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Immunizations: NCCAM Fails To Provide Responsible Information

If you go to the website of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), you’ll find that one of its self-identified roles is to “provide information about CAM.” NCCAM Director Josephine Briggs is proud to assert that the website fulfills this expectation. As many readers will recall, three of your bloggers visited the NCCAM last April, after having received an invitation from Dr. Briggs. We differed from her in our opinion of the website: One of our suggestions was that the NCCAM could do a better job providing American citizens with useful and accurate information about “CAM.”

We cited, among several examples, the website offering little response to the dangerous problem of widespread misinformation about childhood immunizations. As Dr. Novella subsequently reported, it seemed that we’d scored a point on that one:

…Dr. Briggs did agree that anti-vaccine sentiments are common in the world of CAM and that the NCCAM can do more to combat this. Information countering anti-vaccine propaganda would be a welcome addition to the NCCAM site.

In anticipation of SBM’s Vaccine Awareness Week, I decided to find out whether such a welcome addition has come to fruition. The short answer: Nope. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

The Case Of The Winkler County Whistleblowing Nurses

I can’t speak for anyone else who blogs here at Science-Based Medicine, but there’s one thing I like to emphasize to people who complain that we exist only to “bash ‘alternative’ medicine.” We don’t. We exist to champion medicine based on science against all manner of dubious practices. Part of that mandate involves understanding and accepting that science-based medicine (SBM) is not perfect. It is not some sort of panacea. Rather, it has many shortcomings and all too often does not live up to its promise.

Our argument is merely that, similar to Winston Churchill’s invocation of the famous saying that “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried,” science-based medicine is the worst form of medicine except for all the others that have been tried before. (Look for someone to quote that sentence soon.) It’s not even close, either. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Announcing The Science-Based Medicine Conference

My colleagues and I will be holding a Science-Based Medicine conference on Thursday, July 9th. This is an all-day conference covering topics of science and medicine. The conference is designed for both a professional and general audience.

The conference will be at the Southpoint Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is also part of The Amazing Meeting 7 (TAM7) which is run by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). You can register for the conference either separately or packaged with TAM7.  You can register for both here.

Physicians can earn 6 hours of category 1 CME credits for attending the conference.

Below is the list of speakers and the titles of their talks, and below that is the bio for each speaker.

Introduction to Science-Based Medicine (Steven Novella, MD)
Case studies in cancer quackery: Testimonials, anecdotes, and pseudoscience (David H. Gorski, MD. PhD)
A Scientific Critique of Chiropractic (Harriet Hall, MD)
Why Evidence-Based Medicine is not yet Science-Based Medicine (Kimball Atwood, MD)
Lyme: From the IDSA to the ILAD to the ABA (Mark Crislip, MD)
Online Health & Social Media: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Val Jones, MD)
Conclusion (Steven Novella, MD)


Steven Novella, MD
Dr. Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine. He is the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society. He is also the host and producer of the popular weekly science podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. He authors NeuroLogicaBlog and contributes to several other science blogs: The Rogues Gallery, SkepticBlog, and Science-Based Medicine, of which he is also the founding editor.

David H. Gorski, MD, PhD
Dr. Gorski is an Associate Professor of Surgery Division of Surgical Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI. He is also the Program Leader, Breast Cancer Biology Program, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. His cancer research has been funded by the NIH, ASCO, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. He is a long-time science blogger who regularly tackles issues related to science and medicine. He is the associated editor of Science-Based Medicine.

Harriet Hall, MD
Dr. Hall is a retired family physician. She spent 20 years in the Air Force as a flight surgeon and family physician and retired as a full colonel. Also known as “The SkepDoc” from her column in Skeptic magazine, she has written extensively about alternative medicine. She is an editor of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and the Science-Based Medicine blog, is an advisor to Quackwatch, and is a contributing editor to both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer magazines. Her website is

Kimball Atwood, MD
Dr. Atwood is a practicing anesthesiologist who is also board-certified in internal medicine. He has been interested in pseudoscience for years. He was a member of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medical Practitioners, and subsequently wrote its Minority Report opposing licensure for naturopaths. He is an associate editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and co-editor of Naturowatch. He is particularly concerned with implausible claims being promoted, tacitly or otherwise, by medical schools and government. He is also dubious about the ethics of human trials of such claims.

Mark Crislip, MD
Dr. Crislip has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon since 1990. He is Chief of Infectious Diseases for Legacy Health System.
He is responsible for the Quackcast, a skeptical review of Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, The Persilflagers Annotated Compendium of Infectious Disease Facts, Dogma and Opinion a guide to Infectious Diseases, the Persifalgers Puscast, a podcast review of Infectious Diseases, and Rubor, Dolor, Calor, Tumor, an infectious disease blog.

Val Jones, MD
Dr. Jones is the CEO of Better Health, LLC, a medical blogging network, and VP of Strategic Partnerships at MedPage Today, an online health news source for healthcare professionals. She has been the Senior Medical Director for Revolution Health, and the founding editor of Clinical Nutrition & Obesity, a peer-reviewed e-section of the online Medscape medical journal. Dr. Jones volunteers once a week as a rehabilitation medicine physician at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

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