Proponents of SCAM like to think that anyone who is critical of SCAM must be a defender of conventional medicine or worse a pharma shill. One can point out the ridiculousness of this claim until the cows come home, it nevertheless pops up relentlessly.

Personally, I am aware of (and have experienced) the many shortcomings of conventional medicine and applaud the various initiatives to improve it. Take this press release about 10 worst actions in US conventional medicine of 2019, for instance:

The Lown Institute released the 3rd Annual Shkreli Awards, a list of the top ten worst actors in health care from the past year, named for the infamous “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli… The top ten Shkreli Awards went to:

10. The cancer doctor who hid millions in industry gifts, then got a “dream job” at a cancer drug company.

9. The hospital that kept a vegetative patient on life support to boost transplant survival rates.

8. The doctors, telemedicine company employees, and genetic testing lab employees who bilked Medicare for $2.1 billion in a genetic cancer test scam.

7. The psychiatric hospitals that held patients against their will and drugged children.

6. The hospital that pressured cardiologists to keep referring pediatric patients for surgery in-house despite disturbingly high mortality rates.

5. The pharma executive who said, “addicts are to blame for their opioid addiction.”

4. The private equity firm that took over nursing homes, leading to a surge of neglected and abused residents.

3. The hospital that used a technicality to force a $900,000 medical bill on a new mother, who was also a hospital employee.

2. The private equity firms that spent $28 million to defeat “surprise billing” legislation, as medical debt skyrockets.

1. Several hospitals which claimed to care about patients but nevertheless sued them, garnished wages, and seized houses.


What, you do not believe me that I regularly point out the shortcomings of conventional medicine? In this case, let me show you the introduction of a chapter dedicated to this topic from one of my books:

All too often, the failings of modern medicine seem as obvious as they seem inexcusable. It is thus understandable that some disappointed patients seek help and compassion from homeopaths. Seen from this perspective, the current popularity of homeopathy indicates that many patients are not satisfied with what conventional medicine offers. In other words, the current boom in homeopathy can be seen as a poignant criticism of certain aspects of modern health care.


And why do I not dedicate more posts to the failures of conventional medicine? Because I am a pharma shill? No, because the topic of this blog was, is and will remain so-called alternative medicine (SCAM).


Because of two main reasons:

  1. In conventional medicine there are already many excellent initiatives (like the one mentioned above) to expose shortcomings, while in SCAM there are only relatively few.
  2. My expertise is in SCAM.

5 Responses to Yes, conventional medicine is often deplorably bad

  • It would be interesting to see whether similar abuses occur in the UK health system. These all seem closely related to a profit motive.

  • Indeed, there is no mention among the ten instances of egregious behaviour by individual medics that any of the treatments they used were ineffective, based on daft premises or quasi-religious belief systems, or otherwise questionable. They’re just cases of medics behaving badly in order to line their pockets,

  • And they’ve been called out.

    And in the UK, homeopathy is all but barred in the NHS.

  • Okay, I hear you. Yes modern medicine makes many mistakes, I believe most are unintentional. My son was formally diagnosed as having a “benign swollen lymph node” by 5 x paediatric hospitals + 2 x radiographers over a 5 month period in 2009, my son was nearly 4 years old, the “benign swollen lymph node” continued to grow and grow despite multiple rounds of antibiotics, until at five and half months I said ENOUGH!! And demanded my son be seen by a paediatric ENT surgeon. The surgeon agreed the lump needed removing regardless of being benign or not, a week later he removed the “benign” lump, it was a 5cmx5cm proximal epitheliod sarcoma (PES)!! The surgeon said “i removed the tumour in a primary stage, it was one week away from spreading to secondary stage”. PES is resistant to chemo + radiation once it becomes secondary. My son made a friend on the oncology ward, about the same age, with an equally rare + aggressive cancer, pathology results say that the other boys tumour was two weeks older than my sons. The other boy died, he was 6 years old at the time!!

    So I know all about the downfalls of modern medicine! I also know that my son is literally only alive today thanks to modern medicine, so I feel grateful towards modern medicine… I also feel equally passionately hateful towards those who make outrageous claims about things like homeoprophylaxis (homeopathic immunisation) which not only puts the homeopathic immunised children at risk but it literally puts entire communities/societies/cities/states/countries at risk when things like measles find their way back into places like australia, once declared ‘measles free’.

    Maybe you could make another list and call it ‘Top 10 most dangerous Homeopathy Claims’

    1. “Dr” Isaac Golden claims homeoprophylaxis (homeopathic immunisation) is the equivalent to mainstream immunisation

    2. H2O + memories = homeopathy

    Just a thought ?


  • You have listed individual failures as being reason for “conventional medicine is often deplorably bad”. That may not be a proper assessment. Individuals making failures in any system is common occurrence today and is expected to continue in future because humans are prone to make mistakes when taking decisions, knowingly or otherwise. The variability in human decision making cannot be controlled. The larger the involvement of humans in an activity, larger the chances of errors.
    The issue therefore is of making “errors as a whole” and evaluating the system about its ability to ensure fool proofing it of failures.
    The present medical science suffers from the error of large number of human intervention and can be defined as being patently faulty because of this one reason alone, among many others. This one basic reason leads to numerous failures. The problem is compounded when the system has multiple levels: research, production, costs, time schedules etc. each manned by humans, not all motivated by the same outcome requirement.

    The additional serious problem comes from the lack of the understanding by the practitioners (another set of humans), who do not understand this gap: that failures in the medical system are a norm, not an exception. Meet a specialist: the confidence with which he lays out an action plan and the positive outcome is almost frighting or laughable, depending upon the situation one is in!

    These reasons make audit of processes and outcomes extremely important.

    Pointing out individual failures in medicine is a myopic approach. The focus should be on outcome of audit findings and action taken there after.

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