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Cracking History: Chiropractic’s Secret Origin

Illustration by Ástor Alexander

The origin of chiropractic medicine has long been under dispute, with most modern chiropractors denying that its purported founder, D.D. Palmer, copied osteopathy. Yet, the two schools of thought were nearly identical at their beginnings, and just a few hours apart by railway. Further, chiropractic was “discovered” the same year—1895—that the first class of the American School of Osteopathy (ASO) was graduated. Chiropractors dismiss the sudden emergence of chiropractic so near in time and space to the ASO as a one-in-a-million coincidence. This article shows why one-in-a-million is not a coincidence.

Wisdom of the SkepDoc: Harriet Hall, MD (1945–2023)

All of us at Skeptic magazine—along with those in the larger skeptical and scientific communities—are sad to announce the passing of Harriet Hall, M.D., widely known as the SkepDoc. Michael Shermer always looked forward to editing Harriet’s SkepDoc column, not only because she was such a lucid writer and critical thinker, but because he learned so much from her…

Nicholas Dirks on Science Denial, Distrust, and Skepticism

Shermer and Dirks discuss: vaccine hesitancy • why antibiotics do not generate the same distrust • vaccines and autism • COVID-19 and its differential effects on people • the lab-leak hypothesis vs. the zoonomic hypothesis for the origin of SARS CoV-2 • Anthony Fauci and the CDC • climate denial • how trust in science has changed over the past century • the politicization of science • how to talk to someone who doesn’t trust science or scientists.

What Chiropractic Research Teaches Us About the Replication Crisis in Science

For nearly 20 years, Michael Menke was an influential chiropractor. In this column, he describes a meta-analysis he conducted to evaluate the efficacy of chiropractic, which ultimately led him to abandon the practice and pursue a career in quantitative research.

Big Pharma’s Cynical Search for a Female Sex Drug

Ever since the invention of Viagra for ED, there has been a scramble to find the female equivalent, whatever that would be, often described as “female sexual dysfunction.” In this article, the renowned social psychologist Carol Tavris reviews the many claims by pharmaceutical companies that they had created such a drug, and why the problem is so much more challenging than initially thought.

Johnjoe McFadden on simplicity in science, based on his book Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe

Michael Shermer speaks with Professor of Molecular Genetics, Johnjoe McFadden, about: our medieval ancestors • science and religion • how pre-modern theologians thought about the nature of reality • Ptolemaic vs. Tychonic vs. Copernican world systems • simplicity in math, physics, biology, medicine, and the social sciences • quantum physics and simplicity •  Postmodernism and the search for Truth • Is science more Bayesian than Popperian? • the anthropic cosmological principle • the hard problem of consciousness.

eSkeptic for January 25, 2022

Social psychologist Carol Tavris thoughtfully explores and questions “affirmative trans medicine,” the latest dangerous medical practices bubble. Few question the mystifying explosion of cases of gender dysphoria among adolescents and the proliferation of clinics to treat them. Vulnerable teens and baffled parents resort to internet misinformation and succumb to biased media influence, while experts spurn exploratory therapies and promote untested treatments that have long-term effects. Dissenters are vilified and silenced as being transphobic. PLUS: Michael Shermer Speaks with Johnjoe McFadden about his book Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe.

Sally Satel on Addiction, the Opioid Crisis, Deaths of Despair, and How Psychiatry Has Gone Woke

Michael Shermer and professor of psychiatry, Sally Satel, discuss: how political correctness has corrupted medicine • how wokeness and social justice activism has corrupted psychiatry • What is social justice and who is really practicing it? • medical models of mental illness • why mental illness is so hard to treat • medical models of addiction: where they succeed, where they fail • how addictions are treated • Can one be addicted to porn? • Can one be addicted to social media? • The opioid crisis: who is responsible? and more…

eSkeptic for January 22, 2022

In episode 243 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael speaks with psychiatrist Dr. Sally Satel about addiction, the opioid crisis, deaths of despair, and how psychiatry has gone woke.

Osteopathy Then and Now

osteopath with patient

What is osteopathy? What is the difference between an MD, a DO, and an osteopath in the US? Why do students choose a DO school? Should the DO degree be abolished? Find out what Harriet Hall, M.D. says in this column from Skeptic magazine 26.1 (2021).

eSkeptic for July 17, 2021

In episode 193, Michael Shermer speaks with Chris Edwards about educational reform and thought experiments. Plus, Harriet Hall, M.D. discusses osteopathy. What is it? What is the difference between an MD and a DO? Should the DO degree be abolished?

Mark Twain and Alternative Medicine

In this column from Skeptic magazine 26.2 (2021), Harriet Hall, M.D. recounts that Mark Twain was an enthusiastic proponent of “alternative medicine” long before the term was coined — and much of it remains the same as in his time.

eSkeptic for June 29, 2021

Shermer, Sanford, and Novella try wheatgrass juice, with amusing results. PLUS: in a column from Skeptic magazine 26.2 (2021), Harriet Hall, M.D. recounts that Mark Twain was an enthusiastic proponent of “alternative medicine” long before the term was coined — and much of it remains the same as in his time.

eSkeptic for January 8, 2021

In the fourth report from the Civil Unrest and Presidential Election Study (CUPES) we examine Americans’ level of trust in institutions, as well as how trust levels vary by political party affiliation and gender. We asked the question: “how much do Americans trust news media, political officials, hospitals/doctors, and educational institutions?”

Nicholas Christakis — Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live

Shermer and Christakis discuss: the replication crisis in social science and medicine • determining causality: how we know smoking causes cancer and HIV causes AIDS, but vaccines do not cause autism and cell phones do not cause cancer • randomized controlled trials and why they can’t be done to answer many medical questions • natural experiments and the comparative method of testing hypotheses (e.g., comparing different countries differing responses to Covid-19) • the hindsight bias and the curse of knowledge in judging responses to pandemics after the fact, and more…

eSkeptic for August 14, 2020

Right now, we are all confronting one of humanity’s scariest enemies: epidemic disease. Are we brave enough to face this horror? You bet we are! Download Junior Skeptic 76 for free: Pandemics Throughout History—How Mistakes, Fakes, and Missing Facts Make Epidemics Worse. PLUS: Dr. Michael Shermer gives a remote lecture on free speech & censorship.

eSkeptic for June 30, 2020

In Science Salon # 122 Michael Shermer speaks with Walter Scheidel as he recounts the gripping story of how the end of the Roman Empire was the beginning of the modern world. PLUS, Harriet Hall, M.D. sets the record straight on wearing face masks during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Wear a Mask, But Act as If It Doesn’t Work

Masks have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but instead of believing the evidence and following public health guidelines, many people have turned mask wearing into a political statement. They are refusing to wear masks for reasons that are laughable. Rejecting masks is selfish: it means they don’t care if other people get sick and die. Here’s what Harriet Hall, M.D., The SkepDoc, has to say about it.

The Fountain of Youth: & Other Anti‑Aging Myths

A spring whose waters restore the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in them is a myth that dates back to prehistoric times. Harriet Hall, M.D. reminds us that though many wines improve with age, human bodies don’t; we deteriorate.

eSkeptic for March 24, 2020

In Science Salon # 109 Michael Shermer speaks with Neil Shubin about his new book Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA. PLUS Harriet Hall, M.D. reminds us that though many wines improve with age, human bodies don’t; we deteriorate.

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