Earlier this month, a study claiming to have identified a neurologic mechanism by which acupuncture reduces inflammation was published in Nature. It does no such thing. it’s another bait-and-switch mouse study that likely would never have been published in such a high profile journal if it hadn’t rebranded electrical stimulation as “electroacupuncture”.
Regular readers of this blog know that many forms of quackery and science denial have conspiracy theories associated with them, but a further examination suggests that all science denial a form of conspiracy theory. In the middle of a deadly pandemic, it is a form of conspiracy theory with potentially deadly consequences.
“Dr.” Joe Mercola just celebrated 23 years of his website. It’s actually been 23 years of promoting quackery and antivaccine misinformation, culminating in a lot of COVID-19 disinformation.
Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus (false in one thing, false in all things) is a legal principle. That doesn’t stop cranks from misusing it to cast doubt on science that they don’t like. Overall, it’s just another form of black/white dichotomous thinking.
Professor Fabrizio Benedetti is the most famous and almost certainly also the most influential researcher investigating the physiology of placebo effects. In a recent commentary, he asks whether placebo research is fueling quackery, as quacks co-opt its results. The answer to that question is certainly yes. A better question is: How do supporters of science counter the placebo narrative promoted by quacks, in which placebos represent the “power of the mind to heal the body”?