sharing. Now if only Wankfraud would get along with it…

@ Narad:

That’s great news.
I sometimes refer to Todd ( and to another guy who got sued, Lee) without mentioning his name because it might call out Baker and bring his spittle to RI.

Good work, Todd and Popehat!

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