News From Around The Blogosphere 5.4.11

May 4, 2011

1. Mark Geier is stripped of his medical license – For those who don’t know, Mark Geier and his son David have been “treating” autistic children with chemical castration for several years now. As far as I’m concerned, that puts them pretty much write behind Osama bin Laden on the list of worst human beings alive. Oh, that’s right. Osama’s dead. That might possibly bump father and son Geier up to worst people on Earth. So I’m delighted to hear that the Maryland medical board decided to strip Mark Geier of his medical license. You can see the official 48-page decision in .pdf format here. Also, Orac chimes in on the news here.

2. Robots learn to share -This article is deceptively more about the evolution of altruism than robots, but still pretty interesting and worth the read:

Using simple robots to simulate genetic evolution over hundreds of generations, Swiss scientists provide quantitative proof of kin selection and shed light on one of the most enduring puzzles in biology: Why do most social animals, including humans, go out of their way to help each other? In the online, open access journal PLoS Biology, EPFL robotics professor Dario Floreano teams up with University of Lausanne biologist Laurent Keller to weigh in on the oft-debated question of the evolution of altruism genes.

3. Acupuncture needle found in former South Korean president’s lung

Former South Korean president Roh Tae-woo was admitted to hospital with a bad cough and ended up on the operating table to remove an acupuncture needle from his right lung.

So let’s look at the cost/benefit ratio. Acupuncture has no benefit, and it can possibly kill you.

“I can’t figure out how the needle got into there,” Dr Sung Myung-whun was quoted as telling reporters at the hospital after the operation. “It is a mystery for me, too.”

Call me crazy, but I suspect the needle “got into there” while you were callously jabbing them into the man’s body. Just a thought. How appropriate that “woo” is in the ex-president’s name. I think comedian Dmitri Martin had the best response to acupuncture.

4. The illusion of being watched can make you a better person – We’re already well past the final nail in the coffin of the Christian view of morality, but here’s just another interesting incite into human behavior. Not only do we tend to act more morally when being watched, but we even do so when we see posters of staring eyes.

5. Facebook finally answers age-old question of who’d win in a fight: Jesus or Batman?

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This week in medical quackery

May 24, 2009

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyNow I’ve done several blogs on the Daniel Hauser case, so I’m not going to discuss that here. And I also did one blog on the Lupron scandal, but David Gorski’s “friend” Orac did a number of pieces on it this week that I’d like to draw people’s attention to here, here, and here. The last of these also cites legendy anti-vaccinationist Dan Olmsted, which also reminds me that I don’t think I got around to blogging Jenny McCarthy’s latest hypocrisy. A month or so ago, Jenny “I hate toxins” McCarthy publicly expressed her love of botox, aka botulism, aka Botulinum toxin, aka the most dangerous toxin on the planet (not that there aren’t some real medicinal uses for it, which there are).

But now she publicly expressed her love of bleaching her hair:

“I guess this is what one might call a hypocrite. I talk about staying away from toxins, yet I bleach the hell out of my hair every month. It’s tough to avoid everything that is not good for you. Yes, I have given up a lot so far, but I don’t think I can ever let people see me with my original haircolor. Yuck. My hairdresser had just told me a couple of grays were seen. WHAT?!! Come on. I finally just got rid of my adult acne! Will my armpit hair turn gray one day too?”

And then finally there’s theĀ  Madeleine Neumann case. Madeleine was an 11-year-old girl died of diabetic ketoacidosis because her parents chose prayer over real medicine, not unlike the almost inevitable fate of Daniel Hauser. But that was a year ago. The DA chose to prosecute the parents for second-degree reckless homicide, it went to trial, and now this week the parents were found guilty. Of course nothing will bring their daughter back but we can only hope that this ruling will serve as a lesson to other parents who put their own wacky beliefs above hard science. And in doing so, maybe some will be wiser for it and lives will be saved.

Then although this isn’t about quackery, Mark Hoofnagle from the Denialist blog wrote about the propaganda against universal healthcare versus the reality.

‘Miracle Drug’ for autism is miraculous fraud

May 21, 2009

For the medical charlatan, you almost can’t find an easier target to sell your snake oil to than the parent to an autistic child. They’re quite understandably desperate to find anything that might help their child and there’s still so much the scientists admit they don’t know about autism. So it’s easy to see why so many hundreds of parents could flock to an unproven and even potentially dangerous treatment with amazing promises attached to it such as allowing their child to receive…

. . .multiple high doses of a drug sometimes used to chemically castrate sex offenders.

The therapy is based on a theory, unsupported by mainstream medicine, that autism is caused by a harmful link between mercury and testosterone. Children with autism have too much of the hormone, according to the theory, and a drug called Lupron can fix that.

Given that autism is 4-times more common in males than females, it’s easy to see how the father and son team of Mark and David Geier could distort facts to fit this failed hypothesis. Sure, they had no reputable studies supporting their claims and the entire medical establishment had denounced them, but they had marketing. And let’s face it. These days, with good enough marketing, you can sell binoculars to the blind.

But experts say the idea that Lupron can work miracles for children with autism is not grounded in scientific evidence.

Four of the world’s top pediatric endocrinologists told the Tribune that the Lupron protocol is baseless, supported only by junk science. More than two dozen prominent endocrinologists dismissed the treatment earlier this year in a paper published online by the journal Pediatrics.

Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge in England and director of the Autism Research Center in Cambridge, said it is irresponsible to treat autistic children with Lupron.

But of course, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And where there’s medical quacks selling dangerous products as autism cures, you know Jenny McCarthy can’t be far behind:

This weekend, Eisenstein, Geier and his son, David, are scheduled to speak at the Autism One conference at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont. The five-day conference, featuring a keynote speech by actress-turned-activist Jenny McCarthy [NEW LINK ADDED BY SKEPACABRA], steps in where modern medicine has yet to succeed, offering answers for what causes autism and treatments with allegedly dramatic results.

Steve Novella goes into length about the Geiers’ claims here.