Video: How fake medicine fools us

posted in: Science vs myths | 0

Watch this short clip from Penn & Teller: Bullshit!  Then consider the questions below the video.
Video link:

Questions to consider:

  1. Should a medical doctor be able to sell the Magno-hats or Magno-mitts, especially if the woman says it works and gives it positive reviews?
  2. Should a doctor be able to cite the woman’s review as evidence that Magno-hats or Magno-mitts are effective?
  3. Is the woman intelligent?
  4. If Magno-hats or Magno-mitts are safe, is there a harm?
  5. Is it ok to sell the Magno-hats or Magno-mitts for $30? How about $10,000?
  6. Would Dr. Oz feature Magno-mitts on his show and invite the woman on to endorse it?
  7. Suppose the woman is a doctor. Should she be able to sell the Magno-hats or Magno-mitts to patients, especially if both doctor and patient like it?
  8. Should insurance companies pay for Magno-hats or Magno-mitts?
  9. Should the government spend money to determine if Magno-hats or Magno-mitts work?
  10. When she says that her pain symptoms naturally come and go, how might that affect her perception of whether or not magnets (or any other treatments) are helping? (regression to the mean)
  11. What are real medical procedures that use magnets? (MRI….and so on…. )
  12. When the “doctor” says that magnets have been used for thousands of years, how or why might that influence the woman? Are there any treatments that are very old that, it turns out, don’t work?
  13. Why is a magnet the type of object that you might attach mysterious forces to?
  14. Could the presence of a camera influence the woman’s perceptions?
  15. Are there norms of social behavior that might encourage the woman to agree with what this apparent “helpful stranger” tells her?
  16. Given the opioid crisis, do any of your answers change if they help avoid an opioid prescription?
  17. Is it ok to sell this product if some sort of “informed consent” document were provided to patients?

Other resources:

LymeScience: Personal journeys: From quack to science advocate

The Lack of Side Effects of an Ineffective Treatment Facilitates the Development of a Belief in Its Effectiveness

Dr. Harriet Hall: Fairy Tale Science and Placebo Medicine – Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Dr. Harriet Hall’s Science-Based Medicine course

Hormones Demystified: Top 10 Reasons Why Smart People Are Stupid About Their Health

Dr. Edzard Ernst: Sorry, alternative health people: feeling better after a therapy is no proof it works