All posts by Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, .

Great Courses: Skeptic’s Guide to Health, Medicine, and the Media

Dr. Roy Benaroch's course offers a toolkit of six questions we can use to evaluate the truth behind the often misleading media reports on health topics. It is a valuable companion to the Private-investigator-detective blog.

/ April 2, 2019

An HBO Documentary about the Theranos Fraud Raises Concerns

Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos to develop a device that could do 200 tests on a single drop of blood in a minute. She lied; it failed; she is being tried for fraud and conspiracy. The HBO documentary The Inventor tells the story but has some flaws. We can learn lessons from what happened.

/ March 26, 2019

For Discussion: Should I Only Write About Fake Stuff If It Is Well-Known?

Does writing about questionable topics that are not well-known do more harm or good? There are arguments on both sides.

/ March 19, 2019

Brief Announcement: Price of Consumer Health Book Has Been Slashed

The price of the textbook Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions has been reduced to $9.99 on Amazon.

/ March 16, 2019

The “Evidence” for Prodovite Is Junk Science

Prodovite is a liquid nutritional supplement marketed as "nutrition you can feel." The claims are pseudoscientific nonsense and the single unblinded clinical study is junk science that relies on a bogus test: live cell microscopy.

/ March 12, 2019

The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: A Fiasco with a Silver Lining

The Tuskegee syphilis experiment studied black men with advanced syphilis for 40 years. Patients were lied to and prevented from getting treatment. A black mark in the history of American medicine, it led to important reforms.

/ March 5, 2019

Homeopath Quits Homeopathy but Thinks the Homeopathic Approach Has Value

A former homeopath shows that there's nothing scientific about homeopathy; in fact, it contradicts all known scientific principles. Nevertheless she finds value in the homeopathic approach to the patient and thinks all providers can learn from it.

/ February 26, 2019

The Magic Feather Effect: Placebos and the Power of Belief in Alternative Medicine

In her book The Magic Feather Effect, journalist Melanie Warner covers placebo research, shows that alternative medicine is placebo medicine, takes a "try it yourself" approach, and gives belief and anecdotes more credit than they deserve.

/ February 19, 2019

Kidney Cancer and Incidentalomas

Kidney cancer diagnoses are increasing but there has been no increase in mortality or rate of metastases. Kidney cancer is most often diagnosed as an incidental finding on a CT scan that was done for unrelated reasons. Treatment may not always be needed.

/ February 12, 2019

Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches

Caffeine is not addictive. Regular users of caffeine can develop tolerance and mild physical dependence, and sudden withdrawal can cause headaches and other symptoms (but only in half the population). This is does not qualify as addiction.

/ February 5, 2019