New year, beyond conspiracies, litigation, and more…

FSM Friends’ News and Articles

2020 – The Good and the Bad: As 2020 comes to a close, we look back on the year of COVID-19 denialism, of science denialism and of science by political convenience, leading to far higher death tolls as high as 1 in 1000. We also look back on a year in which too many physicians behaved badly by throwing their support in with science denialism for various reasons. Many doctors are not scientists. Many are not malicious, but were simply led astray by their biases. Others used the publicity to bolster their popularity, and are less deserving of moral charity. Most doctors are respected, ethical professionals, but this only makes the failures in the field that much more stark by comparison. Moving into 2021, the question we should be asking ourselves is “How do we hold all doctors (not most doctors) to a better standard of evidence based professionalism? How do we stop letting the bad eggs get away with it?”

Homeopathy declining in Germany:  “Ernst also noted that the response of homeopaths, especially when their sales started to drop, was typical for CAM proponents – they did not marshal better evidence, look inward at their practices, or talk about reform. No – they went on a marketing blitz. Further, this marketing was largely framed around vicious personal attacks against the scientists who were simply pointing out that homeopathy is literally nothing.”


COVID-19 conspiracies and beyond – How physicians can deal with patients’ misinformation: “Early in 2020, communication science expert Brian Southwell, PhD, launched a training workshop at the Duke University School of Medicine to address a major clinical problem: What physicians should do when patients are misinformed about their health. It’s one of only a few such programs in the nation. This year, Southwell, a scholar with the medical school’s Social Science Research Institute, and his collaborator Jamie Wood, PhD, plan to make it available as a live virtual offering for clinician practices and health care system.”

China clamps down in hidden hunt for coronavirus origins: “The government is handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to scientists researching the virus’ origins in southern China and affiliated with the military, the AP has found. But it is monitoring their findings and mandating that the publication of any data or research must be approved by a new task force managed by China’s cabinet, under direct orders from President Xi Jinping, according to internal documents obtained by the AP. A rare leak from within the government, the dozens of pages of unpublished documents confirm what many have long suspected: The clampdown comes from the top. As a result, very little has been made public. Authorities are severely limiting information and impeding cooperation with international scientists.”

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Science by litigation – Exclusive – Herbalife causes liver damage, claims research report: When a company is inconvenienced by unflattering scientific findings, rather than address the evidence on its merits, it is far too common that they will apply legal pressure (or other harassment) to suppress the science. In this case, a patient died of liver failure after taking Herbalife supplements for weight loss. While acute liver damage can be caused by viral hepatitis, painkillers, and other medications, Dr Philips says that such causes are becoming less common while liver damage due to alternative and complementary medicine is ‘on the rise the world over’.

A “peer-reviewed research report that was subsequently published in the Journal of Hepatology showed the alarming nature of the composition of the Herbalife products.” This included demonstration of heavy metal levels that were both toxic and probably carcinogenic, traces of psychotropic drugs and pathogenic bacterial colonies. In reaction the author was written to and pressured with demands for ‘proof’. The publisher was written to with claims that the study was of low quality and misleading, and demanding a retraction. When the authors rebutted the criticism of their study, they were subjected to legal threats. Allegedly this approach was also used to harass the journal, editors and board, until the study was removed from online sources, essentially making the evidence invisible to most of the scientific community. This despite the study having passed a re-review.

Science is based on an ideal of open integrity. That integrity should not be allowed to be comprised by letting the money speak louder than the evidence.