Jan 07 2014

The Society for Science-Based Medicine

Are you someone who:

– Thinks that medical interventions that are safe and effective are better than those that are unsafe or ineffective?

– Thinks that rigorously and fairly applied scientific evidence is the best way to tell the difference?

– Thinks that the public should have some basic protections against health fraud?

– Would prefer accurate health information to marketing spin and frank pseudoscience?

– Doesn’t rely on celebrities for health-care advice?

– Ever tried to commit suicide with homeopathic pills?

– Has a chill run down your spine whenever you see the word “quantum” applied to a health claim or remedy?

Well, then the Society for Science-Based Medicine (SSBM) might be right for you.

We are entering into the next phase of our collective mission to promote science in medicine. I started the SBM blog six years ago (January 2008) to provide an outlet for a group of physicians and professionals who were dedicated to opposing the rise of pseudoscience in medicine.

The primary purpose of the blog is to inform the public and our fellow health care professionals about the often complex relationship between science and the practice of medicine, and also about specific health care claims and topics that tend to be controversial or exist on the fringe.

Providing information and analysis is very useful, but clearly we need to do more. There is a great deal of motivation and money behind those who wish to water down the scientific standards on which the medical profession is (or at least should be) built.

Just today I received an e-mail from Bob Blaskiewicz noting that patients being exploited by the Burzynski clinic and his bogus “antineoplastons” have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and collected over 100,000 signatures to lobby the FDA to give an exemption for his treatments – meaning no scientific standard.

In state after state those who would benefit from the easing of regulations have pushed through “health care freedom laws” which eliminate the science-based standard of care that is supposed to protect the public from health fraud and pseudoscience in medicine.

Academia has been infiltrated at every level by those who are not honest brokers of scientific medicine, but who have an agenda to promote sectarian, culturally-based, or spiritually-based treatments.

The most famous celebrity doctors promote blatant pseudoscience to millions, tell parents not to vaccinate their children, fearmonger about the latest “toxin,” and make celebrities out of worst purveyors of medical pseudoscience.

That is why we need to be organized also. SBM and our other blogs and podcasts dedicated to science and critical thinking have helped grow our community. Now we need to become an organization.

About a year ago Mark Crislip (of QuackCast fame) came to the rest of us at SBM and made just that point. Of course we all agreed, but lamented that we lacked the time for such a major undertaking. Mark said he had the time, and over the last year he built the infrastructure of the organization, including a new website. 

If you support science and critical thinking in medicine, if you want to be part of an organization that promotes science-based medicine and opposes those who would destroy the scientific standard so that they can sell their latest snake oil – now you can join the Society for Science-Based Medicine (SSBM).

I want to thank Mark for all his hard work and dedication in pushing us to this next phase in our promotion of SBM, and also all my fellow bloggers at SBM who have dedicated an incredible amount of their time and effort over the years  – despite the fevered accusations of our critics, for absolutely no compensation – simply because they saw something wrong with the world and wanted to change it for the better.

Now you can be a direct part of that by joining the SSBM.

15 responses so far

15 thoughts on “The Society for Science-Based Medicine”

  1. Dr. Novella,

    While digs at homeopathy are all well and good — as my thesis advisor put it, if that stuff works we should all go home — perhaps the particular one you chose in the intro could be, um, edited or better phrased. It doesn’t seem to be a product of good judgement, and certainly I found it a bit jarring.

  2. nybgrus says:

    It is a reference to James Randi taking an entire bottle of homeopathic pills to show that they are a whole bunch of hooey.

  3. Multiple groups have done “homeopathic suicide” stunts to show that the potions are worthless. So this is a bit of an inside joke for regular skeptics.

  4. ccbowers says:

    “…if that stuff works we should all go home.”

    I am wondering if you understand the reference, and still had that reaction. If the reference is not something you are familiar with, then I could see that being a bit jarring. If you understand the reference, and still offer the advice of giving up (which is what your adviser’s quote is implying), then I’m afraid you are giving up too easily.

  5. SimonW says:

    Given the quality of many supplements and the criticisms by regulators of large homoeopathic producers, I’ve always thought the homoeopathic suicide thing was not such a clever stunt. Okay Randi has the patter to pull it off, but the rest of us probably better showing videos of Randi doing it.

  6. SimonW says:

    As a hardened skeptic I can immediately tell when the next line will be “give money”.

    Why not just say “donate $85 a year to these guys to help the fight” and be done.

    To get my cash you’d probably have to have a UK wing…

  7. Simon – SSBM is an international organization. We welcome UK members.

  8. BobbyG says:

    I joined yesterday, and will put a permanent link on my REC blog.

  9. ccbowers says:

    “Given the quality of many supplements and the criticisms by regulators of large homoeopathic producers, I’ve always thought the homoeopathic suicide thing was not such a clever stunt.”

    I agree, given the possibility of improper dilution or contamination of such products I wouldn’t do this, especially since it has been done many times already. Also, using their ‘opposite day’ logic, a larger dose would be less effective (though I realize the average person may not realize this), so the stunt is not quite right.

  10. TheFlyingPig says:

    The proper way to overdose on homeopathic preparations is to not take them. This makes the effect size infinite.

    I’ll 3rd (4th?) the notion that homeopathic “suicide by overdose” is a bad idea, though it does make a fine joke. I think that if you’re going to do it, you need to vet the company that produces the product… check that it’s a high quality and honest company; that way, you can be fairly sure that the pills are legitimately devoid of any function.

  11. ccbowers says:

    “The proper way to overdose on homeopathic preparations is to not take them. This makes the effect size infinite.”

    Or take a breath and drink some tap water and really overdose on everything.

  12. inconscious says:

    Will be joining as a student-member. Hopefully I’ll be able to convince some of my fellow DO-PhD and MD-PhD student colleagues to do the same.

    Thanks for all your work, Dr. Novella.

  13. BillyJoe7 says:

    Regarding homoeopathic overdose….

    The point is that the public will think of it as overdosing, and it’s the public that is the target of this stunt. And it’s not dangerous if you know your supplier.

    A homoeopath going through the mental contortions of trying to explain why it is not an overdose, would also be an effective strategy if only we could get a homoeopath to do so.

  14. Kawarthajon says:

    Such irony that when you click on the link for membership to the society, an add appears at the bottom claiming that if you eat this “holy grail” food, you will never have to diet again!

  15. BillyJoe7 says:

    Not only that, but it appears on the bottom of the home page as well, and it’s a weight loss food promoted by Dr. Mehmet Oz, the cardiologist who has sold his soul to the devil.

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