Tuesday, November 12, 2013

#789: Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman is a “pioneer of functional medicine,” i.e. altmed shill, author (his book Ultraprevention, co-authored with one Mark Liponis, made it to quackwatch), blogger (for Huffington Post), and creator of “Ultrawellness.” Hyman is particularly notable for his ability to mangle, misunderstand, and misrepresent research in service of his particular brand of woo, for instance by trying to argue that “conventional medicine” has lost its battle with cancer, thus paving the way for Hyman’s own questionable ideas instead. Functional medicine (a good introduction here and here), he claims, is a “systems-biology approach to personalized medicine that focuses on the underlying causes of disease.” Now, it is true that systems-biology is popular in medical research at the moment. But that, of course, does not mean that there is any support there for Hyman’s own crackpottery, functional medicine. And yes, functional medicine is pure woo, backed up, as expected, with a bit of anecdotal data.

Scientists, of course, don’t accept Hyman’s ideas. You know why? Hyman does. It is because “science is now for sale; published data often misrepresents the truth, academic medical research has become corrupted by pharmaceutical money and special interests, and government regulators more often protect industry than the public. Increasingly, academic medical researchers are for hire, and research, once a pure activity of inquiry, is now a tool for promoting products.” As if any problematic links Hyman could point to could somehow validate his own questionable but revenue-generating methods. And no, he doesn’t actually try to show that the scientific results that matter when discussing science-based approaches to cancer are wrong – why should he, when questioning the integrity of the scientists behind the research is just as rhetorically effective, and the people in the target groupd for Hyman’s bullshit aren’t exactly those with the best understanding of how science works.

He is also on the record claiming that autism is the result of mitochondrial disorders, an old anti-vaxx trope that should have been put to rest a long time ago. (Not so for maverick doctor Mark Hyman.) And his take on personalized medicine is almost breathtaking in its disregard for accuracy.

Despite the dubiousness of his claims, Hyman has managed to acquire numerous followers and enough influence to be allowed to present his vision of the future of medicine to the White House staff, which is kinda scary.

Diagnosis: One of the major movers and shakers in the woo movement, Hyman has managed to gather himself quite a lot of influence (the fact that his claims are medically ridiculous does not mean that they won’t work as powerful propaganda to non-specialists). His ideas remain as loosely connected to reality as ever, however. Extremely dangerous


  1. Hyman's influence is truly scary, and his fans apparently include the Clintons.

  2. This ignorant fraud and one of the other ignorant frauds on the internet, Vani Hari, are good friends and vouch for each other. Totally logical to me. (sarcasm).