Categories
Antivaccine nonsense Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Popular culture Quackery Television

Antivaccine cardiologist Jack Wolfson and the resurrection of false balance about vaccines

hqdefault

Yesterday, I wrote about false balance in reporting on vaccines in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak. For those who’ve never encountered this blog, what I mean by false balance is when journalists, in a misguided belief that there are “two sides” (i.e., an actual scientific controversy) about the safety of childhood vaccines and whether they cause autism and all the other ills blamed on them by antivaccinationists or not, interview an antivaccine activist, advocate, or sympathizer for “balance” and to “show both sides of the story.” The problem with that technique, so deeply ingrained into journalists, is that while “telling both sides” makes sense in the political sphere, in the scientific and medical spheres it doesn’t always make sense, and the time when it makes no sense is when covering pseudoscience like the antivaccine movement. There is no longer—and, to put it bluntly, never really was much of—a controversy in the scientific community over whether vaccines cause autism or are in any way dangerous; it is a manufactroversy perpetuated by the unscientific and pseudoscientific.

Unfortunately, when misguided journalists present antivaccine pseudoscience alongside real science, it elevates the pseudoscience in the mind of the public, leading them to think, “Gee, there must be a real controversy here.” This is true even when, as three days ago, CBS News did an interview with everybody’s favorite antivaccine apologist, if not outright believer, of a pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon and seemed to be refuting what he said. Contrary to what some claim, even if the intent of CBS News were to find a doofus pediatrician with antivaccine views and discredit him, the very act of refuting a person like that and juxtaposing him with real experts elevates his evidence-free “concerns” about the MMR vaccine to be in the same ballpark as real science, a perception that does not help. False balance again. Do we see journalists interview geocentrists for “balance” in stories about astronomy—or even to refute their views? No, we do not. Yet we see this sort of thing all the time with antivaccine warriors and, truth be told, anthropogenic global warming denialists.

As I mentioned yesterday, though, I had thought that the era of false balance had ended, but, disappointingly, the Disneyland measles outbreak reveals that those bad journalistic instincts have never gone away. Despite the relative rarity of stories over the last couple of years about vaccines with false balance (a trend that even antivaccinationists have noticed and, of course, bemoaned as “one-sided” reporting about the safety of vaccines), the Disneyland measles outbreak has opened the door to more such stories. One such story has been brought to my attention more times than I can remember over the last few days, so much so that even my relatives are starting to ask me about it. So, even though Orac “doesn’t do requests” (as you know), sometimes, I guess, he does “give the people what they want.” I’m referring, of course, to an interview with an antivaccine “paleocardiologist” named Dr. Jack Wolfson that aired a week ago on a local NBC affiliate in central Arizona. (Embedded video removed from this post because I couldn’t get it to stop autostarting even adding what I thought to be correct tags. I hate autostart videos, and I won’t subject my readers to that which I myself hate. You’ll just have to rely on the link.)

Upon seeing this interview, all I could think was: Wow. I’m glad this guy doesn’t treat children. Then I thought: But he does treat adults and no doubt tells his patients not to get the flu vaccine every year or other vaccines recommended for adults, such as the Tdap and the every ten years Td booster, or the varicella or zoster vaccines. Heck, I’m guessing he doesn’t recommend the pneumococcal vaccine to his heart failure patients, even though pneumonia, even your run-of-the-mill community-acquired pneumonia, is a life-threatening illness in such patients. That’s why the pneumococcal vaccine (PPSV23) is recommended for all adults 65 and over and for adults younger than 65 with heart or lung disease (among other indications), as Dr. Wolfson should know as a cardiologist. Instead, the ignorance doth flow:

“We should be getting measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, these are the rights of our children to get it,” said Dr. Jack Wolfson of Wolfson Integrative Cardiology in Paradise Valley.

Wolfson does not believe in vaccination. “We do not need to inject chemicals into ourselves and into our children in order to boost our immune system,” he said.

The cardiologist also believes the key is to have a healthy immune system. In order to have that, he says, you have to avoid chemicals, get enough sleep, exercise, take good supplements, and have proper nutrition.

“I’m a big fan of what’s called paleo-nutrition, so our children eat foods that our ancestors have been eating for millions of years,” he said. “That’s the best way to protect.”

It’s your children’s right to get measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox? Their right? But, as he goes on in the video, never inject “chemicals” into your child’s body to “boost their immune systems”? Geez, I thought cardiologists tended to be smarter than that. It does, after all, take four years of medical school, three years of internal medicine residency, and at least three years of fellowship (more for interventional cardiology or electrophysiology) to become a cardiologist, but apparently it is possible for someone as scientifically ignorant as Dr. Wolfson to become board certified in cardiology. Of course, if Michael Egnor can become a neurosurgeon while apparently understanding so little about neuroscience, then I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Dr. Wolfson is so ignorant about vaccines, given that that’s not his area of expertise, but truly his ignorance is staggering.

What’s even more staggering is this false balance:

However, many doctors disagree. They believe it’s important for children to get vaccinated, especially when the measles is among the most infectious viruses.

Simply unbelievable. “Many” doctors disagree? How about the whole of the medical establishment thinks that what Wolfson is spouting is dangerous pseudoscientific idiocy that is not accepted in the medical community by any but a few fringe docs like, yes, Wolfson. The way Wolfson is portrayed is not as a dangerous kook with respect to vaccines (which is what he clearly is) but just as a doctor with an outside-the-mainstream viewpoint with which “many doctors” disagree. It’s enough to make a skeptic pull his hair out. (Good thing Orac is a Plexiglass box of blinky lights and circuitry.) Even worse, the caption over the story reads, “Doctors disagree on whether to vaccinate.” This is what I like to call lying by omission. Yes, because there are a few doctors like Wolfson who don’t think we should vaccinated, technically it’s true that “doctors” disagree on whether to vaccinated, but in reality the number of such disagreeing doctors is vanishingly small, and the medical community and medical science stand firmly behind vaccinations as safe and effective means of preventing childhood diseases.

It gets even worse, though. Near the very end of the segment, after the infectiousness of measles is correctly explained and it’s stated that measles is not a harmless childhood disease, the announcer intones, but one thing all doctors can agree on, followed by a snippet from a the pro-vaccine doctor ( Dr. David Engelthaler) saying, “…this is not a highly fatal, thankfully.” Yes, the overall impression given is the antivaccine trope that measles is no big deal, and what the audience takes away is not that measles is dangerous but that it’s “not highly fatal,” which ignores all the other bad things that measles can cause, such as the hospitalization of one quarter of the current outbreak’s victims, encephalopathy in two out of 1000, and even blindness. This has to be the worst example of false “balance” that I’ve seen thus far in this outbreak.

Also, if the Phoenix NBC affiliate still insisted on interviewing Wolfson, why couldn’t the producers have gotten an actual pediatrician to counter his misinformation? Nothing against Dr. Engenthaler, but he’s not a physician. He’s a researcher and epidemiologist. Granted, he used to be the State Epidemiologist for Arizona, where he tracked outbreaks, which is good, but he’s not really qualified to counter the claims that getting childhood diseases is “good for you”; i.e., the myth that “natural immunity” is so much better than that “artificial immunity” of vaccines. Remember, the price of “natural immunity” is suffering through the disease and exposing your child to the potentially serious—and, depending on the disease, even fatal—complications of the disease.

After the widespread criticism of his views, Wolfson was unchastened. Indeed, a few days later, he responded to the criticism in a post on an antivaccine website entitled Arizona Cardiologist Responds to Critics Regarding Measles and Vaccines: Why all the anger?. Yes, it’s a variant of Dr. Bob’s “why are you all being so mean to me?” laments after he lays down a diarrheal drip of antivaccine misinformation while trying to portray himself as being the “reasonable” among “vaccine skeptics” or of Katie Tietje’s “s ” gambit.

Amusingly (to me at least), Dr. Wolfson is quite up front about his intent. First, he laments the “angry responses” he got from “thousands of people” but then contrasts it with a “a tremendous amount of support to my comments and opinions.” The clear implication? It’s the old “civility” trap, in essence concern trolling. Basically, he’s portraying his critics as unreasonable and angry without valid reason and his supporters as reasonable. Then, he openly states that he wants to redirect the anger at him. I couldn’t resist putting my own comments in brackets after each item.

I want to address all this misguided anger and see if we can re-direct it where it belongs.

  1. Be angry at food companies. Sugar cereals, donuts, cookies, and cupcakes lead to millions of deaths per year. At its worst, chicken pox killed 100 people per year. If those chicken pox people didn’t eat cereal and donuts, they may still be alive. Call up Nabisco and Kellogg’s and complain. Protest their products. Send THEM hate-mail. [Orac says: This is utterly irrelevant, a non sequitur. There’s also no evidence that people who eat all natural are less likely to die of varicella infection. Truly, this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen a doctor write.]
  2. Be angry at fast food restaurants. Tortured meat burgers, pesticide fries, and hormone milkshakes are the problem. The problem is not Hepatitis B which is a virus contracted by drug users and those who sleep with prostitutes. And you want to inject that vaccine into your newborn? [Orac says: This one is truly vile, a common antivaccine trope directed at this vaccine that tells parents that you don’t have to worry about hepatitis B or C because you, antivaccine friends, are upstanding citizens who would never, ever engage in any of those immoral, risky behaviors. Of course, hepatitis B can be contracted in other ways, which is why there is a clear rationale for administering the vaccine shortly after birth. It’s not the only strategy, but it’s a very reasonable one.]
  3. Be angry at the companies who make your toxic laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets. You and your children are wearing and breathing known carcinogens (they cause cancer). Call Bounce and Downy and let them know. These products kill more people than mumps, a virus which actually doesn’t cause anyone to die. Same with hepatitis A, a watery diarrhea. [Orac says: Another non sequitur, and a particularly ridiculous one at that. Moreover, there is no evidence that Bounce and Downy “kill more people than mumps.” As for the mumps, even if it is rarely fatal, some of its complications are quite unpleasant and dangerous.]
  4. Be angry at all the companies spewing pollution into our environment. These chemicals and heavy metals are known to cause autism, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease and every other health problem. Worldwide, these lead to 10’s of millions of deaths every year. Measles deaths are a tiny fraction compared to pollution. [Orac says: Here’s the fallacy of the false dilemma. It is not an “either-or” choice here with two options. There is no reason we as a society can’t both vaccinate to eliminate measles and work on cleaning up the environment worldwide. Of course, Dr. Wolfson also overstates the risks, as there is no good evidence that these pollutants cause, for instance, autism, and the links to cancer tend to be tenuous at best, much less to “every health problem.” Certainly air pollution contributes to lung diseases such as asthma, but Dr. Wolfson simply massively overstates his case to create a false dilemma.]
  5. Be angry at your parents for not breastfeeding you, co-sleeping with you, and stuffing your face with Domino’s so they can buy more Tide and finish the laundry. Breastfeeding protects your children from many infectious diseases. [Orac says: This is another despicable one. How vile and hateful can Dr. Wolfson get? Blame your parents for not breastfeeding? Not all mothers can breastfeed. What about them? Is Wolfson saying they shouldn’t be mothers? Also, it’s true that breastfeeding does protect through transmission of maternal antibodies, but it doesn’t protect against everything, and what will protect the child once he is weaned?]
  6. Be angry with your doctor for being close-minded and not disclosing the ingredients in vaccines (not that they read the package insert anyway). They should tell you about the aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, aborted fetal tissue, animal proteins, polysorbate 80, antibiotics, and other chemicals in the shots. According to the Environmental Working Group, newborns contain over 200 chemicals as detected by cord blood. Maybe your doctor feels a few more chemicals injected into your child won’t be a big deal. [Orac says: This is just a particularly uninteresting and really dumbed down version of the “toxins” gambit. Even Dr. Jay Gordon knows better than to use this hoary old antivaccine chestnut any more. As for the “argument by package insert,” well, the less said the better. Dr. Wolfson clearly needs to up his game as an antivaccine doctor if this is the best he can come up with.]
  7. Be angry with the cable companies and TV manufacturers for making you and your children fat and lazy, not wanting to exercise or play outside. Lack of exercise kills millions more than polio. Where are all those 80 year olds crippled by polio? I can’t seem to find many. In fact, be angry with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for creating computers so you can sit around all day blasted with electromagnetic radiation reading posts like this. [Orac says: Dr. Wolfson is just getting dumber and dumber in his rant. It’s really hard to take him seriously any more. I mean, Itzhak Perlman is a polio survivor, which is why he plays the violin sitting down. Mia Farrow was in an iron lung for eight days. There are many, many other polio survivors still around, some famous.]
  8. Be angry with pharmaceutical companies for allowing us to believe living the above life can be treated with drugs. Correctly prescribed drugs kill thousands of people per year. The flu kills just about no one. The vaccine never works. [Orac says: Dr. Wolfson intentionally conflates these issues and just plain lies about the flu. At least, in my not-so-humble opinion, if he’s not lying, by making the false claim that no one (OK, “just about no one”) dies of the flu he has just demonstrated himself so ignorant that the state of Arizona ought to yank his medical license forthwith because he is a danger to his patients.]

Just to top off his level of despicableness, Dr. Wolfson finishes off by directly attacking the parents who criticized him:

Finally, be angry with yourself for not opening your eyes to the snow job and brainwashing which have taken over your mind. You NEVER asked the doctor any questions. You NEVER asked what is in the vaccines. You NEVER learned about these benign infections.

Let’s face it, you don’t really give a crap what your children eat. You don’t care about chemicals in their life. You don’t care if they sit around all day watching the TV or playing video games.

All you care about is drinking your Starbuck’s, your next plastic surgery, your next cocktail, your next affair, and your next sugar fix!

This post was created with love and with the idea of creating a better world for our children and future generations. Anger increases your risk of suffering a heart attack. Be careful.

Actually, Dr. Wolfson is the one who sounds as though he needs an anger management course. He’s a really, really angry guy. It also sounds as though he doesn’t like being criticized. Of course, no one actually likes being criticized, but if he wants to play with the big boys he really does need to develop a thicker skin than he’s exhibited. Of course, I don’t mind anger when there’s something worth getting anger over and have always rejected most tone trolling. (As Johnny Lydon used to sing, “Anger is an energy.”) I do, however, recognize double standards. While Dr. Wolfson is asking “why all the anger?” as though the anger at him was unjustified, at the same time he’s getting himself worked up into quite a lather! Then he’s telling people that what they are angry about is not what they should be angry about, treating them as stupid as he lectures them with logical fallacies galore, non sequiturs, and complete misinformation about vaccines and health. Yes, it’s great to eat better and avoid so much processed food, but it won’t protect you against disease the way vaccines can—nowhere close!

Just for yucks, I perused Dr. Wolfson’s website. I suggest that you do the same. It’s the naturalistic fallacy on steroids:

Although natural remedies have been used for thousands of years, “conventional” medicine is the term typically used to describe medical care using pharmaceuticals and surgery. The term “alternative” medicine was coined to represent all the other modalities such as vitamins, chiropractic, naturopathic, and homeopathic along with thousands of others. Conventional medicine has its place. If you are in a car wreck and needing emergency surgery, by all means, go to the nearest hospital. Natural is the only way regarding true prevention.

Integrative Cardiology uses nutrition and evidence based supplements to reduce/eliminate pharmaceutical burden and minimize cardiovascular risk. Some prescriptions may be necessary but the goal is to use as little as possible for a short duration. Invasive procedures such as coronary angiography and surgery may need to be performed. Some diseases do not have a natural cure and can only be treated with surgery. Sometimes a patient may need a pacemaker. The goal of the Integrative Cardiologist is to help the patient prevent situations calling for heroic measures and to aid in the recovery from such procedures using natural methods.

One wonders where the evidence is to support the claim that “natural is the only way” regarding “true prevention” (whatever that is). So, let’s see. If someone with hypertension uses a medication to bring his blood pressure down and thus decrease the risk of suffering a stroke or cardiac event, how is that not “true prevention”? Elsewhere, Dr. Wolfson gets even more ridiculous, such as this claim:

There are three main causes of disease and genetics is not one of them. Our ancestors from 50,000 years ago had the same genes but did not have the diseases of today.

Poor nutrition, chemicals, and stress are the root of all health issues and my focus is centered around addressing and correcting these factors. Genetics can predispose someone to disease, but poor nutrition and chemicals activate your genes, a concept called Epigenetics.

Epigenetics. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. But, seriously. This is a doctor outright saying that genetics is not a cause of cardiac disease, a statement that is so demonstrably wrong that I find it hard to believe that instead Wolfson didn’t just try to downplay the role of genetics (as most “integrative doctors” who spout off about epigenetics do) rather than outright deny it. Think of it this way. If genetics doesn’t play a role in heart disease, why are there pediatric cardiologists who specialize in inherited cardiovascular disease?

As for the whole “paleocardiologist” thing, just don’t get me started.

The sad thing is that this false balance continues. Since his first interview, Dr. Wolfson is reveling in his notoriety. He’s been interviewed for USA TODAY:

He’s apparently done a segment for CNN in which he “debated” Dr. Armand Dorian about vaccines that is truly painful to watch. (Sorry, CNN doesn’t allow embedding; so you’ll have to click on the link, but maybe that’s a favor to you.) Dr. Wolfson even pulls the “aborted fetal proteins” gambit. I will give Dr. Dorian credit for doing a pretty good job countering Wolfson, but I’m annoyed that CNN let Wolfson spout on about being a “board certified cardiologist,” as if that meant anything!

For shame, USA TODAY and CNN! For shame!

Of course, I know why news outlets are resurrecting false balance. In fact, it’s even alluded to in this Washington Post article:

Wolfson, who himself lives in a state now affected by the California measles outbreak that many blame on the anti-vaccination movement, does nonetheless prove the power of assuming a contrarian stance. The controversy has transformed Wolfson — last week, just another doctor — into a hero for those who share his views.

Yes, the reason that idiots like Wolfson—yes, idiots, and I’d call him an idiot to his face were I ever to see him—are reappearing is because measles is in the news now, and having raving antivaccine loons like Wolfson on TV juxtaposed with real doctors like Dr. Dorian is because it’s just the model of politics imposed on medical discourse.

It might make for interesting TV, but it sure doesn’t make for illuminating TV. CNN and USA TODAY have failed their viewers most egregiously.

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]

331 replies on “Antivaccine cardiologist Jack Wolfson and the resurrection of false balance about vaccines”

I treat criticism as a hat… I try it on for size. If it fits, I take it. If it doesn’t, I throw it away.

It’s clear that the antivax talking points have been sent out.

BTW, it was reported today that the child in Baltimore who developed measles after the MMR shot didn’t have measles. More than likely, the child had a reaction to the vaccine, which will happen from time to time and never in the proportion that people like Robert Schecter or Jay Gordon claim.

You know what the child won’t get? Measles.

““We should be getting measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, these are the rights of our children to get it,” said Dr. Jack Wolfson of Wolfson Integrative Cardiology in Paradise Valley.

What. An. Idiot. Six will get you ten this jackass is too young to have had the above-named diseases.

(I promised my husband recently that I would cut down on my use of the f-bomb, but this kind of crap would drive a wooden man nuts).

“There are three main causes of disease and genetics is not one of them. Our ancestors from 50,000 years ago had the same genes but did not have the diseases of today.”

This is demonstrably false. Ozti the ice man had coronary artery disease. There is at least one case of probable bone metastasis in an ancient skeleton, I THINK Paleolithic, but don’t hold me to that.

Measles does not fossilize, and neither do most of the diseases that we might consider “modern woes.”

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Wolfson came up on my radar in April of 2014, when a person with measles had briefly passed through central AZ. Thankfully, the measles did not spread from that episode, however this AZ media outlet decided to have a vaccine “debate” between caveman cardiologist Wolfson and Dr. Albter Jacobson, a clinical professor of pediatrics (http://www.azcentral.com/videos/news/local/phoenix/2014/04/11/7611475/). The interview is incredibly painful to watch, as Jacobson was not at all prepared for the level of BS with which Wolfson shat right out of the gate. I emailed the news director complaining about this false balance and here with the response I received from the assistant news director

Dr. Hickie,

We want to thank you for being a loyal 12 News viewer. From your email we know that you feel strongly about the subject. Many of us do believe that vaccines protect us and our loved ones from infectious and sometimes deadly diseases. However, there is a segment of our population who have a philosophical difference. We wanted to offer our viewers a passionate debate and allow them to draw their own conclusions as we often do at 12 News. All of the points you made are valid. We were hoping Dr. Jacobson would bring those same talking points to the discussion challenging Dr. Wolfson but he did not. Mark Curtis’ role was to serve as the moderator. We appreciate your note. This is an ongoing conversation that we will revisit in the future.

Thanks for watching.

Yeah, whatever, AZCentral. Clearly they still love this jackass paleoputz to put him back on with this measles outbreak. Additionally, he even hosted (along with his chiroquacktic wife) an antivaccine seminar in 2013 called “Vaccination: Destroying a Generation” (http://wolfsonintegrativecardiology.com/vaccination-destroying-a-generation/) .

Yeah, Wolfson a real piece of something. And he’s right in my backyard. So far myself and another physician (a cardiologist from AZ) have filed formal medical board complaints against him. I welcome anyone else feeling so inclined to go to http://azmd.gov/Files/Forms/md_complaint.pdf and download and fill out a complaint form.

And I’d call him much worse than an idiot to his face–he is a direct threat to the health of my patients.

I made the mistake of wandering onto his Facebook page a bit earlier.

I’m currently posting this from my phone, while curled up in the fetal position, crying, and rocking back and forth.

Re: cardiovascular disease in ancient humans: Quite true. I described studies of mummies that demonstrated that atherosclerotic disease was fairly common in ancient peoples that did not correlate with agricultural status. Hunger-gatherers like Unangans (the original “Paleo” diet!) and farmers like Egyptians both had it:

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2013/03/25/paleo-and-woo-bad-company-until-they-day-they-die/

The only strongly predictive factor was the age of the person at death.

Ren, I too had a reaction to the MMR when I got my booster in high school (back during the 1990 measles resurgence). High fever for 3 days, then a mini-rash that lasted about a day. My doctor knew it was only a vaccine reaction though, and called my school to let them know that I did not have the measles and I could attend my senior prom. 🙂

BTW, this cardiologist is an over-the-top quack. He can’t really believe all that crap he posted, can he? It’s mind-boggling.

And I am one of the people who could not breastfeed, not through lack of effort but lack of milk. How dare he call for my head! People like him that think 1) everyone can breastfeed and 2) shame those that can’t seriously piss me off.

Looking at when he graduated Med School from the Arizona medical license look up it puts him about a dozen years younger than me.

He probably got the chicken pox, but any of the rest of the pack of diseases he had the right to catch he was probably vaccinated against or able to hide in the herd and never got a chance to go to the house of a playmate with polio or rubella to catch whatever it makes you stronger disease he wishes he could have gotten.

May be young enough to not have had to get the small pox vaccination. I think I was vaccinated in one of the last few years they still did that. T’was the only vaccination that annoyed me as I got it during the summer so I wouldn’t have to miss school for my annual check up and I couldn’t get it wet for a few days and missed my daily going to the community pool to play. Sitting in the kiddie pool with my arm sealed in plastic wrap was not an acceptable substitute.

I read in one of the articles about this guy where he says (and I’m paraphrasing here) that he used to believe in science, but then he met his wife, who’s a chiropractor, and she convinced him that science is yucky and evil. That part I’m not sure whether to laugh about or not.

Yeah, I notice his website and Facebook page are named after “the Doctors Wolfson.” Another one claimed by falling in love with a woo-meister.

“Paleo nutrition by the Paleo cardiologist”

Sorry, I stopped taking this guy seriously after reading “Paleo nutrition”. When I read “cardiologist” on the news, I assumed it was the opinion of a real physician.

The interested reader is engaged to go read on the history of our veggies. Most of today’s westerners vegetables weren’t in our ancestors’ diet a thousand year ago (unless you are from native american or south asian stock; but even so, the million-year mark isn’t reached…).

“Where are all those 80 year olds crippled by polio? I can’t seem to find many.”

They died early, d!psh!t. My mom, who is not 80-year old yet, had a few of these poor kids living around her block when she was a teenager.
Which part of “crippled” doesn’t he understand? From a supposed physician!

Sidenote: Interesting, a variation on the “where are the 80-year old autistic people”.

For someone who express concerns that anger can give us heart attack…

His contempt for his patients is staggering.

I breastfed my daughter til she was nearly two, we bedshared for almost as long, I don’t stuff my face with Domino’s and I don’t use Tide, and guess what, she still got infectious illnesses like RSV, norovirus, Coxsackie, and a host of others. But when all else fails, blame the Mom. It MUST be something she did or didn’t do. Or, you know, life.

As for “where are all the 80 year olds crippled by polio?” he can just go do something to himself that I won’t write here. What a vile, hateful man.

Anyone ever read Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini? Imagine Wolfson as Bull Meecham as your cardiologist.

Wolfson: “Let’s face it, you don’t really give a crap what your children eat. You don’t care about chemicals in their life. You don’t care if they sit around all day watching the TV or playing video games.”

“All you care about is drinking your Starbuck’s, your next plastic surgery, your next cocktail, your next affair, and your next sugar fix!”

Shades of Mitt Romney blasting the “47%”.

At least we won’t have to worry about Wolfson running for political office. All an opponent would have to do is quote his contempt for parents.

Does Wolfson feel deprived of his “right” to catch smallpox and polio? Has he considered trying to get cholera instead? Or is it only other people’s children who he thinks “should” get unpleasant and potentially fatal diarrheas?

As a side note, television is not legally required, and in fact the cable companies won’t give it to you unless you pay them. Of course, if Wolfson thinks television is bad, where is his apology for appearing on television and thus helping them draw viewers who could otherwise be playing outside?

Chris @5 — Yet another example of why it’s a fools’ errand to “debate” a crank, unless you’re thoroughly versed in the various BS arguments that they’re likely to pull. Evolutionary biologists learned that lesson painfully some time ago; after all, the Gish Gallop is named after “creation-science” propagandist Duane Gish.

rationalwiki has a good article on the Gish Gallop.

Well, I don’t know about this…
This is maybe the most stupid thing i’ve read for a while. Orac, you made me laugh and then cry and then hit my head against my keyboard. You should put a “Not safe for anyone” at the the start of this piece.

How is it even possible to be so ignorant as a doctor ?

“All you care about is drinking your Starbuck’s (sic), your next plastic surgery, your next cocktail, your next affair, and your next sugar fix!”

I do care about my next cocktail, but it’s not ALL I care about, Jack.

Ahem… Egyptians, nor Otzi, were paleolithic people, but your points are valid anyway. People MAY have been less prone to arteriosclerosis before the advent of agriculture, but since they died young, it’s hard to say.

Dr Hickie: I have had numerous exchanges like the one you share with various media outlets. When I respond and try to explain that science is not a “philosophy”, they simply stop communicating. It’s very frustrating that they cut off the conversation after issuing their stock response.

I do care about my next cocktail, but it’s not ALL I care about, Jack.

Indeed, tonight after a long week of writing grants, seeing patients, and operating, I’m caring about having a couple of fingers’ worth of single malt scotch to chill out before hitting the grant writing again tomorrow. 🙂

Does he only condemn Starbucks or has that become a generic term for all coffee (much like Kleenex for tissues and Xerox for copiers)? I thought both current scientific research and alternative medicine said good things about coffee in general, though the orifice used to dose would be different between the two.

If it’s just Starbucks … how come?

How did he get to be a doctor? Sadly it seems fairly common for people with the The Dunning–Kruger effect to get astounding far along in their eduction/training. It isn’t just the couldn’t graduate high school, but got a degree from Google U types.

I think part of it is that people don’t know to look for signs of it and often it is just easier to let them move ahead with their false confidence than to actually come up with what you need to stop them. I know of someone that was finally sent for an evaluation after getting very far along in education and training, and they came back with a diagnosis of Dunning Kruger.

My sense is that the ones that get advanced degrees are a lot like some people with other kinds of personality flaws where they are good at manipulation the sane and competent people around them so they manage waltz through the check points through the fog of war they create around them.

Ugh, Paleo woos are some of the worst woos. They’re certainly some of the most pushy and self-righteous, although you’d think raw-food vegan types would take the cake there. (I had the bad fortune of having lunch with a Paleo type back when I was still a vegetarian.)

The man’s Facebook page is at least good for laughs – he tells you “how to soak your nuts,” for one thing. Also, he apparently believes that showering is bad for you.

He also clearly believes that the whole world lives in sunny SoCal, as he has an article thingy up about how good it is for you to walk barefoot in the sand. I mean, I actually did spend a few days on the coast with some relatives earlier this month, but the Oregon coast in January is not a place you want to be walking barefoot. And I like it that way, thanks.

Also: he has a whole bunch of naked pictures of his kids up. I mean, I know that little kids love to run around naked, and it can be hard to get them to put clothes on, but dude, putting naked pictures of them up on your Facebook page? Pretty creepy.

He’s a cardiologist! G-d! No!

My late father developed an arrhythmia when he was 80 which gradually progressed into more serious issues but was managed for a really LONG TIME entirely with meds. Because he was vaccinated appropriately as his doctor advised, he didn’t die of flu or pneumonia but of VT ( he couldn’t undergo surgery because of his very advanced age).

OT but it’s Friday and woo, like rust, never sleeps
@ Chris Hickie:

There’s a post you might *enjoy* ( cough) at TMR today, written by Jennifer Margulies**, which deals with child services in your state amongst other issues.

** and we know about her, don’t we?

Mephistopheles O’Brien:

Starbucks is the go-to coffee brand for painting critics, opponents, skeptics, and the like as out-of-touch, effete ivory-tower “elitist” liberals who have more time and money than good sense.

I don’t know why, it just seems to be a rule.

Imagine Wolfson as Bull Meecham as your cardiologist.

In fairness to Meecham, in the book he was pretty good at his job. Wolfson? Meh.

FWIW, neither Bounce, Downy, nor Tide is an independent company. The are all brands produced by a consumer products company with international presence headquartered in the US. Tide, Bounce, and Downy boxes do have contact numbers written on them as well as web sites and e-mail addresses, so maybe that’s what he meant.

Wolfson’s list of worthy anger recipients sounds like a woo-meister’s rant:( See PRN)

No one forces you to eat fastfoods or not exercise, etc ( although I realise that people sometimes have less choice, time and money).

Like anti-vax, it externalises causes of illness rather than acknowledging that how people behave,their heredity and chance itself have significant effects on outcomes.

But being realistic won’t win him any popularity contests.

See, I can understand Dr Ben Carson saying ridiculous and ignorant things about economics, because he’s a neurosurgeon, not an economist, and compartmentalisation is a thing.

But Dr Wolfson saying ridiculous and ignorant things about medicine? And the contempt dripping from his post? To paraphrase Treebeard’s line in the The Two Towers film, a doctor should know better!

This is my favorite Insolence of the week. Wolfson via his MD credentials has the power to lead many astray. Hope Orac does get a chance to call him an idiot to his face — that would be priceless.

He’s married to a chiropractor. Apparently he was a normal doctor until he was infected by her woo. And by the way, Orac, you ask just how hateful he can be? Check out his attack of a mother who lost her 5 year old daughter to chicken pox: http://wolfsonintegrativecardiology.com/anti-vaccine/

“Recently, a child died from complications of the chicken pox and now her mother wants to make sure everyone gets injected. While the death of any child is a travesty, this one could have been prevented, not with injecting more chemicals into this young girl, but with good nutrition and chemical avoidance. She was likely fed GMO, sugar, gluten, soy, corn, and other items that led to her demise. Her mother sadly blames the doctor (who advised her against the vaccine) and the rest of us who demand the freedom to choose whether or not to inject chemicals into our children. Here is the response of my wife, Dr. Heather Wolfson, to a column on Yahoo. Where do I begin?!! I can go on forever about it. First of all, the little girl was born without a spleen therefore she was immunocompromised since birth. The lack of this vital organ was probably caused by some drug the mother took while pregnant! Immunocompromised individuals are not supposed to receive vaccines. Kudos to the pediatrician who steered the mom and child away from the chicken pox shot. I’d like to shake his hand. He probably saved the girls life given she may have died due to complications of vaccines based on her poor immune status. i Maybe the mother got an extra five years of life from her daughter by not participating in vaccine schedule folly. She should be thankful to the doctor. Secondly, the mother probably gave fever reducers such as Tylenol. This depletes glutathione and is a sure fire way to allow your child to succumb to such a benign childhood illness. In this country, one in 30,000 of those with chicken pox died every year, for a grand total of 100 per annum. Those were usually adults. Please don’t pass a law forcing us to vaccinate and inject chemicals into our children because 100 people died per year. What was the health status of those 100 prior to chicken pox? Probably not good. Your healthy, breast fed, organic child will not suffer the same fate. If this mother would have sought out chiropractic care, gave just two simple vitamins A and C, she would have never developed pneumonia. Also, mom fed her garbage food and exposed her to thousands of chemicals. This little girl is dead, not from chicken pox, but from chemicals and poor nutrition. Additionally, she probably had at least one vaccine, hepatitis B, when she was first born in the hospital which would have destroyed her immune and nervous system from the start. The mother is ignorant, uneducated, and a danger to all other parents and children. She should spend her time learning how the human body works instead of spreading her deadly advice to the rest of the world.”
________

Nauseating.

The lack of this vital organ was probably caused by some drug the mother took while pregnant! Immunocompromised individuals are not supposed to receive vaccines….

The mother is ignorant, uneducated, and a danger to all other parents and children. She should spend her time learning how the human body works instead of spreading her deadly advice to the rest of the world.

You first, Jack.

@36
I’m putting myself in the shoes of that 5 year old’s mother, imagining how it would feel to read that, in light of her passing.

I live in Canada. Can I make a complaint about Wolfson? Do I have to reside in the US? This nasty megalomaniac needs to be censured.

Also: he has a whole bunch of naked pictures of his kids up [on Facebook].
Pretty creepy doesn’t even start to cover it. Also, incredibly stupid. In some jurisdictions, he’d face charges for that.

A paleo cardiologist?
Is he operating with stone knives and without anesthetics?
And where do the supplements he sells grow? I doubt they had those in the times he seems to want us all to return to.
I think in those days the average age was a lot lower than nowadays, also because a lot of children probably died of illnesses we now are able to prevent, or cure with all those nasty chemicals.

Reading Wolfson’s rantings makes me want to inject my child with chemicals and then take him out for a tortured meat burger. I don’t thinks I should mention what reading his attack on the mother who lost her child to chickenpox makes me want to do.

Said in Homer Simpson voice….”mmmmm…..hormone shakes. Pesticide fries. Organic, free-range children.”

*commence drooling*

“Where are all those 80 year olds crippled by polio? I can’t seem to find many.”

Besides the ones who died there are those like my father. He’s 70 and one leg in much shorter than the other. He has post polio syndrome and has been in a great deal of discomfort for many years with hip and knee pain and sciatica. This past year he has come to no longer be able to walk much more than a few steps and uses a wheelchair and scooter to get around.

That little rant mixes rampant speculation with misinformation in roughly equal portions, with a tag that says, “first you handicapped your child by preventing her from getting a spleen, then murdered her by your actions and inactions.”

I wonder what the Pope would do if someone talked to his mother like that?

Maybe my husband’s into being cuckolded and therefore is *hoping* I have an affair! Could be just the thing to perk up our relationship. And how is monogamy paleo? Lots of high ranking men had harems, after all.

” While the death of any child is a travesty”.

English, like SBM, apparently isn’t his strong suit either.

Mephistopheles O’Brien, to expand further:
Another thing about Starbucks is most of what they sell is not straight up coffee. It’s milk (oh noes) and sugar (or artificial sweeteners, double oh noes) with some coffee in it. People joke that Seattle doesn’t have a coffee culture so much as a warm milk culture.

As for what Composer99 said, part of the “liberal” perception is the Starbucks/Walmart ratio – a few election cycles ago if you compared the number of each in a county, it was a pretty reliable correspondence to that county going blue or red (I don’t know if that still holds true). Part of it is that Starbucks is generally an urban phenomenon. And the “elitism” comes from asking “who in their right mind spends five bucks on a coffee?”

English, like SBM, apparently isn’t his strong suit either.

I assumed they didn’t care enough about this child’s death to bother using the correct word. That or perhaps they really believe that the death of any child is a false, absurd, or distorted representation.

Note:

The entire rant quoted @ 37 is not Wolfson’s:
about 7 lines in, he quotes his wife, Heather, – but this isn’t illustrated well. So it’s a joint rant.

quetzalmom, I want to put him in an iron lung with a bad case of the shingles, preferably, including in his mucus membranes and force him to listen to a baby gasping for breath because of whooping cough. After that, I want to put him in a sack and beat him with a stick until he ends up crippled similar to old friends I’ve had who were survivors of polio. After that? Smallpox.

(choosing to focus on the “why Starbuccks” query because otherwise my head will explode with rage)

M O’B: “If it’s just Starbucks … how come?”

Perhaps because it provides fairly decent benefits to even its part time employees. Going my experience with folks I know in Arizona (my relatives), they are very libertarian and dislike it when those in low income jobs get stuff they “did not earn.”

Listed as a favorite on one relative’s Facebook is “Not Giving Welfare to Illegal Immigrants.” So, yeah.

By the way, I should note that I am very glad my son’s cardiologist is sane. This is why son get influenza vaccine, and before each dental appointment he takes antibiotics.

@Dr. Hickie,
I watched the video in the link you provided. I think Dr. Jacobson held his own pretty well. It’s just that Dr. Wolfson is smooth and confident in the horrible information he provides. In a completely fanatical way. “Vaccines are really just chemicals” and chemicals are bad. That was painful and just idiotic. Everything is made of chemicals.

Or maybe it’s because they sell pumpkin spice lattes. There was a big Food Babe to-do about those a while back. (Apparently they contain chemikulz.)

I typically enjoy reading the comments on Orac’s articles, however, after seeing that POS’s response to a 5 year old dying . . . I can’t breathe I am so angry. One of my ‘friends’ posted his tirade that Orac is destroying, and that made me mad enough. LIVID. She agreed with it and got six ‘likes’. I think I am going to go throw up.

Emma Crew – that explains it, then. When I go to such a shop, I typically get a black drip coffee. Unless I’m in the UK or Europe, in which case I either get an espresso or an espresso mixed with hot water (Caffè Americano). The whole milk (or milklike substances), sugar (or other sweetener), and flavorings thing is lost on me. But I could see how one might mock someone getting a double half-caff soy latte with sugar free hazlenut syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

a slight digression but I think cool. Measles may not have infected our paleo ancestors and may be a relatively modern infection from rhinderpest.

http://www.virologyj.com/content/7/1/52

And, divergence between MeV and RPV occurred around the 11th to 12th centuries. The result was unexpected because emergence of MeV was previously considered to have occurred in the prehistoric age.

MeV may have originated from virus of non-human species and caused emerging infectious diseases around the 11th to 12th centuries. In such cases, investigating measles would give important information about the course of emerging infectious diseases.

I typically enjoy reading the comments on Orac’s articles, however, after seeing that POS’s response to a 5 year old dying . . . I can’t breathe I am so angry. One of my ‘friends’ posted his tirade that Orac is destroying, and that made me mad enough. LIVID. She agreed with it and got six ‘likes’. I think I am going to go throw up.

The solution, of course, is to post a link to this post in response to your friend. 🙂

@Dangerous Bacon #15:

At least we won’t have to worry about Wolfson running for political office. All an opponent would have to do is quote his contempt for parents.

Just think of all those babies who’ll be relieved not to be kissed by him.

Had some fun poking around the on-line reviews of Dr Jack the Caveman Cardiologist.

For someone who spouts off the only cure for everything is food I found this page http://doctors.findthebest.com/l/25454/Jack-M-Wolfson-in-Phoenix-Arizona where you can check out a doctor’s prescribing habits illuminating.

Especially the comparisons between how much he prescribes of something compared to county state and national rates. Although I suspect any cardiologist may be higher on the meds their population needs.

My very EBM academic clinic doc who is in internal medicine is below average for how many ebil phrarma chemiculz he forces upon his patients.

I read this article yesterday and I was shocked, at first, that a cardiologist would write about chemicals in that way. Then, I went to his website and saw all the supplements and beauty products he sells. I am sure they are just like Mercola’s products where the prices are jacked up only because they have his name on them. Further, he doesn’t take insurance so you have to pay $750 out of pocket for a consult. That is about 10 times what it costs my insurance for me to see my doctor. He’s a shyster. I with there was a way to stop people like him, legally.

This is my favorite response to his Facebook page, by the way:

——

Dear Dr Jack Wolfson,
I read your article in response to the anger over your vaccination comments. You listed different things to be angry at which are, in your opinion, worse than the diseases we vaccinate our children again. I’d like to challenge you to practice what you preach, to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

I will eat sugar infused breakfast cereals every day for a month, if you will expose yourself to the measles. You say in item 1 of your article that these cereals do more damage than the measles, so I would challenge you to prove that.
2 I will wash my clothes in Tide every day if you will expose yourself to Hep A, or as you’ve put it, “watery diarrhea”. If you believe the damage these chemicals would do is worse than the virus, I again would be interested in the proof.

We can continue with the comparisons of television and computers to polio and so on, but the reality is that you’d probably not want to expose yourself to these illnesses, and the truth is that you would end up a whole lot sicker than I would. My lethargy and sickness would probably be fixed by a couple days of jogging and exercise; you would need medical attention.
So, if you’d like to accept my challenge, I’m game. It would probably even drum up more of that publicity you love. We can even add MSG vs Smallpox if you can find some; I’ll eat Doritos while you die.

Sincerely,
Scott Ferris

From Wolfson’s website:

“I’m proud to be voted Top Holistic MD 2012 by Natural Awakenings Magazine.”

Yeah, that’s a real stellar award there sport.

Andrew, thanks for sharing Scott Ferris’ post. After reading so many that I enjoyed here, this one beat them all.

Let’s not forget Wolfson’s sleazy introduction of “mercury” into this whole mess. MMR does not contain thimerosal and never did — mercury would inactivate the vaccine.

Dr. Wolfson is a cardiologist – and he’s recommending AGAINST vaccinations, including Rubella.
Congenital Rubella (mom infected while pregnant) often causes heart damage.
He’s generating profit for himself & pretending it’s “concern”.

Back when I went to med school (1994-98), you couldn’t be a med student unless you were up to date on all vaccinations including Hep B. Don’t know if this was true when this fellow went to med school, but it’s highly likely that he himself is vaccinated.

Mark @ 61
I feel rather prescient. In my dissertation published in 1998, I wrote that measles was first described in the 10th century by a Persian physician, who cited a 7th center Hebrew physician, but earlier writings by Hippocrates (460-377 B. C.) make no mention of anything that might have been considered measles. And that it most likely came from rinderpest. My existence in the world is now validated. 🙂

Oh, and this cardiologist is vile. Totally vile.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: