In the mid-19th century, traveling medicine shows became all the rage. They were basically like small circuses that also peddled phony medicine. Today, we may laugh at how gullible we once were. But charlatans like Dr. Oz are the modern-day equivalent of that traveling con job.
With so much disinformation on the Internet, debunking junk science and bogus health claims could be a full-time job. Indeed, "debunkery" is one of the main reasons why ACSH exists. Narrowing down a full year's worth of nonsense into the 10 worst bogus health stories is quite a challenge. But we never shy down from a challenge. Here are the stinkiest stories from the past 12 months.
The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is a new book by neurologist and science communicator, Dr. Steven Novella. It is both an easy read and a great reference.
It was discovered that Ali Watkins, the newspaper's national security reporter, slept with a source who was an aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That source has now been arrested as part of an investigation into leaks of classified information. A breakdown in journalistic ethics, to say the least.
Dr. Oz is what would happen if Alex Jones and Mother Jones had a baby. And perhaps short of murdering somebody on live TV, there is literally nothing Dr. Oz won't say or do for money.
Dr. Oz is a fraud who ought to be fired from Columbia University and have his medical license revoked. Instead, he's headed to the White House.
Like us, so many people in New York love this educational treasure. What we don't love is the pseudoscience junk that we recently found for sale in its gift shop.
This award needs to go to a media outlet that has credibility (in some people's eyes, anyway), yet consistently gets the science wrong, likely for ideological reasons. Using those criteria, the Times was the runaway winner. There isn't even a close second.
Following one of its doctor's pseudoscientific ramblings last year, as well as him promoting anti-vaccine propaganda, the Cleveland Clinic now has this bombshell to deal with. USA Today discovered that a surgeon was accused of "anally raping" two patients, then covered it up.
Open displays of bipartisanship are rare these days and, as such, should be applauded. Unfortunately, a recent example of bipartisanship promotes junk science and bogus health claims, using buzz words like "integrative" and "wellness" that are code for "alternative medicine."
Just about 10 years ago, ACSH published the first edition of our booklet Celebrities vs. Science, calling out a number of well-known personalities for promulgating non-scientific nonsense. Unfortunately, that trend has continued, as a new essay points out.
An international team of medical experts recently published a global call to action in an effort to curb the unethical, unsubstantiated use of stem-cell based therapies driving medical tourism. When greed trumps science, we all lose.