Category Archives: Medicine

The Atlantic is emblematic of the nutty alternative medicine thing

20 years ago I was asked by the Texas Medical Association to put together a conference within a regular association meeting on alternative medicine. My experience was a mixed one, and the goofy was mixed in with the edgy stuff. At that point herbals were coming on strong. Some other modalities had obtained a foothold, like acupuncture.

Problem is that alternative medicine distinguishes itself as a place where new ideas can be promoted. And there are suggestible and anxious patients who search for answers.

Sometimes the energy of alternative medicine is a form of charlatanism, or devotion to magical ideas.

No question pharmacology includes herbals and in a way some forms of alternative therapy have benefits and should be considered mainstream–but there is a lot of magic in healthcare. People who believe in a therapy or therapist benefit.

I always tell people that in medicine the practice is driven by the proof of effectiveness when the profession is working right and not being influenced by hucksters.

However alternative medicine is the safe harbor for all kinds of nonsense. If something proves efficacious after studies eliiminate the problemms of placebo and nocebo effect, it is no longer “alternative.”

Remember placebo and nocebo effects and the importance of reandomized clinical trials for therapies.

Atlantic Mag is being influenced, to its disadvantage.

Sepsis discussion irritates me

Experts talk about sepsis linked below.

They also, like most wonks, have a great affection for guidelines, protocols, and quantitative studies to allow them to encourage further research and create planning committees.

It also gives them a chance to confirm for others that people are not getting the care they should.

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Sugar and Salt nannies are booted and spurred, prepared to ride us

Eric Hoffer was the most insightful of writers about true believer mass movements.

I stole the idea of the aggressive nanny meddling chattering oligarchs in the title from him.

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Ernest expands on nannyism/pietism

I thought this short comment by Ernest Curtis quite compelling–it is on the bounce from my request that Ernest discuss the junky business of risk factor medicine. Ernest, being a wise man in these matters, makes sense about nannyism and wellness crusades promoted by risk factor meddlers.

What you might recognize is that this is analogous to other preaching crusades by the meddling left utopians–how humans need to reduce birth rates, stop destroying the planet, start paying more attention to social justice, be less judgemental, more inclusive and tolerant.

Can you see from Ernest’s comments some threads of the canon of the lefty elites? Yes you can.

Here Dr. Curtis (cardiologist) expands and sheds light on the dynamics, but also explains why risk factor medicine has become so much a part of the drivel that comes from the medical and public health community–the public health oligarchs. they want to feature the importance of wellness as a way to make their advice and directives have more weight, but also so they can feel better about their bossy and meddlesome conduct.

So we have morons like Mooochelle restricting salt and sugar and this and that and lecturing people about how to eat and live. An illiterate woman makes policy on menu’s getting advice from food fetishists and junk scientists. It makes all these oligarchs feel so good about themselves to tell people how to live better. Makes the ruling class more powerful and influential.

One reason why the left wanted government controlled medical care–so many busy bodies, so much bossin’ to do. It’s about acquisition of power always under the cover of good intentions–social justice is the facade–power is the goal.

If, for example, all medical diseases are “associated” by sloppy epidemiology with “risks” amenable to life style choices or diet or exercise or “preventive” treatments, then health advocates and public health officials and physicians along with their running dog allies in politics and the media, have opportunities to take the mic, make new regulations (think goofy Bloomberg on sugary drinks) or write and preach about wellness, right?

That’s why the epidemiological and toxicological junk studies on tobacco causing everything and having a one-third impact on cancer rates caught such a wave of support–aesthetics and pietism intersected with the Doll and Peto evidence that lung cancer was increased in smokers, and tobacco smoking was such a big deal and so easy to attack.

After the tobacco lung cancer thing was established the junk science epidemiology and toxicology exploded–everything was associated with food and environmental toxins–the nannyism increased by an order of magnitude.

So Ernest discusses in response to the exchanges on his risk factor medicine essay.
Discussed at JS here:


John, another reason that risk factor analysis has become such a big deal is that it is extremely easy research to do. No heavy lifting at all. Just send questionaires to a number of people and have your grad students do some basic followup and run the numbers through the computer to generate statistical associations. Ask enough questions about various life style factors and you can keep going back and remining the data bank for more associations,and, more importantly, more published papers.

Another reason for the popularity of this approach is that it gives a “scientific” rationale to that endless stream of busybodies who are never happy unless they can control the behavior of others. And we mustn’t forget the strain of Puritanism that was revived in the Second Great Awakening in the 1830s when evangelical Protestant pietism swept over large portions of the country. This was a source of great political and cultural conflict between the evangelical pietists on one side and the waves of immigrant Catholics and high church Lutherans on the other.

The pietists favored an ascetic life style and tended to regard anything remotely pleasurable as sinful. Couple this with a messianic zeal to convert others and stamp out sin and you have the foundation for the hordes of “moralists” today that seek to force everybody else into a life style of “clean living” and devoid of sin. These people have long ago forsaken their religious roots but have lost none of the messianic zeal to save people from themselves.

John says:

Do you get a sense of the similarities between health nannies, enviros, pantheists, deep ecologists, social justice crusaders, utopian socialists and the lefty ruling class politicians and control freaks?

HL Mencken and CS Lewis were insightful in their comments on the tyranny of well intentioned people.


“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

C. S. Lewis
English essayist & juvenile novelist (1898 – 1963)


“The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.” – H.L. Mencken Columnist for the Baltimore Sun, essayst, political satirist.

And of course a wellness crusade is emblematic of what Mencken said was the essence of practical politics.

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Sure, I have reminded you of Mencken’s observation many times before, but did you every think about it in terms of risk factor medicine and public health programs?

Economist commits to Euthanasia?

All the intelligencia and elites read the Economist–right?

Well I couldn’t stand it, so I quit. It’s like the New Yorker, so in, so shi shi.

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Risk Factors and preventive medicine delusions

Well I have been carrying around Ernest Curtis’s essay on risk factor medicine. Ernest is a cardiologist and cardiology actually is a place where risk factor medicine is well developed. I have pleased to say that Ernest thinks risk factor medicine is hocum and bunkum–I think it is too.

So I respond here to Ernest’s excellent discussion and try to offer some reasons why risk factor medicine has become such a big deal and dominates public policy discussions and patient education–public health people love to talk living healthy and such.

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Wow, a one pill cure preventive for Malaria.

Imagine the benefits.

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