Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Faculty-of-Medicine Wants My Help

Once again, the subject matter for a skepticism article has come right to my email box. I received the following missive recently:
Hi,

I think your site and [sitename] can be a good match for linking.

[sitename] does not have a link page, but we offer three way linking (better than the usual linking) from facultyofmedicine.net.

If this is of any interest to you please respond.

Thanks,
Jane Fields,
POB 200067, Pittsburgh, PA
NOTE: I recently received a message from the staff of the site that "Jane Fields" named in her email to me. The site she named disavows any connection with facultyofmedicine.net and politely asked me to remove their name from this article due to the bad publicity (apparently this page floated to the top in Google searches for their name). Since it appears that "Jane" was just name-dropping to give herself credibility, I have complied with the request.

Hey, if she wants to freely share her contact information with strangers over the internet, who am I to stop her? It’s not like there’s any reason to assume this is a legitimate name, anyway.

A quick look at the “facultyofmedicine” site reveals what looks like an online bookstore. Someone has basically put together a list of vaguely medical titles with links to Amazon to sell them.

Browse through an extensive selection of Medicine books on subjects such as Anatomy, Cardiology, Neurology and more.
This doesn’t seem like such a bad site. It's a simple money maker for someone who wants to make money off medical students without actually having to maintain an inventory, but there's nothing wrong with that. Of course, scrolling down the page, what should I find as the sixth book on their list but...
Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You To Know About Written by Kevin Trudeau
Followed by a couple more beauties like Suzanne Somers' Slim & Sexy Forever: The Hormone Solution for Permanent Weight Loss & Optimal Living and Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d.

All these on a page titled “MEDICINE STUDENT BOOKS”. If this kind of material is included in medical school curricula, I feel I must quake in fear should I ever become ill.

They’re not all like that of course. There are titles like the Handbook of Evidence-based Radiation Oncology, too, but seeing the woo mixed freely with the substantiated is rather disconcerting.

One title is Outsmart Your Cancer: Alternative Non-Toxic Treatments That Work. The Amazon description says...
Learn the unique characteristics common to all cancers. Read testimonials from many who have completely recovered using alternative approaches. Learn why non-toxic methods are so effective and how to obtain them.
Testimonials instead of evidence; this does not bode well. I’m sure Orac can do a much better job of examining such claims than I can, but I would far sooner follow the instructions of an experienced medical doctor than the advice of someone with no medical training of any kind (and no, the author -- Tanya Harter Pierce – is not a doctor).

I guess the problem that I have with this site is that it randomly mixes unsubstantiated claims with legitimate medical literature, lending an air of credibility to the unsupported CAM books.

So, sorry Jane, but I won’t be giving you a link; I don’t want to do anything to improve your Google score. Even my readers will have to hand-key the URL into their browsers to see what I’m talking about (sorry for the inconvenience, guys).

2 comments:

Cornealius said...

I think the best way to deal with people like that is to email them random abuse.
I canot stand the mixing of science(reality) and alternative bullshit(fantasy). I hate the idea that someone out there might actually die because they rufuse chemo-therapy and instead use magic runes or some such. Then again perhaps it would improve the gene pool.

thks for posting on me blog, do ya wanna do a link exchange or some such?

Anonymous said...

My mom died of breast cancer because of her devotion to woo. She went into remission twice with minimal radiation and then finally succumbed, so we think the chances of her having been cured if she had followed the complete protocol might have been a lot better. I wish I had kicked her woo friends where they sat and got a restraining order against them. I wish she had listened to me. Also she had already had me, so improvement of the gene pool, as cornealius sensitively puts it, was no longer an option.