More Options

Show Print-Only Articles

Special Articles — SkepDoc's Corner

A column by Harriet Hall

Vampire Facials

Vampire Facials


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
December 3, 2018

Human ingenuity is endless. People are always looking for the next secret that will improve their health and appearance.

A 500-Pound Amoeba: Psychiatry from the Inside

A 500-Pound Amoeba: Psychiatry from the Inside


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
October 5, 2018

Psychiatry is arguably the least science-based of all the medical specialties. There are no objective blood tests or imaging studies to diagnose mental illness, medications are often not very effective and have bad side effects, and it’s hard to do good controlled studies on talk therapies. No wonder people are skeptical.

Colorpuncture

Colorpuncture


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
September 7, 2018

Colorpuncture applies various colors of light to acupoints with a small flashlight-like instrument with a colored quartz rod.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on Vaccination

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on Vaccination


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
August 3, 2018

Today’s anti-vaccine arguments echo the same words that were used in 1887.

Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fear

Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fear


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
June 25, 2018

The headlines say things like, “Best Non-Toxic Cookware Options: Don’t Let Your Cookware Kill You” and “Cookware is a scary toxic minefield.”

Did Salt Water Supplement Regenerate Baby’s Heart Valve?

Did Salt Water Supplement Regenerate Baby’s Heart Valve?


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
May 17, 2018

If a missing part of the heart was actually regenerated by ASEA, it would have been trumpeted in the headlines and someone would be in line for a Nobel Prize. 

Train Track Therapy

Train Track Therapy


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
April 18, 2018

People in Indonesia lie down on the tracks with their head on one rail and their legs on another. When a train comes, they get up and move away; after it passes, they lie down again.

Book about Quackery Is a Hoot!

Book about Quackery Is a Hoot!


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
March 27, 2018

In addition to colorfully describing quackeries I was already aware of, the book covers many that were new, along with providing obscure facts and tidbits about celebrities.

Pulseras de cobre y cócteles: ¿el cobre te curará o te matará?

Pulseras de cobre y cócteles: ¿el cobre te curará o te matará?


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
February 15, 2018

Las pulseras de cobre se usaron durante siglos en la medicina folcórica. Supuestamente reducen el dolor de las articulaciones y la rigidez asociada a la artritis, y usando cobre en la muñeca presuntamente beneficia a todas las articulaciones en el cuerpo.

Copper Bracelets and Moscow Mules: Will Copper Heal You or Kill You?

Copper Bracelets and Moscow Mules: Will Copper Heal You or Kill You?


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
February 8, 2018

Copper bracelets have been used for centuries in folk medicine. They allegedly reduce the joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis, and wearing copper on the wrist supposedly benefits all joints in the body.

Recent Developments in ‘Eastern’ Science

Recent Developments in ‘Eastern’ Science


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
January 12, 2018

Science from the Koran and the Vedas? Who knew?

Ayurveda: Ancient Superstition, Not Ancient Wisdom

Ayurveda: Ancient Superstition, Not Ancient Wisdom


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
December 14, 2017

Ayurveda is basically superstition mixed with a soupçon of practical health advice.

Would You Drill Holes in Your Head for Science?

Would You Drill Holes in Your Head for Science?


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
November 15, 2017

The information that can be obtained from sham surgery trials is invaluable, but it doesn’t always change clinical practices, and many have questioned the ethics of subjecting sham surgery patients to the risks of sham surgery knowing there is no possible benefit to their health.

The Riddle of Consciousness

The Riddle of Consciousness


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
October 23, 2017

Consciousness is not a nonphysical phenomenon. It is an evolved user-illusion, “a system of virtual machines that evolved, genetically and memetically, to play very special roles in the ‘cognitive niche’ our ancestors have constructed over the millennia.”

Testosterone Rex

Testosterone Rex


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
September 19, 2017

Testosterone Rex: the familiar, plausible, pervasive, and powerful story of sex and society. Testosterone drives masculinity; it allegedly explains all those male/female differences.

The Incorrigible Dr. Oz

The Incorrigible Dr. Oz


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
August 29, 2017

Oz has made a reputation for himself as the Television SuperDoctor, but don’t be fooled by his dramaticized remedies.

Ancient Navajo Cure for Hearing Loss: A Lesson in Spotting Red Flags

Ancient Navajo Cure for Hearing Loss: A Lesson in Spotting Red Flags


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
July 27, 2017

I’ve been getting emails advertising a lost Navajo remedy that can cure deafness. Nearly 33,500 people have allegedly reversed their hearing loss in just two weeks with this 100 percent natural treatment.

Answering Vaccine Skeptics

Answering Vaccine Skeptics


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
June 14, 2017

Here are some short answers to some of the most common objections to vaccines…

Chiropractors: Pro and Con

Chiropractors: Pro and Con


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
June 1, 2017

When chiropractic is effective, what is effective is not “chiropractic”: it is SMT. SMT is also offered by physical therapists, DOs, and others…

The Vicissitudes of the Egg: From Vilification to Vindication

The Vicissitudes of the Egg: From Vilification to Vindication


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
April 18, 2017

For decades, scientists have been working their way towards a better understanding of what causes heart attacks and strokes.

Do I Really Need to Drink 200 Ounces of Water Every Day?

Do I Really Need to Drink 200 Ounces of Water Every Day?


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
March 23, 2017

Here’s how the eight to ten glasses myth got started…

Why Physical Activity Does Little to Control Weight

Why Physical Activity Does Little to Control Weight


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
February 16, 2017

Herman Pontzer describes new research findings that challenge our conventional wisdom about diet, exercise, and weight loss.

Turmeric/Curcumin: The “Natural Remedy of the Century” or a Waste of Money?

Turmeric/Curcumin: The “Natural Remedy of the Century” or a Waste of Money?


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
January 24, 2017

Turmeric does have other benefits. It enhances the flavor and appearance of Indian food.

Self-Hatred: The Cause of Autoimmune Disease?

Self-Hatred: The Cause of Autoimmune Disease?


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
November 14, 2016

The idea that we can take control of our destiny and can prevent or cure illness with our thoughts alone is a seductive one. Wouldn’t that be nice? I wish it were true.

The Screening Test that Caused an Epidemic

The Screening Test that Caused an Epidemic


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
October 21, 2016

Just because you can screen for a disease doesn’t mean you should.

A Questionable Letter of Recommendation for Ear Candling

A Questionable Letter of Recommendation for Ear Candling


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
September 27, 2016

No way am I ever going to put one in my ear. Call me prejudiced… in favor of science and reality.

New Superfoods: Kakadu Plums and Cockroach Milk

New Superfoods: Kakadu Plums and Cockroach Milk


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
August 26, 2016

“Put simply, it is magic!” In my opinion, the only thing magical about it is the magical thinking required to believe the claims for it.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Do They Really Work?

Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Do They Really Work?


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
July 13, 2016

People want to believe in G/C, and they can easily find reasons to disregard the evidence. Hope springs eternal.

Genius Java: Memory Boosting Coffee

Genius Java: Memory Boosting Coffee


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
June 23, 2016

In one sense it might actually make you smarter: if you can understand why its claims are questionable and can apply those lessons to other marketing claims.

The CAMphora: Health in a Jar

The CAMphora: Health in a Jar


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
May 18, 2016

My flabber was thoroughly gasted. Apparently you sit in the jar and put water and maybe Chinese herbs into it and it is connected to 220-volt electricity.

The Truth About Cancer

The Truth About Cancer


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
April 20, 2016

I actually find it flattering when someone attacks me so stupidly. It means what I wrote was so accurate that they were unable to find anything they could legitimately criticize.

Uninformed Consumers Are Treating Their Flu Symptoms with Muscovy Duck Offal (Minus the Duck)

Uninformed Consumers Are Treating Their Flu Symptoms with Muscovy Duck Offal (Minus the Duck)


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
March 23, 2016

Why on Earth do people buy a medicine with no medicine in it? The back of the box clearly says “Active ingredient Anas barbariae, 200 CK HPUS.” I suspect most customers don’t bother to read that, and if they do, they don’t know what it means.

Newborn Babies Don’t Have Sex, So Why Do We Vaccinate Them for a Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Newborn Babies Don’t Have Sex, So Why Do We Vaccinate Them for a Sexually Transmitted Disease?


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
February 17, 2016

So babies don’t have sex, abuse drugs, or share razors. And mothers can be tested for the virus; if they don’t have it, there is no risk of them transmitting it to their babies. So are there any valid reasons to vaccinate newborns?

Screening Tests and Primum non nocere

Screening Tests and Primum non nocere


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
January 22, 2016

Nonmaleficence says don’t harm the patient; beneficence says help the patient. There’s a trade-off, since almost every treatment carries some small degree of risk. Not treating may do more harm than treating.

Zombie Criticisms of Conventional Medicine

Zombie Criticisms of Conventional Medicine


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
December 18, 2015

Critics of modern medicine would do well to follow my “SkepDoc’s Rule:” Before you accept a claim, try to understand who disagrees with it and why.

“Biomagnetism Therapy”: Pseudoscientific Twaddle

“Biomagnetism Therapy”: Pseudoscientific Twaddle


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
November 20, 2015

In a television interview, a practitioner of biomagnetic therapy claimed she had cured her own breast lump and the metastatic cancer of another person. I wonder how many viewers believed her.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Didn’t Win a Nobel Prize, Scientific Medicine Did

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Didn’t Win a Nobel Prize, Scientific Medicine Did


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
October 19, 2015

Tu Youyou, a Chinese researcher, was awarded half of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of artemisinin, a malaria drug. This has been touted as a victory for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and herbalism. It is anything but.

Superfood Silliness

Superfood Silliness


specialarticles

by Harriet Hall
SkepDoc's Corner
September 24, 2015

Someone is always trying to tell us what to eat. It's like religions: they can't all be right, and they might all be wrong.